So where's the snow?

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


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Snow report – Matters back to normal!

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After our weird week with no snow and the grass showing, we’ve had more white stuff, not as much as last year, but enough!  The  ski resorts  have plenty, and I’ve heard that skiing is great.   We haven’t got enough here to go Cross Country skiing in the valleys, but there’s still time.  The temperatures seem to be swinging between normal cold and up to about+7.  There’s supposed to be shedloads of the white stuff coming in February.  We’ll see!

Our new neighbour in the block, who we’ve nicknamed ‘Nipper‘  in English dialect (he’s in his early 20s) has got a snow blower and a plough, so on the first snow was tinkering away, neither of them working. The little he did do just seemed to make the snow a mess, not actually move it. After the next snowfall overnight, by the time he got up, Linda and the GB contingent had already cleared it away, how long till he admits defeat and buys a shovel?

So of course, the UK is nicking our snow and its quite funny for us to see them all enjoying the little they’re getting!


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Staying in Stratford, London

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We stayed for a few days in Stratford in London, near where they had the Olympic games. We got off the coach just outside the entrance to Westfield shopping centre, and entered on a new life experience.  Then we staggered to the Apartment  which was originally built for the Olympics.  Stef had stayed there earlier and it was beginning to look a little worn.  The mattress was subsiding, there was a chip out of the loo seat and the rug didn’t bear looking under.  But we had got it at nearly half price using the Internet Groupon service, where you get daily offers of stuff on the net.   We were on the ground floor, and next to  the service rooms, a tad noisy, wish they’d make the receptionist wear soft shoes if there was stuff to do at night! All run by staff from Eastern Europe, some of whom had English worse than my German.  I wouldn’t want to do reception!

The number of people was the biggest shock, making me realise just how rusticated I’ve become. Then the buildings, the lack of green,  it wasn’t dirty, just packed with houses and streets and shops.

It was of to buy food and a look around the shops.  What struck me was the lack of white faces, 90% of the people around us were coloured, and 75% of that Muslim as shown by the head thingeys.  It was worse than Westquay in Southampton five years ago, each for his own, and so hot. We went back in on Boxing day and it was worse.  It said on the news that there were 250,000 people there, that’s more than live in the Lugau.  So many people. Stef accused me of doing a Crocodile Dundee, you don’t  make eye contact here.  How does God cope with all these people?  I can’t see it.

There was even a gropu pf Indians performing outside. It was all exhausting.  My initial enchantmane with all these people soon wore off.  I was relieved to leave. but it was all amazing!


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Taxi Drivers

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Pansies in full bloom in December, unlike Lungau!

I researched our travel costs, especially to the airport taking into account the stress of driving if it chucked it down with snow.  By the time we had bought a new vignette, paid for petrol and parking it was cheaper with a ski taxi.  We booked a local guy and he arrived on time and was really chatty (in German) although he spoke passable English to the other customers.  He was quite grumpy with them, telling them to take their coats off if they were too hot and why did they sit in the back if the kid was going to be sick.

His chat was one I find typical here.  This semi cross/stressed tone. Firstly it was moaning about the snow there’s plenty but much of it  ‘kunst’ or made.  But thank heavens it means the customers would be coming.   How business is tight but everyone’s in debt –same all over the world?

It was nice to be driven and he was there to meet us when we returned.  But two other English customers simply didn’t turn up despite having paid, he waited and searched, but no sign.  A tragedy, missed the train, an argument?  We chatted this time about music and our trip.  How he loves Trex, Alvin Stardust and Led Zeppelin. Same generation but different sides of the sea

In contrast, we took a Taxi  back from our daughter’s flat and it was comical! He was Indian and quite difficult to understand, he parked on the wrong side of the road and had to be flagged down. He then went into a load of what was either complete flannel or genuine, I’m not sure.  First of all he said how ‘real’ our daughter was, rare these days, then about how dreadful London is.  He got completely confused when we said we lived in Austria, he thought we were Austrian.  He had a Sat Nav but still asked us for directions. Then we got out and I asked the fare, he said we were so nice it was up to us!!! We paid him the quoted fee, but I still can’t make up my mind if he was real or not!


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Off to London

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Not quite Austria……..

For a short while, I’m becoming a travel Blog writer as I blither on a bit about our trip to London this Christmas.  Having costed it out, we took a taxi to the Airport. We  flew from Salzburg to Stansted with Ryanair,  then took a National Express coach to Stratford, near where to Olympic games were held.  We rented a Marlin apartment nearby and spent quite some time in the nearby Westfield Shopping Centre.  After an exhausting few days, we took the train to Wareham in Dorset and spent  some time in a lovely Bed and Breakfast, Easter Cottage, and  the days chilling with our son and his fiance, and tripping on the Swanage railway.   We then all drove to Aldershot to see Dave’s family, and  stayed in a Premier Inn. It was all highly organised, unlike last time when I forget the Credit card so we couldn’t hire the car, all went smoothly.  It sounds a big rush, but compared to other trips it was ok and we didn’t arrive home exhausted!

I admit, two years are  too long to stay away from home, and it was so good to be back.  We returned in some ways quite unsettled as I’ll explain………..


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Turracher Hoehe – ugliest resort in Austria?

Benidorm, pagaoda and bunker!

Dave and I took some time to do some walking and coaxed the Fiat Panda up the hill to this resort.  We’d seen it in winter and with the lake frozen and snowed over it looked ok.  However, this spring with little growth   and grass I wasn’t too impressed.

It seems that in Austria there are no coherent planning policies, just look at the eyesores of the ski lift housings that scar the hillsides, but that’s ok – its making someone money. Of course, all of our landscapes are products of the land being used and worked, and we look at the old stuff and think its cute – and maybe people in a hundred years time will think our contemporary stuff cute.  We have an argument about a wind farm on a hill-top in the Lungau, but no one murmurs about large banks of solar panels in the valleys – but as I say all signs of our time.

So, here in a major resort as Dave so rightly points out, we have Benidorm in hugely extended older hotels, a concrete bunker trying to be a Hotel, a chinese pagoda with a copper roof, tele tubby land (doesn’t show up in these shots but is a buried fitness centre) and plain purpose-built bland hotels.

My view is YUCK!  Couldnt someone have created a policy for the look of the resort, diversity is attractive but! I suppose though, most of the visitors are only concerned with burning down the snow as quickly as possible and getting drunk afterwards………..


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The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

One of us has met Royalty!

Sat here in Austria, just a tad remote from all the festivities had me pondering again about Nationality and stuff.  I’ve always been a Monarchist, and especially when Paggy starts on – he’s just jealous because Austria got shot of their lot! We watched all the river pageant and will do all the other things too I expect – thank heavens for Sky news giving such a good coverage.  It got on the Austrian TV too but it was just the same footage but in German!

I remember  the Silver Jubilee, I was living in Fareham,Hampshire in digs because I had started Prices sixth form college  in anticipation of a house move but it had fallen through. It was huge fun and I ran amok!  We went and saw the fleet review but it wasnt as impressive as yesterday, a load of boats on the horizon! Still we had parties and a barn dance at home in Martyr Worthy.  Didn’t register on my teenage consciousness that much!

So here am I, at 52, watching the Queen from another country and feeling as patriotic as ever.  When we have been here ten years apparently we must take up Austrian Citizenship though I’m not 100%sure this is so.  I don’t think I’ll ever be Austrian.  The language separation is too great and I’ve always England and the kids at the edge of my consciousness.  Dave and I spent yesterday doing exactly the same stuff as we’d do in England, visiting a Museum, eating out and going for a stroll. So what difference does it make where we live?  Dave quite rightly pointed out that as a couple we’ve never felt part of any community, we didn’t fit in on our Council estate and we certainly are outsiders here, maybe that’s just how are.   We hear so much on the media about the UK, and when I take my Rosy tinted glasses off, I wonder could I live in a land so filled with Political correctness that it seems you can’t open your mouth any more?  In a land where Christians are so discriminated against, for smaller sections of society?  Where a Church is so weak it does nothing to stop this?

I think for now at least, I’ll put my Austrian Rosy glasses on and stay here, while being proud to be English and of my Queen.