Sunday, July 15, 2007

Security - inabsentia

Now this is a story of today - Sunday 15th July. We are in the process of moving offices, and in this regard J....(Irish building magnate) kindly offered us the use of his long wheel base Mercedes Benz van. All we had to do was go to his secure building site, collect said vehicle - all was arranged the previous evening with the security company, that we would be arriving this morning.
So we did ! - only to find a distinct absence of said security man - the security dog however was much in evidence - outside on the road !

So we sat and sat and SAT for about forty minutes, and given that the dog had wandered off, we found that gaining entry to the compound was a simple matter of lifting the gate bolts which were accessible from the outside.

So now we were in, and after once again confirming that doggy was not around, we lept from into the van - success !!! - ahh but no as when we tried to start the van, absolutely nothing, we looked around for some kind of security switch/button - but nothing. After trying anything and everything without success, we decided to call it a day. We never did find out whether it was the security system or a battery problem.

But right on cue back came the dog, thereby trapping us in the van. Not wishing to incur the wrath of the dog, we sat it out until once again doggy decided to go for another meander - So with some trepidation, we stealthily crept from the van to the car, and drove out, past the dog, who frankly looked decidedly uninterested in our presence.

Now I know we should closed the gates, but what to do given that doggy was still casting his wary over us ?

So to all concerned please accept my apologies for leaving the gates open, but it did seem the lesser of two evils.

So you ask where was the security man ? - but I trust that on Monday morning he is looking for a new calling, because I do not think that security is his thing.
So all in all a total disaster as far as getting the van, but as ever an interesting insight into the working of security companies in Latvia. But as ever it keeps life interesting, even on a Sunday morning.
A special thanks to S....(Welsh - and looking for a new freezer) for helping with the move.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Where do they go ?

Its summer in Riga, well it must be finally the Reval hotel is putting up it outside wooden patio ! - better late than never. Just like summer is a little late in arriving (assuming it actually does !) so does the plethora of vintage artists choosing to display their talent in little old Latvia.
Here is list of some of the "star" acts about to appear
Kim Wilde
Right Said Fred (fresh from their triumphs in Bauska last year
Denis Roussos - yes he is still alive !
Gypsy Kings.
and of course that much loved group, well at least in Latvia
Smokie !!

Now it has to be said that Aerosmith were here recently along with a British band that no one seems to have heard of "Muse" - but the latter did apparently pack out the new Riga Arena, and according to our resident music critic, P.....( English - and all things fantastic) they were, well FANTASTIC !

Last week also saw the return of J.....(English - remember Straightenous Dickus ?). Now he was only here for a short period of time to cohort with J.....(Australian/Latvian - long suffering member of the First Wife's club). However it appears that his operation to rectify his bent thingy, has proved to unsuccessful, so it it back to his original non de plume - Bentus Dickus. Life is full of challenges.

Also here is young A...(English - would be karioke singer), and as always he is succeeding in doubling the sales of Guinness in Riga.

Now we all know that life never stand still, and so it seems in Riga. As I have regaled many time in the past over the 10 years I have been here, we have as time moved on, taken ourselves from Paddy Whelans, to Dickens, and most recently to De Lacy's. But now if rumours are to believed they are all in for change.

The reason - well apparently it is that time for rent/lease renewal, and the greedy little persons who own these properties now think they can charge whatever they please. So as a consequence these establishment may either have to move or close.

It is a frightening thought to us in the village, that our hostelries may no longer be available to us. It is one thing to lose them at the weekend, due to the cretin invasion, but to lose them altogether is unthinkable. But I have every confidence in at least one young man, that he will make sure that the name De Lacy's will live on, albeit in a new location. Lets us just hope that is only the location that changes and not the staff within. Because as any student of pubs will tell you, you can have the best pub in the world, but without the right people in front of and behind the bar, it will fail.

Now on a lighter note I am delighted to finally get photographs of the refurbishment at Zvannieki, courtesy of V... ( Australian/Latvian builder of note - high C I think). Now you may notice one thing - nothing seems to be finished, but I assured by V that all is well - hmmmmmmm !

I have been assured that I will get "finished" pictures early next week - we shall but see !

Now as is my wont I am always on the lookout for the strange and unusual in the world, so here is this weeks, published in the Daily Telegraph was the following caption and photograph

An Iranian model displays Islamic clothes during a fashion festival in Teheran

Trendy it not, but I have to confess I fail to see what subtle differences there are from the normal.

To all and sundry have a good week, and to NTL of Andover, Wiltshire keep up the good work of checking out the blog - You are making a remarkable difference to my viewing statistics ! and if you are wondering about the picture at the top of the blog - well read on -

A four-storey public toilet in Chongqing, China, with more than 1,000 toilets. Officials in the city are preparing to submit an application to Guinness World Records to have the facility listed as the world's largest

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It make you proud to be British ?????

Another British citizen detained for relieving himself at Freedom Monument

RIGA, July 11 (LETA) - This morning, the police detained another British citizen who was relieving himself at Latvia's symbol of independence - Freedom Monument. Aigars Berzins from the State Police's Press and Public Relations Department told LETA that early morning at 4.20 a.m. police officers detained a drunken British citizen (born 1974), who was urinating on the Freedom Monument. The detainee was taken to a police station, where alcohol tests showed his blood alcohol level at 1.

The man was fined LVL 50 for minor hooliganism. As reported, on June 4, the Riga Central District Court imposed a LVL 45 fine against another British citizen, the 28-year-old John Hart, who was caught urinating near the Freedom Monument on March 16.

The man's friends were taking pictures of the man while he was urinating. Riga Municipal Police drew up an administrative protocol for minor hooliganism. The police also conducted an alcohol breath test, which showed that the man had a 2.83 blood alcohol level.

One more British tourist was caught urinating on the Freedom Monument early November 11. The Prosecutor General's Office imposed a fine of nine minimum monthly wages (LVL 810) on the man.

I have a question, if the first cretin was fined Ls 810.00, why is the third cretin only fined Ls 50.00 ?? - Latvia get a grip make the fine at least Ls 1000.00 + a few days in prison and make his name public.

It also good to see that the "advice" issued by the British Embassy is working so well !!!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Latvian Logic

Last night I went into the local Narvesens to buy some cigarettes, specifically Winston Blue - Packet of 20 was Ls 0.84 - packet of 10 Ls 0.35 - can someone please explain ?

For those interested these same cigarettes were only Ls 0.42 a year ago for a packet of 20, and they are forecasted to double by the same time next year. God bless the EU !

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A barrel a day !

Does anybody remember the time when a pub was run by a landlord ? - I ask the question as on Monday last, as is my habit, I ventured forth to the village hall - De Lacy's for what I hoped would be quiet beer and a chat with the Monday evening members of the village society.
Instead I was greeted with a hord of Northern Irish cretins in the guise of Cliftonville Football supporters, or were they the actual team ? Apparently they were celebrating there teams famous victory in the qualifiers for the Inter Toto cup, over that other non entity of a football team FC Dinaburg !
In any event there they stood outside De Lacy's, drinks in hand frantically screaming to all and sundry who walked passed, and of course depositing their cigarette stubs onto the pavement. Having adorned the outside of the pub with their "flags", they then began a singing a few renditions of some classical Northern Irish Ditties, thankfully in an accent so thick it the locals would have found impossible to understand.
Now when I pointed this situation out to the resident bar person - S..... (Ukranian - and still managing to find crap music on the Viasat radio channels) he indicated that as they were outside he could not (would not !) do anything about it. Now this begs the question, as it is illegal to drink on the streets of Riga, without the establishment having a licence to do so, and by not indicating to said morons that they were indeed breaking the law. It does suggest a complete indifference to the behaviour of clients of said establishment, but of greater to concern I would have thought, is that it places in jeopardy the licence to sell alcohol.
So to those involved I would say that by permitting such activities there is a danger that we could lose our village hall, should the authorities decide to take action.
Now on the subject of hostelries, it transpired on Sunday that De Lacy's ran out of Guinness - but the quick thinking of certain persons of Irish persuasion, having had few jars of said brew at the weekend village hall, decided to take action. Having purchased a barrel of Guinness, they (J... Australian wood magnate and J... Irish building magnate) carted said barrel off to De Lacy's and presented it to the resident Ukrainian bar type person, for him to once again be in a position to serve the magic brew. But it does again beg the question, why did the management of De Lacy's or indeed the resident bar type person, not have the initiative to do the same thing. Whilst it is a relatively infrequent event (but it does happen) for a bar to run out of a beer - it does not take a major leap in logic to approach the other similar bars to see if they could help out. In this way they keep the customers happy, and stop them leaving the establishment to seek there favourite beer elsewhere. Would welcome any comments or opinions.
Last weekend saw weather of a indifferent nature (it rained a lot !) - so the weekend was spent in passive mode with a swift visit to Saulkrasti beach and on the Sunday down to Bauska to a hotel / palace called Mezhotne Pils - stunning place and set in beautiful grounds. Well worth a visit if you are ever in the region.
Well we are now seriously into summer, and as seems the case throughout Europe - it is raining !
Out Zvannieki I am assured by our resident builder in chief V.... (Australian / Latvian - current compiling the world first builders excuse book) that progress is being made at the kitchen in Zvannieki. I had hoped to publish a few pictures of this refurbishment, but as yet V... has not worked out how to use a camera, or so it seems, perhaps like building work I will get them sometime in the foreseeable future.
On the subject of Zvannieki, I regret to advise that (1) Sarma is departing these shores to return to North America, but will be heading home with her adopted daughter Anna - so tho them I wish all the best, and good luck in the future. On the downside, as many of you may know an article was published in the local rag called Republika, which purported to be tale child abuse at Zvannieki, and how a German lady had been refused permission to "adopt" a child. Regretfully this article has been seen and read by a number of staff within Rietumu Bank, which in turn has led them to ask a number of questions in regards to there support of Zvannieki, specifically the second installment for the kitchen refurbishment.
Now as ever there was absolutely no truth in the article, indeed it was written by the son-in-law of the lawyer representing the German Lady, and he then paid the Republika to publish it. The reality is that the said Lady has been refused by four courts in Latvia from adopting a child ( any child!) and the Latvian lawyer involved is a well know (locally at least) as being an opportunist lawyer, who loves self publicity, and in this case was clearly trying to demonstrate to his German client that he was making "progress" and could therefore continue charging them for his services.
It is to be regretted that this has somewhat strained the relationship with Rietumu bank, as we all know, have been tremendous supporters of the Children in the past. Hopefully we can resolve this issue and move on.
This week also some magical moments in the America's Cup, with what proved to be the last race taking place on Tuesday, enthralling to watch, and to see the Swiss team beat New Zealand by just 2 seconds to win, was sailing at its best. So to Merv (New Zealander - with a penchant for plastic flowers) - sorry about that, but you can always try again in four years.
Finally this weekend sees the annual return of A....(English - suffers from Guinnessitus ) - he will be arriving on 6th July - so to assist all bar staff I publish his image -no need to ask what wants - just pore the black stuff - assuming who have any of course !