Tag Archives: Austria


AustriaWell, we made it back to Blighty by the skin of our teeth, not realising we were on one of the last Euro Shuttles out of Calais before a strike shut the entire town.

Just as well, as the kitten was due to be retrieved from the cattery by 4pm and The Teenager needed picking up from his flight to London in the wee early hours of Thursday.

Anyway, the trip to Austria with my boss/friend exceeded all expectations and amazingly, my tattered remnants of German held up – I was able to confidently order beers, ask how much a sausage with curry sauce was and change money for the endless loo breaks (they charge in European motorway stop offs, but well worth it just to watch the loo seat swivel round after flushing).

I tagged along, feigning interest in the Austrian Grand Prix, whilst secretly swotting up beforehand – what’s a few fast cars between friends? The boss magnanimously declined to attend the qualifiers, so we drove through Slovenia to Croatia on the Saturday instead, ending up in Zagreb for coffee and a wander round the old town.

Back in Austria, I initiated him into the joys of Wiener Schnintzel, small pale beers, bread with ham and cheese for breakfast and watching the F1 highlights in German, with me translating.

In retrospect, I learned a lot from our six-day trip:

  • A car is a very small space. As such, my friend didn’t always appreciate my attempts to stick ‘Blob’ gummy sweets (sold at every good German petrol station) to the dashboard when he was nudging 110 miles an hour.
  • A Grand Prix is kind of exciting. I bugged my friend with a lot of questions. He missed the crash at the beginning and started to reply through gritted teeth. I found the easiest way to calm him down was to pop another sausage and coffee in front of him.
  • The Grand Prix merchandise is waaaaaaay overpriced. I scraped together the money for a tiny teddy-bear keyring and got my friend to swipe the flags from the seats in front of us – you know, the ones that were to be waved by the spectators to show the Austrian flag to the watching world? Yup, those missing gaps are my fault.
  • I am much more confident with driving, helped no doubt by very fast cars behind me flashing their lights.
  • Most importantly, I have expanded my horizons a little bit and discovered that life does indeed go on outside my own four walls.

Back home, I had a pit-stop then schlepped to London to get The Teenager. He had travelled as an unaccompanied minor and as such, was mortified to be led through customs by a flight attendant. There was a moment’s hesitation when I was asked to sign for him (lol), but The Teenager and his passport were handed over.

A perfect week was rounded off by finding out that my book has been short-listed for The International Rubery Book Award 2015. Wunderbar x 10.

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Austria, Here We Come

AustriaMy boss. He doesn’t do the usual Dress Down Fridays (bit difficult as we wear paint-splattered gear every day – maybe we should have Dress Up Fridays?) or debauched Christmas parties, the meanie.

Last year, he held a festive bash for one. Him. On his own in a luxury restaurant with a 10-course tasting menu, a wonky paper hat, a bottle of bubbly and one straw.

This year however, he’s decided to splash out on a company outing. It started something like this:

‘Oi, Half-Shift! You speak German, don’t you? Didn’t you used to live in Austria? Can you ask for a hot-dog in the lingo?’

‘Erm, yup? Ja? Boss. Jawohl? Wurst?’

‘Excellent. We’re going to Austria.’

‘Oh. wunderbar! Are we going to tour the majestic beauty of the mountains and the breath-taking winding roads? Perhaps stopping in a charming Gasthof with carved wooden balconies? Wiener Schnitzel every evening?’

‘Nah, nothing like that. Grand Prix. In Graz.’


‘You in?’

Well. What could I say? It just so happens The Teenager is with his dad at the same time. Blimey. A road trip from Cardiff to Graz. To watch some souped-up cars racing round in a loop, over and over again. What’s not to like?

Of course I’m in. I might not understand what it’s all about – apparently he’s booked Grandstand seats – but I’m sure I can take my Inspirational Thoughts notebook and jot down some literary musings, sipping a strong coffee.

Actually, I can’t wait. My own four walls are closing in on me and the chance of escape is enticing.

We leave tomorrow morning and I’m still not packed. Being pale, fat and frumpy, my wardrobe choices are somewhat limited. I have a couple of pairs of cropped trousers but when I tried them on, my white legs blinded me and should Lewis Hamilton need one, I have a spare tyre or two around my waist.

Gut, ja?

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no stumblingYup, I’m tripping, full on tripping.

Not the cheeky little stumbles outside a shop or the blasted foot drop by the car when I grab the handle and…..fall to the ground.

Nope. This is the time I really should wear my, ‘I’m Not Drunk, I Have MS’ t-shirt.

I’m tripping all over the place, and it’s embarrassing. I crashed into a wall (a wall) at the end of a lecture last week. Fail. I fell over in the newsagent’s, ‘blimey, these weekend papers get heavier every weekend, huh??’ Fail.

I took Halloween goodies to the nephews and tripped over a stray pebble. Meh. It’s getting less and less funny, if it ever was.

Why can’t I have an illness where I look completely normal? If there is such a thing.

I seem to have this weird, stompy walk, a bit like the models in Paris do on the catwalk, one foot overlapping the other. Difference is, they keep on going. And turn. With me, I overlap once and whayhey, I’m gone. Like Naomi Campbell without the, um, model looks.

It’s all the more desperate for me as I used to walk in heels. I know, me! High heels. I can’t speak of inches without wincing. Italian, finely crafted leather. Bee-Yoo-Tiful. Believe it or not, it has been remarked that I (used to) not only walk, I saaaaashay(ed). No longer. I wear flat boots for daytime and flat boots in the evening. In short, meh, frumpy.

I am often found staring at women in heels, with a longing bordering on the weird. D’ya see? Did Ya? Her??? In those – solemn, light a candle- heels? No?

Those days have long gone and as I take out my delicately-embroidered handkerchief in black, I regret. All those days I thought I looked absurd, ridiculous in high heeled boots, opaque tights and denim shorts, striding across that bridge in Austria.

If I could do it all again, I would.

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