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 http://odds.bestbetting.com/hurling/ireland/ 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) http://www.eata.ee/en/2010/04/nato-day.html 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.
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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.

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