Born in what is now the Czech Republic, I began to attend school in 1943, during the Second World War. I lived with my parents in Parish Zvoleneves near Prague. This meant that my education was, from the beginning very challenging. Nobody felt safe. Our childhood was not carefree. As soon as I started to learn to write, I found everything was wrong; we were having lessons in German with a man wearing an Army uniform, who only spoke his own language – and unnecessarily loudly too.
Once the War was over, there was to be a New Life with freedom. That was what everyone was saying, anyway, but this proved to be just an illusion and the Russian regime proved to be a variation on German hegemony.
I continued with dual languages and realised that I preferred literary subjects to Maths and Physics. I was influenced by nature, and started writing poetry and short stories, for which I won praise from my teacher. It almost seemed incongruous then that my next step was a secondary school specialising in Accountancy, taking me up to the A-level stage. There really wasn’t much choice. My heart wasn’t in that profession, and so, some years later, whilst on maternity leave, I studied for my Institute of Teachers qualifications from home. This was decidedly more “my cup of tea.” I could pursue my interests in art, reading and nature at last.
The next “game-changer” in my life came after the Velvet Revolution, which took place in the Czech Republic in 1989. My daughters were already grown up and had left home. When my husband died unexpectedly and suddenly, I found myself alone. The borders of our country were open and my dream of seeing other countries and more nature was becoming a reality. I was amazed at the ease with which tourists were now passing through the Iron Curtain. I passed the course to become a Tourist Guide. This enabled me to learn more about history and geography, to write itineraries for coach parties and to work with travel agencies, paving the way for my next game-changing episode and my first trip to the United Kingdom.
Within the space of a few years, I had met my next husband, got married and become a British citizen. I carried on with my second profession, as a teaching assistant in a primary school in Folkestone. I had lived through such upheavals and this was such an emotional period of my life that I felt compelled to write about it. And so, my first book, Goodbye Comrades, was born in 2008, followed by another four, in which I describe the life stories of Eastern Europeans coming to the UK.