Obergurgl Day Thirteen – The Last Day, and Some Exciting News….

View down the valley this morning…

Dear Readers, it’s an unalloyed truth that however horrible the weather has been for the past two weeks, on the last day the sun will come up and the Oetz valley will look as beautiful as it’s ever looked. It will be even better tomorrow, for sure. I think the weather gods do it on purpose to remind us of how beautiful this place can be, and to encourage us to come back next year. And so today we decided to wander through the meadows for the last time this year, and so off we trotted.

The river Gurgl is looking very fine in all its incarnations. I’m guessing that the name is onomatopoeic, but it should actually be ‘roar’ rather than gurgle, at least at this time of year when all the snow is melting.

I haven’t seen many beetles this year (the rose chafers are my favourites and can often be spotted on the melancholy thistles) but there are masses of other pollinators about.

And just look at the mountains!

One reason that the meadows are so spectacular is that people are very respectful of them – no one runs through them, and dogs are kept off.

Many of the Highland cows are feeling the heat, but at least they have some shade…

I think this plant might be European Goldenrod (Senecio virgaurea) – it grows right across Europe, North Africa and Asia. and is held in high regard as a medicinal plant.

European Goldenrod (Senecio virgaurea)

And how about this beauty – Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum). I hadn’t noticed it in Obergurgl before, but it’s another flower of clearest blue. It likes damp places with some shade, so it’s not surprising that it was in dense cover beside the Gurgl.

And here is another butterfly on Melancholy Thistle – not sure what species this one is, so feel free to chip in if you know! Its wings remained resolutely closed, which wasn’t helpful.

And then on, across another tributary of the Gurgl…

This little Houseleek was growing in the middle of the river on a massive boulder. If you follow the river down, you reach the cascades at Zwieselstein that we visited on our second day.

And then we reach the Frog Pond – we’d walked right past this earlier in the week without paying the slightest attention, but today we actually stopped, and sat, and watched the many, many tadpoles going about their business. It makes me homesick for ‘my’ frogs in East Finchley. I suspect that there will be a need for a whole lot of duckweed removal on Sunday.

The Frog Pond

And what’s that terrible noise in the background? Well, the warm weather can mean only one thing – time to cut and bring in the hay, and there were several tractors/cutters doing exactly that. On the steeper slopes people use hand-held mowers or even scythes, but the flatter fields get done by more intensive methods.

Two people and a ‘helpful’ sheepdog mowing a field

A bigger field mown by tractor

And who is this, taking advantage of fallen seeds and small insects? I do believe it’s a fieldfare. I had no idea that they came this far south.



And then, because of a landslide which means that we can’t proceed any further, we get the bus down to Solden for some lunch at this spot.

We like it because there’s always something going on – there are mountain bikers heading up the Gaislach to use the trail down, there are house martins and alpine swallows nesting in the Parkhaus opposite (as there have been for many years), sometimes a parade of multi-coloured Porsches come past, and the food is good and cheap-ish for the Oetz Valley.

And then, since we’re here we clearly have to go up the Gaislachkoglbahn again. It would be churlish not to.

View from the top station of the Gaislachkoglbahn (that’s part of the James Bond Museum to the right)

Yet again, we had some very chatty people in our gondola to the top, not helped by the fact that suddenly the theme tunes from the James Bond movies started to play. Dad always loved James Bond, and every Christmas involved getting into the Christmas spirit by watching Sean Connery indulging in the usual sex and violence. Still, the music for some of those films was great. Who can forget Louis Armstrong’s ‘We Have All the Time In the World’?

And that seems like a rather nice segue into my exciting news – I’ve decided to retire! Because we don’t have All the Time in the World, and there are a lot of things that I want to do – travel a bit more, devote more time to my degree, find some more exciting things to share with you, Readers, here on the blog, and even learn some German so that I’m not completely flummoxed every time I look at a road sign. I also want to do  some more work in the East Finchley community, especially regarding our wood and new meadow.  So, I leave my job on Friday 15th September (hopefully giving them enough time to find a replacement, and for me to help train them up). It feels like a bit of a leap in the dark, but I have no doubt at all that I will wonder how on earth I found the time to work once I’ve given it up. I realise how fortunate I am to be able to grab back a few years (I’m 63, so my actual retirement age is 66), and I intend to make the most of it. Any thoughts, those of you who are contemplating/have already retired? Do share!

For one thing, it always feels like I’m just about getting in the swing of things here when it’s time to go home. 3 weeks in Obergurgl next year, maybe?

9 thoughts on “Obergurgl Day Thirteen – The Last Day, and Some Exciting News….

  1. Gibson Square

    Good luck with your retirement, I doubt you’ll regret the decision, it will give you more time to write about nature you’ve discovered in East Finchley.

  2. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    Congratulations on your decision to retire, I’m sure you will fill the time with all sorts of interesting and rewarding activities.
    As for the butterfly, I’d suggest it’s (most probably) a Large Wall Brown (Lasiommata maera).
    Thank you for all the pics. The haymaking reminds me very much of our old valley, where they used those hand pushed mowers everywhere.

  3. Rosie

    Congratulations on your decision, am sure you won’t regret it. I too have loved the Austria pics ( slightly in love with the marmots) 🙂

  4. Liz Norbury

    It has been a delight to follow your fortnight in Obergurgl overt the last two weeks. I’ve never been to this part of Austria, but now I almost feel as though I have! Your photos have also brought back memories of holidays in the mountainous areas of Scotland and Switzerland. Part of the appeal of these places is that they’re very different from the landscape we have here in West Cornwall – just as Obergurgl is a complete contrast to north London. As for retirement, I’m sure that’s the right thing for you. Who knows what new adventures you’ll have? For me, retirement is a distant prospect – I’ve enjoyed the freedom of my years of freelancing and now self-employment, but I haven’t thought enough about sensible things like pensions!

  5. Anne Guy

    Wishing you every success in your early retirement…I am sure you will find so many things to fill in the time you spent at work!

  6. Vic156

    I tried to send this comment but not sure if it went so am trying again. Sorry if you get it twice.

    Firstly thank you for your wonderful blog that I have been following since falling over it via Spitafield’s Life a few years ago. I have followed your sadnesses and your joys with great interest and have been both moved and fascinated by things you have written.

You write so expressively whether it is about loss and love or the minutae of an insect’s wing. Just lovely stuff.

I retired early at 58 and lived on my savings and a small private pension till I got my state pension at 66. Not a moment of regret.

Like you I had always had plenty of other interests and though I enjoyed my work, it was lovely to not have to consider how I would fit in the more rewarding aspects of life, and to finally able to do what I wanted and when.

    A change in health triggered the decision, intimations of mortality maybe, and maybe that has been part of your process. I do think that becoming more aware of the reducing time in front does sharpen the focus about what is and isn’t important.

    Yes I had to think much more about finances but that has been a good thing, if a slower adjustment than I had thought! 

I’m a fairly solitary person so did not miss the human interactions of work though I think many people who retire do, but you engage with your community and with others anyhow so I suspect that will not be an issue.

    You will probably find you still don’t have time enough to do all the things you want to. But please keep blogging.

Whatever, I wish you and yours very well and hope that you have a long and fabulous retirement.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Vic – I am so glad that retirement worked out for you, it makes me feel that this is definitely the right decision. Today I am back at work, moving costs from one heading to another and wondering what I’m doing with my life (though I believe in the work that my charity does, and love the people that I work with). I will definitely keep blogging – I love sharing the things that I see with other people, and being retired will give me a chance to explore and reflect more than I currently have time to do. Thanks again for letting me know that you enjoy the blog, and I hope you have a great summer.


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