There are only two seasons in Latvia, or so the old joke goes: winter then repair. As with many examples of the local humour, the barb is aimed at the Soviets, who were much better at putting things up than they ever were at keeping them in good working order. It explains the number of roads being dug up or cordoned off, forcing me to pick my way across at least two sand pits on the way to work. "It gets worse in summer," my friend laughed. "They blast water through the pipes to test for leaks - and they usually find plenty."