So where's the snow?

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


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Decision!

Dave and I have been umming and ahhing about what to do. Dave had left Finstergruen, I had a week at the Docs, do we take a holiday here or at home while we wait for the house to complete? So I rang the man with van who would take us and the dog, and he did have a vacancy in August. Do we go with him or drive. How would the dog be in a crate in the van? Monumental dithering again. We prayed about it.

Driving home form work, I heard a sudden clunk, and I had no gears, I had to coast into a side road. Got the OAMTC out who towed me to the garage. The coupling on the gearbox had broken. €900 to repair. Neither of us would trust the car again. So we sold it to the garage, along with the trailer. Man and van booked. A definite answer to prayer, don’t take the car!

He’ll get to us the afternoon of the twelfth, load up, and then he’ll go to a hotel. First thing in the morning, we will drive to Calais. Saturday morning ferry to the UK, off that and Mountain Ash by the afternoon. Furniture into storage until the house is ready. Us into a hotel (such hardship) for the first four days. We’ll buy a newer car, and then off to visit family. No quarantine, would have stayed put if that was on.

Of course, its not that simple. The morning the car went, I was thrown off a Facebook group, couldn’t understand why, and an admin I contacted was almost rude. That really upset me – although it was a mistake and I was later reinstated. Then the car. Then I had to wade through all the Covid stuff. PCR tests before we leave. Then Covid tests to buy for our second day. Passenger location form. Inventory of house. Pack house. Clean. Result, major meltdown, throwing things at Dave, and sleeping really badly. I vowed last time we moved, I’d get someone to pack for me. Packing hasn’t been the problem this time, we started last year. But Covid and Brexit-ARRGGHHHHHHH!


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Swingle makes it all more complicated!

How do we go home? There are so many options, all made more difficult by Swingle We’ve offered to buy her a ticket so she can make her own back…

Route 1. We drive with our left hand drive car a couple of days ahead of the lorry with the furniture having some friends meet it and help to load, because we have to stop for dog breaks, maybe even an overnight. A van can do it in half the time we will take. Simple, especially as it looks like Boris has said we won’t need to quarantine. We have our green pass for double jabs for getting through Europe. Sorted? Car. No UK left hand drive car buyers will even answer my call, they want sports cars not a Fiat panda. Register it in UK, have found a firm, but it will be a day/overnight from Wales to take it there to get all the forms done. But we can only drive it to the test centre, nowhere else. But it would be easier than trying to swim through all the forms and new MOT etc ourselves, if a bit expensive.Thanks Brexit. Sell it locally in Wales? One local dealer has said they would take it, probably for parts or scrap. We paid for the car, feel we should keep it. We’re not bothered about driving a LHD on the wrong side of the road…

Oh and which way? Cherbourg to Poole, pop in to son en route? Dog doped in car for four hours. Calais and tunnel, easy and it actually seems a shorter journey time. No dog doping. Or go to Zebbrugge then Hull and head south, maybe get the car registered on the way.

Route 2 Sell the car here, buy new in UK. There is a firm that you can go with in the cab, and the dog too. Except she’s never been in a crate, we’d have to dope her…possibly a lot.

Route 3 Sell car and go on train. Eight changes and pee breaks? Muzzle the dog?

Route 4 Swap car for a RHD here, but probably too late for the paperwork.

Route 5 Hire a van and drive ourselves. But would have to do the return journey and many European firms won’t let their vans cross the channel at present.

Brilliant ideas please!


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Doubt

On early mornings as the dog and I wander along the lane, I begin to think, have we made the right decision? The bird song and the flowers have been such a joy. It is lovely here in the summer. I enjoy my library job, my friends. Making wine, walking in the hills, when we get a chance. We have the most amazing health system here too.

Then I think back to winter and ice. Walking the dog is no fun. There’s nothing to do here as we don’t ski and never want to. The church here is dead on it’s feet. We arrived, so full of excitement, but no one would listen or let us try anything new. I was on the PCC and tried to show people Jesus. What I’m getting at is, we have integrated which was always our goal. I have good local friends. Yet, I find it odd, when acquaintances in the village say, we’re so sorry you’re going. But when did we meet for more than a casual chat?

I’m tired of working in another language. But I’ll be proud to speak it when we get back.

We never wanted to get into the Expat gang, but did for a while. I don’t see the point of going to a country and just knowing people of my own nationality. My best friend is English, but that’s because we hit it off, and I will miss her so much, but we have internet communication, and we’ll meet in the UK.

The travelling and sadness when we leave family. Yes, of course, it’s a special situation when you visit. But I would like to see a bit more of the family. Never be so far from them when there’s trouble.

I miss huge, English supermarkets and the choice. Here, for someone who hates cooking, the choice is limited. I miss worshiping in my own language, in a big congregation, arms raised to God. I’ve only see one cautious hand raised here. We will find a loving, full on Christian community and have a study group, a witness.

Then I look at the rust on part of the roof on our block of flats, the larch tree that will eventually block my beloved view of the castle, the bathroom that needs and extractor fan, and feel relieved, I don’t need to think about these any more.

The flat is sold, so there’s no going back.


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The contract

After a long. long winter, things are moving along on the sales front. We had agreed a price in the autumn and after sorting some things out, the buyers have got the contract organised! They will sign it in Vienna, then send it to us, then back to Vienna. Once it is entered in the ‘Ground Book’, we will be paid, Whoop, whoop!

It’s certainly less complicated than the UK, and there’s no Estate Agent as it’s a private sale. No capital gains as we have been here over ten years as our main residency. Then, Covid permitting, we will pack up, maybe truck all our belongings with us and rent somewhere in the UK till we find our forever home. Or we may hang on until the summer when maybe the vaccination passport gets going for Europe, we have an agreement with the buyers that we can stay until October. Or we may store the furniture and come back later for it. Or if we find we dont like England anymore, we can come back here as we wont give up our residency!

It’s been such a long time, I’m a bit numb. The desperate longing rises now and then, but we’ve sort of switched off over the winter. I can’t face another winter here, all that trucking through the snow with the dig, despite my shoe nails. I want grass and snow drops in February! I want a life with more people in it, family. We’re now starting to pack things up as I’m haunted by the last move when we had to clear out sixteen years of family life.

We’ve been watching the market and it’s sad, but there are suddenly a lot of nearly affordable retirement homes for sale, but we don’t feel ready for that yet. A little terrace house in a small town in Wales would be good, where there are lots of churches to find a new spiritual home, and all that coastline, hills and castles to explore. Our home town of New Milton, being on the south coast and near a National Park is now way beyond our budget, although I would love to return to New Life Church.

We’ve looked at park homes, but you have to pay Ground rent, fees etc plus Council tax and we worry that that they wouldn’t actually be that secure.


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Sold or Not sold?

After several viewings,we finally had someone who was keen to buy. We weren’t prepared to get an offer straight away and asked for time to think. Me being greedy and not trusting God wanted more. After a couple of days I saw sense and we agreed.

Then the sale contract had to be signed, and we’re still waiting. This is binding in Austria. The guy is on holiday until this weekend, then we’ll get an update.

It’s like living in limbo. Should we buy our winter wood? Buy new winter tyres? We’ve sorted one of the holiday houses but in the proviso we may still be here this winter.

My impatience is learning a lesson in patience, so I’m writing another book!


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Bluebells

I know they’re not!

Dave and I were watching an Abbie Barns Film on YouTube of a walk in Cornwall. On it came shots of a bluebell wood and luxuriant green grass filled with wildflowers. I breathed an ‘oooh’, we’ll be seeing them again soon’. It made me realise how when in the past I’ve seen such shots I’ve just sort of dismissed and squashed such yearnings.

I’ve always missed the richness of the English countryside, up here in the mountains, it’s more sparse, short lived – except for the dandelions in May. How many things do you repress when there is a longing for them?

So in a year or so, we’ll be back in the green, of daffodils and pink cherry blossom. It’s like some sort of floodgates is opened. For Saturday newspapers and Dairy milk chocolate. Daffodils in February.

How long will the thrill last?

Then we got into a conversation about walking with no struggling up steep gradients, tractor and steam rallies, horse shows, National Trusting, not to mention beaches. If you’re not into skiing and have to work hard through summer, there’s not a lot to do here. But how long till we miss the smell of hot pinewood and the pink of the mountain rhododendron on the hills in early summer?