350: Sun & Samantha

~ Solar Update~

Heck, the forecast says that we, in Graz, Austria, are in for a cold, snowy beginning of the week.  But, hey, a little bit of us, well, our names, are toast.  The Parker Solar Probe flew past, really close to the sun this month and our names are on board.  I hope they put out their deckchairs, wore sunglasses and have sploshed sun cream all over.  Gives you a warm feeling, doesn’t it ?

~ Natascha’s New Laptop~

Ever since I have known Natascha, she has been struggling with her old computer.  The USB ports entered the spirit realm months ago, she could not play her home building game any more and Stained-glass Windows constantly played up.  So, off we went to the store and I bought her a new laptop. She is really thrilled to bits with it, happy as well by gaining a new desk and office chair (where a cat is constantly curled up in).  And now she can play her game !

Natascha in a happy twirl !

“No ! You can’t have the mousie.  It’s MINE !”

~Chicken Tonight~

Whatever Natascha or I do, Samantha Boss Cat wants to help.  She eats everything, metal cupboard handles, cushions torn to shreds, you name it, she eats it.  Chicken breasts in a pot, Samantha is there, in charge !

“Come on Mummy !  I want my chicken NOW !”

Do you want it, whatever it is, now ?

Ralph xox ❤

Cat photographs taken by  Natascha

349: More Flood Pics And An Apology

~River Overflowed In Spain~

Toñi sent us more photos of the flooding in my Spanish village during October 2018,  so I thought that I would share them with you.  Got your raincoat on ?

The rain came and the river Guadiaro flooded Estacion Cortes de la Frontera

The flood at its height
Same view when the water receded
Clean up

For sale. Delightful small house with river. Boat mooring and fishing throughout the house

~That Didn’t Work !~

There is a lot going on in the river Mur, Graz, Austria, near our home.  Then it rained !

Here are some photos in case you can’t watch videos.

Last week on the River Mur, Graz, Austria
Work going well …..
…. and then it rained …
…. and rained !

Well, that didn’t work !

~”I Must Answer Comments !” ~

Many of you who have written comments in my previous posts may have noticed that it has taken me days to reply.  It’s important to me that I do reply to every comment as you have put yourselves out,  you were bored at work,  escaped from your partner/kids/cats/dragon,  you’ve got nothing else to do,  or you’re drunk.  Knowing you, it’s probably all these things combined !

There are two reasons why I take so long in replying.

Firstly, as I have shaking hands, I use a psychotic voice/typing app to reply to comments.  I say something like, “Thank you Ute for liking my blog.”  and it types, “Think you beauty for licking my clog.”  I am an expert at correcting typos by TYPING !

Secondly, concentration !  As most of you know, it takes hours to create a post like this and I am pretty well brain-dead when I click “Publish”.  I love replying to your comments and can only cope with 5 max at a go.  Then I need a break.  Time after time I say to myself, “I must answer comments !” and my brain disappears into a singularity;  a one-cell world of its own.  Then !  Sometimes days later !  I’m on top form and can blitz comments.  So, I am sorry, grovel-grovel, for not answering your comments straight away.

I wonder what the cats are up to ?  I must go into the kitchen and give them a stroke with my shaking hands. 

“Who wants a stroke, pussycats ?”

Do you think that I should water down my posts a bit ?

Ralph xox ❤

Thank you Toñi for the Spanish flood pics and thank you Natascha for the River Mur video and pics plus the photos of the cats. 

348: I Don’t Believe It !

~Yes, I Don’t Believe It !~

I obviously underestimated bureaucrazy.  Why ?  I really did think that it was all over, no more government paperwork and then a letter arrived 10 days ago from one of my UK state pensions.  A pension which knew everything about me, because I informed them of all my details as soon as I arrived in Austria a year ago.  All the letter asked for was for me to confirm my name, address, phone number  and sign it.  Simple.  No problem.  Pages of explanations leading into getting a witness for everything I said on the form.  I had to fill the form in or I may lose my pension.

~Notary~

Of course there are conditions.  The witness must be impeccable,  have known me for 12 years and had a stamp. The Austrian Post Mistress was out of the question as I have only been here a year.  Donald Trump failed on all accounts.  Sonic, my cat, volunteered to be the witness, but he is family and doesn’t count.

The only way I could find around it was to go to a local Notary to act as my witness. A week later  Natascha and I visited the Notary who said yes,  but doing it in his own Austrian way,  not using Sonic’s form,  but creating one of his own for legal reasons.  It didn’t take long and we walked out with a folder with signatures plus stamps all over it and €50 poorer.  Natascha then informed me that it was not all over.  We had to go to an important Austrian government office and have an apostille applied to the document.  More stamps !  I didn’t believe it, but it was true !  On entering the building we had to go through “airport” security and the lady in the office stuck stamps on everything (it took ages to get one off of my forehead).  So we left with a folder weighed down with more stamps and €14 the poorer. Over last weekend we scanned everything (we always do that), wrote a covering letter and Monday morning Natascha mailed the document off to the UK and came home €4 poorer.

Will the UK government office accept my filled in form ?  Will I still have a pension ?

What a week !   I don’t believe it !

~Murli Thinking~

“I like watching paint dry. I don’t believe it ! The paint is DRY !”
“I don’t believe it ! Who stole my milk cup ?”

~Breaking News~

Images of flooding last week in the Spanish village where my apartment is.

Woman rescued by helicopter from the riverside mill opposite the Tabac in Estacion Cortes de la Frontera, Andalucia.

 

The flooding in the field behind my Spanish apartment.
River when the water dropped
Clean up in the village
House cleaning

Thank you Toñi for sending us these pics.

Have you had a “I don’t believe it !” moment ?

Ralph xox ❤

Natascha shot the Murli pics.

347: Don’t Give Up !

~Update~

Video credit:  Reddit

What a year !  One thing I have learned is to not give up, especially when things become difficult, looking hopeless and seems to have no end.  Do you remember the weeks of emotional stress, the €800+  payment that Natascha and I had to endure to verify three bits of paper and that I was free to get married ?  We didn’t give up and got married.  Immediately after, were weeks without bank statements being sent to me, resulting in my trying to close my bank account in Spain.  Complaints to their head office did the trick and the account was eventually closed.  I didn’t give up. THEN I went through the headache of cashing in an old pension plan. They sent a UK cheque to me in Austria which took six weeks to be credited into my Austrian bank account.  Yay, at last ! 

All unnecessary bureaucrazy, but we never gave up.  I think the garbage truck above did give up, don’t you ?

I have read many of your posts, problems with all sorts of things, from medical issues to publishing books and most of you don’t give up.  Some do.  Giving up is the easy way out and can become a habit.  From then on you become a victim of your own weakness.  Stay strong and write in your blog about it.  Your readers love real life stories and their comments can really give you a boost when you need it most. You have helped us get through, helped us not to give up. Thank you my friends.

~Murli Never Gives Up~

Video credit:  Natascha’s post

~My Sweet Sonic & Samantha~

I wonder what my two loveable pussy-cats are doing ?

I heard that !!!!

Have You Ever Given Up ?

Okay, I know !  Reading my posts !

Ralph xox ❤

Cat photographs and cat video taken by Natascha

346: Graz Schlossberg And Cats

~Going Out~

“Mummy and Daddy have gone out. Let’s have a party and invite Pom Fritz on social media”.
“Sorry guys, can’t come as I ate Twitter !”

Today, we went up that !  The Schlossberg in Graz, Austria.  Want to come along ?

Image credit:  here

Webcam Graz Schlossberg. Click for the BIG picture

Latest web cam view and this image credit:  here

~Arrival~

Natascha and I took a tram ride through the city.  Exited the tram near the tunnel which contained the lift to the top of the hill.  Natascha bought 2 lift tickets and after a long walk in the tunnel she scanned the ticket and walked through the electronic gate.  The ticket didn’t work for me !  Oh boy, he gave Natascha ONE ticket instead of two.  So off I went on a round trip, returning with ticket clutched tightly in my hand.  A few seconds later we got out of the lift at the top.  Great !  A cafe !  Coffee !!!  Want one ?

~Sightseeing~

Lovely views
Zoom in there Natascha !
We live there !
No !  THERE !!!
Natascha’s Dad lives there.  No !  THERE !

~Fooling About~

Ralph was WELL brought up

Sing along with me “Underneath The Arches”
Ye Olde Chastity Belt Padlock
The Austrian Army has just upgraded its weapons. Don’t even try it Russia !
His Herr needed brushing !
Winding the locals up !
I was always a wallflower

~Time To Relax~

~  Show Me the Way To Go Home  ~

Don’t panic Ralph !
“Down THERE ??”

We didn’t die !

We left the station by the river Mur ….
…….. crossed the street to the tram stop …
…. waited 5 minutes …
…. and were soon on our way home.  “Hey ! That’s our tram !”

It would be nice to get home to our welcoming, purring, leg rubbing cats.

“Keep the noise down Mummy and Daddy as we are exhausted from our sleep party while you were out. SHUSH !”

Oh boy !

Did You Enjoy The Hill ? 

Ralph xox ❤

Most photographs and the video taken by Natascha

345: Doesn’t Time Fly ?

~Data Protection Is Really Data Collection~

To the day it has been a year that Natascha and I (plus 3 cats) have lived together in Graz, Austria.  We have been through a lot;  moving home, overcoming the official stupidity of paperwork when getting married and closing my Spanish bank account.  Finally,  time to relax,  but NO !  Oh no,  a UK government letter recently arrived asking me to contact a UK insurance company.  What ?  On phoning the company it seems I had a pension plan,  not with them,  but another insurance company whom they had taken over.

Then the stupidity began.

Security questions galore for MY protection.  “Where were you living in 1989 ?”  Heck, that was 10 house moves ago !  “Send us all your addresses from 1989 to today”  WHAT ?

I must have spoken to her 3 or 4 times on the phone,  sent a letter and a dozen emails.  We were becoming friends !  But the same stupid security questions every time AND pushing for me to put my pension plan into something better.  I wanted to cash it in. 

For days the same security questions and pushiness,  plus getting more information about me.  I stuck to my guns to cash the plan in.

Eventually she sent me a form to cash the pension plan.  She wanted my Austrian bank account details and told me that I would have to pay the UK tax on the amount. 

I expected the money to be sent electronically,  bank to bank,  which would take about 3 working days max.  But no,  a week later I received a UK cheque AND the company had deducted about 20% UK tax.  We immediately presented the cheque to my Austrian bank and off it went into the roller coaster of whatever banks do with cheques.  A month has passed,  no sign of the money in my account.  At least another 2 weeks we were told.

As soon as the money is in my account I will be writing a Ralphie email and a half to that insurance company.  Why ask for my bank details when sending a cheque and why say one thing and do another with the tax ?  But, hey, doesn’t time fly when faced with such bureaucrazy ?

~I Would Never Do This~

I love Natascha to bits and would never do what this boyfriend did when his girlfriend caught the bouquet (which means that she will be next to be married).

~I Wonder What The Cats Are Doing ?~

Cats !  Who’d have them ?

Has This Year Flown By For You ?

Ralph xox ❤

Cat photos taken by Natascha. This is the link to her blog.

344: On The Street Where I Live

~Our Street~

This drone footage view is almost exactly the same as the apartment complex and gardens where we live. 

I never thought that I would ever live in a city as lovely as this.

Our street in Graz, Austria

~Samantha On Watch~

Our cats love it on the window ledge watching what’s going on in the street, safely behind netting which Natascha puts up daily when it’s warm. 

~A Royal Visitor~

The other evening the Queen of England was outside.

“We are not amused ……..”
“….. as one’s chauffeur has buggered off and left one locked in this vehicle ….”
“…. and one is unable to have a Royal “we”.”

Have you talked like the Queen ?  It’s easy Don’t say “I” and “My”, say “One or We” and “Our”. Try this with one’s nose in the air.  “One hiz hoff to the store to purchase Our Royal Jelly for One’s compexion.  One never carries money,  so hoff you go underling”. *emphasise with back-handed wave*

I hope you don’t have a royal bust-up with your family or friends, exclaiming, “Who do you think you are, the Queen of England ?”.  Blame me !

~A Little Bit Of History~

On a serious note.  Dotted around Graz, Austria, and other towns and cities, there are brass plaques in the pavements (sidewalks), memorials of people snatched from their homes by the Nazis, never to be seen again.  This one is just across the street. 

It says: “Here lived Richard Zach. Born in the year 1919. In the resistance (resistance movement). Arrested: 31.10.1941. Sentenced: 17.8.1942. Executed: 27.1.1943” (Jg. is an abbreviation for Year basically. They probably didn’t know his exact birth date. That abbreviation Jg means Jahrgang and it’s used for birth years or for graduation years and stuff like that)

Sadly, this may happen again in Europe.  Nationalism is rising against the drug dealing, rapist, knife wielding and abusive migrant gangs openly ruining traditional cultures (including their own).  People have had enough.  

~Crash !~

It was a quiet day, when ….

WHAT WAS THAT ?
Will I or won’t I take a look ? Okay, just a quick one !
“Oh, my kittens ! I’m out of here !”

In a flash, Samantha was gone !

“Is it safe to come out now Daddy ?”

Samantha had moved so fast that her shadows, shocked, never moved.

So what happened ?  We think that the wind slammed the window (red arrow) taking out the whole pane of glass which fell onto the sidewalk (pavement).  Luckily the Queen was not under it at the time or there would have been an International Incident ! 

Do you have a story about your street ?

Ralph xox ❤

Natascha took all these post photographs.

343: Sun Drenched China Cat

~Our Names (Except China Cat) Are On The Way To The Sun~

Yes, our names (with 1.1 million others) are on a chip aboard the Parker Solar Probe.

On the second try,  the launch was successful.

First way-point around Venus,  then our names are off to the sun on the Probe’s 7 year voyage.  A bit of fun, eh ?

Full story of names on the Probe HERE

~China Cat Wants To Be A Real Cat~

China Cat has had enough of keeping a door open and, like Pinocchio, wants to be real.

Murli has volunteered to take her place while China Cat tries out doing what real cats do.

“I’ll keep the door open while you find out what it’s like to be a real cat, China Cat”, says Murli.
“Okay, thanks Murli !”
“HELP ! I’m scared of heights !”
“Oh dear ! Try our food then !”
“Yuk ! I’d rather have rock cakes !”
“See if you can use our cat litter tray, China Cat.”
“No good ! There’s no way I can drop a boulder in here !”
“You’d like it out on the balcony. Try it !”
“Nice hard floor, but I’m SCARED OF HEIGHTS !  HELP !”
“Okay, OKAY ! You’ve got to love sleeping in my basket !”
“It’s horrible ! Too soft and I can’t close my eyes to sleep. It’s pointless ! I don’t want to be a real cat any more !”
“Thank the cat god for that !  I can’t do your job China Cat as I got so restless trying to keep still while holding this door open !”

And, so China Cat went back to keeping the door open.  Happily realising that her dream of becoming a real cat was really a nightmare.  She now knows that being the awesome, original China Cat she is cannot be improved on and that she is special by holding the door open.

Are you Special ?

You are.  I know it !

Ralph xox ❤

Cat photos were taken by Natascha

342: Years

~6 Years With WordPress~

Yes, 6 years !  Thank you for being my friend.  342 posts !  I wrote some drivel, didn’t I ?  29,037 comments.  What did we talk about ?  137,709 spam stopped.  Shame really, as I would now have 10 suitcases of Viagra, my laptop would be perfected by those Delhi Bellies and $10 billion in my bank from those generous Nigerians !  Anyway fellow blogger, you may have to put up with me a little longer.

~Memories Of Spain~

Ralph pointing to tiny baby Sonic. 2003
Samantha curled into her mum Dizzy while Sonic checks out the milk in Calahonda, Spain
Samantha liked her new home in Benalmadena, Spain. 2004
Sonic likes the chair that Samantha warmed up
Samantha & Sonic curled up in the flower pot
Morning newspapers in Benalmadena Pueblo, Spain. 2003

~Pets Loved And Lost~

Star, a lost kitten which I adopted. 9 months later she died of kidney failure. Cortes de la Frontera, Spain.
One time I coudn’t find Star. After an hour of searching there she was.
Fiesta, a Bichon Frese, was unnecessarily put down by my friend’s daughter. I was so sad and angry.
Ralph playing with Fiesta

~Cats Are Funny, Aren’t They ?~

Sonic & Samantha enjoying the high life. Cortes de la Frontera. 2004-2012
Wash day for Sonic
Silly Sonic
Nice warm car.
Before ………
…… After. “What’s your problem Daddy ?”
“No, you can’t have your office chair back Daddy !”
“What’s going ON Sonic ?”
Glug, glug !
Samantha being cooked under the log burner

~Ralph’s Fashions~

Ralph was such a sweetheart in his OOTD
Ralph couldn’t decide what to wear.  Got to hang my hat somewhere I suppose and I was taught to always lift my hat to a lady.  I’m such a gentleman !  😉
At last I found something to wear !

~Goodbye Spain~

Natascha and I, both WP bloggers, decided to become an item ……
…… so after really difficult arrangements, Sonic, Samantha and I left Spain for Austria

~Hello Austria~

Natascha found us a home in Graz, Austria ……
….. for ourselves, Murli. Natascha’s cat ……
….. and Sonic & Samantha.

~And Now~

After months of stupid bureaucrazy paperwork, I was able to relax …….
…… and marry the gorgeous Natascha

What’s next ?

Are Your Years Worth Remembering ?

I hope so.

Ralph xox ❤

All these photographs are mine, some digital and some before digital, when cameras were hewn from rock, lenses made from ice and lightning provided the flash. 

340: Bank On My Cats

~What A Load Of Bankers !~

Oh boy !  The craziness of my Spanish bank is endless !  Over the last nine months I have been passed  around four different Customer Service branch women and probably two Complaints Department women.  I have had more bank women in nine months than girlfriends over my entire life !

I will repeat what I wrote a few weeks ago just to refresh our memories.

“Oh yes, my Spanish bank has also entered the realms of stupidity.  I have been emailing my Solbank  since 2002 with no problems until I arrived in Austria in September 2017.  I could do nothing in Spain as I did not have an Austrian address for them to send me correspondence.  Once settled, I emailed my new address, sent proof of residency and asked for statements to be sent to me.  After many requests and many replies I was told that they do not take instructions by email.  Nothing from them for months until I received a Solbank letter.  Yay !   A statement ?   No !    Just a letter telling me that they are charging me €30 for being overdrawn.  For heavens sake, they refused to send me statements, but had the audacity to send me that !   Natascha and I immediately topped up the account and I really laid into the bank and asked for paperwork to be sent to me to close my account.  I have still heard nothing and they are still taking money from my account, I assume.”

~My Spanish Bank Is Trying To Kill Me~

The story continues.

I received two more letters.  One was pages of charges and fees for 2018 and the other praised the wonders of GDPR.  None of which helped me.  A statement would have been nice.

Totally fed up, I wrote an email, a long email to Solbank complaints department.   Within hours I got a reply.  “Sorry, we don’t act on emails without an electronic signature”  What !!!  Ms Daydreamer then went back to filing her nails.

Both Natascha and I couldn’t believe how crazy things were becoming.  Anyway, something amazing happened the following afternoon.  We got a phone call from the bank instructing me to write a letter with both my Spanish and Austrian bank details and that I want to close my account.  Natascha is brilliant at typing and soon knocked up the letter which I signed and Natascha mailed it the following morning.

About a week later I got an email from the bank saying that my signature did not match the signature I made when opening the account in 2002.  Send a Certified copy of my passport.  I used to have a lovely signature in 2002, but my shaking hands changed it to something like this.

This image is taken from a post I did in 2016.  Copy that if you can Bongo Bongo Banana spammer.

I had signed countless pieces of paper and on the electronic signing machine at the bank.  Not one signature was the same over the last few years.  It seems that no one had checked my recent signatures, flagged my medical problem, or updated the database.  AND what the heck has a certified passport got to do with anything.  I told her that and she replied with

“Dear Mr.Whillier,  I am sorry but in that case you can transfer your balance online or give a power of attorney to another person to close your account and transfering your money if you are not going to come back to Spain anymore . We can not accept a signed request  with a signature we don´t have registered for security reasons . Yours sincerely”

They are beginning to make things up. They know I do not have an online bank with them and also I would need to be in Spain to activate a power of attorney.  Both Natascha and I could not believe what was going on.  Anyway, before I told them to stick the whole thing up their ATM sideways, Natascha made me see sense and we went to an Austrian Notary.  He was very quick to certify my passport and I asked him to verify my wonky signature.  I did that because I had a feeling that my signature would be next on the bank’s bucket list.  Thank heavens that worked !  3 days ago I got an email

“Dear Mr.Whillier,  My colleague is dealing with it.  I will let you know when the account is closed.  Yours sincerely”

I have heard nothing since from her colleague.  Probably going to ask me to certify my cats.  Well, they need certifying, as you can see in the next item.

~MUSCAT~

My cats are in the kichen.  Up to something I expect.

 

Who Wants My Spanish Bank Account ?

It’s fun.  One insane, certified, stressed out, careful owner.  Ignore the fact that the account will never close and you will get no statements.   Blind banking !   What a fun gift to give to your local politician or law maker. 

Ralph xox ❤

Natascha photographed the cats and made the video.

339: Flatpack Fantastic

~Thank You Nancy~

Yes, thank you so much dear Nancy for your lovely card.

Nancy

But what happened ?   Why did it take six weeks to get from the USA to Austria ?   Any ideas ?   The wackier the idea the better.  I think that it went to the White House, played cards, Bridge actually, and got trumped.

What a lovely card from you my friend.  Thank you.

~You Don’t Ring My Bell Anymore~

Sometimes I read this Austrian newspaper…..

…..translate it into English …..

……and, boy, does it come up with hilarious results.

Oh no, poor handlebars !   Must have really damaged their ting-a-ling.   No more “ringing my bell”  I suspect.

~Flatpack Fantastic~

As you can see, I have had my laptop on a drinks trolley since arriving in the apartment in Graz and  because Natascha wanted to be near me with her computer, not on the other side of the room, we had to do something about it.

So, we ordered two desks which eventually arrived as flatpacks in cardboard boxes.

No need to unpack and assemble the desks as the unboxed packaging on the drinks trolley works really well.

But, at the end of the day we had to do it properly.  Initially, having no experience, Natascha wanted to knock the big bits together, but I said no.  It took us four hours to build the first desk.  I read the instructions and Natascha screwed the dozens of “what’s this”  into the “where’s that”.

The first desk came together beautifully.  The second desk, Natascha prepared all the boards while I was having a siesta.  When I woke up, I helped her to assemble the big pieces into the shape of a desk.  And it worked !

And it only took Natascha an hour !

The final result !   And we can now blog together !

~Catatonic~

Let’s see what the cats are doing on the balcony.

Does Assembling A Flatpack Scramble Your Brain ?

Ralph xox ❤

Natascha took the photographs in this post.

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