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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Paggy’s Plums!

Scene from the LungauerVolkskultur festival, tons more to follow!

The making of the plum jam has become an annual event here as Paggy  has a huge tree   in his garden.  It all started our first year, when we weren’t working and we spent a slightly tipsy afternoon, plucking, stoning and cooking. Paggy being diabetic means he doesn’t like too much sugar and uses a very thick aluminium saucepan which makes it difficult to get the stuff hot enough to set. Heavens knows how tainted it is, I take my own stainless steel pan over now!  However,while the first year was great, but we havent succeeded since.  A couple of years there haven’t been enough due to bad weather in spring, but last year there was loads but we had huge trouble with the jam going mouldy. I’ve since heard it’s just something in the weather at the time of the picking, or we included too many mouldy ones or just that he left the jars in the sun in the kitchen – but my own made with different plums was just the same.

This year we went and harvested the day before, kept the mouldy ones away but we boiled and boiled and boiled the flipping stuff for hours and it wouldn’t set, despite my sneakily adding extra sugar when his back was turned.  Too much water in the fruit he later informed me and we should have reduced it by half before trying to get it set.  Quite honestly, next year he can get his cleaning lady to do it as I never seem to get it right for him!

I loved making jam when I was working on the farm in Switzerland and maybe its some form of nostalgia that makes me enjoy it here – especially as Dave rarely eats it!


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Some Duh! moments I’ve had lately…….

Holy Spirit has pointed some stuff out to me, and its been a duh, as in Homer Simpson, how could I be so stupid not to see this before  type thing, moment quite often lately!

Driving back from the Asylum seekers, I thought well at least I’ve done ‘something’ today, my day has had some worth.  Then it was pointed out to me – who’s worth?  God doesn’t value your deeds, although faith must have actions, he wont love you more because you’ve done this, he loves you full stop –duh!

 Likewise thinking about tithing and I do it but Dave needs to up his bit a bit.  Feeling well, I’m getting good at doing this with a generous heart, and loving God. So where is my prosperity?  Of course I don’t need to do it for him to love me.  Answer, who said it was with money?? Just look at how rich your life it……duh!

 And finally. Prayer and worship, I’d grasped that we don’t need intercessors, Mary or the Saints, and that we don’t need to spend hours like hypocrites bending God’s ear with wordy prayers.  We need to leave quiet for a reply.  We can spend time chatting and worshiping and thanking.

 Now the worship bit I’ve always had a problem with.  What sort of God has an ego that needs to be smoothed with our pathetic praise?  Why does he need us fawning at his  feet.  It was cleaning the shower rooms I got it.  God is love, pure simple love.  He wants first from us a reciprocal relationship, where we walk together in the cool of the day.  Its like a love affair.  When you fall for someone, you want to be with them and you want to give and love.  Our father created us to make a pure reciprocal relationship, and we bogged it up. In pure love he died to restore the balance.  We can now enjoy the purest, eternal love affair (I’m talking asexual here, both couple love and familial love) with God, and when you love them, you want to be with them and love them back.  Eternity and the universe based on the purest form of energy, pure love.  Its not egotistical, its love –duh!


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So what happened?

Usually a view down the valley, but now a white out as the storm hits

I must confess to a certain amount of butterflies  before I had to work with Erna again.  It was the uncertainty of what would happen. I was geared up to being shouted at, or at the most blindingly unlikely, being apologised to.  The plan was to do the bins and loos and clean away from her. So we arrived at breakfast and she said the usual ‘morning’ to Micheala and then ignored me – also as usual.  She was set on scrubbing every floor in the place she could. Fine, I could deal with this, but if she was any sort of leader or ratherwhat I would have said would be great, we have some time, lets see if we can do anyhting to clean things up a bit – no it was just we’ll scrub the floors as we have time, there’s so much more than just floors to keep tje Burg claen! So I felt  if she wants to be an Ostrich and not deal with things, I will too. Hopefully we won’t work together more than a few times more this season, then I’m out of there. So she mopped and I made a point of asking her what to do, even if I got the blank look, andI even ended up with the broom!  If they think I’m so bad at mopping/scrubbing and they do all this work and end up knackered, why should I care?

Every time I started on the negative thoughts or feeling down, a Christian anthem came into my head, ‘Shout to the North and South….Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Earth’, now I don’t even really like this tune, though we sang it loads at the Fortune Centre, but there it was in my head, so strong that I got caught up in singing it (well not very loudly). I don’t often get songs stuck in my head either. I’d often thought of bringing my MP3 on Erna days but hey, this was God doing it for me! WOW!

 However, most importantly for me, I’ve learnt some things from God in this process that maybe he’s been trying to explain to me for a long time. And how?  Besides getting my prayer and reading life back in order, I’ve apologised to the Holy Spirit for grieving him and asked for help, and look what he did! Sorry non Christians, this is deep Christan speak now. I can see that the devil has tried to sink me in negativity and so separate me from the path I should be on – and he has shot himself in the foot because I’ve got over the not handling being ignored, and working with someone who yells and screams and can move on. No longer will I be eaten up by negative thoughts and worries –result!  

Spookily or really a natural coincidence, that afternoon the Lungau was hit by a freak thunderstorm.  We saw it coming over the hills as the sky went black, then came the wind and the trees bent double, then the rain and hail hit.  Non of the windows in the Burg were water tight and the howling of the wind though the gaps was incredible.  Hail lay like snow in the Hof and from one of the baclonies you could see nothing except the cloud and the lightning in it as the strom howled through.  It cleared in an hour and the sky was blue.  But I felt a deep, overwhelming sadness, and I was I right, for when I got home, so many of my flowers had been cut to shreds and the veggies were either flattened or full of holes.  Pictures will be on the next posts.

A week on…..Saturday I was on my own and there was one trakt that needed cleaning for new guests.  Micheala had said to me in her ‘speak to her seriously and slowly so she understands voice’ that two the rooms would need scrubbing because there had been dogs in them – like I wouldn’t have worked that out?  Well any way, I scrubbed two of the rooms on my own initiative as well as these two –so there!  But one room was occupied by an old boy with a chihaua, which had pooped all over the floor. At 3.30 he was still faffing around in the room, so I went to Helmuth- maybe this guy was staying on.  Helmuth exploded and went to give the guy a heave – the next group was due in an hour.  So I went and sat in the sun and ate a cake until I could finally get in.  At four o’clock I was finally finished – quite a contrast to last week and my paddy at having leaving at three. I didn’t moan to Helmuth once, as mostly I was chuckling inside, payback  for last week!


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Austria, Lungau and health

Healthy cows in the mountains!

 Some of these reflections are maybe all over Austria, some particularly Lungau, I’m not sure!  For example, on TV there are the getting fat people thin programmes as in England, and its interesting to see what has made them fat here.  The problem is sausages in all shapes and forms, semmels, leberkaese ( a sort of hot luncheon meat but much nicer tasting), cheese , and only a little on the chocolates and coke we see in GB- same story, when you eat more than your body needs, you put on weight.

The health system here is quite different to GB, maybe behind it in some ways, in others ahead.  We’re lucky here that the local main hospital is in Tamsweg so that makes thing easier travelling.  The whole system does rely on a lot of paperwork but it functions.

When we arrived we had a special ‘E-card’ which is basically your health record and is a plastic card, this lasted for two years under a reciprocal health scheme cos we’re EU.  Once we started work, we went under the Austrian system and paid through our wages – pretty like GB! When we went to find a doctor, we were told the local guy in the village had a drink problem and so went to one in Tamsweg. We met him briefly as we presented our cards – his response was oh no! not English, but he changed his view when he saw we had the ecard – apparently there are problems with the Uk paying on the holiday cards.  We had no health check as we arrived, Dave handed over his medical notes we’d got, but in English they probably weren’t much use.  The doc has never spoken to us in English but has made us aware he can when he suddenly translated a word for us!  He runs a single practise, and there are about six working thus around the town.  There are no appointments, you just learn when not to go, such as a Monday morning, when everyone has their weekend ailments to be diagnosed. He does blood tests himself and chemotherapy for his patients in a back room.  There is a number system and that’s infuriating when you think you’re next and someone  walks in and queue jumps!  He’s sometimes late, which seems to be when he’s been on night duty, fair enough,  but sometimes he’s just not there – for example one day a note on the door said he was at a funeral.  He takes weeks off too – leaving a note on the door as to which other practises to go to.

We’ve wised up to this now and keep a copy of the dates.  He might not be the most popular Doctor, but we like him.  In other practises, we’ve had to wait two or three hours to be seen and the locals seem to accept this.  The ecard means our records are all accessed (well we guess so!).  We have to get repeat prescriptions from him – of which his receptionist keeps a signed pile.  In one practise, the receptionist signed it herself!!!!!! Ecard again.  If you get referred to another doc, you need to get a little yellow form from the house doc to the specialist, without this you have to pay!

The Surgeon, eye specialists, internal medicine, all have practises in the town, so as I found, I simply went the next day and queued and saw him.  Of course its a matter of numbers, but what a relief for it to be so easy. Four years ago, our Doc suspected I had a hernia so it was a relief to go straight away to the Surgeon. He had his own ultra sound machine in the practise and I was diagnosed on the spot.  What day would you like your operation?  Next Thursday please!

The hernia wasa surprise to put it mildly.  I’ve spent years lugging bales of hay, but two months lugging trays of chocolate in the choccy factory and crunch!  Following this I developed Diverticultis – which in hindsight I think had always been there, but the operation and lying about got me infected. Again diagnosed and into hospital with immediate treatment. It was through this they found I had very high cholesterol  due to my under active thyroid – this explained a lot about why I’ve spent my life feeling more tired than other people, and that’s been corrected too.  Maybe God sent me to Austria to get diagnosed!  The hospital here is clean, staffed with friendly people, is well-ordered and efficient – even though it has a pub in the foyer where you can smoke and drink, or just tip it in your drip!