Friday, January 28, 2011

Welcome to the world

It is pleasure that I can announce a new born baby, courtesy of A...(Bristolian-white goods merchant) and J...... (Latvian - penchant for Airlines) with a new born baby girl A..... ( Rhymes with Telia)

Born 17.31 - 28th January 2011 - 55cm and according to the sms I received 3820 kg !! - suspect this really means 3.820kg, or at least I hope so !

In any event congratulations to the parents and I wish A..... and her parents well

The world is good !

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Times they are a' changing

One of the constants in the pub scene in Riga, is that they are forever changing, last year saw an explosion in "Irish" themed pubs ( ok so was only two). Over the years we have seen many a pub close for reason or another - and last week saw another one - Alberts has closed down.

Although it was not a pub that I frequented, it did seem reasonably popular, particulary during the summer months - and it did have an outstanding location right in the heart of the Old City.

So whatever the reasons, it is always disappointing to lose a seemingly popular pub. There is "gossip" that it may re-open in another location - we can but wait and see.

January has been a strange month weather wise - in recent weeks the temperature has hovered around zero degress, seriously mild for this time of the year, in fact rather than snow we have been having rain. If the weather forecast is right, then it is all about to change, with temperatures as low as -25 degrees being forecast for next week, in fact as I write this it snowing - so perhaps we will be back to digging out the car - aahh such fun !

Now next week sees two "major" events, firstly Burns night on January 25th, followed by Australia Day on 26th January.

In the case of the former I will be "cooking" Haggis, Neeps and Tatties at the Kiwibar, which will be served with a shot of Kiwi Scotch whisky ( I jest not see below) . All Free of charge !!

The Haggis has been imported from Scotland - but again another sign of changing times - in days of old, a haggis was wrapped in either a sheeps gut, or more in recent times this was replaced by a plastic covering. In both cases cooking was done by boiling the haggis

But now in 2011 it comes in a "TIN" - can you believe it - Tinned Haggis, and to cook ? - pop it in the microwave !!

Quite Mr Burns would have to say - I dread to think.

So the Burns afficiendos - my apologies, but as I hope to serve up to 50 people on the night, it does make for easier cooking.

As for Australia Day, well again the Kiwibar will act as hosts - with servings of meat pies and beer (Zelta) - both discounted for the day. As ever the local Australian contingent will be out for their annual cricket fest in the snow, this year it is being held in the park behind the Russian Orthordox Cathedral at 2.00pm - Sunday 23rd January - with drinks at the Ala bar afterwards.

Finally - I just learned that Australia has finally appointed an honorary consul to replace our the long departed J.... (Australian/Latvian - with a penchant for gates) with a Mr Serges Tre┼ćins, - not sure if he has any Australian ancestry, other than the fact he runs a travel agency.

Personally I find it strange, particularly with so many Australian/Latvian person in Riga - but perhaps it is another sign of changing times !

Friday, January 07, 2011

New Year Frustrations

Well here we are once again, with a New Year upon us, and after the Christmas Festivities and the New Year frolicking, it is again time to face the realities of the year ahead.

Whilst Riga has been basking in snow, snow snow and more snow, indeed as I write this I am watching out of the window a serious dumping of more of the white stuff upon us, Riga has apperently had over 64cm of snow since Christmas, and I should know as I have seen to be doing nothing but did my little car out of the damn stuff !! - but the upside is that it looks pretty.

This year is a major milestone in my life - I will reach 65 years in April ( The 19th if you want to send presents !) - and so I will qualify for my UK Government pension, but first of course one needs to apply for same.

So to start the ball rolling I contacted the pension centre in Newcastle, who first delivered the bad news - one cannot get ones pension paid into a Latvian bank account - no explanation - just a fact. However I was advised that to start thing moving I should go on-line and make my application.

Now one would have thought that this would a relatively simple form to complete, as after all the gods of government have following my every move since I was 16 years old - but no !!! - the form wanted every detail of my life, complete job history since I was 16, including salary and tax paid - they even wanted my address here in Latvia - but as they had written the letter to me advising me of my forthcoming pension - did they not already know that ??

I tell you unless you have recorded every detail of your life this form is nearly impossible to complete, and then at the very end they tell me that I have to send my birth certificate - don't they believe me I was born ??

Anyhow after nearly two hours online the form was ready apart from one small detail - a bank account, clearly I needed a UK bank acount, but guess what I cannot open one as I am not a resident of the UK !!! - and without one I cannot submit my application - but where there is a will there is a way, and with a litttle assistance from my daughter A....... ( she who works at a UK bank) - the problem was solved, and the form submitted.

However as much as I can fill out the form online, her majesty's pension service cannot use e-mail to communicate only snail mail - so lord only knows if my four months notice will be enough - time will tell.

And so begins my new Year - smothered in snow and UK bureaucracy !!

Well that my first instance of grumpiness for 2011 - I am sure there will be more in the months to come - however grumpiness may have its upside, to quote the Daily Mail "Being grumpy could soon become a desirable quality, as new research has found short-tempered people are likely to be more advanced on the evolutionary scale."

This was after a study by That esteemed institution Harvard University - mind you apparently the research was carried out on monkeys - hmmmmm

Otherwise all is quitewell in Riga, the pubs - Kiwi Bar, Donnegans and Paddy Whelans all having a busy new Year, although the latter is just recovering from havings its kitchen burn down, just before Christmas.

So as I head off to once more "play" in the snow, may I wish all of you who read my meanderings a very Happy and Prosperous New Year