Friday, October 26, 2007

Christmas is a'coming

Once again Christmas is descending upon us, and with it the chance to once again over indulge our digestive systems.

So for of those based in Riga, I offer two dining opportunites

1. Zvannieki Chrstmas dinner, to be held on the evening of 13th December, at the Ainavas Hotel (Same location as last year). Dinner as ever will be traditional Christmas fare, cooked by our local Chef de Resistance - P.... (You know mad dogs and Englishmen). Price will be around the Ls 25.00 - Ls 35.00 per head - fully inclusive - and a serious raffle will also be hosted. All profits from the evening to once again to go to the benefit of Zvannieki.

We will have space for up to about thirty - so first come first served - please let me know as soon as is possible

and now for one with a difference - An Indian Christmas Dinner

Starter – Turkey Tikka with char grilled peppers

Main – Cubes of Turkey Breast in curry or Masala Sauce, Spiced Roast Potatoes, Spiced Mixed Vegetables.

Pudding – Kulfi Indian Ice Cream with Fresh Fruit

Now we do not have a date for this Indian Extravagansa but the location will be the Village Lounge, with its newly installed Indian Chef ( It is his idea)

So for those who could be interested let me know and we will see if we can come up with date.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Good, the Bad and the downright Scandalous

First the Good - As regular readers of this blog will know, due to an article published in a local rag, the Rietumu Bank has unfortunately decided not to come forth with the balance of LS3,500.00 needed to finish off the kitchen at Zvannieki children's home. Well a few days ago I bumped into J.... (Scottish and with a fetish for peat) and explained our problem, and without a moments hesitation he said that he would transfer some cash into our account. And within a few days he did indeed transfer a not an insignificant sum into the Zvannieki account at the Rietumu Bank. So to J..... can I say on behalf of all at Zvannieki MANY THANKS ! - and with a bit of luck and some additional fund raising we should see the kitchen finished in time for Christmas.

And the bad - well what a weekend for sport it was, but despite our best hopes, it was not to be, England lost the World Cup, and Mr Hamilton failed to win the World Formula One title. For the former a motly crew gathered at my apartment to watch the game, as the thought of watching it at the village lounge, along with zillions of others was not an option which appealed.

To prepare ourselves for the match we indulged in an Indian takeaway as we watched courtesy of S......(Welsh teller of rugby tales) The 2003 World Cup Final - You may remember England won !

- Also joining our little gathering was
B.... (English owner of multiple pairs of shoes)
J.....(Irish with a dazzling selection of foot attire)
S.....(Irish with kind spirit)
V....(Australian/Latvian with a never say never attitude to building work)
P.....(English with a passion for my chocolates)
P.....(Irish - Latvian Language student)

The wine and beer flowed throughout the game, and whilst it will not go down as one of the greatest games ever a good night was had by all, apart from the result of course. To add a little financial interest a small wager was laid by all as to forecasting the result. S..... (Irish) was declared the winner and he kindly donated the winnings to the Smiley fund.

No prizes for guessing who these feet belong to !

And now for the Scandalous !! - as I mentioned in the beginning of this blog thanks to the generosity of J....(Scottish peat baron) we are now in a position to restart the Zvannieki kitchen, but thanks to Rietumu Bank over Ls100.00 have been lost to there new account charging system, whereby unless you keep a minimum balance, your account will be charged €50.00 per month, so guess what they did when the money hit the account - they deducted three months charges !! Now in the past I have had nothing but praise for the way the bank has supported the Smiley fund and Zvannieki, and even with the recent hiccup caused by an article pertaining to the conduct at the home, albeit it was a load of c..p, and their subsequent decision not to provide the previously assured funding for completion of the kitchen, presumably as they did not want the bank associated with a potential scandal.

I suspect that there system does not differentiate a charitable account from any other type, and it is therefore unfortunate that such charges be applied to the Zvannieki account. So Rietumu Bank whilst I say thanks for all your assistance in the past, but for the future I think we will have to move the account to another establishment,as the monies donated is meant for the benefit of the children at Zvannieki, and not the banks.

Now it has to be said that the attendees at the village lounge is gradually growing, in part as there is now where else to go and in part to the decision of the management to introduce Indian food as part of their menu. From all accounts it is going down a treat, as can be seen from below

Not sure why the Welsh type person in front collapsed at this time, either from starvation or alcoholic ingestion, or a combination of both ?

Now a sad note I have advised that one of long standing village members is leaving our shore, young Mr J...(Irish - ex tobacco baron and would be property magnate) is leaving us to return to his homeland, but has assured us he will be back from time to time. This will be great relief to his many adoring female fans and of course the hostelries where he has plied his centimes in the search for the elixir of youth.

All in all not a bad week for those of us here in Riga, and it is with great anticipation that we look forward to welcoming the Bristolian cretins when Ryan Air start there Bristol - Riga flights ! - Oh the joys of winter

Monday, October 15, 2007

The lion(s) that roared !

Now that was an interesting end to the week, was it not ? Would anyone have bet only a few weeks ago that Scotland would be top of there group in Football, or that England would be in the final of the Rugby World Cup ? - But as of today that is the way it is, and all we can do is wait with baited breath for the Scotland game on Wednesday against Georgia, and the what I hope will prove to be the highlight of the weekend - England v South Africa in Paris.

Many of the village people had made the trip to Paris so the numbers to watch the game in Riga were substantially diminished - But I suspect A....(Bristolian Zelta supperer) and his good lady, F.... (Australian keeper of the hostel) and his good lady along with his extended Australian family, R...(New Zealander - suffers from verbal diarrhea) and his good lady and there extended family all sufferered the consequences of the England win !!

Last Saturday night saw what was probably the biggest crowd that our village lounge has ever seen, with both upstairs and downstairs packed to the rafters, so much so that at one stage they had to bar people from coming into the place. For my part I chose to watch the game in the comfort of home as circumstances prevailed such that I could not get into the old town for the start of the match. Lord only knows what it will be like for the final, but according to E.... ( Russian and "manager" of the village lounge with a penchant for sampling the goods) they will be putting a man on the door to stop overcrowding, for us locals we can but hope that once again we can "reserve our front row seats.

On the subject of the village lounge, a major capital investment has taken place with the installation of a dishwasher in the upstairs bar. Regretfully the installation took place on the night of M... ( Swedish - hair stylist) monthly get together. So we were forced to watch the somewhat farcical situation of young I..... (Latvian lass with Spanish memories) trying to serve the multitudes whilst the installation engineer complete with electric drill was installing said dish washer. Would have thought it would have been easier when bar was closed, but what do I know about running a pub and getting a dishwasher installed.

The evening had as ever a different food theme, this time it was Mexican, with recipes supplied by the "Doc" (Mexican/Latvian ). As it is a long time since I tasted Mexican Food, so it was with anticipation that I took myself of to the evening. However anticipation is everything, as the only "hot" food was Indian, and all of the Mexican food was cold - never new that Mexicans ate cold food - you learn something new all the time !! Nonetheless a good night was had by all - although it has to be said that the food did seem to have some weird effects on a few of the attendees, how else can you explain the look of these two aspiring gentlemen ??Clearly this monthly function is catching on, and I suspect proving more popular than the previous venue at the Steak House.
Now here is this weeks photographic questions, To whom does the hand at the bottom left of the picture above belong to ? Clue check the drink ! and secondly why is P.... (Irish - linguist of note Sveiki) falling over ? clue - look at the eyes !-and finally who is the masked man ? clue - he just ate the Mexican food

On the subject of Indian food at the Village lounge, it seems to be settling in quite nicely, and last weekend saw a revised and extended menu introduced - so it is clearly catching on. As ever this blog is on top of all the breaking news and I can reveal that as of this evening (Monday) the village lounge will open on Monday nights - never did understand why it closed on a Monday, but good to see commercial sense take hold.

Saturday also saw the wedding of G.... (loves to hold a monologue with you) getting married to a lady from Russia. Catering was provided by our resident chef P... (English - chippy in the making).

So with a weekend dominated by sport, alongwith crappy weather, no time for meandering to view the onset of Autumn, but with temperatures heading into single figures, time to don the vest and look out the winter boots.
To all and sundry have a great week

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Rugby Dinosaur

Now last weekend was to put it mildly "interesting", Saturday began for me at an ungodly hour, 9.00am to join a group of rampaging, beer drinking, toast making Australians to watch there equivalent of the Cup final, but in this case it was Australian Rules Football, between Port Adelaide and Geelong ( does somebody actually live in a place called Geelong ?). Now I make no pretensions at even beginning to understand a game that is played on an oval pitch, with a rugby shaped ball, and has 4 quarters of 25 minutes ( ??) - But anyway by the time I arrived the game was well and truly over and no one seemed vaguely interested. The game itself finally ended with PA winning 163 to 44 - looks more like a 20:20 cricket score.
For anyone interested as to how the game progressed then try

The afternoon saw me upstairs at the village lounge to watch the Wales v Fiji, sadly the Fijians won and so marched onto the Quarter finals, leaving the Welsh nation in a state of mourning however on a positive note Scotland did win with a less than convincing win over Italy, and will now face Argentina, to which I say remember Maggie Thatcher !!.

On the domestic front, we have finally tracked down our missing S......( Remember him - the worst taste in music man ) - he resurfaced at the Stella Bar - so now all of the former members of the De Lacy's beer ensemble have been located. The Stella bar is not really my cup of tea, but I am sure the cretins will appreciate S..... wit and humour, fortunately he cannot select the music

Now in my last blog I alluded to the possibility that one of the village members only possessed one pair of shoes, to which he immediately responded via the comments to indicate in no uncertain terms that he does indeed possess more than one pair.
"I would like to put it on record that I have more than one pair of shoes. But is it any wonder that I don't dare to wear them out. The writer has a tendency of pouncing on anyone wearing adventurous footwear, photographing them and posting it on this blog for public ridicule as evidenced in this very article. Footwear fascist!"

Not sure what he meant by But is it any wonder that I don't dare to wear them out, does he mean he does not dare wear them out of his apartment, in which case - why ?, or does he mean that he does not want to wear them out, such that will need repair ?

However he kindly agreed to pose with what I had obviously mistaken as his single pair of shoes - however as can be seen this pair are in need of love, attention and a polish, if he is rise in the ranks of the educational establishment. Or am I the only person that looks at the state of a persons shoes whenever I meet them, must be the RAF training !With the arrival of October ALL of the outdoor bars have disappeared, and so once again Riga has begun to wear its grey coat of Winter, and likewise the trees are shedding their leaves in a grand carpet of colour, and providing work once again to the leaf sweeper upperers, who as they do every year simply amaze me with there daily devotion to sweeping up the leave that have fallen since the previous day.

So of the weekend to come, again a festival of Rugby, but I fear that yet another Celtic race will bite the dust, though given the recent performance of the Scottish football teams, who knows, perhaps another miracle is on its way. But a question to the morons who are running this world cup, what on earth possessed you to put a game on in the centre of Paris at 9.00pm in the evening ?
So to all and sundry have a good weekend, and for those fortunate enough to be at one of the games - enjoy the atmosphere, but I wonder how many New Zealand fans there will be in Cardiff - me thinks a few cheap tickets will be going a begging. But to close a word of cheer for the Irish, who have at least for the moment not sacked their coach