19-08-2006

The biggest theft in the history of Czech golf - who would want to steal 6,500 golf balls? Around Europe on a scooter - one Czech's idea of a dream holiday. And, the oldest Czech cottage dates back to the late Middle Ages. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

The biggest theft in the history of Czech golf happened at a Brno golf course last weekend. The thief broke into the grounds during the night and stole 6,500 golf balls which had not been collected from the course at the end of the day. The owner of the club said that the employee who generally did this could not come to work that evening but promised to come in early on the next day and do the job before the club opened. When he showed up there was nothing left to collect. The loot - 6,500 golf balls must have weighed an impressive 200 kilograms and it is a mystery as to why someone wanted to steal them.

 

The oldest cottage in the Czech Republic is 458 years old and dates back to the late Middle Ages. Its present owner Milada Trachtova bought it in the 1990s from her uncle who had inherited it from Milada's grandmother. Amazingly she got it for the price of 20 thousand crowns - without being aware of its immense historical value. "Our plan was to buy it along with the property, and demolish it so that our children could build a house there, Milada said. "But then someone came along and asked to look into the history and age of the old cottage - and we were told that it was the oldest cottage in the Czech lands. The wood used to build it was chopped down sometime between 1547 and 1549". The family is proud to own such a prize - except they've come to realize it is also a burden. They basically have a museum piece where nothing can be touched -not even the smallest detail- without written permission from the authorities.

 

Living in Prague's picturesque Old Town is seen as a huge privilege. A view of the surrounding architecture and the city's many spires outweighs the small disadvantages - such as the fact that a lot of the old houses don't have a lift. However there is one thing that mobile addicts should know - it is not always easy to get a signal in the vicinity. In some areas everything seems fine but some houses must have a mobile jinx on them. Operators say this may be due to the construction material used and say there is nothing they can do about it. Still - a home in the old town is not something you give up easily so some people have found a way around the problem - when their phone rings they climb up on the roof to talk without interference. Up there they have all the privacy in the world and the view is fantastic!

 

Most people pick their holiday destination from a catalogue. Oldrich Kostka from Ceske Budejovice simply picks up his yellow scooter and he's off. His ambition this summer is to cover over 2,000 kilometers riding around Europe - and he's already halfway there -having crossed the 1,000 km mark somewhere in Finland. His daily routine is simple - riding as far as he can get in one day, stopping for food at a pub or dipping into his canned food supplies if he happens to be far from civilization. An occasional dip in a lake keeps him cool and clean -or so he says - and his shoes are fast wearing out. Even without a mileometer, that alone would tell him he is half-way home. He knows from past experience that even the sturdiest pair of shoes don't outlast a 2,000-km ride. By the time he's back in Ceske Budejovice he'll be barefoot -but happy. Both he and the scooter are veterans - together they've covered 12,000 km in all - and have big plans for the future!

 

Fifty-five-year-old Miroslav Karasek from Kromeriz sits in his favourite armchair and lovingly turns the pages of a Saudi newspaper. He turns them back to front pointing out that that's how you read an Arab paper. He has been collecting newspapers for over 20 years and has so far collected papers from 167 countries. His ambition is to get a paper from each of the 200 officially recognized states, plus any new ones that might emerge as a result of political change. "It all started when a friend brought me a newspaper from Ghana" Mirek says. "That was in the communist days and it was always refreshing to see something different. I soon started asking friends to bring a paper back from whatever country they happened to be visiting and soon I had a growing collection. Of course things really took off after the revolution and with the arrival of the Internet. Within a few years my collection had tripled." Now it seems that Mirek has reached a plateau - his friends all go to the same places to holiday and so he's had to turn to embassies with a request for one of their papers. His wife is not very happy about the piles of newspapers everywhere. Some were recently consigned to the cellar which almost provoked a serious marital crisis. However the Karaseks are now moving to a bigger flat where Mirek will have a separate room for his precious collection. "No matter how many I have I am always craving just one more paper, he says - if only I could get my hands on one from the Bahamas or the Dominican Republic".

 

Just weeks after a strict new road law came into effect both the police president Vladislav Husak and the interior minister Frantisek Bublan were caught violating it. Mr. Husak himself was filmed by a journalist speeding at 190 km per hour and several weeks later the interior minister's driver was filmed doing close to 200. While Mr. Husak had at least the grace to look embarrassed over being caught out, the interior minister Mr. Bublan was merely incensed that someone had had the gall to film his driver violating the rules. The man, Radek Pivonka, said that the ministry's car had been aggressive on the road and completely disregarded the new regulations - so he thought it would be a good idea to let the public see the wild ride for themselves. As a result, the police are now investigating the drivers who were so bold as to film the transgressions of two senior police bosses. The reason? In order to film them they must have crossed the same speed limit and were moreover holding a camera in their hands while driving! The interior minister's driver of course has been graciously pardoned. No wonder that when the police caught up with a very drunk driver in the streets of Prague last week the man did his best to convince them that he was a member of parliament!

19-08-2006