Spent tonight wandering around Prague. Very different to what it was mere days after the iron curtain fell 22 years ago, when the ultimate sign of capitalism was owning a Lufthansa duty-free plastic bag. People queued up to buy potatoes, beers were 4p and one joyfully spent hours of bureaucracy to book a hotel room with someone who was only allowed to speak Russian to tourists. Now we have MaccyDee's & Starbucks galore, strip clubs, every other shop selling rubbish glass trinkets, and crass designer labels everywhere and as always Nigerians hassling you everywhere. At least they kept the buildings intact. Absolutely lovely architecture! But I would love to see the old socialist Prague again.

Winter in Poland is cold - it is -20°C today and the rivers and lakes are frozen over. Hot food helps and was thus consumed. I hope I am wrong, but it appears to me that Polish cuisine consists of cabbage, cabbage, cabbage, potatoes and some meat. And large dill pickles. This is what lunch today suggested in any case: I had 3 different types of cabbage piled high onto my plate - red cabbage, cole-slow and sauerkraut - by a lovely little old lady in the local eatery who thought I lacked essential gasses.

I worked for a Swiss bank in Zürich from December 2006 to March 2007. I made the holes in the cheese in the bank's canteen and had to fix the bank's corporate cuckoo clock when it did not work.


Fate had me working in an interesting part of the world again over the winter of 2002/2003. This time, it was Zagreb, capital of Croatia, which was once part of communist Yugoslavia. The project that I was managing was the first of its kind in south-eastern Europe: We were using artificial intelligence to predict the behaviour of individual mobile telephone consumers, so that the very expensive business of marketing could be optimised by more effectively targeting the consumer.

The Skintflint's guide to Swiss Food

This is an expensive place to live and food is mostly dearer than in the UK - especially when you're not here on someone else's expense. Some local products are good value for money and tasty. Try this for a laugh in the local Swiss Lädäli: