Monday, February 6, 2012
Just been for a morning 'stroll' with the temperature a bitterly cold minus 24. When it is this cold you don't feel much like doing anything. I got hit with a heating and electricity bill of 190 lats (270 euro) on Saturday for January. That is 270 euro for a 45 square metre flat. And you know what? Despite having the heating on at full whack I still went to bed last night with three duvets on the bed and wore a jumper, pyjama bottoms, a hat and two pairs of socks. And I still felt like I was getting up inside a refrigerator this morning at 8am. I've even got thick ice on the insides of my window sills.
According to the LETA news agency the state fire and rescue service had to deal with a record number of house fires yesterday in Riga; local Latvians trying desperately hard to keep warm on a night when temperatures dipped as low as minus 30 in some parts of the country.
Five people froze to death in neighbouring Lithuania over the weekend while the death toll across eastern Europe now tops 300.
During my fast-paced walk this morning I was reflecting on the fact that back in November I was sleeping half-naked under the stars in Samoa, next to the sea. It was 28 degrees at night there, a full 60 degrees Celsius warmer than it was here last night. Just makes you remember how great the extremes are on this planet. It also makes me realise just how much I miss the Pacific.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Camper Van Nick might be joining our gang for the 2012 Euros. Nick who, you might remember, drove myself, Columbian Rich, Geordie Robin and Swiss Fabio around South Africa in his camper van in 2010, is seriously considering a trip out to Ukraine. He was in Riga last weekend escaping the delights of Bolton for a few days. It is fair to say he ended his first trip to Latvia looking like a broken man after three nights of partying. Apparently, he was so hammered on the bus back to the airport that he got off two kilometres before the terminal and had to walk to Riga International Airport through a field.
Last night I also met a good friend called Christophe who used to live in Riga but now resides in London. Christophe is planning to sail from Stockholm to Africa in late spring. If he does I will certainly link this website to his for anybody who wants to follow what should be an epic adventure.
Minus 10 in Riga now. Website traffic going very well with nearly 600 unique visitors yesterday. Continuing to optimize More Than a Game ahead of this summer's Euros.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Just 20 weeks to go until the start of Euro 2012 and I've finally got my Euro blog up and running. Kept doing the usual thing that I guess a lot of us do in early January and putting it off. Have felt a bit lazy post-New Year, especially planning for an event in mid-summer when it is mid-winter here in Latvia.
Have been trying to apply for UEFA accreditation for the tournament but my FAME password hasn't been working and, thus far, my emails to UEFA in Zurich, asking them to rectify the situation, have gone unanswered. The deadline is Friday so it seems like time is against me.
I have until mid-February to apply for England-only tickets through the English FA. Have been trying to wait until I know what the score is with UEFA.
At the moment it looks like I will be going to Ukraine with a group of friends from Norway, Estonia and the United States. My English mates are non-committal. I think a lot of them are starting to feel the pain of the UK's rather dire economic realities. Some others like Geordie Robin have grown a little tired of some of the more corporate aspects of these tournaments. Let's see how they feel later in the year when the press start hyping the Euros.
I am a big fan of Ukraine but not so Poland and, therefore, I think I will be happy to spend most of the championships in Ukraine. All of England's group games are in Ukraine as well as two quarter finals, a semi and the final in Kiev. I'd also rather hang out in places such as Lviv, Kyiv, Odessa and Yalta regardless of whether matches are being played there or not.
But what to do about the spelling of the Ukraine's two main cities? Kiev or Kyiv? Lviv or Lvov? I guess I will just use all four variations for now.