Monday, December 31, 2007

Oh God its another Year !!

Well here we are again, on the brink of yet another year, which will mean that in April once again my life clock will turn another notch . The good news is so will yours !

But as ever we will all "celebrate" the birth of the New Year in the anticipation that it cannot be any worse than the last year, and of course we will make resolutions, which in all probability we will never keep.

However I can proudly claim, that the resolutions which I first published in December 2006 and I have firmly adhered to, so on the basis that they clearly work, I will repeat them for 2008

Not stop smoking
Not stop having a beer
Not stop working
Continue to enjoy life as best I can
Do my best for my family
Do the best that I (we) can for the children at Zvennieku

However this is unlike the mad Docs New Year resolution, better known as V.....(Latvian/Mexican of now dubious mental health) - has decided that he is going to train and run in Helsinki marathon in August 2008 ?? - Can you believe this and all because he will be forty next year, and wants to regain his youthful figure, and minimise his future health risks. I personally cannot think of a greater health risk than running a marathon.

But in any event I wish him every success, now all it takes for the madness to be complete is for his former Irish training partners to join him in this endeavour - Any bets ?

So as I write this on new Years eve, I would like to thank all of 9,382 visitors to the blog since day one for taking to time to read my drivel, and more importantly for giving your time, money and effort in our support of Zvannieki.

I trust you all have a great evening, and that the New Year brings you all that you wish, for me it will bring for certain a new grandchild and a new son-in-law , so not a bad start for 2008.

And should you be wondering where I will partake of a refreshment this evening, then no prizes, at the Village Lounge

Not so sure about the Swedish stand up, particularly as I am told his sole prop will be a bar stool, so maybe it will be sit down comedy, but given he is not due to make his appearance until the wee hours of Tuesday morning, I suspect it may be more lie down comedy !!

Have a good one !

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Danger men not at work

Well the spirit of Yuletide has now passed, and we can all get back to what mankind is best at - tearing apart society and knackering the world.

As you all will know it was our grand plan to have a completed kitchen at Zvannieki in time for Christmas, well we did not make it !! - principal fault regretfully lies with our kitchen fitter. But we did come close as the pictures below testify. With a bit of luck we will get it finished before the New Year.

This year we once again took a half pig, boxes of tangerines, sweets ( Courtesy of J...(Irish sweet peddler) and assorted toys out for the children, alongwith a few pennies from the funds raised at our dinner, which I am sure will have been used to bring a little Christmas Cheer to all.

I was reminded once again how quickly time flies, a mear ten years ago I was invited to attend the wedding of P.....( New Zealander retailing specialist) and D...( Latvian - lady of worldly experience), and so it was a pleasure to join them once again to celebrate their 10th Wedding anniversary. Just as the original reception was held at the Radisson Hotel, so this celebration was held in the same area as before (tempting fate if you ask me !) - A good night was had by all, and as you can see from below he has lost none of his bodily mass, it is simply better dressed than it used to be. Both he and his good Lady and sons are now off to live in India for the next few years, as he again seeks to bring his retail skills to the benefit of his bank account

Now as you know from time to time those of the village people, particularly those of an Irish persuasion have been known to let their hair down and partake in activities which must go unrecorded, however it appears that one of our Irish brethren has taken it upon himself to seek alternative means to maintain his lifestyle whilst in Riga ! - so next time you see him in this position, please remember to tip generously !

Now speaking of the Irish - You have heard of "When Irish eyes are smiling" now you know why !

As might have gathered with a large number of the village people away, gossip is thin on the ground, just like the snow in Riga. So for the moment I would just like to thank all of you for your friendship during the year, as well as your amazing contributions to the Smiley fund.

Trust you have a great time at New Year, and it is strange thought that this blog now moves into its fourth year.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Oh What a night

Last Thursday saw us once again congregate at the Ainavas Hotel to celebrate a traditional Christmas Dinner, have a god time and raise money for the Zvannieki Children's Home.
Well some statistics for the evening

30 people attended
45 bottles of wine were consumed
X Tequilas drunk (only for the brave !)
2 turkeys were consumed
4 Christmas puddings
36 Mince Pies
Ls 350 raised from I..... (Latvian- with serious habit in overdosing on Vaseline) - knickers and T-shirt
Ls 200 raised from "the clock" courtesy of Paddies

and of more importance we raised a staggering Ls 2,130.00 after the dinner expenses. This sum a combination of the ticket price, raffle and auction, a truly amazing amount, and once again demonstrates the true spirit of Christmas, especially after the wallets have been well oiled with alcohol.

On a serious note to all who attended and gave so generously - a huge thanks on behalf of the Smiley Fund and Zvannieki. Be assured the money will be put to good use, not least of which to provide a few "special" treats for Christmas.

Whilst thanking everyone we should also offer our thanks to the chef of the evening Mr P..... (language consultant to the new world) - especially he has was seriously under the weather on the evening, an d only just made it in completing the meal before he had to head for home. Likewise to K......(Latvian - owner of Ainavas Hotel) for allowing us once again to misuse his establishment.

It was also useful that J.,..( Latvian - vicar of note) gave a short speech covering the home and its background, as m any of those attending had no real understanding of its humble beginnings and the outstanding work it does today

One of the more "interesting" items raffled - wonder what he is going to do with it ?

Just give us your money !!

I have also been informed that a number of those attending decided to make a night of it, and duly suffered the consequences on Friday. For my part I obviously suffered amnesia, as on Friday afternoon when I finally regained the vertical position I discovered that I had no recollection of coming home - was the Christmas pudding drugged ? - or was something to do with going to the village lounge after the dinner, joining in with the Irish Brigade, the lone Welshman, having a few beers and singing Christmas carols ! - well possibly but as a man known for his moderation in alcohol, I think the more likely explanation for my memory lapse was the drugged Pudding.

For those still in Riga next weekend, I plan to take a few Christmas goodies out, so if anyone would like to join me, just let me know and we can agree on a date and time.

Also with return of our nautical band of builders this Wednesday, then on Thursday and Friday should see the kitchen 100% finished ( well I will settle for 95%).

For those reading this blog from afar, still no snow, temperatures rarely dipping into the minus region - really quite weird

Monday, December 10, 2007

What a Crack !

Last week saw a sorry bunch head out on Wednesday to the children's home to commence painting of the kitchen. The painting gang consisted of S....(Welsh-"I have never painted in my life !), C....(English-would be telecomms employee), D...(English - ex holes and poles man) and myself.

Now at rough guess between us we had at least 60 minutes of experience in painting walls etc ! - But all in a good cause , and believe or not by the end of the day we managed to paint around 85% of the walls. Ah but I hear you ask why not 100% - well instead of starting at the top of the walls, we started at the bottom, and as the kitchen walls are quite high, by the time we got to painting just below the ceiling, every time we put the ladder against the just painted walls, of course we simply made some serious marks.S.....(Welsh with a head for heights) was put in charge of anything connected with climbing a ladder, as he had a bad knee !, D....(English-no head for heights) did all the fiddly bits near to the floor, C...(English- BPO specialist) did all the white bits - doors etc, and myself acting as unnofficial supervisor and resident photographer, as well as the gofer.

We required a gofer, as on the previous day J...(Australian-kit home builder) had accompanied me to buy the paint, brushes etc, as my knowledge of these things is very limited, even more so in Latvia. Unfortunately the rollers brushes we (he) bought were for stippled walls, not plain, and the masking tape was'nt. So my services were required to head of to Cesis to replenish said items, as well of course to acquire a few basics for subsistance - namely a few beers!

But as I say we did achieve a great deal in a relatively short time, and when a similar band headed out on Sunday morning ( all with few sore heads from the previous days Rugby marathon) - we completed the kitchen and started work on the dining room, and by late Sunday afternoon we had got the first coat of paint on 80% of the walls and 100% of the ceiling. SO to all concerned many thanks, and with a bit of luck this coming Wednesday/Thursday will see the kitchen units installed, the electrics finished, Which should mean that V....(Australian ship fitter outeterer) returns along with his nautical crew that will go on the 20th & 21 st december to completely finish the job

V....(Mexican/Latvian would be plumber) inspecting the work prior to painting

Now that is what I call a hole in the wall, but it will be the serving hatch when finished

He does like to show working man roots !Many hands make light work ! - But notice the S...(Welsh-tackler of the lower regions) still showing his best side
Now as final reminder of the Annual Christmas dinner at Ainavas Hotel, on Thursday 13th December, all is now arranged - P....(English-and chef of renown) is still searching for the turkey's, but asures me all will be well on the night.

Apart from the wonderful full British Christmas dinner, we will also be holding a raffle of totally useless prizes, and like last year an auction, with some amazing articles. Just to whet your appetite young I....(Latvian - sexiest female bartender in Paddies)- well actually the only one) has donated two articles of clothing, her De Lacy's teeshirt AND !!!!!! - an signed lower region undergarment - what man could possibly not wish to have them is his possession ?

As ever the whole point of the night, is to have a great evening, and to raise as much cash as we can. Particularly important this year as we are still a little short on the funds to complete the kitchen, as notwithstanding the significant funds donated by Rietumu bank and J....(Scottish hunter of all things moving), and others over the last few months, the money which was originally budgeted related to the refurbishment of the original Zvannieki kitchen, whereas in the new home we have got a kitchen and a dining room to complete.

So to all who are attending many thanks for your support, and lets us make it a night to remember.

Finally a word to our former village resident C....(Burner of books) now located in sunny Nigeria, please communicate - I see you visiting the blog from time to time, but would be good to hear from you in person

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Infamous Victory

Now we all know that to succeed in life or indeed business, one needs to make yourself stand out from the hoards or competitors. Recently for example our village lounge has taken to dispensing authentic Indian Food, thereby saving the patrons from having to leave the establishment to seek a little spice in there life.

Well on a similar theme (Spice of life that is) - a new establishment called the "Victory" has recently opened its doors with a new twist in providing a little spice to its patrons. Now this "new" establishment is in fact the Old Tim McShanes Irish bar, but now having been refurbished, it is opening its doors with a bar on the ground floor, but in the basement - why a strip club !! - so now our visiting cretins can indulge in a beer and then suitably under the influence and without having to step out into the cold and wintry streets of Riga, they can simply descent into the basement and get fleeced there.

A brilliant if somewhat dubious concept, ensuring that in one establishment they can well and truly provide the spice of life to those of questionable mental capacity.

I was also indebted this week to S....(Ukranian retired bartender) for informing me as to what the Red Rabbits spread across Riga were all about, and now knowing it is so obvious - it was a campaign on behalf of Sony to promote their Bravia Televisions. Now you have to admit the connection between a Red Rabbit and a Television is at best a bit dubious, but who are we to doubt the infinite wisdom of the Sony marketeers. Anyhow it is obviously a short lived campaign as the Rabbits have dissapeared.

But in there place we have shiny silver Angels, scattered all over town, I presume promoting peace and goodwill to all men. But I do have one question - what is the symbolism behind the angels having there feet immersed in concrete ? Is it to stop them flying away ? or is it more sinister - are they due to thrown into the river ? - Keep listening whilst I fathom out this latest mystery to hit Riga.

Now speaking of hitting Riga, young T...(American candlestick maker) has recently returned from his homeland, but something has happened to him. In all the years that I have known him his outanding characteristics have been - his exceedingly loud laugh - his ability to make any liquid stick to his beard, and a very American dress sense ( none that is !) - but lo and behold, after what I can only assume to have been a major piece of mindbending on his return, and not just on one occasion but todate twice he has appeared fully dressed in a suit and tie. If you do not believe see the photographic evidence below.

Now on the Zvannieki front the kitchen is proceeding, albeit slowly to its final conclusion, we had planned to go on mass last weekend to paint the kitchen and dining room, but discovered at the last minute that the walls were "not quite" ready for painting. When I visited on Monday of this week to deliver the stainless steel kitchen sink, kindly donated by V.... (Mexican/Latvian with a totally useless facts at his disposal) - the lads were hard at work putting the finishing touches to the electrics, walls and ceilings, and as you can see painting would have been impossible.

But never fear we are off on Thursday to at least get the kitchen painted as I am assured that our hitherto invisible kitchen man will be fitting out the kitchen next week ( Fingers crossed that this does happen). So if all goes to plan hmmmmmmmm! the final finishing touches will be done on December 20th - so once agin we can but hope that they will have a bright and shiny new kitchen and dining room before Christmas.

Now just in case any of are wondering where our kitchen project manager in chief is going to be during the next few days, I can reveal all - V...(Australian/Latvian builder and now seafarer) and his sidekick D........(English with some wonderful boys toys) are off on a cruise. Now in order to afford this trip of a lifetime they are having to work there passage ! And the cruise destination? - well lets just say that their French will have dramatically improved before there return.

So now as Christmas slowly comes upon us, and with global warming seriously effecting us, I am happy to say that Riga is still basking in relatively ward climes, no snow in sight - so it looks like the winter wonderland that in years gone past has fallen on Riga, will this year be replaced by damp and miserable rain.