|Friday, April 20th, 2018|
I have just co written , OK my part really was just editing, a research paper on paediatric breath counting algorithms. If anyone is still continuing to read after that amazingly boring first line well it is going to get worse.
Flushed with this academic success I would like to write a paper on one of the best kept secrets of the western world. How can you drink yourself into near insensibility on Czech beer yet wake up in the morning feeling fresh and in my case looking forward to a 6 km walk with Asche in Hvezda.
Hvezda is looking magnificent by the way now that spring has sprung. . The trees are just starting to open their buds which means that until the leaves have developed the early spring flowers are seizing their short chance to flower while sunlight is still reaching them. Wood anemones, wild garlic and lillies carpet the ground. Last week it was celandines. I do wonder what is the point of flowering plants at this time of the year since there a very few insects to be seen although the rock chick says that the nettles gathered by me for her tea were infested by ticks.and apparantly, Lyme disease, spread by grass ticks is now endemic in the Czech republic. Yet another thiing for me to worry about.
Anyway back to the point of this posting. I have found that as long as I limit myself to a litre of 11 degree czech beer an hour I come to no harm. Tonight I set out to ration myself and to leave U Jiri at no later than 23:15. This meant I would have time to walk to the bus stanice at Divoka Sarka and catch my last bus back to Petriny with no problems.
I'd kept myself down to three litres. The music was great from a cameradie of ex soldiers playing guitars and a banjo, including one that had served on the Czech army general staff as a colonal I had danced with the chick with the knife and fork haircut without upsetting M at all . Well if it did she didn't show it. I did keep stepping on her toes but she didn't object. They played 'montgomery' just for me and didn't expect a solo performance from me so everything was going well until it was time to settle my beer chits and leave.
While I was at the counter a guy that I had met a week or so ago came up and chatted to me in passably good English. He explained that today was his birthday and suggested we drank a few shots. I had the sense to avoid fernat but picked on slivovitz. This was accompanied with kofola chasers. Of clourse being English I felt bound to buy a round back and so on. He did arange for an invitation for me to a party at the green monk in zeleny next Thursday. until all of a sudden it is 11:45 and M is reminding me I need to catch the bus. I missed it. She told me to get to Veleslavin before the metro finishes at midnight, I get there at five minutes past midnight but one last metro took me back to Petriny. I didn't dare sit down in case I fell asleep. By concentrating on the pattern of the paving slabs onthe walk from Petriny to Hvezda I could dtect that \i was weaving about a little. I got in, ate the cold fried chicken that Ivanka had brought in for me and left on my desk at the university today and then wrote this posting.
I woke up this morning at 7 feeling great, the sun is shining and it's another lovely day and it's the first day of my five day weekend. I have had to spend a while this morning editing this posting since it was full of mistypes.
But why isn't English beer like this where it makes you happy in the evening but miserable when you get up the next day? OK they have mastered the first part but why not the second. If the Czechs can do it why can't our brewers.? This really does require some research.
|Sunday, April 15th, 2018|
|Spring is sprung
Just a couple of weeks ago we had snow and it was freezing cold. Now it is warm enough to go out without a jacket. The cherry and apple trees are in blossom but up until today no stinging nettles for the rockchick.
She is convinced that a tea made from young nettles is very good for your health. So during our 6 km walking sessions through the woods at Hvezda, with Asch, the dog, in the mornings we have been looking out for them. We did find one small clump of them growing the day before yesterday but it was against a tree and that was a target for dogs. I told her that in a couple of weeks they would be plentiful.
Well I was wrong. Just one day has made a difference. I went back to my room to get some gloves and a plastic bag and we filled the bag during the six kilometre walk through Hvezda. Asch prefers us to throw him sticks so he couldn't understand why we were picking nettles. He loves retrieving sticks but then does not want to give them up so we usually have a tug of war for the stick. Odd because he is a bright dog and will obey most commands.
|Saturday, April 14th, 2018|
|Hedgehogs: Love in a Cold Climate
People are like hedgehogs or so we are toldCuddling close together for safety from the cold
When the weathers bad that's when you get really close
But that's when you feel the prickles start to stick in most.
|Thursday, April 12th, 2018|
Today was the University staff outing. The dean had kindly given us the day off and cancelled all lectures for this Thursday. Unfortunately I had no lectures scheduled for Thursdays. We met at Smíchovském nádraží railway station at 08:45 and left for Hrad Karlik. It seemed odd to go upstairs inside a train. There were six of us making the trip. It was supposed to be a gentle amble of up to 12 km walk with frequent stops for beer and lunch.
Now I think I am fairly fit after all Petra and I walk the dog every day before I go to work and that is about 6 to 8 kms say four to five miles in shilllings and pence. So anything these girls could do obviously I could do without much effort. OK 12 km is about seven and a half miles so a bit farther but I thought it would be easy.
The first couple of kilometres was uphill, unrelenting slope up from the valley. The view was worth it but I did have the feeling I might die and spoil the day for the others. The gentle 12 kilometre amble I had expected turned into a 20 kilometre route march up hill most of the way. We arrived at the first pub at 11:45. It was closed until 13:00. These Czech girls were not going to stand for that. They knocked on the door and demanded he start serving. It had it's own craft brewery so I tried the local brew Holub 12 degrees.It was only the beer that kept me going and a delicious lunch of boef stroganoff with more beer a little later.
Now I think this might be a good point to answer why do I like working in this university. Well just look at the photos. Perhaps a more difficult question to answer would be why they want me there!
|Monday, April 9th, 2018|
|Four days of bliss
Typically Isa insisted on an early start. 06:00 am! I hadn't actually seen her car before. We use metro, trams and buses to get around in Prague together. It was a smart, lime green Skoda (of course) Fabia. By the side of her on the front passenger seat with special seat belt attachment she had a cat box containing Smilenka and Campolina. I was relegated to the back seat. It was a pleasant drive through light traffic in Prague then out into the Czech countryside. Their roads are in a rather better condition than ours with smooth tarmac but no catseyes. I remember years ago saying to Jola that Czech roads were great. She said 'We're glad you like them after all you paid for them!' She meant EEC grants of course so it was more or less true. Along the side of the roads were frames for growing hops, all bare at present. There were several conical hills that Isa assured me were the remnants of extinct volcanoes.
I was really surprised when we reached her 'cottage'. I had imagined it would be much smaller and older. It was an attractive, modern, detached house with two balconies and everything including the garden totally neat and in place. Behind it were a stream and a coniferous forest. In front was a large meadow and early in the morning deer would come out from the forest to eat the grass. Close by were several large ponds that were good for swimming but not in April
I thrive on chaos- she is totally organised. I was wondering how we would get on for four days. I am scruffy she is always elegant. She works non stop I work non start. Anyway the answer was we got on very well. Well I think that. It's very difficult to guess what Isa is thinking or what she will do next; including going out into the meadow at midnight and dancing with a chain of LED lights while working on her photographic project, The results were rather good in an abstract way. She really is a super cook and is like a human dynamo. She literally never stops. The four days passed in a b
lur of swimming, saunas, jacuzzis, flea markets(another 6 am start), building barriers to prevent toads being run over on their way to spawn, walking in the woods, czech country pubs and in addition she went 'spinning'. This apparantly is an exercise class on fixed bicycles but since it meant she got dressed up in lycra I could hardly complain but gave it a miss myself.
In between times she did non stop gardening. I offered to mow the lawn she said there was not enough grass yet. When she saw her elderly Czech neighbour had got his mower out she did the same. She wouldn't let me do it because she said I would not do it right. She reluctantly let me rake up the clippings then said I was not doing it well enough and took the rake off me. She made it very obvious that she did not want me to do any work at all so I sat in the sun reading a book and watching her bottom as she pushed the mower. Finally feeling a little ashamed of sitting down watching her work I jumped the stream and went for a walk in the woods. My mobile phone rang for a call so I fumbled about with it. I'm not used to calls although I am now managing texts. It was Veronika asking if we could meet for coffee and cakes in Prague. that afternoon, I said I would ring on Tuesday when I got back. I think V and I have far more in common.
Another big surprise on the last day we were in the jacuzzi side by side and, quite unexpectedly, I heard myself asking Isa to marry me.
Building the barrier to protect the spawning toads from getting run over.
|Sunday, April 8th, 2018|
|My five day weekend.
Milan was palying at Zelený mnich The Green monk from 6 pm. I hadn't seen him for a month so I decided to go. As usual I had forgotten to take my mobile phone to the uni with me so I did a little shopping popped back to my flat and collected the phone just leaving me time to walk up to the metro station and catch a metro in. On the way I looked at the phone for messages. There was one from Isa at 06:51 in the morning so I read it. She said she would meet me at the Petriny at 6:40 pm. I texted back I would be there but couldn't let Milan know I was going to be late since we use email. I went for a beer and then waited for Isa. AS always she was on time. She had brought me a cake she had baked so we went in Kosmos to talk. She invited me to her cottage in Bohemia but it meant her meeting me with her car at 06:00 the next day.
In Kosmos we bumped into rockchick and Martin so they knew we were going to spend the weekend together. ISA is very cool and let no embarassment show. Victor, the airline pilot, came in and asked if ISA was one of my students which did rather flatter her but she treated it as a joke. She did leave after one drink which wasn't possible for me. I was now getting frantic texts from M about how the Green Monk was full but they had kept me a seat so I set off at 8 pm. M had kept me a seat and it was good to see Milan again. After another couple of drinks he played Montgomery my favourate czech song although by then most of us were past our best including me singing flat in the background.
Vinogrady U Jirihofnka
Much to my delight Ivanka showed up and stayed until 11pm in spite of having to get up in the morning at 4 am for work. The Czechs have a 21 st century democracy with 19th century capitalism. I just hope it never spreads to Univerzitas Karluva. This year my earliest lecture is 10:am so as my mothr used to saya the streeets are well aired by then. This must be one of the pauses in the singing and guitars when they all troop out into the cold to smoke. Ivanka has a pleasant and strong singing voice but there again inspection of the photo shows where it has been. No wonder it's good.
|Saturday, March 31st, 2018|
|John Lennon Wall
Well I am not a great John Lennon fan. When he was shot I waited for weeks by the telephone expecting Paul McCartney to give me a call to say the Beatles were reforming and they wanted me to fill Lennon's place. It never happened. I had taken all that trouble to learn three chords on the guitar and all of their songs would have sounded much better in the Key of G which was the only one I could play in. Well McCartney you had your chance; you didn't ring; so now I'm not interested.
Yesterday was a Prague spring day. The snow has all gone and it was actually quite warm.The rockchick and I walked about five miles. On her smart phone she has this amazing app that tells you how far you have walked. I can't even make phone calls on mine! She knew the way to the John Lennon wall and the Kafka museum. I've been to both before but was not able to find them in the maze of allies around Kampa Island by the Charles Bridge. It's easy when you know how. Outside the Kafka museum there is a life size, moving, statue of two men peeing into a pond. They rotate about every ten seconds to point their 'equipment' and the stream towards you. I would have a good fullly frontal photo to post but there was a little Japanese tourist who was fascinated by this view and she would try to get as close as possible to see and so blocked my photos.
|Sunday, March 18th, 2018|
|We've all been like it
I had a medical emergency this evening. I had left it to 20:30 too go to Skytrich for a drink. Although it turned out that Skytrich was closed on sundays it is part of a complex of three bars and the others were open.
Not far from the bar in the grass verge and in 4 inches of snow I could see what looked like a bundle of clothes. I took a look at it was a man totally unconcious lying in the snow. and the dark I could smell booze off his breath but in a way that made it worse. It was a really cold night freezing hard. He would never survive the night lying there. I tried to rouse him but he was fairly unresponsive except he swore a bit at me in Czech. I managed to roll him over onto his side so if he vomited he would not choke but couldn't get him to get up. I was very cold myself by now and so wanted to go into the warm bar. My hands inside leather gloves were actually hurting from the cold while his hands were bare.
I went into the bar and in my awful czech demanded they come out and help. The barman and a few custoomers came out. The barman recognized him and called him Petr.. I asked "Pivo?" (Was it beer that has caused this? He said 'Ne, to je fernat" No it's not beer it's fernat one of the czech spirits. Together we mananaged to rouse him and he started staggering in the direction of his home. The barman had telephoned for an ambulance but now everyone breathed a sigh of relief and let him get home. The snow had fallen on some previously fallen, melted and refozen ice so It was very slippery. In the srange way of drunks he was managing very well except he was walking in every direction. except the one he wanted.. The others went into the pub but I had a feeling he would not make it much farther. He collapsed back onto the snow and went back asleep. I got the others out of the pub again. The ambulance and paramedics turned up and the drunk becme a bit agressive and said he wanted no help. The paramedics sort of jollied him along but were not going to leave him. I went back into the pub and they insisted on buying beer for me because I had saved their friend. It would have been much better if they had stopped serving him fernat - the czechs call it coffin varnish and I can see why- rather than let him get into such a state. It shows what a difficult or even impossible job treating people is.!
|Saturday, February 24th, 2018|
|Well I suppose it's true
I completed my fifth lecture Wednesday afteroon so I have now seen all of my students again this week. It was only when talking to them I realise how much I missed lecturing these last five weeks. It's not just that it provides some structure to my rather chaotic and confused life but I really like the students. Now the classes are reduced in size you can look down ateach of their faces and imagine what sort of doctor they will be in a few years time. I really love this job. I sometimes wonder if I need them more than they need me.
|MAKE YOUR MIND UP
We are all faced with problems. Sometimes a new problem sometimes an old one we thought we had solved. The worst sort of problems are the ones where there is no obvious right answer and you just try to pick the best solution from all of the alternatives. I became aware of such a problem yesterday evening. It didn’t spoil my evening but I knew that at the latest, this morning, I must make a decision. I did what I do best. I procastrinated and put off making a decision until the last possible moment. It was the last thing I thought of before falling asleep last night and the first thing I thought of this morning. In choosing the right decision you have to think of the effects on people around you that you care about and even more important the effects on yourself.
I showered and cooked myself a good English breakfast, fried eggs, bacon, tomatoes and lots of toast and honey. I deliberately did not think about the decision until I had drank three cups of tea.
Suddenly I knew the answer. I reviewed the decision and I knew it was the right one for me and for everyone else. I was clear in my mind and had no doubt.
I chose the blue tee shirt and put it on.
It wasn't my idea to go. Bela wanted to go so I went. With mounting fear I realised I was the only man there with twenty women. The pictures speak for themselves.
"Pane Wilsone! Pusť mi zadek a začni se smát vážně."
Crosscountry skiing is not all that it's cracked up to be. I tried it. I didn't like it. Next morning when I got up I liked it even less.
|Wednesday, February 7th, 2018|
|On a motorcycle made for two
The story behind the new camera.
On Friday I made up my mind that I must start taking some decent photos. I've already described the electronic supermarket. I wanted a battery charger and a new Litium Ion batteries for both cameras. In the shop there were three uniformed security officers at the entrance door, 16 sales assistants and about five administration staff and till operators. However there was only one customer. Me. The security guard and two of the salesmen recognised me from yesterday when I had bought a 16GB memory card. This was probably the last sale this huge shop had that day. I was greeted as an old friend by the security guard.
The word flashed around the store that the big spender was back..I was surrounded by six sales assistants. After a very long conversation in broken English, Hindi which I don't understand, I think some Czech at one point and two assistants spoke some French they decided after examining the two cameras what I needed. Five of them vanished to look for the batteries and chargers. The sixth one sat me down and had tea brought for me.. It was that awful thick, sugary chai that I don't like much but I drank it to show my appreciation.
Within twenty minutes all of them were back but they had not managed to find a battery or a charger. They were so unhappy about this and so eager to be helpful. The guy that had brought the tea suggested I go to the market about 2 kilometres away. I knew what would happen. If I found the market I would not be able to find the stall that sold batteries and chargers and even if I did I it would be at least half an hour to explain what I wanted. So I told him that he must come with me to the market. I asked if he had a motorcycle and he did. He said he could not leave the shop unless his chief agreed. So I did the 'take me to your leader' routine. The shop manager agreed but followed us out of the shop to the 125cc Honda bike parked in front of the shop.. The saleman got on, I climbed on behind. It's amazing how small those bikes are after riding the BMW flying brick for all of these years.
There were no helmets of course after all this is India. Then to my surprise the chief climbed on behind me so there were three of us on this bike including me with a rucksack in the middle. I made sure I got the pillion foot rests and we set off. I haven't been in such close contact with two other guys since the last time I was in a scrum playing rugby. In fact I think we may be engaged now. In a way it was a comforting feeling because as we charged into the dense, hornbowing mass of bicycles, bikes, putputs and cars I knew I only had to worry about protecting my head if the worst happened since I was cushioned back and front by the other two. The road was not only crowded but more rutted and potholes than a cart track. The poor little Honda's rear suspension was bottoming out on every bump. At first I just closed my eyes and prayed to Vishna and Siva the only two Indian deities I remembered.. Bikes especially were coming head on at us on the wrong side of the road and then pulling out of the way within inches of colliding. The rider kept his thumb firmly on the horn button. I don't actually like riding pillion anyway but I had never experienced anything at all like this ride.
I have once taken a bike in England up to 120 mph but that was easy compared to this. After a while the rider got irritated by the bikes on the wrong side of the road so started riding on the pavement which was even more crowded than the road. His magical horn seemed to blast pedestrians out of the way but only at the last possible moment.We cut through little back alleys full of scooters and bikes but always just as a crash
chargers. The sixth one sat me down and had tea brought for me.. It was that awful thick, sugary chai that I don't like much but I drank it to show my appreciation.
Within twenty minutes all them were back back but they had not managed to find a battery or a charger. They were so unhappy about this and so eager to be helpful. The guy that had brought the tea suggested I go to the market about 2 kilometres away. I knew what would happen. If I found the market I would not be able to find the stall that sold batteries and chargers and even if I did I it would be at least half an hour to explain what I wanted. So I told him that he must come with me to the market. I asked if he had a motorcycle and he did. He said he could not leave the shop unless his chief agreed. So I did the 'take me to your leader' routine. The shop manager agreed but followed us out of the shop to the 125cc Honda bike parked in front of the shop.. The saleman got on, I climbed on behind. It's amazing how small those bikes are after riding the BMW flying brick.
There were no helmets of course after all this is India. Then to my surprise the chief climbed on behind me so there were three of us on this bike including me with a rucksack in the middle. I made sure I got the pillion foot rests and we set off. I haven't been in such close contact with two other guys since the last time I was in a scrum playing rugby. I think I may be engIn a way it was a comforting feeling because as we charged into the dense, hornbowing mass of bicycles, bikes, dogs, cows, putputs and cars I knew I only had to worry about protecting my head if the worst happened since I was cushioned back and front by the other two. The road was not only crowded but more rutted and potholes than a cart track. The poor little Haged to one of them now. The Honda's rear suspension was bottoming out on every bump. At first I just closed my eyes and prayed toVishna and Siva... Bikes especially were coming head on at us on the wrong side of the road and then pulling out of the way within inches of colliding. The rider kept his thumb firmly on the horn button. I don't actually like riding pillion anyway but I had never experienced anything at all like this ride.
I have once taken a bike in England up to 120 mph but that was easy compared to this. After a while the rider got irritated by the bikes on the wrong side of the road so started riding on the pavement which was even more crowded than the road. Pedestrians jumped from under his front wheel, blasted out of the way by his magic horn but only at the last possible moment. We cut through little back alleys full of scooters and bikes but always just as a crash seemed about to happen the magic horn would clear a path just about wide enough to take his handlebars as we threaded through it. With three of us on the bike the brakes were finding it difficult to cope with stopping so we didn't. After the first two minutes when I had decided that death was not imminent (I don't want to live forever anyway) I stopped praying and began to enjoy the ride. We rode straight into the heart of the market and climbed off in front of a stall.
We got on and off the bike another three times riding through the huge crowded market but no batteries or charger so back we went to the shop. I would not have missed that ride for anything and it is the best part of this Indian trip.
The last time I was three on a bike was back in the 60s in England with Cynthia Tunnicliffe and Jean something or other. We even rode past the police station in Uley with the sergeant digging his front garden. I only saw him at the last minute and it was too late stop so it was on up Crawley Hill to Nympsfield.
Anyway I bought a new sony digital camera for 6300 ruppees.
(Wot! 'Ow much? Do you mean each? Thank you Uncle Bob. I’m nearly word perfect in Yorkshireese now).
This is what I should have done in the first place but then I would have missed the ride of a lifetime.
|Sunday, January 7th, 2018|
|Hvezda with Petra
Woodland walks with the Rock Chick
Mushroomy smells and sawn up logs
Trees bounded by swamps and bogs
Home of toads and home of frogs
Under foot the mud that clogs
The jiggling girl that runs and jogs
In designer lable running togs
But the sounds of barking dogs
Disturbs our walking dialogues
|Monday, January 1st, 2018|
|New Years Morning
A new year's morning with Isabela
Bela captures pictures of our world
Even sometimes though the view offends
A moment of time, frozen, uncurled
Captured forever by her lens.
What’s here today may be gone tomorrow.
“Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.”
From what is gone we cannot borrow
Who’ll remember when the old view goes
Today Bela's pixels and my rhyme
Flies trapped in amber, set in time.
Though these pictures will surely matter
She looks at views. I like to look at her.
JW Jan 1 2018
|Thursday, December 7th, 2017|
|Omm OMMM Ommygawd
Wednesday was my second date with Ira. Again I managed not to find her email about when and where to meet. I emailed her suggesting we meet at 17:30 at Motol but then for the only the second time the phone on my desk started to ring. Last time this happened I ended up doing three extra lectures and invigilating an exam so I was a bit wary about answering it. It was just as well I did though because it was Ira saying we were meeting at Karluva at 17:35 for the om chanting. I knew I wouldn't be able to get there for 17:35 but went straight off down the muddy shortcut through the trees from my office. It had been raining so it was muddy and slippery. I did get a metro straightaway and I knew I had to get off at the old town square (Starymest) and Karluva would be one of the dozen streets joining it. I made a guess and started walking in one direction but it was already 17:40. I spotted a street sign for Karluvy but it looked like a huge long street. I started off down it and then saw Ira texting on her phone. We were late but at least we were at the right place. She asked me if I'd read her email but I hadn't seen it . Later I found it was on my computer.
We climbed endless flights of stairs in the two hundred year old house to reach a fairly large room. There were about thirty people and we all took our shoes off. Luckily I had on my socks without the holes. Inside in the parquet floored room were cushions arranged in two concentric circles.( Collapse )
The department christmas party is next week on Monday. That's the day Isabela gets back but I am not sure if my name is on the Monday slot of her timetable at all. Just as well because the party is not for partners. One thing we all have to bring a wrapped gift and everyone receives one. I had to go and buy one. I thought easy I'll get a bottle of bekorovka that will be easy but Eva said no it has to be unusual. The giudee price was 200KC. She said try and get something English. I went to Tescos. I thought of getting some Baileys Irish Cream but it came with large glasses and I didn't want anything fragile. In the end I bought a large jig saw puzzle with a sort of base to hold it on. At least it will look big and impressive when wrapped. I need to get some wrapping paper too. It seemed sensible to attach the receipt after establishing that it could be changed.
The hop assistant was young , pretty, friendly and helpful although she didn't speak English. This is a bit unusual most czech shop assistants are a bit surly. So I tried máte krásné oči. She was so pleased she must have understood my pronunciation.
10 hrs · Prague ·
It's ten to three in the morning and I don't really feel I should be posting. I've just reviewed this sentence and it seems to be free from typos so I think I am sober enough to post. Anyway I can delete it in the morning.
I went to the jidelna for lunch today and was served what looked like four large snowballs. They were dumplings with grated cheese over them. I was wondering what might be inside the dumpling and found they were stuffed with apricots. OK and very filling. So filling I put two into a plastic lunch box to eat later. No need when I got back to Hveda Illya had cooked pork with bacon and cheese over it so I filled up on that and passed the dumplings on to him. We had an interesting chat. It seems if he can stay a student until the age of 28 he won't get called up for military service back in Belarus.( Collapse )