Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nations Cup

Yesterday the world cup came to Estonia, to be exact it was actually the "Nations Cup" where sixteen countries of the world were represented in an indoor 5-a-side tournament.
Each team need to consist of at least 3 nationals are and two "Legionaries", that's foreigners to you and me.
As there was no Irish or English team to join and the old Chines Dragons were already full I became the newest member of the German team. However with only three Germans on the team and two of the remaining places filled by legionaries I became German or at least my mother became my "Connection" with Germany. However the co-ordinator of the event didn't seem to convinced of my parentage.

Anyway after four matches the first German footballing campaign in decades came to end without them reaching the competition final. As with the previous tournaments that I 've played in this one really was more about the taking part than the winning of it.

Now I know that this may sound like a cliche, but its true.
And if you want to hear some cliches, how about "We was robbed", "that was never a penalty", "nor was that one", "that was never handball", "come on ref are you blind", etc, etc.
As with our weekly practice kick about, this tournament brought a bunch of former strangers in a foreign country a little bit closer. As the beer, Cider and chicken at David's house alongside a litre of Garlic, loved it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Guess who got a cat?

I've always considered myself to be a dog person and never a real fan of cats, the idea of actually taking one as a pet never crossed my mind. Yet three weeks ago that is precisely what happened.
Before arriving at the Cats and Dogs home Tiiu and I had only two requirement in choosing the cat, the first was that it couldn't be white and the second was that it would somehow chose us and not the other way around. When we went into shelter there were twenty cats lounging around in a couple of rooms drinking and staring out of windows, a scene which somehow reminded me of a bunch of businessmen hanging around an airport.

There were cats of various shapes, sizes, ages and colours. Some sat up proudly demanding your attention, while others swarmed around my feet like Piranha. OK cats being compared to Piranha, now that is odd even by my standards, anyway you get the idea there were lots of cats...lots of them.....everywhere.
But that was also part of the problem, there were simply lots of cats and not one cat that somehow grabbed my attention and it seemed that we were about to leave empty handed, until a panther black cat did precisely that.
As I stood beside a window ledge where three cats seemed to be planning an escape as they stared outside, one of them stood up on its back legs and put his front paws on my shoulder.
This was it, this was the sign that we had been hoping for, yes this was the cat for us.
We told the caretaker that this was the cat for us .
She congratulated us on our choice.
The cat looked at me I looked at him and then he bit me.
Yep, that's right, the one and only cat in the entire world for me, took all of five seconds to bite me.

For the first twenty four hours in the apartment, he crept around the place diving into every bit of darkness that he could find. As the days and now weeks have gone by that scary cat has long since vanished and replaced by someone who struts around the place as if he owns it and we are his guests
Oh yes and his name.....its HAPPY

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Sick man of Europe

















Stealing this historical reference from the old Ottoman Empire, I have been stuck in bed for the last couple of days, feeling very much like that proverbial sick man.
Having checked my symptoms online for Swine flu, I was relieved to discover that I only had five of the eight and belatedly agreed to leave work and head home before these five symptoms went looking for further victims.

This seemingly small matter raises a greater question.
Namely Sick pay.
In Estonia if you are out sick from work, you receive no pay whatsoever for three days and then on the forth day you receive a percentage of your wage as long as you get a doctor's note.
Now, I'm not seeking to condemn any particular nation’s treatment of its sick citizens, as most countries have similar policies and in these times of international crisis cut-backs appear to be a necessary evil.

What I am questioning is the real value of this law and the attitudes of and effects upon those runny nosed and coughing individuals, as well as their not so honest compatriots who take unofficial free days. According to a recent survey over here 50% more people are now less inclined to take time of work because they cant afford to miss a days pay.
So I guess we have a successful law?
People are no longer trying to pull a fast one and get a free day?
Companies, the economy and the country are saving money?
Right?
Well.....No....Not really.

Admittedly this looks like a successful law, but it isn't.
Employment law should be a dual approach of encouragement and personal responsibility, not just punishment . Employees should want to go to work and for right reasons, not out of fear that ultimately hurt their employer.
Perhaps it’s because I spent many years in Irish Catholic schools, but whatever the reason, I have discovered the answer and the correct approach to be taken and it’s "Guilt".
That's right, Guilt.
Make your employee feel guilty about missing work, make him feel responsible not only for his own performance but that of his team and colleagues.
Trust me on this, Guilt works, I've even used it myself

Luckily for me I have a job that I actually enjoy. I still get a kick out of it when the plan comes together and therefore my employer has achieved his target of a happy (at least relatively) employee.
I wanted to go into work today and felt guilty about not doing so. It would have been madness to do so as I continued to feel bloody awful, but the important thing here is that I wanted to. This desire was partially through a sense of guilt about letting the team down, but also out of a sense of professionalism that encourages me to do a good job.

But I digress somewhat. If the employee feels appreciated and enjoys their job they don't need draconian laws to keep them in place, as they will want to turn up and do the job. Yet with this current law you end up with people who are forced to go to work, spreading their germs on their way to and at work onto the rest of us, who in turn get sick. Our own performances will initially slip, and then we’re forced to take time off work, ultimately the companies productivity slips.
So explain to me again how these laws help the economy, the country and the employer?

So the next time that you are on an overcrowded bus and someone coughs in your general direction, polluting what little clean air that there was, tell them to do us all a favour and please go home.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Its been a while

Its been a while (again) since I last blogged. I thought that it best that I should put down these few words in case you remove me from your own blog sites or fear that I have been taken of the air for one too many Anti-Russian stories. Since I've started working full time I seem to have less time to write or maybe its just that I'm not getting out as much as I use to and my news worthy stories have dried up.

That being said I haven't simply drowned in a new Rat race.
Work is surprisingly enjoyable. I know that its not meant to be something that you enjoy but so far so good My working day is from 11.00 to 7.00pm, to match up with the UK's 9 - 5 office hours. The company is an Internet bookmakers sports comparison site, at the moments my sports are Gaelic games and TV+Music (X Factor Stuff).

My fledgling football team is slowly developing. When I first started this project I was barley working 15 hours a week and had all the time in the world to sort things out, but since then....well you know.
Over the last couple of weeks we've played and visited three different venues.
Hopefully the current location will become the permanent home pitch.

Sticking to football stories the draw for the World Cup play-offs were announced today and Ireland have drawn France. It could have been worse I suppose, I however was hopping that it could have been the Russians, now that would have beeen a nice and easy victory.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Book Review No. 10



Dunkirk The Men they left behind by Sean Longden

Mention the word “Dunkirk“ and you probably picture an armada of small boats that rescued the remnants of the British army from the beaches of Dunkirk to escape the Blitzkrieg German army in 1940. That rescue is well documented, but what isn’t so well known or is what happened to the men that put up the rearguard action and kept Rommel's forces at bay so 330,000 Allied troops could escape to England.

This book tells the story of the unfortunate 41,000 British troops who were left behind and spent five hellish years as German prisoners of war.

It wasn’t for another six weeks after the evacuation that the units of British and French armies finally surrendered to the Germans. For the next five years most of the men became prisoners of war. But life as a German prisoner was far removed from films such as the “Great Escape“ , but horrifically closer to those who became slaves of the notorious Japanese. These men became slaves, starved, executed, tortured and worked to death in mines and wherever the Third Reich felt that they could be of use.

A third of the book tells of famous last stands where it was only after all ammunition and hope of rescue was lost did the soldiers surrender. Sadly many of these troops were executed shortly after offering their surrender by an enemy who cared nothing for the Geneva convention. After this things didn’t get any better.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

No Life beyond Football

Now that I'm working again the only thing I seem to blog about is football. I guess it isn't too surprising as a part of the job relates to football, I play on my free time, Q.P.R. are actually winning the occasional match and am now trying to start up a team.

It was only a couple of weeks ago when all seemed lost and I was banishing all things football far far away from my blog universe, but now its all changed. Yesterday morning fourteen potential superstars turned up to play, which is thirteen more than the last time we were meant to play. Yes, that's right I'm still moaning about being the only one who turned up.

Anyway that was then and this is now.
And now I am in the process of starting up an official football team that will take part in the Estonian forth division next season. All I need to do is register thirty players, which includes convincing and ensuring that they not only sign up but turn up every week for practice and then for the actual matches when the season starts in February or March. With that matter sorted out all that is left is to find somewhere to play, train, a trainer, a method of getting to away matches, a kit and other equipment a name for the team and of course some method to cover all these costs.

With a stroke of good fortune I seem to have found a couple of potential sponsors, one being a well known pub in Tallinn and the other to be announced later in case that doesn't work out. These sponsors will hopefully cover most of these costs.

With the new job at Bet Genius I found a source of potential players and was able to kick start the Saturday morning match once again. With half of yesterdays team coming from B.G. and potentially another ten due from the old Chinese Dragons as well as further recruits from B.G., things are slowly taking shape. Hopefully this initial interest will continue, with sufficient numbers turning up every week.
Early this rainy Sunday morning I went to look at a potential venue for our home games. The pitch was great but with winter approaching and I don't mean an Irish winter, I will need to find an indoor venue as it will soon be too cold to play outside, although we could use this pitch for official matches in the new season.

Seeing so many people turn up yesterday felt very rewarding, but thinking about all the work that lies ahead is rather daunting.
During all my childhood years of dreaming about becoming a footballer, I never saw myself as a manager. Yep, its a funny old game.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

We made the second Round

Four times a year or so the Estonian football association organises an eight-a-side tournament. Today was the latest of these and the third one that I've taken part in, this one however was different and for the first time my team (The Chinese Dragons) qualified for the second round.

This time the statistics didn't read "played three lost three". After a shaky 3 -0 defeat, which was just 1 - 0 with two minutes left to play, we then won or next game on penalties and were through to the second round. But lets not get bogged on details regarding the remainder of the competition, yet let us focus on the facts that not only did we get to play three more games, scored a few goals and were unabeaten in all the penalty shoot-out that we played in.

Although the day didn't end in glorious victory it was a definite improvement on our last couple of attempts and it helped bolster team spirit as my plans to turn our weekend kick-about team into an offically recognised team in the Estonain league for the 2010 - 2011 season.
But much much more on that topic at a later date.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ingloriously Confusing Bastards






Went to see Brad Pitt and the rest of his Inglorious Bastards today.

Wow What a movie.


For those of you who haven't already seen it I won't say too much about it apart from the fact that I loved it, it was totally over the top and half of the film was in subtitles as the dialogue for fifty percent of the time is in French, German and Italian.



Normally watching a subtitled film isn't a problem. The problem arises when the subtitles aren't in English but in a foreign language, which in this case was off course Estonian. As Brad mumbled his few words in Italian his heavy American accent the audience roared with laughter while I sat there wondering what the joke was.

Luckily for me however I had Tiiu beside me to translate as fast and as quietly as she could.


On the way out of the cinema I couldn't help but take a picture of this weird 3D type type picture on the floor and then go for a ride on the vibrating chair. Come on people surely somebody has a joke or two about that last comment.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Promotion Commotion

Today I had a great stroke of fortune. After three weeks on the job and in the middle of training I was offered the opportunity to interview for a permanent role in the in the Client Services QA team. A few hours and a couple of interviews later I was offered the job.

I will be working with five or six others monitoring information sent in from bookmakers around the world and then matching it with information that goes up on their respective web sites. Well the job starts today.
Tune into this Channel in a week or so for more information.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Life Really began at 40

It was my birthday a couple of days ago and the year of the big FOUR O came to an end.
“Life begins at forty” is one of those clichés that is offered as some form of consulation to anyone hitting that birthday in the hope that you don’t spend the entire night crying into their double Vodka, with the realisation that they can no longer fool strangers that they are thirty two and that it’s “all down hill from here”.
Well isn’t it just one cliché after another on this blog?
Yet having said all that I am happy to declare that this was not the case for me. For those of you who haven’t been following my blog all that closely I can sum up year number forty as my best so far. September to December passed with only one thing to talk about, our plan (Tiiu and mine) to move to Estonia.
Then on January 13th we made the move, leaving behind….well everything.
Since then we’ve made a new life for ourselves and I’ve done so much.
Actually I’m not gonna bore you, you can always read my old articles to see what I’ve been up to. Suffice to say that clichés are just clichés and that life is what you make it.
Oh hell there another cliché. But seriously for those of you approaching or have already surpassed this milestone, there seems to be so much more to do regardless of your age. Tune in again in another twelve months to see if I’m so full of wise comments and great hopes and expectations.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back in the Gym

With the apparent end to my football career I needed to find some sort of exercise so I wouldn't return to my former beer bellied shape of last year. So yesterday I came across a timely free day at a local gym and after an hour of wandering from one exercise machines to another as well as actually using a few I signed up for a month's membership.

Off course this isn't the first time that I've joined a Gym. With high expectations I usually sign up in the month of January and go everyday for a month. Then by February its twice a week and then I pop along in March to say goodbye having already paid for a full years membership in advance.
This time however I managed to get a deal where I only sign up for a month. Hopefully by the end of the month I will have built up the motivation to do some exercise at home.

Well Hopefully.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The End of Football

Its sad but its true, football has come to end.
For the last couple of weeks the number of people turning up to play in my local team has continued to shrink. Tonight there was once again just four of us and it seems like I'm the only one who is free or willing to play football on Saturday. Back in April or so joining this team was somewhat bizarre. I was the proverbial fish out of water, introduced to a group of other foreigners to play football by someone else I barely knew and unable to remember their names. But that was then and this is now. Months after that uncomfortable introduction I have gotten to meet so many people, built up a social structure and even improved my football.

But alas that all seems to have come to an end. Not really sure why this has happened. Perhaps its because as we are such a foreign legion that it was inevitable that some of us would head back to their mother countries. I know of two who have done that, while another has taken the brave step of opening his own restaurant but that is just three people. A few others have to work outside the country from time to time but still, where the hell is everybody??????

Saturday mornings and for that matter football just won't seeem quite the same for a while.
Bummer.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back in the Game

Today was another day for firsts. Today I had my first interview in Estonia and by the time it was over I had been offered my first job. I start on Monday for a week of training and then the real fun begins.

The company is called BetGenius. http://betgenius.com/, the company collates stats on sporting events for bookmakers across the world, including Premiership, Italian and German football leagues as well as Basketball and Tennis competitions.

Its a short blog for a big event, but I'll tell you all more over the coming weeks.
I shoot, I score, cliche, cliche, cliche.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book Reveiew 8 and a HALF




Yes this title sounds rather bizarre, but the last time I finished a book it was back in July 12th. Since then off course I was back in Ireland and running around the Estonian countryside leaving me with somewhat less time to idly sit down to read and read and read.

Added to this, the next book that I started and am partially reviewing today is Bloody huge, with 482 small print pages "Lionheart and Lackland" is the first of twelve B.B.B.'s (Bloody Big Books) that I have embarked on and this was the smallest of the bunch.


Well half a review is better than no review and it gives me to chance to go over what happened in the first three hundred pages. To give the book its full title this is "Lionheart and Lackland, King Richard and King John and the Wars of Conquest" by Frank Mclynn.

Its the story of two brothers and kings of England in the twelfth century, the times of the Crusades and Robin Hood. With treachery, double crosses and massacres in the name of Jesus against the Saracens, the first half of the book is about the brothers childhood and the exploits of the adult King Richard the Lionheart, while the second is all about John, which is precisely where I am right now.

So click on MY BOOK Reviews on the Right hand side and see what the first half is all about.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mega Shark V Giant Octopus


Every now and then along comes a film so bad, that its actually good. You know what I mean, there was Excellent "Starship Troopers" and the preposterous but still entertaining "Snakes on a plane" and "Deep Blue sea".
With the title "Mega Shark V Giant Octopus" how could I not watch this. This film was truly awful yet some how it was compelling viewing, it was as if this film was so incredibly terrible (now that's bad) that it did a 180 degree turn and became watchable.

This film had every cliche that you could predict and then a few well placed extras...
- An unbelievably stupid villain, who was bound to die stupidly.
- Extras who seemed so confused every time they appeared, that I felt sorry for them
- One building was used to represent numerous government and secret locations.
- Mean (dumb) looking soldiers wearing sunglasses standing under flashing red lights.
- Scenery last used in the original Star Trek TV series.
- Dialogue that was first used in the 80's "My god what have we done" (the answer to that question was "the incredibly obvious")
And speaking of the 80's, the main character was the American superstar from that glorious decade, nope it wasn't Madonna, Cindy Lauper or even Tiffany, but Debbie Gibson.
What do you mean who?

Anyway this film did however have a few saving graces, for instance there was an Irish actor in it and if this guy wasn't Irish then I have discovered the first American that can do a real Irish accent.
- The CGI may have been truly truly awful, but the imagination of the high school kid who came up with the ideas was wonderful.

Anyway here is the trailer, watch, enjoy and then run away laughing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fa7ck5mcd1o

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another day, another commemeration



It seems just like yesterday that I was talking about Independence day celebrations, cheering crowds and politician loving the sound of their own voices as they babbled along at the recently opened Freedom Square.

Well yesterday the politicians were back making more speeches in Freedom Square, this time it was to commemorate the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact when Hitler and Stalin sliced up the

Baltic countries and Poland between at the outset of World War II.



But this time instead of vast crowds straining to get a better view of what was happening, the Estonian President found himself alone but for a couple of tourist who were wondering what a TV crew was doing there as he laid his reef.

Was this one commemoration too many perhaps?

Or maybe its time to forgive, if not forget?



Forget this pact?

Well maybe, but too forgive and forget the curse placed on these lands by those two dictatorships?

No, I don't think so, not for a long time yet.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Independance Day, err.. again


Funny thing happened here the other day, actually it was more odd than funny.

Estonia celebrated its Independence day on August 20th, the odd thing about this is that they had already celebrated it back in February when we were still knee deep in snow.


This second celebration marked the collapse of the old Soviet Union and its withdrawal from the Baltic states twenty years ago, whereas the earlier Independence Day commemorates 1919 when Estonia broke free from Russian control for twenty short years.



In Ireland Independence from Britain isn't really acknowledged, yet over here there is a bank holiday for a day that surely lost all relevance after the Russians came back for another fifty years after world war II. Then again anti-Russian feeling still runs high here and celebrating this day in some small way is a slap in the face to the Kremlin.



After two years of construction a central plaza was completed on this very day, to much cheering and crowd waving, with politicians making speeches, bands playing and fireworks exploding. Appropriately the square is called Freedom Square. The central point to the square is a large glass cross, this was a rather bizarre choice as this country is far from religious, but apparently its not meant to be religious but some ancient Estonian monument. The cross has aroused as much debate and differing of opinions just as the Spire did in Dublin, hopefully it'll grow on us before it collapses.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vote for me



Today I received my first ever letter while in Estonia. It notified me that as an E.U. citizen who has permanent residence "I have the right to participate in the elections in the rural municipality where I reside" In other word the local elections are coming up on 18th October and I get to vote.

I thought that perhaps I should vote in the time honoured Irish tradition of voting the way my father did and his father before him and at the risk of sounding like a Monty Python sketch "My fathers fathers father". But enough of this nonsense, as I'm the first Lynch to stray this far from Cavan, its unlikely that Fianna Fail will be on the ballot paper.



But it's not merely about voting, after all the letter said that I had the right to participate.

Yes, you've got the idea, I want to stand for election.

At least I wanted to stand until I discovered that you had to pay a registration fee to the value of two months salary of the elected official. As I have no idea how much this is or that its unlikely that I will gain 5% of the votes to get my deposit back I have decided to decline this generous offer.



So all that's left for me to do is to find an honest hard working politician to vote for.

Now that's gonna take time, a lot of time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Replace, Replace, Replace

Once upon a time I had a video collection, it included the "Life of Brian", "Gladiator" and "Independence Day", all the usual suspects, actually I also had the "Usual Suspects".

Then along came the DVD revolution. Overnight my video collection was old fashioned, yesterdays news, cliche, cliche, cliche, and I had to replace all my movies. But that was OK as well after all DVD was going to be the perfect format, expensive, but still OK, remember they would never need to be replaced.
Well alright I knew that this wasn't true, but come on I had just paid twice for the same bloody films I needed to hold onto this belief.

Now I find myself in a foreign land and without my DVD collection. The fact that I've seen most of these films a dozen times or more is no reason why I shouldn't get to watch them again. So tonight I borrowed that 70's master piece "Waterloo" from someone in cyberspace. I'm not cheating, or stealing, as I said I'm merely borrowing it from someone whom, I'm sure bought it just like I did. After all if the Sony corporation can charge twenty euro for a forty year old movie, my conscience will allow me "to borrow" it.

Speaking of Waterloo, while looking at the films available to borrow online I came across a French six hour mini series about Napoleon. Its hard to imagine France as a super power, then again its hard to believe that Russia still thinks that it's Super power, with that crazy publicity seeking narcicist Putin in charge.
Ah there I go again ranting and babbling along, completely forgeting what I was talking about, which was errr, emmmm, oh never mind sometimes its good to complain and rant for no other reason but making me feel good.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Airplane Flu

Never mind Swine flu or Bird flu, the one to watch out for is Airplane flu.
Since I left Ireland in January I have barely had a cough or a sneeze and considering that I usually get half a dozen colds every year this is pretty amazing. Maybe its because I'm eating my vegtables, maybe its because I'm doing my exercise, but whatever the reason I felt immune from the sickly days when I would catch a cold simply by looking at snow on TV.

However on the flight back to Estonia, for some bizarre reason cold air was pumped into the plane for the three hour journey. Although I held on tightly to my jacket the cold still got through to me. No amount of moving those little nozzles, buttons and lights above my seat made any difference as the cold air poured in.
So now a day and a half after that flight I am sweating, coughing and sneezing.

Airplanes don't spread the flu, they are creating it.
The airline industry must be working hand in hand with the drug companies to create new flu suffers and thereby creating more sales for these drugs.

This is no conspiracy story my friends, this is the truth, well maybe....

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back in Ireland 2


My ten days in Ireland are drawing to a close as I fly back to Estonia tonight. As always it was great to catch up with friends and family and the latest local news stories, such as the pharmacists dispute with the H.S.E., Thomas Cook staff looking for more redundancy money, the government's NAMA plan to save the economy and another drug dealer / gangland killing in Dublin. Wow and all this happened in one week.

I spent a day in Northern Ireland with a trip to the Marble Arch caves in Fermanagh http://www.marblearchcaves.net/, interesting stuff, but with a return journey time from Dublin at five and a half hours it was pretty exhausting. Having said that it was the only day of constant rain, which for those unfamiliar with Ireland it's rather unusual even in the summer.

Meeting up with friends was off course great, as was the surprised look on one or two of their faces when they saw my new bearded look for the first time, weeding the garden was time consuming yet in a strange way rewarding. But the highlight of the trip was seeing my son getting picked for his football team's final selection of players at the start of the new season. The squad was cut down from 24 to 16 players due to new regulations. There were tears from the boys that were dropped but at their first game of the new season there was an air of confidence, even arrogance as those that made the grade congratulated each other before the game.

Having indulged and banished those uniquely Irish things that I felt I was missing, namely salt and vinegar crisps, minstrels chocolates, a kebab at Abrakabra and the shops Game, Chapters and Waterstones I realise that I wasn't missing too much after all.

So now its back to Eesti with the Sunshine, twice weekly football and most importantly of all, Tiiu.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ten days in Ireland

My ten days in Ireland are drawing to a close as I fly back to Estonia tonight. As always it was great to catch up with friends and family and the latest local news stories, such as the pharmacists dispute with the H.S.E., Thomas Cook staff looking for more redundancy money, the government's NAMA plan to save the economy and another drug dealer / gangland killing in Dublin and all this happened in one week.

I spent a day in Northern Ireland with a trip to the Marble Arch caves in Fermanagh http://www.marblearchcaves.net/, interesting stuff, but with a return journey time from Dublin at five and a half hours it was pretty exhausting. Having said that it was the only day of constant rain, which for those unfamiliar with Ireland it's rather unusual even in the summer.

Meeting up with friends was off course wonderful, as was the surprised look on one or two of their faces as they saw my new bearded look for the first time, weeding the garden was time consuming yet in a strange way rewarding., But the highlight of the trip was seeing my son getting picked for his football team's final selection of players at the start of the new season. The squad was cut down from 24 to 16 players due to new regulations. There were tears from the boys that were dropped but at their first game of the new season there was an air of confidence, even arrogance as those that made the grade congratulated each other before the game.

Having indulged and banished those uniquely Irish things that I felt I was missing, namely salt and vinegar crisps, minstrels chocolates, a kebab at Abrakabra and the shops Game, Chapters and Waterstones I realise that I wasn't missing too much after all.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Queens Park Rangers F.C.


Apart from my twice weekly match, I've avoided talking about football too much on this blog. As a Fan of English second divisoin team "Queens Park Rangers", I don't have too much to write about. But as today is the start of a new season I suspect that this may be my only chance to talk about them with the optimism a new season brings, before reality brings my hopes crashing back down to earth.

A little over two years ago Q.P.R. was saved from bankruptcy when when three exremely rich men bought Rangers. At the time it seemed like it was going to be the Chelsea scenario all over again and that we would buy a bunch of good footballers, win promotion and then buy a bunch of great footballers and win the Premiership.
Well none of that happeden and after hiring and firing five mangers in those two years the club was lucky not to get relegated last season.

Far from buying their way into the Premiership Q.P.R.'s owners appear to be trying to run the club on the cheap, getting players on loan deals or buying players that i've never heard of. ,
Tommorow the season kicks of with a home game against Blackpool, for those of you took the easy way out all those years ago and chose your team based upon who had just won the previous championship, "QPR V Blackpool" probably doesn't mean much. Yet for those of us who have faced mediocre football for countless years, a new season means fresh hope and a chance to dream of glory.
So with hopes and expectaions once again raised, lets bring on Blackpool our first victims of the new season.

COME ON YOU R's

Secret Payments


As if the war in Iraq wasn't messy enough I have uncovered a secret method of payment that the United States is making to U.K. for remaining a part of former President Bush's "Coalition of the Willing".
These payments are not made in Gold, fuel or dirty cash, nope England's reward for Americas folly is flattery and ego boosting and the delivery vehicle for this payment is Hollywood.
Over the last few days I've seen a couple of big budget action movies, namely "Transformers 2" and "G.I. Joe". As you would expect America saves the world from the bad guy or robot, but here is the almost interesting part. The British "Union Jack" flag is seen waving ever so proudly alongside the American "Stars and Stripes" in the background as our hero's march of to face the enemies and now there is also the token English hero type person with an incredibly strong London accent punching the bad guys alongside the true American hero's.
Now I'm not here to complain about the war, as it such a bloody mess I wouldn't know where to start, I'm just making Hollywood aware that I know all about it's clever little game and that my silence cannot be bought, well not too cheaply anyway.

Secret Payments

As if the war in Iraq wasn't messy enough

Friday, August 7, 2009

So whats new?

I've been back in Ireland for a week now and not much as changed. The expected novelty factor of going to book and game stores once again is here, catching up with old friends has been

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Country Living


Back from a few days in the countryside. You know the place it’s where you your phone says “Emergency calls only“. I never really considered myself much of a country person, always felt the need for concrete under my feet rather than having the sun beating down on my neck.

However having spent a week in the glorious country sunshine, I must say I loved it down there, except for the mosquitoes and black ants who love to show how well they can bite. I spent my days doing manly things such as playing with a chain saw and hacking down trees as the melody of Monty Pythons “I’m a lumberjack“ went through my head. Actually being able to hear anything as the chain saw screamed “LET ME DESTROY“ says everything about the tune.

Carrying on with the lumberjack stereotype, Tiiu and I built wonderful and obscenely large bonfires to cook burgers and drink plenty of the local beer.
When I wasn’t chopping, eating or drinking we would cycle to the local town for supplies, somehow the roads always seemed smooth and the wind to our backs. I suppose that mightn’t be entirely true but when the day is going well the wind is always at your back.
Off course country living isn't all about easy living, as we found ourselves picking strawberries and raspberries ripping as well as ripping up nettles and other green things, yet somehow even that was enjoyable. Even the weather worked out for us, on the rare occasion that it rained, it only fell when we done for the day.

Well now i’m back in the city and taking care of another of the truly important things in life, yes that's right its midweek football. Tonight our multinational team attempted to play the beautiful game against a bunch of Italians. The final score was 11 – 10, just not sure who actually scored 11, but then again it doesn’t really matter. After all its all about enjoying life and that's what I'm doing.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Great Television

For the last couple of days I’ve been staying in small country village whose name translates as “Women's Village“ oddly enough there aren’t that many women or for that matter there weren’t many people at all about. And at 4:45 tomorrow afternoon I will be getting a train back there for a few more days before I head off to the old country, for those of you who don’t already know I will be back in Dublin Next Friday for ten days.

Anyway I digress, the reason for rushing back to Tallinn for no apparent reason is that i’m playing football tomorrow morning, the days of being an armchair fan have long since passed..
But I digress yet again, this blog was meant to be all about great TV. Over the last few weeks I watched so many box sets it defies belief, there was the much hyped “Wire“ that I haven’t quite got into just yet, but then again its only been two episodes, I’ve watched through rose tinted glasses some of old “Miami Vice“ where a young Bruce Willis was shot by a scorned woman, but tonight I’m watching true quality television.
What can it be I can almost here you asking?

IT’S PINKY and the BRAIN, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain.
This is what its all about Two labatory mice planning to take over the world, they were great back in the old AOL days and they are still great now.
"Are you thinking what i'm thinking Pinky?"
"Yes Brain, lets watch all four seasons all over again"
NARF!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Patarei Sea Fortress Prison


If you’ve ever taken the tour of Kilmanen jail you will have an idea of the macabre tourist attraction that I went to yesterday. It was a former Soviet prison which has now been turned into a poorly kept museum. This bleak and overgrown building that was once the scene the much misery and horror is now one of a number of such attractions in the Baltic countries.

The cells contained twenty prisoners each, steel bunk beds were squeezed in beside each other, light was minimal and the toilet facilities were far far far from ideal. Their was one particularly ghastly room in the prison which was called the “Hanging Room“, no prizes for guessing what happened there.

On a somewhat lighter note, during our short imprisonment, Tiiu and I came across a group of tourists who had locked themselves inside one of the corridors. It took a minute or two before they convinced us that they really were trapped. They were set free about ten minutes later and Patarei Prison released its final set of prisoners.

Here is a link for a virtual tour http://www.arvirtuaaltuur.ee/vt/riigiKV/patarei
Bizarrely the people who created it didn’t include the cells, or any of the prisons nastier places.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wailing in Vain


Way way way back in the day, I bought the Bob Marley and the Wailers greatest hits album called Legend on cassette. Yes that's right I said on cassette, well it was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the day.
So it was with memories of that album and a UB40 concert a little later in the day that I purchased a ticket for “The Wailers“ , who were Bob’s original musicians and off course as Bob is long since dead they now have a new singer to breathe some proverbial life back into his songs.

The concert was in a great venue, an old church in fact but without its roof, it was on the banks of a river, it was a gloriously warm day, their were beer and BBQ tents right outside and an excellent white reggae band from Finland were the support act.
It was perfect. Too perfect in fact.

The problem was that the Wailers were just that. They wailed their way through a few classic tracks, played a bunch of the new singers own material and left me feeling as though I had indeed waited in vain for some great music.
Some of the crowd seemed to enjoy it all, but I suspect that they faked it as they were just embarrassed that they had paid good money to see this travesty and didn’t enjoy it.

I however have no problem in complaining, bitching and moaning about it.
So in closing, should “The Wailers“ turn up in your area save your twenty Euro, do yourself a favour and get Bob’s Legend on DVD.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Two Day Curse

Strange things have been happening over here lately. There have been a series of two day festivals, the latest was this weekends Maritime days where a series of tall ships came to Tallinn and the naval museum was free for the weekend. Prior to this there was the Dancing festival, Dancing festival and then it was the Beer festival.
The curse element to all this is that if the weather is great one day, then its going to be bloody awful the other. At the Dancing festival the sky was blue, everyone was wearing t-shirts, shorts and mini skirts (no not me) everything looked perfect. Two hours and less than half way into the show the skies opened up everyone was soaked. The next day the weather was perfect all day long.

Then came the Singing festival, once again the day started perfectly. There was a parade through the city centre by all the participants as they made their way to the arena. This should have warned me that something was horribly wrong. How can 7,500 people who will be singing for a couple of hours all arrive at the same time and let the show start on time. Well off course the show started nearly two hours late, there was no where to sit and then it rained and rained and rained some more.
The next day.....Perfect weather, well of course it was.

After that it was the beer festival, now this was a five day event and yes I picked the one solitary day from the five that the monsoon hit. Oh my god, talk about a drowned rats, well that was us.
Finally and this weekend it was Maritime days and guess what happened?????

HA!
You’re wrong it didn’t rain, this time is was bloody lovely I even got a tan,
I got to play with ships with guns, submarines and beer tents.
Yesterday was great lots of people, lots of fun and plenty of Watermelon cider, oh yes and there was a prison visit in the middle of all that. But the prison story will be covered another time.
So today, about four hours ago the lightening and thunder started and the rain fell and hasn’t stopped falling. But it didn’t fall on me.

YES, YES, YES the curse is lifted.
Now if only the rain would stop.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Schools Out for Summer

After four months or sixty in-class hours of tuition my entry level Estonian language class came to an end this morning. My range of Estonian insults has increased as well as my ability to confuse the local shop workers, as I can now ask for food, drink with relative clarity but am lost when they ask me an unexpected question or speak faster than I can translate and that’s not very fast.

Getting up for an 8:30 a.m. start was getting increasingly difficult, as was having three classes a week which gave little time to review the previous class material and prepare for the next. The novelty of taking the class had long since worn off , but the feeling that I was doing something worthwhile was increasing at the same time.

Taking this class gave much needed structure to my week especially when it first started, I met new people and feel that I have achieved something substantial although I feel that I could and should have learnt more. Well I have until September to review the course work and hopefully use it the language more and more on a daily basis, before the next level starts.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bitching Season


July is festival season in Estonia. Two of the three festival only take place every four years, namely the National dancing and the Singing festival, the third is week long beer festival that fortunately comes around every year.

On Thursday I went to the Dancing festival, which as you can probably guess involved groups of dancers from around the country dress in traditional costumes from yesteryear. What was suprising was the numbers involved, over seven and half thousand people lines up in formations that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Napoleonic army. For over two hours the performed numerous routines, with the theme of this years festival was the sea. At times it was mesmerizing and so much more than I had expected.

The crowd loved it and that was what I was expecting to have happened last night at the Singing festival. However this display was far from mesmerizing, but rather boring, ineptly organised and completely void of atmosphere. The show was an hour and a half late, finishing around midnight, instead of singing songs that were familiar to each Estonian and creating a feeling of nationalism and unity, they were lengthy gaps between songs, pointless poems and songs that nobody knew.

In fact it was so bad both Tiiu and I placed comments on newspapers website like so many others. As your Estonian probably is a little worse than mine I have just included my rant.

....... Having moved from Ireland to Tallinn in January, I've been looking forward to this festival season. I went to the dancing festival and was mesmerized. I didn't understand everything but I still felt the passion of the crowd and really enjoyed it.
But what the hell was last night about????

When I bought my ticket at 6:00 I was told that there were still 9,000 places left.
I don't think so!
The place was packed. I couldn't even see the green of the grass.
Off course by the time the second song started there was plenty of space as people were leaving all the time. From the top of the hill I could see a new parade, but this time it was of people leaving.

I stayed until 10:30, waiting for the show to get better, if there really was a god I would have been praying for things to get better. I've seen highlights of previous years festivals where the audience were singing along with the choirs and everybody felt proud to be an Estonian.
I'm a foreigner and even I could tell that was a disaster.

So many other people have complained about the unforgivable delays, the endless and pointless poetry and the pathetic organisation by the monkeys that put this show together, but bloody hell even drunk monkeys could have organized things better.

Fortunately there Beer Festival is coming up and all will be fine with the world once again.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Our Mis-trursted Allies


Not to be out done by the Royal Navy whose aircraft carrier "illustrious"made a courtesy visit here last week, the United States Navy decided to show the flag as well with the Destroyer USS Forest Sherman.

However unlike their British allies, the Americans did not open their doors to the public for tours. So in spite of their public relation sound bites from the ship's captain who was "so happy to be here in the great country of Estonia, to meet an important Allie", they weren't happy enough to actually allow any of these great people onto their boat.

I get the impression that the U.S. views Estonia as it does France, instead of calling both of them "A special Allie" they should publicly call them for what they are....."Mistrusted allies".

Friday, June 26, 2009

Jaanipäev

Last Tuesday 23rd June was JaaniPäav Eve, as you can guess it was the day before JaaniPäev, this is the celebration of the longest day of the year.

If you could roll your birthday, Christmas, Paddy's day and New Years eve all together, that is what JaaniPäev means over here. Very large bonfires are built, vast amounts of barbecued food and alcohol is consumed. Every town and village has it own party, but those held in the countryside are so much better than in the city.
As with any good national holiday, this day lasted for two days and hence two parties.

In the city there was a very experienced jazz band in a well supervised and maintained park, but in the country there was some "nearly skinny dipping", a band that played forever, cheap food and drink and some subtitled police fighting, yeah it was great.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Me and H.M.S. Illustrious


A Couple of days ago the Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier HMS IIllustrious paid a courtesy visit to Estonia and inspite of next to no advertising its visit in the press, there were long queues to get onboard. Tiiu and I waited patiently for well over an hour before a lumbering green army truck took us on a one minute journey from the harbour gates to the ship.

Although access to the ship only covered the main hangar and we couldn't go on deck, the waiting was well worth it. It really was a case of Big boys toys, as we played with a halicopter, guns, thermal imaging equipment and got up close with Harrier jump jets.

As big as the Illustrious is, it was dwarfed by a cruise ship from Italy that docked right next to, I never thought that there was such a thing as "a small aircraft carrier" but there as always a first time.

I guess that makes two more "First Time" events to be added to my adventures in Estonia.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Book Review No. 7


Welcome to Zululand of 1879 and Ian Knights "Zulu Wars"
Lots of fun and games with spears and Red coats

Please click on MY BOOK REVIEWS on the right hand side of this page.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Remarkable Night


Last night while Princess Christina Ronaldo was packing his handbags and preparing to leave Manchester for the even richer playing fields of Madrid, the rest of his of his team mates were outplayed by an Estonian football team rated 113th in the FIFA World ranking.
Tiiu and I headed along to the stadium in the hope of witnessing a valiant defence from the boys in blue against the multi-millionaires rated 11th, but expected them to eventually be overwhelmed.

Yet last night something astonishing happened, actually there were two equally amazing events. The first was that the minnows from Estonia did not lay down and die in front of a team that were European championship runners-up in 2004, in fact at the end of the goalless draw it was the Portuguese who were lucky not to be heading home well and truly beaten.

The match was a light year away from the performance that Estonia put up against Armenia a couple of months ago. The crowd truly were the proverbial twelfth man. Admittedly Portugal did not send their strongest team but who cares?
Certainly not a single person in the crowd, in fact we loved it.
This may have been Estonia’s finest footballing hour and we were there to see it.

The second was something that I would have missed had Tiiu not pointed it out to me. Yesterday there was a young boy with his father cheering on Estonia. What makes this seemingly normal event exceptional was that the boy was Russian, albeit Estonian- Russian. For months I have been complaining how Russians living within these borders were isolationist, apparently resentful of all things Estonian including their language, but not any longer (or at least not as much).
Here was a Russian boy, speaking his adapted country’s language, cheering on his team alongside his father.
Unlike the late and great Liverpool F.C. manager Bill Shankley, I don’t believe that football is more important than life and death, but football can heal old wounds that I never thought possible.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Season One Syndrome


I’ve just finished Season one of Boston Legal and as with most TV shows it took a couple of episodes to have any real appeal and then began to shine.
This got me wondering if this programme will commit the same sin as so many others, that started in a blaze of glory before falling in love with their own greatness and letting their standards slip. By adding in a few extra episodes with nonsensical episodes just to pad up another season and make a few extra dollars, numerous great programmes quickly left fans, namely me, disappointed.

I refer to shows such as Prison Break and Hero's, and Battlestar Galatica. These first two were recommendations and were much better than I expected. For that matter they were more popular than their own producers apparently expected. Both shows were progressing nicely until the last episode of Season One when they were obviously re-written.
The producers must have realised that they had unexpected hits and needed to keep the proverbial golden goose alive and forced final episode re-writes, that added nothing but to open the door to mediocre second seasons. These final episodes must have been written during a three minute commercial break, as no worthwhile characters were killed off and nothing was resolved.

There are off course exceptions to the rule, The West Wing got better and better (apart from the Final season), “Band of Brothers“ is still is the finest TV show ever and was completed in one perfect season.
Anyway here’s hopping that Boston Legal manages to survive these perils and doesn't fall into the other trap of adding in new, yet totally useless characters over the coming episodes and seasons. But that is something for another day.

Finally what I still don’t understand is how the BRILLIANT “Firefly“ (you may have seen the movie version “Serenity“) was killed of after just one wonderful season.

That's all Folks.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wonderful World of Infomercials


So there I was, watching TV and being seduced by this AMAZING new invention being advertised in an American Infomercial

Yes, yes I can hear you laughing already but come on this product was worth purchasing if for no other reason than the fact that they dragged out an old and overweight MR. T to tell the audience that he "Pitied the fool who didn't want one".

This AMAZING product is the "Flavor Wave Turbo Oven"

With all the charm of a second hand car salesman, the Sarah Palin lookalike ( have you forgotten her already?) invited Mr T. onto the stage and went on to amaze him with all the amazing things that this wonder of the new age can bring into our hum+drum lives.
Unlike Mr T I wasn't quite ready to give Sarah my credit card details just yet.

I wondered if it was possible that Mr T had been tricked and was even now was being drugged and his unconscious body bundled onboard an airplane?

I checked out a consumer web site to prove to those voices of doubt in my head that MR. T was safe, Sarah was no liar and that the "Flavor Wave Turbo oven" was indeed the equal to the creation of the wheel.

Alas all was not well in the land of Infomania, there were complaints and complaints aplenty that the oven overheated, back up was awful and spare parts were expensive. I now fear that Mr. T is destined to be brought out again and again, whenever the next great invention is to be put before the unsuspecting public.

Before I say farewell for now follow this link and watch Mr T greatest performance since he snarled at Rocky all those years. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrVWyj-XcbQ

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Little Englander No More


Unlike the Irish and UK goverments I have given up the paranoid fight to keep National Identity cards as far away from me as possible in the fear that Big Brother knowing even more.

As you can see, I look your typical criminal in the photo.

Not really sure what all the negative hype is about, I use it to get cheaper travel and should the day ever arrive, to pay taxes when I get a job. The card can also be used as bank card, sending electronic signatures, health card, an alternative to a passport within the Euro zone, checking your government records such as exam results or creating a company.

Topically, Estonia will be the only country in the EU voting online in todays coming elections.

So what has the Estonian government learnt about me or anyone else for that matter?
My date of birth, nationality and current address.
Not really George Orwell's 1984 now is it?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Ambassadors Ball


Not wishing to sound like a commercial for Ferraro Roche, Tiiu and I went to a reception at the Hungarian Embassy a couple of weeks ago. Although the ambassador may not have exactly "spoilt us with these Ferraro Roche" it was an entertaining evening as we sampled the ever improving Hungarian wine, the more I drank, the more it improved.

One of my fellow students at the Estonian language class is the "Art History Critic" for the Hungarian Embassy in Estonia, so I was able to get passed security without too many problems. Of course I jest, security is no longer a problem since the Russians gave up this colony as well as Estonia within their Evil Empire
Oh please, I haven't made fun of the Russians in ages :-)

But serously, there were people from afar as Mexico city, Minnesota, Stuttgart, London and Ankara. It was interesting to hear how these people were drawn to Tallinn for various reasons, some for work, others for love and a couple who came to spread the word of the lord.
Yep, everybodys got a story to tell.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Intensive Training Intensive Care

From 9.00 to to 10.30 every Monday and Wednesday for the last X number weeks my Estonian language classes have gone along quite nicely, but for this week we switched to an extremely intensive approach. Concluding this morning classes kicked off at 8.30 every day this week, one day after another after another.
When the request was made to double up classes for a week it actually seemed like a good idea, in fact I welcomed it. Unfortunately it turned out to be one of those occasions when things seemed better as an idea than they are in reality. Admittedly we covered a lot of material in these last four days, but with so much information being thrown in at a rate where most of it proverbially overflowed and fell back out. With insufficient time to study the new material at home Ive ended up exhausted and potentially ending understanding less than I would have in a normal week.

I suppose you could say that "no good deed goes unpunished".
After class this morning I fell asleep as soon as I came home, relieved that it was all over.
On the up side I now have a week and a half to recover and assimilate the vastness of knowledge passed onto me and the opportunity to fully recover my desire for this subject.

Now its time for a spell of Intensive relaxation, alcohol and lots of fun......well at least until tomorrow.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention that in a week and a half my classes will be three times a week.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

That's Entertainment

For two weeks I didn't post a blog and allowed a few things to slip by, so before they slip away completely let me entertain you with what has entertained me off late.

The Eurovision Song Contents
The source of much mockery in Ireland is a source of great interest on "The Mainland" and even pride in some countries" Estonia is a country where it is becoming unpopular to admit that you watch it, yet when the TV ratings were announced it seems that everybody did.

For those of you who REALLY didn't watch it or forgot what happened after the Irish entry was unjustifiably knocked out, the finalist were randomally called out, with Estonia named near the very end. Just moments before we were swearing at every country that gave Russia points and not enough to Estonia. Convinced that Estonia wasn't going to be nominated we agreed that this was stupid competition organised by idiots, but then Estonia was named as a finalist. Suddenly this was a fantastic event that everyone should be proud of and the celebrations started.
Here is the YouTube link to the Estonian song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkRs0TYulqI although I didn't have a clue what she was singing about the music is great.
In the Final Estonia came a respectable seventh, but how the hell did that annoying schoolboy from Norway win with that irritating song, that bloody stupid grin and eyebrows?
Oh well it could have been worse, the Russians could have won again.

MOVIES

With our new Iomega multi-media drive (PC to TV box) we are finally starting watch all those TV shows and movies that I've downloaded over the past five months, Countless seasons of "The Unit, Boston Legal, Prison Break, Two and half men Gilmore Girls" and "Felicity" as well as hundreds of movies.

Watching these shows on a large TV is so much better than on the PC monitor and watching a film at the cinema is the only real place to watch the likes of "Star Trek" and somewhat belatedly "The Watchmen". For those of you that told me this was not a film to bring Gary to, you were so right. Not really one for the kids.
However Star Trek!
Now there was a film for everyone, I loved it, Loved it, loveeeeeeeeeed it. It was completely void of bad acting and even worse special effects, so much better than I dared hoped.


Museum Night
One day last week all the museums in Tallinn were opened late into the evening and free of charge. For the first time ever there queues outside of them. Inside it was like the first day of a sale with people elbowing and nudging one another to look at muskets, coins and some old rubbish about Russia saving this country from themselves and foreign invaders.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rat Race 2009

Today was Rat Race Day, when the old town square was the start and end point for an annual charity race. With the contestants dressed up in their business suits, nurses and police uniforms, etc, the teams dashed through the cobblestone streets for their charities.
The race itself only took about ten minutes, but the build up took hours with countless speeches, introducing the teams to the spectators and a twenty minute warm up.
The race itself was merely the start of a week long series of events of "Old Town Days".

Today was another scorcher, the old town square was packed with tourists and locals alike, free ice cream was handed out all day long, when the band that played on after the race finally packed up, the usual buzz returned to the square as restaurants and bars filled up.

The Rat Race was merely the end of a busy day, which started with the first of a week long set of Estonian language classes, following that we had a cooling dip in one of the local swimming pools (the beach was just too much effort to get to), Rat Racing for the afternoon and early evening before retiring to Saint Patrick's bar for a drink. Finally back home for a spot of blogging.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Three days of Sunshine

Summer has unofficially arrived in Estonia, with three straight days of unbelievable sunshine.
Off course three days doesn't make a summer but its a great start and for the last few days the sun hasn't gone down until nearly midnight and at no time does it go completely dark.

Yesterday we spent the night in the countryside in a small village called Naistevälja. In many ways it's typical of any far flung Irish village with a group of houses hosting the same families for countless generations surrounded by an army of green fields. However unlike the typical Irish village, this villages was bathed in sunshine and even I managed to get a tan and no I don't mean lobster red.
The bonfire burnt ferociously, the food was sizzlingly and the beer tasted ever so sweet.

Now im back in Tallinn the sun is still shining, but without that cooling country breeze.
The countryside would have been idyllic had it not been for the mosquitoes that seemed to devote their very existance to bite the hell out of me.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Three Days in Riga


Tiiu and I went to Riga, Latvia on Sunday for three days. The highlight was supposed to be the Depeche Mode concert on Monday evening, unforgivably the show was cancelled. I didn’t mind the four hour coach drive, paying for a two day stay or the awful food that the hotel passed as breakfast, but what made me bloody angry was the lack of notice given and the disappointment felt by Tiiu as she had been looking forward to this for such a long time.
After swearing and cursing at everything and anything Latvian for a couple of hours I finally calmed down and tried to make the best of the rest of the trip.

Putting this fiasco aside, the trip did have some memorable and slightly odd moments, such as visiting the German WWI Zeppelin hangars which have since been converted into markets, where the strawberries were cheap, tasty and devoured along the sun kissed banks of the Daugava river.
I spent ninety minutes in a museum that seemed to pass in five, however to Tiiu (or perhaps I should say Una) it seemed like five hours, rather than minutes. I’m still thanking her for putting up with the visit, oh did I mention that it was a war museum?
No?
I suppose that might explain the bored look on her face.

The weather was perfect, on the journey back we were upgraded to a luxury coach where I managed to pass the time studying Estonian. But the proverbial icing on the cake was when I was given a 20% discount on a new jacket. Ironically I pratically had to be forced into taking the discount.
You know the old story “when something seems to good to be true, its because it isn't true“ well this time it was true. A store card that gives 10% of everything , but on the day of purchase you receive 20%.
And the cost of this store card?
Two Lats, about three and half Euro.