Welcome to Bennett's World: a collection of articles and references covering a wide variety of topics in which I am involved. I am a very political person but I have no allegiance to any political party. Follow me on twitter @colinhove

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Moravian Dream Holiday

Gentle readers, I am back from a very enjoyable break in Moravia up near the Slovak border. I left my home at 3 am on 11 August to walk to Pool Valley (Brighton's Coach Station). I allowed over an hour for this journey which in daylight takes me half an hour. I was nearly at the Coach Station when I sprawled over a bicycle left horizontal on the pavement. Luckily I was not too badly hurt but very shaken. My white cane had got caught up in the spokes and was bent at right angles. This made it rather embarrassing to use. This episode reinforced the need for me to step up my campaign against obstructions on our pavements. I arrived at Pool Valley about 4 am and was utterly alone. At about 4:10 am some people arrived from nowhere and then the Coach arrived. The bus driver tried to straighten my cane but as it is made of thin aluminum alloy, it broke. Therefore for two weeks while using this, my urbane image was damaged. As always the National Express driver was helpfulness itself, even waiting with me until the connecting London Victoria bound coach arrived. The rest of the trip to Brno was fairly uneventful. This was mainly in the good company of two young West Indians from Lewisham (London) who were attending a walking holiday organised by Seventh Day Adventists. They were nice chaps but seemed utterly amazed that not every Czech could immediately understand their accent. I found my way to Brno Railway station and was met by Radka a lecturer at the Special Education faculty of Brno University. Soon we were joined by three equally charming young Czechs, her students. They were Mariana, Lenka and Pabla. We had a most enjoyable train journey to Roznov pod Radhostem which is a pleasant former Spa Town. The journey was enlivened by train changes with only a few minutes to spare. This involved a lot of dashing from one platform to another. When we arrived at our destination we were met by Jana and also Jiri (Jirka) who is a lecturer in Special Education at Olomouc University (I visited Olomouc last year). The location of the leisure centre Orbita where we stayed was exquisite being in the foothills of the mountains on the Czech/Slovak border. The air was pure, the scenery lovely and the company stimulating. I enjoyed a week of trips out including two mountain walks, a visit to the local Open Air Museum, tour of a Candle Factory, a session at a riding stable and several satisfyingly long adventures at local restaurants with copious Cesky Pivo. Back at Orbita the food was good and plentiful although one Swedish participant moaned that there was no fish. I tried to persuade him that the Czech Republic's relationship to the sea was slightly different to his native country. It is a cliche that the Czechs like their Dumplings. Some cliches are true ..... I had a wonderful time, spoilt rotten by the amiable Czech helpers, each one very well educated and gentle. I particularly enjoyed the two dances we had and am proud to say I learned the Czech Polka with a reasonable degree of confidence. 19 August was a sad day because most of the participants left for home including the large contingent of Belgians who played a very positive role in the holiday. I stayed at Orbita for a few more days as I wished to observe the half-yearly meeting of the European Deafblind Union. I shall be playing a bigger part in this organisation in the future and hope to post more about this in due course. I had intended to travel back to Brno by train or bus and pick up the Coach to London as I had an Open Ticket. However Fortune smiled on me and it turned out that Petra who is the head of the Czech Deafblind Organisation called Lorne, and her colleague Marta, were travelling westward by train to Prague. Both Petra and Marta are graduates in Special Education from Charles University Prague. I travelled with them to Prague and this was a big help as there were two changes of train with again, not much time to spare. Things got even better when Petra invited me to spend the evening with her in a Prague Restaurant. This was not a difficult decision to take. Finally, she put me on the Coach at Prague Coach Station at 9:30 pm on 21 August. I fell asleep immediately to be woken by a gentle shake by the German immigration officers. The journey back to Brighton was uneventful and I arrived just before 10 pm on 22 August. My dream holiday was over and the daily routine goes on. Before reality kicks in I must take this opportunity to thank the organisers of the 9th European Deafblind Holiday especially Jan Jakes and also all the staff at Orbita who treated all the participants with unfailing good humour and understanding. I would like to extend my thanks to everyone I met in the Czech Republic who was so kind and considerate to me in respect of my needs.


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