Monday, 28 November 2011

In Praise of Czech Windows

It has been freezing lately - see photographs of frost in my previous post - but my room is as they say in Britain 'toasty'.

One reason for this warmth is the wonder that is my wood-burning stove, of which I have blogged in the past. But another reason is Czech windows. In a Czech winter you need serious windows with serious double-glazing. The traditional windows in an old house like mine are made up of effectively two windows, each with its own handles, about four inches apart.

This arrangement has various advantages apart from keeping out the cold. One is that you can open the outer windows should you wish and leave the inner closed (or vice versa) which is useful for getting rid of condensation and cooling the place down a bit without having a breeze. Another is that you can put flowers in there - useful for deterring flies. And the last is that the space makes a brilliant fridge, allowing you to avoid having to go downstairs for the milk (see photograph above).

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Sometimes a Picture...

We have had freezing fog for two nights (-5 degrees yesterday early evening) which covered everything with sharp points of frost. Then this morning I woke to find the sun pouring through the windows. Under the warm sun the ice was already falling from the trees like snow, so I grabbed my camera and walked over the hill to Horice na Sumave. Here is a collection of photos from that walk. Half an hour when I returned it all melted away.

Friday, 18 November 2011


I came across this calendar in a Czech second-hand bookshop or antikvariat. It dates back to 1975 and features the art of Cyril Bouda. Each month is decorated with traditional Czech scenes for the month in question. Above we see Cervenec (July) - note the delighted mushroom finder at the bottom and the woodsmen bringing a raft of logs down the river to the sawmills. In the centre is a list of name days for the month.  And below is Brezen (March) with easter celebrations, the traditional execution of winter and the arrival of the stork heralding spring.

What I love about the calendar is that it features both customs that still are alive and some traditions which have died out.

As for the artist: Cyril Bouda was one of the best Czech twentieth-century draftsmen and illustrators. A student of Kysela and Švabinský, he was famous for his illustrations (such as The Autobiography by Benvenuto Cellini or Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift) but he was also known for his tapestry designs. His motto was “Not a single day without a line”, attributed to Apelles, an ancient Greek painter and he kept to it, by the time he died in 1984 he had produced thousands of works of art. This means you can collect examples of his work relatively easily - why you could start with some of the 30+ stamps he designed!


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