So where's the snow?

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


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House moving is never easy…

I think this corona situation is making what would already be fairly difficult , even worse, not to mention Brexit. Firstly the UK housing market has gone nuts. We’re looking at Wales and the places we can afford and like are being swept off the shelf in a couple of weeks at asking prices.

We decided that as we can’t get over to view due to the quarantine hassle there and back, and that we want to see the place ourselves, we would rent. All those we that are in our budget (as this will eat into our capital) are either snapped up, only for a years let, or not dog friendly.

And the car, do we sell it here? Or drive it back and flog it to a Left hand drive company in the UK? We will need to drive because of the dog. And then, as we wouldn’t do it in a day, can we stop anywhere in France overnight?

We have quotes for moving our stuff, and one really on the ball company told us the Transfer of residency form which stops us having to pay import tax when we enter the UK. We have to have a complete inventory of the household good, details of us, the car and the dog. I’m just pleased they told us.

Or do we leave the furniture here and collect it later ourselves in a truck? Except Austria has now banned entry from the UK due to the Indian variant, for all except business and residents, and we’ll have to give up our residency when we leave…

So it goes on. It’s a bank holiday weekend, so I’m going to forget the whole flipping thing. We can now go out for a coffee and maybe we’ll just take off for a trip somewhere!


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The death of a neighbour

img_3404He was a dear old man and lived across the lane from us. We only really got to know him after his wife died and he would take regular walks up the farm track. He would have snacks for Swingle in his pocket and she would hurtle off if she caught scent of him and sit barking until she was fed. I was always worried that she would knock him over as he was a bit wobbly. At the foot of this post are some of the blog posts I wrote about him.

But as time went by, he got a bit better on his feet and over the years, I would stop and chat with him. When the fence fell down, he giggled and said, ‘Schlaganfall’ or stoke. He met up with some of the older ladies who lived nearby who also took and afternoon stroll and I said they were the Pensioners running club.

He stopped feeding Swingle when he ran out of his biscuits, and he was a bit more wobbly. I would give him a bottle of wine and a mince pie or Christmas cake, and he would invite me in for a tea. He had built the house himself, and although its by the road, it has a spectacular view down the Mur.

Then he had a fall and because of his blood pressure went into an old people’s home while he got better, where his family said he was happy, with the photo of his wife he used to chat to.

Then  a few weeks ago, we got the deathogram. He had passed away at 92 from Corona.

To all of you who wont shield, have a vaccination and believe the lies on the internet, feeding a spurious paranoia about the bug. This man didn’t have to die, he had a few precious years left with his family. If not for the bug, he would be pottering up the lane even now.  You are convicted of a selfishness that is beyond belief.

Last Christmas, I took little gifts of cake and my homemade wine around to the neighbours. One result was Mr B, who we had been on hello terms with before, suddenly thawed and now stops and chats to us all the time. Widowed a couple of years ago (his wife was on the garage roof picking cherries a few months before she went), he’s on his own but takes a daily constitutional along the lane.  When it was icy I had constant fear that I’d find him fallen, as he’s a bit wobbly, but I think he goes so slowly he’s OK! Sometimes I see him dozing in the sun. He now carries a pocketful of treats for Swingle and if she sees him or I say his name, she’s off like a bullet – the tart! And I treasure this little friendship. Paggy used to slag him off all the time, but I find him a simple, honest man. I noticed the other day as the lane was  thawing someone had built little canals for the water to flow away- Mr B gleefully told me he’d been playing with his walking stick!

Swingle has now trained Mr B to carry biccies for her. If we’re along the lane, she can scent he is there and rushes off barking as loud as she can. She stops and sits by him, and he drops the titbits in her mouth. Presently I catch up and we chat, and sometimes he gives me a sweet!!!!!!  I took this photo secretly so I can make it into a Christmas card for him!!!

On the way back from walkies the other day, Swingle and I met Mr B by the Isopan factory, and after she had finished mugging him for biscuits, he turned to the tower and said – did you know I built that?  He had apprentices under him , so he  must have been a boss! What is now a brick factory, before the war was a paper factory that made special ‘Hirsch’ (deer logo) wrapping paper that was sold all over Europe, but by the nature of it, very few examples survive. The factory was ahead of its time, creating accommodation for its workers in the 1930s, and folk from all Europe worked here. Our house was the women’s house with a Kindergarten and by the Jagglerhof, another identical block housed the men (so not  far ahead), and the railway station is still so named.

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The factory from the other side of the river Mur

Mr B went on to say there is a tunnel that runs under the road  from one side to the other side of the road- I wonder if that is still there? Mr B was born in the Mur house,which was close to the factory which has since been demolished, I thought because the road was widened, but he said that no one wanted to live in it as the work decreased in the factory. He remembers it flooding and his Dad having to go out in swimming trunks!

You can see the chimneys in the photo, which My B said were dynamited, as either they weren’t safe or the factory was closing. One went down right across the road, the other towards the Mur. On the edge of the factory was the Madlingwirt that is now gone. he said when he worked at the factory lunchtimes were great with a beer (unsaid) they would have chess, chat, harmonica playing. I mentioned the old Fire station that was on the corner of the Thomatal road  (see picture at top, brown building) and he said he’s been in the voluntary fire brigade that was stationed there. All of the things he told me took place in the 1940s, so I guess he was too young for service in the war, but you don’t like to ask an old man his age….

He said that there was wood stored all over the place, but the first fire he remembered was when the Herrenhaus burnt – he said they all had to dash over and they only had stirrup pumps and had to rush to and from the Mur, but they must have got it out, although the building was later demolished.

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The burnt Herren house, identical to our block

I asked about when the factory burnt down. He said it happened in the winter, and they were woken in the night in the Mur house by someone banging the door and yelling Alarm! On the river side of the factory, there was a lot of larch planks stored and these had caught alight. He said there were French people working there at the time. So the fire brigade rushed over and by now they has electric pumps for the water. But it was -35c! As they pumped the water, it was freezing, and they had to fight all night, with brigades from all over the Lungau coming to help. The did manage to put the fire out by the morning and save the machinery.  But Mr B said that it was so cold, their uniforms froze! He said the highlight was being brought coffee by the French to keep them going. But I think the damage done meant the factory closed. We have heard rumours that it was an accidentally on purpose fire, meaning it and the various houses could be sold off….

He bought his house and we have always wondered why it had such a big cellar floor although at the side of the road, it turns out it was the village Smithy! He rebuilt it from the cellar up in the 1960s.

I do find local oral history so fascinating and its all stuff that could disappear, Swingle and I will chat with him some more!


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Groundhog Day/week/month/year

Anyone else living here? Same thing everyday, except maybe the excitement of shopping?

It wouldn’t be so bad if it was like the film. I could learn to play an instrument. Help out neighbours. Do good. Maybe finally get to understand my husband. But no.

Lockdown ends here February 8th. Then I hope the library can re-open, I can have a coffee with a friend, and maybe have a vaccination. Here’s hoping…

 


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Christmas alone…

All the sadness that is around us at the moment makes it very easy to bow under and feel sorry for yourself.

Dave and I discussed not doing Christmas, as we’ve never been without family or kids in over 38 years.

Then I thought, %^&$%^$%÷##% to you Covid,we will. As we thought about it, we had some positives. We have control of the tv remote…we can eat what we want to, and when…dont even have to get up, well if it wasnt for the dog!

We can still chat to everyone, thanks internet…we actually get to go to a Christmas eve service as usually we either have family here or are in the UK…can sing along to the online carol service and no one can hear!

So I’m quite looking forward to Christmas after all. What are you doing?


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Locked Down

Here’s some cow shots to cheer us up!

How are things in your part of the world? This time last year, we were struggling with the effects of the heavy snow,floods and landslides that took out roads and some houses!

Here in Austria we’re a few days into a stretch that ends on December 6th. All shops are shut except for supermarkets, banks and chemists. Hotels and restaurants are closed too, but with a takeaway service.  My library is closed, but I’ve been in doing my annual chuck out of books. People on the whole are taking things seriously, we’ve had cases in the village this time, but not lost anyone.

I’m quite happy, I’m just finishing a new book and the free time means I’ll get it out earlier than expected.

I’m tired of hearing the negative stuff about Corona, why would Governments want to destroy their economies? I see them as people trying to do their best in a no win situation.

Can’t say I’m looking forward to Christmas without family, but at least we have zoom and other things. Roll on when this is all over. I have faith that God will see us through this, we need to trust and pray.


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So it goes on

How are things in your part of the world with this annoying bug? We are ornate, just to the left of the big green bit at high risk, but not yet higher.

We now have two people interested in the flat. Our last sale fell through as he went on holiday and bought another place, not having signed the contract. We now have a lady from Styria who has been twice, but is very non commital when she speaks to us. And a couple we know, who work locally, are fellow Christians. They have given us the offer we want, but the Gemeinde is being sticky about it being their main residence. They will have a talk with him early next month.

Last night, we were shocked when we saw how Austria is turning red with Corona. Germany has put a warning on people returning, that they must have a test or quarantine. The Aller Heiligen going to the Graveyards church services have been cancelled. It seems the problem is people mixing in private and event, shopping and keeping distance is not the problem. There’s so much idiocy with conspiracy theories and anti government stuff. Can’t people see it’s a matter of self responsibility? I would be devastated to think I had infected someone who later died. Why are people so selfish?

So this all means, that maybe if Europe is more and more restricted, we won’t actually be physically able to move, Wales where we might go is locked down. The spectre of Christmas without family is looming.