Five highlights of my weekend with the Village People

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No picture of that 70s pop group The Village People this time. You'll have to make do with a photo of the glorious Bohemian countryside instead.

More people find this blog by searching for “Village People” than more obvious search terms like “Prague” or “Czech”.  I suspect they may be trying to track down info on the 70s pop group who created disco classic ‘YMCA’ but hey, who cares?

The Village People (aka Czechman’s parents) are essential characters in the exciting story that is The Adventures of Ms Girl in Czechland. I’ve recently returned from another restorative weekend in the Bohemian countryside and would now like to regale you all with the comic highlights of the trip.  I make no apologies for the fact this post appears in the form of a list whatever a certain silent blog lurker – yes Czechman, I mean you –  may have to say.

1. Girl in Czechland Wins Name that Tune

While in hospital I spent a fair amount of time listening to Czech composers.  Honest. Anyway, Czechman thought it would be a good idea for me to impress his parents with my newly gained cultural knowledge.

“Anglicanka is going to sing you something,” Czechman announced while we were sitting on the brown sofa in the living room one evening under the cross-stitched picture of Prague Castle. Perhaps now you see where Czechman’s aversion to kitsch comes from.

I hum them a couple of bars of Smetana’s Má Vlast. The tune is distincly recognisable but The Village People looked nonplussed. 

Czechman tells them the answer.

“Oh, Smetana! Of course I recognise it now!” Czechman’s mum tells me. “I just didn’t think you would know that!”

If you’d like to find out more about why Má Vlast is such a big deal in Czechland, then you can listen to this programme in the Radio 4 archive where Jan Kaplan explain how significant it became to him while living in exile.

2. Ms Girl dines out on old Shepherds Pie

Everyone likes receiving praise. On the rare occasions when it is handed out by a Czech person, you can usually rely on it being genuine. 

Later that same evening while sitting on the brown sofa, the conversation turns to food.

“That thing you cooked for us,” began Czechman’s dad, “I don’t remember what it was called, you know, it had meat, then potatoes then meat…”

A dish I’d prepared where meat and potatoes were the main ingredients? This could only mean one thing.

“Shepherds pie!” I replied excitedly. “But it has meat, potatoes and then cheese.”

“Yes, that the one! I told the boys at work the next day, ‘I had some English food, I don’t know what it was but it was really tasty.”

I’ll be dining out on that particular compliment for some time to come.  If you also want to win over your Czech in-laws, here’s a recipe.

3. Točena zmrzlina comes to The Village 

Točena zmrzlina is that special kind of ice cream that you usually only get at the seaside or from an ice cream van back home.  In Prague, however, every other bakery seems to have a hatch where they sell these whippy ice creams to passers by.

Why must they test my very weak willpower like this?

Anyway, a točena zmrzlina stand has appeared in The Village. There seems to be no shortage of customers judging from the mini-crowd which had gathered there when we cycled past on Saturday.

Czechman’s mum, however, was unimpressed.

“20kc for an ice cream – and you have to buy a large one! Iwas so disgused that I went and got one from the Co-op around the corner instead.”

Did I mention that beer is also točene which means that the literal translation for točena zmrzlina is draft ice-cream. Hilarious! Or perhaps not…   

4. Therapeutic Work: Watering the Plants in Babička’s Garden

Now that the weather is improving, a visit to The Village means spending plenty of time in Grandma’s garden. We feed the chickens. We drink tea and eat cream cakes. My favorite task this time was watering the plants. I doubt I’ll ever become particularly green fingered – although I should at least try to keep the violets Czechman’s mum gave us alive for a while – but there’s something therapeutic about pottering around in the sunshine with a watering can

5. Hunting for Communist Kitsch in the Cottage

I’m a pretty clumsy person. Despite my best efforts, I’ve recently managed to smash a grand total of five of our glasses. Instead of going to Ikea to buy some more, we spent Sunday hunting around in the loft of the Czechmanovi’s cottage looking to see if any replacements could be found. 

Czechman was delighted to stumble upon the drinking vessel below. Does that mean that even Czechman has a weakness for nostalgic bits and bobs after all?

 

 

 

 

25 Comments

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25 Responses to Five highlights of my weekend with the Village People

  1. K.

    In fact Jednota was not a brand of beer, but a network of shops – the Coops are mostly remains of this network.

  2. Jana Zilinkova via Facebook

    “Anglicanka is going to sing you something,” Czechman announced…. HAHAHA you are SO FUNNY Ms Girlova 😀 😀

  3. Tessien

    As another silent lurker, I have to say I read your blog and enjoy your lists. 🙂

    A small correction though – Jednota was not a beer, it was a chain of shops – it almost literally translates to “Co-operative”. I believe they had some pubs as well, but mostly it was kind of small supermarkets.

  4. RFOL as usual after reading one of your posts.

    In answer to your question at the end of point 3, yes – hilarious! My wife & I spotted the use of ‘točene’ for both ‘draft beer’ and for this whippy form of ice-cream, some time ago. Therefore we always now refer to it as ‘draft ice-cream’.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Ricky,

      Ice-cream on tap practically everywhere you turn – perhaps we should both add that to our list of why we love life in the Czech Republic!

      GIC

  5. richardinprague

    Isn’t Jednota what you and I would call the Co-op?

    • girlinczechland

      Greetings dear readers,

      Yep, it seems once again you’re right – Jednota is not a brand of beer but a chain of shops. I’m sure it was Czechman who told me it was the former but perhaps we’ve got to that stage in our relationship where we can’t be bothered to listen to each other properly 😉

      GIC

  6. MRAK

    There is also “točený salám” in another words “točený sausage”.
    And there are jokes abou it….like: in a shop: “We dont have a ham, would you like točený salám instead?” “No thanks, I dont have a glass”

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Mrak,

      *Love* the joke. Are there any other točený related gags in circulation?

      GIC

      • MRAK

        Basically one can create infinite number of variations:

        Příjde policajt do řeznictví a chce salám.
        “Už máme jen točený”
        “To nevadí, já mám v autě kanystr.”

        Přijde pan Kalianko do Masny: „Přivezli vám nějaký salám?” „Ano, točený.” „Ale já bych ho chtěl domů – nemáte nějaký lahvový?”

  7. Nada

    Jednota wasn’t a brand of beer – but a name of a supermarket (or should I say – communistmarket) chain before 1989. You can still see that name in Slovakia these days – they have the Jednota Coop chain. From this article, it didn’t change much 🙂 http://samuelmarec.blog.sme.sk/c/196077/Obchod-zvany-Jednota-Co-viac-dodat.html

  8. Can I like a complimentary comment about my good self? It seems I just did 😉

  9. Destil

    Great, funny and true post as always. I wanted to Flattr it, but there is no Flattr button here?

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Destil,

      Glad the post tickled your funny bone. I’d be flattered if you Flattr me: there is a small button on the top left hand side of every post 🙂

      GIC

  10. I giggled all the way through! I have to write down my observations from living in UK and USA as well.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Lenka,

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Just had a very quick look at your own blog – it looks interesting so I’ve added it to my sidebar. 🙂

      I look forward to your own funny posts reflecting on UK-Czech cultural differences!

      GIC

  11. Pavel

    “Angličanka” singing “Má vlast” under kitsch picture of “Hradčany” in Moravian “panelák” that´s something when my internal health ispector says:
    “No, it´s over your limits”. Now I understand why Britain had imperium.
    I am not saying anything about arskissers, but when we replace Moravia with
    India , are you able to participate in elephant races?

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Pavel,

      I’m not sure I understand your comment but I do like the idea of riding around Moravia on an elephant. I should say that the Ma Vlast singing at the behest of Czechman – I was made to perform like a circus animal rather than making a desperate attempt to ass-kiss. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it 😉

      GIC

      • pavel

        Sorry, my fault, I had some perception Czechman parents are from Moravia, but your blog is not only one which I am reading>] / thats czech smile icon on english keyboard. I must learn don`t write comments to blogs after five black He-goats(or”Kozel 12 °”).

  12. I can see a mental image of that scene (you humming a tune to people who don´t have a clue) in my head and I´m actually laughing out loud. :-)))

  13. amanita

    I too have had success with Shepherd’s Pie over here. But tomato puree????? Seriously? In Shepherd’s Pie? Are you making some strange form of potato bolognaise?

    Seriously though, I do enjoy your blogs 🙂

  14. I’ve never had Shepherd’s Pie, but the description of it I get from your post makes me think it could very well be a Czech dish, if it already wasn’t an English one. We’re rather partial to our savoury baked mixtures (ever had šunkofleky or francouzské brambory?)

  15. Hi sweetie, it´s not nostalgic – we´re just lazy to buy new glasses 🙂 And I hate it!!

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