So where's the snow?

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


God, German and Grammar


My English course has definitely been a far better experience this time, although there was a low point and I thought it was all going to go pear shaped again, but it was a wake up call, and I learnt  from God and prayed and asked his guidance  and I’m just so enjoying my group. We were all laughing so much this morning, we didn’t get much done.

I see mistakes I’ve made and I’ve got many new ideas. Grammar is always a sticking point and I’m trying a new idea. Say Grammar and they freak out. The problem with  German is that it just doesn’t have the same tenses as English, in fact several don’t exist at all. So you have to stop students trying to compare. So this week when doing the future tense, I didn’t tell them.  I just asked them continually what were they going to do. And they were all answering totally unaware what I was up to. Then I played Que Sera by Doris Day and blow me down they were all singing- more of a success than when I played Perfect day by Lou Reed to start off adjectives!  So oldies are the key.  We then watched a video on the tense, there’s an English company on UTube that are brilliant, I hereby plug  The lady who likes to learn by listening could then sit at the back and hear, not be stuck in front of me and her noisy neighbours. Then we wrote practise sentences, and we did sheets together. Result – an apparently happy class!

So what oldies should I use for Present and Past tense – any ideas???????

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Teaching – the last week


I knew that the last week would be hard,  but not as bad as it worked out. We’d been revising and all seemed to  go well.  They knew there would be a test.  Then I sprang on them a visit from some other English people where they would have to talk in English – thanks so much Maria and Karen!!!!!  So when Maria talked to Daniela, she got the I don’t understand you, I don’t speak any English. To which  Maria quite rightly replied, so why are you here?  Major strop out the room. After all Daniela had been sitting for eight weeks and apparently learning, she had taken part in some group work and was able to make simple sentences. She was completely fixed in her opinion and wasn’t going to change it.

So it went downhill. This was my first course, and I’d found the certificates and had prepared them. I was also told that I had to prepare reports, but I didn’t get the forms until Tuesday, and the course would finish on Thursday. So I did what I could, writing in English and German  as best I could.  On Wednesday when they were doing the test, Hilda the other worker from the company came in to help me – so I was getting support if a bit last minute.  I was then told I had to read these reports through with each student. So Hilda scrubbed all I’d written, and re-wrote everything.  She didn’t like what I’d put on the certificates so insisted on sending them to a friend for the German to be checked. What could I do?  I was bamboozled by the extra German I was unfamiliar with and Hilda was in charge.

So we did the chats.  Daniela was first, and I let Hilda do it. Explosion.  She claimed everything was my fault for being such a bad teacher, Andrea was soo perfect (that’s not what Andrea told me), how Daniela was on the wrong course (maybe so) , how she hadn’t learnt anything.  I said I’d tried to help her and include her on elements that she could as a real beginner understand. Of course this was dismissed and off she stropped.   The next candidate, Andrea  (the less able woman she’d been influencing) was almost as unhappy because I said she refused my help on the same grounds, but did admit she could be stubborn. I went home like a piece of chewed rag.  I had a holiday house to clean, a husband being depressed, and  exams to mark. Still I sat and marked slowly and carefully and went early to bed!

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After I took over from Andrea, I found I had a lot of preparing and catching up to do.  They had done  all the grammar they needed, but I thought maybe they could do a little on the past tense. We then spent a lot of time building vocabularies, doing a little basic Business English  and all the time trying to get them to talk. I know I can be a bit slapdash and realised this a couple of times when I’d missed a mistake on a sheet, or  hadn’t checked whether the words were too unfamiliar, but I slowed down and got more thorough. However, I felt strongly that they should do the work themselves rather than be spoonfed, that the group should support each other,especially with the language difference. I found the first couple of weeks really tiring but gradually got more energy.

Now every job I’ve had here has involved my ‘difficult Austrian’ such as Lois and Erna, and here I found I had one who was worse than all the others rolled together. She had come to do a beginners course, and felt this was too hard for her.  Andrea told me she had moaned and complained that she didn’t understand, it was all too hard for her, until in desperation Andrea had  given her a very basic book to work on by herself.  So when I took over, I got the same grief.  Everytime I tried to explain anything, it was ,’Your German is too poor,  I can’t understand you’.  I offered her extra time alone with me to work things through, after all there were 9 others in the group. This she refused as she’d had enough after 5 hours, God forbid that she gave up her smoking break!   So in desperation, I gave her my laptop and earphones so that she could work independently.   She was so hostile that I admit I took the lazy option and left her alone.  When she needed help she asked her neighbours who were patient and rarely me. One woman was very able and helped her, the other was one of the weaker ones, and seemed to join in with the  negativity.  I really considered splitting them all up, but that’s what you with kids isn’t it?  The trouble was that Daniela would be on her own agenda with jokes and sniggering, she even got in a hump when I asked her to be quiet as the others couldn’t hear, I got, why can’t we laugh together and she stropped off.  When I tried to explain something to the group it interfered.  When I was trying something I thought they had done (they hadn’t) she butted in with the, it’s all too hard, you can’t explain it .  She argued with me until in the end I dismissed the group and went home.  I spent a lot of time soul searching and decided to act the next day as if nothing had happened.  I fully prepared the grammar, and eventually went back to it. I said this is simple, had a sheet prepared explained it in English and German and gave them examples to do, which they all did successfully, except of course you know who. For the next couple of weeks, I thought I was doing ok, we worked hard and there was a lot of laughter.  Then came the last week……….

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On the right path at last?

Our local Protestant church (Evangelische in German) holds special services for holiday makers in the summer and I’ve long said that some of them should be in English and so advertised. I was told I needed to go to some meeting in the autumn and when this came about I found I was being asked to join the equivalent of the PCC.  I just said yes, without thinking or asking God and put it to the back of my mind.  I was also later asked to be on what is here called the Presbyterium, which Dave has called the Inner circle. Again I said yes and forget all about it. We’re members which mostly means that under the Austrian system we get an annual bill for Church tax which enrages Dave, but it’s certainly not 10%! To write about the Austrian Protestantism, would take pages, suffice to say this is a mainly Catholic country and read persecution down the years!

One Church service was the voting Sunday, and if I’ve understood correctly, you either agreed to all the names, or you could cross some off.  It was at this point it dawned on me that I really hadn’t talked to God about it at all and so apologised for my arrogance and offered my services, to act for him, but on his agenda not mine. I still felt, well, sort of blank inside.

So last month I went to the first meeting of the new PCC. I did consider taking some marmalade and kipper sandwiches (see Vicar Of Dibley)!   I was also voted onto the Presbyterium and got to me some wonderful new people.  However, the point of writing this is to say how it is I have come to know that I’m on the right track.  I’d been feeling exhausted again for a while, off colour too. One of the ladies put her arm around me and a felt a surge of warmth and peace and rest, without feeling tired.  The whole evening was just completely relaxing, and even when we had to fill out some forms (my written German is appalling while I can read novels and newspapers) God gave me some short answers.  All wished me well on the journey home, it was a freezing night, but I drove back with a sense of peace compared to the tension when I drove down. The next morning, I felt well, I was up, I was full of joy, and I wasn’t tired despite the late night.  God was telling me this is what he wants me to do, I really have to rely on him for the German, and be a conduit for him, not my own agenda, because without him this would be impossible.  I can’t go back to the Burg, I will need all my Sundays free in the summer.YAY – I’m on the right path!

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Up on the mountains at Schonfeld

The Burg work finishes on the 20th, and while I’ll be saying that I’ll go back next year, I really feel unsettled about my work future.  Part of me would love to go back to teaching riding, but the situation with Lois is impossible.  He’s using the Ackerman’s Rodi behind their backs, because most of his school horses are sold and he only has four left he can use.  He just will not stop, or maybe he can’t.  I always thought he was at least honest, but the lies and deceit at the moment are more than I can bear. The last time I went there he got totally sour because I was giving Gina some tips on riding the Ackerman’s youngster.  Edith and I were going to start one afternoon a week offering therapy and lessons but this wont happen because she has fallen and badly damaged her good knee. She will be crocked at least until Christmas.   Maybe in the spring. Or maybe I need to walk away.

We are planning to go back to England for Christmas, because I wont do this without at least one of the kids. I’d hoped that maybe someone at our home church would have a house sit, but there’s been no response. In my bitterest moments, I think we’d have had a lot more support from them if we’d asked for money, they’d have breathed down our necks.  All we wanted was a support/contact person, a sort of buddy and that never happened.  Maybe its time to sever our links, its time to put our eggs in this basket.  I’d always had the church in my mind as our last, most important link to the UK. Then again, we’ve had a long time of waiting for anything to happen here, and there was nothing to tell them but now at last things are afoot. Or maybe we  should make more effort.

We met here last week, Linda, Dave, me and Heidi (The Madling four) and she’s more or less given up on the present congregation, regarding Church planting.  She feels we should try something new, and so we’re planning an event in Tamsweg next year.  We’re thinking of a theme that may appeal to churched and unchurched, maybe we’ll get someone to speak and then with new faces we could do an Alpha course or something similar.  We’ll be doing this with the catholic church too, there is such a strong hold on the local community here it would be disastrous not to do so. Maybe we be should jumping up and down with excitement!

Heidi met recently with an English family who have moved here after being in a very Evangelical church in the states,and they’ve come here to make amends with his family, but they have no German and are very isolated.  I spoke to her once and my alarms bells went off, trouble.  I hope I’m wrong, but every time I think I should ring, something says no. Or maybe  I’m being lazy?

Dave came back from his German teacher who suggested I do her  German speaking course for slightly more advanced people.  I really don’t want to do it, I’m getting worse and worse about going out in the evenings when I have to work the next day, it just tires me out.  I’ve already missed the first one. I had plans for doing some stuff myself this winter.  Or maybe I am just being arrogant?

I’ve been toying with writing an autobigraphy. I’ve kept a diary of sorts since 1974, and have been reading that year.  A journey into my 14 year old self.  Would it be useful to someone else who came from a disfunctional family? Would it be even remotely interesting to anyone but me? Maybe I’m just too filled up with my sense of self importance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Quiet times – or langweilig blog!


Somethings up at the Burg, there’s rumours that the Chef has been sacked and people are losing jobs, but nothing said directly to us!  This month has been peaceful – no Erna.  Michela and I laughing our way through the dust! After one wedding we even found a 10 euro tip for us and in another room a cake – which we guzzelled!

Yesterday as we sat at breakfast in the lovely kitchen, I had an overwhelming sense of the hours of the day stretching ahead of me – almost like a set of stairs.  and wanting to be at the end of them but at the same time in no hurry to get there!  We’ve been blessed with a few days of autumnal sunshine and I’ve weeded and sorted my flowerbed ready for next year and we’re just waiting to harvest the carrots, swedes and parsnips.  We’re meeting with Heidi and Linda on Tuesday to discuss the house church idea.  I’ve been pondering and asking God what he wants, and imagining what will take place, I think as long as its based on love and Jesus. we’ll get something done!  There’s an Austro/English family moved to a place about 40 km from here and I had a quick chat with Gemma the other day, when Heidi needed some translating.  They’ve been in a very Evangelical church in the states, boy is the Lungau a bit different.  Poor woman, seems to be stuck in a village with no car and little German to make contact people.  It seems strange to talk to someone who isn’t here because they love Austria and wants to be here.  I hope to meet her next week.

Paggy?  I know I have to forgive him.  But I’m still annoyed about the sexual innuendo, and am ignoring him. Not the Christian way I know.  I have to go there and talk sensibly, not angrily to him soon.  I was so aware of my anger when he started moaning about his jam going mouldy the other day- he’d left it in the kitchen in the sun – but what did he expect?