Friday, December 15, 2006

The Masked Avenger strikes again

After a respite last weekend in the UK, a little bit of business and the opportunity to see a very beautiful young lady -well my granddaughter, I returned to Riga with a smidgen of excess luggage, well what with a Turkey crown, mince pies, ham joint etc it did seem a little heavy. But after making a charitable donation to British Airways, it was duly loaded on the plane. Suffice to say that I nearly had a heart seizure having to carry the two 30 kilo bags up five flights of stairs.

Ahhhhh the suffering we must bear for Christmas !

Speaking of Christmas on Thursday of last week some 25+ manly men attended a Christmas dinner to raise money for the Smiley Fund Christmas Appeal for the children at Zvannieki.

For the evening and at great expense we had hired P....(owner of killer dog) as chef - and it has to be said he cooked a superb meal. We had the lot Soup, Turkey, Pork, stuffing, vegetables, roast potatoes, Christmas pudding, Mince pies, and wine in abundance.

After dinner we held a raffle consisting of a TV and DVD player, dinner for two, a Welsh Rugby film (???) a surprise gift and - funds for the purchase of mini bus for the home. The latter was donated by Rietumu Bank, so on behalf of Zvannieki allow me to say a huge thank to M..... B.... (Irish and ex head honcho of the bank) and indeed all at the bank you one way or another managed to get this amazing donation approved.

At the time of writing it looks as though when all the funds are in and all the expenses are paid, we will have raised over Ls 1220.00 , but I will publish the final figure later as it could increase.

Let me also say a big thanks to the owner of Ainavas Hotel - K...... (Latvian Swimming Champion) - for his hospitality. Strongly recommend this hotel to stay in for those of you visiting riga - check out for details.

The actual night was a stunning success, and even the piece de resistance prize unknowingly donated by and subsequently won by said owner of De Lacy's - J.... - which was finally auctioned to young J.... B..... (Scottish and clearly with no taste) - Lord only only knows what he is going to do with an illuminated Mary, Joseph & Jesus picture, donate it to a home for the blind ?

For my part I was slightly inebriated, but I understand that certain gentlemen carried on the festivities at De Lacy's - of which I will say no more, other than what does the song NORWEGIAN WOOD remind a person not to be named of ?

Sunday night was another night of celebration, but of a very different kind, at the bequest of Welsh Person S...... - He and I duly dressed in our finest evening outfits, took ourselves of to the House of Blackheads for a Masquerade Ball !

The evening was hosted by the company who owns a major industrial park outside Riga - Nordic Industries - and what an amazing sight greeted us on entry into the building - All the persons were in serious period costume, complete with masks (No Lone Ranger in sight). Regretfully I had not been informed that I was required to wear a mask, but no matter, in reception were a whole range of masks which on could acquire, so we duly did, and then proceeded into the main area itself. I have to confess the reception drink, complete with cherry, did seem a little out of place in my hand, which is much more accustomed to holding a pint - finally having explored the cellars of the building we proceeded upstairs into the main hall - where a buffet had been laid out, which looked and was superb.

If you are visiting Riga please make sure you visit the Blackheads house, quite amazing to see the restored building and the original cellars.

Now they say that every picture tells a story, so I will leave it to yourself as to what story lies behind the picture below and just in case you ask - YES that was the welcoming drink ! Personally I think he looks a right t.t

Prizes will awarded for the best caption - send either as a comment or by e-mail

S...... and I spent the evening avoiding holdings hands, and simply watched the people in their amazing costumes - well apart from the couple, who clearly had misunderstood the meaning of the ball, as they came dressed as a Pig (her) and a Cow (him) - both with somewhat enlarged udders at the forefront of the costume - I suspect they were really glad of the masks !!

Just as it seemed time to depart, it was announced that a competition was to be held for the best costume, and without warning a lady of Icelandic origination, took it upon herself to approach me and ask me to accompany her onto the floor - how to refuse ?

So before I new it there I was prancing around the floor, complete with mask, whilst the judges made there decision. This seemed to take a long time, as I ended having to dance a waltz with her - and as anyone who knows me - dancing is not one of my skills.

Finally and to my relief the winners were announced - and the first prize went to a Malaysian gentleman, dressed as a Ninja killer, compete with sword and black - face covering mask - WEIRD was the word for it - maybe it was a bit like our raffle - Fixed !!

Well after this experience a serious drink was required so we beat a hasty retreat to De Lacy's - before heading for home.

Returning to funds raised - I plan to give Ls 200.00 in cash for Christmas use, and also to buy a chest freezer - which will allow them to freeze both summer fruits and also larger lumps of meat - like pigs.

Well another year is fast drawing to a close, and the weather here in Riga is still mild, although hit has in the last few days tried to snow - so we may well see a white Christmas. It funny how at this time of year we choose to get in touch with people that we have not seen or spoken too for a long time - well this week I received an e-mail from G...... (Australian, bald - part joiner) - he is doing well - sends his regards to all (I will omit the bit about English Cricketers) - and hopes to be in Riga in 2007.

Finally and with benefit of the reader of Guardian Newspaper in Latvia , and I quote

"Sarah Boseley, health editor

Thursday December 14, 2006
The Guardian

Circumcision can halve the risk of a man picking up the HIV infection which leads to Aids, scientists in the United States said last night. Two major trials, in Kenya and Uganda, have confirmed what doctors and campaigners have suspected and hoped for several years. The results have major implications for the fight against the Aids pandemic raging in Africa and Asia.

Yesterday Kevin de Cock, head of the World Health Organisation's HIV/Aids department, said it could cut the numbers of infected men by "many tens of thousands, many hundreds of thousands and maybe millions over coming years".

You could not make it up if you tried !!

So to one and all, allow me to wish you A Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year, and at my tender years, it is good have seen another one through - I wonder what 2007 will bring ? - apart from higher cigarette prices !!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Its official !

See I told you it was warm - this has now been confirmed by the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Agency

Latvia had warmest fall in 72 years

RIGA, Dec 3 (LETA) - This past fall was the warmest on record in Latvia in 72 years, as the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Agency informed LETA.

The average temperature was 9.2 degrees Celsius, and it was only one-half degree warmer in 1934.

All three months - September, October and November were unusually warm, and November would have broken the record were it not for the cold snap (that included snow) in the first week of the month.

Despite the cold weather at the start of November, the average temperature on the month was 2.5 degrees warmer than normal.

Must be something to this global warming thing !

Off and Running

Well after a slow start ( actually a non existent start) the Smiley Christmas Fund is up and running, as of this morning it has raised Ls 170.00, thanks to a wonderful and generous contribution from D.... H..... (English telecommunications thingy). We have also had donated, a TV and DVD player courtesy of K.... (English - likes Bentley cars). So as ever the spirit of Christmas arises once more.

Next week sees the Christmas special dinner on the 14th December, to date some 19 people have confirmed there attendance, with about another 4-5 who will hopeful confirm later this week.

J.....(Irish limbo champion) has also arranged for "Whiskey tasting" session on the evening of 19th December at De Lacy's, all we have to do is figure out a way to raise funds from the Smiley from this event. If you have any ideas please let me know. The event is being sponsored by Pernod Ricard Latvia, and hosted by Sean Noonan. So I think I can safely say it will be Irish Whiskey we will be tasting.

Since the departure of our NATO friends, the city has once again returned to normal, namely total traffic chaos in the morning and evening - why anyone brings a car into Riga I do not know, you cannot park, or if you can it will cost anywhere between Ls1.00 - Ls 2.00 per hour, and when you want to move on - who are into an immediate traffic jam. Somebody suggested that they paint the yellow boxes ala the UK, at road intersections. But does anyone actually believe that the average Latvian driver would take any notice ? - I think not !.

A new wine bar has opened in/beside the hotel Latvia, it is called the D'vine (get it ?) - It appears to be on two floors, and from the outside looks like the spaceship Enterprise. Apparently it has wine on "tap" - so if who fancy a glass of wine, poured like a beer, and to be able to sit on high stools, under the purple lights -it is just the place for you !

I have to make a comment in regards to the weather, it is warm ! and there appears to be no sign of a cold spell not indeed snow - could this be my first Christmas in Riga with no snow ?

So all in all a quiet last weekend, no rugby of note, and not to much sign of the cretins, although 25+ of them did turn up at Paddies last Saturday, and immediately ordered 25 beers and 25 steak and chips - I think they are still waiting for the steaks - a word of warning to all who may visit Paddies, it is not the greatest nor fastest kitchen in town.

This weekend sees me off to the UK, so unlikely to see much of the rugby, but I will get to hold my granddaughter and procure a few much needed items for Christmas - Turkey, Christmas pudding, Crackers etc.

So to all readers have a good one, and as ever if you feel like making a contribution to our Smiley fund, send the money to the Zvannieki bank - details can be found on the left hand side of this blog, If you do please indicate on the money transfer who you are, so that we can say thanks, alternatively drop me an e-mail.