I'm travelling into a new way of working, a new country, a new language, and a new hobby which I'm passionate about. Come with me for some of the journey...

Monday, 22 October 2018

Czech Autumn Splendour

Hello all, and welcome to one of my travelling posts.  There's a little bit of autumnal watercolouring to come soon, but this post is in celebration of the extraordinarily beautiful autumn I've been enjoying here in the Czech countryside.  The weather has been beyond glorious - sunny and mainly very warm.  The cold has only just set in in the last couple of days, and this morning a beautiful frost spread itself across the fields in the sun to contrast with the blaze of treetop colour.



There's still a while to run on this month's Autumn Splendour theme over at A Vintage Journey, so consider this post a little bit of extra inspiration to come along and play!


I've been having a pretty busy time of it, laying the groundwork for relocating here some time next year (some of the metaphorical eggs I mentioned hatching in my slightly cracked recent Box of Eggs).  So I'm afraid if any of you are hoping to see me in action on major dollshouse work in Cestina's Small Worlds museum, you'll be disappointed (though there is a tiny touch of dollshousing to enjoy at the end of the post). 









As it happens, these particular trees are just twenty paces from the museum itself - this is a "road junction" here in the small town of Bavorov!















Just opposite that is Kostel Bavorov (Bavorov church), the largest village church in South Bohemia.  There's been a church on this site since 1370, but it's been restored and added to over the centuries, particularly after a major fire in 1649, and again at the start of the 20th century.













In between the architectural planning, and sourcing of tiles and toilets and so forth, Cestina and I have been driving (and occasionally walking) through the countryside with jaws dropped open at the glories on display, whether that's fairytale pine tree forests...















... or glowing leaves catching the sunlight and taking your breath away...


















... or best of all the two in direct contrast with each other. 











Sometimes, we've simply been en route to another flooring shop or bathroom supply store...


... although even then we sometimes took the long way round on the way back, just to admire the views on offer (with me shouting "stop the car!", every now and then when I couldn't bear to leave a scene unrecorded).


I tried playing with the panorama function on my phone, but of course everything ends up smaller when you add a panorama to the blogpost because of the formatting.  I'm hoping that by clicking on it you might get a full screen version.






When I first got here, several weeks ago, everything was still gorgeously green.  So in our earlier trips to the DIY and builders' suppliers in larger towns, it all looked very different.













The Czech Republic has a vast system of freshwater ponds for breeding fish, conceived and constructed in the sixteenth century, so everywhere you go you see wonderful rybníks (ribneek - with a touch of a roll on the r) set amongst the trees and rolling hillsides. 












These photos are of a rather large rybník - a glittering expanse of water, too wide for one photo (I hadn't remembered about the panorama thing at this point!).  We simply had to stop the car and get out.













As you stand there in the silence (only a very occasional car passing), and beautiful fir trees behind you on the other side of the road, you hear frequent deep sploshing sounds as the surface of the water is broken by a huge freshwater carp leaping into the air.









Now that I think about it, I think we encountered that particular rybník on one of our days out, rather than on a working drive.  We'd headed over to the lovely town of Třeboň (good luck with the pronunciation on this one! It's sort of Trrzhebon - the hard t, then a roll on your r at the same time as making the zh sound, e as in eggs, and then bon as in bonbon, but with a little nyuh sound built in to the final n)...










It happened to be the weekend of the Václav holiday.  The feast day of Václav (Vatslav, stress on the first syllable - known to us as Wenceslas), patron saint of the Czech nation, falls on 28th September.  It's celebrated across the Czech Republic as a state holiday, also commemorating Czech statehood.









Fetes or festive markets (known as a pouť - vowel sound rhymes with oat, and it's a soft tchyuh sound on the end) are held in celebration, if not on the day then on the nearest weekend.


As it was Saturday 29th, we bumped into Třeboň's pouť, and spent several happy hours browsing the stalls and listening to traditional folk music - though I seem to have completely failed to take any pictures of any of that!







For another of our days off, I'd asked if we could visit the Šumava (that's a soft Shhh at the start, and a dark u as in put, with the stress on the first syllable).

The countryside is lovely around here, but we're also just a 45-minute drive from the Šumava National Park where, as we discovered, the sheer breathtaking beauty of the landscape goes up several notches!









I've only managed to capture a tiny part of the wonders of this Urwald, or primeval forest - a Šumava Google image search will make you gasp.  (The very first photo of the post is from here.)









On the other side of the Czech/German border, it's known as the Böhmerwald or Bayerischer Wald, so you may have come across it under that name.  Our whole day's driving took us round only a tiny portion of the park.










These final photos are all from the stop we made at a conservation park within the National Park, a wolf enclosure near Srni (yup, just those letters all in a row on your tongue in pretty much one syllable).

At the foot of the mountain/hill (undecided, but it was pretty big!) there's an information centre tucked amongst the trees.











Then you make your way up the steep hillside, zigzagging through the trees on very well-maintained paths.













Along the way there are wooden boards with information about wolf habitats, or wolf paw prints, or wolf food preferences (please don't pick me!)...














... and there are benches so that you can pause to enjoy the view (and catch your breath if necessary).







Signposts keep telling you you're on your way to the wolf enclosure...





... but there were times I thought it the whole thing might be a hoax just to get you to take some exercise by walking up a mountain.





I didn't really mind though, as the trees were making my heart sing, and I had the whole place almost to myself all the way up.  (Cestina wasn't up for the ascent.)






Eventually though, the promised "skywalk" appeared between the trees.

A huge area of the mountainside is cordoned off for the wolves - they will hardly know that they're confined, I'm sure. 












Over the top of their habitat, right amongst the tree tops, there are wooden walkways...















... and shelters maybe six metres or more above the ground...














... (with more information boards about wolf behaviour and life cycles)...















... from which you can peer down onto the forest floor way beneath you in the hope of spotting the odd vulpine shadow weaving between the tree trunks or over the rocks.












I had no luck all the way along the skywalk, but where it opened out onto a platform at the far end, there were more people gathered (maybe ten or twelve), and some of them were staring fixedly at a point amidst the rocks.













As the mountain is steep, you are looking down the hill in one direction from the platform...














.... and in the other direction it rises away above you.  Pretty much at eye level there he was... a wolf, dozing in the afternoon sun.

He was tucked in amongst the branches and stony outcrops - so well camouflaged that you could hardly see him unless he moved... 











... and when I look at the photos I tried to take, even I can barely spot him, so I'm afraid you'll just have to go there and see for yourselves.

But it was utterly magical to see him, living as close to in-the-wild as possible, and basking in the sun, much as I love to do myself.









And even if you don't have the luck to see a wolf, I think it's worth a visit just for the forest walk and the skywalk amongst the tree tops...














... especially given that all it costs is the couple of pounds to park the car... (and this photo was taken in the carpark, pretty spectacular in itself!).















Well, I think I've probably kept you quite long enough.  I decided early on in the post-writing that I'd save my autumn watercolours for another day...















... but I did promise you a little trip into Small Worlds.  You may remember the Tudor Tavern from 2014... 














... and the addition of my first dollshouse dolls - characters from Shakespeare's Henry IV plays - a couple of years later.











In my imagination the tavern was definitely The Boar's Head Tavern (as written in the Shakespeare plays), but at the time it was going under the sign of The Lion.  After the dolls arrived, Cestina decided it was time to sort out the discrepancy... 














As you'll see if you visit my Pinterest Signs board, it used to be customary to hang more than a mere picture outside your pub or shop, so, with the help of a sawn-off plastic farm animal pig's head, repainted and with added tusks (craft flower stamens), Cestina has created and hung the Boar's Head sign.  I love him!








I hope you enjoyed this diversion around the Czech countryside.  I'll probably be on my way back towards the UK by the time you read it (via a brief stay with friends in Germany)...  I'm very reluctant to leave but needs must.  Hope you all have a great week, and I'll see you again soon.

Jak se do lesa volá, tak se z lesa ozývá.
The way you call into a forest, that's the way the forest echoes back.
Czech proverb
I guess our equivalent might be 'you reap what you sow'... more practical, but less poetic!

34 comments:

Connie said...

Amazingly beautiful post. I am so impressed with the church from 1370. Thank you for sharing . . . I certainly enjoyed my visit.
Connie :)

Helen said...

what a fabulous post - the countryside looks so beautiful, no wonder you want to relocate!

Valerie-Jael said...

Wonderful photos, autumn is indeed a wonderful time to be travelling. Enjoy the rest of your journey! Hugs, Valerie

Lenie said...

Wow Alison, this post is so beautiful. Autumn in all its glory! I love the pictures and your story. Thank you so much for sharing!

Meggymay said...

I have so enjoyed reading your post tonight Alison. All the photos are beautiful, it is Autumn in all its splendour.
Yvonne xx

Roosterhead Designs said...

Hello Alison,
This post was completely enchanting! The countryside and forests brilliant and fiery; absolutely beautiful. Thank you for each and every pic you shared : )
I really feel like I'm 'in another country' when I see the architecture. (although I've never been anywhere outside the US except Canada:) The building pics you shared were so cool, and that church was amazing. I really loved the village pics too~ I like seeing buildings and people~~ gets my mind wondering . . .
Hope all works out for you on your journey ahead. Hugs, karen o

Margaret Mifsud said...

What a stunningly beautiful place! Thank you so much for sharing the photos Allison .. I was completely spellbound! hugs xx

Andrea Small said...

oooooooooh! Gorgeous pictures.
Andrea xx

froebelsternchen said...

A wonderful area and with this amazing September we had you have chosen the best month for your staying here! Thank you for sharing this amazing pics and I love your watercolour tree!

Best wishes from
Susi

Sara Barker said...

I so enjoyed this post! I love to see places I know I'll never have the opportunity to visit. And I did spot the wolf, although he really looked less realistic than the boar handing on the sign! Lovely to see some fall color; we are having spring here once again, as the trees are all leafing out and flowering following their confusion over the hurricane. Wonder what will happen as the weather is starting to chill off at night. Thank you for a wonderful post! Hugs!

Jackie P Neal said...

Wow Alison!
What a completely amazing place to visit, and make your new home? Did I read that correctly? You and Cestina are relocating and building a new home there?
I was completely mesmerized on our journey through the wooded forest! How breathtaking for sure! It must have been so serene and perfect there for getting in touch with your soul. Oh, some day I should also like to visit! I had never even known about this place before,and now you have opened my eyes to a magical world that needs to be on my list!
Thank you for sharing!
hugs,Jackie xoxo

Dorthe said...

So much to uhhhh and ahhh over here, so much beauty Alison. Must be amazing days you had .
The nature ofcourse is stunning , but I also love the houses- so lovely and special . The carstle what a dream, and your watercolor tree- gorgeous.
Thank you for all the beauty , and safe travel home . Hugs, Dorthe

Sylvia/LittleTreasures said...

Wow thank you for all the photos. My grandmother grew up West of Prague, (Pacelice I think) came to USA 1900. My bucket list has this area to visit. The area look beautiful this time of year. Safe travels

Nan G said...

Beautiful pics, Alison. Looks like you’ll love being in your new home. Thank you for taking us on a tour. Hope all goes well with your move. Look forward to seeing the watercolor paintings as your teaser was stunning. Hugs

Neet said...

Thank you for my woodland walk - the trees are amazing and it is all so beautiful. Culminating in the photos of the village houses which are to pretty in their pastel colours and shapes that are so different from here in the UK. What a beautiful place to settle in.
Hugs, Neet xx
ps I love the Boars Head - just the place for a tankard of ale xx

Evil Edna said...

thanks for sharing very inspiring countryside

sally said...

Well well, relocation eh! It certainly looks a beautiful place to be moving to if the spectacular foliage photos are anything to judge the area by.

Sally xx

Redanne said...

This is such a lovely post (well maybe not the relocating part), your photos are so beautiful and really show the Autumn colours wonderfully well. The villages are gorgeous, such pretty coloured houses. Sadly, I could not see the wolf but how wonderful to be so close to a wild animal! It was lovely to see the Tudor Tavern again and Cestina did a fabulous job on the Boar's Head sign! Again, a lovely post Alison. Anne xx

Anita Houston The Artful Maven said...

WOW, what a gorgeous place, and the foliage amazing with the rolling hills. Love the quaint town too. Your mother is so talented as her houses just enthrall.

Astrid Maclean said...

Oh what glorious photos of this stunning part of the world!!! As I sit here writing on a coolish Spring day in Australia, I can just see why it is that Autumn is my favourite season.....

So glad we got a bit more dolls house too, - love the boar's head!!
I now really look forward to see more of the watercolours!! The first glimpse looks wonderful! And finally, - if you do re-locate, I am certain we will come and visit! What an amazing place to settle!

craftytrog said...

Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos Alison! The scenery is stunning!

Mac Mable said...

I absolutely loved reading your fascinating post. Stunning photos and amazing scenery. Would have loved to have seen a wolf and the sky walk looked fabulous. Fabulous dolls house too and the boars head is creative and fun. Thank you so much for sharing the stunning photos x

pearshapedcrafting said...

Oooh Alison! I want to re-locate too! This area looks so beautiful! We saw so many lovely sights on our way to Prague that we decided that one day we would attempt to find some train routes we could travel on to see more! Although more realistically we might be better having day trips from Prague! Thank for this wonderful visit to the area you will call home!! Have a great weekend! Chrisx

Sue said...

What a brillian post Alison, fabulous photos, and what a beautiful country, I can see why you want to re-locate too. The boars head sign is wonderful, the perfect finishing touch to your tavern. Have a very happy week, Sue xx

Margaret said...

So many beautiful photos... Autumn is my favorite season, and while the temperatures are accurate, our trees haven't begun their color changing. It was so nice to see all of the wonderful, peaceful scenery on your blog! Hope you are well and so happy to see you taking the time to enjoy your surroundings!

Paper Profusion said...

Well what a treat to read and view!! Thanku for sharing it all Alison. Do you mean a permanent relocation?? Will check other post. To live amongst such beauty would certainly be wonderful. How very adventurous of you both, and brave to take on such change. Ive scoured the 2 nearest snaps for the wolf but cannot see him/her. Best you set off at night to find a pack!!! I dare ya! Love your watercolour, little characters and Cestina's boar head. No end to the creativity of you both! Safe travels back. Nicola x

Diana Taylor said...

What a lovely blog post Alison, I feel I've been on a wonderful journey this morning. How delightfully picturesque the villages are, the church is beautiful and I love the shapes of the houses - it looks idyllic.
That's a gorgeous Autumn watercolour, I'm looking forward to seeing more!
Diana x

Craftyfield said...

Thanks for such an enjoyable tour of the Czech countryside, the trees are amazing and the colours of Autumn too!

Cocofolies said...

Thank you so much Alison, both for your lovely visit tonight on my - big and late!- catch-up post on my own blog, and for this wonderful quiet travel with you in the Republic Czech countryside where you plan to live temporarily next year (if I've well understood..?).
Wow. The landscape is so beautiful!!! Stunning beauty everywhere, I would love visiting such place, I didn't know that your country was so beautiful. Also the style of the houses and the church are gorgeous!
And thank you for the last photos too, I also love the Boar's Head sign made by Celesta!!! This is a delighful addition, really realistic and wonderful! Coco xx

Annie said...

Stunning photographs and so lovely to share some of your amazing trip xx Love the Boars Head, really clever to alter the farm animal xx

Enjoy your time in Germany and safe journey back to UK

Huge hugs
Annie xx

Etsuko Noguchi said...

Thank you so much beautiful photos Alison, I feel Autumn atmosphere in Czech. xx

Hazel Agnew said...

Hi Alison. Popped over to your blog as I am not getting any alerts about your stuff at all. Seems that, like me, you are in a rest period, Don't want to miss out on any of your goodies. Hope that you are well. Xx 😊

My name is Erika. said...

How gorgeous. I've been talking with a friend about traveling in that direction in a couple of years when we both retire. You have certainly inspired me. :) Hugs-Erika

Neet said...

Thank you for my journey through the Czech countryside. Makes me long for a holiday there. So many places I would like to visit and this is right up there now. of course, it would have to be in autumn with those splendid colours.
The wolf walk sounds wonderful but i stared and stared but could not spot him in your photograph, maybe I should visit?
Love the Boars Head, Cestina made a wonderful job of him. Flower stamens, really?
Hugs, Neet xx