So where's the snow?

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


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Reflections on Austria Two

Of course, one of the main things in Austria was the language. I had earlier spoken Swiss German a bit, and we both had lessons in high German while we were waiting to move. What we hadn’t reckoned with was the local dialect, which caused some re-learning. I found work within a few months and that is the only way to really get a second language.

Even so, over the years as we got more fluent, and I could do courses and teach, my written German was very poor, as I needed it so seldom. But I could get by. I could witter on in dialect, but I knew I made many mistakes, but people who knew me got how I spoke.

It wasn’t until we got here, I suddenly realised I no longer had to check my sentences in my head when it was something complex. I was suddenly aware of this weight lifting, I could speak and understand every word that came my way. I had found Lungau people a little stand offish, but maybe that was me being hesitant, and them with us in case there was a misunderstanding. I did even get annoyed with people who couldn’t understand me when I knew I was saying things correctly.

Maybe it was just the Lungau people, because here shop workers chat and joke with you, they didn’t. We meet people when out with the dog and have some great conversations, we never chatted with anyone beyond the day’s greetings. I love the wicked Welsh sense of humour. I enjoy shamelessly listening in to other people’s conversations in cafes and on buses, without having to get the context first.

Was it me or was it them?


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Lungau Blackberries

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August 22nd

Its always been a surprise to me that these don’t grow in the wild here, as in England they seem to be the most tenacious and drought suffering of all plants.  I have such memories of my brothers making Blackberry wine, being sent out of the house to go and collect them, blackberry crumble with custard and my brothers again pretending to have their throats cut and dribbling the gore down their chins , blackberries and vanilla ice cream, when the kids were little and we’d been around the estate to pick them.  Although they would be ready in August, they seem intrinsic with autumn.  Here the heatwave broke and we’ve a delicious coolness in the air, that promise of change but not quite yet.  These are the first fruits of our planted bush in our garden, maybe next year, if they survive we may have enough for a crumble. I knew when I took this photo Id have to be quick,  as they were very soon munched and enjoyed with all the evocation of childhood and autumn.


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A market in Mariapfarr

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I’m no catholic but I’m quite happy to use their holidays, and this one was for Mary’s ascension -nowhere to be found in the Bible, but what ho!  This annual flea marker (no Car boot sales here), takes up most of the village centre. This time I remembered the camera!  I was comparing it to what I’d find at sale in the UK.

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There were of course many stalls selling the outgrown kids toys, new stuff,

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china knick nacks,  old postcards and  books, plus the dealers.   But what I found fascinating, but understandable was the amount of mlitary stuff,

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holy stuff,

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hunting stuff,

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fur stuff.

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 I don’t think in the UK you would be allowed to sell bayonets

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or axes on the street!

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I saw this wonderful picture of some deer charging a hunters party, but she wanted 60 euros

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for it, I’m glad I got a sneaky shot of it before she saw me! In this close up above, you can see one guy has managed not to spill his drink, shades of my mother who would never spill a drop!

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There was of course a marching band,

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beer and sausages,

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and cakes.

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There  was also a huge mix of languages and I heard others speaking English but was content to be a bystander. We bought some old postcards of Ramingstein

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and scanned them in so we could have a better look.  Its a shame that the dates weren’t on the stamps, nor could we read the messages!

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There were also some intereresting scarecrows entered in a competition for Bauernherbst that is coming up (Farmer’s Autumn). Can’t help thinking its the wrong time of year for them though!

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Still, it was a great day out.


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Teaching, what now?

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I’ve needed to write about this to get it all out of my system and get some perspective. Its also written out of exhaustion and by the time you read this, I will have bounced backed, prayed things through and come to some sort of resolution!   I always find writing things out helps with closure on things. I’d really like some feedback too!

Naturally, after the course I did have a lot of self-pity to wallow in but you can only let that run so far.  As is my usual thing, I’m now into looking at what I’ve done, the mistakes and how to carry on. Did I in the first place get it completely wrong and shouldn’t have taken the course?  There’d been so much in my life recently that showed I was on the right track repeating what we did when we first came here. I had  once again the horses and teaching a bit of English etc, so  I felt that this  course was a logical step. That the job was still advertised after the wedding and my operation was like a sign. But I’m not a trained classroom teacher. I worked for six years as a teacher, on a stable yard, in the care home and a little in the formal setting.  I have an NVQ assessors qualification. Had my arrogance let me believe I could do such a thing? I’d been glad that Andrea had done the hard slog and I had the easier consolidation to do.For the next course, I’d have the summer to fully prepare.  Naturally, taking over a course halfway isn’t easy, Andrea was their Saint, and I could do nothing right. Even Hilda said the group was difficult.

Maybe I should have worked harder on my German over the years, I know I make mistakes all the time and people do misunderstand me.

Maybe I should have heeded that small voice of doubt.

I don’t deal  well with hostility, and added to that in a second language, what chance would I have to understand a furious rant? I’d rather be on my own than dealing with difficult people!  I could have done more for  Daniela, but I’d been so rebuffed, I took the easy option and left her alone.  Maybe without the horses, I can’t teach.  But I feel that door’s closing for me – maybe the small amount of riding therapy work we did is something, but its not enough. I’ve been too long away from horses and my nerves are coming back.

Right now, I never want to teach again.  I can’t do it, my German is obviously not adequate and I can’t handle hostility. Do I tell the boss before he sacks me? I have no confidence in myself anymore as a teacher. It would take a huge incentive to make me take the further course in October.

What does this leave for our future here in Austria? I’m so tired of coping in a second language, and Dave finds it harder than I. I want to be where I can understand and be understood.  England seems such a comforting place to be – greener grass syndrome of course. But we only have the capital in the flat and that’s not enough to buy and move back to the UK. Added to that, Dave doesn’t want to go back. But we have to work, we cannot claim the dole forever here. Quite honestly, I’ve run out of options. It’ll be back to cleaning.

What is God saying to us on this? We’re still certain he sent us here.  And he does sometimes use negative situations to speak to us.  But whatever he’s saying, I get the feeling I’ll always be getting it wrong, or not hearing properly. I’m at the end of me, yet again. I keep on getting back to this point.  I know I have to trust and recommit myself to him. We’ve been praying for so long for a breakthrough, that we’ll somehow have enough to run a small B&B and live off this. But the doors close all the time on that, we cannot buy next door and extend.  Has this country beaten me?


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Teaching – Something new….

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For the past few weeks, dear reader, once again you’ve been receiving posts on the jolly old-timer.  This is because I actually landed a teaching job and wanted to be able to concentrate on that!  I’d applied for this post way back in March, but had no response, even sending them a reminder before we left before England.  Of course, then practically, I couldn’t have done the job. The course started in the middle of May, just when I was getting over the operation and before we were off to the UK for our son’s wedding.  It was still being advertised when I returned, so I thought give it one more go and leave it, it’s obviously not meant for you.

To my surprise within 24 hours I had a phone call and was interviewed over the phone – horrible as I hate talking in German on the things at the best of times!  For some reason I hadn’t sent me certificates with the first application but had now, maybe that was it.   Then a formal interview, I needed to convince the boss my English NVQ Assessors qualification would do.  It turned out that someone – Andrea was running the course, but had to leave shortly- as in the following Wednesday for another job.  So who’s hand was on this ?  A God-incidence that I could take over the job from her and she could do it until I was ready?   So there I was all set to be a teechur!


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Blighty Trip!


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I’ve been cheating and put all the women’s stuff on a timer, while in fact we were in the UK for our son’s wedding.  All the lovely photos are on Facebook!

This time we flew with British Airways, and it was nice not to have to worry about the weight of our suitcases and get free nosh on the flight!  We flew into Gatwick and as we came in over the parking lots I was a tad worried to see our yellow Fiat Panda already parked there, it was also in Barton on sea when I was out for a walk with Liz, in Swanage, and in the airport parking at Stansted, what was it up to I wonder??? Or maybe that yellow is so rare as a car colour it stood out.  My daughter said I was totally sad for noticing this!

We then took as train to New Milton, our old town but had a pause at Clapham junction where we enjoyed the first on our culinary list, a fresh, warm traditional Cornish Pasty, with a cup of proper tea, fantastic. We then munched our way through our list during the trip, all stuff we can’t get here. Oat weetabix, Scones and jam in a Dorset cream tea, curry, a proper roast beef with all the trimmings, apple crumble with custard, sausage rolls, Bath buns, Steak and Kidney pie, Chocolate and ordinary Hobnobs,  Victoria sponge,  Lamb shank, Sausages, Pork and lincoln, full English breakfast and of course in Swanage, fish and chips!  We haven’t dared weigh ourselves,but it was worth every mouthful. This is all part of the ex-pat thing I suppose, we rarely mention these delights at home in Austria, apart from an occasional whim.  Most of these are also relatively high in fat and unhealthy!!!!

If we went back to the UK, we would soon take all these for take them as the norm and probably not eat them, so what is better, to enjoy as a treat or take for granted???????