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 !
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.
Thank you Toñi for sending us these pics.
Ralph xox ❤
Natascha shot the Murli pics.
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.
Video credit: Natascha’s post
I wonder what my two loveable pussy-cats are doing ?
I heard that !!!!
Okay, I know ! Reading my posts !
Ralph xox ❤
Cat photographs and cat video taken by Natascha
Today, we went up that ! The Schlossberg in Graz, Austria. Want to come along ?
Image credit: here
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 ?
We didn’t die !
It would be nice to get home to our welcoming, purring, leg rubbing cats.
Oh boy !
Ralph xox ❤
Most photographs and the video taken by Natascha
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 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).
Cats ! Who’d have them ?
Ralph xox ❤
Cat photos taken by Natascha. This is the link to her blog.
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 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.
The other evening the Queen of England was outside.
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 !
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.
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.
It was a quiet day, when ….
In a flash, Samantha was gone !
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 !
Ralph xox ❤
Natascha took all these post photographs.
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 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.
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.
You are. I know it !
Ralph xox ❤
Cat photos were taken by Natascha
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.
What’s next ?
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.
Good news ! My Spanish bank account is closed, I mean CLOSED, kaput, no more !!! Happy, happy ! Yay ! *faint*
I think WP Staff may have solved the problem of your comments automatically going into trash in my last post. It seems that my Dashboard/Settings/Discussion/Comment Blacklist was the problem. The Blacklist was full of spam IPs and the word “id”. What I didn’t know was that any word in comments containing those two letters would end up in trash. I cleared the list and let us see if your comments arrive normally. So who wrote, ” Sid piddled mid bridge in Bridgewater” ? Own up !
Murli, Natascha’s cat (now my cat as well), is an Austrian cat and loves to practice mountaineering. She is also working on her yodelling purr.
Here we are in the window watching Natascha going off on her bike on her daily run to the pharmacy.
I hope so !
Ralph xox ❤
Natascha took all these photographs.
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.”
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.
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.
My cats are in the kichen. Up to something I expect.
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.
Yes, thank you so much dear Nancy for your lovely card.
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.
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.
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 !
Let’s see what the cats are doing on the balcony.
Ralph xox ❤
Natascha took the photographs in this post.
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