Bee in my bonnet

There are doors which open in our lives and invite us to explore other rooms. We may discover their beauties, commonness or unpleasantness but they all leave some experience we should learn of. But of course, we all hope for the beauties…

A few weeks ago I was invited to write a guest post for a “Vision and Verb” blog. I didn’t know the blog so I was browsing it for a while, reading some of its posts and looking for connections. I found motivation, inspiration, imagination and a wonderful group of cooperators and their guests. I agreed and wrote my guest post and started to participate in commenting. It’s been a wonderful training for both my English and my thinking. You know, sometimes there is a post I don’t find addressing me personally. Then I just look at its picture a few more times, let stay its words in my mind for a while and there is always something coming out and enriching me. I can share it in my comments and this way bring some “value” to the whole. So, when I was invited next to become a cooperator of the blog, I felt honoured and accepted.

May I invite you now to read my first post for the Vision and Verb blog titled “Bee in my bonnet”? It’s about history as well as about the building in the photo.


A few days ago I read Puna’s question at the end of her post “Built to last” asking what is our favourite piece of building art. I asked myself whether there is any particular building I’d consider favourite whether a piece of art or not and I had an immediate answer in front of my mind’s eye as coincidentally I’ve been pondering over such a building for quite a long time. It is a building of no world fame and no doubt you’ve never heard of it. But I was passing by it many times, entering its inside a few times and it grew on me in an unexpected way. I’m not sure of the reason why but I guess I could trace what has influenced me most.

You can see the building I’m speaking about in the photo. It is the West Bohemian Museum located in the city Plzeň (Czech Republic) where I was born and lived many years. In my eyes it’s a beautiful building in the centre of the city and also a centre of activities connected with culture, architecture, biology, ethnography, history and many more. You can imagine the variety of exhibitions and lectures one can attend there.

In February my family visited an interactive exhibition there named “Excursion into the Middle Ages”. I felt impressed, not entirely by the exhibition itself, which was interesting but quite simple, but by the connections I came to realise there. We could try writing with a quill (how patient you need to be to use it), touch period dresses (how heavy they were and what odd cloth they were sewn from), make metal coins (which used to be coined from pure silver and gold). We had a close look at a few medieval instruments of torture and I can tell you that it was an awful experience to be put in the pillory and chained there with my hands above my head. Although dressed I felt naked and watched and judged by everyone who could see me. It felt real.

There was also a task to match historical events with their proper dates on a time line. Events connected with the history of the Czech Republic, so also with my own history, such as when the Charles University in Prague was established. Although I was undoubtedly taught all those dates at school, I have to admit frankly that I failed in that task and left it uncompleted. I felt ashamed. I didn’t use to like the subject of history but the older I am, the more I see that history is represented not only by dates but especially by connections and relations between events and their more or less visible consequences.

The history teaches me that on the one hand we are unique individuals pursuing our life paths, on the other hand we are parts of something much bigger than our individuality. We have roots we should know about as they influence so deeply who we are. We have so much to be grateful for and knowing history helps to understand that.

People have had the same basic needs throughout the ages. But you all know that, don’t you, it’s just that the simple exhibition put a bee in my bonnet and I still see that remarkable building of the museum in front of my mind’s eye, the building representing so many connections…


UPDATE: The Vision and Verb blog was shut down in July 2014, you can find all my posts written for that blog here under the label Vision & Verb.



  1. History did not come alive for me until I first went to college. I took a freshman history class from a professor who loved his subject and presented it in such an interesting way, and for the first time I was interested in what happened before. Now one of our favorite things to do on weekends, when we can, is to visit a place that has a rich history and shows us how other peoples lived before us.

    I loved reading about your favorite building and what you experienced there. Your post today on Vision and Verb is so well done and the image of the building is fabulous. I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts and now am following your blog! Welcome to Vision and Verb, Petra!

  2. I read you post and had an immediate flashback to an exhibition I saw two years ago at The American History of Natural History in New York. You wandered in a large helix and got the history of the Universe from The Big bang until the present. It put me in my place, but also put it all in perspective.

  3. Oh Petra, you have brought up a deep desire in me that I have pushed away for many years. My paternal ancestors come from the Czech Republic, and my mother was born in Poland. She is no longer alive, but I wanted to travel there with her in her younger years, but she was afraid to go back. This I could never understand. She left the country when she was 5 years old. Now I want to delve down into my ancestral history. Thank you for this post about your country…

  4. That was a beautifully written post, Petra. Once again, I marvel at your grasp of the English language. I was never interested in history in school, either; but I am drawn to it more and more as I age. Maybe because the time in which I grew up is now history. 🙂

    1. Linda, thank you, you’re very kind. It’s funny, as far as I know, I have German ancestors but I’d be really curious to know whether there are other nationalities represented in my family tree. English sounds so natural to me and I like it so much.

      I guess the age gives us the necessary perspective we need to see history from a different point of view. And yes, we become a part of the history…

  5. HI Petra, so nice to see your writing! Discovering the “Story” is a wonderful adventure, whether it is based in history, nature, or within ourselves…our inquisitive nature is the creative drive in us all, and the beginnings of all we know and what we do. I really enjoyed your article. Well Done!

  6. Petra, that is a gorgeous building. No one does architecture quite like old Europe – impressive, functional and lasting. I love the sound of that interactive exhibit other than trying out the shackling. I can’t even type torture without cringing but I admire the museum for making visitors remember the good and the bad.

    Terrific post! Your mastery of English is impressive, even by native speaking standards.

    1. Sarah, thank you so much for your praise and for your comment. My attention has been caught by your remark that you “admire the museum for making visitors remember the good and the bad”, I wasn’t looking at the exhibition this way. But you’re right, it was good.

  7. My mom’s love of History, in which she received her undergraduate degree from Smith College, never passed on to me, Petra, I’m afraid! However, the older I become, the more I enjoy history, especially as seen in some of the great movie sagas of all time. When I “see” it, I remember it and put it all into place. I’m sure it’ll take the rest of my life to even touch the tip of the iceberg.

    The longer I live in Europe, the more I fall in love with its architecture. I can totally understand why and how you have written this piece. Thank you for starting off your collaboration with us with it! WELCOME, indeed. It already feels like you’ve been with us for a long time! Thank you for saying YES! 🙂

  8. Rick

    Wonderful post accompanying a great shot of a beautiful building. I'm in agreement on Petra's view of history – unfortunately many of us have been turned off a love of studying history by poor curriculum or indifferent teachers. It's the majority of what I read today.

  9. Anyes - Far Away In The Sunshine

    History used to be one of my favourite subject and this Excursion into the Middle Ages exhibit you got to visit with your family, seem to have been the perfect hands-on connection with real historical artifacts. How lucky!
    When I look at buildings like the one you photographed here, I always wished the walls could talk, and wonder what they would say…

  10. Soosie

    What a lovely, lovely post. I also avoided history at school. It seemed to me to be all about dates and, frankly, I couldn't be bothered. It may well be the way it was taught at the time – world wide it seems. I now see history as predominatly being about people and how they lived and what events shaped their lives. This I find fascinating and slowly, slowly I am educating myself about the history I ignored while younger. This task may take more years than I have – but I will not find it dull.

  11. Marcie

    It's so true about the lessons of connectivity we learn thru history…and we can learn so much about history thru architecture. You've got me thinking here about how it is we all live our individual lives…and – yet – how we are all bound together. Wonderful post and beautiful building!!!

  12. Sue

    I have never been one to memorize – dates, math facts, details, etc. – so I would probably 'fail' the match historical events with dates too! LOL Concepts seem to be my strength, and it's the concepts of history that I often find fascinating…and the lessons they teach. It seems to me that the exhibit made history REAL to you, and that is what was intended.

  13. Susan

    Wonderful post, Petra! I've always been a history nut, love the connections of people & places, old homes & buildings ~ and I really love how you shared the images here of your favorite building and I love being able to welcome you as a member of our family!

  14. Elena Caravela

    So true. We react within the bounds of our time and place and in turn effect the time and place. And, yesterday becomes history. I was miserable memorizing battles and dates, but learning about the consequences to culture and individuals got me through. Fascinating. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of all connections.

  15. Catherine

    It's beautiful to think that one building would influence and nurture you throughout you life. Architecture can be profound and open up worlds of wonder. You have reminded me how our struggle to understand ourselves can be found in our history and what we have made, thank you:~)

  16. CherryPie

    That is an impressive building. I have to confess that when I was young history left me cold, I think it was because I was taught 'real' history at school. As the years have gone buy I have got more and more fascinated with history and I can't get enough of it.
    As you mention history teaches us many things, including learning mistakes from the past.
    Thank you and welcome to V&V 🙂

  17. Carola

    In school I failed horribly in history. Today, it is one of the most interesting subjects to me and I'm mad at myself that I was such a slacker at school. I am the go-to person in historical questions in my family now!

  18. Maery Rose

    I think visiting an actual place or being told a personal story of living at a certain brings history so much more to life than the history text books we had to get through in school.

  19. Kelly

    Yes, that is the best way to view history in my opinion. The connections to the people are what matter most. I have come to love historical fiction for this reason, it puts it all in a context that I can relate to.

  20. Gotham Girl Aka Robin

    So wonderful to meet you Petra! Welcome to our family! When I saw your title, Bee in my Bonnet, it just totally cracked me up because in my corporate life we used that saying all the time along with "panties in a wad." So that just tickled me. I have never been a lover of history, but I do think that with age that's changing. I love to see it and photograph it, but never been one to really read about it. Perhaps that's why I barely passed in history class in school, ha! Thoughtful post and it's wonderful to get a glimpse of your thoughts and so look forward to more. I'm also looking forward to seeing your photography especially when you say your photography is intuitive and based on the spur of the moment. LOVE, love, love that! Welcome!!!!

  21. Thank you all for sharing your experience and thank you for your warm welcome. I’ve been pleased to read how your comments deepen my thoughts. I guess as we grow older we are put into different perspective and see connections we might not have been able to see when being younger.

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