Friday, December 30, 2005

A new Year Approaches

Well once again we approach the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, and for all of us a time for reflection on what we have achieved or not as may be the case in the last year.

For me it has been a quiet year, but one in which I have had the pleasure of making new friends, saying goodbye to a few as they departed from Latvia. But above all I have managed to make it through another year with my health intact, ( or so they tell me) - and like so many others I will no doubt make my new year resolutions, which in the past I have rarely if ever fulfilled.

So for 2006 I will :

Not stop smoking
Not stop having a beer
Not stop working
Continue to enjoy life as best I can
Do my best for the children at Zvennieku (see below)

I know it will be hard but this year I am determined to meet these resolutions.

Major events in 2005 included the arrival of Ryan Air and Cretin Passengers, who have managed to make life somewhat miserable, at least in the sense they make me embarassed to be British, and of course the not to be forgotten visit of George Jnr.

Next year will see me enter the golden sixties age ( April 19th if you want to start saving) , but before this I will become a grandfather - somewhere around late February, courtesy of my eldest daughter C....... (A Berkshire lass) and husband A... ( Newcastle born and bred) - sex at this time is unknown. My youngest daughter A........ (Another Berkshire Lass) and her partner M... ( A Berkshire son) will be moving into there first home of there own. So major milestones for these two offspring - it goes without saying I am very proud of them.

Now I hear you ask, what awaits us on new Years Eve in Riga- well the selection of "events" is quite grand, The Hotels and clubs are all holding special and seriously expensive New Year parties. For me I am going to wander down to see the fireworks by the river courtesy of A... ( Australian - runs best hostel in town) who has offered us the chance to view the fireworks from inside the hostel.

From there I will meander up to the event organised by U.. Australian/Latvian), where I understand some 100 people will gather to bring in the New Year in a more modest style(Cheaper) - although I suspect it will be a good evening. I think this will be the first New Year that I have actually stayed awake. Of all of this is the manner of a grand plan, would not be surprised if I fall asleep before midnight - its age you see !!.

So to all of you who wake up with the dreaded S..t I wish I had not drunk so much feeling -

I wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Winter Wonderhome called Zvannieki

If only I had the words to be able to describe what I experienced on Friday when we took our gifts out to the orphanage. Can you imagine the joy of a child who had never seen a television ? or to see the children both young and old grab the sledges and toboggans and head out into the snow, and to Sandra reaction to her new Fridge - well suffice to say she gave both the fridge and myself a huge hug.

Regretfully I do not have the words to describe the day so for now, and remembering that a picture paints a thousand words -

As you can see a lot of smiling faces.

I will in time publish all of the photographs I took - but for now I just wanted to get something before Christmas.

For me my Christmas was made on seeing the children and those who look after them, truly Sarma, Sandra, Juris etc are simply magical people, because they live every day to provide a real home for these children, many of whom have never experienced what it means to be in home where they are loved.

And loved they are, with the older children helping with the younger ones.

There is much that needs to be done at the home, but this I will talk about in the New Year, for now I wish all who read this blog A Very Happy Christmas - and to those who contributed to the Smiley Fund - the children of Zvannieki say a very special thanks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Forever Upwards

With Friday fast approaching, it now look like our final total raised, including both cash and goods donations equals the sum of

LS 1666.00 ( ok plus a few centimes)

I can hardly believe that we raised to much in such a short time - so to everyone Have a great Christmas and thank you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Just Incredible

Just a quick update for all readers and contributors to fund -


A special Thanks To J...... (Scottish and digs peat)

Off the Latvian Communications annual gathering, where no doubt we will dicuss the state of Latvian telecommunications market.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ze Germans come up with der Bus

You know the feeling, there you stand waiting for a bus, you wait and wait and then up turns two of them.

Well that what nearly happened in our endeavours to get a mini bus for the orphanage. In our efforts to keep it a surprise from the vicar, we had been dealing with the church warder Juris Balodis. Well over the weekend he discovered that a German Lutheran church had made a wonderful donation of a mini bus ( German of course).

So thankfully we have avoided turning up next Friday with a second one - now that would have been embarrassing.

However the really important news is that the kids now have transport.

So my thanks to Rietumu Bank for there kind offer to sponsor the bus, but having spoken to the vicar this morning it appears that some remedial work is seriously needed at the orphanage, so perhaps in the new year we can make a project and submit it to Rietumu for consideration.

All the goodies have now been purchased, ( but only after I nearly suffered a heart attack - no details suffice to say that for those you know me and my ability to "mislay" my bag, well it happened again) -but fear not it was recovered with all contents intact. Only thing outstanding is to order the kitchen sink.

My thanks to C.... ( Malaysian - cooks the books) for his assistance in buying and carrying the sledges, toboggans and assorted winter toys.

A.... (Bristolian - seller of slightly damaged goods) has kindly agreed to provide either a fridge or microwave - absolutely brilliant.

Will update blog with pictures after the visit on Friday.

Funds left over will be deposited in Rietumu Bank today

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Check this Out

Just discovered that the home has web page ( in Latvian only) - but check it out

and for details of the children then

Off to do the sledge shopping -

Friday, December 16, 2005


After much discussion as to what to do with any excess monies that we have after our "Christmas Fund Raising" for the orphanage, I think the best suggestion came from J.... ( Australian) and S...... (Welsh) - Namely that we deposit in the Rietumu bank any surplus funds and use them on "needs" basis for any future needs or request at the orphanage.

This will allow us to continue to raise funds during 2006, and when a special need arises hopefully we can then pay out.

The funds in the Rietumu bank to be managed jointly between myself and the Revered Juris Calitis. The fund will be entitled the "Smile" fund

I think the one common comment was that whatever we do - it will only be for the benefit of the children at the Zvannieku home.

All is now set for trip on Friday 23rd - we will leave from Brivibas iela 39, around 10.30am - transport courtesy of Rietumu Bank ( Many Thanks M...... (Irish)) - -so if anyone wishes to help deliver the goodies, please let me know. Both Reverend Juris Calitis and Juris Balodis will be in attendance.

Just to confirm what we are taking

TV (ls 120)
Combined Video & DVD Player (Ls 110)
Assorted Sledges, Toboggans, Plastic Sky Mats (ls 100)
Computer & Printer (Free)
Assorted Videos and DVD's (Free)
The Kitchen Sink will be ordered before Christmas ( estimated about Ls 450)

So with our current total Ls 1028.58 - we will have around Ls 248.58 left over

Will provide update after our visit to Orphange on Friday.

as ever - Thanks to all

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Simply Brilliant !

We all have Good days , just as we have Bad days, but very, only very occasionally do we ever get a Brilliant days - Well yesterday I had one of the latter. In fact it was not only Brilliant it was both Stunning and Amazing.

It was all to do with our efforts to raise funds for the orphanage at Zvannieki.

To be exact all - of you have now contributed the grand sum of Ls1002.58 !!, with over half of this being contributed yesterday. I know that sum will increase as there a number readers of this blog who have indicated that would like to make a contribution, be it in cash or in kind.

In addition we have the promise of a computer & printer AND, ( and this a seriously BIG AND ) - we have the possibility of a donation that would permit us to give a minibus so that the children can actually be transported in a group, rather than as is the case today in the Vicars van.

So to one very special person ,his good lady and his company - Thank YOU !!

So no matter what, we will be able to meet all of the wish list, and I suspect with a little left over.
I plan to consult with Vicar as to what he would like to do with any excess cash we raise, but personally I thought that we could use the money to buy "Real" Christmas presents and/or give a small cash donation to the ladies who day in and day out look after the children.

However if anyone as any ideas please either let me know direct or respond with a comment, by clicking on the comment logo below this blog.

I am truly Chuffed, that this blog, which started out as a way of expressing my thoughts on life in Riga and the people with whom I meet, has also enabled this small band of friends to make such a difference to a small group of children this Christmas.

To all I say once again - Many - Many thanks

I almost forgot we have also had the offer of a van to take the goodies out on Friday 23rd December ( time to be confirmed) - if anyone would like to join me (please I will need help to load the van) - let me know.

Friday, December 09, 2005

A Penguin called David ?

Remember M.... ( New Zealand - looking for a good woman & found one - L......) - well they are back in contact - received this e-mail from them

"Larisa and I are fine and we have been away for the last 2 weeks working on the West Coast of the South Island and down to Otago and Southland.During our trip I took Larisa to see the Glaciers, Bluff (bottom of the South Island), wallabies, kea, sheep, deer, donkies, cattle, Larnach Castle (only castle in NZ) in Dunedin, Cadbury chocklate factory and various other gardens and other places.

Larisa at the Bluff sign post ( What no Riga signpost ?) and

us both with the monument of the sheep robbers dog.

On our way home we visited the International Antartic centre in Christchurch and the seal colony at Kaikoura, hence we bough a toy Penguin and seal.

We discussed for sometime what names to call these 2 new toys and the decision was David for the penguin as he is tall and an astute person, Jerry for the seal as Larisa reckons he has sad and very clever eyes

PS Last night we were suprised to read on your blog site that you had been skating with the aid of a kids penguin. David the name of our new toy penguin is then very oppropriate. "

Hmmm not sure if I wholly appreciate having a Penguin named after me - but at least he does look a little dapper sort of a chap- does he not ?

Anyhow it good to hear that true love still exists - but only New Zealand could have a statue to honor the sheep robber (is that the same as sheep bandit ?)

On the subject of our fund raising cash raised has now lept by another Ls 100.00 - so we now have Ls220.00 in cash and commitment to buy TV and Sledges, toboggan's etc - so in all we have actually raised about Ls470.00 and we still have another week to go. To all of you who have donated ( and you know who you are) - a massive thanks. I plan to meet with vicar on Sunday to finalise how we are going to get the goodies up to the orphanage.

And to celebrate J...... (Irish with attitude) donation to the cause - a little Irish humour - An Irish Scarecrow !

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

God bless Swedes & Caversham

Tonight as is my habit I wandered into De Laceys for a refreshment - met with S...... ( Welsh with attitude) + a few of his Swedish colleagues ( my words not his) - anyhow T...... ( Swedish part time fireman, hells angel and plays with with plastic) and I discussed our fund raising efforts and immediately had a quick wipround - and Ls35.00 duly appeared.

Our friend from Caversham - D... ( English - a serious holes & poles man) - you have to understand telecommunications slang to get this - also donated Ls40.00 - so now we have Ls130.00 in the kitty - stunning !!!

T..... ( See above) also indicated that he has contacts in Sweden who are looking to assist a good cause in Latvia, by way of toys, clothes etc - so we will but see. But it is good to know that there is so much goodwill all around - So to all I say A huge big thanks.

If you get the feeling that all of this makes me feel good - you would be right - it does.

Keep reading for progress

First the bad news.........

Can you believe it - Riga is "pleased - proud - ecstatic" ( pick your own adjective) to have won the opportunity to host the NATO conference in November 2006.

Does anybody remember the chaos that the USA El Presidenti brought to the city earlier this year ? Well now try to imagine what it is going to be like when all 26 el Presidentis + their respective entourages arrive. It will be a Dog B.....ks of a time.

What on earth are they thinking about, perhaps this time the residents of Riga will have to leave the city so that the visitors from afar can enjoy the beauty of Riga, without actually being submitted to the possibility of being viewed or accosted by the local population.

As for the tourists - well they can forget it, as every hotel in Riga will be taken over for this one.

Just in case you are in doubt I personally think this is a crap idea.

Well now that I have got that of my chest ( Why do we say that ?) - onto things more pleasant.

Firstly and with Christmas fast approaching, it is again with wonder I see how much Riga has changed in the last ten years.

Just as in every other season Riga takes on new face, so with Christmas. Seemingly from nowhere the shops and stores are bedecked with Christmas garlands and lights. In the streets huge Christmas trees appear overnight, to entrance all of us who love Christmas.

Throw in a little snow ( not much so far ) and the city takes on a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale look - stunning !

Their will be much more on this subject as we nearer to Christmas itself.

Now speaking of Christmas, and our fund raising efforts - an update

Cash Raised - Ls55.00

Toboggans - sledges - to be funder by Aussie J... & Myself

TV with Tape player - to be funded by S....... ( Welsh with attitude)

So to all who read this whether it be cash or funding one of the outstanding requested items, which are

DVD player

Computer + Printer

Kitchen sink ( estimated cost LS400.00 - ish)

Please let me know as soon as is possible

Also may I ask that given that it is Christmas, if anybody feels like buying toys, books etc I am sure that they would be appreciated. To everyone who has contributed a million thanks, I think it is for a good cause.

But we do have one small challenge - how do we get them to the orphanage ? - anybody got access to a large van ? Ideally I would like to take the gifts out on Saturday 24th December or Friday 23rd - any volunteers ?

and finally and with thanks to R.. C........ ( English but with a good Latvian wife) a touch of Canadian humour - I liked it