Over the last few weeks I have been running around organising a visit to South Bohemia by some 35 members of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society. I am a long-standing member of the Society and in a fit of enthusiasm volunteered to organise the Society's annual overseas trip for 2010, in response to the news that the couple, who had been organising the trips for many successful years, were retiring.
The problems with the logistics of my offer did not at first hit me, until it dawned upon me that the Czech tourism year ends on 31st October at the latest, and often halfway through September for the smaller sites. I didn't know I was organising the trip until the beginning of October! So as you can imagine the last few weeks have been frantic. However they did afford me the opportunity to visit a load of historic sites, museums etc, some of which were unknown to me before I started the work and some which were known but unvisited. I promise to blog more about these visits in the near future.
But the visits to these Czech visitor sites have done nothing for my self image. Why? Because on a number of occasions I was asked if I was a pensioner! I am 51 and was horrified. At first I thought that this might be because in the Czech Republic women are allowed to retire early according to how many children they have had (or so I have been told) - a legacy of the communist era. But my friend suggested another reason - "It's because you don't dye your hair", she said, "All Czech women dye their hair, even when they are 80." And she is right. My husband and I spent an afternoon trying to spot women with white hair, and they were few and far between, I can tell you.
So what am I to do? In England it is somewhat in for a dig, especially among the educated middle classes, to dye your hair. I have been complimented on how well my hair was going grey - "You couldn't pay to get highlights like that," said my hairdresser, who should have had a vested interest in encouraging me to dye my hair. But in the Czech Republic, my second home, my hair makes me an old biddy. Oh, the dilema of having feet in two countries!