Tuesday, 11 November 2008


I have blogged about the Czech chata or hutkins in the past. Many are set in the countryside, in woodland clearings and beside lakes and streams. But others are to be found like English allotments in the most unpromising of places, besides railway lines or on city wastelands. One of the joys of a trip on both an English and a Czech train is these flashes of human creativity and love of nature amid the ruin and bleakness of our cities, they give one hope for mankind these little Edens set in a sea of grey.

In Cesky Krumlov the other day I was walking by the river. On one side was the back of the Eggenberg Brewery, which away from the tourists' eyes was looking run-down, with blind and broken windows and trees growing from its gutters, on the other side cliffs of granite rose from the river up to the orbital road along which could be heard the growl of traffic making its way south. But here too was an Eden - a hutkin perched on a cliff, and a woman tending a garden carved into the granite. A few yards away was the road's tarmac and beyond that a factory tower, but she was with nature on her cliff.

I was reminded of a favourite track by the queen of English folk music June Tabor – A Place Called England. You can see it performed by June herself on Youtube . It strikes me that the English and the Czechs share a love of and a relationship with the soil and gardening, which is quite profound.

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