Ex-president Havel meditates with Madonna, a stolen money machine crashes into a police car and a church wedding at St. Vitus' Cathedral? It is possible. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Some 800 fishermen from around the Czech Republic gathered in Luhacovice last weekend for the fishing competition of the year. Participants had 24 hours to produce a prize catch - and Emil Sykora surpassed all expectations when he reeled in an 11.5 kg carp. The fish measured 92 cm and the locals immediately dubbed it Moby Dick.

If Pavel Vesely had entered a competition in mushroom picking he would have been equally successful. The two button mushrooms he brought out of the forest last week were prize finds in a country where huge mushrooms are nothing to boast about. The twin mushrooms looked like brown puppies lying there in the afternoon sunlight and Pavel says that for a minute he thought he was dreaming. "I've picked mushrooms all my life - but this is a once in a lifetime experience. Mushrooms just don't get any bigger than this," he said proudly.

Everybody knows that dumplings are not good for your diet - but Czechs love them and often hold competitions in how many people can eat. The standard portion of dumplings served is four - but some order as many as eight to twelve as a side-dish. Last weekend competitors from around the Czech Republic stuffed themselves sick with dumplings to try to break the existing record. The winner Milos Jancek consumed a full 44 - but even that was not enough since the Czech record is 57 dumplings.

A nine-year-old boy from Olomouc who wanted to steal a piece of chewing gum from a snack machine learnt a hard lesson last week. His hand got trapped in the machine after he had forced it in to get the gum out and not even the employee responsible for keeping it stocked could help. A crowd of onlookers gathered as a group of firemen worked to free him. "It was a very hard lesson and I must say that I felt sorry for him," the owner said.

Of course this was a little thief who only meant to steal a chewing gum - but funnily enough elsewhere - in Pelhrimov, south Bohemia, a couple of much bigger thieves who had stolen a whole cash dispenser -were also thwarted in a most unexpected manner. The ATM came lose and flew off the back of their open trailer crashing into a police car which happened to be passing them in the opposite direction. The thieves made a quick get-away - while the police were left standing on the road with a wrecked car and an ATM chock-full of money. According to a local daily there were over three million crowns in the machine at the time of the theft.

The former president Vaclav Havel was the only Czech who was allowed a few minutes with Madonna before her concert in Prague. Mr. Havel visited the mega pop star back-stage. According to the CTK news agency he brought her two of his literary works as a gift and after exchanging a few words he joined her in a few minutes of quiet meditation before the concert. The former president attended the concert with his step-daughter Nina and later said it had been a great show.

Photo: CTK
The Czech pop star Karel Gott who recently got his own museum Gottland faces a court dispute over a wine label which he named after his third daughter Charlotte born this spring. The wine is being sold as a souvenir in the museum and is said to be selling extremely well, largely due to the fact that Gott himself painted the picture of his baby daughter on the label. However it has now emerged that the brand name Charlotte is owned by a Moravian wine grower -Jiri Hort - who says he's lost thousands of crowns as a result of Gott's business endeavor. Hort is taking the case to court and lawyers say that his chances of winning are high. An out of court settlement is allegedly out of the question - not least because the Moravian wine-grower also has a young daughter called Charlotte. "I don't see why I should have to pull out of the market with Charlotte because someone more famous happened to give his child the same name," he told reporters.

School-kids looking for exciting extra-curricular activities are having an easy time finding something they like this year. Gone are the days when they could choose between football, ballet, piano lessons or pottery. Nowadays they can enlist for esoteric or witchcraft classes, hip-hop, feng shui, classes for young detectives, young astronomers, horse riding, Red Cross classes for future nurses or doctors, majorette classes or bobbin lacework, to name just a few of the options. A lot of parents this year were excited about the arrival of feng shui when one of the instructors happened to mention that it made kids more orderly and aware of their surroundings. Young detectives can sharpen their minds on puzzles and brainteasers. And others are in it for the money. Fourteen-year-old Katka had no romantic notions when asked why she had picked bobbin lacework. "One of those bobbin lacework things cost a thousand crowns in the shops - so I'll be making plenty just as soon as I get the hang of it," she said.

The admission fee to Prague's famous St. Vitus Cathedral - located in the Prague Castle compound is a hundred crowns - but should you wish to get married there then the house of God will open its doors to you for next to nothing. There is no set fee - and the contribution to the priest and organist is voluntary. However the wedding must not infringe on masses and visiting hours - which means that you can book the cathedral for a church wedding from Monday to Saturday either before 8 am or after 5 pm. Naturally the bride and groom must fulfill the conditions for a Roman Catholic church wedding - at least one of them must be baptized and neither should be divorced.