You know you’re in Austria and not Australia when… you can’t post a simple letter

An embarrassingly short time back I had to post a letter. Easy, I thought. I’ll find a mailbox and put it in. It was one of those prepaid deals so I didn’t have to go into the post office to buy a stamp as I usually do.

So one day when I was in the city I headed to the post office because… well there must be a mailbox there. Step one, locating said mailbox, was quite simple – it was in plain sight out the front. Step two, posting the letter… was not so simple. I faffed around for what felt like an eternity, prodding and poking and pulling at the yellow box, until… I simply fled, tears of shame burning my eyes.

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No sweetie, you can’t play with my phone

smart phone baby phone

Going into this I felt pretty strongly about protecting my kid against things like excessive screen time, obsession with phones, watching television etc. Well, at least the holier than thou part of me wanted to be. Having TV on in the background was ok, I surmised, since that’s the way I grew up, but I don’t want someone showing Sam their screen… because that’s crossing a line… isn’t it? Or maybe it’s just a sign of the changing times.

Because I was conscious of it. I actively tried to limit my phone use when he was ‘aware’. If he was awake we didn’t watch TV, we kept him company. We played with him.

But here’s the thing. A phone is not just something you use to call and text anymore. And even though I actively try not to just grab my phone for no reason, I still pick it up a hell of a lot. In the old days you’d wait for the hourly weather on the radio… now I check the weather app to find out what we need to wear for our walk. If I want to play music, bam, I pick up my phone and open another app. And if I suddenly remember something, I don’t pull out a piece of paper like I used to, I add it to the lists in my phone.

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Dirty poems

14 years old

As an early teen, I went through a very special phase… writing dirty poems. I don’t know why… I guess that’s just how things manifested when I got curious about things like boys and sex. Now, maybe some 13/14 year olds know a lot about sex… but I certainly was not one of them. My dirty poetry was written with next to no knowledge on the topic, other than what I’d read or seen on television – which was not a large pool to draw from.

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Pre-Christmas excitement… or not?

christmas with baby

Before Christmas, someone asked me if I was excited… and I had to admit… I wasn’t really. I mean, it’s not like I was big into Christmas before we had a child – with a relatively small family it’s really just another day… with presents. But with Sam too young to understand the concept, combined with my stay at home role, it just didn’t hold a lot of focus.

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Winter woes

winter walking

Look, winter isn’t all bad, but I’m a summer girl at heart. And growing up in Australia, I got used to the hot summers. Sure, Melbourne winters do get cold, especially on a freezing day, with Arctic winds spiralling in, but it’s short-lived, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. So the move to Austrian winter was a shock, and though I’ve somewhat gotten used to it, I’m not going to grow to like it.

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Advent… time to light the candles

Advent wreath

I’d never really thought about the word Advent before I moved to Austria. Apart from the good old Advent calendar, it never occurred to me this was anything more than a commercialisation of the lead up to Christmas. Which, it kind of is, but as it turns out, starting on the Sunday nearest to the 30th of November, Advent signifies the beginning of spiritual preparation for Christmas.

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Gruß vom Krampus

Krampus - Austrian Christmas tradition

I’ve written about Krampus before, Austria’s Christmas Devil who terrifies children into behaving. Another thing I’ve learnt more recently is that on this day (December 5th), it used to be common to post a secret card to someone you admired… kind of like an unofficial Valentine. In fact, the cards were free to send, with the recipient paying postage when it arrived.

This tradition was known as a Gruß vom Krampus (Greetings from Krampus) and was often humerous. Now… from what I can tell the Krampus was a bit of a dirty old man. And the older cards seem a lot darker with more sexual overtones (just my opinion). Now, I know that Google is not the best translator, and when it comes to sayings, even worse, but when I plugged in some Krampus greetings I found online, I came up with hilarious translations. Note of course that the correct translations could be quite different.

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Working from home

Proper standing desk at home

I’m not really sure where we’re at on the working from home debate these days. Earlier there was uproar about having to return to the office, but it seems to have died down a bit now. Some people have grudgingly accepted the return, some have purposefully quit and found work that suited them better, while others are more than happy that things are somewhat back to normal.

I’m a huge fan of working from home. My job requires me to be at a computer with an internet connection – that’s all. And with my boss based in the UK, and most of my meetings online anyway, there is little point in me travelling an hour to get to an office. Prior to the pandemic I was quite often not doing it.

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Raw chicken – yes please!

satay chicken

I was brought up under the ‘if you don’t eat your main you won’t get dessert’ regime. I have to say, it worked quite well for me, because I love a bit of dessert, even if, for the most part growing up it wasn’t very exciting. Stewed fruit, for example, or bread jam and cream. But I got used to eating up my plate, even if I didn’t really like it. And because of this, I think, even to this day, I tend to eat the bad stuff on the plate first. I’ll eat the vegetables I am less keen on, and save the bite of lasagna for the end.

Generally, if I am eating something I am not familiar with, I taste a bit of everything and then almost subconsciously eat the thing I like least first, or at least most of it.

But this is not without its problems.

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