Sporting Cultures Clash

It is interesting when you have a family from a mixture of cultures. You ask yourself so many questions when your kids are young. How will they cope speaking two languages? Will they enjoy being bilingual? Could they possibly feel too different to those around them?

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Season’s Greetings

Sunday was cold, really cold. When the wind blew, it blew straight through you. But it was the perfect day for a family walk to the Christmas Markets. It’s just not the same, if it’s not cold. So with the temperature hovering just above zero, off we went.

First, walking next to the river, the children playing and being cheeky. Not too cold yet, it was still light at this stage. But you could feel it coming. As we walked, the occasional gust would give us a shiver and make us glad of all the layers which we were wearing.

The closer we got to the town centre, the more the festive spirit grew. We started to see decorations, on lamp posts and bridges. And more people, not too crowded yet but others heading in the same direction as us. Our children were getting more excited. They had some money from their piggy banks to spend, their own choice, what would it be?

As we approached the markets themselves we could see the crowds, not too many people, but enough. Stalls containing all the usual goods. Hot wine, to warm my cockles, food both hot and cold. Seasonal decorations and gifts for all ages. Songs were being sung, children were dancing and the excitement of the season was upon us.

And then for the walk home. Via the old square and it’s Christmas tree, a beautiful sight standing next to the historical buildings contained there. Could the children make it? Both tired and cold now, but of course they could. Then, it was so nice to get home and begin to thaw out. And after dinner, some traditional Christmas biscuits and a cup of tea. Perfect.

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

Concrete Jungle? Don’t be deceived.

Grey, faceless block of flats. On the edge of town, as far as the eye can see. Not the most attractive and they certainly have negative connotations for a lot of British people.

In Britain, these types of buildings are normally in poorer, run down areas and as such can also feel unsafe. But in the Czech Republic, this is normally not the case. These blocks, constructed from panels in the ’80s, were erected so that normal, everyday people would have somewhere affordable to live, close to the city.

These are family areas, almost every block has a well-maintained playground, or three, just around the corner. And living here is quiet, neighbours behave with respect towards each other. Of course, the smaller the block the better, any block with forty flats is going to get some noise passing between the walls.

You would also think that with all these people the streets would be noisy, but sometimes I wonder where everyone is. It’s more peaceful than many Czech villages, which are sometimes used as major traffic routes.

So, all in all, I am happy living in my Concrete Jungle. It’s close to town, with excellent shopping, sports and natural opportunities within an easy walk. My kids can play, in safety. And crime? It doesn’t seem to exist, or maybe I’m just lucky?

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

Christmas Aromas

Today was another day filled with the sensations of the season, specifically the aroma of Christmas. All day the smell of baking gingerbread has filled our home, along with the excited voices of our children.

The kids have been looking forward to this day, the day when the baking begins. Now the biscuits are cooling and awaiting decoration, those that are left. Of course, it is hard to resist eating a few during the day.

This is a marvellous Czech tradition, though it is a lot of work for my wife. But there is so much more satisfaction to be had when something is made with love and joy. In Britain, we have become very lazy. I am not sure if anyone makes anything anymore, it is certainly a good time of year for the supermarkets.

I think the way that the British consume, and seemingly don’t grow or make things themselves anymore, is quite shocking to the Czechs, who are still a nation of producers. I have to admit that I am on the lazy side of this equation myself. But I am more than happy that my children will be brought up to make more themselves, and enjoy it. 

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish