These frank memoirs follow what should have been a privileged childhood, pony mania, a badly behaved teenage, a year out on a farm in Switzerland, working as a zookeeper, running a smallholding, marriage, and family. Yet, it wasn’t until a traumatic eviction that I found faith, my way back to horses and a new beginning.
My Memoirs are on sale together as a special edition box set, just over the Christmas period.
Anna Rashbrook used to be a person who would proudly boast, ‘I am what I am.’ It took nearly forty years of the hard knocks of life before she found God, and that much of what she treasured was actually caused by damage.
In these totally frank memoirs, follow Anna through what should have been a privileged childhood, pony mania, a badly behaved teenage, student placement on a farm in Switzerland, working as a zookeeper, running a smallholding, marriage, and family.
Then, through a traumatic eviction, she finds God’s love and begins a new journey. Yet, it is only when her marriage comes under threat that she must come to terms with her past and find healing. Out of this comes a new job, where her passion for horses is reignited.
Has life finished with her, are there more hurdles to overcome, or even another new start on the horizon?
Am I on the right way and I’m being so attacked because of it and should be rejoicing, or have I just really, really screwed up? Maybe there isn’t even enough evidence to convict me as a Christian!
Edith and I rowed after the last session with the Asylum seekers. It was hot, they weren’t really interested as they had a Play bus coming, and we had a toddler which shouldn’t have allowed to come. I also made the mistake of presuming that one of the horses was familiar with the horse ball we were using but he was scared. When it was kicked, the horse jumped and nearly knocked the kid over. I then had to think on my feet for new games. Edith was out of the arena and no help when we should be together as a team. Maybe I’m too used to working on my own and my own resources. We were also being watched by some teacher doing an MA on integration. So Edith tore me off a strip in front of him twice and I of course responded. Why she couldn’t wait until after the session and do this in private, we looked like a couple of stupid women not professionals? It was because she didn’t understand the games and I hadn’t explained. We did go on after, and she came out with accusations of us needing to assess each session –completely forgetting we have done so each time and it was because of her appointments this time we couldn’t. She admitted has no idea of working with kids, or the games, and when I suggested she needs to read her EAGALA manual, she said she didn’t like taking people’s ideas – I gave up. I tried so hard not to obsess about the whole thing, everything having been said and maybe I shouldn’t have had some beer with Paggy and Dave but I was hurting and lashed out at Dave in my pain.
After a day of calming down and praying, I was due an Erna day. I was so calm about the whole thing and prayed I would be ok and not take offence etc, and I failed. It began after breakfast when I said maybe we could do the Rittersaal if the rooms weren’t ready, she turned and looked at me as if I’d crawled our from under a stone and muttered about seeing rooms first. My heart sank, I was in for another bad day. So I decided to separate myself from them and do the loos and turning the quilts so I didn’t have to be in the same room but working along side. Maybe this was a wrong decision as far as the other two were concerned I’d disappeared. I started sweeping one corridor which was dirty and got shouted at to leave it and go and take the rubbish away. I was so annoyed, I’m afraid I uttered annoyance as I walked away and she kept on talking. She may have been telling me they were having a break, I couldn’t understand, so I couldn’t find them where expected and it happened again later, no one said what we were doing, I was abandoned. Things got late, there was an awful lot to do. And I could see we would finish late. Now this was the one day I could not do that. I had a changeover to do at the holiday flat and didn’t know when they would arrive although they had been told 6. I had prayed, used tongues and went around saying to myself I can take being ignored, but the whole day was getting to me. So it happened, Erna asked to borrow Michaela’s phone to ring home and I had to say, I can’t stay. So I got shouted at, YOU MUST, and I repeated I couldn’t. She then said then I had to see Helmuth and other things which I couldn’t understand so I stormed out. It was such a relief just to shout back in English at the top of my voice ‘Ahh SHUT UP’. I went straight to Helmuth and said I just couldn’t stay and I’d been shouted at and ignored all day and had found my colleagues rude. I said I would stay till 3, then I would be gone. He of course did the tear welling up thing but was ok, so I went and cleaned bogs. Michaela joined me and gave me all this rubbish about being left alone to finish stuff etc, etc, and I was so far gone I just said I couldn’t care less, I had covered for her when he was ill and had done areas on my own myself. I had told her that morning I had the flat to do, but of course it hadn’t registered. I left, the guests turned up two hours early, there wasn’t enough bed linen and so on. I felt later I should offer an Olive branch and texted Michaela saying I’d come the next day and help, the reply to which was it was all done, why did I need to help?
So I don’t know what my reception will be. I go back to work tomorrow, I’ve written my notice. Will I give it in? I feel disloyal leaving midseason but they are already advertising for more kitchen staff. Do I stay and hack it? See what happens on the next Erna day on Friday? What do I do? I haven’t slept properly for days, it goes around and around in my head. Do I send Michaela a text asking if I can still have a lift or just say I’m coming in my car? I have prayed and the answer is I have to follow the peace that God will give me – but so far I cant find it.
Ok, I admit this morning I was tired. We three set off for work, and then suddenly Erna took off to check for forgotten bedsheets and she came back, spoke to Michaela and they both went down the stairs, I had to yell at them, Oi, I’m here what do I do? I was there – Oh, you finish here. Then I thought sod it, I’m just invisible, I’ll ignore the pair of them. Michaela had hardly spoken in the car except to say the Confirmation was a catastrophe. I really shouldn’t have expected a reaction about the cards and pressies I’d sent the kids- me approval seeking again. I like to give confirmation gifts as my own was such a disapointment. Then we stopped for a pause, and Erna suddenly pitched into me had I done the loo – didn’t know I was supposed to do it when I’m being ignored. So I said quite loudly, you don’t need to be so angry. I stayed silent the rest of the morning, then after lunch, Michaela was obviously annoyed. Rosie has been moaning to Erna who had moaned at us about the loos not being clean. Not Helmut, but the cook to Erna. Michaela had replied we’re always guilty and Erna’s response, well nevertheless……….. I had asked Helmuth for my timetable so he did it and Michaela is now mad cos she has some long shifts – well so do I and some weekends. My payment for the holiday we’re having. I really feel like quitting. Edith keeps on moving the goalposts with the asyslum seekers, one day its we must wait before we start, now she says we should. I feel adrift and fed up and want out of the whole situation. I couldnt reply evil with good today, I completely failed. Was it a sulk? No shock and sadness and yes pique in the ignoring, but they stared first – naya! Thank heavens tomorrow off, and my first customer for therapy, if Edith doesn’t change anything.
I’ve written several blogs to come, evaluating our four years so far in the Lungau. It’s a cliche to say this, but the time has flown. I’ve changed so much in this time, I think I’m more patient, closer to God, less manic, less driven, chilled. When we went back to England at Christmas, it put things into perspective. I could see how we’ve started to be absorbed into this land and closed rural community, because it’s so different from English life and it feels good. Or am I kidding myself? We’d have undergone the same process if we’d moved to Wales or Scotland or somewhere, but without the language barrier. My brother made the interesting comment that it would be easy to get trapped in a place like this and never want to leave!
I’m at a really exciting phase. I’m going back to the Burg and hope that I can wangle an almost regular day off so that when Edith and I get customers we have a set day for them. I couldn’t really afford not to go back, and take a gamble on our week being filled. I would like to do the Therapy at Edith’s house, but the best bit of land she insists on keeping for hay, even though I say we should take the money out of the business. The alternative is to work at Lois’s which is fine during the day up until the schools break up and then there’s kids everywhere. He’s offered us the old riding school up on the hill but I don’t fancy taking two geldings through there when he’s running the stallion with mares in the next field. Oh, I hope it’ll work out. We’re off to see Caritas ,the charity which works with Asylum seekers again tomorrow as the boss lady is back. I didnt’ like the idea at first myself – the whole thing has got such a bad press, but these are families from all over Europe and of course, when you know their individual stories it’s different. There’s been a couple of case in Austria where well integrated familes have been frog marched away by the Police and sent home, even at the cost of splitting them up and there’s been such a hue and cry that they’ve been allowed back to settle. Austria is now apparently looking at their methods on this. We had a hostel in Ramingstein when we arrived. Then one lad attacked another with a knife at the Easter fire – saying he had a problem with the Cross. So why send a radical Muslim to a strongly Catholic country? The mayor just simply shut the Hostel down in six weeks, no pleading human rights, blah blah blah. It was done.
This line of work means that we have a basis to put in for ‘Tu Was’ as mentioned previously, the local government initiaitive to fund Lungau people in projects so that they can live better together. The Lungau has a very high rate of depression and suicide. If succesful we could get a couple of thousand and that would help with the advertising costs and so on. We have to do a ten minute presentation -argggggggghhhhhhh! But thats not till May. We’ve been to see various governement peeps all with the ‘very interesting but we dont have any money’ spiel. We’ve made a brochure and business cards, so we need to cover the costs of that!
The church initiative, ”The magic of faith’ is just over ten days away, at last something for God! This will be a great year! We have a speaker/magician, workshops organised, tea and biccies and a follow up ‘Stammtisch’ in a local restaurant. Very Austrian, not how we’d go about it at home, they have no idea about the Alpha course! Maybe we’re finally getting to be on the path we thought we were on when we started here!
Dave and I have begun to realise we’ve begun to sit on out laurels a bit. We haven’t explored Austria at all for ages and it was a major excursion to go to Europark near Salzburg last weekend. Its all too esy to sit and watch a DVD at this time of year. So we’re going to have a holiday somewhere ourselves this year, we’re going to visit the castle at Hochwerfen and the Salzkammergut, maybe with the kids. I love having visitors but after doing the local sites ad nauseum itll be good to go elsewhere.
Roll on spring! When I hear how the Daffs are out and the trees about to blossom in GB I get a little envious!
Oh, where did it come from – 51! I’m not old, though my kids insist I am. When I look at characters in Elizabeth Goudge novels, who are often about this age, they are already acting old, not me! I feel much as I did when I was 18, except calmer and without the angst. I wouldn’t want to be back there again. Maybe the best time was the 40s, with a career and kids growing up and at last some financial security. Now I’m a bit lost. I don’t want any career, I’m happier to lead a quiet life with riding ,gardening,walking and blogging. But at times I do miss the company of the girls from the Fortune Centre. Maybe I’m simply at peace with myself at last…
Birthdays past. I can remember childhood birthdays, the best being when I must have been between 8 nd 10, and I’d have maybe two or three pounds, and I’d go into Smiths in Winchester and buy every pony book I could lay my hands on! I still have some of them now.
My 18th was at Prices College in Fareham, and I met up with the gang for a now legal drink, but also had a party at my Swiss boyfriend, Ruedi’s house. Don’t think he quite realised what was going to happen. It was a bring a bottle and there was loads of music, couples slipping up to his spare room, gate crashers, people chucking up – a good time was had by all! Seem to remember getting lots of birthday snogs, wonder what he thought of that!!!
Then birthdays went down hill. When I was in Switzerland, I didn’t get a pressy , nor the special cake because we were all so busy with spraying the cherry trees. The new girl a month earlier had got loads. I was homesick and upset. My 21st at Seale Hayne was a disappointment, I’d booked a hall for a party and handed it over to the year group to use as I was so depressed and unhappy. It seemed to set a trend for the next few years when a birthday never lived up to the mildest expectations. When the kids came along and we were skint, their birthdays took precedent.
The worst came when my mother died and the funeral was actually on my birthday. I came down with flu the same day, which I didn’t shake off for months. The next year I refused to celebrate it, and it was actually quite a relief to go into work knowing it was the day but I had no expectations to be disappointed.
The year we left England I wanted no pressies as we were just about to leave and so it was filled with the excitement of the new start. Then when we came here, they improved. All the greetings on Facebook were a great bonus in the first year. The next year we were Langlaufing and had a great day falling over in the snow in the sunshine. The next year was my 50th and the kids were here and we had a meal at the local pub and friends came to tea. Lovely day. This year was quieter, but a peaceful one with no sense of dismay as of old.