Tag Archives: local

New Laws

I’m not sure exactly why (I sense Brexit has something to do with it) but the British government has just finishing codifying some interesting new laws. The police officer in the featured image may be smiling, but she’s ready to bop you on the head with her truncheon should you infringe any of them in front of her.

Not sure if “to codify laws” is a phrase, but it sounds about right.

You might be scratching your head, wondering what on earth I could be talking about. “But, Ro,” you might be saying, “I am a British citizen. I think I’d know if we had a spate of new laws coming in. I think I’d have seen it on Twitter.”

Yeah, you’d think. The sneaky, sneaky government has purposefully made sure no one knows about this new legislation by posting it exclusively to Google+. And why don’t they want anyone to know about these laws? Because their infringement incurs a hefty fine – money which goes straight into Johnny Westminster’s pockets.

Luckily for you, Google+ is the only social medium I use. I prefer it because I can post sarcastic comments about my loved ones without them ever finding out. Also I can slag off Love Island without anyone thinking I’m just doing it for the attention.

For that reason, I’m abreast of the upcoming laws, and I’m more than happy to share them with you. Be careful: you don’t want to get caught out!


person pouring seasonings on raw meatsNo fish on Tuesdays.

This one’s as simple as it sounds: from October 2018, absolutely no fish are allowed in the United Kingdom on Tuesdays. Persons found to be infringing this law will be subject to immediate arrest and a fine of up to £200. Fish found to be infringing this law will be eaten by the local constable.

That picture is actually a little misleading, so let me clarify: it’s not that you’re not allowed to eat fish on Tuesdays, but rather that fish generally are not allowed. It’s expected that police officers will be SCUBA trained as standard in order to enforce this. If you have a pet fish, make sure to hide both it and any paraphanalia (eg fish tank, model castle etc) related to it on Tuesdays.


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All drivers must wear high-viz.

If you’re getting behind the wheel after the 1st of March 2019, please, please make sure you’re wearing a high-visibility jacket that conforms to government standards. If you don’t, you’re liable to pay an on-the-spot fine of up to £70, and, if what you’re wearing is particularly subdued, your licence may be revoked.


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No more saying, “I rate it.”

I know what you’re thinking: “It’s the bloody thought police!” No, it’s not. It’s the speech police, so reign in your disapproval, George Orwell. Jesus.

Anyway, the police are cracking down on increasing numbers of people saying, “I rate it,” to express approval. After December this year, those heard saying this will be put under house arrest.


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Pick up after your dog.

You might say, “But, Rodge! Leaving dog poos around is already a crime.” Yes, true. But this law goes one step further: in an effort to combat declining standards of tidiness in the canine community, dog owners will have to pick up any and all toys the dog carries around the house and place them in a designated dog box.

If a homeowner is seen to be remiss in this duty, whether because toys are outside of the dog box, or because the dog box is incorrectly labelled, they will be sent to prison for a maximum of 35 days, during which the dog will be cared for either by the police constable (if it’s a cute one) or a nominated relative (if it’s gross).


document id uk driving license driving licence

All citizens must carry ID cards.

I don’t know if you remember, but there was actually a move to introduce a similar law not so long ago.

However, under this legislation, set to come into effect from November 2019, citizens must carry the ID card belonging to the last person they shared a pizza with. Those carrying their own ID cards will be subject to serious scrutiny, since they’ve either never shared a pizza with anyone, or shared pizza with a chain of people until their own ID card ended up back in their pocket.

Those with missing or irregular documents will be forced to either pay a £17 fine or present the local police constable with £15 worth of pizza. It’s not clear whether this act will constitute giving or sharing a pizza, so no one yet knows whether the buyer of the pizza will have to swap ID cards with the police constable. I’ll let you know more when I do.


Mrs Brown’s Boys is outlawed.

I can’t argue with this. It’s for the good of the nation.

I can’t even bring myself to find a relevant picture.


The more you know.

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Gibs Café Bar

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I wandered into Gibs after a disappointing trip to the Wombat Café. From the outside, it looked like a pretty standard Czech pub: Pilsner Urquell sign, low lighting, couple of older gentleman smoking outside. I headed in on a whim, figuring that another beer would help me sleep and get the memory of Wombat Café’s gross decor out of my mind.

As I passed the threshold, I noticed with mild surprise that they’d made the strange decision to have a fan on the step facing inwards, blowing a draft through the bar. Ducking inside and heading to the bar, I smelled something unexpected and familiar.

Did you know that it’s legal to smoke funky cigarettes in certain bars in Prague?

That’s something I recently found out.

Maybe it was because of the mentality that goes with smoking that much, but the atmosphere in Gibs was great: I sat at the bar with a beer and chatted to everyone who came in, working my way through a massive bag of pretzels. The only moment I felt anything less-than-euphoric was when I tripped over someone’s dog on the way to the loo – I actually don’t know how I managed to overlook it, since it was the size of a small horse.

The clientele was almost exclusively made up of expats, so I didn’t get a chance to exercise my extremely terrible Czech; maybe that’s for the best. The owner, a guy called Roman, welcomed everyone personally, making an effort to remember names and backstories – partly to create a friendly, chatty atmosphere, and partly, I think, to check that everyone coming in was cool with being passively hotboxed.

The beer itself was nothing special: just Pilsner on draught and some cans of Kingswood in the fridge. That said, I think anyone who claims to go to that bar for the drinks is lying.

I rate Gibs a solid two joints and one unexpectedly massive dog. The only reason I’m not calling off my search for a local is that for me, weed is like trifle. Nice on your birthday, but I couldn’t deal with it every day.

Wombat Café

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I spent my allotted 64kč beer money in the Wombat Café this week. Once again, despite the hours of research I did before coming to Prague, I found this bar entirely by chance: terrified of missing my step target and facing the wrath of my fitness app, I’d decided to take an evening stroll around my neighbourhood.

[By the way, “hours of research” is a high-and-mighty way of saying I Googled “craft beer Prague” and then marked the results on a map.]

More terrifying than my phone’s hardwired passive aggressiveness, though, was the prospect of doing anything relating to exercise. As soon as I heard the ping in my headphones that indicated I’d reached 10,000 steps, I clocked out. I practically fell down the steps into the nearest bar – Wombat Café.

The first thing I noticed was, unsurprisingly, the overriding theme of the caf – comics. The walls were covered in prints from different graphic novels, including a particularly massive section taken from Sin City. The owners had also set up a series of well-lit shelves groaning under the weight of cartoony action figures; I ignored the fact that all the women depicted had massive chests and not a lot of clothes, as well as the lack of any real women in the bar, and headed to the counter.

Since, as you can see from the name, Wombat is more café than bar, I was unsurprised that they only had the obligatory Pilsner on offer as far as beer went. There were also a couple of slices of cakes on offer and I spotted a coffee machine under a pile of dusty Star Wars merch. Unusually for the Czech Republic, there were far more bottles of whiskey than beer; however, given my refusal to drink anything that tastes that much like your throat is actually on fire, I stuck to the ležák.

The atmosphere in the bar was really strange. The guys in there were all clearly good friends, and I enjoyed listening to them chat to the bartender, who I reckon was also the owner. If you were into comics and were good mates with any of the regulars, this would be an incredible way to spend your weekday nights.

The downside of any bar where you mostly serve your mates, though, is it can be pretty uninviting to anyone else – I felt this very strongly. About halfway through my mediocre beer I happened to glance up and noticed that five of the guys were unabashedly staring at me with a what-are-you-doing-here kind of expression. I couldn’t help but share their feeling: it was a little bit like I’d noticed the door to a flat was open, wandered in, and sat drinking a beer in someone’s living room whilst they hung out with their mates.

I’ll award the Wombat Café a doughy slice of fruitcake and half-arsed pint, with the important asterisk that if you happen to love nerd culture and have an in with one of the crowd, it could be the place for you.

Malý/Velký

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I stumbled across this week’s bar of choice, the excellently websited Malý/Velký, completely by chance. I’d run out of change for the bus and, already familiar with Czechia’s punitive public transport authorities, was trying to make it from Náměstí Míru, in the east of the city, back to the centre on foot.

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Honest worker or committed trickster?

Unfortunately for me, my path was obstructed by squadrons of men in high-viz jackets tearing up the road with diggers. They seemed to be building a new tram line – but, thinking back on it now, they could have just been taking a practical joke well too far.

Stymied, I ducked down a side street and, using my very poor internal compass, headed in what I reckoned was the right direction. It’ll probably surprise no one that, when I checked my map later, I’d chosen the wrong turning at every crossroads.

Anyway, I was lost, grumpy, and not at all drunk. I wanted to be found, cheerful, and tipsy – this was not an ideal situation.

As I wandered down a nondescript Prague alleyway, I happened to glance up and notice this sign:

I'm not a talented photographer.

“Falcon Independent Brewery,” I read aloud. “Decent.”

I went through the door: a long corridor that made me think of hotels led through to a courtyard. It was partly covered, and in place of regular bar furniture it had low, bright-coloured armchairs in a style I consider typically Czech. The beer garden was empty except for two women.

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“Are you open?” I asked in my bad Czech.

“Yes,” replied one of the women. There was an awkward pause. “The bar is downstairs,” she prompted.

I went downstairs; after the eclectic ambience of the beer garden, I was surprised by how minimalist everything was here. The woman I’d spoken to had followed me down. “What’ll you have?” she asked.

The selection of beer on draught was great: they had eight taps and had chosen a range of unusual brews – at the bartender’s recommendation, I went for an 11% ABV wheat beer.

I drank the beer in a comfortable armchair upstairs in the garden, covertly trying to eavesdrop on the women’s conversation – my poor grasp of Czech protected their privacy.

Overall, I was chuffed by the whole experience: although it was pretty dead (in fairness, this was a Tuesday afternoon), the atmosphere was decent, and it was the best beer I’ve had in Prague so far.

I will award Malý/Velký six pint glasses and a crisp coaster. A very respectable score – I’ll be back.

The Hunt for a Local

– or: Why It’s Legitimate For Me to Spend 20% of My Money on Beer –

All the photos in this post (and, indeed, most of my other posts) were taken by the very talented TestExplosion.

Recently (read: four days ago) I moved to Prague. Typically disorganised and, if I do say so, almost wilfully scatty, I’d not sorted a job or a place to live before I flew out; the only foreplanning I’d done involved booking a mildly well-reviewed hostel for a week and spending hours getting the font on my CV just right.

As you can imagine, the lack of forethought, combined with my frankly mizerný grasp of the Czech language, as well as general heartbreak about leaving St Petersburg, has left me feeling pretty tiny in a big world. Add to that a less than ideal hostel situation and incredibly hot weather (which, as we all know, makes me grumpy), and you’ve got a Ro feeling like the last Smartie in the tube of Smarties.

What I need is a home away from home. A local.

Thanks to incredibly good fortune and a friend well into craft beer and places where you can smoke indoors, my local in St Petersburg was, and I don’t want to overstate this, heaven on earth. After four months of regular visits and God knows how many roubles, Blinders Bottleshop really did feel like a second home.

Honestly, it felt like my first home, with my actual bedroom taking second place and the café that made incredible pasta a close third.

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World’s drunkest family portrait

We were on ты terms with the barmen (read: tu, tú, ty, Du), they let us stay way past closing, didn’t complain when we (read: I) left origami cranes all over the bar. At a certain point, they told us that if we ever wanted to drink before opening, we should just knock on the shutters until someone let us in.

My happiest memories of St Petersburg, almost without exception, happened in that small, dark, slightly cramped and beer-smelling room. A great deal of my Russian language skills are thanks to the exposure to authentic (and, sometimes, extremely colourful) Russian I got chatting to locals and visitors.

What makes it all the more spectacular is how welcome we foreign students felt in Blinders – and, as a group, we couldn’t be more foreign: gay, black, pink hair… In a lot of parts of Petersburg, we were singularly out of place; but at Blinders we were accepted and welcomed. Honestly, I tear up thinking about it.

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And that’s what I want here, too. A place where misfits of all descriptions can go, enjoy an incredible pint, and talk for hours about absolutely nothing.

It’s a tall order, sure. I’m searching for somewhere to rival my favourite place on earth but, by God, I swear I’ll find somewhere, even if I have to try every pub in Prague…