352: Notary & Winter Fuel


A few weeks ago Natascha and I visited the local Austrian Notary to obtain a piece of paper certifying that I was alive and that I am who I am for one of my pension providers.  While there, I wanted him to draw up a simple Will for both myself and Natascha.  As my hands are completely unable to write, I also asked him to draw up papers to allow Natascha to sign for me on any document.  He said that it would take a while.  Being a local, Natascha was simple, but being British, I was more complicated due to Brexit.

Brexit !  Basically, the British people voted to leave the European Union.  No more European dictatorship and ties.  Simple !   For the last two years the politicians on both sides whined and wined, changing their minds every five minutes while collecting huge salaries.  With three months to go before the UK leaves the European Union, nobody knows what the heck is going on, except that the UK will leave, but probably will still be under the European Union thumb and the UK will have to pay a divorce bill of £39 billion to the EU for the pleasure of leaving, but staying.  Santa Ralph is really upset with these politicians.  They have been very naughty and are on Santa’s naughty list.

Anyway, back to the Notary !   The other day we got a phone call from the Notary.  He said he could do it, but it will cost us €1500 (about the same in US dollars).

“What !”

Yes Murli … WHAT !! …  €1500 for two bits of paper !   Natascha and I decided to stop it right there.  What would you do ?

~Winter Fuel Allowance~

A couple of months ago, (even though I live in Austria,) as a UK pensioner I found out that I may be entitled to the UK winter fuel allowance.  A one-off annual payment to help with the home fuel bills. So, by phone, I applied.  I was grilled for an hour, question after question.  When I hung up, I was left totally drained.  Two things could happen.   Firstly, I might get a letter of rejection, or secondly, I might get some money credited to my account on the 15th of December.  That’s today !  No letter, so fingers crossed ! 

“Great !  I love being nice and warm.”

Yes, Samantha, you will be kept nice and warm whatever happens !

~What Are You Cats Up To Now ?~

“Just watching paint dry.”
“I found our sweeties.   Mummy, come here and feed me … NOW !”

You two girly cats have been good this year, BUT Sonic (the little boy cat) has been naughty.  He pooed on the bed !

“What !”

 Santa Ralph Asks, “Have You Been Naughty This Year ?”

Knowing my readers, it’s a stupid question, but, hey, fill up the comments with all your juicy details !

(That’s me banned from WordPress then. Oh boy !)

Ralph xox ❤

Photographs of the cats taken by Natascha.

351: Ralph’s Snowflake University

~I’m Not Shouting At You !~

Unless something dramatic happens I usually don’t have a clue what I am going to post about next.  This post could have been about nothing until I read three UK newspaper items which triggered my imagination and developed into my usual craziness.

It all began with an article about University professors being told not to use capital letters to emphasise the point as it may upset snowflake students. Capital letters in texts means that you are shouting at them and they may cry. The professors were also told not to use the words ” do” and “don’t”.

I am sure that I have many snowflake readers who are really upset by seeing that my post title is in capital letters.

It’s not my fault. I’m not shouting at you. The theme developer made it this way.  I wrote normally …

… so don’t cry.  Are you crying ?

~The Play~

The next two newspaper articles were even crazier, so I decided to write a play about Ralph’s Snowflake University.  The Trumpet University is not in my league.

~The Scene~

 Ralph, that’s me, the Dean/Don of Ralph’s Snowflake University sitting behind my desk in the Oval Office.  Students call me Ding Dong, I’ve no idea why.  Anyway, it’s the first day and I am interviewing my one and only student.  At US$1 million per week, I only need one student. Her Dad pays an unrefundable bucketload covering the full 3 years in advance and the student usually only lasts one day.

~The Encounter~


Come in !   Take a seat !

Dragging noises across the floor.

No no !  When I asked you to take a seat, I didn’t mean for you to leave my office and take it home with you.  Please sit down and make yourself comfortable. 

Bwaaaaaa *sniffle*   The knocking was in capitals and you told me ….

I know.  I’m sorry.  I should have made myself much clearer to you … umm …

*shuffling through papers*

… Mandy Manning from Many Mansions, Manchester, England.

Bwaaaaaa *sniffle*  No, I am Dy Ning from Y Sions, Chester, England. I hate … I can’t say it … M-A-N or M-E-N, so I am a womxn or a wo. Please treat me that way Ding Dong.

That’s okay Dy.  Womxn or wo it is then.  I think we may have a problem with what course you are going to take to get your degree at this wonderful University.  As you know the University has a directive that students may opt out of any subject which may upset you.

 *shuffling through papers*

History, yes, a degree in history should suit you Dy.

Bwaaaaaa *sniffle*   Noooo !   Someone got killed in 33 A.D., so I am opting out.

Okay, that’s Religion down the toilet.  I really do have the feeling that you will opt out of the rest of the degrees that our fantastic University offers, such as Business MANagement, Chinese MANdarin, politics in OMAN, horse breeding where you would be up to your elbows in se…

Bwaaaaaa *sniffle*   My Dad wants me to graduate with a degree.  Is there nothing for me ?

Well, we do have a degree in vegetarian diet, including growing MANgos. How about that ?

Bwaaaaaa *sniffle*   Not really.  I am a vegetarian, but love to eat cheese.

Sorry Dy, our gorgeous University doesn’t have a degree for vegedairyans.  This was difficult, but, I have the perfect degree for you, Dy, and you can graduate with honours today. Congratulations, you have graduated with a degree in Pathetic Excuses, which is perfect for a career in Insurance Claims, Politics or working in the Benefits Office.  You should do well.  Congratulations Miss Dy.  Good bye.

Bwaaaaaa *sniffle*   I am not a Miss !  I am Ms … Mizzz !

With that parting remark, Mandy flounced out of my office.  I hit the intercom button.

Amanda … oops, sorry … Ada,  I will be leaving the University for the airport. Please contact my pilot and ask him to prepare for my arrival.  I am leaving for the Cayman Islands !

~ For Sale~

Ralph’s Snowflake University.

Make Universities Great Again !

I hope you didn’t cry.

Ralph xox ❤

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.


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 !


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


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 ?


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 ….

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

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