Friday, October 30, 2009

Songs from Central Europe

Leaving a city you have lived in for 10 years is more difficult than it appears at times. Despite the fact that I knew it was time to leave Prague and start anew somewhere else, Mrs Velkyal and I made that decision almost 2 years ago now, so much of my adult life was spent in the Czech Republic that I almost think of it as home - certainly a place filled with lots of memories.

Unlike a lot of expats I came across in the city, I always made a conscious decision to learn the language, have Czech friends and live like a native - although I never wore socks with my sandals, had a mullet or went out without showering.

As a homage to my ten years in Prague, here are some of my favourite songs by Czech and Slovak bands and singers - the videos aren't necessarily official or original, but the songs are grand.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Spare An Acre?

Mrs Velkyal and I have a dream. That dream involves a plot of land somewhere, preferably of about 5 acres, where we could rear a few animals, grow fruit and vegetables and generally be as self-sufficient as possible. I am sure that there are many people my age who grew up watching re-runs of Felicity Kendall's bottom in The Good Life who have a similar dream. I am sure that they would also have sat and watched River Cottage and yearned to be able to leave the city and throw away all the junk that passes for civilisation these days.

I have been watching Beyond River Cottage lately, the one where Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall gets a 40 acre farm and sets up his catering business in some reclaimed cow sheds, and even more so would I love to ditch the world and wander off to Dorset, or France, or whether the equivalent American place would be, and settle into a interminably quieter life. The shift from Prague to Charlottesville has been dramatic in that sense, going from a 1 million inhabitant capital city, to a college town with about 50,000 people. Still far more than I grew up around in the Outer Hebrides, but certainly a welcome change from the bustle of the city.

Therefore I have made it my aim to see if I can find a landowner in these here parts with a couple of acres to spare and the willingness to rent them to me in order to plant veggies, perhaps an orchard, a clutch of chickens and maybe a sheep or pig or two.

To paraphrase Monty Python's Life of Brian:

"Spare an acre for a jaded urbanite?"