Summer 2020

Your Truly on 5th November 2020 © Kát’a Burešová

I must start by making a serious apology for not posting anything here for five and a half months 🙁 I will not make any excuses. Instead, here is a new post about what has been happening over these past Summer months and a promise to resume writing more regularly in the coming weeks.

In contrast to the Summer of both 2018 and 2019, this past Summer has not been so excessively hot and we have had far more rainfall. Across the Czech Republic in June, rainfall was double the average for the month. Throughout the Summer, the Labe/Elbe maintained a decent level, allowing the passage of commercial craft, unlike in the two previous years. My grass has also remained green and has immediately shot back up, each time I’ve mown it!

Cooler temperatures have encouraged and enabled me to make further progress in my garden. Even better, I finally found someone capable and willing to complete a number of tasks that have been beyond my capabilities – a man called František.

František lives with his wife Andrea and their three children, in the upstairs part of a house on the end of a public building, within sight of my house. Earlier this Summer, Andrea found me on Facebook and asked to be my Facebook friend. Through this link, I discovered that her husband has a Facebook page, which advertises his various building skills. Therefore one evening, when František, Andrea and I were all sitting outside at Bar-Restaurace U Soni, enjoying a few beers, I approached them, asking if František would be interested in doing some tasks for me, in particular, constructing a new path from the steps at the back of my house, to the woodshed on the far side of the garden.

The existing ‘path’ © Ricky Yates

The new path was to replace this untidy mixture of bits of rubber matting and roofing felt, left by the previous owners.

Our discussions were based on my pre-prepared Google translate text, asking whether he would be willing to do the work and if so, what would be his price? He clearly understood what I was asking and got out his mobile phone to show me a couple of photos of a path he had previously constructed. However, it did take a further conversation at U Soni a few days later, before I finally convinced František that I did want the work done.

Early one evening, a few days after our second conversation, František came round to look at what exactly I required. I told him that I wanted the path to be 70cm wide and he then measured the distance from steps to woodshed to work out the quantity of materials that would be needed. I also showed him the existing path through the front garden and agreed with him that my new path could be constructed in a similar style, using interlocking paving blocks.

A few further days later, František returned with my Google translated print out, giving me a price for materials, a price for his labour and saying that he would do the job the following weekend, 11th-12th July. In turn, I promised him that I would visit an ATM the next day and give him the cash for materials which I duly did.

Materials for the new path © Ricky Yates

Thus in the late afternoon of Friday 10th July, this pile of materials appeared in my back garden, along with several bags of cement.

František & Andrea at work © Ricky Yates

The following morning, František arrived and started work, marking out the exact line of the new path and then digging two trenches for the supporting pieces of the sides of the path. An hour or so later, his wife and attractive assistant 🙂 Andrea, arrived to help.

New path under construction © Ricky Yates

In constructing the boundaries of the new path, František had a brainwave. He suggested the creation of an additional step at the top of the existing steps, which meant the new path would rise at a more gentle angle. Your can just see part of the new step at the bottom of this photo.

End of day one © Ricky Yates

And here is how the new path looked at the end of the first day of construction.

The next morning, fine stone chippings were put into the channel of the path and then all the paving blocks were laid on top. Numerous blocks had to be cut into various shapes, in order to complete the path.

New path completed at the end of day two © Ricky Yates

However, a few hours later, this was the wonderful end result.

The new path properly landscaped © Ricky Yates

Fast forward to early October, and this is how the path looked after I de-weeded the disturbed ground on either side and then successfully grass seeded it.

16 comments to Summer 2020

  • Robert Doolittle

    Hi Ricky: nice to see you back on your blog. That path looks wonderful. We are doing well, as are all the members of our family, just a bit bored. I know just how you feel, having to mow your grass just about every time it rains, and it rains often during a Florida summer. We have been fortunate in that all tropical systems, thus far, and there have been a record number this year, have missed our part of Florida. Have you had any cases of Covid19 in your village?
    Looking forward to more blog posts.
    Regards, Bob

    • Ricky

      Hi Bob – Thank you for visiting & so promptly commenting. Very glad to hear that you & your family are well and that this year’s numerous tropical storms have missed you. Thank you too for your sympathy regarding needing to mow my grass each time it rains. That sympathy is reciprocated.

      In answer to your question, there is a home for mentally handicapped adults here in the village, run by Czech Social Services. During the Spring, there was one COVID-19 case detected within the home. All the other residents & staff were promptly tested, but fortunately, no further cases were found. Otherwise I’m pleased to say, the village itself has been spared. However, we are currently once again in lockdown with Bar-Restaurace U Soni having been closed since 13th October.

  • Lynsey

    Nice to hear what you’ve been up to, Ricky. The path looks really nice and you can tell that František knows his stuff.

    • Ricky

      Nice to hear from you, Lynsey! I’m very pleased with the path which makes my task of bringing split logs into the house each day in Winter, vastly easier. František certainly knows what he’s doing. He’s done two other jobs for me since and I’m hoping to get him to do a few more.

  • Sean mcCann

    Welcome back Ricky,
    It’s great to see you posting here again and I must apologise for failing to comment on your last couple of posts.

    That path is definitely the bees knees, no more mud or muck coming into the house when you bring in fuel. It’s always great to see small changes coming together to make a place your own and even better when you can source the materials and expertise locally; it helps to bind you into your adopted community.

    The weather also seems to have been unusual in many places this year, in Ireland we had exceptionally warm sunny days for about three weeks from mid April into mid May during our ‘first lockdown’. This beautiful spell of weather helped lift everybody’s spirits during those uncertain days and people who had never gardened in their lives became green fingered overnight! 🙂

    Unfortunately during the same time span we had equally unseasonable sharp night frosts getting down to minus three or four Celsius which undid much of the good done by the sunshine. Still, it was nice to see the sun shining in a cloudless sky when we needed it most.

    Keep safe and take care of yourself Ricky.
    God bless,

    • Ricky

      Thank you Sean, for visiting & commenting here once again.

      The new path is excellent for exactly the reasons that you state. And giving work to the locals has always been my intention which is why I’m very pleased to have found František.

      Other than the excess rain in June, the weather here this past Summer has been nearer what it normally should be, rather than excessively hot and dry as it was in the two previous Summers. However, knowing what Irish weather is normally like, having three weeks of bright sunny days and cloudless skies does sound unusual.

      Thank you for your good wishes. Being over 65 & with a pre-existing health condition does mean that I have to be careful in these difficult times.

  • Hi Ricky, the new path looks great! It feel so good to have tasks like these at home completed so you can go forth with enjoying them every day! Glad all seems to be well in your neck of the woods!

    • Ricky

      Hi Cynthia, Yes, the new path is great and I do feel a sense of satisfaction having got it completed. It is something I’ve wanted doing since very soon after moving here more than three years ago.

      I have been reading & following what you’ve been doing during these strange times but have been very lazy & not commented, something I do hope to correct.

  • Pauleen Bang

    Hi Ricky
    Great to see you back on your blog – I always enjoy your posts. What a wonderful path your friend has created – your garden looks perfect now.

    Glad to hear that you are surviving. Life is difficult everywhere in Europe, especially in Italy. Here in Denmark we have had problems with mink and transfer from them to humans. It has all turned into a political drama but I hope it will get sorted out soon. Apart from that, our infection rates are reasonably stable and our hospitals not overburdened. Hope it stays that way through the winter.

    I wonder whether you ever found out why I no longer got e-mails when there was something new on your blog. Let’s hope it works this time.

    Take care of yourselves.

    All the best

    • Ricky

      Hi Pauleen,

      Thank you for visiting & commenting here once again. Yes, the path is brilliant and the back garden is now in good order & relatively easy to maintain, except at present having to deal with a serious amount of leaf fall 🙁 However, the front garden is currently a mess for reasons I will try to explain in a future post.

      I am surviving but, as you say, life is difficult at present throughout Europe and as I am over 65 and with a pre-existing health condition, I have to be careful. I do feel frustrated not being able to travel & see my children & grandchildren.

      I’m afraid I’ve not been able to find a solution to the technical problems you mention and have previously highlighted. Rest assured, I will always post a link on Facebook each time I publish a new post. But I’ve yet to find an answer as to why you can no longer tick a box asking to be notified of later comments. This time, as you will see, four people got in & commented in advance of you 🙂

  • Congratulations on this successful negotiation and beautiful task completion.
    Your path looks great!

  • Stephen Morris

    A beautiful path! So glad to hear from you again!


    Hi Ricky

    Although the end product (your garden path) is certainly worthy of praise, I do admire your faith in Google Translate.

    While fully understanding the need for it in your case and its usefulness, I’ve always been struck by how willing people are to place their trust in it.

    My Czech students always displayed an admirable devotion to it as a dictionary, although they surely knew/know that language is much more nuanced than anything a computer program can cope with.

    I hope they’re not using it in the Brexit negotiations!

    Anyway, all’s well that ends well:)

    • Ricky

      Hi Jonathan,

      I use Google Translate with great trepidation. If you keep the sentence simple, what it produces can usually be understood. But you are quite correct! Languages are, ‘much more nuanced than anything a computer program can cope with’. As you also rightly say, my new path is certainly ‘worthy of praise’ so all did turn out well in the end.