The kindergarten guinea pig gets breakfast and Mikus needs a haircut. We can take photos and post a blog entry from Jem's new phone!

OK - This time I'm (Jeremy) going to blog.... and Ive got great advice for any of you city-slicker tractor driving folk. So heres 5 tips that you should need to know before you hop into the cab.

1. Dont drive too close to the edge of the road after its been raining for days....hint, the road edges are very soft.

2. Always wear your seat belt.

3. Never have loose objects that could fly up and hit you ( ie. axeheads, spanners, diesel cans).

4. Know a local that knows what he's doing, and can pull you out.

5. When you are tipping over yell out " WOAH!!" and hope to hell for a soft landing.

In the last months some of our very good friends (and in one case also a relation) have left Latvia for good - and this marks the end of an era (and new beginnings) for all of us. It's been quite challenging to adjust to the idea of the people who have been with us through so much here for so many years in Latvia, are no longer here. I think in some ways we all have seen living here as a bit of an "extreme sport", so although we are excited for the new lives our friends are starting in other places, it has really rocked our world to say goodbye to two such enduring, stable allies in a space of weeks. So here's a tribute to Māra F., who with her hubby the fabulous Mikey has lived down the road from us for the last 7 years - I already miss our secret coffee meetings , weekly dinners at the pizza shop, collector's market adventures, masterly meat pies, games nights, and general mateship. It was a good seven years!
And of course Jem's inimitable brother Joel, who has been visiting us in Riga and then living here in stints for the past... 5 years? Joel, we all miss you like crazy already - for too many reasons to say. My mum even mentioned the other day that Kugs was looking the best it's ever looked because of you and that she would miss you!!!
Anyhow, this is not meant to be a sad post - best of luck in your new adventures both! We await your visits back to Riga eagerly. I just wanted to share some photos from the last few years....


The Silly Hat Brigade, circa 2003

The perfect godparent - godson in one hand, remote in the other, 2005

Archibaltic Perpetual Award Winner 2006-2007: "The Crazy Clown who Abducted the Cat"

Latvia - land of winter sports and homegrown Xmas trees

and snowball juggling comps

and indoor pools that make your lips turn blue

Jāņi 2006 - a pity Michael Palin got cut off the photo, he was standing on the left

Relaxing with his best mates and eternal admiration society


Ieva's birthday in 2003 (?)

Skatoties Dziesmu svētku gājienu 2003

The best Xmas present - made by Māra and eaten at Kūgures

The first ever Riga Australia Day cricket match, 2003 (I'm wearing that dodgy puffy jacket from Vilnius market - remember Māra, you got a blue one exactly the same!?)

All those kiddie birthday parties! Can't miss those if you're Matiss' godmum... This year it's a circus theme, pity you can't make it!

The Archibaltics 2004-2005, taken at the bar Māra designed

A trip to Tērvete while Mikey was still here, 2005

Easter at Kūgures 2003

So that's it - I have compiled a heap more photos for you both and will try to email them or put them on flickr or something. We love you guys and wish you the best of luck and fun in your new homes! Joel with beautiful Māra P. in Angola - and Māra F. in our other "motherland" - Rīga feels pretty empty without you both!


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