Monday, October 31, 2005

Caught in the Act !!

As I have previously admitted (Ghost, Ghoulies
and Weird Things
) I did in fact converse with a group of Scottish "Cretins", well half were Scottish the rest English.

It should be noted that they had only just arrived, were still sober, and I hope that they did not impinge on the well earned reputation of the previous Scottish visitors ( Football supporters from Jocks's Barmy Army ") - but I suspect the worst.

So before the pictures of said appear anywhere else here they are, with my apologies to all. My thanks J..... ( Irish ) for making these available - so kind !

No excuses - but please note I may be talking to them, but I am not drinking with them !

Staying on the subject of visiting "Cretins" - on Saturday we escaped to our "secret" establishment , only to be invaded by a group of Welsh "Cretins" complete with Red shirts and a variety of bits of sheep, which they proceeded to adorn themselves with. Must be a Welsh secret ritual.

How they discovered our secret establishment - who knows, but after words with the owner it was agreed that in future such groups visiting between the hours of 2:30pm and 5:30pm on Weekends would be barred.
As J...... ( Australian) put it - Teething Problems !!

So it seems it was a Celtic "Cretins" weekend - pray God they have left

Now a notice to all members of our village society -- next Sunday M....... ( Italian) has agreed to "cook" Ala Italian style, Rabbit -yuk ! - Quail - bigger Yuk !! & Chicken & Pork - all to be cooked on a Spit ( Oh yea ? - remember what happened last time this was to be organised ( Tales from the Riverbank) - we will but see.

In addition he has promised salad and risotto

Anyhow the grand plan is that food will be ready from 5.00pm Sunday evening (Possibly earlier) - So please come and support the cause - Secret place ( Upstairs) , Sunday 6th November - pass the word - it would be good if we can get 20+ people - but he needs to know asap. If you can make it please leave a comment to say or give me or M....... a call.

Have a good week ...................

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Ghosts - Ghoulies & other weird things !

Well it is nearly that time of the year again, when the weirdo's come out to celebrate Halloween.

As you can see some of them have appeared early this year - these hot head's were spotted in the hostelry, better known as De Lacey's.

The first is clearly in fine fettle -the second, well lets just say that he is otherwise disposed.

I do have one question, well two actually -

1. What do they do with all the waste pumkin ?
2. Where do Pumkins come from ?

Halloween as best as I can work out here is very much an adult celebration here (or just another excuse to get frazzled), unlike back home where I think the days of "Trick or Treat" by the children still goes on, or at least I hope it does.

Now on the subject of weird things, and having been caught "on camera" by I..... ( amazing bar person) J..... ( vertically challenged) - I must plead guilty to actually indulging in conversation with a group of "Cretins".

So before this photograph is published on the hostelry walls, let me explain.

First of all they were Scottish "Cretins" - a very different breed from the English species. Well I say Scottish, but whilst the whole group of about 20+ were in kilts ( remember the temperature is dropping) - it transpired that some were actually English, but as the the groom to be was Scottish, so all had to wear the Scottish attire.

To be fair they seemed a good group of "lads" albeit that the age range seemed to be from early 20's to early 50's. So whilst I still object to there presence, at least I trust that this particular group will keep the Scottish image unblemished.

So there you are - and I admit it - I have engaged in conversation with Cretins, although my ability to advise them which "Club" they should go to, was zero - like wise where they could find a Thai massage ??? ( What is a Thai massage ?).

However I am sure that they will find suitable establishments only to willing to relieve them of there cash.

A general word of warning to all you may consider visiting this lovely city, it is not without its dangers ( as in every other capital city) - but if you choose to visit some of the more dubious night clubs, be prepared to be fleeced - likewise if you choose to walk back to your hotel in the wee hours, and particularly if you are slightly inebriated, then you have a very high chance of being accosted and requested to make a donation (money, wallet, mobile phone are accepted) to your accoster (?) - and they do not take no for an answer.

This week also exposed me to a Scam, which I had not heard of before.

I have two mobile handsets, (this is irrelevant to the story but I thought you might like to know), yesterday I received an SMS message supposedly from LMT ( one of the National mobile operators), which advised that I had "won" Ls 100.00 of free calls, and that all I had to to was to call a help line number.

So I did, only to be advised that in order to receive my Ls 100.00 of free calls, I had to immediately go and buy a pre-paid voucher on TELE2 network to the value of Ls12.95.

Then I had to call back and give the details of this pre-paid voucher.

And this is the scam, first as I am an LMT customer I could not use the TELE2 pre-paid voucher, and by giving the voucher details to "them" they could immediately use the voucher for there own personal use - Nice one - if you fall for it.

So be warned - there are some interesting scams about.

Now back to some weird goings on in Riga, and in particular at the Village Centre. As you will no doubt have gathered, with the arrival on mass of the "Cretins" into the said hostelry, it can create serious problems for the bar staff, as they invariably order drinks all round for the group, and you can imagine that this can take a considerable time, and given the frequency of these orders, can result in us lesser mortals having to wait to be served.

Likewise with only two toilets, and an incessant queue of visitors to these, it takes up a significant amount of staff time to ensure that the toilets are properly maintained.

So J...... ( he of diminutive stature, but heart of gold) and with a piece of lateral thinking (No J.... you do not have to lie down for this) has come up with innovative solution to resolve both problems.

First the drink problem - bigger glasses - same amount of beer - just less servings

and the Toilet maintenance problem - well simply brilliant

And who said the Irish were stupid

So to all, have a Good Halloween, and watch out for the Ghosts & Ghoulies, the Weirdo's are simply unavoidable.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

All Things Bright & Beautiful

I was asked the other day by C.... ( Malaysian book burner) "What is A Cretin ?" in seeking an answer I turned to the dictionary which defines Cretin as -

Pronunciation: 'krE-tin
Function: noun
Etymology: French crétin, from French dialect cretin, literally, wretch, innocent victim, from Latin christianus Christian
1: one afflicted with cretinism
2 : a stupid, vulgar, or insensitive person

So according to this definition we have the French to blame -

But I felt that in our case it somewhat misses the poignancy of our Cretins in Riga

But given that my English is at times lacking in clarity I thought a picture of one group of them might be of benefit to show the typical physical characteristics of this particular species.

My Definition ( with apologies to Websters )
Pronunciation: 'krE-tin
Function: noun
Etymology: British (usually English) crétin, with British dialect, literally, Drunk, Guilty, Loud, Abusive from Latin christianus Christian
1: one afflicted with
2 : a dumb, obnoxious, or moronic person who thinks Ryan Air is a great airline

So To C... - I hope this helps, likewise to anyone else who was uncertain of this breed.

Now to this morning - first frost of the year, minus 2C, and it appears that the first smatterings of snow appeared in the countryside, so with that in mind a little humour seems to be in order.

Have never worked out why, the Irish jokes seems to travel so well, probably because you can substitute "Irish" for Polish, Italian, etc and they still work - so for your edification read on -

One Liner's

Hear about the Irish parachute?
It opens on impact.

What about the Irish sky-diver who was killed when his snorkel failed to open?

Or the Irish water skier who spent the whole winter looking for a sloping lake?

Or the Irish Sea Scouts who drowned when their tent sank?

Or the Irish midget who joined the Army.
He lied about his height!

Or the Irish terrorist who went to blow up a bus.
He burnt his lips on the exhaust pipe.

The Irish attempt on Mount Everest was a valiant effort, but it failed: They ran out of scaffolding.

The Irish Guide to Medical Terms

Artery: The study of paintings
Bacteria: Back door to the cafeteria
Barium: What undertakers do
Cesarean Section: District of Rome
C.A.T. Scan: Search for pussy
Cauterise: Making eye contact with a woman
Dilate: To live to a very old age
Enema: Somebody who's got it in for ya!
Labour pain: Off on workers compensation
Morbid: A higher offer at auction
Nitrate: Cheaper than day rate
Rectum: Damn near killed him
Tablet: A little table
Terminal Illness: Getting sick at the bus depot
Tumour: More than one more
Urine: Opposite to you're out

An Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman were without tickets for the opening ceremonies of the summer Olympics but hoped to be able to talk their way in at the gate. Security was very tight, however, and each of their attempts was met with a stern refusal.

While wandering around outside the stadium, the Englishman came upon construction site, which gave him an idea. Grabbing a length of scaffolding, he presented himself at the gate and said, "Johnson, the pole vault," and was admitted.

The Scotsman, overhearing this, went at once to search the site. When he came up with a sledge hammer, he presented himself at the gate and said, "McTavish, the hammer." He was also admitted.

The Irishman combed the site for an hour and was nearly ready to give up when he spotted his ticket in. Seizing a roll of chain link, he presented himself at the gate and announced,"O'Sullivan, fencing."

The New Priest

A new priest at his first mass was so nervous he couldn't stand still. He asked Father Murphy for some advice. Father Murphy replied, "When I'm worried about gettin' nervous on the pulpit, I take a wee bit o' whiskey. Just to calm my nerves."

So the next Sunday he took the older priest's advice. Before the mass, he got nervous and took a drink. He then proceeded to talk up a storm. Upon return to his office after mass, he found the following note on his door:

1. A few sips of whiskey. Not the whole bottle.
2. There are 10 commandments, not 12.
3. There are 12 disciples, not 10.
4. Jesus was consecrated, not constipated.
5. Jacob wagered his donkey, he did not bet his ass.
6. We do not refer to Jesus Christ as the late J.C.
7. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not referred to as Senior, Junior, and the Spook.
8. David slew Goliath, he did not kick the shit out of him.
9. When David was hit by a rock and knocked off his donkey, don't say "He was stoned off his ass."
10. We do not refer to the cross as the Big T!
11. When Jesus broke the bread at the Last Supper he said, "Take this and eat it, for it is my body"; he did not say, "Eat me."
12. The Virgin Mary is not referred to as the, "Mary with the Cherry".
13. The recommended grace before a meal is not: "Rub-A-dub-dub, thanks for the grub, yea God"

And just to show that there is humour in Wales

A Russian spy in Wales

A Russian spy was dropped by parachute in the Welsh hills with instructions to contact a Mr. Jones who lived in the small village of Llanfair, and give him the code message "the tulips are blooming well today."

Arriving at the village he asked a small boy where Mr. Jones lived and was directed to a small cottage at the end of the village.

He knocked on the door and the owner emerged. "Are you Mr. Jones?" he asked
"I am." came the reply
"The tulips are blooming well today." said the Russian
Mr. Jones stared at him in amazement and then smiled.
"Ah, you have come to the wrong house boy. It's Jones-the-spy you want."

and finally found this on an Irish Web site - should we tell T.. ? ( English - Came to Riga to find a woman - suffers from personality disorder - still looking for a woman )

Comments in Green are mine

Busy week ahead - so unless Bird Flu breaks out -no more until weekend............

Monday, October 24, 2005

One-Two Oopsie Daisy

First of all we ( I) have decided the J... (Australian) deserves a prize, he did indeed manage to convince the owners of ....... .......... to open the "secret" room in order to provide a cretin free zone at weekends. Not sure what the prize should be - but if anyone has any suggestions, let me know.

A word to all of the inner sanctum club, if and when you can please support our "secret" room at weekends, time are from 3.00pm on a Saturday, and 1.00pm on a Sunday. You are guaranteed a "Cretin" free zone and no Football ! - Rugby and Motor sports only.

I did meander into De Lacey's on Friday evening, but within 30 minutes had to escape as the first batch arrived, departed to last weekends Cretin Free bar ... .. ......, but Damn ! - they were there. so finally tried the Dickens bar, and lo and behold it was Cretin free - but not for long, but sufficient time to enjoy a couple of beers.

On my return journey on route for home, I again passed De Lacey's, only to find the Wee man ( he of diminutive stature but heart of gold), standing outside - not sure if he was deputising for the security man, or just counting the punters going in and out. However did notice that at least at that moment in time the bar was "Cretin" free - presumably ensconced in Dickens. They do like to move around.

Enough of the "Cretins" , the weekend otherwise passed peacefully, and I spent a pleasant afternoon on Saturday at the Cinema - to watch Wallace & Gromit - brilliant !! - thereafter I returned home to work on the domestics.

During the telling of these tales, I have missed out on one of my oldest and dearest of friends - Matilda. (See below - ignore large white and Red flowers - they are fakes - but add a little colour during the year)

She has been with me nearly five years, and whilst nearly dying some years ago has now recovered - and responds well to my tender loving care. I have no idea what she is, some sort of Cactus ( I think ) - but once a year she displays the most wonderful of blooms, which makes all hard work during the year worthwhile.
If anyone knows what she is - let me know.

As anyone who knows me my skills in looking after anything green are seriously limited - but given that she has survived so far, must indicate
I am doing something right.

Then on Sunday, in between the showers I took myself for a walk down by the canal ( river) which runs through the park near to my apartment.

As ever there were a number of children feeding the Duck, Geese and the omnipresent Pigeons - but there in the middle of them all (Circled in red) was the most beautiful bird I have ever seen, and strangely it was entirely on its own, no sign of any other member of its species.

So if there is any ornithologists out there who can tell what it is, I would be grateful

So there we are a very uneventful weekend, but somehow between Matilda, the "Duck ?" and J...., one which proved to be most enjoyable.

Now by this time who must wondering what has of this got to do with One-Two Oopsie Daisy, well remember the Ill wind that blows no good ? ( come on its was in the last blog) - well

To which the watching crowd ( well someone had to take the picture ) cried in Unison

One - Two - Oopsie Daisy

So another of lifes mysteries is revealed - what next the Loch Ness Monster ?

And finally (please double click to enlarge image) look closely and count the black spots, no prize for the correct answer - but let now

Have a good week - hopefully so will I.................

Friday, October 21, 2005

Excercise is Good - Walking is Dangerous

How do they know ? - what you may ask - How do they (the Latvians) know that I am a foreigner ? - I think I look perfectly normal, OK I carry a handbag, but so do many Latvian men, I occasionally wear a bow tie, but it cannot be that.
But there must be something about me and all other non Latvians, that make us stand out.

Because without exception I (we) get approached either for money or whatever, and they know I am not from Latvia - How ? - do I have a hidden halo sign that says Foreigner ?

Speaking of being out and about, and if you remember my warning about crossing streets, of equal danger is the Latvian pedestrian , they want to walk through you. No matter where you are walking, and I walk everywhere, I have to keep my eyes open for those members of the public you apparently cannot see me, and just walk straight towards me, and if I did not take evasive action ( NB You have to take evasive action as Latvian pedestrian will not ).

If you have been on the dodgems at a fair ground you will get a rough idea of what I mean.

So to anyone planning to visit Riga, be warned, if you think it is only Latvian drivers who are dangerous, just wait till you meet the pedestrians !

One my small observations whilst I walk through and around Riga, is the vast number of hairdressers and shoe shops, If I could relate shops to disease, then we have an epidemic of hairdressers and shoe shops.

In Riga alone there over 638 registered Hairdresser/beauty salons and 521 shoe shops. Remember this is a city of less than 1 million people. Within 30 metres of my apartment, there are five hairdressers.

The sheer number of these establishments may in part be explained by the apparent fascination that Latvian Women have for changing there hair style / colour at every opportunity, and in particular with the changing of the seasons -blond for summer - auburn for Autumn & red for Winter.

The majority of the Latvian males just seem to have there hair shaved - so no problem there. As far as I can tell there is no such thing as a gentleman's hairdresser - they are all Unisex.

In days of old one simply went in, ( remember when they were called Barbers ? - And you were invariably asked "Anything else Sir ??" - and we all knew what was meant by that) - but you just sat down had your hair cut and you were out -but not in Riga.

Here is the basics which I experience on each and every encounter- and I promise you it takes at least an hour

1. Hair Washed ( 5 minutes)
2. Hair then carefully cut with Scissors & Comb ( 15 minutes)
3. You are asked do you want your Hands/feet manicured ( Before you ask my answer is NO)
4. Electric hair trimmer applied ( which leads one to ask why bother with step 2 ?) - (15 minutes)
5. Trim hair in nose and ears -this requires a steady hand to avoid bloodletting - (10 minutes)
6. Hair is washed again ( why ?) - 5 minutes)
7. Are you sure you do not want hands/feet manicured ? ( Still No)
8. Blow dry hair ( In my case this should take about 5 seconds- but last for another 5 minutes)
9. Final trim and application of weird gel as my hair is "styled" ( 5 minutes)

As an aside I have yet to meet a male hairdresser, although I am sure they exist.

Now speaking of shoes, I can only assume that Latvian males have strange shaped feet, or alternatively weird fashion tastes in shoes, because for the life of me I cannot find a single shoe shop that sells standard classic designed shoes. Casual ones yes , but normal shoes- No. I can get pointed ones, blunt ones, one with toes that curl upwards. I guess I am out of step with current fashion.

With Winter fast approaching I am once again seeking to buy overshoes, they are here somewhere, but in 10 years I still cannot find them, and walking with leather soled shoes only adds to the danger of walking in Riga.

As I have indicated in the past there are some things in Latvia that just work and surpass anything I have ever experienced elsewhere. I came across one of these earlier this week.

I had the occasion to take a car for its annual Test ( MOT in the UK). In Latvia all cars must undergo this test every year, irrespective of age.

Here is the actual sequence of events for this test, which includes a full check of all basic items, lights, brakes, exhaust emmissions, suspension, etc ( 42 checks in total) - by way of fully automated test station.

08.20 - Arrive, go to cash desk and pay for test - Ls22.00 and alloted Bay number
0.825 - Enter Test area and drive into bay number 6 - to be greeted in English by Test Engineer (The language skills here are unreal)
0.840 - Test Completed and test certificate stuck onto Windscreen
08.45 - Leave test station, Test Completed

Total time - 25 minutes - try that for size in the UK, where you have to book well in advance to get your MOT done, and probably say goodbye to the car for the best part of the morning/afternoon.

So despite all of the moans and groans which I often make about living and working in Riga, there are many things which just make say "Wow !"

And finally (nearly) - had the occasion to go into an International School, specialising in teaching English, went up to the receptionist to make my query- But she only spoke Russian - Mmmmmmmmmmm ??

Now this is the final picture update for today, and is especially for all my Australian friends - and I make no comments as to its implications

To all and sundry have a good weekend - for me I will be hoping to watch a little Rugby, and catch up on my domestic chores. The former will be carried out in a secret Cretin free bar, if J.... ( Australian) has managed to arrange same - Cheers !

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Political Interludes & Winter Chill

Is it often said that a picture paints a thousands words - so what message do these pictures paint ? ( Double Click on images to see full size picture)

Ah well nobody said it was easy being a President ! - and finally for those looking forward to winter, and remembering my Tribute to Thomas Crapper, this was taken last year during one of the colder spells, when a freak snowstorm blew through, with temparatures plunging below zero.

A (ch)ill wind that blows nobody good !!

Will return to matters of Riga in next edition -

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Update on Tales from the Riverbank

To all my avid readers, please note I updated "Tales from the Riverbank" with additional photographs courtesy of J... ( Australian). So you will have to go that particilar entry to review.

I have also added the web address of this wonderful location to the blog (See the sidebar) - so that others may enjoy, and as the "Cretins" do not travel well outside of the Old Town, we can safely assume that they will never go 100km outside of Riga.

By way of an aside, the came across this tale about the Englishman, Scotsman, and and the inevitable Irishman ( Why never a Welshman ?)

An Englishman, Scotsman and a Irishman were discussing how far back they could remember. The Englishman said he could remember sitting in his pram, the Scotsman said he could remember the nurse hitting his backside when he was born, the Irishman said he could remember going to a dance with his father and going home with his mother.

And to all of you have spotted my spelling mistakes when reading this blog, be advised these are deliberate and serve only to identify who has been reading it, as no one can resist telling me about these "mistakes".

Sunday, October 16, 2005

End of an Era ?

Let me first of all declare that what follows is a very personal view of recent happenings in Riga, ( As all my comments/tales have been) and that whilst others may or may not share my opinions - what I have written has not been influenced by any other member of our little group, although I fear I am not alone in my concerns)

This story really begins last Friday evening, when as is my habit, I meandered from my office down town, to my favourite bar ( previously mentioned as the center of our village). On entering the hostelry, there they were "THE CRETINS" - in this case apparently from the fair City of Liverpool. Albeit that S..... ( Welsh) - M........ ( Italian) were in attendance. I managed to have one pint, before deciding that I felt distinctly uncomfortable, I think it was the 20 stone Cretin, doing a "Moonie" that did it, or was it the Smaller Cretin throwing beer at a gypsy kid, begging outside the window, whatever, and with regret I headed for home.

Know as anyone who has chosen to read this blog ( and they are limited in number) - I decided from the start to refrain from naming the establishment which for many of us has become a second home, in the vain hope that any Cretins on reading my blog would not be able to identify it.

But it would appear that my efforts have been in vain, as for reasons I cannot comprehend, every "Cretin" that arrives in Riga seems to make straight for this particular bar - So to all you may have been intrigued by the name - it is De Lacey's - the most Irish of all Irish bars in Riga old town. God only knows how they find the place - Do Ryan Air have the name printed on the back of the ticket ?

I later heard that Friday night became somewhat "interesting" and this particular group were invited to depart from De Lacey's, but later re-emerged in smaller groups.

To my dismay I also learned that ( at least on THE evenings) a security guard is employed to ensure all is well - perhaps he has poor memory retention, as he seems not to remember who he has thrown out, as within hours he lets them back in. What kind of bar needs a security guard ? - in my days it was the Landlord who ruled - but as I have been advised even in the UK it is now common practice - I guess I am really getting to old - I just seem to remember better days.

So now I move forward to Saturday, when having agreed to meet S.... ( Welsh) in the afternoon, only to find that the whole of De Lacey's was awash with multiple groups of the "Cretins", so without as much as a single drink, we took ourselves off to another "Irish" pub in the old town, and guess what - it was delightfully free from "Cretins", but still selling the same beer of which I am partial.

Within minutes B......, ( Irish - maker of clothes) - chose to join us, and so we once again enjoyed our afternoon refreshments, without the "ambiance" of the English "Cretins" ( apologies to my English friends - but on this occasions they were all exclusively from England)

So what was the difference between the two bars ? - truly I do not know - although one glaring difference was that in ... ..'...... they was no SKY TV, therefore no football - could this be the reason ? - again I have no answers, but one thing is certain, it will get my ( our ?) vote of where to have a drink, at least at weekends.

To put the "Cretins" visitations into perspective, They begin to arrive as of Thursday and only finally depart on Monday night. So to all intents we have "lost" our favourite bar for five nights out of seven !! I am told that Ryan Air now have two flights day from Stansted and one flight per day from Liverpool - that is a potential of 600+ Cretins per day !!!

Which brings me to today ( Sunday) - having spent a glorious afternoon walking in the sunshine around the Open Air Museum ( needless to say - a Cretin free zone) - I took myself once more back into the Old Town to ascertain if I could relax within De Lacey's - and of the course the answer was NO - there they were stuffing pints down there throats, and watching the "game" - and just like Saturday I swiftly departed.

One comment in regards to Sunday, the whole benefit of having a "local" is the knowledge that when you enter the chances are that you will know at least one person in the bar with whom you can enter into a little banter with - Not today, with the exception of I...... ( bar person) - I did not know a single person. What is more worrying where were all of my friends, who I know enjoy a beer on a Sunday afternoon ?

To my mind, two things are happening due I am sure to arrival of these "Cretins" - the bar staff you were ( and I mean all of them) were warm and friendly - are now becoming increasingly stressed out - Can you imagine one bar person for nearly 50+ Cretins in bar ( that was today), and regretfully I am now considering seeking another establishment, where I can escape from this madness.

All of us, and particularly myself tend to treat our local, as if it were "ours" - of course it is not, it is a commercial enterprise, which must choose what kind of customers it wishes to attract and which it does not.

Whether by choice or accident De Lacey"s has attracted the "Cretins". It is not alone in doing so - but, and it is a big but - it also happens to be the smallest Irish/British bar in Riga - So what appears to be a crowd in one bar becomes an army in De Lacey's.

At a guess, this weekend the average size of a group of Cretins was between 16 - 20. So when you get 3 or 4 of these groups arriving on mass - Well I leave it to your imagination. Remember only two Toilets !

For those of you who fond memories of your local pub or bar back "home" - what do you think would happen if the same "Cretins" arrived therein ?

So what of our little group - well if this weekend was any judge I ( we ?) are voting with our feet - For my part I truly hope that this is just a temporary phenomenon, and that in time we can once again return to having a bar that feels "ours".

I appreciate that the foregoing comments, reflect those of an older generation (OK - in my case a seriously older generation), and someone with somewhat conservative tastes ( I admit to ironing my socks), but as I said at the outset of this blog ( Welcome to Scot in Riga) - perhaps there is room for a bar which "bars" the Cretins.

Role on Tuesday

Friday, October 14, 2005

Life in Pictures - last week - last year

As I have regaled you earlier this week with the Tales from the Riverbank, I can now add some more pictures courtesy of the wife of S...... ( Ukranian) - thats her handbag in the picture - although as most know I do carry a handbag or shoulderbag, and have done for many a year.

The first as you can see is of myself in perfect repose ala car car seat on the banks of the River Daugava

Here we are frantically searching for the perfect "skimming" stone

And finally the ( and please note the Style") - Skimming in its full glory - this was a "oner"

As you may recall from "A tale from the Riverbank" it is anticipated that we will make our return to this refuge in February 2006 to take advantage of the winter ambience ?? -thinking of Winter, reminded me of a night last winter.

Three repribates ( is there such a word elibriates ?) - J...... (Irish), M... (New Zealander) and R.. (English) after participating in late evening session in ......................... ( yes that bar !) - could not decide as to where they should meander off to next.

Whereupon they discovered in the Square an outdoor ice rink, specially erected for the winter season. So with hearts in there mouth and no fear in their hearts , they donned their skating boots and off they set - well sort off. The rational for this piece of madness was that whoever managed to stay upright could choose where to go. M...... ( New Zealander) was taking the pictures as he clearly did not care where they went, or had the desire to stay dry.

As can be seen from below, the required skills for remaining upright were sadly lacking by both participants, which in one particular case is really surprising given his low center of gravity ( No names in case of possible law suite) -I leave the pictures to tell there sad tale. I never did find out where they went, probably to the dry cleaners.

Finally a word to all who have just discovered this blog, a word of advice - the only way that it makes sense is to start from the very first blog and work your way through.

Mine is not so much a diary, more an ongoing story, and you would never start at the end of a book- would you ? ( All persons of Irish or Polish descent you are excused from answering !!).

Monday, October 10, 2005

Tales from the Riverbank

Once upon a time......

(to see full size image please double click on images)

well about six weeks ago Aussie J...( Australian who helps to deforest Latvia) and R.. ( English - 2nd generation Latvian - and who does not sell second hand PC's) decided to host a "party" in nether regions of Latvia. The whole concept was based on having a roast pig as the main event, along with with this mouth watering treat, various delicacy's both of the solid and liquid varieties were too be on hand, in order that a minimum level of sobriety could be maintained. All of this to be enjoyed in peace and quiet of the Latvian countryside.

The first and critical challenge was to find a dead pig and of course a spit on which to roast it. Delegation for supplying the pig fell to R.. , with joint responsibility to find a spit. For the next few weeks various concepts were discussed in relation to the spit - these varied from " could we modify a bicycle" to "Do not worry" ( this from Aussie J...) I will get one my people to "knock one up".

So with great expectations the great day arrived last Saturday, the biggest surprise of all was the weather - it was absolutely stunning, blue skies and a temperature of around 18 degrees.

Before I go further in regaling this tale, I must introduce the list of characters who feature, and without whom there would be no tale)

T...... ( Swedish - part time hells angel, part time fireman - daytime job involves playing with plastic)
C...... ( Malaysian - who cooks the books - burns them actually - christian name rhymes with - Achoooo and co-holds world record for the loudest snoring with S....., wife lives in Malaysia - -and who can blame her !)
R....... ( Another Malaysian - member of Green Tea Appreciation Society - and thinks this is winter !! - is he in for a surprise in a few months !)
S....... ( Welsh - check out " A village life for me"- and co-holds world record for the loudest snoring with C....)
Aussie J.... (see above)
R.. ( see above)
T.. ( American - makes candles - and has the loudest laugh in Latvia, and probably the world)
R.... ( Russian - wife of T.. - makes great salads)
S...... ( Ukrainian - check out " A village life for me")
B..... ( English - Teacher - part time (bad) singer in .......... - has features that you would die for ( many have) - and is definitely not a member of Alcoholic's Anonymous)

Diesel - Latvian Cat with with amazing appetite ( see picture)

Apologies to anyone that I left out

So the cast gathered at what can only be described as heaven on earth - a beautiful riverside setting on the Daugava, Log cabins, log Sauna house. On the day with not a breeze in sight we all duly assembled to do justice to the pig and the setting.

Well it appears the pig was killed, but as no one has actually seen it who can tell, but we were assured by R.. that it was in his Dad's freezer ( either a small pig or a big freezer). However the real reason for the non appearance of the pig, was of course the total absence of a Spit ! - So no roast pig.

But would this dampen the spirits ?- of course not - plan "B" had been put into operation by Aussie J... - he had visited the local Rimi supermarket, and cornered the market in , beef, pork, beer and a whole host of other goodies in which the assembled cast could indulge. ( Definitely Brownie points at this stage to Aussie J.... ). The picture shows some of the cabins in background, the foreground is a perfect study of the chaos the preceeded the cooking - please note the Double creams courtesy of ASDA. The reason for Crisp packet being wide open is that Diesel ( the cat) had just "dined" on them

So there we sat around the campfire ( OK it was a barbecue) - with beers in hands much foolish chatter - when the cry went up - "has anyone brought some Cd's" - fortunately S...... (Ukranian)had not at this stage turned up but C.... - declared that he had brought some - Malaysian ??.

The picture I will leave to your imagination - 10-12 good men, of varying nationalities, sitting with beers in their hands, or in the case T.. - whiskey, eating their beef / Pork steaks ( beautifully cooked by C... and R.....), with the river Daugava glistening in the background, to accompaniment of Malaysian Pop music - surreal.

But the question you may ask could it get better ( or worse) - well depending on your musical taste it could and did- enter T.. - with some of the most obscure American folk/country music that I have ever heard. Again I will leave it to your imagination to paint this picture in your mind.

Suffice to say that nobody was joining in the chorus !!

Having had been fed and watered it was soon time to stretch the legs, and so of I and S...... (Welsh) went to walk along the riverbank - and after what seem miles( in reality about 100 meters) - what did we find, a little man made beach of sand and rocks, and sitting on the bank was - Two cars seats - so what was a man to do ( or in this case men to do) - sit down, close your eyes, let the sun shine upon your face and sit in perfect silence - absolutely magical.

During this wonderful interlude Mrs Swan appeared ( of course it could have been Mr Swan) who proceeded to make a bee (swan ) line for S...... ( Welsh) who by this time had sat down by the waters edge. Clearly seeing that he bore no resemblance to Tom Sellick ( see "A village life for me") - he began to suggest that to S...... (Welsh) that should remove himself at once from what was clearly his bit of water. So he did and returned to car seat, to continue the afternoon watch on the activities on the river.

So once again the pair of us relaxed and move ever closer to state of sleep, but then just as I was about to nod off, I heard this faint but growing ever loud sound - was the swan about to attack ? NO it was S..... (Welsh) -snoring ! - and he was not even asleep - how can he do that without being asleep ???

Notwithstanding this "little" noise feature, we were in any event to be disturbed by the rest of cast, whereupon we all spontaneously joined a battle of " pebble skimming".

For those of you not familiar with this most British of sports, which ranks only second to Pooh Sticks as a water based sport. It involves finding a suitable pebble ( must be ideally round and flat) - then one throws ( or skimages is the technical phrase) such that the pebble skims ( or bounces) across the water. The winner is he ( or she) who can get the most bounces ( or skims) out of the pebble.

The battle raged on for the best part of 40 minutes, which each participant eagerly scouring the beach to find the idea pebble with which to claim his moment of fame. For some ( R.. it was painful, at best a score of two - but S..... (Welsh) claimed victory with a "sixer".

Ah the games men play..............................

Foolishly a game of football ( soccer if anyone from America reads this) then ensued, or a game of four aside took place - I personally refrained from this activity - fearing mortal injury, and the strong desire to return to my car seat, spared from Snoring S........ (Welsh) and enjoy a few minutes of beautiful silent bliss , with only the faint background noise of the football hooligans in the background.

Regretfully and given the fitness level of the participants, the "game" only lasted about 10 minutes.

So with the sun slowly setting around 6.00pm we all trudged our way back ( another 100 meters) back to once again take up the challenge of beer consumption.

It was over the beers and in conversation B..... - that the F... word suddenly appeared in great profusion, when I explained to B..... that I found that particular swear word offensive ( before you ask yes I have used it, but I just find it offensive to my ears -do not ask why - just do - suspect it is my age).

In my experience its level of use is directly related to the amount of alcohol consumed.

However for those who wish to extend the use of the F... word may I recommend this web site - It will truly permit one to extend the many variations and uses on the F... word. (NB You need to sound on your PC turned on to fully appreciate) All that I would ask that you refrain when in my presence. ( Small note should anyone choose to use the F... word in Comments - then the comment will be instantly deleted - likewise any other unsuitable words or phrases - this is a family blog).

So the evening progressed and we viewed the most stunning sunset that you can imagine ( You do not have to imagine see the picture) - and then with great regret I had to depart from the ensemble to return to Riga. So what actually transpired in the wee hours I cannot relate, but from the tales that I have heard, much merrymaking along with good food and a sauna took place.

So for me it was the end of a perfect day / evening, Good food & Drinks, Good Company, Stunning location, DB sent off, and Scotland having the grace to lose to Belarus, thereby saving us from any future embarassment in Germany- and for the rest of cast simply the end of Act1.

Communal sleeping took place, with S...... and C... placed at opposite ends of the building, thereby ensuring stereophonic snoring was enjoyed by all. However I suspect that the alcohol intake by all was sufficient to deaden the noise.

So here I must close this tale, other than to say that Latvia never fails to amaze me, it truly has some of the most beautiful spots, you just have to go and find them. So all have agreed that come winter, probably late February the characters in this tale, along with others I am sure, will re-assemble at this most wonderful location, to enjoy the snow, walk on the frozen river - and be able to leap from the Sauna into the snow and then back into the Sauna.

Myself I will be sitting by the log fire - with beer in hand, listening to what is now my favourite music - Malaysian hip-hop.

For those of you may wish to stay at this glorious location, go check out the web site, who will not regret going there.