In Mailbox this week: A Škoda 120L in a harsh Colorado winter, response to SoundCzech, new QSL cards, Radio Prague’s Christmas competition. Listeners quoted: Don Schumann, Terrence Parr, James Thomas.

Škoda 120L
Hello and welcome to Mailbox.

The country is getting ready for Christmas but one thing traditionally associated with the festive period has been missing – certainly in the lower parts of the country. Yes, it does not look like a white Christmas this year either, but on the other side of the globe, in Colorado, where Don Schumann– our ever-faithful listener as he describes himself – lives, the weather is quite different:

“I am STILL driving my 1985 Škoda 120L on a daily basis, and sadly I haven't space in my garage for it (due to my ownership of a 1971 Škoda 1203 van and a 1985 Škoda Rapid 130, both being restored). As of this moment, we recorded a record low temperature here in Boulder, Colorado of MINUS 29 degrees C. Yes, -29C!”

“My poor old Škodovka, which sits out all the time, not only started (it sat out all weekend), but got me to work this morning. It was not happy doing so, but it marched through the wickedly, dangerously cold temperatures on ice and snow to get there. Truly, the definition of ‘spolehlivá’! Bravo Škoda!”

Let me just explain that spolehlivá means reliable. And while on Czech words, in SoundCzech last month, Rosie Johnston asked for your help with the translation of the Czech phrase “medvědí služba”, literally “a bear’s service”. Terrence Parr offered this suggestion:

“In English we often say ‘with friends like this...’ accompanied with a shake of the head. This being sort for the full phrase ‘With friends like this, we don't need enemies!’ Alternatively we could say ‘He's more of a hindrance, than a help!’”

The 387.043 fast steam locomotive was produced for Czechoslovak Railways by Škoda in Plzeň in 1937. It reached a speed of up to 110 kilometres an hour and was used for express and local trains on Czechoslovakia’s main railway lines. | Photo: T. Kučera,  National Technical Museum
James Thomas from Brno, Czech Republic, suggests:

“You asked for suggestions – what about something like – do more harm than good, or it's more hindrance than help?”

Many thanks for your ideas on the “bear’s service”. If you have any queries concerning the Czech language, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Radio Prague.

With the New Year approaching, many listeners have enquired about our new edition of QSL cards. The 2009 series is again something to look forward to. It features Czechoslovak (and earlier Austrian) steam locomotives and railway carriages, the oldest from 1855 and the newest from a century later. In order to acquire those for your collection, please send us your reception reports, either by mail, electronic mail or by filling in a form on our website In the meantime, you can have a look at the QSLs at

And while you’re on our web pages, you can fill out another form to take part in Radio Prague’s Christmas competition.

All you need to do is fill in the Christmas crossword puzzle on our website The mystery phrase it contains is the name of a prominent Czech artist whose best-known work is closely related to Christmas. If you have difficulties filling in the crossword puzzle check out Radio Prague’s Christmas pages which contain all the answers. Please send the completed crossword puzzle to Radio Prague by the end of December by using the window below the puzzle. Ten winners will be awarded a CD with Czech Christmas music and other small gifts.

And, of course, the English section’s mystery Czech competition is still going on:

“This time we would like to know the name of the Czech doctor who first classified human blood groups into the four types that are used today.”

Your answers need to reach us by the end of the month at [email protected] or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague. Thanks for tuning in today. If you celebrate Christmas, have a most wonderful one, and Mailbox will be back once again before we say farewell to 2008. Until then, good-bye.