I’m in love… Land Rover Defender 110 Jameson’s Edition

I’m in love… Land Rover Defender 110 Jameson’s Edition

Imagine my surprise. Today, sitting outside my office window in the arse-end of Slovakia was paradise incarnate. I honestly thought it was an early Christmas present. A black Land Rover Defender 110 expedition (with snorkel, of course), emblazoned with God’s own drink, Jameson’s Irish Malt.

Just imagine – a Defender with a boot load of the amber malt….. what more could any man dream of? (Well, aside from it also having a sexy, feisty colleen in the passenger seat).

I nearly cried when I realised that they were just repping to a restaurant over the road.

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Red Deer Stag Kills Man

Red Deer Stag Kills Man

A 78 year old man from Prievidza (a town in the west of Slovakia) has died in hospital a week after being attacked by a stag. Apparently, it was a spontaneous attack as the man tended his orchard – the stag charged and skewered him with its antlers. More can be read here – noviny.sk – Stag Kills Man

Deaths from stag attacks are relatively rare, usually only one every so many years. Most often they’re during rutting season when people approach stags because they’re just standing still and not running away (which is because their brains are addled by rampant hormones). My kids and I were charged by one in the forest several years back and we had to hide behind a tree while it went berserk. 99.99% of the time the stag just flees though.

Note – the picture isn’t mine, it’s from the newspaper.

Pension Poľská krčma,Horný Smokovec, Tatra Mountains, review

Pension Poľská krčma,Horný Smokovec, Tatra Mountains, review

Over the weekend we stayed at my friend’s Pension (sort of like an inn) in the Tatra Mountains. It’s called, bizarrely, Poľská krčma, which means the Polish Bar. She and her partner have only had it for a few months (since December) and have done quite a bit of reconstruction on it. It’s in an ideal location, with the main road running between the two major ski resorts of Tatranska Lomnica and Stary Smokovec just outside, and a mountain right behind it (you can see the view from the toilet window in the photo).

Upstairs, they offer a few simple rooms at very affordable prices compared to the mega hotels, and the bar is open and light and friendly. Food-wise, they offer the basics such as a bowl of goulash or my friend’s specialty, zapekanka (a sliced baguette grilled with mushrooms and cheese). Alcohol-wise they stock, I think, the complete range of the local specialty Tatra Tea (a very strong herbal alcohol similar to Jagermeister) in various OBVs, along with Zlaty Bazant beer and international drinks.

I wish them both the best of luck and hope anyone reading my blog, when visiting the Tatra Mountains, will pop in for a visit. My friend is also the godmother to my younger boy so just tell her Edward sent you…

 

They can be found at

Poľská krčma

Horný Smokovec 17, 06201

Vysoké Tatry

Trip to the Tatra Mountains

Trip to the Tatra Mountains

We’ve just got back from a few days break away in the Tatra Mountains in North Central Slovakia. Thankfully, it wasn’t having the same weather as we have had for the last few months. The air was clear, cold and bright rather than damp, foggy and swampy – although we do have a lot more snow than there. It sort of felt like Spring.

We stayed at a friend’s Pension (another post will cover that) in the historic mountain ski resort of Stary Smokovec. On Saturday there was an international ice sculpting competition up the mountain at Hrebienok so we talk a wander up the muddy rock track to check it out (we came down on the road as it was way too slippy and dangerous to descend). My legs are still aching as I’m out of condition. The wind roared and really ripped my ears and face.

It was good to get away from where I live for a bit. The Tatra Mountains have many foreign visitors and the resorts are expensive so it was nice to see a change in cars and fashion. I like the bush but sometimes a bit of luxury is called for.

The photo of the bin with paw prints on it is from outside my friend’s pension. In October last year a mother bear and her two cubs (brown bears, called Grizzlies in the US) tore up the outside of the bar, including their leather furniture, so they now have a bear-proof bin. The sow was using the metal security as a back scratcher. Two policemen, who came to scare the bear away as it was clawing up the place, ended up being chased away instead. It’s a really dumb idea to approach a mother bear with cubs…. My friend says there are often bears wandering along the road outside their place at night and she will let me know when they start appearing again so I can go and photograph them – preferably from the safety of the balcony.

 

Here’s a video of what bears do to non-bear-proof rubbish container:

 

As for my Discovery, Vlochka, she has led me to believe that the Land Rover adventure thing is all about whether the car will start or not, or if it will actually get you the whole way home or break down. After she didn’t start yesterday (I was supposed to pick my wife and kids up from the wellness centre at Hotel Kontakt), I spent many hours with my friend’s partner trying to work out what the problem was. Alternator? Starter? Central locking? A short or loose connection? The air conditioning? The new radio? And then she started. I really need to take her to the nearest city to a Land Rover dealer for some proper diagnostics. At present, she’s just not what I’d call reliable. Immense fun when she is working but not exactly stable. She sort of reminds me of a spoilt, pretty gold-digger – If I’m going to ride her then I’m going to have to spend a lot of money on her first….

Czechoslovak VZ-58 bayonet

Czechoslovak VZ-58 bayonet

Yesterday I was driving into Bardejov when I noticed a village pub having some sort of flea market. Most of the stuff on sale was dire but one bloke had some interesting old military memorabilia. There were quite a few WW2 German badges and some old socialist Czechoslovak uniforms but his big box of bayonets is what caught my attention.

Inside the old box were several bayonets from WW1, mainly of the pig sticker variety, and a few from WW2. However, as an amateur collector of Kalashnikov bayonets I decided to go with a pretty beat up Czechoslovak VZ-58 bayonet. Unlike the Izhvesk Kalashnikov bayonets I have, which are virtually mint, this one has obviously been hammered, reground and the leather scabbard has suffered from mildew. I figured it would make an excellent new bushcraft knife. The VZ-58 was a Kalashnikov clone produced and used in socialist Czechoslovakia, but it used a completely different type of bayonet to the original and other communist country clones.

The seller told me it was from 68 or 69 but I have no way of telling as the inspector’s stamp on the rear of the uniquely styled frog is too worn out. I chose this one over the older variant as it has a full tang which extends into a ‘hammer’ behind the hilt. I intend to use this one in the bush, not merely keep it as a conversation piece.

Alex, Robert Fico and Dukla

Alex, Robert Fico and Dukla

Today is the 71st anniversary of the KDO (Carpathian Dukla Operations) one of the worst battles of WW2 and also known as the Battle of Dukla (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Dukla_Pass). My town of Svidnik was rebuilt by the Russians after the war to commemorate it. The sheer number of casualties, both dead and wounded, is staggering. This is also a battle within living memory (the bus loads of old people in town today attest to that). Svidnik was utterly destroyed in WW1 during fighting between the Germans and the Russians, and then again in WW2.

As part of a school trip from the Gymnasium, my younger boy Alex went to the Dukla memorial, on the border of Poland and Slovakia, some 15 miles out of town. As this is such a major event for Slovakia, both the Prime Minister and President attended, along with survivors of the battle and the modern military from both Slovakia and Poland. The photo is of Alex at Dukla with the Prime Minister Robert Fico, who’s currently doing a damned good job sticking up for Slovakia’s rights in Europe. Alex doesn’t have a problem with confidence – he just walked right up and asked the PM for a photo.

Alex said he also spoke with an army nurse who’d attended the wounded during the battle. She’d saved 122 lives and was apparently covered in medals. After visiting the Dukla memorial, all parties then headed to the giant Soviet monument in the town.