So where's the snow?

Muddling through life from Austria to Wales; God, life and a small black dog


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Autumn blues

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Friday September 13th

Some would say not to be good writing on this day but I don’t hold with all that nonsense! My Cowbell summer has ended, Dave is now home from the course and my hermit existence is over.  I’m adjusting and the peace God gave me remains.

We’ve a spell of colder weather with snow above 2000 metres which has put paid to any walking up really high, just now as we finally have the time after a busy summer to do some, typical!  Dave and I are now in the do we put the Geraniums away conflict.  I want to keep them out on the terrace as long as possible, winter dullness lasts too long with the monochrome white and black.  We get this cold blip in September but then October can be really warm.  Apparently its the reverse metereological effect of when the Ice Saints come in the spring, and is maybe why we now have English tv channels back!   I remember when we were house hunting being in Salzburg on the National day, all warmly sweating because the temperature was in the mid 20s!  But we have +3 forecast tonight which will may mean a frost.  So we have reached a compromise.  The largest plants which we’ve had for a few years will go in the greenhouse to dry off ready for going in the cellar, and the others will stay put, I may put a fleece on them tonight.

Maybe it is going to be a hard winter, after the nutty summer we’ve had. I need the next few weeks to pysch myself up for winter, by November I’ll be like a five year old watching for the first flakes!

As a post script, I lost the battle with the flowers going into the greenhouse the following Monday as there was a real frost forecast and there had been already quite a snowfall on the hills.  But I got my own back, I just happened to buy some Michelmass daisies and some pansies and some heather when I went into the Garden centre for some extra compost!!!!


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What a weekend! Saturday

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The sun was shining and the skies cleared and we were off to the Bauernherbst opening in Tamsweg.  This is a new festival at the end of the holiday season mainly for tourists but under the guise of ‘it’s the farmers’.  I’ve been told that most farmers aren’t even allowed to sell their products in a fair, so it’s just the money on beer and sausages!  Still we arrived in good time to check out the ‘Old Timer’ tractors and stalls.

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We ate lunch in a surprisingly quiet restaurant and then met up with some of the  Lungau English gang (Lungish? Engauers?  Lungengs? ) and went off for the parade.

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The tour was relatively short and the head was caught up with the tail as they went a second time around!  It was the usual guys of the Samsons,

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Trachtenfrauen (I wasn’t allowed to go as I don’t have a real Lungau Dirndl!) ,

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marching bands, soldiers and floats.

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The clicker group was there, which has me a bit twitched these days.  These are the guys with the bullwhips who crack them sat on a horse. These shots are from another festival.

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Health and Safety would have to be put in rehab, seeing this lot flinging the rope about in the middle of crowds and narrow streets,  Technically the whip should be way above heads, but it doesn’t feel like that and a couple of years ago, with one horse deciding to prance about, I was cowering in fear of my life!

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I suppose the guys can’t be concentrating on what’s going on but trusting who is leading the horse to judge.  Still this time something went amiss and one bloke ended up with the rope around his neck.  He was more annoyed than injured thankfully. We saw the next night on tv another festival where the men stood on the horses……………..

After this the gang retired to the beer benches and were on beer, schnapps and Radlers (shandy), sausage and rolls, and HasenÖrl, envelopes of pastry with sauerkraut.  There were also chips made from the local spuds (Eachtling).

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Despite the drought, there were plenty on sale but they were sold out by about 4 oclock!  So  a great time was had by all and we trotted home tired!  Somehting that always concerns Dave and I about these things is the old integration thingey.   If we go on our own, we don’t rally chat a lot with other people.  If we are with the Engauers, we form a group and its great, but we’re not really mixing except when we’re buying schnapps. So we’re standing out of the crowd like tourists.  But I enjoyed myself today and I’ve come to feel stuff the whole thing!  If I’m happy, it doesn’t matter.  We’re never going to be more integrated than we are now and this is the balance between the two, the best of both worlds.  Other times we’re with local friends other times with the gang. We win both ways!  We’re never going to be Austrian and maybe just like in an English community it will take a lifetime to be so.  So life here can combine the best of both.


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Begging in Salzburg

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On our previous trips to Salzburg, we had met beggars,  usually around the railway station.  One woman with a top of the range buggy and a computer printed sheet in several languages tried her luck, but got nowhere with us.  I buy the Austrian equivalent of the Big Issue when I can especially as we understood begging is banned.

This trip was quite different.  On the Mozart bridge and on street corners, were sat people with some form of disability – one guy had no legs. We saw another with a crutch that was so short, he was either severely bent or it was done for pity. Each of them whined, I’m not sure what language, but Dave said he heard, ‘Bitte, bitte, bitte’ and they held out Macdonalds paper coffee cups. We later retraced some of our steps and it was obvious there had been a moving of people to different locations.

It struck me that this was organized gang work. The Disabled were probably enslaved and run by them from somewhere in Eastern Europe.  Why is this allowed to go on, it doesn’t require brainsurgery to work out how to catch the gang leaders and round them all up.  But then again for what, they would be deported back to their home where there was probably no state support.  I still would have liked to steal one of them and bring them home, pick them off day by day and give them safety………naive.  Yes, but the council of Salzburg and the Police seem almost complicit as I saw it.


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Park and Ride in Salzburg

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Not like the sound of music -pah!

Dave and I have driven in Salzburg and on our recent visit, it was decided to use the Park and Ride on the outskirts.  It was well signposted with gantries over the road as we drove in, but suddenly we realised we must have overshot as we were getting further into the suburbs.  Turning around, we drove back and this time saw a really small sign on the right, which was covered with snow, for a small off-road.  After all the gantries, surely it was logical to put a BIG sign for the final exit?  But then again this is well in line with the Austrian logic for road signs.

We parked in the snow and made our way back to the kiosk where we had taken the automatic ticket, only in the light of not finding any other information.  We discovered a Mr.Jobsworth sat in his warm cubby hole, who wasn’t going to move or be helpful if he could. Surely as this is a major parking place, especially in the summer, a sign on the ticket automat in English, such as buy your ticket in kiosk would help – as I wasn’t driving I couldn’t really read the little information on it.  So we told us the price, then grumped that we had to use the machine on the side of the kiosk.  So of course it decided it didn’t like our 10 euro note and kept on spitting it out.  Of course that was our fault, so Mr. Grump then had to leave his warmth and try himself. He reckoned it was damp, we all had the giggles by then which didn’t help ‘It’s not a circus’ grumbled Mr Grump. Eventually we had our tickets and he slapped our bus pass on the counter, and rolled his eyes when we asked where the bus stop was – again a bit snow bedecked. So we went and waited for the bus and had a great day. When we returned it looked like he was still in the kiosk, a long day, I wonder how many other people’s day he tried to ruin?????


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Salzburg in the Snow

On a recent visit to our local capital city when my brother was visiting, we hit the town just after a freakily heavy fall of snow (well for Salzburg).  We did the tourist bit of the Mirabelle gardens, I’ve never seen them so magical, here’s the shots!


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Curing the homesickness?

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The best known cure for homesickness; SHOPPING!

We haven’t been home to the UK for two years and in hindsight it was too long. Hence the bouts of homesickness I’d experienced  last year.  I’ve  had hints of wanting to return as well, so our trip this Christmas was a real test. The pre-Christmas weeks were frantic and I was exhausted, but it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the process of catching a plane and doing all the stuff.  As we landed at Stansted I was completely choked and wanted a boo!  Oh, no, I though, I do need to come home, then I remembered that I do this every time.  Back through Passport control, I was thrilled to be in a queue where I could understand, and was vastly amused at the couple in front of us who were ringing home to find a party of some sort had taken place and the resulting chaos….. On the bus I found I couldn’t understand a word around me, just like being in Austria!

We were based in Stratford (more of that later), and for the first couple of days I drank in the houses and streets and the familiarity. It was so good to see my daughter and catch up, just like you can’t on the phone. Down in Dorset, it was so exciting to meet with my son and his fiance and discuss all the upcoming wedding plans. Unlike London I could once again understand all the conversations around me and enjoyed the soft, warm (comparatively) wind and the damp air and rain, not to mention the sea.   Back there, it was like putting on a comfortable old shoe, that hugs and soothes. I got used to speaking English the whole time and feeling  a part, not an outsider.  It was a wrench to leave there to go to  Aldershot to see the rest of the family.  But it was all still familiar and welcoming, especially the shops filled with familiar stuff, enjoying a curry and Fish and Chips, though I didn’t get to the pasty I havered for!

I’m such a nut, I still felt homesick in an odd sort of way when I was there as I knew I’d have to leave, I stamped on that silly emotion. I didn’t want to come back to Austria, but its difficult to leave family anyway.  The time we spent with the kids was magic, but we were all enjoying a holiday time together, having looked forward to it and Christmas.  The reality of the in-laws tuning up on a weekend when tired  is different. It was real quality time and so sweet.

I felt nothing as we landed in Salzburg, I wasn’t as tired as when we left.  I wanted to get home as by then I’d had enough of travelling.  But no, I don’t want to stay here forever, life here is in a bit of a rut and I’ll have to find some more friends, jobs and hobbies this year.  Austria will never be home, I don’t want dual nationality, I’m English and at some stage I will go home.

A few days on, despite the down of returning to work, I’m really at peace. Maybe because we’ll be back in the UK for the wedding, which I’m so excited about.  the jury on Austria is still out…….