Saturday, February 23, 2013

What goes up - must come down !

When I first arrived in Riga in January 1996, I alongwith many others faced a few challlengies, not least of all in opening a bank account. However after a few tries I did finally get a bank account with the the then Hansabanka, now Swedbank. In those days the Lat was tied to a basket of Scandinavian currencies, which resulted in the £ being more or less equivalent to Ls1.00.

But now role forward 17 years and what do we find - well first of all the Lat is now tied to the Euro, and as of today the glorious £ is now worth just Ls0.7879 - a drop of almost 24% !!! - and as I write no sign of things getting better.
So for those of us with a Sterling income it is not good news - however for those Latvian businesses purchasing in the UK using Lats  - well let the good times roll !!

One of the nice things about writing this blog, is that occasionally a friend from the distant past gets in touch, and so it was this week when an accountant of ill-repute ( he did not cook the books - he burned them!) got in touch - so C.. or should I say W.. - many thanks for getting in touch. However one question I see that you accessed the blog from Reading in the UK - does that mean you are now based in the UK ? As I have no way of contacting you I trust all is well, and who knows perhaps one day you will come visit us me here in Riga.

Now speaking of old friends through the magic of Facebook I have been reunited with a former English Language teacher, who has long since departed Riga to Newcastle, where he supports his beloved Newcastle United, whilst teaching overseas students at Newcastle University. Now I know we all change but ??

Not sure what happened to that glorious head of hair from 1985 - but me thinks young B.... has put on a few pounds since arriving in Newcastle. Just a pity about their football team manager - and I did hear a rumour that my "wee" team Reading beat the "big" team Newcastle - could not possibly be true - could it ?? Finally a request please - please STOP putting out on Facebook that awful music selection - Lord only knows where you find them. But a question - Do you sleep with the hat on ?
This weekend sees the return of the Six nations rugby fest - so I will watch with bated breath to see if Scotland can continue their winning streak (Ok just the one win) against Ireland - I fear the worst but we shall but see. Of course before that we have the France v England Spectacle and Italy v Wales.

With todays temperature dipping towards -10C I think a winter warmer is called for before I step put.

A reminder to all of you thinking of visiting Riga this year, We have two major events - Visit of the Tall ships regatta in July ( I think) and then in August the Latvian Song and Dance festival. Both should not be missed, but if I had to choose - then let it be the Song and Dance Festival. Held every five years it is a week long celebration of Latvia's dance and musical heritage., and culminates in a 20,000+ choir singing. Simply unbelievable.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

In memory of a dear friend

Yesterday was a sad day for me, as it saw the passing away of a valued and trusted friend. We have known each other for more than eight years. During that time there was not a day that went past when we did not talk to each other. We shared some of our most innermost secrets, indeed without his help I would never have been able create this blog.

It has to be said that in recent years his health has not been to good. Sixteen months ago he needed major surgery, after suffering a major internal failure. But since then he seemed to back to his old self.

His passing was quick, in the morning he seemed fine, but then suddenly in the afternoon and without warning he passed away.

It goes without saying that I will miss him, but I will retain all of the memories of him.

So to my dear fried "Advent" or as I called him "Laptop" - Fare thee well

Monday, February 04, 2013

A Mans a Man for A' That

Well here we are - February has arrived and all is well in the land of Riga.

January saw me achieve a first - The guest speaker at the annual Burns Supper dinner, to deliver the Immortal speach. An honour never before realised. Much prepartion went into its making and as best I understand it was well received by the 180+ guests. It is long time since I had the excuse to wear a kilt, but as you can see from below I seemed well suited to the attire.

Unlike my last dinner, this time I stayed sober, ate a full meal and only indulged in a little wine and whiskey. A good boy was I !! However I have one comment to make re the kilt - it is not geared for -10C temperatures ! - I do not think I have ever smoked a cigarette so quick.

January also the Annual Australia Day celebrations, starting with Cricket (in the snow) followed by a parade starting at the Ala Bar, then onto the Kiwi Bar and finally to the Funny Fox - for those that managed all three my congratulations - however as it coincided with Burns Night I was spared from these activities.

February of course has seen the start of the Six Nations Rugby, and it was with a low level of expectation I watched the England v Scotland game - no surprises as to the result - however on the same day the only football that I have any interest in - Reading - continued there fight to stay in the Premier league with a win over Sunderland - long may it continue. Staying with the sporting theme this week sees the arrival of GB ice hockey team ( did not know we had one !) to play in the Olympics group qualifying games.In the same group as Latvia, France and Kazakstan. All the games to be played in Riga - who knows I might even go along, at least to the Latvia v GB game. For those interested the games can be seen on the ESPN network.

Otherwise all is quiet here in Riga., temperatures are rising - today is -4C, daylight hours are getting longer, and the only sound you can hear is either coughing or sneezing - and regretfully I am guilty of both. Fortunately I have avoided the flu epidemic which so many have suffered from.

Finally I will leave you a piece of "Irish" humour - 19 Paddies go to the cinema, and the ticket lady asks "Why so many of you ?" and Mick  replies "The film said 18 or over"
or this one (not Irish)
 Local Police hunting the "Knitting Needle Nutter", who has stabbed six people in the rear in the last 48 hours, believe the attacker could be following some kind of pattern