Photo: CTK

In this edition of Magazine: the town of Tábor now boasts the biggest chocolate and march pane museum in the Czech Republic, Czech Lego enthusiasts have built the highest Lego tower in the world and, a Czech firm producing winter sports gear has put out a special line of skis and snowboards with a picture of President Václav Klaus.

Monday September 3rd was “back to school” week – and as usual hundreds of traffic police officers were posted at crossings in the vicinity of schools to help make the journey safe. Their efforts largely went unnoticed with one notable exception –an officer in Prague’s Košíře district who held a huge black pig on a leash. The pig had escaped from his owner and was found wandering in the vicinity. The officers close-by captured the animal and rather than leave their post until their colleagues arrived one of them simply stopped traffic with a giant black pig by his side. The sight cheered up kids on their way to school no end and some even stopped to pat the animal and talk to the officer. Parents pointed it out to their offspring and many concluded that it was a thoughtful gesture on the part of the police. Then the owner of the pig arrived and the show was over.

It was only a question of time before someone came up with the idea – the first ever Slovak language course for Czechs has appeared on the web. The course created by the Edukace NGO in cooperation with Masaryk University in Brno targets mainly the young generation of Czechs who do not remember the common state and for whom Slovak is truly a foreign language. Unlike Czechs young Slovaks do not need any help in this respect – they read Czech books, watch Czech films and many of them study in this country. According to statistics Slovaks are the biggest minority in the Czech Republic counting over 150 thousand people. Older people who regularly watched Slovak programmes on TV on given days of the week have not lost their passive Slovak language skills but the young generation is often stumped by differences in vocabulary. Linguistic experts predict that in 20 years time Czechs and Slovaks may well be communicating with each other in English.

Illustrative photo: Thomas Schoch,  CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported
A rhesus monkey from neighbouring Poland is reported to be on the loose near Broumov close to the border. The monkey was sighted by local workmen who were up fixing a roof, but it took a while for the police to take them seriously – since no zoo reported one missing and moreover the Czech word for hangover happens to be monkey. However the rhesus made a public appearance on several other occasions and a call to neighbouring Poland resolved the mystery. The monkey may actually be headed home because its Polish owner acquired it from Olomouc Zoo a few years ago. The zoo says its no coincidence this money has a roving nature. His two siblings Tatin and Shimpy also escaped from Olomouc zoo two years ago. Shimpy was captured several months later over 100 kilometers away, Tatin is on the loose to this day.

Czech coin collectors can dream of adding another coveted item to their collections – a new coin minted by the Dutch firm Nimiscollect showing the country’s best-known cartoon characters - Bobík, Myšpulín, Fifinka and Pinďa –a pig, a mouse, a dog and a rabbit - the stars of the comic Čtyřlístek. The other side of the coin is reserved for Queen Elizabeth. The limited series of just 1,000 pieces is currently on display at the Collectors’ Fair in Prague. The new coin has evoked huge interest not just among coin collectors in the Czech Republic but also in Japan where coins with cartoon characters are extremely popular.

Chocolate and march pane museum in Tábor
The town of Tábor now boasts the biggest chocolate and march pane museum in the Czech Republic and one of the biggest in Europe. Set up with the help of EU funding the museum offers workshops where visitors can watch chefs produce chocolate and march pane delicacies and a workshop where they can try their own hand at it. There is an exposition of fairy-tale characters made from chocolate and a huge march pane model of the town that took close to three months to complete. There is a two-metre high chocolate fountain spouting dark and white chocolate, an exhibition of chocolate wrappers and china cups for drinking hot chocolate as well as the chance to taste pralines with unusual flavours: dill, wasabi or chilli peppers.

Photo: CTK
Czech Lego enthusiasts have built the highest Lego tower in the world to mark the 80th anniversary of Lego construction toys. The 32.5 -metre-tall tower located in Prague’s Pankrác district was completed last week with the last pieces being put into place by Miroslava Knapková who won the gold in the rowing competition at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The tower, which measures a good 30 centimetres more than a similar construction in Great Britain – was measured and officially registered by Lego company representatives from Denmark.

Mushroom hunting is a national pastime and something Czechs can talk to you about for hours. Whether it is a good season for mushrooms is a topic worthy of a prime time news report and there are is always plenty of advice about how to cook, fry, pickle or dry different kinds of mushrooms. And of course there are mushroom exhibitions at which mycologists collect a vast variety of different mushrooms for people to admire and learn about and there are always specialists on hand to help identify any strange and unusual specimen brought in. The Šumperk museum which prides itself on its annual mushroom exhibition is now in a spot of trouble. The month of September has proved to be a bad time for mushrooms and local mycologists are in despair over what they will show the public this year. There are suggestions that whatever mushrooms cannot be obtained in the wild will be shown on a large photograph but the idea of not showing the real thing makes any self-respecting mycologist cringe. Everyone available is now out in the field and the museum has even asked students from a local secondary school to help them comb the forest for mushrooms and help save the town’s reputation.

Photo: CTK
A Czech firm producing winter sports gear has put out a special line of skis and snowboards with a picture of President Václav Klaus. The first recipient of these skis was the president himself – a great skiing enthusiast and a huge fan of winter sports. Whether the skis are intended for use on the slopes or merely as an oversized collectors’ item is not clear.