Interesting Times

These times certainly are. For some they are devastating. But, so far, myself and my loved ones have escaped any disasters. For me the problems are small, although when they are staring you in the face they can seem insurmountable. Getting things in perspective is important in these times of lockdown and isolation.

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Touching and Feeling Again

Reliving old experiences can be beneficial to our minds and souls, if there is such a thing. Going back in time, searching through photograph albums, watching old family videos, it reconnects us to where we come from. It seems more important than ever to do this in the digital age we live in.

Now, that digital world has huge benefits and I am not anti modernity in the slightest. The ability to share ideas, find differing points of view and learn from people on the opposite side of the planet is something that everyone should avail themselves of. Yet, there is something missing, there is no physical record of what we see, read or listen to.

Online music streaming offers huge convenience and the ability to discover music which you would never hear if you only relied on the radio to provide you with new musical ideas.. Ebooks are amazing and with my reading addiction are definitely space saving, but then I started to think. Where is the history? What am I leaving behind?

Remember when you were a child? You could browse through your parents record collection finding things from their past, who would have thought that my dad liked Jazz when he was younger? Maybe he was cool once? Looking at their bookshelf you could see some of the books that your teachers were trying to get you to read. Perhaps you didn’t appreciate it at the time but in the future you would and at least you could see them.

Realising this has made be consider more which books I purchase a paper version of, and then remain on my bookshelf, and which I am happy to own in an electronic version. Even more so it has got me back into the physical world of music, specifically the world of vinyl records.

It is no secret that vinyl has made a comeback in recent years as people yearn for the physical, as well as for the past. For me it is definitely a combination of the two. Fond memories of my youth come flooding back, even if most of the music I listened to then now seems tragic. Even more, there is something immensely satisfying about touching and feeling the music you are about to listen to. Watching the record spin as the music pours forth from the speakers is hypnotising and extremely therapeutic. Being compelled to turn over the record when it reaches the end of side one ensures you stay connected and can’t drift away for too long. We all try to multitask too much these days and all it means is you don’t concentrate and truly pay attention to anything. Of course there is a time for background music and that is when I will happily play a Spotify playlist. But I have learnt to choose which option is correct for the situation and if I want to listen to music I truly listen.

The only problem with all of this is the effect it is having on my bank balance. What began with a cheap turntable and only buying the cheaper second hand records has, of course, morphed into a full on addiction. The turntable has been upgraded and the Pink Floyd collection is almost complete. Next there will probably be a new amplifier and speakers, I hope my better half doesn’t read this.

As I sit here with Dark Side of the Moon spinning I have no regrets though. My children will one day look through my record collection and maybe, you never know, even think that their dad was cool after all.

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

Respect

Is it strange that one of my favourite places to go is a cemetery? But not just any cemetery. In Hradec Králové there is a cemetery, located in the forest, which is tranquil and beautiful. It is looked after so well it compares to any small park you could wish to visit. But, of course, it is not a park and you must remember this when you visit there.

Czech people take care of their family plots and graves to a very high standard. Most cemeteries are clean, well maintained, and have fresh flowers and candles lit. It is traditional, in most families, to visit and clean at least once per year. But, sometimes, it is even weekly.

Now, I am not a religious person. I believe once you are gone, you are gone. The Czechs too are a very atheistic people. So this tradition seems to be carried out for a different reason. Respect for family; for the past, the present, or for the future.

If you visit the forest cemetery you will see gravestones scattered amongst the trees, in a very natural setting. They are immaculate, even in winter. And, if you are very lucky and quiet, you may even see a deer peering around a trunk at you. Here is one place that, when you pass away, you really do return to mother nature. 

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© Neil Hayes, neilsworldofenglish and neilhayesphoto

Intentions

Well, here it goes. I have been wanting to start a blog for some time and finally I am taking the plunge. It is strangely nerve wracking, but also exciting. My intention is to use this site to publish both my experiences and thoughts.

I am a foreigner living in a foreign land. My story began in Wales and continued through England and Australia. The current chapters are being lived in the Czech Republic and this is home. It is a land of both immense beauty and frustrations but I wouldn’t change a thing.My passions are my amazing bilingual children, literature, photography and music. Therefore these are some of the things I will be discussing. But I will also cover any subjects which are, in my humble opinion, worthy of discussion.

Teaching is my current profession, but only for the last 9 years. Previously I have had a variety of jobs, in different countries, and these experiences will of course inform my writing.

I feel the need to share ideas and promote discussion and any comments will be truly welcome. This is just the beginning of this journey and I will be happy to be given some direction along the way.

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish