So where's the snow?

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


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So what happened?

Usually a view down the valley, but now a white out as the storm hits

I must confess to a certain amount of butterflies  before I had to work with Erna again.  It was the uncertainty of what would happen. I was geared up to being shouted at, or at the most blindingly unlikely, being apologised to.  The plan was to do the bins and loos and clean away from her. So we arrived at breakfast and she said the usual ‘morning’ to Micheala and then ignored me – also as usual.  She was set on scrubbing every floor in the place she could. Fine, I could deal with this, but if she was any sort of leader or ratherwhat I would have said would be great, we have some time, lets see if we can do anyhting to clean things up a bit – no it was just we’ll scrub the floors as we have time, there’s so much more than just floors to keep tje Burg claen! So I felt  if she wants to be an Ostrich and not deal with things, I will too. Hopefully we won’t work together more than a few times more this season, then I’m out of there. So she mopped and I made a point of asking her what to do, even if I got the blank look, andI even ended up with the broom!  If they think I’m so bad at mopping/scrubbing and they do all this work and end up knackered, why should I care?

Every time I started on the negative thoughts or feeling down, a Christian anthem came into my head, ‘Shout to the North and South….Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Earth’, now I don’t even really like this tune, though we sang it loads at the Fortune Centre, but there it was in my head, so strong that I got caught up in singing it (well not very loudly). I don’t often get songs stuck in my head either. I’d often thought of bringing my MP3 on Erna days but hey, this was God doing it for me! WOW!

 However, most importantly for me, I’ve learnt some things from God in this process that maybe he’s been trying to explain to me for a long time. And how?  Besides getting my prayer and reading life back in order, I’ve apologised to the Holy Spirit for grieving him and asked for help, and look what he did! Sorry non Christians, this is deep Christan speak now. I can see that the devil has tried to sink me in negativity and so separate me from the path I should be on – and he has shot himself in the foot because I’ve got over the not handling being ignored, and working with someone who yells and screams and can move on. No longer will I be eaten up by negative thoughts and worries –result!  

Spookily or really a natural coincidence, that afternoon the Lungau was hit by a freak thunderstorm.  We saw it coming over the hills as the sky went black, then came the wind and the trees bent double, then the rain and hail hit.  Non of the windows in the Burg were water tight and the howling of the wind though the gaps was incredible.  Hail lay like snow in the Hof and from one of the baclonies you could see nothing except the cloud and the lightning in it as the strom howled through.  It cleared in an hour and the sky was blue.  But I felt a deep, overwhelming sadness, and I was I right, for when I got home, so many of my flowers had been cut to shreds and the veggies were either flattened or full of holes.  Pictures will be on the next posts.

A week on…..Saturday I was on my own and there was one trakt that needed cleaning for new guests.  Micheala had said to me in her ‘speak to her seriously and slowly so she understands voice’ that two the rooms would need scrubbing because there had been dogs in them – like I wouldn’t have worked that out?  Well any way, I scrubbed two of the rooms on my own initiative as well as these two –so there!  But one room was occupied by an old boy with a chihaua, which had pooped all over the floor. At 3.30 he was still faffing around in the room, so I went to Helmuth- maybe this guy was staying on.  Helmuth exploded and went to give the guy a heave – the next group was due in an hour.  So I went and sat in the sun and ate a cake until I could finally get in.  At four o’clock I was finally finished – quite a contrast to last week and my paddy at having leaving at three. I didn’t moan to Helmuth once, as mostly I was chuckling inside, payback  for last week!


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The next day at work!

View of Weisspriach from above!

Michaela had sent me a text  telling me we started at 8 and I was to drive myself.  I got the idea she was a bit cross, so asked her – she said she was ‘Stink sour’ (translation) so I got the point!  Funny thing was once I knew what my reception was  going to be I was immediately calm, and slept well for the first time it ages. My brother’s comment on the blog made also a lot of sense -thanks Hugh!

On arriving at t’Burg with a few butterflies, we ignored each other during breakfast and went up the tower. Once in a room I said we can work like this all day but I think we need to talk.  And we did, and I think we eventually got each other’s point of view.  Hers was that I should have told them earlier that I couldn’t stay, fair point, but I genuinely felt that we would finish near or on time. She said she had tried to warn us in the morning. Again my lack of understanding of dialect doesn’t help! She had realised I was keeping my distance and I explained why and she softened.  I apologised, saying I had lost the plot  and she accepted.  She said she had spent the weekend boiling at 500 degrees!  She’s also mad at Helmuth, who as I expected ducked even discussing the issue with her. By the end of the day we were on good terms again, though I expect deep down she still hates my guts!  When I said I had my notice to give in to Helmuth, she please don’t , I can’t work everyday till the end if the season.  We also sort of arranged that I will do bins and loos on Friday when Erna is next there – that’s going to be another interesting one!  Still I have found peace and will stay at the Burg till the end of the season.  Whether I;m under attack or just a prat, I still don’t know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Some comments please – what would you do?

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.


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Tales from the Burg

Berg not Burg!

Last Saturday, I was on my own for a shift, feeling refreshed after three days off and with a devil many care attitude as I arrived – quite a change for me!  The film crew had left the major rooms in the Burg in chaos, so there was relatively little to do.  I got chatting to one of the cooks who I know is a gossip monger and when she asked If I found Michaela ok, I said she is great to work with, but Erna not. The reply to which was she was glad not to have a lot to  do with her – quite uplifting to find it isn’t just me.  We then discussed finding work here, and I said I may leave this autumn – I wonder how long till that gets around!   Then I bumped into our boss lady from Vienna, and it was so nice to have a chat – and I was lazy and spoke in English.  I told her that I have ideas about changing how we clean the castle, but every time I mention it I’m completely ignored or unpopular, but she said she was interested to hear, and we made a date to meet next week when she meets collects her son. We also got into a talking about the lack of team spirit here, organisation and communication, and I told her a little about my job in the UK, and how here  a simple thing like a maintenance book as we had there would make a difference. Some repairs are never being done here and we need things like new bins and baby changing mats but no one will take responsibility to organise it.  Helmuth has enough on his plate. Then she said that next year there will be a part-time bloke doing just these things and stuff like team building on a regular basis.  Cor my subconscious went nuts- wouldn’t mind that job, but I’d have to spend the winter seriously improving my German! I expect it’s already decided but it gave me a little hope to dream.  When I spoke to Michaela the next day about changing the cleaning, as expected she said she has absolutely no interest whatsoever – except for rebuilding the shower rooms! We had a brilliant day that day, catching up on news and giggling in the Erna free zone.  We see less of each other now as the groups come and stay for longer, only needing one cleaner.

We were chatting to Katrin who was doing some ironing, and she hadn’t worked all weekend, although they were short staffed.  All the kitchen staff were in that day – doing what we wondered, most of the kids were out all day.  Katrin then said she was told she had to stay until 3 and has to do 53 hours this week to make her time up – it could be that someone was winding her up but Michaela and I heard them saying they must work as many hours as possible.  Michaela reckons they’re doing this so they don’t have to sign on so soon – extra hours mean are given at the end of the year as free/ time in lieu, if you see what I mean.  If they’re doing this, working unneeded hours, isn’t that a form of stealing?

The film crew ran seriously over time, and were still clearing up on Monday, they’d left a hoover in the Rittersal to clear up the remains of the fake smoke they’d made, fleck of white everywhere.  For the first time in xxxx years I cleaned between some of the floorboards and lumps of ancient dust and muck lifted out. This is why when we scrub the floor, the copious amounts of water wash some of it out, but it goes back in again, and sweeping just shoves more down, let alone the damage all this water does to the joists below.  All it would need would be once a year maybe a thorough deep cleaning and occasional hoovering.  Trouble is the boards are so worn, everything stains and that really can only be removed by scrubbing – or maybe something, like a carpet cleaner that pushes water in then sucks it out…….

Just as we were finishing, a group a ladies came on a tour, one was so sweet, dressed in a dirndl, great big boots and her hair in a plait around her head.  They went up into the minstrel’s gallery and sang a folk song, Wow, the hairs on my arms stood on end, it was beautiful.

When I was telling Helmuth about this, he told us he’d had a call from the village hotel (run by Russian mafia according to Paggy)  wanting a tour at 9.00 oclock in the evening, he’d of course refused as the Bug is full of kids and they are supposed to be settling for the night. He said blow him down if he didn’t find the ‘Verein’ or club that does the tours when he can’t, doing a tour later that night, so he chucked them out of the Burg and in a huff they went and had a drink in the Naschkammer.  Only for a couple to wander off to take photos, given away by the flashlights – he chucked them all out once mre!  I suppose now we’ll have guys in big suits threatening to burn the Burg down (again)!


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Prayers answered…..

Luxury bee house -museum again!

Today was the first day at the Burg I could actually relax and get on with things, feel part of a team and want to distance myself from the others by being a gofer.  Michaela had a long chat with Helmuth at the weekend, and told him about all the stress we’re getting, from all the directions.  She said that one more thing and she and I will down tools and walk out – Helmuth’s response was please, please don’t. Nevertheless, we’ve stated our case.  Will will be more under his direction and much more separate from the kitchen ladies – they’re being stopped having so many breaks in the Naschkammer!   Erna was back from her break in Ireland, and for the first time she actually made eye contact with me several times, and listened to me!  I’d prayed on Friday that if it was for me to speak to Helmuth and the Boss lady that an opportunity would occur, it didn’t and I left it in God’s hands.  He’s moved people and changed hearts – wow!

The major stress was today that Rosie the head cook has told everyone that aren’t kitchen staff, they can no longer eat or go in there, due to the report from the food police.  But she hasn’t briefed her staff of organised things such as moving the keys and time sheets to the laundry, or even warning them to lay a breakfast table upstairs for us, we were all sat waiting!  Same at lunch, no one had laid up, and we had to do all ourselves, what efficiency!  Michaels’a parting shot, was well, if we get no breakfast we leave half an hour earlier!


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Tu Was -presentation day

Edith and I in action!

I worked the day of the presentation, so I guess that kept any nerves at bay.  Edith was far more nervous and had planned a quiet day with a snooze, so Lois sends someone round who’d brought a stallion to the stables and she had to entertain them!  She wa not amused.

We had a run through of what we were going to say in my garden and I was so impressed she had it off by heart.  I was a bit thrown when she said I should do my bit in English, but I was OK.  So we set off to the Jagglerhof (local farm that has a restaurant and bar) and headed to the bar for a non alcoholic drink and a bit of a calm down.  I saw some familiar faces and thought how English we’d all been, not telling each other we were putting in for the money, because that’s a bit embarrassing!

Each group had ten minutes, 7 or so for speech and 3 for questions. The Jury was a mixed bunch with a local singer and bodies from various government agencies.  We heard projects for another cook book, a nail Samsun (whatever that was) by a German, who’s only connection with the Lungau seemed to be his brother, lives in Salzburg – I’m of course interpreting this through dialect and my knowledge of German.   There was a couple of village projects for supporting old people and those in need, and one I really liked for a ‘Meeting point’ Second hand shop.  The idea is not only to buy stuff, but to meet there for coffees and allow young and incomers a chance to work, a really good idea I thought. There was a great presentation for a language school, which had peanut butter handed out!  Then came on two body builders in purple tee shirts with a project for kids, to give them courage. I’m afraid my instincts on seeing those two had my hackles up.  One looked definately gay, and of course that doesn’t mean anything but its a start for odd behaviour.  Would they have a Police check? Who would monitor them – I wouldn’t leave my kids alone with those two.  Edith said she felt exactly the same.  interestingly, I saw one of them in the paper the next day, he’d won something, and was a member of the ‘Bent Club’.  I fell about laughing and had to explain to Michaela, but even so…….

So out turn came, and Edith was mega. She explained how we had both migrated into the Lungau, had seen this need as well as having done the EAGALA training and with her horses wanted to help. She then asked if I could speak in English, so I slowly said how the Asylum seekers are only our starting point and we want to help everyone in the Lungau.  There were a few questions about funding and what exactly we would do, and thank heavens it was over.  Nerves had hit me about 5 minutes before we started, but now we headed for a glass of wine! 

There was a pause and two ladies of the Jury  came and talked to us, they were really interested in our project and were horsey, and will be coming to visit us and ride WOW!   I went home in a really hopeful turn of mind!