Two rows of stalls line the road at one of Pragues best flea markets. Located just a few minutes walk off Old Town Square, you can find anything from furs to paintings, toys to fruit, biscuits and ornaments at Havelske Trziste market. 

Though it’s famously well known as a tourist spot, there’s as many locals as tourists perusing the assortment of stalls. Busy on most days of the week, it’s easy to get drawn in to the lure of the wares, with a large range of gifts to catch your eye. Prices vary but with such a variety, it’s easy enough to find a little something for the right price. 

The people of the market are just as interesting, with many of them coming from all around the world, selling handmade products alongside the touristy objects you usually find in souviner shops.

I found myself buying a painting for only 150 czk, roughly £4-£5 from a Russian busker, as well as ornaments and fridge magnets for my family at home.

The market is definitely worth a visit, if only for the experience alone to get a taste of the locals in Prague. If you’re looking for a gift, then you’re guaranteed to find something unique and affordable that can’t be bought in the local souviner shop. 

To find the market, turn off Old Town Square down Melantrichova street and turn right for a bargain worth remembering. 

Cut the refs some slack and let technology do the talking

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How much longer will our beautiful game be spoilt by poor refereeing decisions?

We all know the feeling. Your team is one nil down in the last minute and the referee fails to spot that big clumsy defender handle the ball in the box. As a player you are mystified, as a fan you are furious, and as the referee you are the subject of criticism and abuse for the next seven days.

I was watching the game between Swansea and Sunderland the other night – a massive ‘six pointer’ at the wrong end of the Premier League table. In a game that meant so much for both sides, the main talking point at the end of the game was once again the referee. He made two or three big errors, the worst being an extremely harsh red card for Swansea’s Kyle Naughton for what can only be described as a ‘good tackle’. This poor decision tilted the game in Sunderland’s favour and is part of the reason why Swansea are now languishing in the bottom three.

Now this blog isn’t an attack on referees, in fact it’s quite the opposite. I think they need more help. We’ve seen how goal line technology has improved the game, so why not go one step further? I know that people will say that more video technology will slow the pace of the game down, and to a certain extent I agree with them, but there are millions of pounds resting on these big decisions and if a 30 second pause is what it takes for justice to be served, then so be it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for video replays of petty decisions like corners and goal kicks, I’m talking about the big decisions. The decisions that determine the outcome of games. Tennis have got their use of video technology spot on – three challenges and that’s your lot. Why not do something similar with football? What if managers were allowed a challenge each which they could use at any point in the match? That way the big decisions can be correctly given, and the game won’t be slowed down excessively as it can only be stopped a maximum of two times.

We’re making life hard for referees, but more importantly we’re letting controversy shadow over the best sport in the world. Enough is enough.


Our modern Christmas: who is it really for?

Christmas cheer? That’s not what Amanda Hemmings can hear. She shares her view on what the holiday season has become and why we should change our attitudes.

I have to keep a straight face. I can’t crack. This is my job. And it’s Christmas time soon. I mustn’t frown at children at Christmas. Even if that once a year spirit has been drained out of me after two Christmases of working in a department store which happens to have a vast array of ‘awesome ninja turtles’ and of course, a stock room dominated by Frozen dolls. They’re so haunting that I feel like I’m reliving Halloween every time I’m asked to refill a shelf.

Honestly, I do enjoy Christmas. But I value the season because it’s a time I spend with my family, watching ancient Christmas movies, drinking too much mulled wine, reminiscing about old Christmas tree decorations (ours are at least as old as me) and generally appreciating each other’s company. And I think that’s a word children are increasingly forgetting about; appreciation.

I glare at the youngsters throwing toys bigger than them across the shop floor, screaming and sometimes pushing their parents when they, for once, don’t get everything they want, and I think; why is Christmas associated with cheer when this is today’s reality of the ‘most wonderful time of the year’?

To me, and I’m sure to many others, Christmas is heavily associated with stress and consumerism. As my work colleague, Sharon Clarke, smartly said: “I feel sorry for the parents; they’re always under pressure to buy the next gadget.”

Children aren’t learning the value of money, which has daunting prospects for their future. Our economy is already in turmoil; imagine grown-ups twenty years from now as politicians spending their budgets ruthlessly just because they don’t know any different! Sounds quite familiar, come to think of it…

So, what is to blame for this seeming increase in greed in the children of today? Is it the new generation of kids who were brought up surrounded by technological advancement and all of the cheesy advertising that accompanies it? Or is it the parents’ fear of saying ‘no’ because in our rushed, work-oriented world, it’s just so much easier to give in after a long day than to deal with the consequences of rejecting a hard-to-please little one.

“Christmas is about the children”, my work colleague Lisa Gill admits. “But presents aren’t what Christmas should be about. I feel like a hypocrite for enjoying Christmas because I don’t celebrate it for the real religious reasons – It’s just a tradition for me.”

Let’s think about the word ‘tradition’. When I buy presents, I do it because I feel like I have to, because that’s the socially constructed norm of Christmas in countries such as ours. But I genuinely feel like Christmas should be about something more emotive and sentimental than people physically attacking others in supermarkets for the latest gadgets on Christmas Eve, or spending hundreds on gimmicky toys that are going to be forgotten about by New Year’s Day.

Children of today are being brought up to associate Christmas with ‘yay, things for ME!’ and then the ‘boring’ family coming over. Of course, Christmas is about giving. But you just cannot buy memories and priceless time spent with our loved ones. Children are beginning to see their parents and grandparents as suppliers of endless money. However, children aren’t the only culprits for this. We are all guilty of over-indulging, whether it be on fruit cake or Christmas gifts.

As we grow up, we lose the spirit of Christmas because we do more of the buying and less of the receiving. In fact, we are so blinded by the media and corporations making us spend that we lose sight of what really matters to us.

I for one, am going to cut back on my spending this year and instead, substitute this money for time. Each family is unique, but for mine, we are rarely all in the same room together during the year. I’d much rather be merry and bright, devouring mince pies, and having warm, heart-to-heart conversations with my family (and my cats) than having anxieties over whether they will like their presents that I just spent half of my student loan on.

There’s no escaping the fact that Christmas will be taxing on us all. My advice to all of those feeling the pressure, whether it be to decorate the house, cook the huge Christmas dinner for the relatives coming to visit, or simply to be prepared; slow down. Remove sky-high expectations, devour your roast dinner, play old board games with your children, take too many cringe-worthy photographs and circle yourself with your favourite people on Christmas day. It’s time to forget about what society expects of us and give Christmas our own meaning.

Digital strategy includes a future for print

A senior editor told a group of DMU students he was quite happy to have lost 30,000 off his print circulation in the past two years.

Simon McGrath, Editor-in-Chief of Camping & Caravanning, explained that his relaxed attitude was because over the same period he had added 40,000 subscribers to his digital edition – taking his total distribution to over 260,000.

Simon McGrath, third left, with some of the Journalism students on the Magazine Publishing module

Simon McGrath, third left, with some of the Journalism students on the Magazine Publishing module

“I don’t believe print is dead – far from it,” Simon said during a guest lecture to David Penman’s Magazine Publishing module.

Simon explained how his team had taken the world’s oldest camping and caravanning magazine into the digital age, offering readers the opportunity to go ‘paper free’ by developing a digital publishing strategy for the 21st century.

“We now offer our members the choice of print, an ipad edition, a new website and a turn-page edition. Of course digital is growing, but I believe print will be around for a long time to come.”

The students, who are preparing for a major project which will see them work in small groups to develop a business plan for a magazine launch, were told there were other benefits to the business, other than simply growing the audience.

Simon said that the major costs of producing the magazine were the ‘Three Ps’ – Paper, Print and Postage – and that by some subscribers switching to digital meant costs were reduced.

His digital strategy had also driven up interactivity, with more and more readers clicking through from their digital edition, and more readers booking their holidays too.

Simon is one of three industry experts David has invited to come to DMU to share their experience with his students as they investigate the magazine industry – from high-profile high street glossies to niche business-to-business publications.

David said: “I am extremely grateful to Simon and our other speakers for giving up their time to give students a valuable insight into the magazine publishing business in all its many guises. It’s a fantastic opportunity to hear first-hand about the latest industry trends.”

During the course of the first term students have studied editorial, advertising, print and production techniques, business finance, customer publishing, and digital strategy. Before the Christmas break they will look at marketing and distribution and how to launch an independent magazine.

DMU first year student makes national press

DMU first year Journalism student Simon Sansome has found himself at the centre of attention in the national press – over a village Christmas tree.

Simon, a former Borough Councillor for Birstall, was asked to set up a petition as protesting against the tree which has been compared to ‘Mickey Mouse’s hat in the film Fantasia’, according to national papers like The Sun, The Daily Mail, and The Daily Express.

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Birstall Parish Council spent £21,000 on what has been dubbed ‘the worst Christmas tree in Britain’ and been described as the ‘wizard’s hat’.

Simon said: “I can’t believe that it’s got this much attention, I’ve done interviews with the national press appeared on news bulletin and done radio interviews, but also been getting very good tips from a journalistic point of view from national and local reporters.”

Simon, who is a mature student, has been quoted on dozens of websites and many national and local newspapers. A selection of the links is below.