Monday, October 25, 2010

QPR free TV

This year may finally be the year when Q.P.R. get out of the lower leagues of footballing life and return to the Premiership. Thirteen matches into the season and we are still top of the league and unbeaten. There is only one thing that can prevent this piece of natural justice from happening, its not Cardiff City or there fellow Welshman Swansea, its actually me and TV.

Last year Rangers were in a similar situation and off course it was all over by Christmas. Last Friday top of the league QPR played bottom of the league Bristol City, it was the first Rangers match I watched this season and we managed to come away with a draw. This time last year I watched the Hoops take on Leicester and having won our previous five matches by four goals each, we lost.
I don't think so.
It's me, it's all about me. I guess I was right after all, the universe really does revolve around me. Suffice to say I won't be watching Rangers on TV any more, but at least I can go and see them in the Premiership next year.
As for the picture of Stan Bowles?
No real reason, we never need a reason to remember the great man.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saturday afternoon in a city centre cafe - Kompott Cafe

The house looked dreadful, but we decided to go in anyway. When Una opened the door she felt that we had just walked into granny's house, sometime around the 1980's, but now its known as retro. There was an old black and white TV in the corner, sewing machines turned into tables, granny's flowery wallpaper and home made jams on shelves. The place seemed very popular -famous actors and TV personalities alongside Bohemian wannabees. Well the cafe was next to a college after all. Taking a table by the window we started to look through the menu, which bizarrely had only a couple of pages of food, but loads on drinks. They serve a boring selection of Estonian food, that anybody could have made at home and done better. But it wasn't all bad, after all the hot drinks and bread basket were great! Its the sort of place that you would take your mum or granny out for lunch, but that really is about it. Why bring back Soviet style, if there was nothing good about it?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Finland in October

Yesterday we went to Helsinki, yet even before stepping on board the ferry we realised that reports of high waves and a rough crossing were greatly exaggerated as the two and a half hour journey passed quickly and sea sick free. Although it rained, was windy and we were dressed in our warmest winter clothes, it was still great to be there.

As soon as we docked I went straight for the book store, but after two hours of reading through countless history books even I had seen one too many General Custer or WWII pictures and was ready to leave. Being in Helsinki was a bit like being in Dublin, except cleaner although just as expensive. However this time we were over the shock that a can of coke costs nearly two euro in a supermarket, but finding out that a pint of beer cost SEVEN euro. Yes CAPITAL letters. I guess I was really really surprised. Come on, Seven euro, bloody hell and I used to complain at paying up to forty crowns (2.80'ish).
The one big difference between Helsinki and Tallinn or Dublin is the apparent lack of pubs and of course the one or two you can find are in shopping centres and charge seven euro per pint.

What was unique to Helsinki was the parade of bears, with one from each of nearly two hundred countries. These two meter tall statues have been travelling around the world since 2002 and ended up here. But of course a holiday isn't a holiday unless you try the local food, so we tried Finnish McDonald's and Finnish Subway's. Each bite probably put on about two kilos, but who cares, after all we were on holiday.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

To anyone I may have offended with this blog

It has come to my attention that some of you are offended by the articles I have written and for this I apologise.

My comments and views are those of foreigner in a new land, whose history was a mystery and its people and their habits were unknown and unusual and it was upon my objective observations that I have based my articles

But i'm not the only foreigner here expressing his views. Here is a link to Abdul Turay who is from England and writes for the Estonian newspaper Postimees.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Whats going on

Once upon a time I would write for ages about books I had read, rating them, criticising and praising them, now that I've finished one of the very best books I've ever read, I cant be bothered to write a proper blog about.
Really not sure whats going on.

By the way, the book is the Master and Margarita.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bok Review Number 16

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, is a classic Russsian story of when the Devil and his minions came Moscow. This book is rightly called a classic, click on the BOOK REVIEW tab on the left and read on....if you dare.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Book Review No. 15

Back on familiar if somewhat disappointing ground in another piece of history from World War two. Patrick Delaforce's "Taming the Panzer's" tells the many collective stories of the men who fought in Britain's 3rd Royal Tank Regiment from the world war One of tanks that drove at 4 m.p.h. to the next generation that fought Rommel's Panzer's across North Africa and Europe.
As always, click on the BOOK REVIEW link to the right to see what it was all about.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book Review No.14

I'm finally over my laziness of always having an excuse not to blog. But now I'm back and so are the book reviews and this time its another change of pace. Having strayed briefly away from military history with a journey into the porn industry with my previous review, now its the turn of Sci-fi and Dr. Who.
"The story is the feast of the Drowned" by Stephen Cole and is set in the Dr Who days of David Tennant. Well for more on this review click on BOOK REVIEW on the left.

Too much of a good thing

The sun was hot last week. Actually the sun was really hot last week, a lot hotter in fact than I expected. On another day in the countryside, Una I went cycling and swimming in glorious sunshine. The sky was cloudless, swimming in the lake had been great, everything was perfect.
Yes glorious, glorious sunshine, it was great.

The only thing was the next day I was tired, really tired, drowsy and then nausea's.
Oh yes, that's right. I had sun stroke, well actually it was heat exhaustion.
Had I fainted it would have been sun stroke, but as I didn't, my condition was downgraded to heat exhaustion.
Wow, I sound like the long range weather forecast.
Well that was my story about being careful about what you wish for, just in case you get it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Retrospective Day in Finland

I started writing this article about three weeks ago, but never got to finish it. Well until now that is......
As you may remember, two weeks ago I managed to get a bit of time of work and Una and I did a bit of travelling, one place that I haven't already mentioned was our day trip to Finland. It was an early start as we had to be onboard the ship by 7.40. As with every other method of transport over here, even the ships leave on time. It was a typical two hour ferry journey on a fairly typical ferry, with the occasional exceptions such as giant cat and dog litter box on one of the decks and the equally unusual sight of someone actually winning on the slot machines and winning big.

We were in Helsinki once before and it was still pretty much in the same way we left it. Its just like any other major city, with lots of people and familiar brand name shops. Speaking of shops their biggest book shop was absolutely massive, dwarfing in the likes of chapters. In Estonia new history books (written in English) come out about one a month, but in this store there had to be at least thirty.I was picking them up and replacing them with others at such a rate that I was starting to get dizzy. I could easily have spent four days in there. Oh yes I nearly forgot, I was about to buy the "Daily Mail" which costs about 1 Euro, when I noticed the shops own price of 5 euro 40 cents. Wow, when people say there is nothing in news papers but bad news, they really weren't kidding.

Now I don't know if it because I've been out of Ireland for a long time and have lost track of how much items cost, but 5.40 for a news paper and 1,94 euro for a can of coke in supermarket still seems pretty extreme to me.
Apart from that Helsinki can boast quiet double decker trains, a science museum with some weird exhibits such as two unattached satellite dishes that can be used as telephones, a mask of Einstein that plays tricks on your eyes and a bed of nails that was actually more painful than I was led to be believe. But the main reason for going to the Heureka Science museum was its planetarium. I'd hate to guess at how long its been since I was last in one, but it was well worth the visit, especially for Una as this was her first.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

In the army now

On Thursday having fully recovered from our trip to the countryside, it was time to get back on our bikes and a 30k.m. round trip to the town of Viimsi and the "General Laidoner (Military) museum At the start of the week the weather forecast predicted rain for nearly every day, yet here we were in another warm day and even had time to hang around at the beach. As with all the other military museums I've visited I would like to thank Una for not complaining as quietly putting up with it and me (yet again). However this was a museum with a difference. Of course it had the usual military vehicles, weapons and posters, but this time there was a great toy. An automatic rifle with sensors that the public could use to fire at an electronic target. Being the typical male that I am, I blasted away and barely hit the wall, but then Una stepped up and hit the target time and time again including the bulls eye. Was it humiliating to be beaten with a big boy's toy by a woman, I hear you ask? HELL NO. When you're good, you good. And she is really good. As you may not be going to Estonia any time soon allow me educate you a little. The twentieth century was for Estonia an especially bloody and oppressive time, being occupied by Russian and German armies for most of that time. But did you know that in its war of Independence against Lenin's Russian volunteers came from Denmark, Sweden, Finland and White Russia to aid this little country. The Royal Navy and American cash also made its way here, but unlike Afghanistan they didn't put soldiers on the ground. Ironically the now independent Estonia is only one of a handful of countries who are still sending soldiers to that new battleground.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Plenty of Time

It was the desire to do something during my holidays rather than letting the days slip by, that drove me out of bed and of to the local train station yesterday morning. Normally it's a twenty minute walk away, but with less than fifteen minutes before the train pulled out, Una and I ran there in ten. Tired and sweaty I took my seat grateful for the fact that we had made it on time, yet completely unaware that this was the start of a great adventure and panic driven day.

The journey down to the town of Paldiski took seventy minutes, giving us time to relax, talk about the day ahead and politely make fun

of some of our fellow travellers.

When we got off the train, Paldiski looked like the kind of place that was famous for absolutely nothing, in fact I had barely heard of the place and I've been over here for a year and half now.

In fact I was so wrong about this place that it's almost funny. My first clue should have been that the majority of the population were Russian, the second was the numerous and now abandoned military buildings scattered along the coastline and the busy harbour.

We stopped at one such relic an hour or so into our walk which according to the map was 15 Kilometers away. Fifteen km's is indeed quite a walk, but with seven hours to do it in, we would have plenty of time to spare and hang around the beach at the train station. At first I thought that these military relics from a bygone age were rusting machine gun emplacements built by the Germans in World War two, but unlike those dotted along the Swedish coastline, these seemed ill-designed and badly constructed. Why would the Germans have built anything so badly? The answer, is that they didn't. These rotting metallic and concrete shells belonged to the Soviet army of occupation. Yet even at this point I hadn't realised that I was standing in one of the most secret of secret former Soviet military bases in all of its once conquered empire. Paldiski was actually the home for Russian Submarines and the base for a nuclear reactor. Just of the coast are two small islands, the first of these was the location of the reactor, while the second was unbelievably used by the Soviet air force for bombing practice from St. Petersberg. Even today these islands are still considered unsafe as numerous anti-personnel mines litter them. One fact that I still haven't uncovered yet, is that how come the last Russian naval vessel didn't leave these island until 1994, a full three years after Estonian Independence. Having recovered and rested with the assistance of a couple of cans of ciderr and pastries we set of for the last hour or so of our walk. At times the road became no more than a trampled down path that wound out along the edge of a cliff face, as we passed old trenches and bunkers that were overshadowed by new giant wind turbines At what we believed to be the halfway point we came across nature at it's both its finest and ugliest, as we spotted deers, swans, storks and then the awful site of some naked guy sun bathing.

With over four hours to go before our train was due to leave I said that we should keep on going, after all we already know whats was behind us. Apart for one memorable stop along the way, which may be the source of another blog (but that pretty unlikely) we found ourselves following the coastline with greater and greater urgency as we realised that 15 km's on Google maps, is a hell of a lot more and takes a lot longer when you are covering every contour of the coastline, on a ground that changes from hard to soft sand, pebbles and then completely disappears as the water licks the base of the cliff and we were forced to move inland. Whilst walking along the shoreline, we were stopped in out tracks by the sight of an otter running across our path and headlong into the water. As its sleek black body dashed quickly in front of us, I was momentarily convinced that this long tailed creature was a puma or some other wild cat which lives in Estonia. After this excitement we had to leave the shore as the sea rolled in and it was here that we encountered those most hideous of creatures. Mosquitoes. Those wretched little insects were everywhere and bit me so many times that my dislike, no, my hatred of them has now risen to even hired levels. What possible purpose can their existence serve.? I'll tell you what. NONE. None at all. They are horrible worthless little creatures who should be exterminated. Actually, maybe they are part of some secret long term plan by the Russians to get revenge on anyone who comes this way. Yeah, now that makes sense. Continuing our journey we began to consider the possibility that maybe four hours wasn't going to be enough to get us to the station in time. Should we miss this train there wasn't to be another until the next morning and there was no where to spend the night. As we walked past one bend on the coast, another would appear behind it and tease us. At one point we were even cut off by the sea and had waded through the cold water. With our trousers rolled up and shoes and socks in-hand we made our way through the cold water.

Yet even with time running out we still had time to bury our cider cans in the sand, a few hundred meters ahead of a couple of treasure hunters who were searching the beach with a metal detector.

It may have been because I had little idea of how far we actually had to go that I never stopped believing that we would make it. Then suddenly through a clearing of trees Una spotted our train waiting at the platform a mere hundred meters away. We had made it and with forty minutes to spare.

When we got back to Tallinn that same twenty minute walk which had started of our day, now seemed like a trip to the garden. If we had a car we certainly wouldn't have had such a great adventure.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Holiday Madness

It was Friday at 7:10 pm, I was out of the office and for the next nine days I was on holiday.
Its now Sunday 00:59 Sunday night - Monday morning and being free is simply fantastic.
Don't get me wrong I don't dislike my job, but being on holiday is sooooooooo much better.
Unlike all my other holidays, this time I'm not running around visiting friends and family in England or Ireland, this time it's all about taking it easy and relaxing.....well sort of.

On Friday evening as I cycled home, it felt as though it was my last day in school and I had all the time in the world. I must have stayed up until 3 or 4-o-clock watching movies that I've had for ages but hadn't managed to watch. To Una it seemed that I was high on something as I bounced around the apartment in this giddy humour, Tiredness and Exhaustion had clearly lost the battle of my mood to Happiness.

As I shuffled into the kitchen the next morning, Una return with our new table. Although furniture isn't usually something to blog about, this was not just any old table, this was a piece of our proverbial jigsaw. For the last few months we've been looking for something to improve the place and when the table arrived, the latest piece of that jigsaw fell into place.

With coffee, cake and magazines spread across it, the table which was now tucked in by the window, had magically transported us to a place in the country. Looking out the window and watching the world go by, my euphoria of the previous night had been replaced by a relaxed calmness that told me that all was right with the world. Time was irrelevant, for I had all of it that the world possessed, watching telly, reading books, bound and gagged and then once again returning to the land of the table in the evening. But this time we weren't looking out into the countryside, this time it was the view was of a Mediterranean. The sudden and crazed rainfall an hour earlier had passed and the sunshine was back. With the window wide open and a drink in hand the mood had somehow changed to a Spanish setting, don't ask me to explain but that just how it was.

Forget "Jamie and his magic torch" this was "James and his Magic table".

Saturday night eventually became Sunday morning and another tremendous day was about to unfold. But Sunday /Today, deserves a blog all of its own.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Valli Baar

There is bar in Tallinn called "Valli Baar" and from outside looking in through the window, it's the kind of place that you would pobably take one look at and then keep walking by. Surrounded by other pubs full of the young, slutty and tanned this place is like a backwards oasis. The furniture was recently updated, well as long as you consider 1977 to be recent and the floor was probably last cleaned around the same time, yet there is still something quite memorable about the place.

It's not the same bunch of customers who appear to have been there from dusk till dawn since that last refurnishing, nor is it the wrinkly old guy sitting in the corner playing an accordion, actually this is beginning to sound like half of the pubs in Dublin, but the remarkable things about Valli bar is that its the only bar in Tallinn that has this throw back to the 70's look.
Oh yes and then there is the Millimallikas (Jellyfish).
The Millimallikas is Valli's house shot, comprising of Vaccari Sambuca, Tequila and Tabasco sauce, yes that's right Tabasco sauce. You have to knock it back in one go and of course you could soften the taste by chasing it with orange juice, but where is the fun in that. When you drink Millimallikas you have to savour that burning tingling sensation for as long as it lasts.

Now you may say that it was because of the drink or perhaps it was just that I suddenly had a lot of energy that night, but right after leaving the bar I climbed on top of the newest statue in Tallinn. Literally moments after jumping down a police car drove by, I'm not so sure if they would have seen the funny side of it.
After this it was off to Tallinn's only remaining Karaoke Bar. "The Helsinki" as you can imagine is aimed at the Finnish tourist market, but on quiet Monday evening they were delighted for any custom they could get. Without any encouragement required at all I got up on the stage to sing Tom Jones's "Sex bomb", to me it was singing, to the few people that were able to stay in within the reach of my voice it probably sounded like screeching mettle, but I loved it. The highlight of the night was Una and I doing a duet of "Only Yesterday" by The Carpenter's, OK, the truth is she was singing in key and I was singing like a bunch of keys scrapping along the ground.
But we had fun and that's all that matters.

Una the Puma

On Saturday Una took part in the Maijooks (May Run).
It was a 7 km run and she completed it in an amazing time of just 44 minutes, which was way ahead of the majority of the other 9,000 women .
It was a really hot day and I was just standing there waiting for Una to re-enter park. So you can imagine how tough and hot it must have been for her.
While the women took part in the run, I and the other hundred or so other blokes who turned up to cheer their woman along, waited in what could only be described as an adult play pen. It was a relatively small patch of the grass near the finishing line where beer and food tents had been set up. I guess that sums up the needs of my gender.
But this day wasn't about me, it was all about Una and her fantastic achievement, even as she crossed the finish line unlike many of those who started before her and finished alongside her, she didn't stumble or fall over it,but rather found a last burst of energy and charged past.
Three cheers for Una the Puma.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Europe Day

On May 10th. Estonia celebrated "Europe Day". It may not be as well known as Christmas or Saint Patricks day but its still worth celebrating, if for no other reason that it gave Una and I a chance to look around half a dozen European embassies and photograph absolutely everything or at least until the novelty wore off.

The day was organized like a treasure hunt. At the start of the day you picked up a "Passport" which contained a page on each of the European countries and then had to go to ten of them and get it stamped, before returning it to so we could take part in a competition.
The Swedish embassy blasted out Roxette songs while giving away food and drink, the German let me play in their new BMW's but charged for the beer while the Irish err, well they didn't offer anything but stamped my book. The last place was Bulgarian embassy which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere and took forever to get there, in fact it took so long we barely had time to return our completed passports.

But as its now a couple of weeks since this happened I must bitterly report that the much hyped "European Union Gravy Train" didn't stop at my door, as I haven't received anything.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Day in the Country

What a day, out and about by 8:00, yes that's right 8:00 on Sunday morning.
Traditionally Sunday is meant to be a day of rest, but on this occasion a
change is a as good as a rest and today was certainly a change from the ordinary.

By 8:30 Una and I had stacked our bikes up against the wall of a train and were heading down to her days country house.

When we got of, it was a then a not so short 20km, of course 20km cycle. The "not so short" comment is because we were constantly cycling against the wind and in a country that is as flat as Holland, it suddenly seemed to have plenty of hills.

It was a day of BBQ chickening, planting peas, photographing the strangest looking cows I have ever seen. I'm not really a country person, but sometimes it great to get out of the city, especially if you have the right company.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Its all about the weeekends

When I lived in Ireland my working week was usually Monday to Friday, 9 to 5,30, but working at BetGenius means weekends aren't always my own as I'm required to work one weekend in four. So with the snow finally gone and the sun promising to shine Una and have been making the most of these free weekends.

As always Saturday morning revolved around playing football, but for the first time in five months we played outdoors last Saturday and it was bloody great. Yes off course I was exhausted battered, bruised and occasionally the ball went into a garden that was patrolled by the laziest Alsatian in the world. But none of this mattered as we were out in the open air again. After that it was of to Vabaduse Valjak (Freedom Square) to watch two robotic pensioners and a couple of dozen brides running around. OK that probably sounds very confusing, but you don't really need to know whats going on, you just need to know that there is always something going on if you go looking for it.
You don't have to sit down in front of the TV for hours, so after returning home from Vabaduse Valjak, we sat down and watched TV for a couple of hours, AH COME ON, I was tired.

Sunday morning came and the pair of us were literally on our bikes, cycling twenty five kilometres through the city and along the coast. As we did so we got to see how the proverbial "Other half" live. It doesn't matter if you are living in Tallinn or Dublin, as soon as you go out along the coast you always find yourself surrounded by houses built for kings. But I'm not here to bitch about rich, especially as I'm planning on becoming one of them as soon as possible

While I'm the whole topic of exercising and weekends, the previous Sunday we took part in 6,5km run through a local forest. This is worth mentioning not merely for the fact that we managed to complete this distance in 45 minutes, but we did the same run twelve months ago. Which is something else almost worth noting, I've been here for well over twelve months now and events like this are coming around for the second time. I guess its an opportunity to stop and appreciate what we've achieved in the last twelve months, then again in the words on Bono "You miss too much these days if you stop to think", so I suppose I had better not stop to think.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


April 16th was NATO day, or at least it was in Estonia. Apparently there is a NATO day at different times of the year through-out all of the NATO countries and yesterday was Estonia's turn. Formally NATO day consist of meetings, presentations, workshops and displays of military and security equipment culminating in a main event. In reality it amounted to an opportunity for kids of all ages to climb on board military trucks, armoured cars, Cannons and eat army rations (thanks but no, thanks for that last one). in Vabaduse Valjak (Freedom Square) Presumably because Estonia is one of N.A.T.O.'s smallest members is the reason why the amount of hardware on show was limited, no tanks, helicopters or Battleships on display. but that's okay as well. Why? Because Estonia is in NATO and nothing else matters. After countless centuries of being invaded by just about everybody, this country is now finally secure from foreign intervention...yes Russia that's right. We're talking about you. Now if only we could get a few of those tanks for the next NATO day.

Book Review No. 13

Back on familiar ground with this one, or perhaps I should say back on water, as review number 13 takes us to 1940 when German U-Boats struck terror into the Allied conveys and threatened to starve Britain into surrender. "Hirschfeld, The Secret Diary of a U-Boat" comes from the diaries of a telegraphists onboard one of Admiral Donitz submarines.
Click on the BOOK REVIEW link on the left hand side and read on.

Hirschfeld - The Secret Diary of a U-Boat

I've read numerous books about World War II, but this is only the second one that recounts an individual's exploits and oddly enough both books were by Germans. Wolfgang Hirschfeld was a telegraphist on board two German U-boats from 1940 to the end of World War two. With the exception of a visit to Hamburg during a bombing raid Hirschfeld focuses entirely on his time at sea, fighting in the Battle of the Atlantic to attacks of the American east coast, before their final mission of delivering secret military technology to the Japanese.

Although the "U-Boat menace" was undoubtedly a great threat to Britain in 1940 and 1941 as Hitler's Germany set out to slaughter England's convoys and starve the country into submission, yet from the individual submariners perspective these were still hazardous and frustrating times. The bulk of the U-boat fleet, although deadly and well manned was beset technical difficulties throughout the war, with misfiring torpedoes and ruptured oil tanks, but sixty years ago none of this was known to the Allied powers. Until the battle of Stalingrad in July 1942 , this was the key battleground of WWII.

One of the things that comes across most strikingly from this book is Hirschfeld's frustration and disappointment with the weapons he and his colleagues were meant to deliver this victory with. He repeatedly wonders how his commanders can demand such a victory, when their U-boats were at first an even match for the British navy, but as the war progresses and anti-submarine technology and an influx U.S. warships joined the battle, he realises that it is a forlorn hope, unless Hitlers "Wonder Weapons" turn up.

Reading this book, you live through the fear of being depth charged by Destroyers or caught on the surface while refueling by Coastal Command aircraft, knowing that a single careless mistake by a colleague can send you crashing to the seabed or uncontrollably surfacing in full view of the enemy.

7 out of 10

Book Review No.12

Touch Wood (Tales from Porn Industry)
Not knowing much about the porn industry, or at least no more (or less) than any other bloke knows about the porn industry, this was definitely something new for me. Touch Wood (Tales from Porn Industry) was a welcome change of pace from military history and things going bang.

Click on BOOK REVIEWS on the left hand side to learn a little bit more.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Not really a book review

Since I started blogging I've read and reviewed about a dozen or so books and when I went back to Dublin in March, I picked another twenty eight books to carry on this almost worthy tradition.
Some of this number have been quite excellent, while others have been quite ordinary, but to varying degrees they have all been readable. However the same can NOT be said for "Vatican Bloodbath".

When I saw this book and its companion "Whips and Furs, my life by Jesus Christ", I thought oh yes, this is gonna be hystercial. The Vatican and the British Royal family fighting it out in a drug war.


After ten pages and five aborted attempts I finally gave up on trying to read this, this...err.. book. It's as if it was written by a ten year old boy who thinks that poor grammar, spelling and total lack of ... Arrhhhhh......... I am at a loss to describe how disappointed and angry I am with this book, I really wanted to like this one but swearing every fifth word made this impossible to read.
Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with swearing and if I may be so bold, I am rather skilled in the field of profanity. But like a knight in the Middle Ages, I only draw my weapon at times of danger and not shortly after tea time.

Is it possible that I am just too old to enjoy this book?
Nah...its just Mother F**king Crap.

Is this really a sport

Last Wednesday and the Monday before that, I passed an hour or two in Tallinn's favourite (and only) Irish bar, throwing darts against a wall. Off course the darts should have been landing in the dart board, but to be brutally honest I am quite dreadful at darts, or perhaps I should say, Brutal.

Anyway I enrolled in a darts tournament

China Day

On Saturday Una and I celebrated "China Day". As far as I'm aware there actually isn't anything called "China Day", but as it was the weekend and a weekend when I wasn't working I might add, we decided to make something out of it.
The day got underway by watching Chinese cartoons, commercials and pop videos.

After that we settled down for a lunch of noodles and spring rolls with soy sauce. As we didn't have a table with six centimetre high legs, we took out a desk drawer, spun it upside down and hey-presto, we had a Chinese style table.

Having spent three or four exhausting minutes searching on the internet we both adopted Chinese names for the day. I become Chuang and Una was Li-Ming.
As we headed out the cinema that evening the smell of Chinese candles were still filling the room and the chop sticks that I had flung to one side lay on the ground after I had thrown them away in frustration during our dinner of sweet and Sour chicken before resorting to a fork.

Arriving at the cinema I ran into a couple of the Chinese dragons. For those of you who aren't that familiar with my blog, the Chinese dragons was the name of a football team that I use to play for, but that's another story.
The films itself was set in Japanese occupied China during World War II, where the Japs had invited a group of people together, believing one of them to be a spy. Now, there was every chance that this film was going to contain scenes that weren't suitable for children, such as torture, which off course there was. However this being a free movie some people had brought their kids with them.
Oh Boy!
Now that was a mistake.
The film was entertaining and somewhat confusing, but that's what China day is all about.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Museum of Occupations

There is a museum in Talliinn which is unlike any other museum I have visited. In comparison to the Le musée de l'Armée in Paris or the Imperial War Museum in London, this may seem a like a minor affair, being no larger than three or four houses. But what makes this place so unique and worth visiting is that unlike its grander colleagues whose walls relate stories of military aggression or at the very least an equal struggle of arms and men, this building tells the story of an oppressed people, of a nation that has known little of personal or political freedom in the twentieth century having been occupied and terrorized by the Tzar, the Nazi's and then Stalin's Red army. The displays are somewhat limited as the financing for this enterprise presumably isn't available to do this story justice. But the displays of the German WWII uniforms, newspapers that tell the story of Estonia's liberation by Hitler's forces and hopes of freedom that were quickly crushed as one tyrant simply replaced another. When World War II ended, it wasn't just Germany that had lost but also the peoples of three Baltic countries, Czechoslovakia, Romania and all the other countries that fell on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain. Estonia has only been free since 1991 and to a large degree still lives under the shadow of Russia. For those of you that get to the Museum of Occupations, try visiting Kilmaniham jail and remember how another small country was oppressed by its more powerful neighbour.

Monday, March 22, 2010

St. Paddy's Day at the Embassy

Wednesday was my first Saint Patrick's day out of Ireland since I moved to Ireland, which was way way back before the Celtic tiger, in fact it was so far back I'm not sure if Ireland was even Celtic at the time.
But I digress.
Even though Saint Patrick's day in Tallinn didn't have parading bands, screaming cheerleaders and floats designed by stoned art students from Trinity, we still celebrated in the time honoured Irish way.
Yep, drinking vast quantities of alcohol.

However this was not your typical session, for alongside Una, I and the other forty one members of the Irish community in Tallinn were invited to the Irish Ambassadors residence. There salmon, cheese, soda bread and other foodstuff flown in from Ireland two days earlier alongside nine types of Irish whiskeys and off course the black stuff.
After a couple of hours we left and went to Molly Malone's bar to watch some impromptu Irish dancing and an Estonian band singing "The Fields of Athenry", "Whiskey in the jar" and other tunes at a tempo that would have made Phil Lynott's head spin. Oh yes and there was some crazy looking banshee playing the fiddle and wow, could she play.

Just When I thought it was over.....

Saturday morning started out like any typical work day as I carefully made my way through the snow and around the ice, when I spotted something I hadn’t seen in Estonia since November.
Yes I know that this may sound like an odd thing to be talking about, but it was a big deal at the time. It was that yellowish colour your face turns after an excessive night on the beer, but at least it was there. For the last week or so temperatures have risen slightly, up to minus two, or zero degrees. Large icicles were slowly melting, cars that have literally been buried in snow for endless weeks started to re-emerge as if from hibernation and then finally, there it was, grass, winter was OVER.

The snow had receded just enough to expose this first sign of spring and more importantly the end of the longest winter in history, at least in the history of James Lynch. Folks it’s been snowing here almost non stop since November, in fact when I was in Ireland last month I found myself stopping and stare at the old green green grass of home as if it was some forgotten memory, which off course it was.

Yet just when I thought winter was finally over, the snows returned and the grass was once again lost. Last year I positively loved the stuff, I couldn’t get enough of it. I was the kid in the proverbial sweet shop and the snow...., well you get the idea.
But now, that thing of joy has become a mere white wet sandy substance that I have to trudge through and hope that it’s not hiding a patch of ice just waiting to send me flying on my arse.
And now its Monday evening, the snow and ice that Una and I worked so hard to clear away from the front of ice back and its everywhere once again. The only thing that’s keeping me sane is the hope that a really bad winter means that we’ll have a hot hot summer.
I’ll let you know in June.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Book Review No.12

War of Ware by Robert Harvey

The year is 1792, the world is controlled by Europe especially those crazy Revolutionary Frenchies. Click on the “Book Review“ on the right hand side and read my review that is only slightly shorter than the 1000 pages this book covers.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Book Review No.11

A week ago I remembered how to write, now I've overcome my inability to read and have finally finished another book.

Actually I finished this particular book at Christmas but was too lazy to write about and now that I'm halfway through another it seemed best that I I should say something about “Armageddon” by Max Hastings.

So click on the Book Review link on the right hand side and find out what I've been keeping from you.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Frozen Waterfalls

Sometimes I almost forget that I live in a foreign country. After all I play football, work and go out primarily with people from Ireland in England and rarely hear a word that isn't in English. But then there are days when something happens that completely blows away this impression

Sunday was one of those days, which was a when I saw frozen waterfall. Yes completely frozen, not one with some snow and frost around the edges but a twenty foot drop of solid ice. As well standing on the frozen river you could stand or slip as in my case behind the waterfall itself.
Apparently this happens every year, but what is unusual about this winter is its severity.

This morning the temperature was minus 20, not minus 2, but twenty.

We're talking about Napoleon's retreat from Moscow weather. If you take your padded glove off for a minute of less it starts to burn with cold.

Yet as enter my second year and winter over here I have become a bit more accustomed to the sight of snow for weeks on end. And although temperatures of - 20 takes some getting used to, it isn't quite as horrific as it sounds. Fortunately there isn't the wind that you get back in Ireland so the wind chill factor isn't' as bad it could be.

Bloody hell, now that really would be something.

I've been told that about sixty miles inland the temperature is actually at minus 31.

The scenery on the way to the waterfall, was of vast areas of forest and coastline covered completely in snow and ice. I don't wish to sound like a cliche, but you really have to see this stuff to believe and appreciate it.

Until next time....

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Year New Blogging

Happy New year and belated greeting to one and all.

Finally after a month and a half I have eventually gotten around to writing a new blog. My absence wasn't due not having done anything over the last six weeks, but rather now that I am back in the working world when I come home all I want to do is vegetate. But no more, my somewhat delayed new year's resolution will be to dispatch at least one blog a week.

Last weekend was rather eventful in fact I may even be able to stretch it out for two blogs, saving me from tiring myself out and ease back into the blogging universe rather gently.

On Saturday morning I wrapped up in two pairs of socks, two pairs of trousers and countless other items of clothes just to get the local indoor football pitch, where I took most of them off again ten minutes later.

My grand plan for setting up a football team that will take part in the Estonian third of forth division has come to a stuttering halt. Due to administrative, financial and personnel reasons the dream has come to an end as some of the players head back to their home countries. But do not despair my athletic god like appearance will not fade away just like the team as we still have enough to have our Saturday kick about.

Football on a Saturday morning has definitely become something to look forward and a constant source of creating stories. I know that it has been snowing in Ireland lately and its not that Size matters, but we've had 65cm of the stuff. In fact just before Christmas the heating failed in the arena and when we hit the ball on the roof of the arena, ice had been forming on the inside and now fell like snow.

Now that's cold.

As with each and every Saturday we all walked away with a few bumps and bruises, but the important thing, is that we were still able to walk away. As in Ireland the economy here is still in a bad way and that is one of the causes for some of foreign legion of footballers leaving Estonia and heading back to the homeland in pursuit of work.

A couple of hours after the football and being convinced that I still had the stamina of a twenty year old, Una and I went trampolining.

Did I mention previously that Tiiu changed her name to Una? Well just in case I hadn't, she has, you know, just in case you were wondering.

Annnnnnnnnnnnyway we went to a leisure centre for a few hours where trampineing was the main attraction, where you could just jump from one trampoline to another and if you were able to avoid the countless children that just seem to pop up you could bounce along for 20 or 30 meters. If you haven't tried it before, its well worth it although in the end it almost seemed like exercise as the sweat was pouring of me. Although I lept about with all the graze of a drunken gorilla, Una was able to perform one trick after another.

In between the bouncing we tried our hand at sumo wrestling.

As you can see I have put on a little weight since we last spoke.

When all the games were over it was time to put back on those countless items of clothes and went to Una's friends apartment for some cards and cake. As you may have come to expect by now this wasn't just any old cake, for we made it ourselves. Off course when I say we, I mean Una, but I did get to eat it. so I was a little involved. The secret ingredient in this cake was a plentiful sprinkling of "Vana Tallinn", which is the local liqueur.

Many hours later we trudged back through the snow, knowing that in the earlyish hours of the next morning we would be going on a trip to see a frozen waterfall. But that, as I said at the start of this blog, is for another day.