My first ruins are about 60 km west of Riga by the Ventspils highway. Driving off the road up a hill, there’s an abandoned but still impressive two-storey brick manor house. Plenty of those in
Latvia, but this one is special because it has a miniature late Soviet fun park. A battery of four gondola-like swings, a small Ferris wheel, and a carousel encircled by battered but still cute
elephants, complete with a wooden ticket booth with “flying elephants” stenciled on the glass.
I taste sticky fairy floss screaming kids, weary parents and the vivid colours of childhood. Saturday afternoon well spent. Fun parks like this are marginal these days, turning up for a few weeks
in the suburbs then travelling on. Kids get their thrills virtually.
By the highway is a fresh “for sale” ad for the manor, so the ruins’ and the elephants’ days may be numbered.