So where's the snow?

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

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Niedermohr – a place without culture

View from Guest house window

Niedermohr, the village we stayed in, I found fascinating and found out what all I could. The whole area is very low-lying and is obviously drained water meadows with thick black soil.  Yet at the top od the hills, the land is red, like in Devon, and I found they think it is full of sand, copper and iron. 

The houses I soon noticed had their cellar windows above ground and asked the Landlady if this was right.  She said the area is prone to flooding and where they are converting an old house, the earth cellar is constantly wet and they have to lag it.

She herself offered the idea that this area is without culture.  They local population was wiped out by every plague that has swept Europe, with only a resurgence in the 16/17th century before another bout of illness.  It’s not surprising with the low lying, swampy nature of the land. There  was a couple of battles there in the 18th century and a couple of castles still survive.  Farming is decline apart from growing Maize for heating fuel. So how do you attract people to an area where there is no culture?  Is this an attraction in itself?  The village looked just like a commuter belt place, no shop, just the station and many old farmhouses either abandoned or converted into flats. Most of the income in the area is generated by working for or coming from the USA airbase.There is the attraction of miles and miles of unlimited riding or walking.  But this would have to be marketed, with maybe a marked path such as the Niedermohr route if you see what I mean.  The couple who run the Guest house where we stayed have just built extra flats, and maybe they can bring the riders in if they create a riding centre – but the buildings at the Riding school require a bit of investment to get up to licensed standard, at the moment it’s just half livery,maybe if someone needs to invest in a whole new centre! Yet I feel they are on the right way, maybe Niedermohr will just have a horsey culture of its own!

Maybe you could visit to for a ride!

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So where’s the snow…….gone?


I’m sat here, feeling exhausted and really stiff after my trek into Germany.  Since I’ve been away, there’s been a major thaw, I can’t believe that my garden which was under a good two feet of snow now is only half covered.  The first thing I noticed when I got out the car was the sound of the waterfall.  Muted by the ice and lack of water, it’s now roaring and brown as the water escapes the valley.

 We made the news twice while I was away you can see thus clip above until Friday. The first night when the Firebrigade had to pump out properties in Tamsweg, including where Dave works, and lay sand bags. The snow was melting so fast but the ice was still blocking all the rivers and drains.  The next day, Madling made it too.  On the hill above us where in 2007 we had landslides, the earth was starting to wash down the hill which could lead to the same result, so again the Fireman were clearing the streams  down to the Thomotalerbach.  Now today its raining. I can hear the rain on our metal windowsills, which I love hearing when I’m warm and sat indoors!  Hopefully that means its snowing higher up, but there are avalanche warnings galore and someones been killed in one in Obertauern.

I’m really quite sad that it’s all disappearing so rapidly, I’ve really got into the snow this year!  Perhaps we’ve lost the snow  because its taken itself to other parts of the world instead – see articles!

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Having the rug pulled from under my feet?

Rodi and Lewis after a mock hold up of a train for someones birthday!


I have felt really sure that working at the castle was exactly where God wanted me to be, endorsed by the complete peace I’ve had in my life this summer.  My garden has been a constant source of joy, walking brilliant and I’ve made great new friends. Ididn’t miss working for Lewis and I had Rodi to ride when I wanted.  Rodi suffers from summer excema and so has to be rugged.  So I made sure I went there at least once a week to check, as after all, he is on  livery there and Lewis is paid to do the mucking out etc.  The owners live in Germany, a lovely family and they had asked me to do this when I was working there.  In a way, it was a link to the horses, a vital part of my life like an umbilical cord holding me onto one of the most important things in my life.   I’d given horses up once already when I left England, so it was the most beautiful blessing when I began to have them back in my life here. 

I havent missed the teaching the kids because working with Lewis was such a nightmare – long hours and seven days  a week, even when he was home from hospital. Lewis is 76, grumpy and autocratic.  Last year when we were in the UK for a wedding, he fell off  TWICE,broke ten ribs and punctured a lung.  When I returned it was to run the stables all summer, with him constantly on the phone, no breaks and having to go each evening to the hospital to meet him,cash up and do the next days programme.  When I asked for some time off later in September, he asked me why as I was only part-time, in the end I had to get a Doctors note before I could!   I worked all winter too, each month asking him how much work was coming in and he always bluffed, and of course he wasnt able to ride or even tighten a girth. I felt just a bit trapped.  The financial  dip was a disaster for us.  Then one day in March, without a word to me , he got back on a horse and began to take rides.  So I had half too little work, so I left.  Just one thank you would have made it all different…. I had no life last summer, no time with Dave, for walking or even looking after the house and garden, no life at all, I couldn’t face another summer like this.

So Rodi’s owners were recently here and we only met a couple of times, Dave had the car, or I missed them, but I saw them just before they left and all was great.  The one of their kids rang and said Gina ( who I’ve ridden with) had asked to look after Rodi as he always dirty standing in the stable.  I was so shocked I said yes, no problems. I still can ride him when I want. As I rang off, I felt real guilt that maybe I hadn’t been there enough, but of course when I had been to the stables mid afternoon, often no one was there….maybe once a week was being lazy, but he was fine and clean when I did go.  I really hadn’t  felt he was neglected. Then it hurt SO much, it’s not logical I know, it’s the best thing for Rodi and great for Gina who needs a horse.  I’ve also all along said I didn’t want to be tied to going to the stables so much and I wanted my life back.  But it hurts so much, losing that link to the one major theme in my life.

This Saturday we went to a wonderful party with lots of English people who live in this region, it was great meeting new folk and having a chance to share experiences, and just have fun.  Then the next day as I was cleaning the loos, it came to me that apart from Austria I had nothing in common with some of these new people, and ordinarily maybe our paths would never cross.  I felt a huge wave of almost homesickness for Edith and Rodi’s owners and the stables because I relate to them.  Have I after all  made a wrong turning in my determination to have time to be at home and go walking in the mountains, be  more with Dave? Feeling I’m on the right track has created  a sense of enduring peace that also lately makes me feel like a hollow vessel, with nothing inside , nothing interesting or vital inside, just empty. Maybe its just a waiting phase for when the new church begins to be planned in the autumn. If this is what we were called here for, it could be the mist important hing I’ve ever done.  I really couldn’t face another summer with Lewis.  Or was I meant to really go on with Edith and the horse therapy, was it laziness on my part?  What could I do with the state of our finances? Edith has said I’m welcome to ride her horse Luca anytime and I’m overwhelmed by her generosity as I’m now feeling so guilty about letting her down. How much of  my actions have been coloured by what is now clear to me as a fear of this awful tiredness?I’m going to see the Doctor as soon as he’s back from holiday, maybe I do need some HRT or something.   But most importantly I’m praying for some form of confirmation……………………..

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The valley if full of farmers cutting grass for hay again, after about two weeks of really cold weather. The Lungau is so beautiful, green and abundant.  My garden is blooming and we ate the first Kohl rabi from the veggy plot.  Wonderful.  Dave’s brother and wife come next week for a visit, so maybe not posting till after.  Bringing their 12 year old son with them, who asked if he could visit Hitler’s grave.  I just hope being in a strange land shuts the little blighter up!   Better still George is coming for three days in August with his girlfriend, and will be over his birthday.  Can’t wait.  The job is the easiest I’ve ever done and the weekends off such a bonus. Life is really great at the  moment and it just makes me so glad that when the joy bubbles that, I know where it is coming from.  And I can reflect how he loved me first, before I loved him, and this is how I know he’s with me, and I thank him in my spirit for this oneness we have.

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Hay time

Meadow behind the flat

Gina and I were out riding this week and as we were going through a particularly lovely village, I remarked on how even after three years I can’t believe I live here.  She agreed, having come here from Germany as a child.  Neither of us at present have any wish to return to our roots.

Its hay season here, and many of the fields have been stripped of grass to make what we would call haylage, which is the big plastic covered balls of dried hay. Long gone are the days of the hay huts where the loose hay was put in these small huts which must have been in practically every field in the valley, and all over Austria too.  Now they are falling down – I expect someone will sooner or later start a  hut preservation society.  The hay here  is about 20% grass, the rest is dandelions and any wild flowers that are growing.  This is spectacular, from campion, ragged robin, ox-eye daisies, ringenblumen ( a huge yellow flower) purple bell flowers, and of course dandelions and buttercups the fields are awash with colour.  The mountains are a few weeks behind us here in the valleys.  But what a photographer’s dream!  It just shows   how using chemicals  has ruined Britain’s flora.  There isn’t the warm softness of an English summer’s morning here, because sometimes the vegetation isn’t so luxuriant, but the colours soften the outlook.  The small of the meadow outside our window is indescribably wonderful and seems to encapsulate all the best of living here. One of the things I love at the moment is seeing the cows being taken in the big open trucks, pulled by tractors up into the alms/hills for the summer.  You can see their noses poking over the tops, and they must be so pleased after all the months stuffing their faces in the dark stalls.  

Then when it rains or thunders, you see the darkening clouds away over the mountains and can see the storms building.  When I was teaching riding , from the outdoor school you could see the blackness and hear the distant thunder, and could anticipate you’d soon have to run.  Often before the storms would hit, everything would go still, the temperature drop (and sometimes the pressure making my ears pop) and with a terrific gust of wind the storm would hit.  The kids riding would never mind the lightning, but the rain would have them riding for cover.  Then most lovely, after the storm, as the grounds soak up the moisture, the warmth sets clouds of steam and mist rising from the hills and woods. At times whole woods will disappear, then reappear as silhouettes , then go again.  I never tire of watching this.  And people say there is no God, no chance event could create such beauty, but a mind of unimaginable intelligence, humour, joy and creativity.