Monday 17 June 2013

Coastal Mist, City Heat and Jamaican Reggae: Ceske Budejovice students introduction to England in 2013

Czechs on Tour
For a long time now, Eva Kordova has brought students from Ceske Budejovice to Bridgwater, offering as it does that ideal bridgehead into an England you could only dream about in the books of Enid Blyton, the films of Malcolm Muggeridge and the mind of Nigel Farage. But is that fair? No of course it isn't. But Anglophile Eva keeps on coming and we keep on trying to show her the real England. So here comes 2013's version.

Flights from Prague to Bristol are late night. So despite a strong tailwind, the group still didn't get into Street Youth Hostel until midnight. And went straight to sleep. In everyones dreams.....So the programme proper started first thing next day. 

Glastonbury tour

It's a perfect location to wake up to is Street Youth hostel on a hill overlooking Glastonbury Tor  and East facing so it's midsummer sunrise is even more spectacular.  So first off, up the Tor. In the experienced company of Bridgwater Czech Slovak Friendship Society treasurer Simon Hann....who...despite living in Somerset all his life had never actually been up the Tor. Luckily the route involves walking UP and then walking DOWN. So that was fairly easy.

Yarn marketeering
Wells, another mid morning treat for an introduction to Somerset, saw them gasping in awe at the Harry Potter images conjured up by the medeaval Vicars close, bell ringing swans and the film location for Hot Fuzz (Типа крутые легавые in Russian).

And Bath. There's a nice place too. And still the rain held off. Even allowing time for a visit to Cheddar Gorge on the way home.

Tonight home was Minehead youth hostel. Set amongst the foothills of the foothills of Exmoor and up a dark and mysterious forested bumpfest of a road, the hostel was exclusively ours for the night. So to top off the Somerset theme we all had a Mexican style burrito and enchillada buffet.

Just Watchet

Walking over the hills to Dunster the next morning the Czechs were assailed by an elderly woman who had been in love with Czech(oslovakia) since meeting Czech pilots in the RAF in the second world war and couldn't have been more overjoyed or welcoming to her village if she tried. Apart from that Dunster doesn't really open very early so the Czechs wandered the cobbled streets like some pacifistic invading army looking out for the first clotted cream of the day.

Later in Watchet they had fish and chips. I looked on in scorn through my salad bap with extra cucumber.
Pub Fayre-Bridgwater Mayor

A slight visit to Taunton saw the rain come down. Well, I've always thought it was overated. So off we came to Bridgwater. Where the sun always shines. A quick guided tour of the town-it's rebuilt wall, famous second hand record shop and of course a traditional English pub. This time 'The Duke' (of Monmouth), where they had a traditional Somerset ploughmans and were met by Mayor Dave Loveridge and Mayoress Shirley to welcome them. And then we had skittles, pool and a pub quiz - so that's the leisure habits of Britain today in a nutshell. Nigel the drivers team won, demonstrating the unity, determination and purpose that can be achieved by the working class acting concertedly and in the face of 3 other teams all captained by high flying academics. And Simon.

No Dumplings No Cry

with Troy Ellis at Bridgwater Art Centre
The evening in Bridgwater was a riot. And not in the traditional Bridgwater way. We took them to see a genuine Jamaican reggae band at the art centre. Good choice in these madkip days of multicultural scaremongering. It didn't take much for singer Troy Ellis to get the Czechs up on the stage and singing and dancing along. See that's the sort of evening that makes this all worthwhile.

Next day we were off to London -an exciting multicultural melting pot of excitement. (oh we stopped off at some old stones in Avebury on the way). Greenwich is also a great place to see London for the first time. Climb the hill to the Observatory and you get spectacular views of the Thames, the city and the whole skyscape. But accommodation for us was in Holmbury st Mary. A little village in the Surrey hills where the Great Train Robbers apparently buried a large chunk of their as yet unfound loot. And hot dogs. Well, they didn't bury the hot dogs, that's what we had for tea.

London to Lulworth

Sunday is as good a day as any to have a whole day walk around the capital. And off they went, stopping only for an 'all you can eat for £5 chinese buffet in Chinatown', then being picked up at the end and whisked back to Holmbury.
"Say Cheese"

Monday saw the group head West again, this time down to the Channel coast. Lulworth to be precise. Cliff walking, coastal mist and chalky footsteps introduced them to Dorset. Thatched cottages, white horses and a moderately good road system guided them on to Weymouth and Maiden Castle and jacket potatoes awaited them at the end of it. Or whatever the local term is for 'people from Dorset'.

And then they went home.

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