What wondrous life is this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach;
Stumbling on melons as I pass
Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass
from The Garden, Andrew Marvell
I don’t think I’ve been to another country so sheerly generous in its municipal gardening. All the countryside roads are lined with walnut, pear, apple, cherry and plum trees, planted for no reason I can see other than to delight wanderers like me. Even Petrin hill in the centre of Prague is covered with orchards where anyone can pick what they like. In such a warm bountiful Autumn as this one the whole Czech Republic feels like Marvell’s garden, where as I pass I stumble, if not on melons, then on more varieties of pear and apple than can be counted on fingers and toes; red and gold and bronze, round and oval and tear-drop shaped; satiny yellow pears tiny as walnuts, fat heavy pale green ones you can hardly hold in two hands. Everywhere a fruity, slightly rotting smell, through which I wander drunk as a wasp on sweetness, wanting to drink it all in before the warmth goes and winter sets in.
This country is equally profligately littered with castles. Conveniently disregarding any historical fact, it seems an enchanted, fairytale land of princesses in high towers and knights traversing beech woods as golden as old icons; where bright village boys gather the apples of paradise and a Czech Cinderella hoards her three magic nuts, in which are three dresses woven of sunbeams, of moonshine, of dreaming starlight.