Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Who is this man ?

Now this is a question only for village members - but it appears one of our members is hiding a special talent from us all - or he has a look a like ?

Found this video on You Tube , and check pictures for yourselves

So all you have to do is tell me which one of our village members this looks like, or indeed is it him - if you want to check the Zimmers version of the Who' single go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqfFrCUrEbY , personally I think it is damn good, considering the total age of the "group" is over 3,000 years.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A High and a Low

Well just as forecast we woke up on Saturday to beautiful warm morning and with the thoughts of the BBC forecast in my mind, I looked forward to spending a day in the park, relaxing, reading a book, and at some stage enjoying a cool beer in the afternoon sunshine. However the BBC omitted to mention the serious thunderstorms caused by a ridge of high pressure coming in from Southern Europe. The result was on Saturday afternoon and evening we were treated to right royal display of thunder and lightening, accompanied by torrential rain. So bang went any thoughts of sitting in the park !
Now forced to watch the rugby (at home) - but even this was subject to the weather, as the signal from SKY kept on being interrupted by the weather.

Did finally manage to get out to sit under the new overs at the Flying Frog, for a little sustenance, however a word of advice, when it is raining, do not sit in the tables nearest to the roadside, as the covers do not extend that far, and do not sit at the tables next to the building, as the rain simply streams down the walls and splashed onto the tables and chairs. So one is restricted to the tables in the middle. Needless to say all of these were occupied when I arrived, so the best I could manage was a table against the building. Fortunately by this time the weather had calmed down, so whilst I could hardly call it pleasant, I did manage to indulge myself just a little.

Sunday proved to be a little better, and spent a pleasant afternoon at Sigulda, which for those of you who interested is about to celebrate its 800th anniversary in August this year, so if it lives up to Riga's and Cesis similar celebrations, then it should make for a very pleasant weekend. On my return back into Riga, I came across a new low in cretin behaviour.

After a long afternoon in the fresh air, I did aspire to a have beer, and knowing it was Sunday, I hoped beyond hope that the visiting morons would have aspired to sit in one of the outside bars, in ordwer that I could sample my preferred refreshment- but NO - just 200 meters from De Lacy's - a well known ditti was being regaled by a group of drunken louts.

Well I say ditti, the tune I recognised as being "When you are coming round the mountain" - however these drunken cretins had introduced new verses "You can stuff your foreign women up your a..e" - Needless to say I swiftly about turned, headed for home and had a delightful beer and evening mean at the Cheese Bar in Alunana iela.

Now I have but one comment to make about all of this, with doors and windows of De Lacy's wide open the noise of these louts could be heard from a considerable distance, now if the objective was to ensure that no tourist or local would venture into the pub, well it certainly succeeded. But what I find more disturbing, and remember the "lyrics" -there were at least three female members of staff on duty on Sunday afternoon, in addition to the male manager - was the latter happy to permit this vocally impoverished group with there obscene and insulting lyrics to remain in the pub ?

Now I am sure they were all spending good money getting p....d, and no doubt when they return back to their caves, they will tell all and sundry what a great time they had in De Lacy's, which of course will encourage even more of them.

For me it is sad reflection of what happens to our village hall , and indeed Riga, at the weekend, and I for one will no longer even attempt to visit it at the weekend. But can someone please explain to me why this moronic behaviour is so concentrated in De Lacy's - or is simply that being the smallest of the pubs, it is more visible.

Now on brighter note work will finally start today on the kitchen at Zvannieki, courtesy of V... (Australian/Latvian - what do mean - how much will it cost ? - builder), alongwith two of his henchmen.
And returning once more to the weather - it is Monday, and what is the weather in riga, simply bl..dy brilliant, blue skies, temperature at 6.00am this morning was +20 degrees, and it forecasted to reach +31 degrees. Who said the man upstairs does not have a sense of humour ?
And finally for the more observant amongst you - you will have noticed that my powers of descriptions in regards to our UK weekend vistors, has now extended beyond simply cretins, now I can embrace a whole set adjectives - Moronic, loutish, obscene, drunken and vocally impoverished cretins, and so to those who were here this weekend and all who follow in there footsteps, I offer the following words of wisdom - May you be vapulus and epotus during you stay in Riga.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Good and the Bad and the Ugly

First the good bit of being in Riga at this time - the weather !!!! -can you believe 34 degrees

and the bad news- well a member of the village was mugged in the early hours of this morning, as he was returning home. Fortunately whilst he suffered a number of cuts and bruises, he is not seriously hurt. So apart from the loss of his wallet and his apartment keys (why take them ?), and I am sure a little damage to his pride, he is OK this morning.
But let this again be a warning to us all - we do stand out as foreigners, and should we be out and about in the wee hours -Take a taxi home !
The mugging itself took place in Alunana iela, a street full of embassies and a police station - so one would have thought a relatively safe place, but to the people who commit these muggings anyplace is a good place if they think they will not be seen or caught.
As for the ugly well the one group of cretins I thought we would not see this weekend were those originating from Liverpool, but no I will be wrong, as it appears that thanks to Ryanair, a number of them flew from Liverpool to Riga for a few pennies, and from here were flying to Athens via Copenhagen to see the European Cup Final last night. So of course the return journey will be the same, and with it being a bank holiday in the UK this weekend, they will be here no doubt from this evening all the way through to Monday. Now if only those muggers could be advised of the rich pickings to be had - must check to see if they left a card !

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A fine affair

Well as promised here is the photographic evidence of the first meeting of the Indian Appreciation Society
The Group

The group minus me !

Scary Huh ?

You do wonder what the Lady is looking down at !

What self respecting Indian restaurant serving Indian, Thai and Chinese food would not have a belly dancer - only in Riga !

Well now we move onto Monday in De Lacy's, and lo and behold here he is again, but this time with his good Lady, but for some reason notice the absence of the beaming smile so resplendent at the Indian Dinner - mmm ?

T'is me - nice suite !

Now for those who are in the know, it appears that the Irish president is in town and in honour of her visit all Irish persons were summoned to appear before her. Now this meant that it was a black tie do. J.... (Irish - man of distinction and loved by all, tea total, hates late nights, and I forget what else he told me to write) did not have a tuxedo, so off he went to the dress hire shop and duly ordered one. But this being Riga when he actually went to collect it - it was not there, as the previous client had not returned IT ! - Apparently they only had one. Undaunted off he went and spent a princely sum of money and bought one, regretfully they did not quite have one his size, nor it appears did they have bow ties.

Now in case you do not recognise the one on the left this J... (Irish - retired tobacco magnate) with his new look in hairstyle - could this be Irelands answer to James Bond ? as for the other J.... well not sure if he was going to the reception or a wake - however thanks to the technology that is now available to me, I can rectify the follicle loss and incorrect tie wear of the Irish Party goers - thus - much better I think

of course it could have been a white tie do - in which case

and finally

newly installed in De Lacy's art galleries are these dispensers, which are the strangest toilet rolls I have ever seen, do you have to straighten them out before use ?

Cannot quite put my finger on it, but for some reason the above images do remind me a certain village member

Monday, May 21, 2007

Indian delight-Latvian nuptials

Last weekend saw my first trip of the year into the nether regions of Latvia, in this case to a wedding of a young man, who many moons ago I was responsible for hiring into Lattelecom.

The setting was picture perfect at a "palace" but now a hotel, in the Valmera region, call Dikli Palace Hotel www.diklupils.lv/index.php?lp=_en . It is many - many moons ago that I last attended a wedding in Latvia, and in both cases it involved a male of oversees extraction. But on this occasion it was a 100% Latvian affair, so for me chance too experience a "real" Latvian wedding.

The ceremony itself took place, under a clear blue sky, and unlike the UK, there was no walking up the aisle by the father of the bride. It was the couple who walked hand in hand to the alter, and hence the ceremony itself.

However just like the UK the next hour was spent under the strict supervision of the photographer and the man with the video recorder. The last one being of the bride stuck halfway up a tree, with the groom sitting beneath her - quite symbolic of the marriage status !

Then it was off to the reception, but as the wedding did commence until 5.00pm in the evening, by this time it was nearly 7.30pm, before we all sat down at our allotted places.

The three courses which followed were absolutely stunning, and dishes for the main course just kept on coming and coming, indeed if it had not been for the fact that the table needed to be cleared away to make room for the evening disco, then I suspect they would have been eating all night.

What was strange, at least for me, that it was the maid of honour who was very much in charge of the proceedings, and not as in the UK, the best man.

Much traditional goings took place both over dinner and afterwards, culminating at midnight, with the bride and groom changing from there formal attire into clothes symbolic of there marriage, he with a cap and she with an apron - wonder how long that will last !

All of the guest were staying at the hotel, and I cannot overstate the quality of the rooms, in my case I had suite called the "Hunters Suite", complete with a stags head mounted above the bed, and a jacuzzi bathtub in the bathroom. So to anyone planning a weekend break, I would really recommend this hotel, complete with a wonderful restaurant, health spa and billiard rooms, and there some really interesting places to visit with the Valmera region.

At around 2:00am on Sunday morning, I duly retired, leaving the bride and groom and many of the younger guests still in full flight on the dance floor.

Sunday morning (ish) saw us all assemble for breakfast, before waving goodbye to the couple as they headed off for their honeymoon.

For my part I had leisurely return to Riga, stopping off at a roadside country restaurant near Rubene, which given that the temperature was over 25 degrees, it was pleasure just to sit in the sunshine and enjoy a beer.

Sunday afternoon saw a small band of the village members assemble at the village lounge to watch the Heineken Cup Final. In attendance were J.... (second only to T.. in terms of vocal decibels), his good lady on her first trip to Riga, his friend A.... and his good lady, the ever present S...... (Welsh - dislikes Irish referees) , P..... (English - drives a doggy car) and of course myself. So over the course of a couple of hours we watched a most enjoyable game of Rugby, and supped a few beers in the process.

J....(according to his wife not living up to his new found pen name of Erecticus Straightenus) preceded the game by offering a bet that the Wasps team would win, which S.... accepted and I declined. However as is his wont he then spent the whole of the afternoon remonstrating with me and all who could hear him (and that was all of the pub) that I had indeed accepted his bet. Despite my denials and that of his friend D...., he still was claiming that I owed him a beer (that was the bet) So tonight I will keep my honour intact by buying him a beer he did not win.

The previous Friday saw the inaugural meeting of the Village Indian society, held in the local Indian restaurant. The objective of the society is to enjoy a monthly Indian meal, whilst slandering any village member who does not attend.

For the first meeting we had

N.... (English and seeking follicle treatment)

S...... (Welsh - avid fan of Shirley Bassey)

V.... (Australian/Latvian and hero of the hour - read below)

A.... (English - wins prizes for eating the hottest curries)

J.... (English - likes to be heard)

and me

Meal consisted of Thai starters, followed by double portions of Vindaloo (not hot enough apparently), Tikka Masala, Honey covered vegetable (wonderful) Crispy Chinese Pork (!!!) and something else I cannot remember, and of course loads of Indian bread. Good meal, great chat - and a good beginning to the weekend - To be repeated in June, possibly in Jurmula. Pictures of said event will be published this evening, although I must warn you that those who are of a nervous disposition may find some of the images disturbing

Now I am delighted to say that V.... (Australian/Latvian builder of repute) along with his English colleague should have visited Zvannieki on Saturday morning to assess the work that is needed to do, before we get the kitchen cabinets etc fitted. With a bit of luck, and we all know that V.... is a stickler for getting work done on time (actually any time) - hopes to get the work started this week - we shall but see !

So there we go a a delightful weekend, and here we are on a Monday morning once again heading for another hot day, with temperatures somewhere around 27 degrees - so it may be time to sit outside this evening, enjoy the evening air and watch the world go by.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Food for thought

News Corp Europe, owned by Australian-American media tycoon Rupert Murdoch (very Rich Australian with American Citizenship) , purchased the Latvian television company "Latvijas Neatkariga Televizija" (LNT) and 70 percent interest in television company TV5.

Now I do not know if this is good news or bad news for television in Latvia, however one can but hope that the Australian soaps so dominant in UK daytime tv, do not arrive in Latvia, the thought of Neighbours with Latvian voice overs is to much to think about.!

Now it is rare for me to have to consider retracting or apologising in regards to previous bogs, however on this occasion I do feel obliged on behalf of J.... (English who is now known to all and sundry by his Latin pseudonym of "Erecticus Straightenus") to let it be know to all village members that he did indeed cough up last night the Ls 20.00 relating to the Zvannieki Grand National Draw, and that he did so in good grace. He has also committed to organising a similar fund raising event in the near future !

Now for the Indian Dinner night this forthcoming Friday 18th May, at this time I have the following names
A.... (Second hand goods)
S....... (Cat Flaps) but only if his wife lets him
J..... (Wooden gates)
C.... (Telecommunication Guru)
Friend of above to be confirmed
P..... (Horse fixer)
Me subject to night shift needs

So as things stand we have four confirmed (Green) and three possibles (Red) - anyone else interested please let me know before Friday.

So as further food for thoughts I leave you with these two little pictorial thoughts on life

Monday, May 14, 2007

Meaning of Life

Its Monday night and it is nearly 12.00pm and as I sit here watching my little band of helpers calling some American personages as to what they think about Philips savers/light bulbs etc - I do begin to wonder about the meaning of life.

Prior to the start of my little evening soiree, I partook of a little of a little refreshment at the village hall. On entering there lo and behold was J.... (English - recently returned from his Egyptian stone gathering expedition ) and J... (Irish Lat counter), followed by S..... (Welsh computer snatcher) - then J... (Irish - fellow computer snatcher), C.... (English - Riga/Jurmula commuter) , V.... (Australian building magnate) and finally V.... (Mexican/Latvian - accident specialist).

Now being a Monday night the conversation was varied but can be summed as follows

J..... - refused to acknowledge that he has pledged Ls20.00 re Grand National draw, on the basis that (1) he was not here (are we to blame for this ?) and (2) he knew nothing about it (but that was because he was not here - see 1) - now in case you are wondering to which of the above J....'s I refer - look to to a picture clue on the left
Got it Good ! -
He then proceeded to regale us with some weird tale of Welsh Football and how he single handed managed to get some weird team blackballed for implying that the referee was of colored species with no known father. It appears this outcry upset the local football authorities, who clearly were unused to such declarations being made within a sporting environment.

V... on the other hand had a much more colorful story, as what him being a doctor, he was immediately able to diagnose that he was suffering from whiplash, following (well this is his story - but who do have to wonder why he called it whiplash) a car accident where he was shunted in the rear by a driver apparently suffering from a slight alcohol overdose. However he then proceeded to "leg" it, only to be caught a few minutes later by the ever vigilant Riga Police.

J.... 3rd - -then proceeded to say that the Leicester Rugby team a re a bunch of cheats, without actually explaining why - perhaps another time.
C.... on the other hand departed early as he had a date with a lawn mower.

So there you have it - yet another scintillating set of conversations about absolutely nothing, which makes the whole thing so much more enjoyable !
Today saw also take the first tentative steps to assisting the Zvannieki home purchase its own property. A meeting was held with the Rietumu Bank to see what advice they could offer, and whether not they could assist in any way in providing sufficient loans to facilitate the purchase. Far to early to say what will happen, but fair to say we were given a good hearing. Juris Calitis and Sandre were in attendance, and with a bit of luck they will get a response one way or the other in the latter part of this week, so fingers crossed.
As to what the actual meaning of life really is - well I suspect for each of us it is something different, but a least for me and at this time - To enjoy good friends, good beer and insane conversation will suffice.
Good Night - or in my case Good Morning !

Monday, May 07, 2007

Choppers a Go Go

Now last week was definitely a weird one ! - What with it being officially a two day week, or in my case a five night week ! - Riga had an air of a city in absentia. Even the weekend was relatively quiet, although I suspect the village hall was duly mobbed for the two football games on Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday was simply a perfect day, blue skies, warm sunshine - so time for an afternoon in the park, compete with book, followed by a few a few beers (prior to the start of the football!).

As I walked towards the park outside Congress Nams I was confronted with the weirdest selection of "bicycles" that I have ever seen, four wheelers - complete with a cyclist on each corner, back to front tricycles , Tandems with three cyclists ! and bicycles with the longest extended forks I have ever seen. - Take a look for yourselves.

They must have spent hours on these "conversions"

Now moving onto plans for the summer, The smiley fund plan to hold a "barbie" out at Zvannieki sometime in June/July - so to all Smiley fund members please advise what weekend would be good for you, so that we can maximise the attendees. Plan is the same as at Christmas, namely a inclusive charge will be made for food and drinks, with any surplus given to the smiley fund account.

As I may have mentioned I am now forced to earn a few pennies by selling my body at night, however I am not alone, I have a would be Doctor J..., an English teacher S.... ( both from the Indian subcontinent or thereabouts) and three delightful young Russian/Latvian ladies - K......, K... and A...., all with one thing in common they speak excellent English. The three young ladies were all introduced to me by young J... (Irish late evening lecher - with a new found penchant for Gin and Tonic !). Well now I know where he met them, as on Saturday night after we had finished calling our American brethren, they advised that they were off to one of the local night clubs, where the were Go Go dancers - What the young get up to ! for my part the best I could muster was bed a Go Go at that time of night.

This week will bring more of the same - Oh lucky me - but then again when I think of all the people who have to work night shift on a long term basis, I guess I am lucky that for me it is only a short term thing ( I Hope !)

After my walk in the park on Sunday and before I had a few well earned beers, I came across a visiting young cretin standing outside the British Embassy (He was actually Scottish!). Anyhow the poor wee lad had "mislaid" his passport, wallet etc and was seeking assistance of the Embassy. On a Sunday he had to be joking ? - Well Yes and No - The Embassy was of course closed, BUT as was carrying one of those guides to Riga, I remembered that they had published the do's and dont's when visiting Riga along with a telephone number. (NO SUPRISE THAT WAS ONE OF THE PAGES HE HAD NOT READ) So we dialled said number, and of course got an answering machine ! - BUT it did give an emergency number for use by British Citizens only (So none of you Commonwealth types !) and lo and behold a young lady by the name of J.... did answer. The lad was duly advised to go the Police Station on Matiss iela and report it as lost, and then on Monday armed with the police report he could get some kind of emergency travel document from the Embassy, in order that he could fly back to Glasgow on the Monday night.

Now given that there is police station not a 100 yards from the British Embassy, you may wonder why he has to go all the way the Matisa iela, well it appears this is the only police station in Latvia where you can report a lost passport. Having been through this experience a number of years ago, he has my deepest sympathies, as when I went I could not find anyone who spoke English - So as he had no identification, had no idea of his passport details, indeed no idea where he had "lost" the passport etc, in fact knew nothing, except for the fact that he had got somewhat polluted on friday night (Surprise - Surprise) - I can only trust that he managed somehow to get his police report.

Now it transpires that he was one of 26 Scottish "Stag" visitors (the mind boggles!) , and they were all staying at Fun Franks - so perhaps it might be worthwhile for the manager of said establishment F.... ( Australian and basking in Cuban sunshine as we speak) to issue all arriving cretins or at least the British ones) of the Embassy emergency number, 7774700, as if nothing else they will at least get the telephone number of the duty officer, which on Sunday at least was 29221804.

So that was my good deed for the day, and if you ask why, well I am always prepared to help out a visiting cretin, if it ensures he/she does not outstay there welcome ! and I can then enjoy the relative peace and quiet of the village hall for a few days, before the next batch arrives.

Finally a special plea to ALL village, members, a certain young lady who aspires to charm us with her smile, whilst serving beers is suffering from a serious condition of the heart , and apparently there is only one cure - Chocolate.

Apparently this a well know condition "Source: Penn State - 21st January 2002 -led review of the available evidence from 66 published studies, supports the view that consuming chocolate, can be associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. "

So if you wish to help her recover from being heart broken and therefore continue to serve us with our beer, please make sure that you bring chocolate for her - She has indicated the more expensive the chocolate, the better the chance of a full recovery !

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Shifting Times

I have been somewhat remiss in my regaling the happenings of the last few days, but if I may put it down to sheer boredom, an overdose of cretins at the weekend, allied to now working a night shift for the next two weeks - The latter at my tender age is proving to one step beyond the pale !!

But to return to the happenings of this week - well I am but afraid not a lot is going on - Latvia is on a two day week - Monday was declared by our beloved government a holiday, as long as you worked the previous Saturday (It's a Latvian thing) . Tuesday is of course May the 1st - when all of of the world's working class get a day off (with the exception of shop staff, nurses, doctors, petrol pump attendants, the military and anybody else who has to serve the general public) - and then on Friday - well it is Latvia's Celebration of independence - not sure from whom or what - but clearly a good excuse for a holiday.

So what you may ask, is this high powered executive doing working night shift - well I blame the Dutch ! - It started off as a polite enquiry as to whether or not we had English speaking chappies and chappesses within our little company - which of course we do ! - then would they like to speak to our American cousins ?, enquiring as to whether or not they were happy with a certain Dutch companies products. The name of this company I will refrain from mentioning, but I think Princess A..... was married once to a founder of said company.
So with a mere seven hour time difference between Latvia and the east coast of the USA - hear I sit as 8.00pm and looking forward to concluding this very important task at 4.00am in the morning, merrily asking as to whether or not they are happy with their purchase. God -the excitement I can barely contain !!

Having only started this major undertaking last night, I found once again that he who is almighty has a strange sense of humour. Why is it that when I normally go to bed at 10..00pm in the evening I fall sound asleep - but this morning at 4.30am when I finally crawled into bed I could not get to sleep - WHY ????

Another question for you, am I the only person when getting dressed in the morning, and stick my left leg into the trousers, find that my big toe gets caught in the bottom lining of the trouser leg ? - Please let me know as I would hate to think it is only me.

As who might have gathered there seemed an overly large number of cretins in Riga at the weekend, and worst still they outstayed their welcome, and were still hear on Tuesday night - well not all of them - but a significant numbers. But even worse they have drunk all the Wexford beer - now this is simply not good enough - so with absolutely no fear, I approached the Little Irish One - he who is charge of acquiring said beverages, and suggested that they should have a barrel for the cretins and a totally separate barrel for the local clientele. Not sure this suggestion was greeted with any enthusiasm.

But not only is our village hall depleted of my favourite beer, as of this evening it appears that food is on ration. No longer a wide and extravagant selection - for the time being only a limited selection, due to the fact that one of the chefs has sought pastures new. So much for the saying to many cooks ..........................

Indeed the only excitement in De Lacy's this week is that young I..... ( barlady of distinction) has once again changed her hair colour - this time with blond highlights - so I have no doubt that within a few week she will be back where she started - a blond !

Many of you will have noticed that the World Ice Hockey Championships are currently being held in Moscow -well Latvija is doing itself proud. Indeed only today they managed to snatch defeat when playing that powerhouse of Ice hockey - ITALY ! But give the Latvian supporters their due, there they were in the streets with there duck horns in full blast - see that what comes from having a built in instinct for losing - just like Scotland !

In closing can I express my undying gratitude to the person(s) living in Andover , Wiltshire, England, and who are customers of NTL, who clearly have found great comfort from reading this blog, as over the last few days they have spent in excess of 90 minutes reading my meandering thoughts - perhaps they would be kind enough to let me know what they find so interesting ?

To all our missing villagers, we look forward to your return, and as we promised ourselves, the monthly Indian dinner will be held on either Friday 4th or 11th May - depending on who is in town. Please advise A.... (Bristolian French Cider drinker)

So to all night shift workers where ever you may be - Good night (or should that be Good Morning ?)

PS. It is but true young J..... (Irish - Cork Stud) is about to become the proud possessor of the patter of tiny feet.