Saturday 31 December 2011

Happy 2012!

Just a quick post to wish all my readers - regular, occasional and one-off - a Happy New Year!

For various reasons (which I won’t bore you with here) I haven’t been blogging much over the past couple of months. Unfortunately the winter arrived before I found time to do the final leg of my trip (Stage 7), so that will have to wait until the spring. On top of that, I still have to write up the last couple of days of Stage 6, which I rode in late September, so I can’t even write a review of 2011 yet.

Not to worry. I promise to return - refreshed and re-energised - in the new year.



Friday 23 December 2011

Václav Havel RIP

The Czech Republic is in mourning for its former president Václav Havel, whose funeral takes place at midday today.

Václav Havel addressing hundreds of thousands of people on Wenceslas Square in 1989

Václav Havel led - and still symbolises - the Velvet Revolution of 1989, which overthrew communism and restored democracy to this part of the world. He was a fighter for and defender of freedom. For me he is a hero and inspiration.

On Wednesday I went into the centre of Prague to pay my respects. On Wenceslas Square, my eye was drawn to a handwritten note lying among the field of flickering candles: "Honza, 22 let, 22 let svobody" ("Honza, 22 years old, 22 years of freedom"). Czechs are feeling this loss personally. So am I.

When I embark on the final stage of my Circuit Ride in the spring, Havel and his legacy will be foremost in my mind. Before 1989, most of my route along the Czech border would have been out of bounds to the vast majority of the population, never mind to an English cyclist. Now I am free to cross in and out of the country as I like.

Thank you Václav Havel. RIP.