Friday, 1 February 2008

Phew - how to tell a Brit in Czecho

I still have not got used to the level of heating in Czech homes and shops. You would have thought the Czechs would be less aware of the cold than us Brits with our mild winter climate, but not a bit of it. You walk into a shop from the cold outside wrapped up in a coat and are hit by a wall of heat. I soon find myself going red and sweating. Even in flats and homes, where you can shed your outer garments, the heating can still be unbearable. This is not a problem where you can turn down the heat, but a friend of mine has a Prague flat in a block with centralised heating controls and as a result even when there is deep snow outside she has windows open. Conversely I have noticed my Czech friends often keep their coats on when visiting our house.

This is not confined to homes. Try a journey in a train compartment shared with a bunch of Czechs - the window will stay firmly closed, the heating on full blast. Or look about you when you walk around a Czech town. A few days ago I went for a short walk. The weather was cold but not overly so, so I wore a fleece but no hat or gloves and was if anything too warm. All the Czechs I passed were mufflered, coated and hatted. As my granny would say, "These Czechs are nesh!"

So how do you tell Brits in Czecho? Inside they are the ones opening the windows, turning down the heating and if they can't do that politely going red and sweaty in the corner. Outside they are the ones not wearing thick coats and hats.

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