My Czech Adventure started in England

I'm moving to Europe to begin a new life. I'm taking a course to get certified to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL Certification) in Prague and then I'm hoping to get hired in Prague to teach English. My adventure began with a two week vacation thru England and the Netherlands. Below you see the British Airways 747 that took me to London Heathrow on August 22, 2017. It was an overnight flight and I landed in London just around 11:30am.

I spent a week in England. I visited my friend Neill in Plymouth for the first two nights. He took me on a wonderful tour of the waterfront of Plymouth the first night and then into Cornwall to see some neolithic stone circles and a Norman castle called Restormel Castle. We also stopped at his parents house for afternoon tea and we had a wonderful talk. Neill also introduced me to the Cornish Pasty. What a wonderful type of meal that was. I'm sure I could open a Pasty food truck in the states and make a gazillion dollars.

Next, I travelled on Friday up to Oxford to see my friend Darrell. We only had one day together, but we started in Oxford and ended up exploring some of the locations used for the BBC show Downton Abbey. Getting to see some of the places they shot some of the most iconic scenes and standing IN the "sets" which were really places that are in use today (the kitchen and surrounding parts of the Yew Tree Farm and the outdoor scenes depicting the village near the Abbey, including the church, inside and out, where several weddings and other scenes were filmed was a terrific way to spend a day. Darrell also brought along his sweet five year old daughter Kara. She warmed up to me quite quickly and even wanted to hold me hand as we walked around. When we finally said our goodbyes, she asked for a hug and with great solemnity pulled both of her hair clips out and put them in my hands so I'd have something to remember her by. Needless to say, I shall cherish them forever.

The next day, Sunday, I made my way via train to West Bromwich which is outside of Birmingham to see my friend Jon for a few days. He and his wife were both off of work and their son was on a school break. We were able to spend two whole days together. On Sunday night, Jon cooked dinner for me and I joined his family for dinner. It was lovely. The next day, we explored Warwick Castle and ate at Mad O'Rourke's Pie Factory. I had a grill sampler that was served on a real shovel and featured a bunch of traditional Birmingham foods including blood pudding. I can say that I tasted the pudding. It wasn't bad. Just a bit salty but not too bad and was really a small cake. 

The next day we drove out to Stratford Upon Avon to see Shakespeare's birthplace, the birthplace of his wife Anne Hathaway and the house Shakespeare bought as a successful playwright. It was quite a nifty experience. We ate at a great curry house that night.

The next morning was my flight from Manchester to Schiphol airport near Amsterdam. I was staying with my friend Sebastiaan in the eastern city of Zutphen. I spent five nights with Sebastiaan. We spent a day just relaxing at his place and then it was out to the southern coast of the Netherlands to explore the Delta Works storm surge barrier project. This was undertaken after a tragic "perfect storm" caused massive flooding and many deaths in the area known as the Zeeland in 1953. The Dutch spent 40 years or so building dams, raising the height of dikes and building several different types of storm surge barriers to control the inflow of flood waters into the inner waterways of the Zeeland. To walk among some of the barriers and consider the massive project was quite awe inspiring. I really urge you to explore the area if you ever visit the Netherlands. 

The next day, Sebastiaan had plans with friends. This allowed me to explore some of the sites of battles during Operation Market-Garden which took place in mid September 1944. I was able to walk thru some of the sites and imagine how it was 73 years ago when lightly armed paratroops were thrown up against heavily armed panzer troops and managed to hold them off for four days before running out of ammunition and other supplies. The village of Oosterbeek was the center of some of the fiercest fighting. The Dutch later honored the British as "brothers" and to this day in mid September they hold a day of remembrance and invite surviving members of the British Division who fought there to partake in the festivities. In total, I visited the bridge in Arnhem, the Hartenstein Hotel in Oosterbeek and the bridge in Nijmegen which was captured by elements of the US 82nd Airborne Division. I really hope to revisit these sites someday with more time and better guidance to explore the actual sites of battle. The last full day I spent with Sebastiaan was spent wandering around Amsterdam. He was there to cheer on some coworkers who were participating in a swim event in the canals to raise money for ALS research. Amsterdam was simply beautiful. 

My adventure continued the next morning with a long train ride from Deventer, where Sebastiaan works, down to Munich in Germany. I arrived in the evening and found a great restaurant close to my hotel where I enjoyed a mixed plate of bavarian sausages and mashed potatoes. The next day was my only full day in Munich. I was about 15 minutes walk from the old town center known as the Marienplatz which is where the old Rathaus sits on the market square. The Rathaus (german for town hall) is known for the giant glockenspiel which is a special kind of clock tower that has a large two level display of mechanical "people" that dance and ride horses and joust. Think of a cuckoo clock on super steroids. I walked around old town and had some great german food: käespätzle for lunch and turkey schnitzel for dinner. It was a perfect day to see a small part of Munich.

The next morning, I boarded a train for Prague. It was supposed to be a straight thru train. Unfortunately, due to track maintenance work, we had to detrain at the last German station - Firth um Wald, board a bus and then board a new train in Plzen in the Czech Republic. I arrived in Prague at 3:45 and was met by a car service that delivered me to my student housing apartment. I found an awesome pub right around the corner called Belzepub and had an amazing chilli burger. 

This brings us to today. I explored a small part of Prague and found a mall to get some needed items and groceries. I then met some of my fellow course-mates and we had a wonderful dinner at another local restaurant and ended up, at my suggestion, back at Belzepub for another drink before we headed back to our flats. I have one more day on my own and then we have a two day orientation and then classes start on Monday, the eleventh of September.

IMG_7513.JPG

How Miss Jean Louis Saved Her Family Kale Farm

Back in the 1980s, Miss Jean Louis lived with her family on a Kale farm*. At that time, Pizza Hut was the worlds largest consumer of Kale, only not in the way you'd expect these days. Back then, Kale was used by Pizza Hut to decorate their salad bars and to cover up the ice used to keep the salad bar items fresh. (This is true, I worked at Pizza Hut back in the late 80s**.)

Sometime in the 1990s, however, Pizza Hut decided to stop using Kale to decorate their salad bars, thus throwing Miss Jean Louis' family farm into a dangerous financial downward spiral. Young Miss Jean decided it was her duty, at the ripe age of 5***, to save the family business.

She embarked upon a decade long series of experiments to create a plethora of Kale recipes that would, slowly turn the family fortunes around. It was at the end of this decade of experimentation, that she met Misha Collins****, and together, they set out to launch the hipster movement so that Kale consumption could be guaranteed and her family farm saved.

* Unsubstantiated rumor, **True, ***Unknowable fact, ****Deliberate lie

My first 101 items in 1001 days begins today.

So, last year, I found a blog post by one of the founders of Postcrossing. Postcrossing.com has become a passion of mine. It deserves, and will get, its own post soon. But, the point is, she posted on her personal blog her THIRD 101 items in 1001 days list and I was inspired to do the same.

The idea is to create a list of 101 items that you will accomplish in 1001 days. Some of the items are simple "replace my computer". Some are more challenging, "Start a company". But the idea is to hack your life and give it some purpose and a roadmap for where you want to be in 1001 days. It also provides some ideas for when life feels at a standstill.

The goal is to finish them all. The ability to finish them all is nearly impossible. But, if I can achieve even half of these 101 items, then my accomplishments over 1001 days will be monumental.

I urge you all to start your own 101 items in 1001 days lists.

Stay tuned here, as I mark off items or add details about some of the items as I go along. October 24, 2018 will be here soon enough!

  1. Visit five new countries (Holland, Czech Republic)
  2. Start a company
  3. Learn how to modify my Squarespace blog
  4. Finish two online courses (TBD)
  5. Try tai-chi
  6. Learn to make Bead jewelry or chain mail style jewelry
  7. Do a cooking course or internship
  8. Restart my blog and write at least once a week for three months
  9. Host five dinners
  10. Sleep in a mountain hut
  11. Go on a minimum four day backpacking trip
  12. Photograph all the food I eat in a week
  13. Teach a class in something
  14. Make jam (Strawberry Jam - 2016)
  15. Watch ten black and white movies  
  16. Grow some of my own food and spices
  17. Visit a planetarium
  18. Repaint the interior of the house
  19. Do the seven minute workout everyday for a month
  20. Spend one month working standing
  21. Sew something that I can wear:
  22. Find a craft and become proficient at it.  
  23. See a volcano
  24. Return to London:  
  25. Learn how to make chocolate
  26. Improve my German
  27. Donate time to a museum or library
  28. Try yoga:  
  29. Read ten books by Terry Pratchett:  Sourcery June, 2016
  30. Try ten different teas:  
  31. Do a postcard newsletter for friends & family
  32. Design and publish an adult coloring book
  33. Go camping
  34. Discover Charles Gebhardt and Anna Gebhardt's parents
  35. Reduce my energy consumption by 10%:
  36. Visit an island:
  37. Prostate exam (Saptember, 2016)
  38. Sell ten things I don’t need:
  39. Pickle or ferment something:
  40. Do one year of Mission:Pic
  41. Host a thanksgiving dinner
  42. Donate blood  (Donated blood at DragonCon 2016)
  43. Reach 195 lbs
  44. Try five new cuisines
  45. Try ten new ice-cream flavours:
  46. Plant at least three trees
  47. Pick a day of the week to be digital free. Stick to it for 26 weeks.  
  48. Make cheese:
  49. Take pictures of the stars at night
  50. Color my hair a color like blue or green or red
  51. Learn circular breathing to play the didgeridoo  
  52. Go to Slovenia and do the 3-border hike
  53. Visit miniature Wunderland in Hamburg  
  54. Contribute something to wikipedia:
  55. Create a cosplay costume for DragonCon
  56. Go sledding
  57. Sleep under the stars
  58. Watch at least one TED talk a day for 90 days
  59. Do a month of letters:
  60. Do an advent calendar
  61. Play board games with three different sets of friends
  62. Celebrate Chinese new year:
  63. Find five new recipes for the slow-cooker
  64. Try ten new spices
  65. Make a tiny diorama
  66. Run a warrior dash
  67. Learn how to process digital photos
  68. Get a new MacBook MacBook Pro 7/7/2017
  69. Speak to an audience about a passion of mine
  70. For once, be done with Christmas shopping before December
  71. Do 15 push-ups in a row
  72. Cook five new soups
  73. Make five new salads
  74. Sell my house and find a small sustainable living arrangement
  75. Learn to paint
  76. Learn how to shoot portraits
  77. Create inspirational postcards to sell
  78. Take my dad on a trip somewhere he's never been
  79. Read at least one book a month for twelve months
  80. Travel to another country with my daughter (Canada in February 2016)
  81. Visit at least ten cities to watch the Anaheim Ducks play away games (Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Columbus, OH; Raleigh, NC)
  82. Investigate my food truck idea
  83. Investigate my tea shop idea
  84. Create a podcast dedicated to Postcrossing and do at least one episode per month for a year
  85. Participate in NaNoWriMo
  86. Road trip across the US visiting tadpoolers.  
  87. Backpack across Europe visiting tadpoolers
  88. Write a personal manifesto and publish it
  89. Learn to cook five family recipes (Marjorie's candied yams, dads canned ham, dads stuffing, uncle Rubens tamales, Urulas schnitzel)
  90. Learn to play an instrument.  
  91. Create something around #DoingItRight
  92. Walk at least a mile, three days a week for six months
  93. Work overseas for a few months, six if possible
  94. Visit at least five of the states I've not yet visited: AK, HI, MT, MI, ND, NH, VT, ME, NC.
  95. Spend at least an hour talking, one-on-one with a celebrity hero
  96. Kayak and zip line more
  97. Train for hiking the Appalachian trail, the Pacific Coast trail, or the Continental Divide trail
  98. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or food bank
  99. Start a Happiness Jar and leave a note each day for six months. Post the results after the time is up.  
  100. Stretch 15 minutes each morning and evening for at least two months
  101. Select a group of single-view postcards to be my itinerary for backpacking across Europe. May, 2017