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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Discovering Krkonoše National Park, The Czech Republic

I have visited this National Park several times and, having lived in the Czech Republic for more than a decade, thought I knew what to expect of it. But a recent family trip proved to me how wrong I was.

Located along the northern Czech border with Poland, the Krkonoše National Park is one of the most famous and popular in this country. Containing the countries highest peak, Sněžka, it has a stunning collection of ski resorts, hiking and walking trails, as well as beautiful nature everywhere you look.

Now, I am not much of a hiker, my dodgy knees make me wary of getting too high as coming down is a jarring experience. Due to this I have never been to the peak of the highest mountain, so I had never experienced the difference in nature which the higher reaches of this mountain range contain. But a recent family trip, and a small improvement in my fitness, recently changed that.

We still did not visit the peak itself but stayed in a small skiing village, called Rokytnice nad Jizerou, for one week and enjoyed day trips in the surrounding mountains. Now they may not have been the highest, but they were high enough. And since our holiday took place during the recent European heat wave, it was fairly hard work every day. Hard work, but so satisfying. Physical exercise, beautiful nature and plenty of fresh air.

As I said, it was a family trip and we were all kitted out with our Camelbaks. Carrying 9 litres of water, between us, just about covered our needs for the day. But the best item we carried had to be our micro towels, nice and cooling when wet, they proved to have great recuperative powers, for both the children as well as my wife and I.


So what is so different about the nature? At the higher altitudes, the dense pine forests disappear and are replaced by sparse Scandinavian style nature. Low-growing trees, which look more like bushes, and space. There is much more space, if you can get away from the crowds. But that is relatively easy. There are some very popular trails, like going to the source of the Elbe, or Labe in the Czech language. But if you take a different route back you will be on your own in no time.


There are also many mountain chalets located throughout this area. Places to stop, take a break and buy some food and drink. If you are Czech this will probably mean a beer, but until I finish the day I stick to the water myself. Some of these chalets can be surprisingly large and offer a bit of fun for the kids too, they never lack in energy of course.


At the end of the week, I was happy to get home and rest my legs. But this was definitely one of the most enjoyable holidays I have had. A special mention should go to Hotel Helena, where we stayed. Returning there every day, where the kids could keep jumping and playing and my wife and I could collapse for a while, was a pleasure. This small hotel has good facilities and the food was excellent. Breakfast, a snack for the day and dinner were all included in the price. There was plenty of it and every meal was delicious. Oh and, of course, the beer was cold and refreshing too. Even more so than dipping your toes in one of the local streams.


© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

Grumpy Man in Legoland

This title was my prediction for the trip. A grumpy bugger, with a bad back, driving for hours, then walking for a couple of days surrounded by other people’s screaming children. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it?

Well, happily, my prediction was premature. Our family trip to Legoland, in Germany, was incredible. Two days and one night of Lego magic. Fast rides, which were OK, and high rides, which were not for me.

We arrived on Sunday morning, checked in, got our directions and we were away. The whole process was easy, organised and efficient. Before we new it, the car was parked and we were exploring the park.

I didn’t totally know what to expect, but I would say the best thing about the park was its variety. There were amusements and activities to suit every age and taste. Starting with the classic Miniland, lots of famous places all made from Lego, was a great introduction. But the kids, especially my daughter were keen for some action, sightseeing could wait.

It’s been a few years since I was on fast, spinning, rides but they were great fun, even if I was slightly worried about losing by breakfast. And the pace didn’t slow from there, we crammed in as much as we could on day one, but didn’t panic because we had a whole second day to come.

We finished in the theme park at around 6pm and went to find our accommodation for the night. Believe it, or not, we were sleeping in a barrel, which reminded me a little of a hobbit home, just not underground. What a great idea, two little rooms, a fridge, clean, private, perfect for a one night stay. We used the communal bathrooms at the camp site, which were very near. I was a little nervous about this, since I had vague childhood memories of wading through water, I hope, to get to the showers at British campsites. But this couldn’t have been further from the truth. Every time I went to the bathrooms they looked like no-one had used them that day, well done Legoland, great job.


After a good night’s sleep we checked out and were ready for day two. This time we had a few ideas of the must do things, which we didn’t have time for the day before, plus the things which just had to be repeated. Even though we had the whole day, we could have still used another hour or two, there is just so much to do. But the second day had to end, and we had to drag the children away, with the promise of one last visit to the shop.

If anyone is thinking of paying a visit, go for it. Kids from the ages of 5 will be able to join in on almost all the amusements, if they are a little brave. My kids are 6 and 8, which seemed to be the perfect ages. And if it’s not normally your scene, don’t worry, this recommendation is coming from a grumpy bugger, just ask my wife.


via Daily Prompt: Premature

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

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

Too Soon?

Letters have been written and collected. Requests made and dreams are being dreamed. Excitement is building, it can’t come soon enough. Traditional songs are being played, an atmosphere like no other time of year. Too early? If you love Christmas, can it ever be too early?



© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish