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A dirndl, in case you’ve never heard the word before, is the name for a traditional peasant dress worn in Bavaria, the Tyrol and the surrounding areas. It consists of a fitted bodice, blouse, full skirt and apron. I’m talking dirndls today because I have one – read on …

When I was at junior school, my parents used to help out as chaperones on school trips abroad for a prep-school.  Our nex-tdoor-but-one neighbour was a teacher at this school – and presumably he couldn’t get any of the staff to come on the holidays so he asked my parents – who got a cheap holiday and me and my brother went too.  We went to Wales several times at Easter, but also alternately Switzerland and Austria in the summer the week after the schools broke up – this went on for about five years.

1970 was an Austria year – and we were based in the Tyrol.  Day trip to Salzburg, visiting the Mozart Geburtshaus and Mirabell Palace. Sadly, The Sound of Music was far from my mind – I probably didn’t associate the wonderful fountain with Do Re Mi – well I was only ten.  (I really want to go back to Salzburg some time and do the full SoM tour!).

Anyway, my Mum bought me a dirndl and the receipt is on the left there.  At the time there were about ten Austrian Schillings to the pound, so it cost a mighty £27.50 old money which was an awful lot.  You can see a skinny me wearing it (complete with pigeon toes and Clarks playdeck sandals) on the right – and there’s also my little brother lurking in the background with a silly hat!  It’s a shame you can’t see the skirt properly behind the apron, it’s scarlet sprigged with emerald green flowers.

But I can rectify that …

Putting in a rare appearance on the blog is my daughter modelling the outfit in our garden back in spring 2008. Granny had found the dirndl and brought it to us on a visit.  I expect it won’t fit my daughter any more as she’s put on a big growing spurt since,  but I’m not getting rid of it – it’s too special a souvenir for that.

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