So where's the snow?

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


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Oh no, not an Erna Blog……….

More Burg in the snow

As I write its only 3 and a half weeks till the end of the season at the Burg. I’ve moved on so much in the last few weeks and gone backwards too!  On one shift with Erna, she was just so completely mad that I lost all respect for her.  She’d been told we’d cleaned the Chapel the previous day but insisted on going in and sweeping.  When I challenged her, she said everything was so dirty, she had to do it, but 30 seconds later came out.  She even re-swept some stairs Michaela had just done, she must have realised she’ done them.   This was the point she ceased to matter to me. In respecting her as a co-worker, who was senior to me, it had to be my fault when something was amiss.  Now I don’t value her opinion, I feel nothing about her, the past is forgiven and forgotten, after all the pain she has caused me this season, it’s over.

The real end came when one day she exploded in fury at us in the shower rooms.  We hadn’t realised some bar on the shower door could be raised, and so was dirty underneath.  I don’t know what you do all day, its only me who can clean, just one more thing and I’ll go to Rosie (the Head cook and her mate, our boss actually is Helmuth!) she screamed more in dialect I didn’t get.  I’ve never seen Michaela so upset, she was all for leaving, but she decided to hang on till the end of the season.  So now, its me working with Erna while Michaela absents herself, she wont speak to Erna, and you know, I don’t mind the situation!  I speak to Erna when I need to ask something, otherwise we work in silence.  I think the penny has dropped that she has shouted at us once too often.  Now I’m the one in the middle!

Both Michaela and I are leaving, enough is enough.  I’ve prayed that if I’m wrong, to have some message/knowledge from God and similarly if I should apply for the job of ‘Burgrat’ or manager at the Burg.  So far nothing either way, except more attacks of the unexpected, unexplained sadness which hits me sometimes, whose cause I cannot pinpoint – or maybe it is that I should stay.  I pray on…..

The other day, someone spilt candle wax all over the Rittersaal floor, which on the old wood just seeped in and solidified.  I think maybe the solution is to use an iron  to reheat the wax  through newspaper which will absorb it. Of course, I got the ‘look’ when I said so.  Erna consulted the all-wise Rosie who said use bleach and soda.  Result?  Right in the middle of the Saal is a huge patch of lighter coloured wood with blotches of wax in it, oh I feel sooooo smug!


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Autumn this year

Following on from my autumn blog, we had a real touch of it this weekend.  The snow was well and truly forecast, so this Sunday, all over the Lungau, the cows were on foot going home.  They caused the most horrific traffic jams -hahaha!  

Snow in the Hof

The rain and snow arrived on Monday while I was at the Burg. Luckily, Dave at home and performed a rescue on our marrows and geraniums.  The tops around us are all white but the temperatures will be back up again by the weekend. I just felt so sorry for those farmers who for some reason left it till Monday to bring the cows down in the snow, that must have been really freezing work!


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Fifth week at the Burg

View from the swing seat!

There was the most almighty party at the Burg this weekend.  A group of Germans had a theme party set in the 1920s and were all in costume. They proceeded to drink and carouse the entire weekend. 

The Boss  from Salzburg was there at breakfast time, and Helmuth was telling him about the visit from the kitchen police. Because the Burg has groups of children visiting, it is now in a different category from a Guest house.  Hence in a years time, we will not be allowed to eat in the kitchen, and the big table must go.  I said maybe it should be put under heritage status so they couldn’t move it. Everyone has to change their footwear when they go in, so how are they going to get the wood in for the cooker, which has to be brought in on a wheelbarrow?  Its seems political correctness and jobs worth nor thinking  is in Austria too!

PS. Helmuth’s had the report, they have until the 15th June to change everything!  Can’t see the cooks carrying the wood somehow!

Some one had a black feather boa for the party on Friday and there were several worn on the Saturday night.  Result; the entire week spent finding feathers around the Burg and having to clean the bar at least three times.  My suggestion that actually we needed to get the one and only hoover and suck up the feathers was ignored.  Erna couldn’t see her manic sweeping was spreading them, and when the floor dried after her mopping, there were still bits everywhere. The place was such a wreck that it had Erna off on a hysterical trip on Monday too. Ranting at Helmut that we should be going in cleaning the loos on Sunday morning, ignoring the fact that  most people were sleeping the overhang off and then going home.  I’m not going in to clean bogs on a Sunday, she can do it!

It didn’t help that last Friday, she really upset Michaela.  She told Erna several times that she didn’t like brown skinned bananas , as we  were eating some.  To which Erna replied, well it’s not surprising that your children have turned out so difficult!   She hasn’t even met the twins, I have and they’re two intelligent, cheeky, normal kids.  What a thing to say.  The result was that on Monday, a deeply upset Michaela refused to speak to Erna unless necessary, leading to Erna having a go at her about stupid things, like not doing a cupboard, which Michaela had simply just not got to do.  Erna was totally manic, we went for a coffee (me) fag (Michaela) break after lunch and before we were finished, Erna leapt  to her feet and stayed there until I’d hurriedly gulped it down.  She then rushed through cleaning to be finished by 2, ending in us sitting in the shower room on the bench because we were too quick.  Michaela is going to talk to Helmuth, after all if we finish late, we’re late, the other departments are always doing extra hours. If Erna wants to be obsessed with finishing at a certain time, she can!

I felt stuck in the middle as so many times in my life, yet I was completely at peace if not tired.  It probably would be different if I was at the receiving end.  I tried to repay evil with good, and be at peace with all, am I finally learning?  I’m very aware I shouldnt have indulged in the Erna bashing, but did try to say to Michaela, are you sure, is that right ? and to try to keep a perspective…… I’ve had a lovely quiet day off today, planting the toms and Cucs in the green house. tomorrow is another Erna day, I hope Michaela has spoken to Helmuth.  Then next week will be really difficult.  I’m working six days through, with three Erna  days plus the Jury and decision about ‘Tu Was’ and if we get the money to work with the Asylum seekers.  I’ll be like Helmuth the other day, falling asleep in the Nashkammer….


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Integration in Lungau- have we?

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Me being a scared Icelander on Rodi at the Burg Moosham riding festival, 2008

As I’ve blithered on ,we’ve been here four years, so are we now a part of the community?  I somehow expected Dave and I to change with our new life, but although we did loads of stuff when we first arrived, maybe we’re more back to where we were in England – a backsliding into laziness and we need to jerk oursleves out of it.  It was all exciting at first and people were surprised to meet new folks- they just couldn’t understand how we could possibly want to move here!

We know our neighbours Paggy and Linda quite well, but we’re not in each others hair.The others are polite, but not on the popping in for a cup of tea basis (or do I mean beer?).  The older couple across the way only had us in for coffee after we’d given them a lift home and the other has a slightly odd reputation for being nosey.  All the shrubs in our garden were planted to block their view of our window and he spent all day rubberknecking when we were moving in and the builders were here.  Poor man is ill now and although we’ve offered any help, they keep more to themselves.

Most of the real friends we’ve made are bilingual apart from Linda and Paggy!  We know more of the English incomers too and thats been a joy – just to have a girly natter in my own language is wonderful!  Its great to have supplies brought such as gravy powder, bread sauce and malt vinegar which you cant get here – although I’m using these less and less.

We know  a few folks through church and we went to the Bible group but have never really become close – probably becasue the majority were in theri 30s with families.Then  of course, I musn’t forget  my first horse friend, who took me to meet her horses.  It was just after we’d arrived and I was a bit sad for Monty* although I swore I’d given up horses! One came and just stood by me and blew into my hair, I closed my eyes and it was a moment of pure bliss. Horse therapy for me!

Are we still looking at the place with rosy tinteds?  I do read the local papers and know whats about, there’s a very low crime rate – down 33% last year, they must have nicked someone!  The evening news presenters don’t have the cult status as our previous South Today ones did, and sometimes they really struggle for news. Headlines have been about a telegraph pole falling down, is there enough wood and a new design of patio chair! Wonderful! But local gossip and bitching and backbiting we know very little.  Is it due to the language differences or simply the people we are?  All I know is,that in England, even in my own town I felt an outsider, now that I really am one, perhaps I’ve come home!

We do go to some concerts and ocassionally to the pub – but we’re not pub people, it doesnt sit easily.  Now we do get by quite easily- except for deeply spoken dialect, although Dave struggles a bit.  When we start the therapy, Edith and I will know more people, and certainly I know as acquaintances loads of kids and mothers  from Lois’s.  We are happy here, apart from the weekends when we can’t make up our minds what to do.  Roll on when we can get up into the mountains! I thought of moving back recently, how would we do it?  The plan I came up with would be to find a service job through the Lady magazine, they are always seeking couples of our age, and rent here here out so we can come back.   But then I thought, I dont want to, here is where I live.

*Monty was the horse I had on loan in England for about three years, but felt he was too old to try and bring over.  He died from cancer about three months after we arrived so I was right.  He’d had a ling problem with colic and I had suspected a problem.


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Lungau reflections – looking forward

Flat on our arrival, 2007

I’ve written several blogs to come, evaluating our four years so far in the Lungau. It’s a cliche to say this, but the time has flown.  I’ve changed so much in this time, I think I’m more patient, closer to God, less manic, less driven, chilled. When we went back to England at Christmas, it put things into perspective. I could see how we’ve started to be absorbed into this land and closed rural community, because it’s so different from English  life and it feels good.  Or am I kidding myself?  We’d have undergone the same process if we’d moved to Wales or Scotland or somewhere,  but without the language barrier.  My brother made the interesting comment that it would be easy to get trapped in a place like this and never want to leave!

I’m at a really exciting phase.  I’m  going back to the Burg and hope that I can wangle an almost regular day off so that when Edith and I get customers we   have a set day for them.  I couldn’t really afford not to go back, and take a gamble on our week being filled.  I would like to do the Therapy at Edith’s house, but the best bit of land she insists on keeping for hay, even though I say we should take the money out of the business.  The alternative is to work at Lois’s which is fine during the day up until the schools break up and then there’s kids everywhere.  He’s offered us the old riding school up on the hill but I don’t fancy taking two geldings through there when he’s running the stallion with  mares in the next field.  Oh, I hope it’ll work out.  We’re off to see Caritas ,the charity which works with Asylum seekers again tomorrow as the boss lady is back.  I didnt’ like the idea at first myself – the whole thing has got such a bad press, but these are families from all over Europe and of course, when you know their individual stories it’s different.  There’s been a couple of case in Austria where well integrated familes have been frog marched away by the Police and sent home, even at the cost of splitting them up and there’s been such a hue and cry that they’ve been allowed back to settle.  Austria is now apparently looking at their methods on this. We had a hostel in Ramingstein when we arrived.  Then one lad attacked another with a knife at the Easter fire – saying he had a problem with the Cross. So why send a radical Muslim to a strongly Catholic country?  The mayor just simply shut the Hostel down in six weeks, no pleading human rights, blah blah blah.  It was done.

This line of work means that we have a basis to put in for ‘Tu Was’ as mentioned previously, the local government  initiaitive to fund Lungau people in projects so that they can live better together. The Lungau has a very high rate of depression and suicide. If succesful we could get a couple of thousand and that would help with the advertising costs and so on.  We have to do a ten minute presentation -argggggggghhhhhhh!  But thats not till May. We’ve been to see various governement peeps all with the ‘very interesting but we dont have any money’ spiel.  We’ve made a brochure and business cards, so we need to cover the costs of that!

The church initiative, ”The magic of faith’ is just over  ten days away, at last something for God! This will be a great year! We have a speaker/magician, workshops organised, tea and biccies and a follow up ‘Stammtisch’ in a local restaurant.  Very Austrian, not how we’d go about it at home, they have no idea about the Alpha course!  Maybe we’re finally getting to be on the path we thought we were on when we started here!

Dave and I have begun to realise we’ve begun to sit on out laurels a bit. We haven’t explored Austria at all for ages and it was a major excursion to go to Europark near Salzburg last weekend.  Its all too esy to sit and watch a DVD at this time of year.  So we’re going to have a holiday somewhere ourselves this year, we’re going to visit the castle at Hochwerfen and the Salzkammergut, maybe with the kids.  I love having visitors but after doing the local sites ad nauseum itll be good to go elsewhere.

Roll on spring! When I hear how the Daffs are out and the trees about to blossom in GB I get a little envious!


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Diary Extract Three, Finding our way, 2007

Flippin woodworm

Quite a week. On Saturday we walked into Tamsweg and my teeth that have been playing up all the time suddenly seemed to get really bad. It was like a spasm, and the pain was like being drilled and it became a constant ache. Sunday was ruined by the continuous pain, so I was down the dentist at 7.30 on Monday morning! They took me although no E card – I have to take in straight away when it arrives. Was there for nearly 3 hours as they fitted me in. The Dentist began by hitting my teeth and then said I have a big infection and need root treatment, Oh the relief when he gave a jab. He didn’t speak English at first and my German soon ran out. I was tipped so my head was lower than my feet and the techno is about 10 years behind England. He has three treatment rooms and three victims on the go at once and goes from room to room. To think I had that check up in England and if I’d mentioned how that jaw has been sensitive for ages…….. I spose the stress triggered it. I feel ok now, lower jaw playing up but I really think I may be clenching that with stress. So I was high when the pain went.
We then went to meet a couple from the Bible group, for language swop. They have three girls and live around the corner from the flat we turned down in Tamsweg – so was it the wrong decision? Edda (also Bible group) lives near there too. We found out about each other, dogs and horses – they ride at the school mentioned by the dentist and who is advertising for staff – invited me to go ride too. Got onto church matters – they seem very frustrated even angry. I realise how much we take for granted in our large well organised church, even support and freedom to meet. The Parish priest put stop to a Christian group meeting in a café in Tamsweg. They say there is a big mix in the Housegroup – which I must say on reflection I would have thought was a strength, but some are complacent Catholic, some Protestant like Zuglinda. We really need to know them more. I felt F was very angry to, maybe issues with losing her mother. Said we should start to pray, so Dave and I will prayer walk. Have been praying that I have humility here – all we can offer is love and experiences that could help. Told them about New Life starting small – maybe Madling is the place to start?
Have had more beer with Mr P, who was feeling cross with Zuglinda for her obvious irritation with him, he’s a sad old man. Then yesterday when I was waiting for phone man, he had to barge in, so I left him with Dave, now feel ashamed. But maybe he’s the mate for Dave – will now worry about Dave and beer! We must show Jesus’ love!
Have just cocked up sending my hundreds of emails – did them in Outlook and couldn’t send them and then H said the floors may still be too wet, slipped into a pit of completer despair. It’s the waiting, I don’t want to go home, I just want a home! Just wallowed in frustration and sadness. Then decided well, if the furniture is here, there’s a lot we can be doing – could even camp in the sitting room (has its original floor) if they would do the kitchen, Will paint outside and do the windows and will have curtains and pictures to do, so wont be idle if its another week – oh for a person who is SO inpatient!
Dave and I are waking about 7, read and pray alone, tea and coffee and chat and I’m really beginning to treasure this. We hare going round in circle s over windows and doors in that room – so much must wait until we are in and I want retail therapy – really don’t think my curtains are long enough. May go to a catalogue. We did buy mattresses locally as they will be delivered – Dave will have alter our bed the continental sizes don’t match the UK!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Günter taking us to a horse parade on Sunday – looks good. Said he felt I needed some horse contact. It stuck me, all our new contacts have something to do with horses and I hadn’t sought them out – wow what a blessing when I was ready to give it up!
See lots of Learning Difficulties people – is it better they are all at home like this – what about the parents, or is it the culture of family? Are these guys able to grow? Realise after we had little Elias in here being sweet then running amok that if you do not have control of the language, you will not be able to control or have respect from these guys. G talked about working teaching English corporately. Its an idea. Feel we must work sooner than later, but then what will we do with all our visitors in the summer? August start would be nice – lazy moo! H has offered us a car, we really want one for all our shopping and maybe for work but are really worried about junctions and motorways! We could go tourist on Sundays. Found it so hot walking up the hill behind Madling that I had to turn back – may have been hunger at the moment feel so unfit, just don’t want to walk any flippin hills! Dave and I playing endless patience on card and computer, fed up with filling time, don’t even have the flipping German courses! Have found radio Salzburg – Austro pop and 1970s – better than other station which just repeated English hits.
Trees are all coming out – many cowslips and fields of anemones – white ones. River rising with snow melt, but still really hot and I came here to be cold! Forsythia out and now some fruit blossom – Bishofen where we shopped was about 2 weeks ahead of this and the air so much more moist. Peter (over the road) told us that all these old farm buildings get left – you either cant find out who owns them, or they wont sell so they just rot – and no local would spend a lot of money doing them up. What a waste. Parts of Ramingstein are like Epsach in 1979, small herds of cows in until the second hay is cut, the smell of cows and silage and rotting spuds, A few Holsteiners in fields. Much poo spreading on the fields but not enough rain I think. Some store the fresh dung in heaps until the next year – so it doesn’t burn the grass I spose. Austrians were hobbit like cleaning houses and gardens over Easter – maybe a sign of cabin fever. Found our broken wall outside the flat was done by a lorry!
Found some photos of the house – was a veranda balcony that they built on at the front. Zuglinda said that there was no water in the houses in 1963 when she moved in. Also found a snuff pot – hope its worth shed loads of money! Giving Gunter the bikes – wont use them!
It all gets more and more complicated………
We had the floors tested on Thursday and found that the concrete is still too wet and it will be another two weeks, before they will lay the parquet flooring with a guarantee. I’d been feeling pretty hormonal the past couple of days, homesick, not for England, but my home, my things, my place. So I’d said to D(who thinks I’m mad giving up a nice furnished place) that we would camp in the sitting room, put a bad and settee in and use the wood cooker. So H bless him got the fire moved in Friday morning. So we go over and start clearing, only to find that the wood surround in the sitting room had got not only ants under it but WOOD-BLOODY-WORM. Rang H who said a naughty word – after all he should have looked at it – if I were a nasty person I could really throw a wobbly after all the other cock ups – and he got G to meet in Tamsweg to but more stuff kill the blighters. We look at the board, decided it was too far gone and ripped it off only to find a huge patch of mould and falling off plaster. So we spent the day peeling, so it will now it needs plastering and painting and maybe fixing, so we probably can’t sleep in there.
AW, 87r498573970950398098~:{:?@>{::>’;#>[;@>_!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Went to the Horse Blessing with G today and his little boy who looks just like him. Funny I didn’t want to ride anything and didn’t get horse – itch, still enjoying not mucking out too much – having given it up – have I become a fraud and got over horse-itis? With the hormones playing around I’ve got very aware of how difficult I am to be with and really want to be close to Dave. Felt a deep pit of sorrow/remorse/misery, just wanted to give upon everything.
Now Rob (furniture man) has rung, he will be with us Tuesday evening –staying overnight. Will need to book and hotel for him. D has a blinding migraine and feels sick, mattresses coming tomorrow morning and H needs to get into flat. Will we EVER get in?
We felt guilty taking G from family the other day, but he said he had heart attack in 99 from overwork, so will always lead a less stressful life. Had a big chat about faith. The Tamsweg Christians are so unsupported, educated and are so full of fear from family and hierarchy. We need to pray for boldness, hadn’t heard of prayer walking. Had also idea for young drop in place – like our Christian coffee shop. Still see Madling as a rretreat centre. Have met another neighbour – woodworking musician. Boldness!