Friday, September 29, 2006
My Last Weekend in Nicosia?
I thought it would be, but I don't know........... Leo says the client knows all about my leaving, but Rosetta told me that they have not been told that last Friday is my last day, and that in any case, they are extremely unhappy about my going.

I don't know what I feel, it's very difficult for me, because I like Nicosia in some ways, although it is quite a boring town and the winter is coming up - Paris is much more interesting in the winter - and I don't want to be stuck in a rented flat here for the winter. I like it if I can stay in a hotel, but they won't let me do that long term. The project is interesting, but so is the one in Paris, although it is chaotic and disorganised, and I have no control over even my "own" thread. Also in Paris there is the daily commuting, as opposed to the five minute walk.

I just wish someone would sort this out, and I could stop feeling like a baby whose parents can't agree on custody.

Last night I started on the Great North American Afghan, I have knit nearly half a square! The book tells you which are the five easiest squares and which are the five hardest, so I have started with one of the easiest, which just has twisted stitches to form a diamond pattern. The yarn I am using is from Bouton D'Or called Centurion........... I chose some nice pinks to go with the ecru, so it will be fairly much as specified in the book.

I think this will be the work of many months though!

Have just been upstairs to see the users, we have been talking about Lefkaritika, it has gained me a lot of acceptance here to do this... must try and get some more done this weekend, so.

Other plans for the weekend - shopping, swimming, lounging around..
posted by Ally at 11:16 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Nicosia Again!
I managed to recuperate my 10 year carte de sejour on Monday, it says I am allowed to stay in France until 2016.... I hope I will be a French citizen by then, of course.

It didn't take long to get the card, I was out of there relatively quickly and went off to the bank to do some business with automatic payments, then went to buy magazines and newspapers, and had lunch at Hippo, where I ate Assiette Exotique , this being one of my favourite dishes. Then off to the facial, which did take place this time, I am happy to say, and it was also very good, I enjoyed it and my skin feels very good since then. Also the girl asked me how old I was, and then most gratifyingly nearly feel over and said I had fewer wrinkles than any other 50 year old she had ever seen. This is genetic, I think, as Mummy does not have many wrinkles for a 78 year old.

Yesterday I spent the morning packing, then went to the airport at midday and sat in the lounge until my flight. I got on first for some reason and had to watch everyone else trooping past with their mountains of handluggage, as this was an A320 and they had to come in through business class. Actually some of them had so much that I started to get a bit worried about the weight of the plane, and there was one guy who had a very sinister looking case, it was like one for an electric drill, but I guess he couldn't possibly be allowed to take one of those on a plane.

I arrived in Nicosia quite late, about 9:30pm, and found that they hadn't got a reservation for me, but fortunately Andre, the desk clerk, came to my rescue and gave me a nice executive room overlooking the pool. It is twice the size of the one I had last time, and bigger than my apartment at home, which is actually not uncommon for hotel rooms, given the size of the average Parisian apartment. This weekend I'm not going to do any sightseeing, just a bit of shopping, lounging by the pool and stitching and knitting.

With me I brought Lefkaritika (I did some of L2 on the plane), also QOTN, Partita and Pretty in Pink. Must update my template to say what my WIPs are now! Also I brought some of the Great North American Afghan yarn, if I can get a square done, that would be great.

Must go and do some work, I am being David as well as me, it is pretty hard...... Alec is quite un-Zen, I think he has been overworking.

posted by Ally at 4:55 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Sunday in the Office
Does this ring a bell? Have I spent Sunday in the office before? Yes, yes, yes, I know.... I am not getting paid extra for this and it won't do my health any good. But I do have to get my configuration notes up to scratch before I go back to Cyprus, so that they will be of some help to Derek and Casey while I am away. Gil is making me feel like a complete heel for going, and I know when I leave Cyprus in two weeks time, Leo will do the same.

The extremely stupid lawyer called me, in his arrogant voice, on Friday to say that the Cypriot authorities had issued me with an entry permit, and that I would have to go to the ministry once I was in Cyprus to get my eventual work permit. You never told me that, I said, I have been asking for a work permit all along, why didn't you tell me it was only an entry permit that I would get. He didn't really have a good answer. I imagine he is quite cross that, after 16 months of his bumbling around and trying to delay the process, he will lose the company I work for as a client. He must have been making a lot of money out of this, and I really do believe that he has purposely been dragging the process out.

I have a fax of the entry permit, he tells me that the original is not needed at immigration, and I really hope he is correct, otherwise he is going to be in a lot of trouble.

Yesterday I didn't seem to be as tired as usual on a Saturday, even though I was at work until 7pm on Friday and did not go to sleep until after midnight. I had a 10:30am appointment for a facial, but ended up not having it, as the girl did not turn up to open the salon, and the other girl, who was there, but did not have the key, had to call the proprietor to open up. They didn't know when she would turn up - apparently it was a "little problem of transport", but she is always late on Saturdays - so I rebooked for Monday. Which I can do this week, as I am not going to work, I am going to the Prefecture, the bank, the drycleaners, and now the beauty salon. On Tuesday I have to pack and to fly.

After the abortive facial appointment, I went to Brentanos and bought about six Earlene Fowler books (these are the ones I always thought I would not like, but in fact I do like them), also a very difficult Sudoku X book They were having a knitting cafe in the craft section, what a racket and it's a bit cramped as well, so I was climbimg around the knitters trying to look for embroidery books.

Then it was on to "Des Fils et Une Aiguille", where I bought - "Canadian Journey" from GPA, "Lavender Rose Sewing Case" from Fancy Work, "a "This Too Shall Pass" scissors keep kit (I was rapt, as they are sold out at Elegant Stitch), a French leaflet for a redwork sewing pochette, some linen for Lavender Rose and some linen for the Colchiques, also 50 cm of braid for finishing my AMAP Quaker pochette. The nice lady who runs the place gave me two Prairie Schooler cards with charts for Christmas ornaments.

I had lunch at Hippo, then bought the newspapers and came home, and read and dozed until the new neighbours in the entre-sol (this is the wing of the building that is out the back and has a door between the ground and first floors) put on their television very loudly with all the windows open. They do this fairly often, and also talk loudly at night with all the windows open. I think they are American and do not realise how sound reverberates in the courtyard, but anyway they must have had a few complaints already from neighbours - I heard one French guy shouting at them in English one night to keep it down! I guess they will get the message soon.

I've started Partita from Drawn Thread, just as a little break from QOTN, I've tried to add some pictures, but Blogger will not let me!!!
posted by Ally at 1:13 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Not A Great Week
First I found that my workshop on Rates was rescheduled from Wednesday to Tuesday, so it was a panic to get the slides ready for that. It's not a subject on which I am expert in any case, although I do seem to be learning a lot about it quite rapidly.

Then, five minutes before the start of my presentation, my laptop screen went totally bizarre, just the screen, everything else is fine. So I did the presentation looking at the projector, not my screen, and I am now working with an external monitor borrowed from the client. There is an old laptop on its way from London for me, and my one is going to IBM hospital.

Fortunately the presentation itself actually went extremely well, and several people congratulated me afterwards on my command of French. I did feel quite comfortable during it, and I was discussing things quite naturally with the two people from the client who were there. Gil was there as well, leaping to the whiteboard from time to time and clarifying things as necessary.

Today I have been out to the office to get a replacement computer, an old T30 that doesn't seem to want to work on the network here.... I have a network cable plugged into a wireless router and am getting to stuff that way. Also it's incredibly slow after the T43.

However I also collected an airticket to Cyprus, and a parcel containing the latest SANQ, Indigo Rose's "Pretty in Pink" and a Traditional Stitches Stash Enhancement package, so the journey was worth it.

Still no photos, but I have finished the QOTN outside, hope to start on the inside over the weekend.
posted by Ally at 7:43 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Nearly Finished
The QOTN outside.......... I've only got to finish those roses and sew the beads on, but I didn't do it yesterday, as I spent most of the day shopping.

Everything takes a long time in Paris, you can't just pop out and do shopping quickly. I had to go to the epilation, my eyebrows were starting to look a bit scary, and they are supposed to open at 10:00 am, but it was 10:15 before she rolled up, so that kind of put me behind. Then I went over to Le Rouvray, just for a little look, and then to Le Bon Marche, where I bought wadding for the two pochettes I have to finish. I also looked at their Scandinavian Exhibition, which was not that great, too many very weird clothes from designers I've never heard of - and I know the shops in Copenhagen at least pretty well. Finished up at the Grande Epicerie, where I bought stuff for dinner, a really nice Thai curry paste and some pork and vegetables. It was delicious, so maybe I haven't entirely forgotten how to cook, after not doing it for over a year. It's quite true that I never used the stove in the apartment in Nicosia.

I've been reading a lot over the past couple of days, as I went to Brentano's on Friday night after work and bought all the Elm Creek Quilts novels that they had, four of them. They are very good reading for stressed business architects and very calming.

This week has been extraordinarily stressful, in fact, as the new project seems terribly disorganised to me. We have no proper desks, we have to sit around large tables, with not nearly enough network cables - actually I am tempted just to go out and buy a hub - so if you get in late, there is no connection. Also, we haven't been given security badges yet, so if you get in too early, you can't even get in! I am supposed to have had several meetings that haven't happened because I've got no idea who to have them with and nothing seems to have been arranged.

I did have two meetings, one of my own on estimation that went well (first time I met a client who likes our estimation algorithms actually, normally they argue like mad about how their own is better) and one of Casey's, where I was the cavalry. She went off and I had a phone call ten minutes later to ask me to come and help. The subject was accounting interfaces, and this is difficult, even for fluent French speakers. Which she is not. Anyway I semi-rescued things, and later Gil turned up, which was better, as he is French.

It's actually the first time I've worked on a French-speaking project, and it is fairly tough, but I think I can do it. Derek told me he was fluent in French, but he isn't, and Casey certainly isn't, so I am the most fluent of the non-French people. We have two technical people coming next week, and they are non-French speakers, so Gil is just going to have to translate whatever they write into French - I have volunteered to translate from French to English for them when necessary, but I'm not going the other way!

Better finish, I am in MacDo, and want to go home and do a few million things, like the ironing.
posted by Ally at 2:10 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Culture Shock!
Yes, at working in Paris again, this really is quite hard in some ways. I have so far tested 3 ways of getting to work (metro and two different busses), and the quickest way is the most unpleasant. That is the metro, of course, I hate being underground and I hate the crush.

It's also hot both at work and at home, which I don't like, and I'm having a hard time getting used to doing cooking, housework and ironing again. My American colleague, Jerry, who is in the Middle East, told me that I am a spoiled princess. But I will forgive him, as the Dwarf, no less, has arrived on his project, as a sort of extra project manager, and this is causing some grief to Jerry. He is not happy at all! I have said to him, couldn't he tie the Dwarf to a runaway camel, or something?

I have been incredibly busy, plunged straight into all sorts of things here, a full load of meetings and documentations, and I have been writing powerpoint slides in French, which is fun. They get "improved" by a French guy from our partner, but he says they are quite good.

I have been doing very little embroidery, but I am nearly at the end of QOTN, side 1 - I need to do six roses and four eyelet flowers on the front flap. Which I have actually found quite difficult, I miscounted nearly everywhere and had to redo several things. Last night I put a butterfly in completely the wrong place - fortunately noticed this before I did it's mirror image partner, so it wasn't two wrong butterflies.

I am longing for the weekend, so that I can get some sleep and get organised.
posted by Ally at 6:45 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Horrible Fatigue
Well, I have never been so tired after flying........... I got into the apartment yesterday at 3pm, and by 5pm I was in bed asleep. Woke up about 11pm, then went to sleep again and got up at 8am. Now I am at work, oh yes, because I have to send Leo stuff and prepare for next week, Gil sent me a load of documents and I have to start giving workshops on Tuesday. Lovely. I also see they have given me Rates, why I do not know, as I know nothing about it.

I was lucky yesterday, while I was waiting for my luggage at the airport, the chauffeur with the sign for me came directly up to me, I was very surprised to see her inside the customs area, but she said she can often get in. So she took my bags directly from the carousel, which was great, because I had nearly 50 kilos of luggage.

On the plane I did read the new book by Maggie Alderson, "Cents and Sensibility", I do like her books, although I expect my sister would say they were a waste of time. I also did a little more on QOTN, I am nearly finished the front flap - nearly, nearly. I don't know how much more I will get done today - I have to do a washing, ironing, tidying etc marathon when I get home! No idea what I shall wear to work tomorrow.

My immediate plan is to go and get MacDo, then come back here to do what I have to do for Leo, then go home via WH Smith.... I can't believe the amount I've got to do and the small amount of time I have to do it in!
posted by Ally at 11:48 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Sad Day
Effectively it is my last day working with David, after two years, more or he goes home for the weekend, on Saturday I go home for two weeks, and when I come back he will not be here until about two days before I go away for good. So we are both rather sad, and have been insulting each other outrageously all day.

I still have a lot to do here, they have now told Rosetta and Andy that I will not be here for the next two weeks, and I think they know that when I come back it will not be for ever. So they have given me all their unanswered questions about life, the universe and everything. I can see me working for them in my spare time for the next two weeks.

I was talking to Nicky, he is now sharing a flat with Roddy - they share flats in Belfast - so two of my favourite people together. I hope they get on with each other. Nicky said, if they expect me to do everything on the Paris project, to insist on having help, because he thinks I was overburdened here. Which I was, it was a lot to do, especially for the first time I had a thread. And it sounds as though the Paris project will not be so much a thread, as Ariadne's web for me...

Last night I did finish that pesky band of flowers, so tonight I shall start on the large vase on the front flap. Maybe I will get this outside of QOTN finished soon. There is not so much stitching on the inside, but goodness, there is a lot of finishing.
posted by Ally at 7:32 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Stash Enhancement
This is "Colchiques Dans Les Prés" ("Crocus in the Meadows", I think, in English). There is a famous poem by Guillaume Apollinaire about colchiques.... but these colchiques are from Calendula Creations, and I could not resist ordering them when I saw the photo. I think they should be waiting for me in Paris when I get back on Saturday, it makes up a little for the millionth rearrangement of my life in the past week. Plus the extraordinary frustration that we are experiencing with work at present - we are getting releases that simply don't work, and Leo is running around saying, how can they have tested these, for Gods sake? Fortunately he is not saying this to the people in Singapore, otherwise things would come to a standstill.

Just to add to it all, the accountant wrote to me and said I owed the taxman 4000€ by next Friday. Great, it is a bit more than I expected, but I do have the money. I also wrote to the bank in Australia, to say I wanted to close my account, as that will save me quite a lot of money each year. If I want to do an occasional payment in Australia, it is cheaper to transfer directly from my French account than to write an Australian cheque. The bank charges in Australia are ridiculous.

To compensate for all this horror, apart from ordering les colchiques and some Turkish Red WDW that I need, I am also being slightly prima donna-ish regarding seats on the plane. I've made Lucie in Paris ask the airline to change my seat to one on the other side of the plane, because that's emptier. I did feel a bit mean asking for this, but then I am paying a lot for these flights, and I am entitled to have the seat I want if it is free.

My sister has also delivered me another missive saying that I should do what she does and just leave on time for her Pilates class or whatever, because she has to have a life, or else tell them that they can't change travel arrangements every five minutes, because she has to have a life, etc, etc, etc..... she doesn't get it. I've had the same thing from Lucie, who tells me that she could do my job (subtext - it is unfair that I get paid four times what she does). Great, I say, well maybe you could go to Belfast Sunday lunchtime and come back Friday, and while you are there, look after 200 production problems and redesign their reporting subsystem. Or maybe you could sit in Nicosia for a month at a time. Oh no, I couldn't leave my family for a week! So really these people can't do my job, it's as simple as that, just on practical terms, never mind whether they also know anything about architecture of utility systems.

Last night I did more of that pesky flower band on QOTN, and it is looking quite good, I am sure I can finish it this week. I have tonight and tomorrow night, then Friday I will need to pack. Saturday I can do about an hour to two hours in the plane, depending upon movie, weather, state of terror and whether I read something interesting instead.

So I will just have Saturday evening and Sunday before I start at the new client, I think Sunday will be the big sleep. Have to do something about Paris clothes, get food for the week, etc etc. Gil told me they were in desperate need of me, he sees me as a lead architect type, I think he is trying to flatter me.
posted by Ally at 11:40 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Very Funny
Now they have told me to fly back to Paris on Saturday.............. very funny, this lot are so organised. I guess it has something to do with the fact that Leo is back in the office, to scream at Sylvain with more ease than he can do from assorted walking paths in Umbria.
posted by Ally at 7:44 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
This Week's QOTN Pictures
Here is one of the bluebirds at the corner:
And the verse:

A view of the whole back so far:

Close up of a butterfly:

and a view of the back that shows the colour better:

The aim for this week is to finish that line of flowers beneath the Rhodes Hearts (those are finished last night). I am rather pleased at the way it is turning out, even though progress is of necessity slow.

posted by Ally at 8:54 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, September 04, 2006
I Must Be More Organised!
As I have very carefully taken pictures of my progress on QOTN, then left the lead that attaches the camera to the computer in a drawer in my hotel room - along with my headphones and my Ipod lead as well, all things that I will need today. If it weren't already close to 40 degrees, I would go back and get them, but it's just too hot.

I had a bit of a strange weekend, it is odd being here in Nicosia without Nicky and in a hotel. Nicosia is so quiet at the weekends, especially after the shops close at 2pm on Saturday. On Sunday some of the shops in the Old Town open, but that's it. Even the cafes are not so busy at this time of the year - in winter they are quite lively on Sundays.

I didn't do much, except on Saturday I went to the pharmacy down from the hotel, where the pharmacist listened to my tale of having to stay longer than expected and looked at my French medication, then produced the same thing in Greek. Then I took a taxi to the Hilton, which has a bookshop with the best range of English books in Nicosia (there is an English bookshop here, but it is fairly useless, being one of those places that is very self-consciously "literary" and having a huge stock of second-hand books from the 1950s). I bought three books and a pile of magazines, including the latest "Inspirations".

Actually I used to subscribe to "Inspirations", but gave up, as they kept vanishing in the post, and I was also getting a bit sick of the focus on projects for childrens things. There were a few issues where there was nothing adult at all. Now I get it if I see it and if I like enough of the things in it. This time there was a little booklet of needlework shops, supposedly the most beautiful in the world, although I don't know if I would call the Marche St Pierre beautiful - interesting and lively, yes, but beautiful, no. Also there was a design and a profile of Lizzi Damgaard in Denmark, whom I have met, she is also ex-Skals, but before me.

Apart from reading, I ate, slept and stitched - on QOTN, I finished the verse and everything on the back, except that wretched line of flowers below the Rhodes hearts. I've also done the bluebirds on the front of the case. It's all nicely photographed, and I can't show it!

I also talked to Nicky, he says this whole thing is disorganised, even for our management. I am talking to him quite a lot now, and actually I think David is beginning to get ideas - which is not good, because David is a happily married man who thinks everyone else should be as well, and is not above shameless matchmaking.

Did I mention that Derek has had to go back to Paris in order to be me? Sylvain promised the client there another French-speaking body, and Derek was the only one. This should be very interesting..........
posted by Ally at 9:04 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, September 01, 2006
Another Two Weeks in Cyprus
I should be leaving for the airport at 7:30am tomorrow................ but Mr Resources Director just told me I was staying for an unspecified length of time! He told me to change my ticket for two weeks, and then we would see.

This is slightly annoying, because in some ways I was looking forward to the next project, and now I will be arriving late, and probably get to do something really, really great like interfaces.

Also slightly annoying because it's now after 4pm on Friday, so too late to arrange anything really exciting for the weekend. Oh well, let's look forward to a weekend of progess on QOTN.

Now I had better go back to the hotel to see if they have a room for me after tomorrow...
posted by Ally at 3:08 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments