So where's the snow?

Muddling through life from Austria to Wales; God, life and a small black dog


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Mud

It’s only since we’ve been here in Wales that I’ve come to reluctantly admit just how much the winters were getting me down in Austria. It’s lovely if all you have to do is skim down a mountain and have a drink at the end or just watch it fall and take photos (Well I did love that).

But. When you have to live day in day out with it, as it compacts and hardens into ice underfoot and you have to keep your eyes on the ground, or like me put spikes on your boots all the time, the thrill wears off. Or the obsessional snow clearing of the stuff, when you have a huge yard, and the neighbours are tearing out with shovels the second it stops falling, it becomes an irritation. I always felt we didn’t need to clear so much, most of our neighbours weren’t even there in winter, so why clear their garages?

Let alone, when you get ‘Tau wetter’ when it rains then freezes and the whole place turns into a skating rink. Walking on ice had me permanently in a panic, although the nails helped.

The day in day out, changing of layers of clothes to take the dog out and the paths that became inaccessible in the woods. Yes, I really was going to pay 20 euros to go up in a lift, walk on a piste and get mown down by skiers! There were lovely walks, which we did find, but few and far between. But daily runs with the dog lost their appeal.

Here, it has been raining since Christmas day, now over 2 inches. There is mud and slush over the paths, the dog comes back wet, and I’m quite often soaked. Do I panic when I slip in a bit of mud? No. It’s a soft squelchy landing. I’m happy slinging wellies off, towelling the dog and as it’s not so cold, no need for layers of coats.

I’m home.


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Saying Goodbye

I’ve just found this post, three months after we left Austria, just shows the stress we were under as I forgot all about it.

Having been in lockdown for a while (!) and a hard winter, we haven’t seen many people. But as the word gets around we are going, people, when they meet me, they say how sorry they are that we’re going. But when have we ever met, except to pass the time? Others say we’ll meet for a coffee before we go, and okay, time has run away with us, but I get the idea, some don’t mean it, they’re being polite. Others, I will miss and will have a tear before we go. The other day, I had this best ever farewell conversation. It was with the farmer who has supplied us with firewood for the past fourteen years.

‘Hey, so you’re still here?’ he smiled.

‘Yes, but we’re going next Friday.’

‘What, so soon?’

‘Yes, we have to go when we can get the lorry to come here.’

‘Ah, well, we’ll see each other again in heaven!’

Perfect way to say goodbye!


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Swingle has a brilliant day

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Bella and me in the snow

Well, spring is coming and I can lounge around in the garden sun again! While there’s no more snow to roll in, there’s lots of smelly things emerging for perfume and even the odd dead Woozle * to snack on- I’ve even caught and munched a few live ones too.  But yesterday was just a great day.

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Lucy and me

It started with Boss taking me for a quick stroll up the lane, but the Woozles had already gone back to bed even though I poked around in the undergrowth, yet it was a good early morning stretch of the legs. Then she went out and left me with some chews AND a bone to keep me occupied while she was out- she never leaves the TV on for me……

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Me Woozle hunting

Just after she got back,  Lucy, my best Austrian friend popped round to say she was just going for a walk and she’d be around in the afternoon. We quickly ran around the garden to check for any new Woozles and then she was off. Then to my surprise Boss told me to get in the car, and as I can now navigate, it was soon clear we were on the way to Bella’s House – she’s my best English speaking friend – I’m a bi-lingual dog you see! We had a quick turn around the garden and we were then both told to get in the car! So exciting! We sat together and wondered where we were going, it couldn’t be the vets because we go to different ones. We chatted about some good smells we’d had and then we were there. It was the river walk with the fields and stinky stuff – brilliant. We ran and swam – though Bella said it was still a bit cold for her as she has more hair than me. We rolled in some really fresh stuff and sneaked a couple of mouthfuls of yummy stuff while the two Bosses chatted.  I even swam across the Mur when I thought I saw a huge bone on the island but it was plastic! So we romped back, and into the car, and even better, when we got to Bella’s we had another play AND treats!

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Me and a Woozle I caught and killed last year

Sadly, I was soon packed back in the car, and  we went up to the Castle where He works. I found some interesting bits under a bin while waiting, then we went home for lunch, which I assisted with. I was just thinking of a snooze when Lucy came round as promised. We went to her house but couldn’t find any Woozles, so we came back and played here. I was just beginning to feel a bit tired and so was Lucy so she went home.  So I came in and helped Boss writing from the comfort of the spare bed!

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Me Woozling on sofa

Then the day was nearly perfect. I’d just helped them wash their empty yoghurt pots and was trying the hypnosis as usual, when it must have worked as I heard her saying how much exercise I’d had, and blow me down, she gave me a bit of dinner! So after that, in thankfulness, I gave them the honour of me sitting between them on the sofa all evening, I don’t know why they kept on flapping their hands and the tv pages, but what ho! a brilliant day!

  • Woozle, originating in Winnie the Pooh, it has become a family word!
  •  noun:small wriggling creature such as a mouse that lives in the undergrowth, or verb: a dog or child having a lovely wriggle!
  • In the Urban dictionary
    (verb) to fossick purposefully and with enthusiasm, head down tail up


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For Martin

For Martin, who once lived here too!


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Decision!

Dave and I have been umming and ahhing about what to do. Dave had left Finstergruen, I had a week at the Docs, do we take a holiday here or at home while we wait for the house to complete? So I rang the man with van who would take us and the dog, and he did have a vacancy in August. Do we go with him or drive. How would the dog be in a crate in the van? Monumental dithering again. We prayed about it.

Driving home form work, I heard a sudden clunk, and I had no gears, I had to coast into a side road. Got the OAMTC out who towed me to the garage. The coupling on the gearbox had broken. €900 to repair. Neither of us would trust the car again. So we sold it to the garage, along with the trailer. Man and van booked. A definite answer to prayer, don’t take the car!

He’ll get to us the afternoon of the twelfth, load up, and then he’ll go to a hotel. First thing in the morning, we will drive to Calais. Saturday morning ferry to the UK, off that and Mountain Ash by the afternoon. Furniture into storage until the house is ready. Us into a hotel (such hardship) for the first four days. We’ll buy a newer car, and then off to visit family. No quarantine, would have stayed put if that was on.

Of course, its not that simple. The morning the car went, I was thrown off a Facebook group, couldn’t understand why, and an admin I contacted was almost rude. That really upset me – although it was a mistake and I was later reinstated. Then the car. Then I had to wade through all the Covid stuff. PCR tests before we leave. Then Covid tests to buy for our second day. Passenger location form. Inventory of house. Pack house. Clean. Result, major meltdown, throwing things at Dave, and sleeping really badly. I vowed last time we moved, I’d get someone to pack for me. Packing hasn’t been the problem this time, we started last year. But Covid and Brexit-ARRGGHHHHHHH!


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Nine weeks more?

I’ve been checking on the jolly old net about the situation on completion in the UK, to find that due to the stamp duty tax, and the housing boom, some houses are taking up to SIXTEEN weeks to complete. We’re seven weeks in, help! But there is the good news that we wont have to quarantine when we arrive, just do tests, that makes it easier.

Today is a big day for Dave. He leaves his job at Burg Finsterguen, and in October he finally gets his UK pension. So this may be his last day of work. He’s certainly earned it. We’re packing up the house until we can pack no more, then we’re going to enjoy ourselves, do some mountains and explore. Usually in summer we’re too busy with work and holiday houses to do much.

Other news is that we can take our Austrian pension to the UK. But in a fine display of bureaucratic sexism, Dave can have his paid into our joint UK account, I have to have a separate one. Can I set up a new UK account without residency? No. But I have got an extension of when my pension is paid into the account here, so maybe we’ll be in the UK before that happens, at least I can transfer it manually.

And the holiday houses are still chasing us, we’re helping out a mate who had taken one over, but is stuck now in the UK for a while. I’m just hoping this really is the last time I have to muck out after guests!