So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


Leave a comment

Writers’ Block

So last week, I was ploughing on with the new book, the final book in my Horses and Souls series. I’ve wanted so much to crack on with this all winter. It’s set here in the Lungau, has a romance and loads of horses. I’ve managed another five thousand words.

Today I sit at my computer. I don’t want to write a word. It’s not that the story isn’t there in my head, it’s there waiting to be pulled out. But I can’t. I feel the story is boring, lacks action, just putting another word down fills me with boredom. I don’t want to do it.

Maybe it’s a final effects of the flu. It’s been a hard winter for me, physically and mentally. Then there’s this lock down. Day in day out the same, but at least I get out for work. I know I’ve got some anger boiling away inside, some things that wouldn’t have been a problem have got me really angry.

So I’ll eat some chocolate and watch the tv and try to get my head around this.


Leave a comment

Guest Post: Justinn Harrison

I read the first book in the Gallant Hearts Series and was totally bowled over. I’ve never read anything about modern jousting and it was a mind blower. Great read, strong characters, romance and well understood horses.  Possibly my book of the year for 2020!   

Justinn,tell us a little about yourself, where you live, family, career, horses etc.

Hi, my name is Justinn Harrison, though I publish as J.D. Harrison. I love living in Colorado, though I have traveled all over the United States working with horses. I’ve been an upper level eventing groom, riding instructor, squire to full contact jousters, commercial carriage driver and mostly stall mucker, blessed with a huge variety of equine experiences. Currently, I am a part time stallion handler and barn manager, which gives me plenty of freedom to write and enjoy my own horse. My husband deserves an award for encouraging both of my passions, often to his detriment. He shares me with my dog, Cherry, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, and with my heart horse, Smoke. Smoke is a very rare breed, the Canadian Horse, or Le Cheval Canadien. They are very smart, hardworking, people oriented, courageous and sturdy. To my constant gratitude, they are also long lived. Smoke is 23 this year and while a bit slower some mornings, he is still going strong. We enjoy carriage driving and trail riding mostly, though he is game to try just about anything.

How did you get into writing?

I’ve been writing since I was old enough to put together works on paper, telling stories for myself or writing poems when I needed an emotional outlet. I always took advanced English and creative writing courses with high marks. However, I did not start novel writing until a very serious fight with H1N1 (swine flu) in 2009 shook up my world. When you unexpectedly have to face your own mortality it helps you reevaluate what is truly important to you. The first finished novel came about in 2014, with several more on its heels, but they weren’t quite publication ready. The Gallant Hearts series began in 2016 during National Novel Writing Month, and I’ve been chasing the stories that sprang from that point ever since.

Are you a plot in head first person or does it grow as you write?

I have ideas of where the story is headed, but it’s mostly pointing my characters at that objective and turning them loose. Sometimes I throw situations at them and am just as surprised as the reader at the results. Makes every writing day an adventure.

Plug one of your books!

I’m always going to love book one in the Gallant Hearts series the most. Well Armored Hearts is everything I love all rolled in to one story. A strong heroine, friends who become family, unlooked for romance, renaissance festivals, hard hitting modern day jousting, and more than anything, horses that you fall in love with just as much as the people. It’s a meaty story that reads fast and there’s something relatable for almost everyone.

Coffee or tea? chocolate or crisps? Romance or thriller? Horses or dogs, or both?

ALWAYS tea. Preferably Glenghettie (a Welsh tea) brewed dark with just a lump of sugar and the barest splash of milk.

Oh goodness! If I must pick, then chocolate. Dark mostly. But I do love a salty crunchy snack too. Torture!

Romance. Sometimes romantic thrillers, but honestly, I read to escape and not much beats a believable happily ever after.

And definitely both horses and dogs! The horse often fancies himself a bit dog like, but he’s too big to cuddle with in bed at night. LOL

You can find my work at www.gallanthearts.com, I am on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJDHarrison/

Always happy to chat with other authors, readers and fellow horse lovers.


1 Comment

Locked down

Like the rest of Europe, we’re on isolation.  Not that it makes huge difference to us, as we live in a rural area. Only travel for essential food or work – not that many shops are open. Can exercise with family members, a metre away from other people. And we seem to be behaving ourselves in Lungau, only 4 cases.

Around me, the swallows, black restarts, yellow wagtails, chiffchaffs have all arrived. The first crocuses are coming out, and the violets under our sitting room window are out. I can only see this with joy and a relief that next year, at this time, I will be rejoicing in cherry blossom. We have someone interested in the flat, but none of us are in a rush.

The lock down is the most utter relief to me. This winter ran me mentally and physically into the ground. I’ve already dropped some of these jobs that have had me constantly on the go. Then, within three hours of the children leaving after my 60th birthday, I came down with flu. Old fashioned, grippy, headachy, shivery, nasty flu. A direct result of overdoing it.

With the library shut, holiday houses closed, and two weeks sick leave, I am blissfully, utterly at home recovering. I don’t need to be anywhere else. I’m keeping away from people and at last, getting on with my fifth book.

I for one am happy to be locked down!


Leave a comment

Selling the flat

After we had tidied the flat, we took fantastic photos, worked out the running costs, drew a floor plan and so all we needed to do was put it on the market and get the sale pack done. Of course, this wouldn’t be so necessary if we had already sold, which we nearly did.

I really felt it was the answer to prayer when we had a call from Pete, through whom we bought this place. Visit, interested lady, good price. What happened? The local council or Gemeinde.

There is a big issue in Austria with second homes, which we can agree with. It’s one of the reasons we moved here, having lived in the south of England, where villages turn into ghost towns in the weeks as Londoners go back. This leads to closure of everything, even fire brigades. The lady who wanted to buy  would have it as a holiday home and possibly retire here.

But no, council said it must be sold as a main residence. If people lie, there will be a fine. No sale.

What makes me mad is that out of the seven flats in our block, four are second homes, even of by inheritance. Unfair. Lost sale and back to prayer.


1 Comment

Time to celebrate!

My 60th birthday today, and to celebrate, here is the new version of my first book, Tom. Newly edited, new cover but still a great read!


Leave a comment

Getting ready!

One of first reactions on deciding to sell the flat was to look at it with fresh eyes. There then followed a couple of weeks of re-painting, cleaning, packing up some of the DVDs and books that dominate the place. Trouble is now we like it all the more, but feel someone is just waiting to come and love this place too.

The only problem is that when there’s nothing on the TV, we can’t get the DVDs out to watch!!!!!


Leave a comment

A look back at 2007

 

The hut that started the dream.

The start of my blog, in 2010. This journey began in 2007 and now is reaching its end as we begin the return to the UK.  So interesting to read it again and think of how things have gone!

This is the question we get asked every time we meet someone new. Mostly I reply that we’re making a new life for ourselves, that we had holidayed here and both felt it was so much better than the UK!   What I don’t usually say is that following a near marriage failure, where we’d both needed counselling before we got back together, someone in our Church had given us a gift of money specifically for a holiday and Austria was where we’d felt we’d like to go. We had been to Switzerland a year earlier to visit the farm where I’d worked in the 1970s.  This had lead to Dave beginning to learn German and he wanted somewhere to practise a bit!

We visited Westerndorf in Tyrol and enjoyed a lovely time, walking, exploring. The first time alone together, no kids, no financial worries and a lot of wounds healed, God’s perfect peace. People were friendly, and the scenery so stunning that it uplifted the spirit and soul.  During this time, we had separate ideas.  Dave could see a ministry in giving the word to holidaymakers as they thronged the streets. I passed a remote mountain hut and had a picture of a place where I could write, reflect, but also have others there to share the peace and healing – hey, it’s just struck me, maybe I’m halfway there now!  We took these ideas with us, talking a little at the time, but it wasn’t till several months later we told each other how these dreams persisted and nagged at the back of our minds.  A calling?

Back to the question. If I was to say straight away to people that we also felt led by God, we’d be straight away in the nutter basket!  Let them come to that conclusion once they really know us!  I’ve found that a gentle way to hint to people is to say that at first we were all set to come as Missionaries, but for various reasons, it didn’t work.

We felt that if this was a God’s calling, Missionary work was the normal, Christian route to follow.  However, when you say missionary work in Europe, people just don’t connect, they only see hungry African babies and not the spiritual desert of the West. We made contact with one European group and visited them during our second trip to Austria, this time in Zell am See.  We came back, not really having an idea of what we’d do. It just didn’t feel right.  Firstly they wanted us to go to Bible college – not a problem for me, but Dave said he couldn’t cope with that.  Then the huge amount of money they expected us to rise to support ourselves from friends, family and churches felt like having to beg. It was nearly the amount we earned in England, both working full-time. Then they would also take bits off for themselves, training, pensions etc.  We were also told we’d get a whole month off in three years, unbelievable. To us, this seemed a completely archaic way of going about things. We both felt strongly, and as is borne out by our lives in the UK, to witness to people you have to live and work in a community, not set yourself at a distance.  After all, Paul worked as a tent maker to support himself.

The  Society would also determine where we lived and maybe we were just not cut out for such obedience, we wanted to decide this!  We returned from this visit not any wiser or sure of God’s plan.  Then the Estate agent rang and said there was a market for our sort of house – we’d had the details taken but had delayed actually putting it on the market until we were sure we wanted to sell. It did seem we needed to move.

There were other factors too besides the marriage problems and you may wish to label them as a mid-life crisis, but we didn’t need to move to Austria to deal with these things.  Our daughter left for University, my mother died of cancer, and a year later the dog.  Our son was at home but really we were just a hostel.  Id moved into a more office based job where I worked, away from the students and the horses, mainly because the long working hours had to some extent burnt me out. What had seemed a good idea proved to be an exercise in banging my head against the wall with an archaic management system based on promotion by the length of time served not skills, an ‘old girls’ network and a director who could at times be more of a dictator!   I was kept sane by my great office colleague – who was also excluded for the club! Dave also had enough of his job too, he enjoyed it but was going nowhere.

Then we were given a magazine by a church friend about a couple who had moved to Austria and were running a ski chalet, so I contacted them and thanks guys, you gave us so much help, mates rates and just generally were so loving and generous that we are indebted!    They could have been anywhere in Austria but actually were in Zell am See. Everything seemed to be pointing us in that direction. I’ll do a blog one day of all the places we viewed – Austrians load the places they don’t want on foreigners, very often when a relative has died and all the belongings are still intact – we saw a lot of dead people’s places!

After unsuccessful viewings, we found a new estate agency, arranged to meet and took off into the snow to meet Gunther. This was in January 2007 as we felt we needed to try a bit of snow to see if we liked it!!!!!  I must admit, I wasn’t impressed by Gunther, scruffy, unshaven, and a load of cancelled visits, it didn’t auger well.  We spent the day knocking around Zell until we could meet for the one viewing, and when we met t his time his car was parked the other way around. On the back was the most enormous Fish symbol – he said later it was the biggest he could find. God result!  Only he could direct us straight to a Christian estate agent!   The resulting conversation needs no explanation except that the next day we came to the Lungau, and the first flat we saw was it (well for me).   More of our flat later!

We knew this was the right place for us.  The flat had a garden, and so was a compromise between the bungalow I’d wanted and flat Dave wanted!  Lebenshilfe, the only charity to reply to my email and CV had a work station in the town.  We were on a bus and train route and had a local shop, tick, tick, tick tick in the boxes! On return to England, we now had a budget and lowered the sale price on the house a little bit, added another agent and within two weeks it sold.  God had a laugh on me here too.  A couple had put in an offer before Christmas and it fell through.  So I grumpily spent the entire Christmas holidays magnolia-ing the house and dressing it like ‘wot’ they said on all these TV programmes.  It was only after we’d accepted the offer, that we found it was the same couple whose deal had fallen through and the new agent didn’t know or wasn’t letting on about the previous offer. All that flipping Magnolia, there ain’t none in my flat now!

So we came to Austria, all fired up to fulfil God’s will in our lives to all these Austrians who were going to be our new friends and somehow need us, but it didn’t work out quite how we expected……….