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 . 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.


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