A month ago yesterday, this blog was nominated for another award – A Liebster Blogger Award. This is an award given by fellow bloggers, to show appreciation for other blogs that they enjoy reading and think deserve to be highlighted and receive some praise.
My blog was nominated by Emily aka Writergem, whose own blog Czechesotans, is also about living as an expat in Prague; in her case, from the viewpoint of being an American teaching in an international school here for the past year. In her nomination of my blog she says, ‘Consider yourself educated after reading this one’. I did say in reply that I clearly needed fresh polish for my halo after receiving such praise 🙂
As part of the nomination process, the nominator sets a series of questions that each nominee has to answer in a subsequent post. Emily has set me eleven questions and this post is my attempt to answer the first five of them.
1. If your blog was a song, what would it be and why?
I must admit that I had to think hard and long about this one. Then I suddenly had a flash of inspiration. Why not a hymn? So my answer is, ‘Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation’.
My blog is predominantly about my experience of living and working in Prague and the wider Czech Republic. For the most part, I very much enjoy my life here and I’m very thankful for the opportunity of spending the last eight and a half years of my full-time public ministry as the Anglican Chaplain.
The words of the third verse of the hymn are particularly appropriate:
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee,
surely his goodness and mercy shall daily attend thee:
what the Almighty can do,
if to the end he befriend thee.
There are two other associated reasons for choosing this hymn. It was originally written in German – Lobe den Herren – and my wife Sybille is German. And when Sybille and I got married nearly nine years ago, we walked into Church to the congregation singing this hymn, and we made them sing two verses auf Deutsch!
2. What is one thing you reeeeally like about the town where you live?
There are so many things that I like about living in Prague and have previously written all about them on this blog. But if I am only allowed to choose one, then it would have to be public transport. It is efficient, frequent, integrated and incredibly cheap, even more so now I’m deemed to be ‘Senior’ because I’m over sixty 🙂
PS – for the benefit of David Hughes and other commenters who spot my very occasional spelling mistakes, the spelling of ‘reeeeally’ in the question above is exactly as Emily posted it on her blog – and she teaches English 😀
3. What are you doing this summer?
I could start this answer by pointing out to my nominator that, unlike teachers in international schools, I don’t get a two month holiday/vacation during July and August 😉 However, it is true that Church life is usually much quieter during these months, especially as this year I do not currently have any weddings to conduct.
The other big difference this summer is, as most followers of my blog already know, since 9th June, Sybille has been on pilgrimage, seeking to walk from Prague to Santiago de Compostela. To her great credit, before setting out, she did what she has been promising to do and completely sorted out all of her papers that were scattered across her desk and in collapsing boxes under her desk. In the week before her departure, my paper shredder worked overtime and I paid several visits to the paper recycling bin 🙂
Sybille’s desk is in one corner of our sitting room and with it and the area beneath it being completely clear, it has given me the incentive to try and ‘Summer clean’ the whole flat. The sitting room is already complete, including taking down the curtains, washing, drying and ironing them, before rehanging them once more. Whilst they were down, I cleaned all the windows, inside and out. The increased light and the improved view are most noticeable 🙂
I’ve also washed, dried, ironed and then refitted the covers on both settees; taken down every picture, polishing the glass at the front and removing the cobwebs from the back: taken all the books off three different bookcases, dusted both books and shelves before replacing the books. I then moved every item of furniture to enable me to first vacuum and then wash the wood-laminate floor, section by section. The collection of cobwebs and dead insects under one of the bookcases was a sight to behold! What am I doing this summer? Giving every other room in the Chaplaincy Flat a similar treatment. My office should be very interesting 🙂
However in August, I do have two weeks of annual leave and I shall spend them walking with Sybille. The exact logistics of how this will happen has been the subject of discussion between the two of us during the past few days. Sybille is deliberately not walking to a set timetable and cannot promise to be at a particular location in just under four weeks time. So I’ve got to decide very soon, where might be the most suitable place to fly to. Currently, this looks like being Geneva. Then a day or two before I set out, we will have to agree exactly where we are going to meet up and I will then plan to make my way from my arrival airport, by public transport, to that agreed location.
There is then also the issue as to where we will stay overnight whilst we are walking together. Sybille has already rightly pointed out that we won’t both fit in her one woman tent 🙂 Hopefully we will be walking together in France where there is often good provision of Gîtes d’Etape accommodation for walkers. I’m sure we will work something out and you can be sure that there will be a blog post about it!
4. Name a place you’ve travelled that you’d recommend to others and why.
One of the great joys of living at the heart of Central Europe, has been the opportunity it has given us to explore a whole variety of fascinating, new (to both of us) places, many of which I’ve written about here on this blog. As I am only allowed to choose one, then it has to be the Croatian island of Dugi otok, where we spent a delightful ten days in July 2009.
The name ‘Dugi otok’ means ‘Long Island’, highly appropriate as it is forty-five kilometres long but never more than four kilometres wide. It lies a one-and-a-half hour ferry journey from the port city of Zadar and has a resident population of no more than 1,800. You can read more about our time there in this post and the four that follow it.
Why do I recommend Dugi otok? It has all the facilities for a relaxing summer holiday, but is sufficiently off-the-beaten-track, not to be overrun with visiting tourists. Sitting at an outdoor restaurant table, alongside the harbour in the port of Sali, enjoying a meal, accompanied by a cool glass of something, whilst watching the sun slowly setting, was an experience we enjoyed on many evenings and of which I still have vivid memories. The remote beach at Mala voda on the uninhabited west coast of the island – very difficult to find a more pleasant spot for sunbathing and enjoying a swim in the warm Adriatic Sea.
Ever since our 2009 visit, we’ve spoken many times about going back to Dugi otok. I suspect we just might in 2015.
5. Who is someone you look up to?
John the Baptist. He lived a simple lifestyle with a rather interesting diet and fashion sense. He wasn’t afraid to be outspoken and challenge hypocrisy, including calling some Jewish religious leaders, ‘a bunch of poisonous snakes’! Showed great humility as he spoke about Jesus and, once Jesus began his public ministry, stepped out of the limelight. Openly criticising the immorality of Herod Antipas cost him his life. What not to admire?
Watch for my next post when I’ll try and answer the other six questions.