From Winter into Spring

After a very cold and snowy winter, as I explained in my eighth blog anniversary post, in the last couple of weeks, Winter has slowly begun to recede and Spring is arriving. Therefore, it is certainly time to get my blog out of hibernation, being very aware that I haven’t posted anything here for a month.

There are numerous events that I could write about but here are just three highlights from the last couple of weeks.

My birthday burger © Ricky Yates


On Sunday 26th February, I celebrated my sixty-fifth birthday. This is the second time since moving to Prague, that my birthday has fallen on a Sunday. The last time was on the occasion of my sixtieth birthday in 2012 which was also a leap year. There has since been a further leap year in 2016 meaning that my birthday in 2017 was once more on a Sunday.

Whilst I was aware that certain members of the congregation knew it was my birthday, I made no mention of it during our 11.00 Sung Eucharist that morning, hoping that after post-Eucharistic coffee and refreshments, I could just go on to a quiet birthday lunch with Sybille, who had celebrated her forty-ninth birthday on Friday 24th February.

At the end of the service, having instructed the congregation to, ‘Go in peace to love and serve the Lord’ and they had responded, ‘In the name of Christ. Amen’, I acknowledged the altar and then set off to walk down the aisle to the Church door. But what did Professor Michal Novenko strike up with as his organ postlude? ‘Happy Birthday to you!’ I was therefore duly serenaded by the whole congregation as I made my exit 🙂 I discovered afterwards that Churchwarden Gordon Truefitt, once having received communion, had nipped up to the balcony and worded up Michal 😉

I did eventually have my quiet birthday lunch with Sybille in one of our favourite restaurants, Fraktal. It is known as serving the best burgers in Prague, and on their Víkendové menu, is my favourite Fredov snídanový burger. I did manage to take a photograph of mine before consuming it!

Tower of the Freiburger Münster © Ricky Yates

Council of Anglican and Episcopal Churches in Germany (CAECG)

Having officiated at my final Ash Wednesday Eucharist in Prague on the evening of Wednesday 1st March, the following morning, I set out at 07.00, to drive to Freiburg im Breisgau. This was to attend my first meeting of CAECG, in my capacity of being the coordinator for English-language Anglican worship in Dresden. My journey took six & three-quarter hours including two brief breaks, but was made at least twenty minutes longer than it should have been, by a Stau on the Autobahn near Heilbronn.

Germany is part of continental Europe where there is what is proverbially known as ‘overlapping ecclesiastical jurisdiction’. There are a number of Anglican congregations which are part of the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe. But there are also several congregations that are part of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. Most but not all of these Episcopal congregations, came about as a result of the American zone of occupation, following the end of World War Two.

CAECG was established about twenty years ago, to coordinate and support the work of both ‘Anglican Churches’, within Germany. From 15.00 on the afternoon of Thursday 2nd to lunchtime on Friday 3rd, we met as a clergy chapter, sharing experiences of ministry and discussing pertinent issues. Following a two hour afternoon break, during which I was able to enjoy a brief walking exploration of the Altstadt of Freiburg, we were joined by elected lay delegates for the following twenty-four hours.

An attractive building on one side of the Münsterplatz, Freiburg © Ricky Yates

First we dealt with various business matters, but then we enjoyed three talks with impromptu questions and discussion, given by Rev’d Dr Charlotte Methuen. In the year that marks the five-hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther and his ninety-five theses, Charlotte spoke about Luther, the issues facing the German Church at that time, and then how his teaching and theology impacted on Church of England liturgy and Church practice. Wonderfully stimulating and most enjoyable.

On Saturday 4th March following lunch, I drove back to Prague, giving a lift to Archdeacon Colin Williams. Colin is both Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe, as well as being Archdeacon for the Eastern Archdeaconry. Therefore when we crossed from north Bavaria into the Czech Republic, we crossed his Archidiaconal boundary 🙂 On Sunday 5th March, Archdeacon Colin was the preacher at our 11.00 Sung Eucharist. Then following post-Eucharistic coffee and refreshments, he held a further ‘Vacancy Meeting’ with the Prague Church Council, helping them plan for the future ‘post Rixit’, as my retirement has become known 🙂 , including compiling a Chaplaincy profile and person specification as part of the recruitment process for finding my successor.

House hunting

Ever since the beginning of the year, I have become very aware that I need to find somewhere to live, once I retire on the Sunday 30th April 2017. I previously wrote about my plans in my first blog post of 2017. However, in recent weeks, I have become increasingly frustrated with Czech Real Estate Agents, who seem to lack desire to sell any property in their portfolio.

Numerous Estate Agents have websites that are in both Czech and English. The reasonable assumption is that they recognise that some potential buyers will not be fluent in Czech. Yet when I have sent off enquiries in English about certain properties, silence has ensued.

However, in the past couple of days, I have found two properties that look suitable, located in my area of search. Even better, I’ve had prompt responses in English from the respective agents. In particular, Martin Tonder of Vesta Realitní, phoned me within half an hour of receiving my email. When I missed his call, he immediately followed it up with a text message, offering me the opportunity to view the property the next day which was today.

When I met Martin today, as well as speaking to me in English, aided by having lived and worked in the USA and being married to an American, he was most helpful in addressing and answering my queries. He even gave me the ultimate compliment, saying he had been reading this blog 😀 No property will fulfil every requirement of mine, but the one he showed me today looks very promising. Watch this space!

10 comments to From Winter into Spring

  • June M Taylor

    Did you climb the tower? I did in 1958! I couldn’t now.


    • Ricky

      Hello June – No I didn’t, as I unfortunately only had a short time to walk around the Altstadt. I hope these couple of photos brought back some good memories for you.

  • Only a month between posts? You put me to shame, Ricky 🙂 Your trip to Freiburg sounds very interesting and your house-buying has all your friends agog.

    • Ricky

      I’m not trying to put you to shame, Perpetua. I’m just determined not to let the blog die. It is now in its 98th month of existence & I am proud that there has been at least one post in every one of those months 🙂 Whilst Facebook is fun & more immediate, any contribution rapidly disappears from view. One of the nice things about my blog is people getting in touch, having read a blog post from a few years back, because of researching a topic and one of my posts providing an answer.

      The Freiburg trip was both enjoyable and stimulating. I just wish I’d had the opportunity to explore the city a bit more. I had been there a couple of times previously, but the last occasion was about 35 years ago!

      Yes – everybody wants to know about the house-buying. I’m sitting here on tenterhooks, awaiting answers, as I’m replying to three overnight comments.

  • Jonathan

    Hi Ricky, I hope your house-hunting goes well. Once you’ve signed the initial contract things usually run very smoothly.

    Just a couple of linguistic comments:

    I love the word “postlude”, which I hadn’t heard before, even in a church context.

    “Word up” sounds very odd to the (at least more traditional) English ear. It’s presumably an American phrasal verb meaning “let someone know” but I can’t find that definition anywhere. Do your American churchgoers use it?

    I also detect a slight Americanism in your description of your birthday lunch venue as the place “serving the best burgers in Prague”. I’ve heard a few Americans use this expression when having extremely earnest conversations about burgers, as if they were the height of culinary excellence, when as far as I can see they’re just fast food. Maybe it’s my ignorance, and each to his own of course.

    • Ricky

      Hi Jonathan – Thank you for your good wishes and advice on the house-hunting front.

      I’m most surprised that you hadn’t heard of ‘postlude’. Numerous Church organists have used the term with me over the past years. At the Frauenkirche in Dresden, I’ve inherited the excellent tradition that the congregation remain seated and listen, whilst the organist plays their chosen postlude.

      ‘Word up’ does appear in my copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, defined as an imperative, to make someone listen. However, I am aware that over the past eight years, I have picked up a few Americanisms from members of the congregation.

      The declaration that Fraktal ‘serves the best burgers in Prague’, appears in at least one of the many English-language guide books to Prague. Whilst I agree that burgers are not the height of culinary excellence as you put it 🙂 , at Fraktal, they pride themselves that they resource their meat from what Sybille calls ‘happy cows’, and you can certainly taste it! There is no comparison with what is served up at McDonalds or Burger King.

  • Just catching up with all your recent developments, Ricky! I’m glad you back-linked to your first post of 2017 as I seem to have missed it. Glad to hear you will still be staying in the Czech Republic! To be a pensioner here seems like a good life, and it’s nice you will be able to experience Czech life now outside of Prague (it is wonderful and slow-paced!). Decin always looks so lovely whenever I pass through on train! I have vowed (maybe this year?) to actually get out of the train there and take a few days to explore that specific Czech/German borderland area.

    • Ricky

      Hi Cynthia – thank you for dropping by & commenting here once again. I’m hoping that being a pensioner here will be the ‘good life’ as you describe it. The critical issue for me is what will happen to the value of Sterling in which currency nearly all my pension entitlement will be paid. The current antics of the UK government do not fill me with hope 🙁 I am sure as you know from personal experience, that it will be slow-paced.

      You definitely should plan to get off the train at Decín and get walking! The surrounding countryside is a beautiful area to explore.

  • Sean Mccann

    Hi Ricky,
    Belated birthday greetings to you both. That burger looks wonderful and has set my mouth watering – and pushed my cholesterol levels skywards just by looking at it. 😉 Thank you for the excellent description and photographs of Freiburg. Good luck with your Rexit and also with the announced intention of Mrs. May to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday next and the fallout there may arise for you and other ex-pats. Thanks as always, Ricky.

    • Ricky

      Thank you for the birthday greetings, Sean & thank you for once more faithfully visiting & commenting here. My apologies for pushing your cholesterol levels skywards with the photo of my Fredov snídanový burger 😉

      The Freiburg visit was most enjoyable but far too brief. A place to visit again & explore in retirement.

      Please don’t get me started on Theresa Mayhem and her intention to sign the UK’s suicide note next Wednesday. I’m dreading to think what her actions will do to the value of Sterling, my pension lump sum & my future monthly pension. But I’m grateful for your good wishes.