Many owners like to modify their Trabants

James Bond discovers the dangers of Czech cuisine: too many dumplings make you fat. Once scorned -now admired -the Trabi is riding on a wave of nostalgia and Czech scientists get an award -by mistake! Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Daniel Craig as James Bond
Czechs, who are believed to be the second fattest nation in Europe, are spending an increasing amount of money on weight-loss products. Last year people forked out close to a billion crowns on pills, teas and creams that promised to give them a dream body. And the fact that the population has not slimmed down noticeably has not shaken people's faith in the miracle pills. Producers report a 15 percent sales increase in the first quarter of this year. Health experts are not entirely happy with the trend saying that while people are spending millions on miracle pills they are still not prepared to spend a fraction of the money on health food. Or maybe they just don't want to. The dangers of Czech cuisine are evident from the fact that James Bond himself has fallen prey to the country's creamy soups and dumplings. Thirty year old Daniel Craig who is filming the latest Bond movie in Prague is said to have developed a liking for Czech food - and is reported to have gained a few extra kilos. Poor old Bond has now had to go on a diet and put in a few extra hours with his fitness trainer every day. Pity the magic pills don't work really....

Many owners like to modify their Trabants
Over 100 Trabi owners held their annual get together in Cesky Raj last weekend to show off their prize possession. Once scorned and ridiculed, the symbol of East European transportation, is now riding high on a wave of nostalgia. Today's trabis are pampered, hand painted, honed and tuned to perfection and their roaring motors and the cloud of exhaust fumes they emit now always raise a smile. As the line of colourful trabis made its way through the beautiful countryside of Cesky raj, the drivers of Peugeots, Volvos, Renaults and Opels slowed down or even stopped out of the way to admire them. Among them was a trabi-cabriolet, a military jeep version of the trabi and a version reminiscent of the cars of the notorious communist secret police. Unfortunately the owner of one of the biggest local attractions - a six-metre trabi limousine made out of several old trabi cars- failed to arrive. And the winner of the "viewers' prize" which is awarded annually was a hand-painted trabi decorated with people's favourite storybook characters. Among the special events organized this year was a trial ride in a trabi where the gas pedal and clutch had been switched. Lots of people tried and - according to the organizers - women proved particularly adept at handling the change.

Some 16,000 people congregated in Olomouc last weekend for the annual beer festival there - the Czech version of the October Beerfest in Munich. Twenty six beer brewers presented 160 brands of beer -and it went down well - visitors consumed 400 hectolitres of it.

Dozens of fishermen from across the country took part in the first ever fishing marathon near Prerov last week. The marathon lasted all of 5days and nights and the aim was to catch as many carp as possible measuring over 50 cm. Dozing off was permissible but it gave your rivals an edge so the guys had rum and Moravian wine to keep them going through the night. In those five days and nights the winner caught 133 kilo of carp - which would keep his family fed for quite a long time. But this was sports fishing and so the fish all got thrown right back in just as soon as they'd been measured and weighed. Besides most Czechs only eat carp at his family wouldn't have been too pleased with the record catch.

The town of Strelecke Hostice in south Bohemia used to be famous for its rafts but nowadays hardly anyone remembers that. Possibly with the exception of three villagers who decided to have a go at building one themselves -using the technique perfected by their grandfathers - just wood, rope and wedges to keep it together. The 13 metre raft - with a fireplace of its own - was ready in six days and they sailed down the river Otava amidst much waving and cheering. A raft that size had not been seen on the river since the 1960s.

Photo: European Commission
Czech scientists assert that it is by mistake that they are among the six winners of the European Inventor of the Year, a new award presented by the EC and the European Patent Office. The six inventors awarded for their achievements in the 1991-2000 decade include the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences, whose representatives have unsuccessfully pointed out that the institute has not contributed to the respective invention - the development of chemical substances for new medicines that improve the treatment of viral diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. "We've been awarded for something we have not done, this is not justified. I have warned Brussels in this respect, but all in vain" the head of the institute said.

Kamil Stabla who was wheelchair bound after an accident and who is now able to get around on crutches has decided to fight for the rights of people with disabilities. "Ending up in a wheelchair really opened my eyes to the face barriers everywhere physical as well as bureaucratic ones" he said. Kamil has now left on a protest ride around Europe that is to end in Brussels where he will hand over a petition against discrimination against disabled people. Riding a specially adjusted motorcycle he will pass through Austria, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and then back to Spain, France and Belgium, collecting signatures for his petition along the way.

'Dad in place of Mum',  photo:
Czech public television has launched a series about fathers on paternity leave called "Dad in place of Mum". The idea of fathers going on paternity leave is still a very foreign concept to most Czechs although the law now enables parents to choose who will stay home with the baby. Men who go on paternity leave still make up only 1,3 percent of the population. In the series they admit that many of the chores aren't as simple as they thought and also say they truly enjoy their new role. "In the very beginning I could see that the neighbours were shocked. Some of the older women living close by would come over and bring pies and food - like they thought I wasn't up to feeding the girls. But they soon got used to it" one of the fathers says. Maybe - after watching the series - more fathers will try their hand at it. The only problem is that on average Czech men still make more than women - so to be perfectly fair it's not just a matter of their own choice.