Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A night at the Opera

Its Monday night, and my culture genes are working overtime, and for the first time in a long time I took myself of to the Latvian State Opera house, to see and here La Traviata.

However as this was to be an evening of high culture, I first all off stopped and had a beer, followed by a burger in McDonalds - Pure Class ??

Now for those less cultured than myself allow me to give you a quick overview of the plot.

It is based in Paris in 1800's - but is sung in Italian ?? (why) - don't they know how to sing in French ? Based on a novel by Alexander Dumas. The title "La Traviata" means literally The Woman Who Strayed, or perhaps more figuratively, The Fallen One

As with all opera's it based on a love triangle.

So the story is Man (Alfredo) falls in love with Woman (Violleta) but mans' Dad (The Baron) objects as she is a woman of low reputation. But she is sick. Woman tells man she does not love him ( but she does!) - Man finds out she is really sick - returns to woman - but she dies !

All of this intersped with music and song

For a slightly longer narrative go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Traviata

Now I have to say it was a stunning performance, and once again demonstrates the talent that is in Latvia, and so to anyone who gets a chance - take the time, book a seat and enjoy - just like what I did ! http://www.opera.lv/ to check out the upcoming programme.

Monday morning also saw a visit to the Childrens home by representatives of the Rietumu Bank, and I think I can safely say that they were duly impressed with the work that they do out there, and they spoke at length to Sandra about what is involved both physically and financially in keeping the home up and running. Surprise, surprise our erstwhile kitchen man was actually there and has promised to finish the kitchen by the end of this week - as ever we shall but wait and see.

On the way back however it was confirmed that the bank would once again provide funds in 2008, for upgrading the electrics and toilet facilities.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Whats afoot ?

Some days are good days, some are not so good, and some are just painful, and so it was with our wandering Welshman S........ (I have broken more bones than you !!) on Wednesday of this week.

In the relatively early hours, as he aspired to rise from the horizontal position, his brain barely clicking into action, he did but remember that at the side of the bed was a large bag of glue sticks

Now at this point one must but ask why a bag of glue sticks were underneath his bed, was it in case his bed collapsed he good quickly stick it back together ? or was there a more surreal reason ? I hesitate to guess - but I can only hope it is not some perverse extension of the Welsh love of sheep !

Anyhow back to the story - so in an an effort to avoid the bag of glue sticks, he managed to bang into the wooden bed leg, which immediately produced a moment of excruciating pain - all say Aaahhhhhh......

When we met up on Wednesday morning, all I could see was a very bad impersonation of Hop a long Cassidy stumbling along Elizabetes iela. Thinking that it was the "knee" playing up again, I again expressed that he should go visit a vet and have it treated, but he then proceeded to regail me with the tale of the morning happenings.

So following a brief visit to the bank, we then limped along to the ARS clinic to allow the local vet to ascertain that he had indeed broken a toe, following his collision with the bed post.

Or to quote Lonnie Donegan

Does your glue stick loose its impact
Under the bed post overnight

etc etc .......

So for those who are interested here below is the foot in question, and the trick is find the broken toe
So let this be a warning to you all - under no circumstances place bags of glue stick underneath your bed, and above all watch out for the bed posts, they can be lethal weapons in the right feet !

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ten Green bottles

Remember that song " Ten green bottles" then nine, eight etc - well right now I feel like breaking into this song, but instead of bottles, replace it with disappearing pubs and bartenders.

In recent months we have lost De Lacy's, Tim McShanes, and now at the village lounge we are about to lose two of the bartenders G.....(Latvian- with golden ambitions) and the lovely I.....(Latvian- lipsmackingly lovely). What is going on ? - in the case of the latter two I suspect that the man management skills of the village lounge leaves a little to be desired. One thing is for sure that with these two leaving, the "atmosphere" will be seriously diminished.

So with Dickens about to close, and the future of the village lounge questionable - it does suggest that we are going to have to find a new "home" in the very near future.

Perhaps the new Stella bar might prove to be the place if they can get the right staff and the right mixture of beers. We shall but see - but I do wish they could get the tradition of the English/Irish pub instilled into them - and remember as it was so eloquently put to me the other evening " we can by beers etc anywhere, the reason we choose to adopt a pub as a home, is all to do with the staff, and the atmosphere they generate." Mind you it was interesting to be referred to as "furniture" by one member of the Village lounge bar persons. Not sure if he meant it as a compliment, or simply how he saw us. To be fair to him he is a Chelsea fan, so not over imbibed with brains.

Last weekend saw the return of the rugby marathon, thanks to the Heineken Cup, so on both Saturday and Sunday, we enjoyed a few jars and well as some wonderful rugby, which means that next weekend will see some seriously interesting games, whose outcome will decide those teams who will make it into the play off finals. Hopefully we will see the demise of the Ospreys, as I am not sure how much more "OLE - Ole - Ospreys" we can take from our maniacal Welshman S......

Elsewhere in the world they were the usual set of nonsensical goings on, such as

"A Greater Manchester council is considering recycling the heat from a crematorium's furnace to provide warmth for its chapel." You can almost hear the cry "throw another body in - its getting cold in here"
one of the major questions being asked in America at this time high political dram " Why do American pickets walk round in circles" one answer given was "There could also be the consideration that walking in a straight line constitutes a parade, says Professor Peter Ling of the School of American Studies at the University of Nottingham"

Good to know that world is carrying on as normal, with so much "other" stuff going on.

For Riga in the early part of last week, we had a little touch of winter, with temperature dropping, and a little snow gently caressing our little village. For a while is was wonderful, but almost overnight it turned to slush,and as I write has almost completely disappeared.

I would love to be able to tell you all that our kitchen project has been completed, but as yet we are still waiting on our Latvian kitchen fitter to complete his task, but as Rietumu Bank will be visiting the home on 21st January, I can but live in hope that it will be finished by this date.

However it appears that we again will be indebted to the bank, as they have given provisional approval for our request for additional funds for 2008, with the sum of Ls 7150.00 promised. We plan to use these funds for upgrading some of the electrics, and also the toilet and bathroom facilities. So as ever a big thanks to the bank !! - and indeed to all of those you have so generously during the year.

I will publish on the next blog, final details of our 2007 fundraising, and how the money todate has been spent. However as this is fairly detailed I will send by e-mail to all the Smiley fund contributors full details by way of a spreadsheet.

and finally, and somewhat belatedly a happy 60th birthday to J...(Irish-with poor taste in maths as he thinks he is still 54 !) - Welcome to the village 60's club of which I believe I am correct in saying that I am the founder member ! - ah well onwards and forwards