A Czech invents the tea-lock. What’s it for and, do you need one? Czechs are crowding to see a castle that will not be around for long. And what will Czech firms bring to April’s Slow Food fair in Stuttgart? Find out more in this edition of Magazine.
Czechs enjoying a winter holiday on the slopes of the Krkonoše and Šumava mountains were surprised to see police officers in uniform skiing down the slopes last week. Following numerous accidents caused by irresponsible behaviour or drunk skiers on the slopes the Czech police have started making random checks on the slopes, a practice common in neighbouring Austria. Although officers do not actually mete out fines on the slopes, they do occasionally ask someone to take a breathalyzer test or point out the need for children in particular to wear helmets. The management of the facility has the right to order drunks off the slope, although the occasional shot of rum or mulled wine to keep warm is considered acceptable. As for the officers in question – this particular “beat” is considered one of the perks of the job.
Thirteen Czech firms will be taking part in this April’s Slow Food fair in Stuttgart with some of the best products traditional Czech cuisine has to offer – wedding pies, wine from Moravia, beer from small breweries, smoked ham and salami, cheese and goat products – including goat milk ice cream suitable for people with allergies. The chairman of the Czech branch of Slow Food Petr Mamula says that while fast food is more visible in the country slow food is fast gaining supporters. The slow food movement was launched in Italy in 1989 to counteract the culture of fast food and fast life. Paradoxically, that very year millions of Czechs were looking forward to the experience of tasting their very first Big Mac and regarded the arrival of Western fast food as a truly liberating experience.
Czech national hockey coach Vladimír Růžička is said to have been furious over having the team’s matches at the Winter Olympics moved from one hockey stadium to a much smaller one to make way for the women’s hockey tournament. The hot-tempered Czech coach failed to keep his anger in check and let fly a sexist remark telling Týden magazine exactly what he thought of women hockey players – “they’d be better off cooking soup in the kitchen”. He got little sympathy with the online line daily sport.cz sporting a headline reading: Coach, better keep your mouth shut!
Drinking lots of tea when he was ill gave Petr Vašek an idea that he hopes will make his fortune. After spending several months in bed and drinking endless mugs of hot tea Petr decided it was time to invent a gadget that would stop the tea label slipping into the mug along with the tea-bag. “I constantly had burnt fingers from fishing them out,” he says, “and that’s when I invented the tea-lock”. He had it patented and put the first tea-locks on the market in January. Around 250 have sold over the internet and he is now negotiating with supermarkets and tea-houses. Six firms have stated an interest in the product saying they were considering using it as a PR article with their logo. It may either turn out to be one of those useless inventions or it may boom. Petr Vašek is confident that the tea-lock will one day make him a rich man. He is hoping to sell around 50,000 tea-locks in the Czech Republic this year and hopes to put it on the market in Europe and the United States. His plastic tea-locks come at a few crowns apiece, the ceramic ones cost 45 crowns and the stainless steel variety sells for 95 crowns. What you need to ask yourself is - do you need one?
Before the fall of communism, the presence of fathers or other family members at the birth of a baby was unthinkable. Some pediatricians even believed that allowing visitors in to see newborns put the babies at risk of infection. In the 90s all that changed radically. Under the influence of Western trends Czech maternity wards and hospitals opened their doors to make the birthing process a family event. Some more enthusiastically than others, but they did. Today seventy percent of all moms give birth with their partner or a close family member at their side. Doctors says that for the most part fathers provide valuable moral support, although there have been cases of them collapsing, advising doctors what to do or trying to get the staff to have a drink with them.
Among the country’s many castles and chateaus is one that is not going to be around for long. It stands in the town of Harrachov – a massive fortress from the Middle Ages with high towers, a drawbridge and ramparts. The 40 metre wide and thirteen metre tall structure is not likely to survive the spring – being made entirely of snow and ice. Several dozen ski instructors and volunteers spent all their free time working on the medieval castle and on the night it was unveiled the public was treated to a “siege of the castle” in period dress with torches lighting up the spectacle. The locals are hoping that the castle will survive until March 20th when the town of Harrachov organizes a traditional Krakonoš Festival – Krakonoš being the ruler of the Krkonoše or Giant Mountains.
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