​Tempus certainly fugits!  Clinging to Christmas in Austria as the plaster for all disasters throughout the latter part of 2018, we have just realised that our week in St Wolfgang has almost gone in the blink of an eye.  As though suffering from some form of amnesia, much of it is a blur and somewhat surreal.  The snow-capped mountains across the lake which greet us from our balcony every morning are ethereal in form and I find myself transfixed as I try desperately to commit the image to memory.  Majestically, they watch over the lake whose waters change colour constantly with the varying hues of light; sometimes cold and uninviting but then a warm green reminiscent of summer days on the Amalfi coast – well, in my mind.  Suffice to say, this little village is straight out of a fairytale and Santa really does exist …

Realising it was Thursday, I checked in on my reader tally for the week expecting a huge drop.  Au contraire!  Burgeoning is the word which comes to mind.  One forgets that Christmas is about stepping down a gear – or a need for ‘escape’ time.  Trish-Trash.com.  Perfect.  Tune in to a life on its own path, lived by the unsuspecting and, quite frankly, the no longer care!  Guaranteed pick-me-up.  Please note that I am writing this while, currently, on holiday – deserving of credit, surely?  Just back from a day in Salzburg, we went straight to dinner and ‘A little ‘Hello’ from the kitchen!’ before retiring upstairs to our rooms.  We were to continue our ongoing Scrabble challenge – so much to be said about that  – but, even here, the pull of the modern world never loosens its grip.  No scrabble, rather face-timing girlfriend and buying must haves online.  Me?  I found an half empty bottle of Schnapps and thought I would whack up a few lines explaining my absence with the promise of full disclosure of Christmas at the White Horse Inn next week but … brevity was never my friend!

Perhaps, as the early hours of the morning wear on, I should merely touch on forthcoming tales of Midnight Mass impostors (as ever!), copious amounts of Gluhwein with the locals at the Christmas markets, swimming in the heated pool in the lake amongst snow-capped mountains – and amidst temperatures worthy of causing great wrinkling and shrinkage – survival of the fittest at dinner, Scrabble battles which spill over into successive days and ‘mountain climbing’ affording the most magnificent vistas and timely photo shoots.  All too short, the week has flown by and, despite the many shortcomings resulting from the passage of time and the demise of service and manners, this little village in the Salzkammergut has embedded itself a little further into our memories and our hearts.  Providing welcome solace, as ever, from a life too swift to trouble, we have embraced the re-visiting of old memories belonging to moments shared with those no longer with us.  Afforded time and respect, nature has magical powers and the beauty of the mountains and the lake of St Wolfgang … well, one is reminded of the transience of life; how insignificant each of us is in the grand scheme of things.  These majestic snow-capped mountains and that beautiful green lake have been here for hundreds of years and shall remain long after we have gone.  Merely visitors, our bank balances, silly worries and feuds are of no consequence.  How ironic!  Inherent in recognizing one’s place in nature, I believe, is the key to a happier life.  Whilst ‘No man is an island’ (John Donne), neither is he a mountain or a lake; a glacier or a fast-flowing river … just footprints in the sand.

We decided to go to Salzburg for the day, yesterday, but I wish we hadn’t.  Salzburg is the most beautiful city and we have spent many happy times there but this wasn’t to be one of them.  Opting for public transport in a bid to pretend we have some economic prowess was the first bad move.  The fifty minute journey between Salzburg and St Wolfgang takes one past many of the opening shots in The Sound of Music but all things come at a price and this road is definitely long and winding.  Not recommended by bus and particularly, if like Manny, one cannot erase the flashbacks of the horrendous taxi journey to the airport last year when we all had the hangovers from hell!

It was freezing in Salzburg as the sun decided to disappear on our arrival.  Excited to see the Bristol Hotel once again, we decided to stop off for a lunchtime drink in what was once the Piano Bar – now the Sketch Bar & Grill.  No music in that!  It had lost its magic – and its service.  Virtually ignored by a surly old waiter, we left without food and joined the throngs as we attempted to cross one of the bridges over the Salzach to the old town and the shops.  I don’t know how to put into words the sight that faced us – there was a dark mass making its way over the bridge, not a gap to be seen, as though thousands of ants on the move!  A microcosm of the world today reflecting the seemingly massive population explosion of a people who have the wealth and means to travel to all corners of the earth but who do so in huge crowds resembling a swarm with no desire to integrate.  Selfie sticks at the ready, they make any attempt to manoeuvre difficult, particularly in narrow streets and little shops.  Entering Tomaselli’s, Salzburg’s famous coffee shop dating back to 1700 and apparently frequented by Mozart as a boy, one could have been forgiven for thinking one was in Beijing.  Obviously more adept at securing tables – strength in numbers – we threw in the towel and retreated to the cold.  The Christmas decorations in Salzburg are deserving of a fairytale and the little cobbled streets nothing short of magical.  Adhering to taste and tradition, Edinburgh could learn so much.  We shall return to that beautiful city of the famous Hohensalzburg Fortress with its backdrop of mountains again and again but, in the meantime, this particular memory may not justify ‘Save’.Help! I have just noticed the word count.  Time to get ready for our last ‘Little Hello from the kitchen!’ for this year.  We will be so sad to leave St Wolfgang and Austria once again but today has been spent swimming in the pool in the lake, bubbling in the Jacuzzi with the best backdrop ever, drinking Gluhwein courtesy of our friend, Sep, in the square, and buying souvenirs to keep the memories alive – and the hills – until our return.  All must be squashed into suitcases far too small for the task but, suffice to say, we are returning with another sign for our new home!  Last year Jet2 were kind enough to provide a private bus from terminal to plane for Becca and myself and all our purchases.  My ‘Family’ sign was oh, so worth it and never fails to make me smile.  Joining it this year is an identical sign, purchased from our favourite café in St Wolfgang, which lights up to spell the word ‘Home’.  All credit should go to Manny who discovered it in the Gents!  So, ‘Family’ and ‘Home’ …  it only needs the former to create the latter.  Sorted.  Here’s to 2019!

‘For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne.’

The inimitable Robert Burns.

This is Trish, signing off for the last time in 2018.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read and follow my posts/life.  I hope you continue to do so in 2019 courtesy of/regardless of my brand new website.  Happy New Year when it comes …