Some observations and my expat shopping list

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may pics 005Just back from my long weekend in England and I feel rough as hell.  Never mind.  I’d like you all to keep reading and so I guess I’d better keep posting. So, here are…

Some observations following a weekend back in England and my expat shopping list

Half of the furniture in my sister’s place is identical to that Czechman and I have in Prague.  Ah, the magic of Ikea.

I flew home from Stansted at 6.25am, which meant I had to check in at 4.30am.  Urrgh.  I went to buy something for breakfast from Pret A Manger.  You Czechs use English to name something if you want to sex up a brand (e.g ‘Coffee Heaven’); we English folks use French to achieve the same effect.

I heard the man in front of me ask for ‘a skinny capp to go’.  The Pret employee trying to take his order looked most confused.  What could the customer be after?

A skinny cappuccino to take away.  Jesus.  Has everyone decided to start speaking American in the two months I’ve been away, I ask myself…

An expat shopping list

  1. Double duvet cover.  Apparently Czech couples usually have their own individual duvets even if they share the same bed. The result is I can’t seem to find any double duvet covers (100% cotton of course) here in Prague that I like.  Czechman keeps threatening to introduce the single duvet system as I am apparently always stealing his half.
  2. Multiple copies of The Guardian.  Of course you can get it in Prague but it’s three times the price and it never has the shiny bits on a Friday or Saturday.
  3. Vegetable bouillon.  The stock cubes in Czechland all seem to have nasty additives.
  4. Indian spices in nice little glass jars: turmeric, cumin, garam masala and mustard seeds.  I’ll be able to make proper chana dal now.  Curry, not fish and chips, is the modern English national dish.
  5. Let’s Knit magazine.  Yes, I like knitting. Sometimes if I’m in a bad mood I will cheer myself up by spending hours looking through my extensive collection of knitting patterns and magazines. Don’t tell anyone.
  6. Charity shop finds.  The charity shop (or thrift store as it is known in the States) is a brilliant place to find new or nearly new clothes for next to nothing. This time I picked up two little cardigans, both of which still had the labels on, for a grand total of 300kc (£10).   I suppose though, it’s only possible to pick up bargains in this way because British people are more likely to buy something, wear it once and decide they don’t like it or worse still, never wear it at all and leave it languishing at the back of the wardrobe.  Typical spoilt Western behaviour.
  7. Cheddar cheese.  I wanted to bring back some really strong Mature Cheddar as I’m sorry to say the cheese here doesn’t seem to have any real flavour.  I hate expats who whine about Czech food, really I do, but you have to admit the cheese is a little on the bland side.  Apart from the smoked stuff, which is fine but a little on the salty side.  Anyway, I didn’t bother in the end; I was worried it wouldn’t survive the journey.
  8. Birthday present for Czechman.  I failed miserably on this front. A book?  No, he already has plenty of those.  A CD?  Hmm, I know he likes Coldplay but that’s not something I’m sure I want to encourage.  A new T-shirt perhaps?  Maybe, but Czechman is very picky about clothes and thinks that whatever I choose for him makes him look too metrosexual.  So, I give up.  Any suggestions welcome.

may pics 007


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19 Responses to Some observations and my expat shopping list

  1. Hi, I must say that your posts haven’t been nearly as interesting and creative since you took the advice of the mcr poster who said they were too long. My advice – you gained a reading audience based on your writing wit and ability. Why change what wasn’t broken? :o)

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Katka,

      Wow, you Czechs are a tough audience! Thanks for the feedback though. My gut feeling is that I should go back to longer posts too – I think I’m just one of life’s talkers 😉

      Watch this space…


  2. Hi!

    I love your blog! My name is Tanja and I am originally from Prague; I have been living in the US for 11 years and have a blog called the Czechmate Diary. Would you like to switch our links? That would be great!

    By the way I LOVE MEDUSA too – that used to be my favorite hung out spot.

    Please, email me if you would like to do some guest blogging!

  3. I love that photo at the top.

  4. Marek

    Hi Girl,
    even before reading Katka`s comment I thought… hmmm I actually liked the posts better before they `concised` … Even though this one is plenty long, I enjoyed your flow of thoughts and story-like posts.

    • girlinczechland

      Hands up: I think you guys are right and the last few posts were missing a certain something. Thanks for giving me a virtual kick up the backside. You may have to wait a day or two for it, but I promise I’ll work really hard on the next post… :

  5. Hi GIC
    We use 2 single duvets, though I’m not converted to the other horror of wearing pensioners pyjamas yet. Beds are bigger here too.

    Our Shopping list always consists of

    1. Teabags (loads)
    2. Extra strong mints
    3. Vacuum packed bacon
    4. Loads of mags( car, computer)
    5. Can’t ever forget Bisto granules (but girlfriends Mum thought it was instant coffee, she wanted to add milk and sugar)

    As for Coffee Heaven, more like Coffee Hell. We went there for coffee in Brno and when we were ordering the waitress’s mobile rang and she told me to be quiet!

    Your posts are just fine and very readable. I liked this one, we all have little things we like to bring back here.


  6. Vero

    Great post. THe longer the better!
    I’m a Czech living in Mexico and longing to read about my mother land.
    BTW, Terry, I think bad customer service is just part of CZ culture…hehe

  7. Marek

    Hi Girl,
    just a technical one. Someone has asked you earlier about receiving emails with notifications of new posts. Well, they can just add a feed as a bookmark in their browser (feed:// or subscribe to it (add the feed url) via their email client.
    I have been checking a couple of times today if a new post is out 🙂

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Marek,

      Thanks a lot for the techie explanation: really not my strong point.

      Hope you enjoy the new post!


  8. ducky

    As to your shopping list, here’s a couple of tips (no, I am not associated with either of these shops):

    You can get good, real cheddar cheese at It’s a british import shop, near Dejvicka.

    You can get all those spices and more at a little shop near Karlovo Namesti at called Farah they’ve got all sorts of stuff in balk and specialize in eastern spices and ingredients (cumin to you is rimsky cumin here. Czech cumin is actually caraway).

    • girlinczechland

      Brilliant, this is just the kind of info I’ve been after! I had a feeling you could get all the spices in Prague somewhere: this should help keep my baggage allowance down 🙂

      • to your shopping list – I buy vegetable bouillon in DM drogerie, it is bio with no extra additives ..
        I love knitting – it is true that you cannot buy english writting knit magazine here, only german or german translation to czech…

      • girlinczechland

        Hi Merymkaw,

        Thanks for the tip but this is a rather old post and fortunately I’ve now worked that out! Country Life sell a decent bouillon powder too 🙂


      • Yep, I found out that it is old post after sending my comments:-)

  9. Dave

    Hummuos. Hummos hummus and more hummous.

    And cheddar…. mmmm…

  10. Jana

    Hi GIC,
    just discovered your blog today (Nov 25th 2009:-) and I have been reading through it since:-) Must say, I really like it! I am Czech girl, but I spent some time in England several times in past (and I am leaving for England for one month the day after tomorrow). Actually I also had a urge to write a lot when I was there. It is probably the need to share your thoughts with someone. I hope your enthusiasm for writing will survive for longer time than it was in my case though.
    Definitely good point for the cheese! I hate the artificial plastic substance without any flavour they call cheese here. And a cube of cheddar is no. 1 on my shopping list for England this time:-)
    Nice blog indeed!

    (ps. might come back again with new posts as I will be reading through the blog:-)

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