Archive for June, 2007

Americas Cup Fever

Team New Zealand

We’re (or perhaps more accurately, I’m) getting really excited about the America’s Cup here. In case you don’t know, the Kiwis are in the final and as of today both us and the Swiss have one point each in a best of nine contest.

The only problem is that it’s quite difficult to follow the races here. We don’t have satellite, but Markéta’s father does, and yesterday we found the race live (on channel 488).

If I didn’t have to work I’d be glued to the screen as it looks like it’s going to be very close. Maybe as the week progresses, I’ll start to find that I am “regrettably unable to be in Prague today”

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Zurich part three

Markéta can’t believe that there are so many bikes in Zurich. I can’t believe that so many of them are not locked.
Help yourself!

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Arsehole and Retard

Goldfish
We have been redesigning our garden at home. Having finished about half, we have moved to the area near the barbecue which was previously covered with easy maintenance, but incredibly ugly, concrete tiles.

The other half is now pretty much finished and is full of pretty flowers and Marketa’s herbs (I don’t really understand why we need five different varieties of basil though). It’s already a great place to sit, and once the flowers and herbs mature and the grass finishes growing, will be fantastic.

So far the other half has a new garden border (which we made from one of the old beams from the mill), a few interesting rocks and a fish pond. It still looks pretty arid and we still need to add more soil, some plants and maybe a bit more grass.

But we did decide to buy a couple of fish for the pond, and they are already settling in very nicely and have grown a lot since they arrived.

The fishpond is located outside our neighbours window. They have two teenage sons who like to spend their time (irrespective of weather) playing computer games. Part of the “magic” of this is that very often I learn useful new Czech vocabulary though the window; especially “ty vole” (you arsehole) and “debil” (retard).

So that’s what we named the two fish.

At least they’ll never feel lonely.

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Zurich part two

Fun in Zurich

So of course, eventually we arrived in Zurich and had a great time.

The weather was a little better than on my last visit, but even so, it still rained quite a lot. Zurich is a pretty enough city. It was nice staying with Katie who of course lives in the suburbs, which I had not seen before, and which probably have better architecture and are more interesting than the centre. Very very different from anything I have ever seen before.

We had fun on Friday just wandering around the city and looking at the shops. They have a fantastic department store there called Globus. One of the many Globus shops in ZurichWe don’t have anything like this in Prague, which is a pity in one sense. It is a paradise of consumption, which everything that you might want to buy centrally located in one place. Beautiful food including things that are nigh on impossible to get in Prague, or at least not in a single, conveniently located place. Lobster, seven different kinds of prawns, Moreton bay bugs, and a fantastic selection of wine and cheeses. Now that the French and Belgian grocerers (Delvita and Carrefour) have abandoned Prague to the Germans and the English, it’s almost impossible to buy nice wine unless you make a special trip to a specialist wine shop. In addition, Globus has a huge selection of clothing and home furnishings.

The only snag is the eyewatering prices, but I’m not sure if they are a result of the goods being in this particular shop, or simply because they are in Switzerland, where absolutely everything is unbelievably expensive (or at least seems unbelievably expensive to us).

Its was nice waking along the main street in Zurich knowing that stored in vaults beneath our feet were millions of bars of gold bullion. Young Turnbull seemed to like this – he was twitching a lot while we were in this area – perhaps pointing to a future as a successful financier, dentist, or gold smugger.

In Switzerland you can buy things that you can’t get in Prague. Marketa is very excited because she now has a new herb called Lemon Verbena. I actually like this one too as it tastes great in cold drinks.

But otherwise, I don’t think we could ever imagine living there. It’s nice and pretty and clean and organised. But perhaps a bit too clean and organised for us. It’s not that we like mess that much, but we do sometime park our car facing in the wrong direction, and we couldn’t cope with the recycling nazis they have there.

We’re back home now, and enjoying summer. We’re done a lot of work in the Mill lately including totally stripping the ground floor of everything including most of the walls and about a foot of earth from the floor. Now we are sitting in the garden waiting for the plasterers to come and make a few more habitable rooms for us including (yay!) a bathroom, and maybe even a sauna.

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Zurich or bust

European Route Signs

I was about write an update about our trip to Switzerland, but found that I had been beaten to it by Kate who has already summarised our weekend perfectly . . . here

What else?

Well, the trip there was interesting. We use a website called www.viamichelin.com when driving around Europe as it gives you great directions. According to their calculations the trip was supposed to take us about 6.5 hours. We know from experience that the times they give are calculated for someone driving a Ferrari at the maximum speed limit, with no breaks and no traffic and who doesn’t get lost twice. As usual it took us a bit longer . . .

The German autobahns are a great idea in theory – beautiful roads, and you can drive as fast as you want. Sadly though on Friday, they didn’t work perfectly for us. We have a very nice, but quite old, Renault which is quite happy cruising at between 120 and 130 kph. (130 kph is the speed limit here in Czech). At speeds beyond that though it develops an unfortunate shake. So on Friday, from Nuremberg to Stuttgart, what should have been a smooth drive became problematic as we had to choose between the slow lane (which was full of trucks) doing 80kph and the fast lane full of Porsches doing 160kph. Trying to travel at 130 just didn’t fit.

Europe has a great system which allocates numbers to the main routes across Europe. These routes are signposted in most countries and so you can just follow the signs irrespective of which country you are in. It really is a brilliant system. We travelled to Zurich on Route 50 and then turned left onto Route 41.

There are only two European counties who refuse to cooperate with this system; The UK (of course – they never cooperate with anything European) and oddly enough Germany. They did occasionally stick a token E50 sign on some of their motorway signs, but never it seems at junctions. Very inefficient and unGerman. Which, to cut long story short, is why we got lost (twice)

More about our trip and some photos later.

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