Happy Twelfth Birthday to my blog

Zámek Decín © Ricky Yates

I realised late yesterday, that 4th February is the birthday of my blog. My first ever post was published here on 4th February 2009 meaning that the blog is now twelve years old. Last night when I realised, I was immediately going to try to write and publish a birthday post as I have on several occasions in previous years. But I eventually decided that if I was going to write a coherent post, it might be better to wait until today 🙂

The blog has an amazing 435 posts. This will be post 436, the first in Year 13 of Ricky Yates – An Anglican in Bohemia & Saxony. Whilst I am very happy that the blog is now one year away from becoming a teenager, I’m also aware that more recently, there have been two big gaps between publishing posts. The first was between September 2018 and February 2019 meaning in the year 2018-19, there were only nine posts. The second was between May-November 2020, meaning that I have only published ten posts in the past year.

Over these past twelve years, the blog has undergone two major changes. The first of these was back in May 2012 when I changed the ‘WordPress theme’ I was using to improve its appearance. The second was five years later in May 2017, when my blog header was revamped as I went from being ‘An Anglican in Prague’, to being ‘An Anglican in Bohemia & Saxony‘ as I am now.

Some of my older posts are popular landing pages for new visitors. I am fairly sure that this is because these posts have a high ranking in Google and other search engines, presumably because very few other people have written about the topic. One favourite is my spur of the moment post I wrote back in October 2015, about ‘Contrasts between the Czech Republic and Poland‘. More recently, my rant about the letter I received from UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab and Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, Thérèse Coffey, has to date received over 1100 hits.

Another topic which I wrote about way back in 2009, was ‘Driving on the ‘right’ side of the road‘ and ‘Check this Czech car out!‘ In the nearly twelve years since I wrote about getting my right-hand drive (RHD) car successfully registered here in the Czech Republic, I have had a succession of enquiries about the topic by people who found these posts as a result of a Google search.

On each occasion, whilst offering what advice I can, I have always referred enquirers on to Adrian Blank in Nepomuk, who helped me through the whole process. In turn, Adrian has become a very good friend and he appreciates the business I have generated for him.

Although I now live further away since moving to Stará Oleška, I still go to see Adrian with Nový Carly. My summer tyres are currently stored with him, ready for the changeover in April. Interestingly, Adrian has recently discovered yet another negative consequence of Brexit. Since 1st January 2021, a British RHD car can now only be registered here if it is less than eight years old 🙁

However, my most famous post that still remains a popular landing page and has had over 10,000 likes and shares on Facebook, is the one I wrote eight years ago in February 2013 – ‘How to be Czech in 10 easy steps‘. Put ‘How to be Czech’ into Google and that post is the first English result.

Last summer, between lockdown one and lockdown two, (since before Christmas, we’ve been in lockdown three 🙁 ), I visited my favourite Decín cafe, ‘Coffee & Books‘, to have brunch and use their wifi. This was because there was a scheduled power outage in Stará Oleška meaning I couldn’t cook or have access the internet. Having placed my order at the counter, I went to find a suitable place to sit.

I went to sit on a stool at one end of bench with a view out of the window. Further along the bench, sitting on two further stools, were two ladies, talking to each other in second-language English. As I was trying to arrange myself and get my laptop plugged in underneath the bench, one of the ladies, who I now know as Katka, spoke to me in Czech. I responded by saying in English, that it would be better if she continued speaking in English 🙂

I had presumed that the two ladies were using second language English, as neither spoke the other persons native tongue, something I have come across many times whilst living in Prague and elsewhere. But I was wrong. They were both Czech and Katka was teaching English and the other lady was her student.

I then inevitably, got asked as to what a native English speaker was doing in Decín and how was my Czech. I gave my usual explanation that my best Czech is bar-restaurant Czech but that I do feel I fully understood Czech culture. Oh Katka said, ‘You mean such as being out in ‘the nature’, being sportif and going to the chata or chalupa for the weekend. I found an article on the internet about that which I use to help teach English to my students.’

I realised that Katka was almost certainly talking about ‘How to be Czech in 10 easy steps’, so I found it on my laptop and she confirmed that it was. I then told her that she was speaking with the author and the poor lady nearly fell off her stool 🙂

Besides the shock on Katka’s face when I revealed my authorship, there was another thing that also made me smile. She told me that the blog post had also taught her two new English words. They were ‘hemline’ and ‘cleavage’ 🙂 from step three of the post.

Never when I started blogging twelve years ago, did I think that what I wrote would reach so far, would feature so high in Google, or be used as a tool for teaching English. Please raise your glass as Ricky Yates – An Anglican in Bohemia & Saxony celebrates its twelfth birthday.

8 comments to Happy Twelfth Birthday to my blog

  • Sean McCann

    Hi Ricky,

    Congratulations on the big event and continued success. I’ve recently been looking back over your earliest blog posts up to mid 2011 or thereabouts and they are just as interesting, informative and amusing (some more than others) as when I first read them. I am not an ‘original’ follower of your blog; having found it some years into it’s existence but, I have read the entire work many times. Like many others I found your blog as a result of a Google search for something unusual to do in Prague at the weekend (Kate and myself were planning our first family visit in 2012) and we found your post about the boat trip to Slapy Dam. We thoroughly enjoyed the journey, it took two teenagers and their parents on a magical trip into deepest wooded Czechia, gave us glimpses of the Czech love of ‘the nature’ and their chaty/chalupy(as mentioned by you and Katka) and was a relaxing and peaceful family day before returning to Ireland on the following Monday.

    I’ve been a keen follower of you blog since then and greatly appreciate the mental effort and time required to produce not just coherent, but, interesting and thought provoking posts on a constant basis. You have great dedication and staying power and shouldn’t be self critical if from time to time you suffer from ‘bloggers block’

    Continued success to you and your almost teenage virtual offspring; many thanks yet again for the hard work you do and the enjoyment your blog gives to us who follow.
    God Bless Ricky,
    Take care,
    Seán McCann

    P.S. I too loved the photographs in your recent ‘More Snow’ post, especially the one of the Olessky Rybnik – you captured to perfection the strange light effect produced by snow
    lying on ice over a body of water and the total contrast with snow over frozen land.

    • Ricky

      Hi Sean!

      Thank you for your congratulations and kind words. I believe you had previously told me that finding my post entitled ‘A Trip up the River Vltava‘ was the way you first landed on my blog. That post dates from August 2009 when the blog was only 6 months old! But I’m glad the post resulted in you having a great day out as well as making you a regular visitor since 2012.

      Yes, it does often take a great deal of mental effort and time to compile a post. I always want to publish something that is well composed, factually correct and free of grammatical and spelling errors. That does take considerable care and concentration. Thank you for your absolution for the times when there have been long silences between posts.

      I do like your description of my blog as my ‘almost teenage virtual offspring’ 🙂 And thank you too, for your praise of my previous post in your PS. After a few days of above freezing temperatures & melting snow, it snowed again overnight & we now have seriously sub-zero temperatures promised for the coming week.

  • Pauleen Valerie Bang

    Dear Ricky
    How amazing that you have reached 12 years with your blog! Congratulations. However, it is not surprising since it is always so interesting.
    Do keep going – I love reading them, but I still miss some of your comments since I don’t get an e-mail when there is a new comment. I wish this was solvable!
    We still don’t have snow in Copenhagen but it is very, very cold.
    Keep writing
    Love Pauleen

    • Ricky

      Hi Pauleen! It certainly is amazing that the blog is 12 years old and that in that time, I’ve written 436 posts! I’m glad you find it interesting & thank you for your congratulations. I DO intend to keep it going. Since mid-January, I’ve managed three posts, which is about one a week. In the early years of the blog that is what I was normally producing – about 50 posts a year. I’m not sure that I’ll ever reach that rate of productivity again but I do already have one further post, partially compiled.

      I’m afraid I haven’t solved the technical issue you raise. However, I do always put a link on Facebook whenever I publish a new post, and as you are my FB friend, you should see it. Then, after you’ve left a comment, just check back from time-to-time. I usually try to approve & reply to comments within 24 hours. Yours is the second one on this post and, once I’ve finished replying to you, there is a third one awaiting my attention.

      As I’ve just said in reply to Sean, we had yet more snow overnight. But remember, Copenhagen is on the coast & the sea does have a moderating effect on temperature.

  • That’s so funny about that anecdote at the cafe! It is fun to be recognized sometimes for blog things 🙂 Something like that happened once – that a person I personally know was telling a friend of theirs about the two Americans living in Budejovice and they replied, “oh, I know all about Cynthia and Alex from the blog” (my jaw nearly dropped upon hearing this)
    I guess I’ve only been reading in the more recent years of your blogs but I really enjoy it and am glad that you are keeping it up after the move to Decin!

    • Ricky

      Yes, my conversation with Katka in Coffee & Books was extremely funny. I would have loved a photo of Katka’s face when I told her I was the author 🙂 And it still brings a smile to my face remembering her saying that I’d taught her two new English words – ‘hemline’ and ‘cleavage’.

      Some years ago, I came across another Czech teacher of English in Žd’ár nad Sázavou, who was using ‘How to be Czech in 10 easy steps’ and had the text up on his website, with no acknowledgement of me as the author. I took him to task regarding his breach of copyright but, after I met him, I agreed to him continuing to use it as long as he acknowledged my copyright which he did. And whilst in Prague, shaking hands with people at the Church door at the end of a service, I was told on a few occasions by attendees, that they had come because of reading my blog. But I enjoyed your story too – ‘We know about Cynthia and Alex from the blog’ 🙂 It is amazing to hear about or meet people otherwise unknown to you, who enjoy reading what you write & publish.

      Thank you for being a regular reader & commenter. It is greatly appreciated.

  • Stephen Morris

    Happy birthday ? to your blog, my friend! How great that you were able to meet the Czech instructor and introduce yourself as the author of her favorite teaching tool!

    The ? was a birthday cake emoji.

    • Ricky

      Thank you for the birthday greetings, Stephen. Yes – the encounter with Katka, the Czech teacher of English, was hilarious.

      Unfortunately, my blog set-up cannot cope with most emojis or some Czech diacritics, which is very frustrating. But thank you for explaining the ? and, as you can see, I’ve incorporated your explanation into your initial comment.