2018 has started out reasonably well for me. My German is coming on leaps and bounds from almost nothing to next to nothing. For instance a sign in a local supermarket stated “Ihr Markt“. Natascha put me straight when I said that one hour was a short time for shopping in the supermarket. I now know two German words Your and Store. 🙂
Paperwork was at the forefront of getting settled in Graz, Austria. I am now certified. Yes, certified as a permanent resident of Graz. I also have a pretty e-card which gives me access to free medical treatment.
Amazingly, some more good things are about to happen during 2018.
Many of you may remember my post about being scammed by the notorious Nigerian, Bongo Bongo Banana, out of Ottawa, Canada. He pretended to be Tammy who loved me enough to try to empty my bank account.
The other day I was reading the Daily Mail online and I had a wow moment. It seems that Western Union (WU) had not been verifying the identity of many collectors of transferred money. WU has been ordered to pay back money to victims of scams. You can read about it here.
I had a big sort out of my old paperwork when leaving Spain. For some unknown reason I kept all my WU receipts and, boy, was I glad I did. I filled out the remission form with copies of all the receipts and sent them off, online.
It may take a few months and hopefully I will get back a few thousand euros. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
All Natascha and I want to do is to get married in Graz ! Simple ? Not here ! It seems that because I was divorced things become really complicated. The Registrar here wants proof that I am free to marry and there is a complicated process to go through. We went to see the Registrar clerk in this building ……..
…….. who sent us away on a quest. Going through all the British government web pages about marrying in Austria after a divorce ………
…… off we went to the local British Consulate a few minutes away from our home to make an oath and sign an affidavit saying that I was free to get married.
We took all our paperwork. Everything ! Natascha’s kitty shopping trolley was full and heavy !
We rang the doorbell. No reply. The door was open and we ventured into the darkness of the building.
We explored every floor and corridor. No British Consulate !
The stairs were so dark and dingy. Dragging the heavy kitty trolley, we expected to see Errol Flynn having a sword fight.
There were no signs pointing to the British Consulate or even warning signs about the stairs.
We gave up ! Natascha went into a store to ask where the British Consulate was located and was told it was a couple of doors up the street from where we originally looked for it. We rang the doorbell. No answer, but the door was open and in we went into the darkness.
The lift could only be worked by having a key. The spiral stairs were even worse dragging the heavy kitty trolley. Puffed out, we climbed round a corner and a couple of electricians blocked our way with all their tools and cables on the steps. They told us that the Consul was away on vacation and would not be back for at least a week. Oh boy ! Disheartened, we returned home.
Many days later, after no reply on the British Consulate door bell, we climbed the stairs dragging the heavy kitty trolley. There were no signs for the British Consulate or warnings about the stairs.
Puffed out climbing the spiral staircase, we stopped by an office where a very kind man unlocked the lift which took us directly into the British Consulate. Beautiful carpet, polished brass work, a polished picture of the Queen, a smiling receptionist and a glowering Consul greeted us. We explained why we were there. The Consul looked at us as if she had trod in something nasty and all she said was, “Go to Vienna !”. I asked her what she actually did there ? She replied by telling us that all she did was British subjects in prison, hospital or loss of passport.
I am sure that this is where she, the Consul, spent her vacation ! 🙂
When the time was right, early December 2017, 6:30 AM, a cold morning, Natascha and I boarded the bus from Graz to Vienna.
We had already arranged a meeting in the British Embassy, Vienna and we were looking forward to getting the papers which the Austrian Registrar asked for. I wasn’t really terrified when the top deck of the double-decker bus passed under low bridges. Duh !
The meeting went well. All my documents were genuine. I made the oath that I was free to get married, signed the affidavit and a waiver that the British Embassy was not to blame if any of my paperwork was not up to scratch. A notice of marriage was pinned to the notice board in the Embassy (which is totally useless as nobody can wander in there to read it as security was so tight).
We arrived home late in the evening, almost €200 out-of-pocket. The British Embassy charged over €100 for their work and the rest was for meals and travelling expenses. All this seemed to me to be completely unnecessary as I have been single for 25 years and the British government knows that anyway as I am receiving a UK single person’s state pension. Anyway, we now had to wait for the certificate from the British Embassy which was coming by registered post. It never came ! I emailed the British Embassy and was told that it was sent a few days before. Natascha went to the local post office. No registered letter ! I then emailed the British Embassy again asking for the registered letter number so that the Post Office here could trace it. A few hours later I received an ooops email from the British Embassy. It seemed that the clerk was on vacation and the document was never sent. A day later the registered letter arrived. Yay !
Oh yes, there is more ! The Graz Registrar wants all my marriage and divorce documents translated into German. Natascha is in the process of translating them as her English is perfect. Will we get married ? Is there more to the quest ? Will we come out of the wedding service gibbering idiots ? Time will tell !
The main reason why I moved from Spain to Austria was that Natascha has awful daily migraines and needs to go to the pharmacy twice a day on a bicycle to take a special concoction which blocks the migraines. Since I have been here in Graz she has had very few migraine attacks. Love seems to help her.
The cats and I watch her pedal off down the road from our window. Murli must be thinking, “Why is mummy out in the street ?”.
Sonic and Samantha love it in the apartment. Samantha never stops talking !
China Cat and Coo Coo are still wrapped up in bubble wrap in the cupboard. They never stop complaining.
Oh, Natascha has not died climbing the ladder 🙂
I really must get on and advertise my now empty apartment in Spain.
I hope so !
Ralph xox ❤
Last Saturday was our first day acting as tourists in Graz, Austria, when we planned to visit the aircraft museum at Graz airport.
After a long bus ride ……..
…… and walk, we arrived at the gate to find the museum closed, only opening Sundays and holidays. Ooops ! Natascha missed that info on the website ! Still, we did see a garden full of ducks while waiting for the bus back to Graz.
Of course, Sonic didn’t tell us !
Most people would have gone mental camping in a hotel room for 18 days waiting for the apartment contract to be finalised, but we rather enjoyed the experience. Breakfast became a race because a group of Koreans usually got in there first and ate everything. Sonic knew that !
Little things are entertaining such as don’t open a box of Kelloggs Smacks upside down as it might make you really ill.
I even watched a drug deal going down in the street below.
Cats back in their carriers, suitcases packed, a lovely morning ……..
……off we all went to our new apartment. I waited there in the empty rooms ……
….. while Natascha met the removals van at the storage unit.
I know you know everything Sonic, but we don’t !!!
Let’s go inside.
Turn right ! “Hello !”
Let’s look out into the back garden.
Almost immediately on arrival we watched an old Austrian woman roll the communal trash bins under our balcony.
She was adamant they stay under there out of the rain as they have been there for 50 years. Humm, it was a sunny day and the bins were elsewhere for ever. Pointless arguing, so Natascha emailed the new, keen building management stating health issues from fumes and that we were unable to hang out our washing to dry. They ordered the staff to move the bins to a more sensible location.
We later found out that she ordered a neighbour not to park his bicycle with the rest of the bikes.
So not wanting trouble the neighbour locked his bike in the street and it was immediately stolen. Oh boy ! Talk about a control freak !
Yes, you as well Sonic !
Oh boy ! You are so helpful Sonic ! China Cat, you will have to remain in bubble wrap until it is safe for you to keep a door open. Coo Coo, you will also stay wrapped up as the walls are really high. I have ordered a step ladder from Amazon Austria and guess where it’s coming from ? SPAIN !! And it’s going to take weeks to come by Correos Express (on the back of a donkey ?).
Without the step ladder we cannot hang the curtains as the rails are at least 12ft (3+m) high. We are also on hold for hanging pictures and putting up shelves and lights. Come on donkey !!
The washing machine I brought from Spain would not fit into the anorexic space by the shower.
Thanks to Amazon stocking 5m water pipes we have a working washing machine in the kitchen.
And, boy, did we need it working ! 18 days of hotel clothes, curtains, blankets and piles of unnecessary messed up sheets and pillowcases from burst bags after the bed was emptied into bags in Spain. And this lot was just a small portion of what had to be washed. All done now !
The kitchen sink drain was blocked, but within hours the building management plumbers unblocked and replaced the system under the sink and even installed a new tap (faucet, to those Americans who can’t spell tap ! lol )
The first major buy was a wardrobe. Natascha is thrilled that she has her own hanging space and drawers.
Natascha’s cat, Murli, came to apartment the same time as the rest of us. It’s all new for her and at the moment doesn’t get on with Sonic & Samantha. She hisses at them and they totally ignore that silly Austrian cat !
I must apologise for not replying to emails and your lovely comments in my previous post. My back hurt too much while sitting by the laptop. Well, that’s my excuse !
This is me now ……. still camping out at home …. my back much better.
Still lots to do. Empty boxes to be disposed of …….
…… and getting married ! That’s another post !
I am now registered as a Graz resident.
They even gave me a freebee pen !
We are very happy.
Samantha loves the top of the fridge ….
……. and sleeping in her new basket.
While Sonic ?
….. say no more !
Sonic knows !
Ralph xox ❤
What a day ! A loooong day ! A day of ups, downs, no-no-no-no’s and by the time my NIKI airline Airbus A321-211 took off from Malaga, Spain for Vienna, Austria I was wacko, totally stressed out and a gibbering idiot (no change there then !).
And it all began so well !
I got up at 6am, did the final packing, bedding put away under the bed, everything ready for the removals van arriving at 8am with five friends to load the vehicle. A totally international crowd, two Belgians, one French man, two Englishmen, and the Russian speaking Ukrainian driver from Poland. 65 items were loaded onto the van, and before I knew it someone suggested that the bed was to be emptied …. blankets and sheets put into plastic bags and the hinges removed. At the same time a cupboard with all my electronics was also emptied. Everything I had beautifully packed was scattered everywhere. I began to panic. Two hours later, all packed, the vehicle left Spain for Austria.
After sitting around in a totally empty apartment for a few hours with two cats saying, “What the hell is going on ?” Thierry arrived to help put Samantha and Sonic in their carriers. Samantha was easy, really easy, whereas Sonic !!! He really stressed us out by escaping capture. Eventually he was contained in his carrier and taken out to the car. On carrying Samantha downstairs, the front of the carrier fell off and Samantha luckily ran upstairs, where I picked her up and put her back in the repaired carrier.
Thierry had the brilliant idea of buying tape to repair the carriers. The carriers looked beautiful on Amazon, but were totally useless for transportation. Thank heavens they didn’t fall to pieces in the huge Departures Hall at Malaga airport.
I checked myself and the cats in and was told to go to the airline office to process the cats. Because the aircraft was late arriving I had to wait an hour. The girl told me to take the cats to check-in 265 where a Spanish security guard told me to take the cats out of the boxes and put the carriers through the x-ray machine. I told him no, no, no, no,no, no ! No way was I going to take Sonic out of the box. I went back to the office and asked for an animal handler to help me. After phoning around, there was no such person at the airport. By then I became a gibbering idiot. Then suddenly angels appeared in the form of three Ladies from Animal Care España. They took over completely, trying out different combinations of removing Sonic from the carrier. In the end they gave up and told the security guard. He phoned his boss who told him to put the cat and the box through the x-ray machine. Whew!!!
At the aircraft gate, the ground staff woman put my boarding card into the machine and it flashed up red, not green. Oh no! Not another problem! In fact all she was doing was making sure that I was boarding the aircraft so that the cats could be loaded into the hold. On entering the aircraft I asked the Stewardess if my cats were on board. I phoned Natascha to say I was seated, but did not have time to tell her, as the plane was about to take off, that the cats were actually on board with me. Yay ! What a relief when the plane lifted off from the Spanish runway.
During the 5 weeks we were apart Natascha had been busy getting us a storage unit for my apartment contents as we had not got anywhere to live in Graz as yet.
Natascha sent me this lovely self made card.
While I was flying to Vienna, Austria with the cats, Natascha was on a bus from Graz to Vienna. She checked into the hotel she had booked previously. A sensible idea as the plane would be landing around midnight.
She watched us flying on flightradar24
And then she panicked ! The aircraft flew over Vienna airport and kept going north. With a sigh of relief she watched the plane return and land from a northerly direction.
Happily she saw the plane land.
Meanwhile I had a mile walk to the baggage claim, picked up my suitcase and Natascha had informed me that the cats should be in a special area, Band 1. I went there and the cat carriers were on a table with rollers. The cats were so happy to see me and I walked out into Natascha’s arms.
The cats looked absolutely terrified after such an ordeal of 10 hours.
We didn’t get much sleep at the hotel, but the cats had a little freedom in the room over night.
The following morning we had to put the cats back into their carriers, but they were hiding underneath the huge bed. The only way to put them into their carriers was for us to lift up the bed against the wall exposing the cats.
OMG !! WHAT A DAY !!!
Of course the train was late departing from Vienna to Graz. With help from other passengers we got the luggage and the cats on the train.
An easy ride ? No !!! Halfway to Graz everyone had to get off the train, walk to buses, an hour on the bus and back on a train to Graz. Luckily for us, there were men who helped us with our luggage.
The removal van arrived on the Monday, two days after we arrived in the hotel in Graz. We asked the driver to notify us when he was a couple of hours from Graz so that we could prepare for his arrival at the storage facility. No no no no no no ! He sent a text that he was already at the facility which gave us no time for breakfast or coffee.
We met up with the driver, but we could not find any help to unload the van and move the contents into the unit. Natascha and the Ukrainian driver were fantastic. They basically moved everything themselves. The little bit I did drew blood on my leg and destroyed my back. Oh boy !
At the moment we are staying in a small room in a hotel in Graz. Hopefully we will be getting an apartment tomorrow, Monday. Also tomorrow we are visiting the British Consulate for me to sign an affidavit saying that I am free to marry. With this piece of paper we will go to the registry office and book a day for our wedding, then back to the Consulate with the date.
We are all exhausted ……
…… so GOOD NIGHT !!!
I have no idea what is coming next for Natascha, myself and the cats. Watch this space !
Ralph xox ❤
Busy, busy, busy ! This month was heaven and hell in preparing to leave Spain.
HELL: Not being able to find a sensibly priced removals company to move my apartment contents from Spain to Austria. Requests either ignored or quotes of €6000+. Cat couriers ignored emails, or one wanted €2000 to transport my 2 cats to Austria. The vet said she was coming, then not coming. THREE TIMES !!. to microchip Sonic & Samantha and give them their rabies shots for their passports and health certificates. She is due to give them their final rabies shot, but I have had no reply from her to my email. 2 phone calls and 13 emails it took to cancel the Internet. A morning’s trip to my bank to transfer funds. And THEN I hid €1000 contained in an envelope in a blanket in a cupboard ….. no idea where it has gone … packed in a box I hope. Oh boy !
HEAVEN: A removals company popped up in my inbox, quoted €2500 to move my stuff with a 20 cubic metre & 1000Kg strict limit…. I took it. My flight booked. Friends: Christine, Toñi & Pedro, Linda & John, Monica, and finally, Louise came round and packed all my stuff. Thank you fantastic friends ! Thierry has and will be driving me around and he has organised personnel to load the removals vehicle. Thanks Thierry. Great friend ! My Spanish lawyer is acting for me concerning the sale of my apartment. The Internet equipment will go this week.
This is what the removal vehicle should look like ……….
…….. but knowing my luck this is what will turn up to move my stuff to Austria.
As soon as the removals vehicle has left I will leave for Malaga airport. Hopefully they will get the plane off the stand before it takes off !
Then it’s goodbye to Spain as the Niki flight takes off for Vienna. I will be so relieved and happy !
But what about my cats you may well ask ?
You have given me months of grief, so it is payback time guys ! China Cat & Coo Coo, you will be in that box for a couple of weeks, whereas Sonic & Samantha ……. brace yourselves ! You two will be put in your own cat carriers ……….
…… where you will be in a car for a couple of hours, hang about at Malaga airport, put in the hold of the aircraft (€100 each), a 3 hour flight, taxi to the hotel where you will let out overnight. 10 hours in your carriers !
The following day, back in your carriers, taxi, train, taxi to your new home. Another 4 hours in your carriers !
I am loving this. HEAVEN !!
As I gradually turn out the lights on living 15 years in Spain, memories flood back; parties, great friends, wonderful days, screwed up goverment paperwork etc..
Goodbye Spain !
And so begins a new chapter in both Natascha and my life. Marriage, new country for me, new home and 3, yes, 3 cats. Our new family !!
Natascha will be waiting for us at Vienna airport Arrivals as the cats and I emerge after midnight. There will be lots of hugs and kisses, then we will walk out of the airport hand in hand to begin our new life in Austria.
So, look out Austria !!!! Here I come with my CATS !
Meanwhile, back in Graz, Austria >>>
OH NO !!!! Not another one !!
Ralph xox ❤
Please bear with me as I may not have time to answer comments and goodness knows when my next post will be (and stay safe my Florida friends).
My dear friend Resa from Toronto, Canada, has dedicated her latest creation to me. I am really thrilled and honoured. Thank you my friend.
This is her story of how it came about.
It goes back to the beginning of May. That is when I began to think about an idea for the gown. As I knew I would be dedicating it to Ralph, the first thing I thought of was a “cat” theme. Then I thought of a humour gown, which made me think of court jesters and harlequins. This lead to thoughts of the Venetian Ball, where many of the gowns seem to have a harlequin effect.
However, there are challenges for the Art Gowns, and this is what helps define them as art. I am not allowed to go out and buy expensive fabrics. I am only allowed to buy bargain bin leftovers for not more than $2.00 a meter. I can use expensive fabrics, but only if they are already in my stash.
I have used many things to make Art Gowns, including wine corks. – La Vie en Rose
I have used my scraps and rags – Empress D’Amore
I have used old curtain lace. – Autumn Orchid
So, I went out searching for fabrics for my ideas. Everything was 10, 20 or 30 $$$$ a meter.
All I could find was an off white stretch poplin (now I know why it was $2 not $15 a meter. You’ll read about that in the post. I also found curtain sheer for $2.00 a meter, but what could I do? They did not support my original ideas. Then I read about a Canadian female artist, the late Joyce Wieland.
In 1967, she was made famous by a lithograph she made by using red lipstick and forming her mouth into an O and imprinting it on her canvas … for Oh Canada. It was Canada’s 100th birthday.
I sent Ralph a first inspiration mock-up a while back, before his post on that he had met someone. I thought this reminds me of a Victorian era wedding gown.
I’m honored to be one of the first to know of your engagement.
Now, I find out you are getting married.
I never meant to make a wedding type gown, but I am, and I can’t help but feel that the Art Gowns are somehow psychic.
Well, that’s it!
Much love to both of you, and I am so looking forward to your coming out post!
Hugs, love and kisses to both of you! (and the cats)
Yes, it’s true ! Both Natascha and I are going to be married, to each other, which is important !
Yay ! But not here in Spain …. Austria !
As you can see I am the marriageable type.
I love my meals ….
…. and doing nothing.
We both love each other so much and we are so alike in everything we say or do.
Natascha immediately said “Yeeeeeesss !” when I proposed to her.
So I bought her a gorgeous engagement ring …..
….. and some pretty things.
It’s really simple ! Owing to Natascha’s medical conditions requiring specialised medications in Austria and if she moved to Spain would have to go through months of tests from scratch without the right medication she needs, I am moving to Austria.
So, I have already put my apartment on the market ….
…. set up preliminary arrangements to move all the contents, cats etc. to Austria.
Natascha returns to Austria on the 4th August and will immediately find a place for us. As soon as I have an address, off to Austria go Sonic & Samantha ….
….. followed almost immediately by the apartment contents and myself.
As I have drafted this post on the 30th July, we will spend our last few days together in Spain enjoying each other’s company.
Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 5 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.
Thank you old and new blogging friends for being so awesome.
It was $10 a Like and $20 a comment, yes ? 😉
Ralph & Natascha xox ❤
Goodbye sweetheart. See you in Austria in a few weeks !
We do need to be together ! Love you !
While Natascha is sleeping in a Vienna airport hotel I thought I would have a go at Frank Angle’s challenge of 150 words. Natascha will be checking-in at 3 AM for her flight to Malaga, arriving at my home around midday today.
So here goes >>>
The old man had planned this outing with his grandson for months. He knew exactly where to take the young boy. Treasure Island was the beach that he played on as a child, imagining Pirates, great battles and treasures lost and found. He would take his grandson on the journey he played seventy four years ago.
The great day arrived. The day was perfect as he set out with his grandson along the beach telling stories of gold, dubloons and cutlasses.
To the old man the day was perfect. The slight breeze filled the sails while the Jolly Roger flapped the skull and cross bones.
He never felt the searing white flash !
World War Three was started and finished in an instant. All that was left of humanity was footprints in the sand.
Ralph xox ❤
I may not be able to answer any comments as real life and Natascha must come first now.
LOVE had decided that she would break cover and tell you all who she is when we are together here in southern Spain in a few days time.
On reading your wonderful comments in my previous post LOVE has decided to tell you all NOW who she is. LOVE is so thrilled that you are so happy for us and thanks you so much for your kind words and love.
So please say hello to my new love of my life, Natascha.
Natascha is 37, has lived all her life in Graz, Austria, speaks German and perfect English, loves her cat Murli, has a few medical problems which are improving day by day since becoming my girlfriend. Fantastic !
We are both WordPress Com bloggers, have so many things in common that it is uncanny and love each other so much and unconditionally. We both are now an item, one, together for ever.
Ralph xox ❤
This is what a man looks like when he realises that he is getting married in two weeks time.
Last Friday at very short notice, really short notice, friends of Jim met up in a local Spanish bar for his “sort of” stag night. It was daylight !
As for the women, they were organised ! Einar left his home for the bar with tales of Louise’s hen night in full swing. Table strewn with “confetti”, champagne bottles already empty downed through penis drinking straws. Erect jelly babies with added calories. And they were only a half an hour into it !
The men, another kettle of fish ! Well, three of them went fishing in the river (caught 6 barbel, returned to the water) then onto the bar for a beer or two, or three !
That was the extent of male organisation.
No stripper, not even paint stripper ! And the sheep ran away !
You know the game ! Someone sticks something on your forehead and you guess away !
Am I male ? Yes !
Am I upstanding, but generally hangs himself ? Yes !
Is hair a feature ? Yes !
Do I do one thing and then do something completely different ? Yes !
Am I Donald Trump ? Yessss ! You guessed it !
Cheers Jim & Louise ! Have a wonderful wedding in the UK on the 16th !
So I slowly made my way home, singing that after party classic !
I arrived outside my home. What’s going on ? My young Spanish neighbour Pedro, his three children and pet dog Niña were standing on their front balcony in total shock. It transpired that the new neighbour’s wife went mental over Pedro’s children doing things that children do. She shouted at them, saying things like, “Go home to Africa !” and promptly emptied her street sweepings on our door step.
It was Friday night ! Pedro called the local police.
Guess what I saw in the street over the weekend !
Oh boy !
Monday arrived. Jack hammer day ! All day ! Pretty much every square foot of the new neighbours house front has been ravaged by the jack hammer. The noise was awful and then it suddenly stopped. Yay !
The local police arrived to visit the new neighbours. Two and a half days after Pedro’s phone call, it must be a serious matter !
We could hear what the policeman was saying. Things like,
“Please be calm lady. Forget cleaning the street as the Town Hall has people to do that !“.
(She’s out sweeping the street now, 3 hours before this post goes live. So much for the local police advice ! Oh boy !)
As soon as he drove away the jack hammering restarted with a vengeance. For heaven’s sake. !
The new neighbour gave me the finger when I complained to him about the awful noise. That was a no-no. I have initiated payback. If it works I’ll update you my friends !
Remember: A great friend is a treasure, gold, a keeper; whereas an enemy is dust which is easily blown away and forgotten.
Oh no ! Not her ! 😦
Ralph xox ❤
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