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"

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
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?????

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.