1970: May 28, Natters

Thursday
Woke up after a night of rain to much improved weather, thank goodness, in fact the sun was shining. Had a leisurely breakfast etc. and then hurried into the village (on the advice of one of the other campers) to see the Corpus Christi procession. Large numbers of English visitors in evidence – cars and coach tours – village decked out with branches of trees, bunches of lilac, red and white banners and all the shrines decorated. A most impressive alter set out in the village square. Procession wound its way round the village, stopping at all the alters etc. and finished up in the square with a brief mass. Led by 3 alter boys in red, with red capes edged with white fur, then the little boys in their Sunday best, then men in Tyrolean dress (red jackets, dark breeches, green hats with flowers decorating them) carrying swords and muskets (which they fired at significant moments to Gareth’s misery!) then the little girls, with something white on and carrying flowers, then the brass band (again in Tyrolean dress) then adults, including some old ladies in very dark dress and squashed top hats. There were two enormous banners being carried and a pole over the priest carrying the host. Everyone in the village seemed to be in the procession, it was lovely to watch.

After this we went into Innsbruck, hoping to collect some bread there. All the shops were shut, however, and the place was a sea of red and white banners and greenery everywhere. The town is very attractive in the old quarter, with narrow arcaded streets, painted houses and fascinating shops (but not cheap). Whoever said Austria was a cheap country must have a different conception of cheapness from us! Met a British couple who were delighted to see a British car – they’d been searching for one evidently! They too said Austria was not cheap. Bought some strawberries and cherries and then drive up to the Alpine Zoo where we ate our lunch.

We saw some fascinating squirrels near our picnic place, with what seemed awfully long ears they were remarkably tame. The Alpine Zoo was sweet – quite small and devoted to animals still found or now extinct in the Alps and situated on the slopes above Innsbruck so that we had a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains all the time. They had a pair of brown bears, the male looked enormous, I’d hate to have met one of those in the woods! I liked the owls best, though not too keen on seeing them eat baby chicks (dead of course). The eagle owl was a great fat thing, just like our Sage [toy owl]. They had bison too and red deer, badgers, beavers, lynx, otters, wild pig, wolves (+baby) an assortment of birds, goats, ibis, snakes and lizards and fish. Children enjoyed it too, especially making friends with a badger. Dozens of children around as the schools are on holiday, all the children in their best.

After leaving here, drove back to the camp, visiting Mutters on the way. Another very pretty village with prosperous looking houses, several ‘gast hofs’ all painted and decorated. Church remarkably different from Natters, having a slender green spire as opposed to the bulbous one, and much simpler building too.

Drove down through the Alpine meadows, looking so pretty in the sunshine and loads of people strolling or sitting and enjoying it all. Children made friends with Simon and Tim from one of the caravans and had a whale of a time, playing football and in the tree house. After they’d gone to bed, David and I walked to Natters.

A beautiful walk, with meadows and snowy peaks and forests. The churchyard was full of little lamps burning (because of CC presumably) and what with that and the photographs on the tombstones made it very homely. Always gives me a shock to realise that their war memorials exist (can’t think why I should feel like that) and that ‘our side’ killed them. They don’t seem like ‘the enemy’ when you see their homes and villages. Some of the houses are very big, with basements and attics, they seem much bigger than British farmhouses. Some are simply the frontage of an enormous barn/cowshed. The houses had stacks of firewood around and often a fruit tree trained up the wall.

A great deal of new building is being done, mainly cement blocks and then faced with cement and painted white. All in the traditional style, it certainly looks best in these parts.

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