how it all began
back in 1992
|Back in 1992, I was helping with a holiday for deaf and deaf-blind children in the romantic location of Newcastle, North East England. As this type of volunteer work requires many helpers, an advertisement had been placed in local newspapers. A visiting Professor from a University in Brno, in what was then Czechoslovakia, Eastern Europe, happened to read this ad in a newspaper he had bought in London. Returning to his native home, he suggested that such volunteer work would be good for one of his students of English, Ivana Slavíková. She sent off her application and was invited to go to the UK as a helper.
When she arrived, she found her job entailed making meals for a crowd of people she had never met, whose dietary requirements were somewhat alien to her. Furthermore, she previously had never had to cook for more than perhaps five people in her entire life! I saw this young, nervous girl, who looked completely lost in her surroundings. To make matters worse, I refused to eat the food she produced, making do with bread and jam instead. This did little for her confidence.
Days went by, and Ivana came and went from room to room, settling in to her routines very well and mixing perfectly with her new friends. It was on about the fourth or fifth day that I began to notice just how attractive she was, especially when I saw her dressed for a day out with the children in wonderfully-contrasting green corduroy jeans and a purple leotard top that did little to disguise the perfect figure underneath., or when she relaxed in the swimming pool in a minute, bright-pink two piece. Then, disaster! Ivana had occasion to speak to me directly, and when she looked straight into my eyes with that under-over way of looking at you that could destroy any resistance one might have, I was hooked.
At the end of the holiday, Ivana had to return to London, where she would stay with a family friend until returning home to Czechoslovakia. I could not let her go, and the following day, I drove the two hundred and fifty miles to find her. In the depths of east London, after unsuccessfully trying to contact her by phone for several hours, she answered and, with some surprise, gave me directions as to where we could meet. We met, and we have hardly been apart since! Now, in 2004, we are a family; a son, Jan-Christian, who will be 11 this year, Alexandra-Grace, who celebrates her first birthday in August, and Woody, our Golden Retriever who has been with us for five years. We live in a nice house in a small village called Smolkov, in the east of the Czech Republic, with Poland, Austria, Slovakia and Germany as our neighbours