Cold Weather Running

It is seemingly a contradiction, since most runners seem to dread the approach of winter, but I seem to find a strange pleasure in it. I am now in my second season of winter running and I take much more pleasure in it than at any other time of the year. If you are a runner, do you feel the same?

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Gleaming, wet pavements

Still the early stages

Temperatures drop

A change of form

No longer liquid

Happening so fast

No time to react…

Now, looking at the sky

Birds are singing

Stars are appearing

Oh, my head



© Neil Hayes and neilhayeswriter

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


Is it strange that one of my favourite places to go is a cemetery? But not just any cemetery. In Hradec Králové there is a cemetery, located in the forest, which is tranquil and beautiful. It is looked after so well it compares to any small park you could wish to visit. But, of course, it is not a park and you must remember this when you visit there.

Czech people take care of their family plots and graves to a very high standard. Most cemeteries are clean, well maintained, and have fresh flowers and candles lit. It is traditional, in most families, to visit and clean at least once per year. But, sometimes, it is even weekly.

Now, I am not a religious person. I believe once you are gone, you are gone. The Czechs too are a very atheistic people. So this tradition seems to be carried out for a different reason. Respect for family; for the past, the present, or for the future.

If you visit the forest cemetery you will see gravestones scattered amongst the trees, in a very natural setting. They are immaculate, even in winter. And, if you are very lucky and quiet, you may even see a deer peering around a trunk at you. Here is one place that, when you pass away, you really do return to mother nature. 


© Neil Hayes, neilsworldofenglish and neilhayesphoto


Winter is back. In the Czech Republic, over the last few years, winter has not been what it was. The Czechs have been constantly complaining about it. They love to ski and skate, and so winters with no snow do not a happy Czech make. But this year has been different. We have had snow and constant temperatures below zero. So the snow is hanging around, and so is the ice.

I have to say that winter here always feels cold to me. Although it is much more pleasant to look out at a winter wonderland than at damp, grey streets. And if you get a chance to venture into the forest it is a magical time of year. 

Now, being British, I am not a natural at winter sports. I did give cross-country skiing a try recently, but it was more like walking on skis, than actual skiing. It was an enjoyable experience but I am much happier on my own two feet.

Especially when I have my camera in hand, the walk home from work is just beautiful. I wish there was more wildlife visible, everything is hiding at the moment, but nature is still a wonder. Frozen paths and rivers. Footprints leading across those rivers, both human and animal. Frosted trees with icicles dangling from their branches, reflecting the sunshine like jewels.

While I am scraping the ice off my car in the morning winter seems like the worst. But once the world wakes up, including myself, it can become a wonder. 

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish