Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Where have all the Rigan's Gone ?

We all knew it was gong to happen, but it was still a shock to wake up on Tuesday morning, to find that the better part of Riga partitioned off, behind miles of Steel barriers. Not sure if this was to keep the NATO participants in , or keep the citizens out.

The city was almost surreal in its appearance. It was almost totally deserted, with only a few people on the streets, and absolutely no cars, other than what I can only assume were the official ones. Clearly the citizens of Riga had taken the advise of the government to heart and stayed away.

Some streets had armoured personnel carriers, indeed one was parked at the bottom of P.... (dog lover, horse fancier) street- surely know one had told the powers that be that he was a potential terrorist ?

Only limited access into the old town - in fact only three ways you could get in, but strangest of all was Livi square, complete with the wooden huts so familiar when a fair is one, the trees were decorated with Christmas lights, all very twee - no people of course, as presumably all the 5000+ NATO attendees were otherwise engaged serving their masters, be they political or media type.

The pictures below were taken at 10.30am this morning on Brivibas iela, which on a normal morning would be packed with cars, buses and pedestrians, but as you can see not today - well apart from the police. I am told that for the last two days over 10,000 police/army have been on duty, to provide security for the NATO delegations.

On of the strangest sights was the sudden appearance of pink and green porta loos, they were all over the place, but exclusively for the use of the police ?? - so no British P...s Heads then.

Speaking of security, I was watching on the Internet our Mr Blair giving an interview outside the Hall where the meeting was taking place. He simply walked out of the building, over to the waiting press, spoke his few words, answered some question and strolled back into the building. all on his own - no minders - nothing - wonder what would happen if George did the same thing ?

Anyhow the whole shindig ends this evening, with security restriction ending at 7.30pm this evening, and as I write I can heart he screaming sirens as the heads of state are driven back to the airport. In a way I wish the security could have lasted just a few more days, just so this weekends arrival of cretins could have seen real security at work, and perhaps told there friends that Riga is a police state and should not be visited - but no - with immaculate planning the cretins will not even know the event was on, nor the disruption it caused - pity !

Finally a thought for all the various guests as they leave Riga, I wonder what their memories of Riga will be ? well each of them has been given a special gift - Mittens !

What will 9,000 hands have in common during the NATO Summit in Riga this November? 4,500 pairs of traditional hand-made Latvians mittens!

That’s what the NATO Summit Latvia Task Force has prepared for Summit guests. The mittens were specially knitted by hundreds of women and men around the country ranging in age from 30 to 86. Each pair features a unique design, utilizing a wide variety of traditional colors, patterns and symbols.

For Latvians, mittens are much more than a way to warm your hands. Every ethnographic Latvian mitten tells a story, marks an anniversary and represents a specific region in Latvia (Vidzeme, Zemgale, Latgale and Kurzeme.) Some mitten designs are specially intended for weddings or other special events.

There is even a rich tradition of folkloric etiquette associated with the wearing, storing and displaying of mittens. (More about The story of a thousand year old Latvian mitten)All, mittens for men and women are different in size. Men’s mittens in general are bigger. In addition, more dramatic and reserved colours are characteristic for men’s mittens. The colours in women’s gloves are brighter and more cheerful.

The ornamentation elements are “blended in” from one neighbouring region into another; therefore the identification of a mitten to a particular region can be characterized more precisely by the composition of its colours and shades. Latgale is a land of linen; therefore linen-grey light colourings predominate in gloves of this region. Similarly, bright and joyful colours are characteristic for Latgale and also Kurzeme. Also the word “rakstaini” more precisely characterizes mittens from Kurzeme, because their ornamentation is brighter than in other regions. Calm and vibrant earthy colours are the basis of mittens from Zemgale. However, light and beige colourings are typical for Vidzeme.

For most Latvians, this project is a special source of national pride, because it combines tradition, culture and history with something of lasting practical value that will be enjoyed around the world.

So there we go Riga and Latvia has had its 15 minutes of fame, and our leaders have got mitten's - so the world will be a safer place will it not ?:

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Riga is closed

For all of you thinking of visiting our fair city next week, a word of advice DO NOT !!

Riga is standing by to welcome all heads of state and their associated entourage, who are members of NATO. It expected that overall some 5,000+ will be arriving.

So in the interest of security, they have basically closed the city, declared it a National Holiday for the duration, and advised all citizens of Latvia, STAY AWAY FROM RIGA!

When I say they have established a security zone I mean a serious security zone - see below, all the bits marked in red, Green and Purple are basically within the secure Zone, it extends from the Airport all the way into the old town and out where the meeting is actually being held

or visit

to see the map in full.

and if you really want to read about what this NATO meeting means for us mere mortals who are unfortunate enough to live in or near these so called security areas check out

Oh lucky us !! - but I guess it is a bit of feather in the cap for Latvia, given that they have only been a member of NATO for a few years, but on a personal level I could live without it.

Now on more mundane matters the dinner being organised to raise funds is going well, as of today we have 14 confirmed attendees, and I am confident we will get around 20-25 by the time the date arrives - 7:30 pm 14th December for those who do not know. If I missed you and you would like to attend then please let me know. If you cannot make it but would like to make a contribution to the Smiley Fund appeal on behalf of Zvannieki home, then please send to Their account at Rietumu Bank ( for account details see bar at side of this page).

This week, has been a strange one, at least as far as the weather is concerned +8-10 degrees, but damp, wet and miserable - Frankly I look forward to getting some snow, few a few degrees below.

Last weekend saw the return of one of our village people - C..... (Needs a haircut and plays with railway tracks) - he arrived unannounced - but was quick to identify where we would be to watch the Rugby. Good to see him again - and no doubt he will be back in the New Year.

No update in regards to our "British" Citizen arrested for urinating in Riga, hopefully still enjoying the comforts of Riga's finest jail.

Speaking of Cretins, and in particular those who smoke, be warned that if you are caught throwing your cigarette butt on the pavement or road, you are liable for an instant LS 10.00 fine, if caught by Riga Police. Nice One !! ( I know I smoke but I am a tidy smoker !!)

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Now we all know that NATO conference is due to be held in Riga later this month, and I have no doubt that nearer the time a great deal of comment will be made on this subject. However as we speak the WTO conference is being held in Bangkok, Thailand.

Now as those who have followed this blog since its inception, I have been know to stray from the the main objective of this blog, namely living in Riga, to ponder on more worldly events, and have in the past touched on the subject of human ablutions, particularly when a conference was held in Ireland last year on this subject.

So now the WTO ( World Toilet Organisation) is hosting another such event.

I wonder if members wear a badge ? as most such worldly organisations have members badges, must be hard to keep a straight face when explaining what you are a member of ?

For your edification I show below a sample of the conference forum, along with a selection of the delegates attending - make for interesting reading.

Forum Programme


8.45am Opening Address
Mr. Jack Sim, Founder, World Toilet Organization, Singapore ( could he be a relation ?)

9.20am Prize Presentation Ceremony
§ Best Public Toilet of The Year, Thailand
§ Most Environmentally-Friendly & Healthy Public Toilet Design in Thailand
§ Best Toilet Essay Competition (I wonder if you have to write it in a toilet)

12.55pm The Happy Toilet - By Design & Not By Chance (A happy Toilet ???)
Mr. Tai Ji Choong, Head, South-East Regional Office, National Environment Agency, Singapore


3.00pm Closing the Loop (???) Through Ecological Sanitation
Ms. Christine Werner, Civil Engineer, Project Team Leader, Eco-technological Planning, Wastewater, Solid Waste Projects



3.35pm Public Toilet – Thinking Out of the Box ( What box )
Mr. Mechai Viravaidya, Chairman, Population & Community Development Association, Thailand

4.15pm Accident Prevention and Safety Promotion in Public Toilets
Dr. Twisuk Punpeng, Department of Health, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand

4.35pm Panel Discussion:Toileting At Ease, Maintaining A Breeze (who thought of this title ?)
Moderator: Dr. Twisuk Punpeng, Department of Health, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand

and a selection of delegates :

Company - Country
American Restroom Association (ARA) - USA
George's Plumbing - Australia
Hong Kong Toilet Association - Hong Kong
National Toilet Committee Members & Toilet Alliance - Thailand
Shanghai Toilet Association - China
World Toilet Organization / Restroom Association of Singapore - Singapore

Apologies to all blog readers that this particular entry has absolutely nothing to do with Riga or Latvia, but in a world full of strife, war, religious bigotry, I find it refreshing that a conference can be held on such a subject, it would certainly be interesting to to be able to listen on the delegates discussions when they sit at the bar enjoying a tipple.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wishful Thinking !

An update on our "British Citizen", currently enjoying Latvian prison hospitality.

his is taken from leta news ( )

Great Britain urges its tourists to behave in Latvia with responsibility and respect

RIGA, Nov 14 (LETA) - After the unpleasant incident where a drunk British citizen was detained relieving himself at the Freedom Monument in Riga, the British Embassy has released a statement, urging its residents to behave in Latvia with responsibility and respect.

Lelde Pfafrode from the British Embassy's to Latvia Press and Public Relations Office informed LETA that the embassy has been in touch with the British-born citizen, who in the early hours of November 11 - Lacplesis Day or Commemoration Day of Latvian Freedom Fighters, was caught by police relieving himself at the Freedom Monument.

The embassy has provided consular assistance for him.The Embassy's Consular Department plans to launch an informative campaign, whose target audience would be British tourists, in order to promote responsible behavior in Latvia.

The embassy, however, would refrain from commenting on individual incidents. As reported, the State Police has ordered the 30-year-old British citizen to remain in Latvia. His bail money was set at LVL 3,000.

On November 12, a criminal case was opened against the man for disorderly conduct or "minor hooliganism".

The charge carries a penalty of either up to two years in prison, detention, community service or a fine up to 50 minimum monthly wages

Lets hope he gets what he deserves, and that this incident gets some publicity back in the UK.

Interesting to note that whilst I am delighted that this incident is getting the publicity it deserves, at least here in Latvia - it is stark comparison to the lack of publicity given both locally and in the UK when young T....... was murdered last year.

Makes you wonder...............

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Brits abroad !!

On Saturday evening/Sunday morning a seriously p.....d British male cretin, aged 30, decided to relieve himself. Unfortunately he chose do it on the National freedom monument - Matilda.

Now if I say that Latvians hold this statue in high regard, it would be an understatement, however the really good news was that he was spotted by the local police, and duly banged up.

Unfortunately under Latvian law the maximum sentence is likely to be a fine of Ls 250.00, personally if it was left to me I would lock him up in one Latvia's finest prisons for a lengthy period of time, followed by a period of standing naked at Riga Airport with a plaque hung around his neck indicating to all arriving cretins the consequences of drinking in Riga.

Again this incident, whilst in the great scheme of things, is no major misdemeanour, once again indicates the quality of British (in this case English) cretins that Ryan Air flies into Riga.

And the day he chose to relieve himself - Remembrance Sunday !! - Makes you proud to be British - does it not ?

Now onto more pleasant news, J.... (Irish builder of note) is organising a Christmas dinner for the 14th December, in order to raise money for the Zvannieki home. He (we) are hoping to get about 20+ people for a "traditional Christmas dinner". So to all local readers please let me or J.... know if you would like to attend. Price is likely to be around Ls25.00 per head.

Speaking of Christmas and our annual Smiley appeal, so far it has fallen on deaf ears - we have raised to date absolutely ZERO !!! - so come on you all, send the money (this not a subtle message).

As I have mentioned before Riga, and indeed Latvia, occasionally turns up some unusual realities. None more so than the new building in Dzirnavu iela. Just opposite the relatively new Albert Hotel, where once stood a beautiful, if dilapidated wooden single storey house.

Now the developers in being granted building permission were obliged to ensure that after construction that a wooden house, similar if not identical would be placed on the site.

So they have, albeit five floors up !! -that's right onto of new concrete, steel and glass building, they have built a wooden house - and who said that Latvians have no ingenuity ?

Now to a subject which I mentioned last year, but still intrigues me - Riga's birds and their toiletry habits. Every year at this time great flocks (is that right) of crows arrive (if they do not arrive - where were they all summer ?) and perch in the trees in great numbers. Now of course the trees at this time of the year are devoid of leave. Every night without fail they then proceed to crap from a great height onto the pavements and cars below. My question is WHY ? and why only at this time of the year. Answers to these mysteries of nature will be appreciated.

Just had a thought, about our British cretin, as an additional punishment, instead of standing him naked at Riga Airport, why not stand him naked under the trees on Brivibas iela, where he can gaze at Matilda, and the birds can crap all over him - now that would be a suitable punishment - would it not ?

To finish, as of March next year British Airways will cease to fly to Riga - apparently the route is no longer profitable. Hardly surprising, since they changed the timetable to ensure that it was impossible to interconnect onto international flights from London, thereby ensuring that this traffic went either to KLM or Lufthansa - brilliant marketing. Of course Ryan then proceeded to give them a hard time, with cheap pricing - but to those involved at BA can I offer my congratulations on managing within the space of five years of turning what was one of your most profitable routes into a loss maker -now that takes skill !

Well having got that lot of my chest - I look forward to what I hope will prove to be a cretin free night at De Lacy's - where can I express my thanks to the "wee" man for my seriously discounted drinks last night. Me thinks he read the "disaster in Riga blog"

Monday, November 13, 2006

Not to be Forgotten

Is it really 12 months since last we visited the British War memorial cemetery in Jelgava for remembrance Sunday?

Well on Sunday on grey dull overcast day, with cloud cover almost completely hiding the TV tower, I set off - alone - too find my way. Those of who read last years blog on this subject, will remember our experience in finding our way, well role forward 12 months, and guess what - Yup I got lost, and once again espied a CD plated car. Surely he knew the way - but not this time - he was a s lost as I was. But then the old memory cells kicked in, and I remembered that you do not take the turning off the main road into Jelgava, but carry on over the flyover, and lo and behold there off to my left was the cemetery.

Like last year it was a small gathering, of around 30+ people, the vast bulk of people being military of one kind or another.

We all paid our respects to those who died, both British and Latvian, a little more poignant this year, having actually met some of the descendants of those British sailors who died in World War 1 - no sign of the Earl of Carlisle, but as his name was on the service sheet, he clearly was expected to be there, I trust all is well with him, but our Mr B...- ambassador at large, duly stepped in to replace the Earl.

Like last year we were all invited back to the Jelgava Mayor's reception, but having now managed to find my way to the cemetery, I decided not too chance getting lost in Jelgava itself.

I have taken some picture of the two memorials, apologies no pictures of the assembled gathering, but I forgot to take camera with me, when the service of remembrance started

With that I took myself back along the somewhat bleak, and snow covered road back to Riga, and drank a beer to the memory of those who had fallen. One small note on the service itself, listening to the RAF Sergeant reading out the names, it was interesting to note, that in so many cases, whilst they new the name, Service etc, they did not know their age - I would have thought that if nothing else the military would have had a record of their age - perhaps someone can enlighten me as to why.

For many remembrance is an every day occurrence, but for those of us fortunate never to have experienced the horror of war, then it is good to have the chance to pay our respects to those who have fallen, in order that we may enjoy the life we have now.

However for at least one Englishman, this was not a weekend to remember, indeed I suspect he will want to forget it immediately - the man in question ? - none other than the coach of England's rugby team - a Mr A. Robinson - not that I would wish to be accused of an anti English mentality, but I have to confess to a slight smile crossing my lips, when the full time whistle blew - and there it was - the Aggie's had won - a historic victory was it not.

What with victories for Scotland, Wales and Ireland, along with the French getting stuffed by New Zealand. I will for the moment bask in at least Scotland's victory and the English loss.

Speaking of basking in glory, what about Reading giving Tottenham a football lesson - a the dream goes on, at least for another week.

Finally can I remind all of those out there interested in the Zvannieki home, that we are on a fund raising mission, so if you wish, please send the money to their bank account at Rietumu ( see info on the left), or if is easier then pass your donation to me.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Every now and again you suddenly amaze yourself by what you can find and hear in Riga. So it was last night. Having received an invitation to attend a benefit concert in St. Saviours Church , I and a gang of unscrupulous Irishmen - J....(a Treasure of a man), B......(makes dodgy clothes) and J...(part time builder) went along, not knowing what to expect.

B...... had to consult with higher authorities if it was ok to go into a heathen church ( I think he and the Pope are close friends) - but after taking suitable refreshments at De Lacy's off we went.

And what an evening we had, the music was stunning (Gospel type stuff with heavy American overtones), sung by an all girl choir, except for two lads, and conducted by one of Latvia's favourite sons - Gunars Kalnins with his "GG Choir" (Do not ask I do not know what GG stands for).

Now some of us B..... and myself could not sit down (for fear of getting piles as the seats were directly above the radiators) - and tapped our feet and clapped our hands as the choir and Gunars sang.

Accompanying the choir was Gunars on the Piano (quite brilliant) and a four piece string orchestra and a flutist.

Now neither J.... or J..... actually moved throughout the whole event, in fact J.... (builder) never actually took his coat off, and as the photograph below shows the Irish certainly know how to hide their feelings, well at a concert anyway. (Again please accept my apologies for the quality of the pictures - must be the lighting in the church, or should I say the lack of it)

Do they not look enthralled ??

I have to say that the enthusiasm, exuberance and professionalism of both choir and orchestra, would put many to shame.

For those who would like to know more about Gunars ( or Little Gunars as he is nicknamed) read on, or if you ever get a chance to hear sing or play, then I strongly encourage you do to so, as he is GOOD !!

Gunar Kalnins or outside territory of Latvia better known as Little Gunnar was four years old, when he became the member of the popular kids vocal band "Dzeguzite" (in english "Little Kookoo").

Being a little cute boy in couple of years Gunnar became a really famous child-star, especially after his duet with Laima Vaikule (one of the biggest pop-stars in former Soviet Union), which became a huge hit.So, in fact it's true to say, that almost all of his life Little Gunnar has spent living - learning, performing and writing - music. Educated at Emils Darzins Music College (graduated from class of choir) and being a member of internationally well-known Riga Dome Boys Choir, he has performed in USA and many European countries.

His first self-written song - "She" at 1996 - two years later it was issued in a compilation of hottest Latvian pop and rock hits by the biggest local label "Microphone Records". Since that moment Little Gunnar has been signed to "Microphone Records" label also releasing his first album in 1999 - highly successful "So It Was, So It'll Be". Containing mostly Gunnar penned compositions (and four widely popular radio hits), "So It Was, So It'll Be" brought wide recognition both from fans excited by Gunnar boyishly fresh looks and catchy songs as well as from critics praising his remarkable vocal skills and bright future prospects.

Always a charismatic performer with highly attractive stage image, Gunnar has performed at numerous live shows, festivals and contests in Latvia and abroad, always receiving a very warm welcome. One of his brightest moments so far was at the 10th International Baltic Song contest at Karlshalmn, Sweden in 2000, where Little Gunnar won the Grand Prix with his Song "That I Like To Sing About" in a highly competitive battle with singers from UK, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and Russia.

Being a big fan of Whitney Houston, George Michael, Mariah Carey, Gunnar, however is not limiting himself with just soul/pop boundaries. He has performed together with legendary Latvian song-writer Raimonds Pauls at the Latvian National Opera singing songs by George Gershwin, as well as performing with jazz band on a regular basis and starring the central role at the widely successful stage musical by Raimonds Pauls and Guntars Racs "The Legend of the Green Witch" at the biggest theatre of Latvia.

Well thats it before the weekend, Rugbyy on Saturday and Remembrance on Sunday

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Disaster In Riga !!

Now what you might wonder could such a headline indicate, Bubonic Plague ?, Collapse of major building ?, Hundreds dying in road accident ? - No it was much worse - a broken water pipe !!

Well the disaster was not so much the broken water pipe, more the consequence of the broken pipe - De Lacy's was Closed !

As is my wont I wandered into the old town last night after an a hard day at the office, fondly looking forward to downing a pint, having a chat, before retiring to home, but as I turned the corner heading towards De Lacy's - there it was in total darkness, with a brief but descriptive note stuck to the window - WE ARE SHUT ! - (followed a pitiful excuse about the burst water pipe) - do we drink water - NO - but I guess it also put the toilets and the washing up service, out of action. Why can this not happen when the cretins are in town - Truly the man upstairs has a warped sense of humour.

So I ( and many others) wandered along to P........, where we adjourned upstairs and enjoyed our Happy Hour - half price Drinks (are you reading this little Irish bar type person - HALF PRICE DRINKS !!).

So thirst duly quenched I did but wander home past the still darkened doors of our little village centre - SAD !

Now at the request of the our roving Swedish reporter J......., I have been asked to spread the word that on the evening of 24th November, downstairs at P....... (if you don't know where I am not spelling it out), starting at 8.30pm 'ish, he is hosting his world famous comedy evening (some of you may remember his last effort in 2005).

Well this year it is to celebrate his Dads 50th Birthday - so he is asking all who enjoy Swedish humour (remember the cooks in the Muppet Show ?) to attend and bask in comical monologue which he will deliver.

Please see the poster below (sorry I did not get it all in) - and note that it will be performed in front of a "live2 audience, so this demands that at one person turns up - so help the support the man if you can.

As I mentioned before this weekend is Remembrance Sunday, and I plan once more to visit the Jelgava cemetery for the service of remembrance. If anyone would like to join me please let me know, I will be leaving Riga around 9:15am - -9:30am on Sunday morning.

For all who enjoy Rugby, then this weekend we can watch on Saturday England v Argentina and Wales v PI at the same time (4.30pm) and then good match New Zealand v France in the evening, but not Australia v Italy nor Ireland v South Africa.

Hopefully visiting Zvannieki on Saturday, to see if we can get the electrical items up and running, and to check on outstanding works.

As I indicated before the man upstairs has a goodly sense of humour, now last weekend the road to Zvannieki would have been frozen solid, but this weekend - Oh No ! - it has done nothing but rain for the last few days, with more to come, so the road will be its usual mud patch, and no S..... to help with the digging out - watch this space !

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Aur Cymru

Once upon a time, in mists of time, their lived in Welsh Wales a man who claimed he found the spirit of life - whisky, and set about making same.

Now all of this was a long time ago, perhaps when dragons still roamed the Welsh countryside. Well after all of this time once again a Welsh Whisky has appeared - Penderyn - , if you would like to read the early history of the company - which is quite fascinating, then visit -

"Like Welsh gold, Penderyn single malt Welsh whisky is a rare and precious commodity. This golden malt signals the welcome return of whisky distillation to Wales, after an absence of over 100 years. The last genuine Welsh whisky distillery closed its doors at the end of the 19th century, but now after so many barren years, connoisseurs are promised a precious seam of golden Penderyn Welsh Whisky"

And where you may ask did I come across this rare gem ( well if you like whisky) - at the Welsh Trade delegation visit to Latvia, in a social gathering at the Blackheads House.

I was there out of pure curiosity, but S..... (our budding Welsh cat flap entrepreneur), was there to meet with fellow countrymen and to sample the Welsh delights on display, including Lava Bread (made from seaweed -so do not ask !) - pancakes (of the miniature variety) and a fair selection of Welsh Cheeses.

So the Hoi Poloi of Latvian /Welsh/English/Scottish society gathered to sample these delights, but first of all we had to listen to the various delegates, both Latvian and Welsh sing mutual praises of each other, finally it was Professor Brian Morgan who introduced us to the art of whiskey tasting/drinking - and with great aplomb we duly tasted the golden nectar.

Now after these more formal sessions, the idea was that we should "network" with the various Welsh businessmen to see if mutual befits could be realised. However this coincided with introduction of another piece of Welsh culture - music - in this case, in the shape of a group called Radio Luxembourg, who proceeded to drown us with noise, welsh noise mind you ( they sang in both Welsh and English - not that you could tell the difference) - which effectively killed any possibility of conversation.

When they had finished - S...... seeking to get their autographs I think, then started to engage them in conversation (not in Welsh) - anyhow an interesting bunch of musicians, and all strong supporters of the Welsh language.

Suitably refreshed with Welsh delicacies we then retreated as was our wont, to De Lacy's to finish off what had proved to be an interesting evening.

The weekend brought about a surfeit of Rugby, which was enjoyed in the upstairs of P..... W....., so a big thank you to them for providing us with a relatively quiet environment to watch, and I would encourage all who enjoy Rugby to support the managements endeavours to provide us a place to watch, because at the end of the day the pub is a commercial enterprise, and if they do not get enough regulars to watch, then it will return to its bad old ways of just showing football, and therefore the cretins will win again !

The weekend also saw the first dip below zero degrees, so it was back to wearing of the vest (no tights as yet !) - and with a forecast of between -10 to -12 degrees this weekend, I think we can safely say that winter is upon us. We have also had some fairly strong winds this week, which must be driving the leaf sweeper upperers mad, as fast as they sweep them up into little bundle, then SWISH or is it SWOOSH ?- they are are scattered asunder !! - so off they go again.

And just as the leaves are disappearing from the trees, so the cars are once being covered in bird s..t - you never seem to see it at any other time of the year, but the warning is quite clear - do not park underneath trees - or else ! - must be a Latvian bird thing ?

Remembrance Sunday is coming soon, so if anyone would like to join in going to Jelgeva, please let me know - hopefully this time I will not get lost.

Zvannieki has a minor crisis last weekend - absolutely no transport, due to all vehicles for one reason or another being out of action - but hopefully they have now managed to get some, if not all back in action.

To avoid repeating the happenings of winter in Riga, then please check out the blog this time last year, as it will be the same this year ! - so only new and hopefully interesting stories will be written up.

Please Note J... (Irish personage with no drinking problem - he can do it every day !) - is trying to organise a Christmas dinner around 14th December, so if you would like to attend please let him or myself know.

- and finally this Tuesday 2nd November 2006, saw our first sprinkling of snow, and overnight forecasts of -12 degrees for this weekend, now that's more like it ! - Riga in the snow - a true picture postcard image - I love it ( if you believe this you clearly have not experienced the sub zero temperatures or the total inability of Latvian drivers to cope with driving in the snow.) Technically (and legally) as of 1st November all cars are supposed to have "winter" tyres fitted and a plastic warning notice stuck in the rear window, to advise other motorists that they do have "winter" tyres fitted. Reality ? - some have stickers, but no winter tyres, others have winter tyres and no sticker, and majority have no sticker and no "winter" tyres - a recipe for disaster.