Monday, September 25, 2006

Britain and Aussie Rule in Riga

Ever since I arrived in Riga, the constant cry of the Brit's who live hear, was a piece of the homeland to be available - newspapers, bacon, Beans etc - but somehow we have managed without these basics of life, but no more, one Britain's great institutions has arrived in Riga - Marks and Spencer's !!

I took a trip out to the mall in which it is located - Domina Shopping Centre, I have never been there although it has been opened for some two years. Now I have to confess it is not the biggest M & S store I have ever seen, in fact I suspect it is the smallest in the M & S empire. It was weird to read the labels as most were in English, with prices in sterling. Nice mark up on the items - one example was vests ( pack of three) priced at £9.50 in UK, but Ls 10.90 here in Riga.
From what I can gather it is a franchise operation. Quite why they chose this particular Mall, I have no idea, and on Sunday it was quite deserted, and there was no Rimi, so all you could do was buy clothes or shoes, in fact every other shop was a shoe shop, but as they all sell the weirdest shaped men's shoes I still cannot buy a pair.

Very heavy influx of cretins in town over the weekend, but however did manage to watch the Reading v Manchester United game on Saturday in relative peace at Paddies - did they not do well ! - and as for the golf - well simply brilliant !

On the Zvannieki front met up with S..... ( Canadian/Latvian and a vicar to boot) - and things are progressing fine at the new home. One little problem arose with a young man called Anton, he was due to return to USA where he is studying, but when he transited through Amsterdam, he was effectively mugged, and had his visa ripped put of his passport, resulting in him being sent back to Riga. Unfortunately the American Embassy are proving a little difficult in issuing a new visa, as they are not convinced of his story regarding how he lost the original visa - anybody got contact in the Embassy ? Have finally managed to get Rietumu Bank to re-issue codes etc, so that I can access the Smiley Fund Bank account via the Internet.

Also on Saturday 7th October I need volunteers to assist in moving the heavy stuff from Zvannieki to the new home - let me know if you canhelp -we have organised two vans to help with the move.

Still enjoying our Indian summer - but how long will it last, anyhow have got the winter coat ready for action. And for those who do not know it officially Autumn, and Winter does not start ( officially at least) until 22nd December - so that is something to look forward to !

This week saw the Flying Pickets in town - anybody remember them ? -

Now on the Strange but true front this week two stories caught my attention

First the flying pig from Australia

and then there was the stabbing pain in the foot - did she not see it coming ? think she is in the wrong job.

So there we go - another week has simply flown past - and speaking of the past - M.... ( New Zealand wood worker) and his good lady - are you still there ???? - and why are you not keeping in touch !!

And finally this weeked sees that annual festival of "sport" the Aussie Rules Grand final, this year between the Sydney Swans and West Coast Eagles - full info at - so let the mayhem begin - start time at De Lacy's is 8.00am - for those of us not fortunate enought to even begin to understand the rules ( are there any ?) - then check out where all will be explained !! - not sure if I am going to make this, but for those who do - enjoy !

Monday, September 18, 2006


Well it looks like Autumn is fast approaching, much as we have enjoyed an Indian summer this last few days, overnight the temperature is dropping - and in the early morning it is decidedly chilly - nearly time to get the vests out me thinks.

The trees are just beginning to turn, and you can hear the cries of the leaf sweeper upperers, as they cast their eyes upwards and gaze upon the leaves, which in not so distant future will begin there journey downwards, or if there is a wind blowing sideways, possibly upwards, but at finally downwards. Thereupon to be swept up and disposed of - but where ?

Last weekend also what may prove to be the last weekend for the great mushroom hunt. As far as I can gather it is in-bread in every Latvian, that she/he must go and gather mushrooms in the woods, however as the summer this year was not conducive for mushroom growing ( at least not in the wild), it has only been in the last few days that collecting has been possible. So now you know why Riga has been so quiet the last two week-ends (cretins do not count)

Never quite understood all of this - as Rimi stores seem to have plenty of mushrooms - but I suspect it is simply the Latvian love of nature that prevails, and the fact that you can collect a few mushrooms is simply a bonus !

A few words on Sport, as many of you know I am not a great lover of football, particularly as it means having to cope with the great gathering of cretins - however this season, wholly due to my "local" team Reading being in the English Premiership, I have taken a more than passing interest in there exploits - and can you believe it -as we speak they are lying in 6th place, and next weekend will face the might of Manchester United at home - so one way or another I am going to go and watch this game. Probably will mean the kiss of death for them !

Last week saw me check the possibility to get the UK Freeview channels here in Riga, via the Astra 2D satellite. No problem in getting reception, as long as I mount a 3 metre ( 9 ft) dish on the roof - so bang goes my hopes of that ! - anybody want a Freeview receiver ?

This week sees the the start of the Arsenals film festival, where a whole host of instantly forgettable films will be on - but for those whose film interests are more esoteric than mine then check out

and for other cultural events coming up

8 – 17 September, Liepaja
5th International Organ Music Festival
Tel. 371 3404798
10 – 30 September, throughout Latvia
European Cultural Heritage Days "The Preservation and Restoration of Historical Interiors"
Tel. 371 7224519
13 September 2006 – 15 May 2007, Riga
Exhibition "Latvian Traditional Cuisine", Latvian National Museum of History
E - mail:
Tel. 371 7223004
14 – 25 September, Daugavpils
International plein-air "Mark Rothko - 2006"
Tel. 371 54 04377
16 – 24 September, Riga
Riga 18th International Film Forum "Arsenal"
Tel. 371 7221620
16 September, Ergli
10th Latvian Choir Meeting
Tel. 371 7228985
16 September, Valka
Baltic States' Opera Festival
Tel. 371 4723705, 371 4707522
22 September – 22 October, Riga
Raimonds Staprans' Solo Exhibition, Latvian National Museum of Art
Tel. 371 7325051
29 September – 19 November, Riga
Exhibition "Art, Information and Propaganda. Posters in Latvia in 1940/44-2006", exhibition hall "Arsenals"
Tel. 371 7325051
30 September, Riga
Harvest Fest, Riga Old Town
Tel. 371 7043648

So do not say that this blog is not informative, but again as you have gathered from the content, not a lot is going on - at least for me - here in Riga. Seemed to have settled into a steady rythm, of work and a little social pleasure in the evenings.

On Children's home front, nothing to report, other than the fact that we need to raise money !! as we have spent over Ls580.00 helping them with bits and pieces in moving to the new home. Any ideas on fundraising ?? - I have been asked by Rietumu bank to put their logo and web link on this and the Zvannieki web site - No problem with putting in link, but does anyone know how you insert a graphic ? - in this case the Rietumu logo.

finally a joke for all you dog lovers out there ( OK P.... its for you !)

A man had a dog called Minton. One day Minton ate two shuttlecocks. When the owner found out he said, "Bad Minton!!"

and there is more -

While robbing a home, a burglar hears someone say, "Jesus is watching you." To his relief, he realizes it is just a parrot mimicking something it had heard. The burglar asks the parrot, "What's your name?" The parrot says, "Moses." The burglar goes on to ask, "What kind of person names their parrot Moses?" The parrot replies, "The same kind of person that names his Rottweiler Jesus."

Monday, September 11, 2006

What about a Gay goat ?

When I started this little blog, the whole idea was to let everyone and anyone who stumbled across it , discover my thoughts on life in Riga, and my day to day experiences, as seen through my eyes. It then somehow developed into a little place where the current and past village people could keep updated on the happenings.

Well this last week has seen absolutely nothing happen - the week has passed by, likewise the weekend - and as ever, apart from the weekly invasion of cretins, nothing of outstanding note to comment on.

So with not lot going on in Riga, I have turned my thoughts on to the International stage, to see what is making the news. As always I will ignore all the political, war and religious stories, but two stories has caught my eye, and in there own way reflects what a strange world we live in.

Story is taken from the BBC web site :

Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat

A Sudanese man has been forced to take a goat as his "wife", after he was caught having sex with the animal.

The goat's owner, Mr Alifi, said he surprised the man with his goat and took him to a council of elders.

They ordered the man, Mr Tombe, to pay a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars ($50) to Mr Alifi.

"We have given him the goat, and as far as we know they are still together," Mr Alifi said.

Mr Alifi, Hai Malakal in Upper Nile State, told the Juba Post newspaper that he heard a loud noise around midnight on 13 February and immediately rushed outside to find Mr Tombe with his goat.

"When I asked him: 'What are you doing there?', he fell off the back of the goat, so I captured and tied him up".

Mr Alifi then called elders to decide how to deal with the case.

"They said I should not take him to the police, but rather let him pay a dowry for my goat because he used it as his wife," Mr Alifi told the newspaper.

Definitely one of those Strange but True stories - So to those who live in Australia and New Zealand (Wales ?) - be warned, if this philosophy catches on.

Speaking of Australians, finally found V..... ( Australian builder) - but no J...... ( Australian - gate maker) , appears the latter is housebound !! with restricted passes.

But in these enlightened times it is not just guys in the Sudan who are having a problem with their sexual habits - remember the Riga Gay Pride Parade ( or lack of it) well read on -

08-September-2006 writer

Latvia’s gay community has narrowly avoided a law which would have banned all mention of homosexuality in the mass media.

The Latvian Parliament yesterday rejected a bill proposed by the Latvia First Party aiming to protect the “family institution.”

A party statement said the law should ensure the media do “not weaken the role of the family institution, do not split society, and do not create a misconception about a group of individuals claiming special treatment due to their beliefs."

The rejection comes after gay groups urged the country to uphold its commitment to human rights after the Riga Gay Pride march was banned on public order grounds last July.

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, called the decision to ban Latvia’s Gay Pride “an unacceptable attack on human rights.“

His words have been echoed by gay rights group Outrage, Amnesty International and the Latvian President, Vike-Freiberga.

Last June, the European Union passed a resolution to combat homophobia on the continent which would see sentences handed down for homophobic, anti Semitic, and Islamophobic offences.

So there we have it - Sudan - Goats - YES - Latvia - Gays - NO

Now on the positive side I have today received my Freeview decoder (all being well will allow me to watch all the Freeview channels, including BBC etc) - thats the good news, depending on where you read the info I need a 120-cm - 240- cm satellite dish, if it is the latter then I am in serious trouble - If anybody knows how big a dish you need to get the Astra 2D satellite here in Riga - let me know.

Will try harder this week, to focus on the goings on in Riga

Friday, September 01, 2006

Flowers for the teacher

Its September the 1st, and in Latvia that can only mean one thing, its time to get on the good clothes, select a few choice flowers, and prepare for a new day at school. All over the country the children are flocking back, ready for a new term - but today is the special one.

It was quite a sight to watch this morning, as children of all ages returned to their scholastic studies. Regretfully it is also a sign of the impending Autumn - but at least for today it was a pleasant 20+ degrees.

As my frequent readers will have noticed the blog has not been updated for a while (ten days), but I have been otherwise engaged.

But back to current happenings - Zvannieki have MOVED !!!! ( well almost).

As I mentioned previously they have had the offer to buy a new home, but in the meantime the current owners gave their permission that they could move in right now. So they have - the key reason was that with beginning of the new school term, it was so much easier to be based so close to Cesis, and to get the children booked into there new school.

There is still much to move, cookers, fridges and all of the furniture etc, but as usual they are simply getting on with it, and coping as best they can. They seem to think that it will take about another month or so to fully move all of their belongings and furniture.

The plan to purchase is going ahead, and once this explosion of activity has died down, then J..... ( Vicar with a heart of gold) will start discussion with Rietumu bank re bank loan to purchase the property. But is is not an amazing turnaround, from having a landlord who has proved to a bit of a dipstick, to having, at least on a temporary basis a landlord who clearly cares.

I hope to met up with J..... and S.....(Canadian mother of one) next week to see how or what we can do to assist. But I have told them that until they legally own the property, we cannot proceed with using the funds donated by Rietumu Bank to build the new kitchen etc.

Other news - B......(Teacher with attitude) is BACK amongst us - and appears to be having a bad time with the newly introduced smoking ban and J.... ( Irish and likes cigarettes) has left his paying occupation to set up a new and ingenious enterprise. He is going to marketing a plastic bag, a very BIG plastic bag, into which you can stick a car ?? - Why you might ask, well just look at the damage the hurricane Katrina caused - so now now when a storm is approaching you can stick your car in the plastic bag, tie it to the house - and bingo it will not get wet - crushed perhaps ! - but not damaged by water - hmmmmmm - not sure about this - but who am I to question the logic, particularly when Americans are one of the target markets.

But I for one wish him all the luck and success in the world - after all he nearly gave us the floating bus, which I personally thought had some serious potential, albeit with a few risks in the case of accidental door openings.

He will still be based in Riga (so the ladies can breath a sigh of relief).

Well the weekend approaches - and hopefully I will be able to indlge in a quiet beer this evening De Lacy's - before the weekend avalanche of cretins descend into our midst.