Friday, October 24, 2008

Tails of two Catties

Once upon a time in a far off town of Oliane worked a man from the distant country of Wales. In his factory he kept his many slaves working all day and night in pursuit of making his fortune. The slaves toiled under arduous conditions making miniature plastic doors to allow feline animals to escape from their wicked masters.

Now in order to check that these doors or cat flaps as they were commercially known it was necessary for the factory owner to breed a multitude of cats. These cats were then set the task of testing the flaps to make sure they worked properly, however it sad to say that many times they malfunctioned locking the cat out from its home, simply to wander the street of Oliane looking for the magic magnet which would let them back in.

When two good knights heard of the cats plight they decided to rescue as many of the newly bred kittens as was possible. The knights names were D.... (Scottish executive type person) and R..... (Latvian - reluctant bar tender).

With cunning and daring they crept into the factory and with great courage snatched two of the poor kittens, thereby saving them from years of cat slavery testing these plastic flaps.

Now in keeping with all good tales of the good and the wicked, when the local populace learned of the evil goings on in his factory he was banished back to Wales never to return, except when he could get a cheap Ryan Air flight - but never to be allowed to return to his manufacturing of the insidious cat flaps.

And what you may ask became of the two rescued kittens well as you can see below they are living happily ever after, just like in all good tales !
It is with regret that I have to advise all that the Christmas Party for 2008 is officially cancelled due to a lack of numbers, however if any of you out there would like to make a donation please do so the Zvannieki bank account listed at the side of this blog - if nothing else this year if we can raise a little money then we can either just donate the cash or as we have in past years treat them to a few Christmas goodies.
But a piece of good news to close B.... (English - noted for his satorial elegance) has won his dream job as a teacher in Newcastle - so just when the Newcastle fans thought it could not get worse ?? - Any my best wishes to him and his new role - likewise I trust his arrival will give his team reason to improve.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Going - going - GONE

Well yet another party to "celebrate" the departure of one of the village persons, but as you can see from the pictures below the actual number of village people who can attend the little celebrations is getting less and less. Nonetheless with J..... ( Irish - purveyor of tales of the sea) taking the chair and buying the drinks for the assembled I trust he had a farewell to remember. As I had to leave early I will no doubt learn later as to when the actuall party came to an end. For his part he was of the opinion that he was NOT going to have a late night, but why do I have this feeling that reality was somewhat different - we shall but see !

Quality not Quanity

A lovely couple ??

Does this man look happy or not !!

So whatever and wherever his next role in life takes him I (we) wish him every success, and he has promised just like a bad penny that he will return !!

Riga is now beginning to put on its Winter hat, as the leaves are descending from the tree in droves, and despite the best endeavors of our street/park sweeper upperers, they continue to make the street and pavement a wee bit slippy. Added to that the weather of late has been how shall I say depressingly Grey and wet, which I have to say adds a touch of doom and gloom to life in the city.

However just when you think life cannot get any worse, there is always a story of a poor unfortunate which makes you appreciate how lucky one is - for example take this from todays UK papers

Whoops! Rare American bird touches down in England 'for first time'... and then gets run over and killed by car

It took a 3,000-mile detour, after getting blown off course en route to South America, before alighting in England's green and pleasant land.

But, sadly, the arrival of the American Common Nighthawk, which has never been seen before in this country is not a happy one.

The rare bird appears to have landed and then been promptly run over by a car in the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall. It was found by birdwatchers dead at the roadside.


Tragic end: The body of the American Common Nighthawk, spotted for the first time in this country, after it was run over by a car. Below, a specimen in full flight

Enlarge nighthawk

So it seems even for the birds life can suck - and you will note there is no mention of the poor motorist and what happened to him/her.

So I guess my advice to all is stick to where you know, and do not venture into strange habitats, this advise is particularly relevant to the cretins visiting Riga.

This weekend sees the 2nd round of the Heineken Cup, so I suspect it will be feast of rugby on Saturday and Sunday, but the big question is where to watch The village lounge or or new Star pub ??

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

and another one !

The village is disappearing, as I learned last night that another one of our village people is departing these shore.

Our treasured Irish person J.... ( sailor with weird sock fetish) is leaving this Friday to return to his native land. Now all of this is very sudden, but if anyone out there in Rigaland ( is there anyone left ?) would like to bid him farewell then he will be at the village lounge on Thursday evening.

Also be aware that our annual Christmas dinner is in danger, as of today we have less than 7 confirmed attendees, I will be sending out an e-mail this weekend to all concerned, but to those planning to fly in I suggest you hang back from buying your air ticket.

Friday, October 10, 2008

LA LA Land

With all he financial woes going on in the world, with exception of Latvia of course, at least according to our erstwhile politicians, it will come as no surprise to anyone that certain sections of society are clearly having some difficulties, and nowhere is this more evident than back in the good Old United Kingdom.

In the last few days these stories have hit the headlines

Butcher told to stop chopping meat because it is too loud

A traditional butcher has been banned from chopping meat in the morning because residents complain he makes too much noise.

Butcher Brian Clapton told to stop chopping meat because it is too loud
Mr Clapton argues that because the council own the freehold of the building it is liable for the cost of soundproofing work Photo: EASTNEWS

Brian Clapton, 51, was ordered to stop preparing the meat between 6am and 8am on weekday mornings and 9am on weekends because tenants in flats above his shop were unhappy with the chopping sound early in the morning.

Mr Clapton had run his business, Brian's Meat Store, for 13 years without any problems, until he was told in November 2007 to soundproof the premises or cease slicing in the early hours.

He has now been taken to court for refusing to obey a Barking and Dagenham Council order.

He appeared at Barking Magistrates' Court in Essex on Thursday to face four charges of breaching a noise abatement notice.

Mr Clapton argues that because the council own the freehold of the building, which has been a butcher's shop for 50 years, it is liable for the cost of soundproofing work.

Speaking ahead of the case, Mr Clapton said he had no choice but to prepare meat in the early morning and will be forced to close if he loses his case.

He said: "We start early because we are a traditional butcher's.

"The council has ordered me to soundproof the building but this is their property and I am their tenant so as freeholders they are responsible for making these changes.

"I will not be doing anything but continuing to work hard, pay my taxes and rates and try to earn a honest living."

The noise abatement notice was served after residents living above the shop complained. Landlady Sue Grimble claimed a number of tenants left due to the loud chopping sounds at unsociable hours.

Mr Clapton pleaded not guilty to four counts of breaching a noise abatement order in August.

and the next

Woman given £12k a month for home

Jawad Saindi
The family moved into the property in July

A woman is receiving more than £12,000 a month in housing benefits so she and her children can live in a seven-bedroom house in west London.

The woman, who is from Afghanistan, approached Ealing Council in July when she and her children became homeless.

They were placed in a privately-owned seven-bedroom house off Horn Lane, Acton, as the council had no properties that size.

The authority said it has a legal obligation to help them.

'Fair play'

Following changes in the law, the council was forced to pay well over the average market rate for the property.

Local lettings agent Rajesh Kathuria, from RSK Homes, said the average rent commanded for a seven-bedroom property on the road would be between £2,000 to £2,500 a month.

This is quite an extreme case
Spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions
"That should be quite a reasonable price according to my experience," he said.

Jawad Saindi, one of the sons, said the family were pleased with their new home.

"I think the property value is quite high, basically we were lucky to get this house," he said.

A council spokesman said the case exposed the "absurdities" of the housing and benefits system.

"The sums of money involved in this case will offend people's feelings of 'fair play', especially as so many are having difficulties paying bills at the moment," said Councillor Will Brooks.

"The story highlights some of the absurdities of the housing and benefit system. "

'Extreme case'

In April, the government introduced the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) which established national rules about what type of accommodation is appropriate and how much rent can be paid to landlords.

The change enables tenants and landlords to find out the maximum amount of LHA available before an agreement is reached.

"We believe that urgent changes are needed to the LHA and in particular for the publication of maximum rent levels to be ended," said Mr Brooks.

"This would enable all councils to be able to negotiate more competitive rent agreements without being undermined."

The Rent Service - an executive agency of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) - advised that the council pay the landlord £12,500 a month, partly because under boundary changes Acton is placed in the same category as the more affluent area of Westminster.

A spokeswoman for the DWP said: "This is quite an extreme case. This is one of probably only a handful of cases like this particular to London."

She said the government were currently reviewing the boundaries.

and finally

Gardener ordered to take down barbed wire to protect thieves

A gardener who fenced off his allotment patch with a single strand of barbed wire to protect it from thieves has been ordered to take it down in case intruders hurt themselves.

Bill Malcolm, 61, was told to "remove it on health and safety grounds" by the local council, which owns the allotments.

He erected the deterrent after thieves struck three times in four months, stealing more than £300 worth of spades, forks, hoes and wrecking his potato patch in the process.

But officials instructed Mr Malcolm to remove the waist-high wire from his plot at Round Hill Allotments in Marlbrook, Worcs.

He said: "It's an absolutely ridiculous situation, all I wanted was to protect my property but the wire had to go in case a thief scratched himself.

"The council said they were unhappy about the precautions I had made but my response was to tell them that only someone climbing over on to my allotment could possibly hurt themselves.

"They shouldn't be trespassing in the first place but the council apologised and said they didn't want to be sued by a wounded thief.

"I told them to let the thief sue me so at least that way I would know who was breaking into my allotment but everything I said fell on deaf ears.

"It seems as though they are so wrapped up in red tape, they are unable to help me.

"The barbed wire was a single strand and ringing my property only. It was just three foot high and wasn't as though I'd dug a moat filled with piranha and erected six foot iron railings."

A spokesman for Bromsgrove District Council responded: "With regard to the barbed wire, when this is identified on site, we are obliged to request its removal or remove it on health and safety grounds to the general public, as this is a liability issue. This is a requirement enforced by our health and safety department."

She advised allotment tenants with security concerns to contact the local police.

So there we have it Noisy butchers are banned, as is protecting your property, but it is OK to pay £12,000 a month to house a bunch of Afghans !!! - and some in Latvia have the temerity to suggest Latvia is going to the dogs !!!!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Stella(r) Times

As I have mentioned before there has been a remarkable decline in the both the number and standards of pubs in Riga in recent months, and this weekend saw another set of changes - none of which are for the better.

First a minor one - You can no longer go to a Stella pub in Riga, no they have not shut down, simply changed their name - To Stars ??? - Why you may ask, well no one seems to know, but as that is the only change then I doubt if anyone will notice the difference.

Not so at our village lounge, as I told you a few weeks ago, in an effort to attract additional custom they introduced lap dancing in the upstairs back lounge, but and this a BIG but, we were all told that (1) it would not interfere with any sport and (2) that it would only be held after 10.00pm in the evening.

So what did I find on a Sunday afternoon, yes you have guessed it - lap dancing in the late afternoon. Apparently a group of Liverpool supporters had reserved the rear lounge to watch Liverpool play, but not satisfied with just football, they had also requested an Indian buffet dinner, to be accompanied by Lap Dancing !!!

No prizes for guessing my response, I walked out, as I had and do not have any desire to enjoy my pint with a bunch of Liverpool supporters lavishing over their Indian food whilst watching a lap dancer.

Personally I think the management have lost the plot, as the only reputation they are earning is a bad one. Now it may well be that I am a tad oversensitive to these goings on, but it will be interesting to see if next weekend with the beginning of the Heineken Cup, if we suffer the same fate.

If the management of said establishment read this be aware your staff think it was a crap idea to permit this on a Sunday afternoon. A private party cannot be avoided if it is good for business, but does it if have to have a b....y Lap Dancer ?

My final words on the subject, the Management stated that they would not advertise such events - so I suppose that's why they produced these business cards !!!!

On the subject of lunacy, outside many buildings in Riga there is a notice indicating that you are not permitted to smoke within 10 meters of the building, so can someone explain why immediately outside the main door of said buildings there are ash trays come litter bins ????

Is it me or is the world going to s..t ???? - I think I need to take a happy pill