Photo: CTK

Porsche owners celebrate the 130th anniversary of the birth of Ferdinand Porsche. A Czech wins the International Stone Skipping Championship. And, how tall can a sunflower grow? Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

This year's poor plum harvest is very bad news for people in Moravia, the eastern part of the Czech Republic. The local slivovitze or plum brandy is extremely popular and many Moravians claim that a shot of plum brandy in the morning keeps the doctor away more effectively than all the apples in their orchards. As a result the local brandy is often referred to as Moravian penicillin or the local zhenshen. Many people will also tell you that it is the local firewater that makes Moravians more hearty, goodnatured and merry than people anywhere else in the Czech Republic. Come plum harvesting time Moravians stock up their cellars with slivovitze - for their own daily consumption, for celebrations and for visitors, who are always offered a shot of brandy. But this year a late bout of cold weather in the spring has left trees bare - not only plum trees, but also cherry and apricot trees - which would normally have served as a second-best source of the beloved local fire-water. As things are, few people have any fruit to pick -and this year cellars are likely to remain empty. Luckily every proper Moravian farmer has a few bottles buried out in the garden for hard times, but even so the locals are down in the dumps. They have even produced a special 2005 postcard decorated with plum stones in order to let their friends in other parts of the country know just how bad things are this year.

You may not be good at sports - but this is a discipline that might be just your cup of tea. Last week the town of Brandys nad Labem hosted the world stone skipping championship -flipping a stone across a water surface with as many skips as possible. It seems that the locals spent many hours in training -because the winner was Jaroslav Spitalsky from Brandys nad Labem. He wowed the crowd with a record of 16 skips.

Some people like to grow things: record turnips, record cucumbers and pumpkins. A more unusual record is that set by Anna Hofmannova from Mrakov. She has managed to grow giant sunflowers. The tallest measures 4 metres 17 centimetres but the others are not much smaller. The secret to making them oversize is allegedly a regular doze of rabbit droppings mixed with water from the local fish pond. The lady looks mighty proud posing under her circle of giants but I have a strong suspicion she never read The Triffids.

Jaroslav Hasek's novel The Good Soldier Schweik has many fans both here and abroad. Last week a group of Schweik enthusiasts went further than just reading the book or watching the movie. They took part in the Schweik Pisek-to-Putim tour - a distance that Sweik covers on foot in the book, during which much of the action takes place. 50 people braved the nine kilometre walk along the Otava river despite the fact that it was pouring with rain. When they eventually got to Putim the sun came out and they were rewarded with a variety of Schweik related events - a brass band, a number of performances in period costumes - dating back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire - and the famous Schweik movie shown at an outdoor summer theatre house.

Photo: CTK
Porsche owners and fans have been celebrating the 130th anniversary of the birth of Ferdinand Porsche. Porsche was born in Vratislavice in 1875 - the son of German parents in what was then the Austro-Hungarian empire. At the age of 18 he left for Vienna and as a talented mechanic he had no trouble finding a job. Soon he was working on the construction of the first automobiles produced in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in a few years time he was the chief designer for the car company Austro-Daimler. After the war he and his son launched their own enterprise -launching the production of a long line of Porsches.

The anniversary of Porsche's birth in what is now the Czech Republic - was celebrated both in Prague and Porsche's birthplace Vratislavice. Close to 100 Porsche owners - ranging from veterans made in 1958 to the latest sports models arrived from different parts of Europe - Germany, Austria, Croatia, France, Slovakia and, of course, the Czech Republic. They took part in a car show on Hradcany Square here in Prague and then drove to Vratislavice for a day of celebrations at Sychrov Chateau, stopping at the local cemetry to lay flowers at the grave of Porsche's parents. "It is our way of saying thank you for the best car ever constructed" - said the chairman of the Porsche Club Milan Bumba. He recalled that he had initiated a Porsche get together back in 1985 and subsequently spent hours being cross questioned by the communist secret police who wanted to know why he was advocating a foreign car and who was paying him to do it.

The beer brewery in Vratislavice marked the Porsche anniversary by issuing two new beer labels -each showing a popular Porsche model - the early 353 Speedster and the Porsche 911 constructed in the 1960s by Porsche's son Ferry. There are only 150 thousand of them around -so if you are a collector make sure you get your hands on them!

Loni každý Čech včetně novorozeňat a malých dětí v průměru vypil 160 litrů piva.
The amount of beer that Czechs consume per head has dropped slighly but that's not giving producers a headache because thirsty tourists and exports make up for the drop. The biggest importer of Czech beer is traditionally neighbouring Germany, followed by Slovakia, Great Britain and the United States. In the first six months of this year Czech breweries exported a record three million hectolitres of beer to countries around the world. Although the biggest exporters are still Pilsner Urquell and Budvar, some of the smaller breweries are exporting the bulk of what they make - and they are making beer to suit their clients taste. Experts say Czechs prefer their beer a bit more bitter and they would never dream of touching flavoured beer. Another marked difference is that while beer drinkers abroad like to buy their beer in cans or bottles Czechs much prefer to drink beer on tap at the pub - and are not averse to making a trip to the pub before dinner to bring home a jug-full of beer for the evening meal. So check out your local supermarket and "Nazdravi" or "Cheers"!

Photo: CTK
The Moravian metropolis Brno is currently hosting the 12th International Air Festival. The weekend event will be a presentation of the best that the country's military airforce and civilian airlines have to offer. Fifteen other states will be represented including - Greece -with its F16D jets, which will make their first appearance in the Czech Republic. The organizers have promised an impressive airshow which is to last for seven hours on both days. The Russian airforce has allegedly sent its top acrobatic pilots. So if you are here in the Czech Republic - and would like to see the air show -then Sunday is your last opportunity. Finding your way to the airfield shouldn't be a problem - approximately 60,000 visitors will be streaming in that direction.