Wednesday, April 26, 2006

No stone unturned

For a few weeks I have been suffering from a real bad back pain, so reluctantly I took myself of to the hospital to see my friend of a few years back to get him to check for a Kidney stone.

But guess what, the best he could tell me was that I have very healthy kidneys, and no sign of a stone !!. Can you believe I really wanted him to find a stone, then zap it into oblivion, and voila pain gone - but no, now I have carry one with the pain, as it must be muscular or could it be those bar stools in De Lacey's, which do not help ones posture.

Anyhow have taken to Fastum gel and a a back support - is this what being 60 does for you ?

Any how off to the UK for the rest of week.

As you will have gathered not a lot happened last week, other than Munster hammered Leinster int he Heineken Semi finals ( apologies to J... and J.... and M..... all Irish and Leinster supporters) - But the good news is there is on Irish team in the Final in May.

Somewhat late but can I offer my Birthday Greeting to A....... long suffering wife of S..... ( Welsh) and their Daughter A..... - Happy Birthday to you both, and A..... see you in May.

So there we have it another week has passed, and I notice that the Cretins are now overstaying their welcome by not leaving on Monday ! - God helps us but they are even here during the week.

Finally to my Blog reader from Canada, many thanks for all your visits, but why ? 23 visits in ther last few days - this is a record, but hope you are not just a blog addict, but really find the blog to be of interesting or indeed amusing.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

It official - I am 60+

Well here I am a man of 60+ years, but strangely enough it does not feel any different that when I was 50+ - but as everyone has always told me that I looked old for my age, then god only knows what age I really look like.

Anyhow to all those you gathered at De Lacey's to celebrate my birthday (or was it simply that I was buying the drinks ?) - many thanks for joining me, and as the main objective was to use the opportunity to raise funds for Zvannieki - I am delighted to say thay the total contributions came to Ls 215.20 + €50.00 - So a grand total of just over Ls 250.00.

Although I had asked for no presents, may I thank all of you were kind enough to do so, they included a Cookery book, CD's, Ashtray, Bow Tie, Flowers, Wine, all were most appreciated with one exception ! - What is a man of my age and disposition going to do with a pair of G String knickers ??? - a gift J... (Irish bar owner) who I am now convinced has a perverted sense of humour.

Just because in a previous blog I mentioned that I had put on a pair womens tights in the depths of winter to keep warm, does he really think that I going to wear G-string knickers, even they are made by Kelvin Klein - NO, NO and NO again.

I was good to see so many friends, particularly those from my days at Lattelekom and IBM, and even Marita ( partner of Harald and soon to emigrate to Australia) jouined our little celebration.

So to you all, thanks for making it a memorable night - and never let it be said that I do not buy drinks - I am going to frame the bar bill for posterity !

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Birthday Dreams

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A man of my time

As I have mentioned before tomorrow will see me step into sixties, and as is my wont, my mind passed back to my youth, when my mother took me to see a variety show at the Gaiety theatre in Ayr.

The stars of the show were Rickie Fulton and Jack Milroy ( France & Jocie) - but also on the bill was one of Scotlands greatest commedians - Chic Murray -so in memory of times gone bye - and with the hope that his one liners put a smile on your face as they do to me - read on

  • Visiting London, Chic was asked by a stranger, "Do you know the Battersea dog's home?". He replied, "I didn't even know it was away."
  • When staying at a Rothesay hotel, there were the usual toast and marmalade (in little round pots) on the breakfast table in the morning. When the landlady came into the room, Chic lifted a tiny pot of honey and said "I see you keep a bee!"
  • My mother was so house proud that when my father got up to sleepwalk she had the bed made by the time he got back.
  • My father was from Aberdeen, and a more generous man you couldn't wish to meet. I have a gold watch that belonged to him. He sold it to me on his deathbed. I wrote him a cheque for it, post dated of course.
  • I made a stupid mistake last week. Come to think of it, did you ever hear of someone making a clever mistake?
  • So I gave him a wave. Actually, it was more of a half wave, because I only half know him.
  • What use is happiness? It can't buy you money.
  • I met this cowboy with a brown paper hat, paper waistcoat and paper trousers. He was wanted for rustling.
  • If something's neither here nor there, where the hell is it?
  • My father was a simple man. My mother was a simple woman. You see the result standing in front of you, a simpleton.
  • I had a tragic childhood. My parents never understood me. They were Japanese.
  • I drew a gun. He drew a gun. I drew another gun. Soon we were surrounded by lovely drawings of guns.
  • There's a new slimming course just out where they remove all your bones. Not only do you weigh less, but you also look so much more relaxed.
  • The police stopped me when I was out in my car. They told me it was a spot check. I admitted to two pimples and a boil.
  • I admit to spending a fortune on women, booze and gambling. The rest I spend foolishly.
  • A neighbour put his budgerigar in the mincing machine and invented shredded tweet.
  • My parents were wonderful, always there with a ready compromise. My sister wanted a cat for a pet I wanted a dog, so they bought a cat and taught it to bark.
  • I got up this morning. I like to get up in the morning; it gives me the rest of the day to myself.
  • I crossed the landing and went down stairs. Mind you, if there had been no stairs, I wouldn't even have attempted it.
  • My mother was so house proud that when my father got up to sleepwalk she had the bed made by the time he got back.
  • I went to the butchers to buy a leg of lamb. "Is it Scotch?", I asked. "Why?" the butcher said in reply. Are you going to talk to it or eat it?". "In that case, have you got any wild duck?". "No", he responded, "but I've got one I could aggravate for you".
  • I rang the bell of this small bed-and breakfast place, whereupon a lady appeared at an outside window. "What do you want?", she asked. "I want to stay here", I replied. "Well, stay there then", she said and closed the window.
  • I was walking along the road. I knew I was walking because one foot was following the other. A car drew up beside me and stopped. The driver opened the door and asked me if he could give me a lift. I replied that I didn't need a lift as I lived in a bungalow.
  • I was out walking the other evening. This fellow accosted me, and asked if that was the moon up there in the sky. I replied that I had no idea as I was a stranger there myself.
  • I knocked and the woman opened the door in her night dress. I thought to myself at the time what a strange place to have a door.

Pagan Bunnies

Not sure if it is Global Warming or not, but has anyone seen a new leaf on a tree or a Spring flower pushing its way from the ground?

Spent the whole weekend looking to the skies and to the ground, but absolutely nothing -seriously barren.

Nonetheless it did not stop the Easter Bunnies from appearing all over the place.

I took myself out to Dole Fishing Museum on Sunday, to watch kids of all ages ( 2-50) dressing up as bunnies and smashing eggs, getting their faces painted and generally just having a good time in the open air.

Now you may ask, how did Bunnies manage to get into the whole Easter thing ? - is Easter not a time for remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus - well as ever the whole thing is a Pagan rite -

I quote

" The Easter bunny has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the Spring season.

The bunny as an Easter symbol seems to have it's origins in Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings in the 1500s. The first edible Easter bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800s. And were made of pastry and sugar "

So once again the blog serves to educate, The Bunnie and Jesus represent new life

I also took myself for a walk along the beach at Jurmula. and lo and behold the ice and snow have gone, to once again expose the beautiful sandy beach (perhaps the only non smoking beach in Europe) - it was a pleasure not to have to breath the smoky fumes of others, however after suitably infecting myself with fresh air, I took myself off to De Lacey's to indulge myself with a beer and nicotine - cannot let the body get to healthy ! - and as the new anti-smoking law comes into effect on July 1st 2006, then this small pleasure will soon dissapear. Beer and Fresh air - whatever will they think of next ?

Well as I write this, the DAY is fast approaching, when I wake up tomorrow I will no longer be in my fifties, but entering my sixties, but a young sixty as opposed to an old fifty. In reality it will not make any difference, however if I had been in the UK I think I would have allowed to collect my bus pass - no such benefit here.

However as Billy Connolly once commented you know you are getting really old when your pubic hair goes grey -and I defer from indicating the current status of mine.

So as you have gathered Easter was pretty quiet, the weather a mixture of rain and sunshine, a bit like life ( see I can be profound).

To the village people - see Wednesday night - de Lacey's from about 6.30pm

Monday, April 10, 2006

Mud, Cookers and a Wedding

Well we cannot say we were not warned, before we departed on Saturday to Zvannieki to deliver said cooker, Sarma had advised that the road was a little muddy. this proved to be an understatement - but more of this later.

On Saturday of we set, S..... ( Welsh), J... (Irish), V... (Australian/Latvian), A..... (Lebanese) and myself, accompanied by driver courtesy of Rietumu Bank, and of course the new cooker. This time we made the journey almost without mishap, only a couple of moments of indecision regarding which road to take. However on entering the into the lane leading to Zvannieki, it was clear that with the recent Spring thaw, the lane was basically a bog.

However undaunted down we went, and on arrival unloaded said cooker, and with the assistance of A..... ( Lebanese - and a brilliant electrician) and J... in charge of connecting gas supply, we finally got the cooker installed, and it was duly tested by Sarma, as she proceeded to bake a wonderful apple pie - the oven was duly christened. Mind you we had to phone A... (Bristolian ) in order to get instructions on how to set the clock. No clock - Cooker no work - that's technology for you !

So having completed our task for the day, and eaten the apple pie, it was time to set off back to Riga, in we piled into the car and set off, somewhat gingerly up the slope towards the main road, well we did pretty well for the first 1000 meters, but then on the final slope before the main road we managed to find a seriously deep rut, into which the front wheels duly embedded themselves - STUCK !!!

But this is when you see men at their best, S...., J..., and V... sprung into action, out they went managed to find some pieces of wood and proceeded to try and dig out the wheels. It was a bit like primitive man discovering tools for the first time, but despite their best efforts the car refused to move.
Then without warning off S.... went, leaving J... and V... still trying to dig out the wheels with their improvised wood "shovels" -and about 10 minutes later S.... returned with a real Shovel, acquired from a nearby farmhouse.

If you are wondering what my personal input to all of these activities was ? - well somebody has to supervise and take the pictures, do they not ? and using my years of management skills, I called Sarma to say we were stuck ( as she later advised not an unusual occurrence), and she duly arrived to assist in towing us backwards out of the rut we were in.

Even this was not completed without incident, as we were having serious difficulty in working out how to insert towing bracket onto the car - but V... finally managed to accomplish this task, again under my supervision.

But were we finished ? - NO - now we (well actually they) now had to "repair" the deep rut we had created, so off they went in search of broken trees, stones and anything else that came to hand to fill in the rut, so that any future vehicle would not suffer the same fate.

With these new skills learned, they are now fully qualified as Latvian road repairers - and if you were to see the state of the roads in Latvia, you would understand the need for such skills.

But with this task completed off we set once more to on the last few meters to the relative safety of the main road. (To put this into perspective for the next 40 or so kilometers the road was a dirt/sand/stone covered road)

When we started our little journey we had a relatively clean car, now of course we had a mud splattered vehicle, which require a little loving care, so on arrival in Riga, into the car wash we went to clean said car, and for those who had indulged in road repair to wash the mud off their shoes.

So all in all an interesting day, but as ever it was a joy to see the children, and in particular the new arrival - only six months old.

Finally and with apologies to S.... , I later discover that their was a shovel in the boot of the car - Sorry !

As all of this was going, one of the De Lacey's village people was getting married (why were none of us elder statesmen invited I wonder ?) - however I did get a little involved in the prenuptial hen night. On Wednesday night unsuspecting as ever, in I went for a little light refreshment only to be greeted with a group of weirdly dressed women, and in the lead was the bride to be L... ( Latvian). Apparently it was a Latvian version of hen night - -but if that was the case why was the Norwegian groom there ?

I was then invited (obligatory) to purchase a fruit or vegetable for a modest sum, which would be put towards her dowry. I chose a banana (Freudian I think) - All of this greeted with much hooting and hollering by the accompanying group of females.

Having duly paid, I then had to take a bite of her biscuit necklace - do not ask me why - but they were damn hard biscuits I can tell you so it took some time

J... (he of diminished stature but heart of gold) - also partook, well at least as far as buying the fruit and vegetables - the offer of biting of the biscuit was not taken up - but as you can see from picture L... is a tall Lady

Monday, April 03, 2006

Spring has Sprung

Well now - for the last five consecutive days the temperatures has been above 0 degrees, so it must be Spring. All of the ice and snow has nearly gone, and the ice on the canals and Daugava river is just beginning to thaw.

So in a few days no doubt the temperature will rise above the magic 8 degrees - why magic ? - well if that temperature (or higher) is maintained for four consecutive, then the City's central heating is switched off.

The vast majority of apartments in Riga are supplied from a central station with the hot water used to provide central heating, and having been turned off, no matter what happens it will not be turned on until October, when and if the temperature drops to 8 degrees or lower for four consecutive days.
Thats why 8 is a magic number.

Hopefully in a few weeks the daffodils and Spring flowers will poke there way into the world, and once again transform the parks and open spaces in Riga.

Sad news for Livi square it appears that there will be fewer outdoor cafes and bars this year, as Riga City council, received tenders for their erection, decided on the one tender that was to complicated (??), and cannot be implemented until 2007.

In the news last week, it was announced that the dreaded NATA summit in November will be hosted in the recently built Olympic Hall. An interesting choice I thought, as some two weeks ago it hosted the Latvian Cat & Dog show - not much of a change for November then !

The weekend fairly flew by, only managed to watch Rugby on Sunday, although I did pop in briefly to Paddies on Saturday late afternoon, only to see one one of my beloved cretins filling up the toilet handbasin, with what I can only assume was a mixture of beer, cigarettes and food - charming, but very much in keeping with the average mentality of Ryan Air weekend passengers.

As an aside, during my trip to the UK, and having the opportunity to stay in a variety of hotels, can someone please explain to me, why the designers of the hotel rooms, actually the bathrooms, manage to place the toilet paper holder in such a way that you have to perform serious contortions to unroll of the paper ? - Do they ever try it out ?

This weekend will see us deliver the new cooker to Zvannieki, so volunteers please, as it is seriously heavy and will need at least four people to lift in into and out of the van -give me call if you can make it.

We had to say a fond farewell to one of longer serving village people O..... (Malaysian and burner of books) -he will be missed - so if he reads this, from all of your village friends - it was a pleasure to know you, and we wish you all the best back home.

One small request to all, if anyone happens to see or hear from our little Italian - Massimo - please let me know, as it appears he has dissapeared.