2012 – The Year of the Smile

First of all I would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year.   In the past I had a tendency to delay the beginning of the year to February.  Main reason being is that my birthday falls in January and I used to find it difficult making resolutions and thinking about fresh starts…when all I was really wanting was to continue the celebrations.  Perhaps, coming to an age where one begins to forget how old one is, you begin to opt for more subdued birthdays.  This year, I am looking forward to sharing my first birthday with Henry, my new boy!   He gave me the best Christmas present I could have hoped for – a smile!!!

 

Therefore, I suppose I am conforming and yes have decided to make a few resolutions both on a personal and professional front.  Yep, there are the standard eat more healthily, exercise daily, watch less TV, read more blah blah but what excites me most about 2012 is a concerted effort to smile more.

 

Some year sago, a department store in New York City, in recognition of the pressures of its sales clerks were under during the Christmas rush, presented the following homely philosophy.

 

The Value of a smile at Christmas

 

It costs nothing, but creates much.

It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give.

It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.

None are so rich they can get along without it, and none so poor but are richer for its benefits.

It creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in a business, and is the countersign of friends.

It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and Nature’s best antidote for trouble.

Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anybody till it is given away.

And if in the last-minute rush of Christmas buying some of our salespeople should be too tired to give you a smile, may we ask you to leave one of yours?

For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give!

 

Lets not save up all our smiles for the festive period….no matter how austere, or troubled the world may become in 2012 it is so important that we keep smiling! 😉

 

Winter Warmers

We all know how chilly it can get during the winter in Eastern Europe; anyone who has visited these parts also knows how the locals like to tell tales and stories over strong liquor. We count down the top 5 winter warmers to try this year.


Riga Black Balzam – As thick as tar and 45%abv this drink is a cross between Jagermeister and cough medicine, which is handy as the local Latvians swear by this drink as a cure for the common cold…if you have enough we are sure it could cure most ailments.

 

 


Unicums – Brewed from over 40 herbs (apparently) this liquor from Hungary is sure to warm the cockles of your heart, even if the image of a drowning man on the label is a bit odd.

 

 

 


Zubrowka – This list would not be complete without a good old traditional Polish wódka and where better to start than the Bison Grass wódka. A single blade of Bison grass is placed in every bottle and although this has been copied many times over there is only one original Zubrowka.

 

 


Vana – This Estonian liquor is available in varying levels of potency, from 16%abv up to 50%abv. Of course when in Tallinn there is only option and that the 50%abv, not as old as others on the list it is perhaps a bit more palatable with a sweeter taste.

 

 


Rakija – A favourite amongst the Balkans this liquor made from distilled fruit, Serbian Rakija is renowned as the best around, due to the excellent fruit farming in this area…again the not so legal form of Rakija can pack a punch at 60%abv

 

How to deal with illegal parking in the Baltics

Cycle count lanes in the Baltics are slowly popping up everywhere, however this seemingly new development is catching out drivers in the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. People here are used to some pretty chaotic driving and the prospect of now looking out for an increasing number of cyclists will no doubt cause a few more headaches. We all know that stopping to fix a slipped chain in a cycle lane is deemed offensive let alone parking your car in one.

In Vilnius, Lithuania that is precisely what happened. The Mayor of Vilnius and keen cyclist Arturas Zuokas took matters into his own hands when he came across an illegally parked car;

Mayor Arturas Zuokas in an armoured vehicle which is crushing a car in central Vilnius

Ok, so its all for a bit of publicity but also a serious warning to drivers who park in lanes reserved for cyclists. As the Baltics look at ways of preserving and showing their historic cities, without clogging up the streets with endless tourist buses its becoming clear that the use of bikes and other “green” transport such as Segways are becoming more and more popular…sorry car people this mean one thing, more cycle lanes and as a result less street parking, it might be time to buy yourself a little push bike for that short trip to work, if only for the summer months. You can reads the full story from BBC News here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14380367