I have blogged about the wonders of the Czech swimming ponds in the past – these man-made ponds where the villagers spend the hot summer days swimming or rafting. In winter they have another function. Last winter they drained the pond in order to clean it out and so I had been under the impression that this might be an annual occurrence. Not so.
As my husband and I walked past the pond on the other day, we watched a family putting on their skates and taking to the ice. They sat on the small jetty from, which in the summer people had jumped into the water, and did up their laces. The smallest child was first on the ice, ice-hockey stick in hand. The Czechs are internationally renowned for their ice hockey teams, but this young one has a lot to learn. The first thing he needs to learn is how to stay upright for more than a minute and once having fallen over how to get up again. Here is a photo of him, looking rather good, although the more perceptive amongst you will have noticed that he has missed the puck. He fell over when he tried to turn round to get it. Shortly afterwards he was joined by his big brother, who gathered up the puck and leaving the little one standing sped across the ice.
These long Czech winters in which the temperature seldom gets above zero combined with the many frozen ponds mean that children like our young friend are soon expert skaters and dreaming of joining the Czech ice-hockey team. I of course being English will never get past the stage of spending most of my time sprawled on the ice.