So where's the snow?

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


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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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A new venture

I had a go at wine making years ago when we had our small farm.  Trouble was that I let the fermenting bubbles get dry and it all went wrong.  We even tried marrow rum, and Dave’s Dad drank that and lived but we didn’t fancy it!  I’m quite surprised no one makes it here – I’m talking fruit as opposed to grape wine.  There are so many fruit bushes in people’s gardens, but they make loads of jams and syrups.

Schnapps distilling is the main occupation here. Usually from the berries of the mountain ash, which I used to think was poisonous or with zirben, a sort of pine cone that drips a thick resin.  This is added to a brandy or schnapps base and with sugar is fermented into a lovely syrupy liquor.  There are variations on this with all sorts of  fruit too.  So I’m going to try to make Elderberry. Two trees have self seeded in our garden so I hope that’ll be enough!

Finding the equipment was a non starter – nothing on the net anywhere in Austria. Then my sister in-law said her shop where she works in the UK did all the stuff, so she brought me over all the bungs and bubbles and yeast.  The only problem was then the fermenting bottle, and blow me down, Linda had two in her attic, her mother in law used to make it in Steiermark!  I went to the local Iron mongers  and they had the bung -for schnapps storing/brewing I suppose. I don’t have means to cork the bottles so I’m going to use the beer bottles with the flip over top with a metal spring that seals – a bit like on a Kilner jar.

The fruit is there and green on the bushes, they’ll be ready in a few weeks, just need to beat the birds to them!


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Garden time – Apples and Plums, Jam and Wine

It was when I was out to photo the apple trees, I noticed that the Plum trees have next to no flowers on them at all. I had to check back at my photos over the past few years and there are definitely less flowers than in earlier years and they look scraggy, not full blooms, just a couple of petals.  Another effect of last year, or just the trees having one of their rest years?  We’ve had so many plums the past two years we’ve got sick of the sight of them!  The cherry trees locally have had a great flowering, missing the Ice man, unlike the apples which did get zapped, but with so many flowers I guess it’ll still be a great crop.  My ornamental cherry has also had a pathetic flowering this year, nature’s cycle?

Especially with the fiasco of Paggy’s plum jam making. I’ve never managed to get it to set properly, as he wont let me add enough sugar as he’s a diabetic, but even with the gel zucker – it has extra gelatine and pectin in it I understand, it wont set. Then it goes moldy!  It seems we need to reduce it at least by half before adding the sugar, which  will do this year, if we get any fruit!

Very few people make home-made wine here, which is a surprise, Schnapps and jam yes. Maybe it’s because wine is so cheap! I can’t think why as there are so many soft fruits in  any garden, and jam making or cordial uses maybe more sugar.  Maybe its due to the beer drinking!   I’ve also got at last my own elderberries going, so now its do I make juice and then maybe jam from th flowers, or wait to make jam from the fruit??? Such dilemmas!  We’ve also just planted our first Blackberry, they seem not to be Lungau hard, which is a shame as they are like weeds in the UK.