So where's the snow?

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


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The Journey#2

It was strange sitting so high in the van, but Mark is a professional driver, so I let go and really tried not to drive with him. He cut in and out in a way I’d never have the courage to do. At the border with Germany, we unexpectedly caught a jam. Two accidents, then we sailed through. We stopped after four hours as we reckoned that Swingle would sleep. After that, we made it every couple of hours. It was a warm day, and we made sure we kept her hydrated. She would be so pleased to see us, then leap out to all the great smells in the stops. I just loved all the changing scenery as we went through Germany and France. We reached Calais, after one major jam for a car accident. Swingle was scared by the sirens, but we couldn’t get her out and it took half an hour to find a place to stop, but she had calmed by then. Mark has been moving animals for years and he was completely right about how she would handle it. The dark place became safe for her.

We got to our hotel in Calais in good time as Mark knew a shortcut that by bypassed a load of traffic. We parked in a compound that housed all the vehicles for the Calais police force. They kept a van permanently parked there. During the night, they set off some alarms and there was shouting; I guess they had arrested someone. We saw a group of non uniformed officers going off on plain clothes duty. And in our room, Swingle’s water got spilled all over the floor! We went for a walk, but there were no parks. We couldn’t find an evening meal so ended up getting snacks from Lidl! The air was warm and it was a hot, close night. Despite having drinking lots on the journey, Swingle downed two bowls of water in the room. That resulted in two trips out in the night and a poop. We went to our rooms in the lift first of all, she scared herself by seeing a black dog in the lift mirror and looked for it behind the mirror. Then her tail stopped the door shutting. In the night, we took her to the huge roundabout opposite the hotel, so much traffic in the day she loved it. She had major sensory overload on each stop, from so many other dogs!

We were zombie like in the morning. We left for the P&O ferry at Calais; the tunnel having gone up hugely in price at the beginning of the summer. Mark was nervous as there had been so many problems with the border control over the Covid months, and he’d just heard that from the weekend, France would be only accepting essential UK travellers.

We went to the first booth, manned by two grumpy looking officers who wouldn’t speak but ordered us to the UK border control. There were various groups from Romania etc, who seemed to be having problems getting through. When or turn came, we had a smile and waved through. Mark had told us we had our location forms linked to our passports, so I guessed all was Ok. We felt a huge relief.

When we got to the P&O kiosk, the proverbial hit the fan. Inside was sat a poker faced guy, with long hair and glasses, and wouldn’t react to Mark’s politeness. We had to do all the forms, and he refused our location forms because I hadn’t put we had come through France, so our form was green for Austria, not Amber for France. I was getting my files and laptop to change it, but Mark did a whole new form. It got us through, but I’m having kittens that on Monday morning I’ll get a call from Gov UK demanding an explanation. Then the chip reader couldn’t find Swingles chip, and grumpy pants had to get another. We queued for the ferry, glad to have left grumpy pants behind. We guessed he was part of the French not liking the UK, and he didn’t want to do all these checks. Then as we were about to board, one of the Marshalls said we were missing a yellow sticker, Grumpy’s bloodymindedness or stress?

Once on, we left Swingle in the van and had breakfast in the lorry drivers’ café, the staff were so helpful and I even got some gluten free toast, eggs and bacon! She was fine, maybe the ferry’s engine’s made her think the van was moving, we certainly didn’t need to dope her. Once off the ferry, we sailed through customs  much to Mark’s relief. I felt a bit emotional at finally returning home, but was so tired, I remained calm. The journey to Wales was uneventful, with few traffic jams. We took all our furniture to the store, and they opened up for us. It seemed so little. Swingle was reaching the end of her tether with the box. She started scratching to get out of it each time we shut the door, only to quieten when the engine started. At the store, I tied her to a trolley and gave her a big chew that cheered her up. At the hotel she was out like a bullet, having been in the rattly, empty bus.

Then in Cardiff, the road was closed to the hotel, and Mark drove us around the block to find it He was so kind to do it, we were all geared up to catch the train into Cardiff. He made all the difference to the trip. I would have gone to pieces with the driving and the problems. But our troubles were over. When we checked in, our Covid tests hadn’t arrived. I rang the firm, who said they had been returned due to a wrong address. I had written in the name from the booking form and had been unable to find a number and had the right post code. The bloke was really helpful, although I was so angry. Why hadn’t I been contacted? I had been under such stress I’d forgotten that I should get a text when they were despatched, it seems royal mail didn’t even dispatch them and the man hinted it was my fault for not writing hotel on the address. He promised to get them dispatched asap Monday, but did hint it was my fault for not writing hotel! But I checked all the documents, and non had hotel on the name. It remains to see if they will turn up. And we won’t take the rest on Monday, He said it was okay to do it on the third, as it was due to courier failure. I just hope.


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The Journey#1

We have been packing for months and I have been missing my books for so long. Dave finished his job at the Castle. We had been dithering about what to do. We wanted to take a holiday and should we do it in Austria or the UK. We could store in Wales and then go off visiting. We prayed over it. We also couldn’t decide between driving over or to go with the man and van who could take the dog. So, I rang him, and he was free for the weekend of August 13-15th.

That Wednesday, I told the Docs that I would leave, regardless of what we decided, and drove home with the electric lawnmower in the back of the car. Over the railway line, and clunk! I lost all drive and drove the Panda right, fortunately off the road and into a car park. The OAMTC was called, and I was towed to the garage where we had bought it. They said they would diagnose and call us back. I lashed out and got a taxi home. When they called, it was the coupling between the gearbox and the engine. €900. It also needed €700 for a new timing belt, which we hadn’t had done after the last MOT. The next day, we sold it back to the garage for €2200, along with the trailer. A friend saw us at the bus stop, gave us a lift in and took all the gear from the back of the car home for us. The garage then picked up the trailer. We then took the train back after getting the money.

Stress went on up. In our last week, we had to do a changeover for a holiday house for a friend, but at least, he picked us up. Then it was a list writing time of all that needed doing. I had to order covid tests for us to travel, which would be done in Tamsweg. I had to fill in a transfer of residence form for the DVLC (thanks Brexit) which meant writing an inventory, so this couldn’t be done until we’d packed most things. Once the tests were done, I had to do a Passenger location form for travelling, and book  more tests, with proof for Day 2 in the UK.

On top of all this, packing up, and we had to leave so much junk, because we couldn’t get to the tip.I was overtired and got in a panicky stress about the timing of the forms. Dave said he was worried about me, as I struggled with all the information, but he wouldn’t lift a finger to help me do the things because they were on the computer. I had a complete meltdown, threw things at him, and stormed out. It was good to clear the air, but didn’t lessen the load, but at least he was good at packing.

We walked in the heat to the Covid test station at Tamsweg, to find they had only noted one appointment. I was really worried about doing the test, but they were helpful. The next day, while in the last flurry of packing, I left to meet my best mate, Jenny to have lunch and say bye, only to get a phone call saying the van man, Mark, had made great time and was nearly there. Dave wasn’t amused. I got back, asap. Swingle even got into the box in the van, so that worry lessened. Then Mark saw the pile of boxes and books and DVDs. We got them in, and he said he was worried that the van would be overloaded. So, we went to Lager haus, who had a weighbridge. The van was 400kg overweight, without most of the furniture. We had to leave one or the other behind. It broke my heart to think all my books that I had already missed for over a year, might have to be lost. Then I remembered some friends of our who run a freight company and rang them. They could get them back! So we piled them on a pallet ready for collection. Soon, the van was packed, but even so, we had to leave more furniture behind than planned. Door shut, Mark was off to sleep, only to find the bloke at reception of the village Pension I’d booked, hadn’t heard of the booking and for a while, we thought we might have to find another. We went on packing the last things, and putting rubbish into bags. I thought the vet had forgotten Swingle, and we didn’t get there till nearly nine to get her passport done. More stress. On top of this, the Red Cross had sent only one text for the results, and while the QR codes worked, I couldn’t tell which one belonged to who0. In the end, hoping I wouldn’t cause them to be blocked, I put one set of details in, then found which one was which. BUT, I needed to print them out, they were on the phone as PDF files, and I couldn’t get them to the PC to print. Finally, I found a way to convert them to word and could save them to email and print. Maybe if I had been less tired, I would have worked it out quicker. I had already woken early in the morning stressing that I hadn’t a QR code reader on my phone and didn’t know how to use one. It turned out I just needed to download the test company App, but as above could only do it for one test.

In the early morning, I got fed up at not being able to take so many of our things, hiding my favourite mugs in the bedding. Mark arrived at 3am, and in the darkness, we put the last things in. Swingle, with her smelly rugs, jumped happily into the crate. It was in the dark and padded with the mattresses, so she shouldn’t be too hot. I had filled out all the forms, working late into the evenings the night before, but I had it all ready in my folder. We left Madling in darkness and it wasn’t until about five it got light.


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Ten years and Seven Years on

We’ve been here for ten years now and the spectre of Brexit looms. It would be, wouldn’t it that just as I find a work solution that fits, have a dog and am writing a new book, we may have to go! But anyway, here is my first post from  March 2010. Boy how life has changed in this time, I can’t go through it all now, you’ll have to read the blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ve been living in Austria for the past three years, having moved here from the UK with my husband.  We are committed Christians and felt that this was a move God wanted for us.  However, this adventure has not been what was expected!  I worked for six years in England in Riding Therapy, with teenagers with learning disabilities. Since being here I’ve been teaching riding in very bad German to kids, mostly in a stable that specialises in Icelandic horses. I’m planning to begin working in the area of Equine assisted therapy this year.  I am literally ‘between’ jobs as I will be starting work as a cleaner in a nearby castle which is used a Youth Hostel!  I plan to write about this, God and the spiritual life, horses, snow, and my kids who I miss a lot! Maybe it will interest someone!


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What’s she doing now????

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After my doom and gloom over the lost job, things are looking up! I’ve taken an out an Austrian work licence like Dave and can now take on what he can’t do due to his hours. Now I feel in control, I’m loving the gardening, being outside. Soon the holiday lets begin but at least the laundry is easier to dry at this time of year! I’m chatting to a company about being a key holder for three holiday flats in one of the resorts- Dave doesn’t like the idea as it’s all to do with the meet and greet which is the biggest time waster invented, but it’s for MY business!!!! I asked God to send things my way and this came unasked.

I’ve put an advert in the local job centre for English tutoring. I’m to talking to Annie about running the Library.

I have time to walk the dog and chat with friends. It’s even been good to go back to the church services here, although they are archaic, being in the precence of God is there.  I’m often really tired, but I can bear it, unlike a couple of years ago when I would have to nap in the day.

Happy.  Then came Brexit………………


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Austria and Brexit

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For my international readers who may not know, this relates to the upcoming June vote in the UK on whether the UK will stay in the EU. So of course this matters to us and we’ve registered to vote. We have residency here but not citizenship. So we decided to research about what the consequences might be.

Of course, any changes will take two years to implement, so maybe if we have to leave, we’d have time to sell up.  And the ramifications we have found are quite alarming.  We will have to undergo German exams and also yearly registration. It may be also that we have to pay an extra tax to allow our residency to continue, and it may be quite expensive. If we receive a Pension from the UK, they will levy that too.

But worst Dave would have to take some form of National Service, maybe not the full physical but some form of civil defence training. I would also have to commit to some voluntary service in the area. A lot to think about, and I’m now doubly sure how I will vote.