Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Sylvain has come and gone, he never spends more than a day here, although, because of the airline schedules, it takes the best part of three days to do that. On Monday we all went to the local cafe for my birthday and sat there until very late. At least I got some sleep after that one.

Sylvain and Leo went up to the big boss here yesterday, and came back saying that he had agreed to release me at the end of next week, I hope it is correct and this is not the start of another fight. I don't mind what the actual decision is, the part that is annoying is if I have to rearrange everything ten times because it changes. Cyprus Airways and the hotel get sick of me, but are very nice about it.

Actually tomorrow on the 1st of March, the other three become part of the new big company (I don't, because France doesn't merge until the end of April), and they will have new titles, new email, new everything. And, since Alec doesn't have a work permit either, he is in the same position as I am, he may need to stay home until he gets it. The new company has strict rules about this, no-one is allowed on site until they have the appropriate paperwork.

Last night I did some stitching for the first time since Sunday, I am pressing on with the darning squares, they are far more time-consuming than they look. I would like to finish them this weekend, but I don't know if this is realistic. I really need to get a move on, because I have so much to do now, and when I go back to Paris, I may not have as much time.

I had Casey on MSN yesterday, she was worried about coming here still, but I don't think she needs to worry, her name wasn't mentioned at all. She also tells me that our colleague Jerry, who is a bit strange, is sort of hitting on her. He has a thing about young Chinese girls, goodness knows why he thinks any of them would be interested in him, as he is the same age as me and not very good-looking, also downright weird in some respects. Apparently he emailed her and asked her out to lunch, she's just ignored it, and he hasn't got back to her, she's rather relieved. I told David, and he said, well, if it was anyone else except Jerry, I wouldn't be worried, but he does have this obsession with young Chinese girls! I've just advised her to continue to ignore his emails, I think he will give up if she does that. Of course in France this isn't actually sexual harassment unless he pounces on her - preferably in the office where everyone can see!

Oh really, David is impossible, he's just said, after about half an hour - is she good-looking? Maybe all men are sleazebags?
posted by Ally at 10:11 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, February 26, 2007
Another Year Older
51 today! And I have a new toy, a lion that David gave me, he is cute, with big, sad brown eyes.

I feel tired though, I didn't sleep much last night, after my afternoon sleep yesterday. I guess I will sleep well tonight. And we just had a rather soporific meeting with the client, both David and I were at nodding off stage.

Sylvain has not turned up, so I guess he will be here tonight. I did have an SOS from Casey, she told me that Sylvain asked her if she would come here, if they insist on a replacement for me. She is terrified of the prospect, because of course she's only been working with the system for six months and she's a young designer. I hope they sort out what is happening and do not promise she will be a replacement, rather another person who has other skills and fulfils another role that they will find useful with their eventual go-live. Goodness knows what will happen, tomorrow may bring a clearer picture.

No stitching progress to report.
posted by Ally at 5:00 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Later on Sunday
Well, I slept from 1pm to 6pm! Then woke up, had a shower and went out for something to eat, just got back. Of course very little stitching progress today. And still no idea if Sylvain will be here tonight or tomorrow night. I hope he has booked a room, he is far too tall for my sofa.

A couple of things - Trina, I have quite a few of the Filagree Fancies from Just Nan. I imagine they are discontinued, as I bought them before I moved to France in 2001. You'd be welcome to any of the charts for those I've finished, but I'm not sure at the moment which ones they are, as they are all in Paris and I am in Cyprus. Give me a few weeks and I'll sort them out. They all came in little packets with the chart, fabric, beads and charm, obviously I've used the supplies, but I think you can get equivalents separately.

Anne, yes, I will miss Cyprus, and I really do think this time they will have to let me go. The bosses keep on saying things to me like, why do you have to be so nice to the customers? Er, I say, I thought that was my job! Of course there are a few things I will not miss like the smoking, the appalling driving and the immigration officials, but really I've had a good time here. And I've been incredibly lucky to go to the Lefkaritika classes, which virtually no foreigners can get into. I'll certainly treasure my time at Cyprus Handicrafts and talking with the ladies at Lefkara, and it's not out of the question that I will go back there one day. I'll miss my colleagues, Alec and David especially, as I also worked with them on the project before this one, and neither speaks French, so they won't be coming to France (unless the rest of us get stuck and need the black belt architects to bail us out!). There's a thought! Although I gather I'm now supposed to be a black belt architect, as they call us elderly ones, as well, just by osmosis.

On the plus side, there are some benefits, like being in my own apartment with all my own things and not having the one thread I need in the wrong country. I can also go shopping in a rational fashion, and use my membership to the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay. There is nothing like getting up early on Sunday morning and walking through the deserted streets of Paris to the members entrance of the Louvre and browsing around for a couple of hours before going to the street market or lunch or whatever. And maybe I can even go to some of those openings of exhibitions they keep on inviting me to! And maybe Nicky will come for the weekend, this is something he has mentioned. I wish he spoke French... I actually tried to tell Sylvain I don't speak French well enough to be an architect on a French project, but he just laughed.

Well, I had better go and do something, and try not to go to bed too late, as I may well see Sylvain over the breakfast table...
posted by Ally at 8:57 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
The Very Last Time
That I come back to Cyprus, of course. I know I've said this about six times before, but this time it does seem for real. Of course the client is kicking up a fuss, but things are so behind schedule, and Sylvain arrives tonight or tomorrow night to see the big boss and tell him, among other things, that I am definitively needed in Paris for a new project beginning 12th March.

I did even have a short meeting with my new PD, and he has sent me the project documents, so as far as everyone is concerned, this is happening.

I got back quite late last night, and went to bed pretty much straight away. The journey was tiring, in the check-in queue I had to stand behind a load of economy class people who had some special card or something, then the security queue was massive - and at one point the police got called, I couldn't see why, as the queue was so long, but probably another person who doesn't think the rules about liquids apply to them and gets shirty when their bottle of Evian is confiscated. I mean, I think the rules are stupid as well, no terrorist worth their salt is going to try to construct a bomb from my moisturiser, but we don't have any choice but to obey. Finally we got on the plane, and I spent most of the trip listening to the classical music audio, which takes my mind off other things.

Today I plan to forge ahead with darning squares and catch up on a bit of sleep, nothing more. I now have huge numbers of things to stitch, after my great mail day. I didn't get any more mail while I was in Paris - perhaps La Poste are boycotting my building after my Schwarzenegger remarks - but I think the only thing to come is Queen Sofia, which I know is on its way, probably will arrive Monday and wait a couple of weeks for me. I did go to Des Fils et Une Aiguille on Friday, and buy linen for the LHN Threads kit. I really like that shop, and now I have a carte de fidelite as well!

On Friday I also went to visit La Cour Des Grandes, as I was in the area at the FNAC nearby, but I wonder if that has changed hands, it looks really different, just like a general mercerie, rather than a specialist embroidery store. I'm sure it used to have really nice stitched things in the windows, but now it's just a few balls of wool and some DMC stuff. One of the things about being in Paris more is that I will be able to keep up with which shops are good, I am looking forward to being able to shop at my leisure instead of only once a month.

I'l try to take a photo of Point de Reprises later....
posted by Ally at 9:43 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Lots of Nice Mail
Although I had a terrible journey here to get it... they changed planes, and the replacement one had no business class. So there I was in the middle of the front row, in this teensy little seat, and the hordes milling around behind me. Drinks were in plastic cups, and I gave up trying to eat the meal, as nothing was fresh.

When I got home there were nice things in my mail box, and also a notice to go and collect three parcels from the Post Office. So I now have:

- Toccata 2
- Toccata 3
- Queen of the Needle Sampler
- Threads from LHN
- the new Blackbird Designs book
- Alyssum Scissor Pocket
- Stitchers Chair
- Hillside Samplings heart-shaped box with needlebook kit
- new SANQ
- threads for Drawn Thread alphabet
- Le Marquoir de Justine booklet

The latter actually arrived from FNAC this morning, and was wedged into the letter box in such a way that I could neither move it nor open the box. It took me and my very strong neighbour, Monsieur Duriez, 20 minutes to free it. During this the regular postlady arrived, so I told her that her colleague who delivers the parcels must be "un vrai Schwarzenegger". She looked puzzled and said she couldn't think which one it was today, she would check.

So I have heaps and heaps of stuff to be going on with.... I am also just starting the fourth darning square on my AMAP Point de Reprises, the ones after the first are much easier, being coloured and not just over one thread.
posted by Ally at 2:12 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
One Day Before I Go To Paris
I have found my ticket, I have called my taxi driver, all I need to do is pack my bag and make sure to get up by 6:30 am tomorrow. Well, maybe 6:45, it's so early, but I need to get up, get dressed and have breakfast before the taxi comes at 8:00 am. The plane is 10:25 am from Larnaca, and it would suit me fine if it was empty apart from me! I will be tired because of the getting up early, and not getting out of here until late tonight.

This should be the second to last time I go back to Paris, the next time should be forever, but I don't know. Rosetta is very upset about this, I think she is trying to get my term extended, but I've got to the point where, if they don't want to give me a work permit, I don't want to be here.

I have now finished my first darning square on the Point de Reprises, and I think it probably is the hardest because of the thread being the same colour virtually as the linen and it was forty one rows of just picking up every second thread. The next one is pick up two threads, miss two, a bit easier to see, I think, especially as it is a pale yellow. Leo likes this sampler, he admired it the other day.

Kent, the technical architect, is here today, he just went to a meeting with Leo, and came back in horror, because there were people walking in and talking the whole time, and people taking cellphone calls, and people going out for a cigarette. We are used to this of course. And at any given point, someone will interrupt to ask if we all want coffee, get the orders, phone them through, and then there's another interruption when they are delivered. This is one of the reasons anything here takes three times longer than normal.

I'm looking forward to getting some mail in Paris, my Queen Sofia was in the mail at the weekend, I know, and there should be other things as well, as I got nothing last time.
posted by Ally at 4:53 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, February 19, 2007
Kathare Deftera
Today is the holiday for the start of Lent - the Greek translates literally as "Clean Monday", but they call it "Green Monday". Everyone goes out into the countryside and has a lot of food, since they should be fasting now until Easter.

It is a beautiful day, probably about 22 or 23 degrees and sunny, it would be nice if it were like that all the time, instead of the searing heat that we get here in summer. We just went out and had a fairly long lunch of pasta, as we are doing a huge billing run at present and it is taking a while. Andy is also here, we told him off for not spending the day with his twin boys.

David and I talked at lunch time about what we shall do next, in the way of projects, we are both quite keen to get out of here, as we are both getting depressed through boredom, neither of us have enough to do. He wants to go to Dublin (although not for the same reason as I would like to go there, of course! Nicky, I miss you...) and I have to got to the banlieue of Paris, since I speak French. Sometimes I wish I didn't, but the powers that be seem to consider me the best non-native French speaker, plus the most experienced architect in the French speaking group, apart from my friend Eliane.

I suppose I did get quite good marks in my DELF exams, like in one of them I got 18,75 out of 20, and there was only one of the six where I got less than 17. I have to say this was rather gratifying, as the nasty man in Paris had been wandering around saying that exams in France were much more difficult than in foreign countries and I probably wouldn't pass. I think afterwards he tried to imply that I had been sleeping with the examiner or something ridiculous like that.

The batch is still running, so I am doing other things, like I just put a picture of Toccata 1 under finishes in my sidebar. I should also do this list of blogs that link to me, there are a few kind souls in this category! And I could make some other improvements as well, even though I really don't know any html, as it didn't exist in the days when I was a programmer, so I am just doing what looks good to me, and seeing what effect it has. Sort of learning html by experimentation.

As it's only David and I, plus Andy in his office, I may well do some more of the DMC 822 darning square, as the light here is really very good, we have windows on three sides.... good opportunity before it gets dark. Why can't I stitch throughout the day and be an architect at night?
posted by Ally at 3:45 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Sunday Photos of Point de Reprises
I have not done badly for someone who spent most of yesterday asleep, on the left hand side, I have numbers and the first part of the alphabet that continues onto the middle panel to go:

The eyelet alphabet in the centre is finished:

And can you see a faint darker spot on the top left of the right hand panel? That is the beginning of a darning square, in DMC 822, which shows up not at all in a photograph.
It has been a very quiet weekend, Nicosia as I predicted is completely dead, and the shops were totally empty yesterday. I had something to eat in a cafe about 5pm, and that was empty too. Today I went out to get lunch, and there were very few places open.
Last night there was the remake of "The Parent Trap" on tv, it has Lindsay Lohan, it was good, although of course, as usual, I prefer the original. At least, no violence or spurious history, which are my two pet hates.
David is supposed to call me when he arrives, so we can plan what time to go in tomorrow and work. I won't be able to leave until at least 8pm, as there is a conference call for all the French employees (about the fusion, of course) at 7pm. But that will suit David, we may go and eat afterwards.
Paris on Wednesday, returning here on Saturday, and I am having Thursday and Friday off, for hairdressers and so on. One day in lieu of tomorrow, the public holiday, and one day as RTT. I should also claim another day for Saturday, for weekend travel, but I never do. Don't know how much I will get done in Paris, but I'll try....
posted by Ally at 9:18 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, February 16, 2007
At Last It's Friday
I am happy about this, it doesn't mean I don't want to work or anything, more that I am looking forward to some peace and quiet, and knowing that I will not be harassed by lawyers or whoever for a whole two days.

The lawyer has just told me that I will have to wait for a work permit until a new bank guarantee is sorted out. Which is strange, since the authorities have had one already for nearly two years. I only just stopped myself telling her that I expected "fraud" translated to an elegant Greek polysyllable. Leo has forbidden me to say anything provocative, and I suppose I have to obey.

Last night I went home and I was pretty upset about the day, but I managed to put it aside and do some stitching, I am on the Z of my eyelet alphabet and the last border on the left, before I start the next alphabet of my Point de Reprises. I also got out the linen for my Renato Parolin Italian heart set and measured it and looked at it a bit. I might start it this weekend, I'll see.

I actually would like to try and spend a fair amount of the weekend sleeping, but we will also see how that goes. As it's a holiday weekend, Nicosia will be even deader than usual. On Monday there will be no shops open at all, so this makes two and a half days of no shops as opposed to the usual one and a half days.
posted by Ally at 11:34 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Beyond Horrible Day
It has not been good, first I had entirely stupid email from lawyer saying I had to give my passport to the Immigration Department for an unspecified length of time. I think not, as they have lost everything we sent them already. Then she called my hotel, without telling me, asking for them to fax her confirmation that I am staying there. So of course they are confused about exactly who is this woman who rings them up out of the blue and demands this...

Then I get a call from the tax lawyer in Paris to say she has received my cheque, but I forgot to sign it! Oh my goodness, what stupidity! So she arranged for the company to pay for me, and I give them a cheque next week when I am in Paris. But of course the boss had to authorise it, so now he knows that half my brain is missing.

And then I had to go to a two hour meeting with these clients haggling about who is going to pay for what.......... it was awful, and Leo is really cross, because they reneged on something that was decided last year. He is writing them firm mails at present, and is not in a good mood.

One piece of good news is that my little thread order arrived from Sew and So yesterday, and they were kind enough to include a little gift of a coaster that you can put stitching in. I think it's about my fourth or fifth order from them, so it's very nice of them.

I hope I am calm enough tonight to start stitching, it should be fine if only I can start. I just need to survive tomorrow, then it is two days off. Monday is a holiday, but David and I will work, I will take a day off later in the week in Paris.
posted by Ally at 4:45 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Mid Week Blues
I feel a bit sad today, because really it is looking as though I will leave here.... the client is not happy, Rosetta is opposing it, but it seems they will be offering a replacement in the form of Derek.

Not sure why, when it has been stated that we should reduce staff on this project, they should replace me at all, but I suspect that part of it is that Derek has a European passport. It's all a bit strange. Some weird idea of Sylvain's, I assume, as he said to Leo how fantastic it was for him that I was having problems with my Cyprus work permit. Honestly I really think he is a robot, not a person, he is so full of the milk of human kindness, not.

So I will be sentenced to the suburbs of Paris, I wonder if we will have to go there every day? Or can we work at our office sometimes? Our office is at La Defense, which is also in the suburbs, but it is not hard to get to, it is right next to Paris. Apart from that I haven't been to the suburbs in a long time. I remember, when we first came here and were looking at apartments, the real estate agent took David and me to see brand new places on the outskirts of Nicosia, in entirely new suburbs, and we were wailing "but we can't stay here, we will starve, there are no shops or restaurants". It took a few tries before we managed to convince him that we needed apartments within walking distance of work and the shops!

Alec says to take no notice of Sylvain, but I think that is easier done in Alec's position than mine. Sigh. I have taken out my stitching and put it on the desk beside me, Alec & I are here alone, so it is OK. Leo and David have gone to a meeting in another location. It was rat week for David yesterday, his computer has had to go to hospital, and won't be back for at least a week. He had an awful time with an old replacement laptop, and was really unhappy.

Well, I guess I go on with testing, and do what I can, and then I go home and do some stitching. It would be nice if my new threads from Sew and So arrived today, they might, although the post can be unpredictable here. Sometimes they keep things in the Post Office for a week, on the grounds that a person called by my name can't really exist! On the other hand, a name that translates into English as "Friday Black-Eyes" is quite normal!
posted by Ally at 3:10 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Bad Bad Girl
Who has ordered not only Queen Sofia, but also Thread Gathering from LHN, the 2007 Collectors Heart from HIH and the With Needle & Thread by Blackbird Designs.... so much for restraint! Queen Sofia is from Mani di Donna in Italy, the others from Elegant Stitch. I haven't done anything from LHN before, but I did think this one was very nice indeed.

My only excuse is that I am not having a fun time at present, what with work permit lawyer and the whole question of where am I going, and exactly how soon. Sylvain is really pressing Leo to get me out of here, because there is yet another new French project starting mid-March. But I will need a small holiday before I start a new project, a few days to do some things, especially after the Christmas holiday debacle. I am glad that they don't want me to go back to the other French project, which is dragging on, the client were sweet, but they had this system where no-one had desks, you had to go and look for a spare one every morning (there weren't enough), what a waste of time.

I spoke to our resources director, who is going to get the PD of the new project to call me and discuss timings... he is nice, he is English, but has lived in France for several years. Actually I will quite like working in French, it is relaxing in some ways not to have to speak English all the time. It just takes a few days to get used to it again.

Last night I didn't do any stitching, just a few rows of knitting when I eventually lurched home after pasta and three glasses of wine with I am doubly bad.
posted by Ally at 9:34 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, February 11, 2007
AMAP Point de Reprises Photos
I took these ones yesterday afternoon, but I haven't done much more since then, as I was very tired last night and went to bed before 10pm.

I still have a few letters to do on the eyelet alphabet, but I started the borders on the left-hand side, they take quite a while. I'll be glad when I get on to the letters that form the lower left half, that will be quicker. Next weekend should be a good weekend for stitching, as it is three days, Monday is "Clean Monday" (Kathare Deftera), which is the Carnival weekend before the start of Lent.

Yesterday I went up to the Hilton and bought books, including two by Carol Smith, who is a good thriller writer. I get a taxi there and back, it's the easiest. I also went shopping down Makariou, to Zara Home, where I bought a white jasmine candle, a silk cushion, a crochet lavender sachet and a box made of stiffened filet crochet, good for keeping thread in, I think. Then on to Accessorize, where I bought shoes and an umbrella. I hope they will start to get their spring stock in, I could do with some new scarves and so on.

Today I will go out for something to eat later (I didn't yesterday, just had the fruit and bread I bought on Friday), it is a sunny weekend, much appreciated after the downpour last Saturday. I still feel quite tired and need a walk to energize myself. It was quite traumatic having our old project director in the office on Friday, actually, he is very exhausting to have around, and of course I don't like him, as he was so mean to me. And vile to Nicky as well, which of course makes me angry. I was skyping with Nicky while he was there, and Nicky is saying "if he says anything to you, reply in Greek". But there was also one of the clients in the room who speaks French well, as he studied in France, and this guy was talking to me in French, so that made the old PD really cross, he hates it if people speak French or Greek or whatever in front of him. This never used to stop him having long conversations in Spanish in front of the rest of us though.

I'm trying to think whether I should buy the kit for Queen Sofia's Stitching Bag, from Giulia Punti Antichi - 150 euros! It is very beautiful, but very expensive. I did pre-order a couple of things from Nashville (the stitching chair and the Alyssum scissor pocket), but I didn't pre-order this, I'm still trying to decide. There is also a lovely new Quaker sampler from CHS, and I am on a sampler spree at present, and plan to spend most of the year catching up on samplers I have bought and neglected to start. Decisions, decisions! I do try to spend not too much money these days - I've never been too wonderful at saving, but now I am really trying hard, and days like yesterday when I go out and spend quite a bit a rare.

Mmmm, well off to read a bit more and finish the latest border, then maybe out into the sunshine - forecast was for 17 degrees today, so I will walk past the temperature gauge in Eleftheria Square and see what it really is.
posted by Ally at 10:13 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, February 09, 2007
Visit or Visitation?
We have just had a visit from our erstwhile leader, he had to come and explain something to the client that he had forgotten to leave any instructions about or tell anyone else. Only the clients and I and Christos from our partner were here, the others have all gone home for the weekend. And he's announced that he will need to come back next Friday to do some more on the same thing - after he left, Christos said to me he thought it was time to convert to Judaism. Meaning, of course, that we wouldn't be here on Fridays either.

I actually cannot work out what he is still doing living in Cyprus, or how he can do this (he is also not a European citizen) when those of us who are here legitimately have such problems with work permits. Added to which, when he was working here, he used to complain non-stop about the country, the people, the food etc etc. He once told Nicky that he couldn't see why Cyprus was in the EU, as the people were practically black! Quite incredible to say that to Nicky, who is Cypriot.

Maybe it's just because he is working in the Middle East now, and his girlfriend can't live there with him, so it's close enough for her to be and him to come back every weekend. We had all this girlfriend stuff when Aurelien wanted to take his girlfriend to the Middle East, and HR told him it was illegal for unmarried people to live together there - he wouldn't believe them, and thought they were making it up just to spite him, but it is true. It would also be very difficult for EWL's girlfriend, I think, as she is generally rather scantily clad, she has been showing her stomach every time I have seen her, so I don't think this would go down very well at all.

I will try and go early from here tonight, before it gets dark. I went to the supermarket before and bought bread, water, fruit... I hardly ever buy food to eat at home, but today I just felt like this. I will go on with my sampler tonight and over the weekend, but I do want to go out and do some shopping tomorrow, so I hope it doesn't pour like the last two Saturdays. At least it is warmer than the rest of Europe, we get 16 or so during the day now, and it stays light until after 5pm.
posted by Ally at 2:21 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Awesome Service
I am talking about Sew and So in the UK, I ordered some thread from them yesterday, and I got an email in the afternoon to say that it had been dispatched! Only a spool of perle cotton and three skeins of floss, but even so! This is very good, because it means it should arrive at the hotel early next week.

Last night when I arrived home, "my" cat appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the door while I inserted my keycard. She bounded up the stairs and waited for me to get out of the lift. She came in with me and sat for a while, then let me know she wanted to go out again. These hotel cats are quite something.

I would be very surprised now if I escape from here at the end of February, as it looks as though they will not go live until May. But it seems there may be movement on the work permit issue, as David just came out of Andy's office and said there were letters permitting the three of us who are not EU citizens to work in Cyprus, and he has gone to the Ministry of Labour to collect them right now. It is in the same street where he lives, so he will not get lost (this is a bit of a danger with David). I called Leo, and he is now calling our rude little lawyer to see what the next step is. Apparently there have been a lot of emails this morning between various parties about the whole thing. I hope these letters are the real thing, last time we had letters like this they related to months already gone past, which wasn't very helpful.

I wonder what time I will escape to night, I am longing to go home and do some more of my AMAP marquoir. But it won't be early, I had to go out to the Post Office earlier, and send a cheque for the first instalment of my taxes to France.
posted by Ally at 1:09 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Little Progress
It was so cold last night - I saw on tv that the overnight forecast was 1 degree! I went to bed quite early, about 10pm, because, even with the heater on, the sitting room was cold. Then I heard strange noises outside the door and got up to investigate, and there was some man who was trying to use his key card to get into my apartment, I guess he was drunk and couldn't remember which was his, or something, although he looked quite respectable. I had actually expected that it was probably one of the hotel cats scratching at the door, there is one that has taken a liking to me and knows where I live.

Before I retired at this early hour, I did do a little stitching, but nothing worth photographing. This morning I ordered some red Perle Cotton to do hemstitching around the AMAP Point de Reprises when it is finished. It has to come from the UK, but that will only be about a week, I think, Sew and So is the fastest ONS. I'm hoping some of the other stuff I've ordered gets to Paris before I do next - which should be 21 February.

Leo has been having a war with the lawyer, he wrote her a mail yesterday, after trying about 50 times to call her, and got back this mail today, it seems she really hasn't done anything and is not the slightest bit embarrassed about it. She really expects us to wait indefinitely until the government office decide they want to look at our applications! Even though Leo has pointed out that there has been a nearly two year wait already, and that she told us there would be an appointment on Monday, and Monday came and went without her getting in contact at all. She now says, oh well the ministry wasn't ready to look at the papers, but I can't believe she didn't call to tell us this, and that she is not embarrassed that she didn't call. It goes beyond the cultural differences that we find here, I think she is just rude and inefficient. I guess I write more mails to HR and Resources Director...
posted by Ally at 2:06 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
You see, I am quite bored today.........

1) What's your favourite movie genre?

Drama, I think, but I like some comedies as well. Not keen on action / horror / science fiction / anything noisy.

2) Name ten movies you would recommend to friends?

- Dr Zhivago
- Italiensk for Begyndere
- Festen
- Dansen Med Regitze
- Girl With the Pearl Earring
- Olsen Banden (and its successors)
- How to Make An American Quilt
- Brodeuses
- Four Weddings and A Funeral
- Anglagård

3) Do you ever watch a movie because of the actor in it? If so, who?

Not really, although I quite like Hugh Grant, he's cute.

4) If a movie you're planning on seeing is based on a book, do you read the book? Are you generally disappointed with one or the other?

Generally I have read the book already, for example, if it's a classic or something like "The Devil Wears Prada", that I read when it first came out, long, long before the movie. Usually I prefer the book, although the movies are often fun. I read the book "Da Vinci Code" when it first came out, because I collect books set in Paris, but the whole cult thing surrounding it really turned me off, so I haven't seen the movie.

5) If you've ever watched a movie based on a true story, have you ever then looked to see how closely the movie followed the actual events?

For historical movies, yes, because usually I know something about the period of history. My mother likes history too, so we watched a lot of these when I lived at home.

6) Do you ever watch Indie movies or do you stick with the main stream?

Not sure what an Indie movie is.

7) Do you collect the movies on DVD that you really enjoyed to watch again?

Not really as a collection, but if I see one in FNAC, and the price is right, yes, I will buy it, and sometimes I buy the series at the newagent, for example, Hercule Poirot.

8) What is the last movie that you went to see in a theatre? Did you enjoy it or were you disappointed?

I cannot remember when I last went to the cinema. I tend to watch movies on the plane or at home / hotel, since I travel a lot. One of the things in Cyprus is that, if you see a movie you like on tv, they will probably repeat it the next week and several times thereafter, the programming is very repetitive.
posted by Ally at 11:54 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Back to Normal?
Leo came back yesterday, so things are back to what passes for normal - it seems a lot noisier all of a sudden. He has crutches, and a large canvas shoes, which I have told him is a crime against fashion, so we are being very kind and getting him coffee all the time. Our taxi driver is making a fortune as she has to drive him to and from work. It is only about ten minutes walk in normal circumstances, but there are two roads that it is hard to cross, and worse of course if it is raining. Which it did again all day yesterday. Fortunately there is a restaurant on the ground floor of the building, so he will not starve, and actually it is a South African one, which is quite appropriate for an English South African Israeli, which is what he is. I've been there a couple of times, and the food is good.

I think he is going to ask the client to release me from full-time work on this project, I do not know what they will say. It is true that I have been under-occupied sometimes of late, that is why I could do Toccata 1 in three weeks! I am going to talk to the Resources Director about what I would do instead, I am not sure I really want to spend several weeks in Boulogne Billancourt sorting out everyone else's mess, which is I think what the plan is. I know they have a lot of problems, and Casey is very upset, she keeps on saying she wants to work on an English speaking project and one where everyone else is experienced. I don't think she has a prayer, but I know that the powers that be do want to free up at least one architect from this project, since we have here three of the most "mature and experienced" ones - Sylvain keeps on saying that Cyprus is the retirement home of EMEA.

If you asked me what I would like, it would be to go to Ireland and work on the project with Nicky.... I think David would like to go there as well, but not for the same reasons. He is getting bored here, I guess we all are.

My mother and my sister ask every week how long I will be here, they seem to think this is a hardship posting. I suppose in some ways it is, compared with Paris. I saw that France came top of a survey to find the country with the highest quality of life, I was quite proud of my adopted country for this. The reasons they gave were a stable economy, great infrastructure, great healthcare, low unemployment and reasonable cost of living. All of which I would agree with, but there are some other reasons why I like living there.

Paris is truly a beautiful city, the buildings are mainly old and not above six stories, and there is the river and plenty of open space, especially where I live, at Ecole Militaire. I am within walking distance of everything I need, and, if I wish to go further afield, there is a fantastic transport system that will take me to other parts of the city, to the country or even to other parts of Europe quickly and efficiently. Then there are the cultural amenities, I can get a yearly card for the Louvre for 50 euros and go every day if I wish, and that is only one of a hundred museums in Paris. There is cinema, theatre, ballet, music, and you can spend as much or as little as you want on these things. The rubbish is collected every day and the streets are cleaned and washed every day as well. I could go on and on about the reasons that I love to live in Paris.

Well, I had better go back to the testing, and Leo keeps interrupting me every five seconds to ask my opinion on various things. I want to go home and have a nap, actually, or do some stitching, I am in the middle of this eyelet alphabet still.
posted by Ally at 9:27 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, February 04, 2007
AMAP Point de Reprises
This is the one I started last week........ I have not done very much yet...

This centre part is all alphabet, then the left is half borders and half alphabet, while the right is the darning patches, twelve of them. The colours are interesting, I guess that the original maker used what she had, and of course the original must be faded somewhat now, so a lot of the colours are very muted or pastel. There are two different reds, and I like the effect of this, you can see it quite clearly in the top two photos. It measures about 35 cm square on 28 count.
Today is not raining, so I am thinking of going out for a walk...
posted by Ally at 11:28 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Snow in Cyprus
But not in Nicosia, thank goodness, although it was only 9 degrees today, according to the news. It rained all day, so I hope this has filled some dams, as well as causing floods in Larnaca. There was snow up in the Troodos mountains, which are only an hour or so drive from here (like everything else in Cyprus!).

I waded out this morning and bought newspapers and magazines, getting soaked in the five minute walk to the centre of town. Naturally I was the only pedestrian in sight, everyone else was in massive 4x4s or Jags or Mercs. Came back and have had the tv on most of the day, unusual for me. Sitting in front of it with my AMAP darning sampler (which I will photograph tomorrow when it is lighter). There are four alphabets on this thing, the largest one is in eyelets, which is fun.

As there are now only Greek talk shows on television..... I pinched this from a few other blogs, and have thought of doing it for a while....

Six weird things about me:

1) I don't drive, I've never learned and wouldn't have the faintest idea how to. Actually I don't think this is weird, of course, but other people think it is beyond bizarre. I've even had hostile reactions - one person told me it was like not knowing how to write! However, it's just not me, and I regard it as my duty to give employment to bus, train and taxi drivers.

2) I have Masters degrees in Latin and Ancient Greek. This was fairly uncommon even when I was at university thirty years ago, now it is most unusual indeed. Even more unusual for someone working in a technical field, and I was a fairly successful computer programmer for years before I became a business architect. People used to tell me Classics were a waste of time, but I have noticed they have shut up now that I work somewhere where a knowledge of Greek is extremely handy.

3) I only cook a few times a year. Since I spend a lot of time away from home, I eat mostly in hotels or restaurants when I am away, then, when I get home for a few days, I never have time to cook, so I go to the local restaurants. When I was married, I had to cook every single meal, so this is a reaction, I am sure.

4) If I have clothes or shoes that I like, I will often buy multiples of the same garment. Not always in different colours, either, for example, I have bought three identical pairs of black trousers last year. Most of my summer dresses have "twins", maybe in different colours for these, though.

5) I am an expert in electricity meter-reading systems ("get a life!", says David), but every time I fill in the card that EDF leaves for meter readings when you are not home (which I never am), they call me and tell me I have done it wrong. So all my bills for the past three years have been estimates, I think they owe me a lot of money.

6) I don't really feel comfortable unless I have a large handbag, preferably pink, very near to me. I keep absolutely everything I need in it, medicine, makeup, documents, phone, ipod, stitching, books. I take it to meetings, I wouldn't ever leave it on my desk by itself, and I get a bit edgy if I go somewhere where I only "need" a tiny evening purse for example.

Mmm, I'm sure there's a lot of other weird things about me, this is only a small selection... will not ask any of my colleagues for advice, I can tell you.

Now I think I will go back to the alphabets for a while, maybe I will try to go to bed early. I hope it is not so wet tomorrow, that's for sure.
posted by Ally at 9:30 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, February 02, 2007
Friday and Funny Story
Friday morning, and I am alone in the office - the clients are down the hall in their smoke-filled individual offices, they think we are weird to have one large smoke-free room for all of us! I think it's a status thing here to have an individual office, like having a great big car.

I am trying hard to stay awake, I went out with David for dinner last night, got home at 9pm, started stitching and doing sudoku, then realised it was after midnight, went to bed and couldn't sleep! At all! Really this is terrible, it's because of lawyer problems again. She was supposed to call me and make arrangements to go to the work permit office on Monday. Has she done so? No, no, of course not!

Poor David, he needed dinner bought for him last night, he had a bad experience yesterday. Leo sent him a text message, so David used the reply function on his phone, just to reply "yes", which is one of the automatic choices. Trouble is, it wouldn't stop and the message "yes" got sent to Leo about 500 times! So Leo calls, couldn't get David, rings Alec and there is a long conversation in Hebrew - which I don't understand, but I knew what this one was about. So David tries to call Leo back and can't get through. Whereupon one of the Cypriot boys, who is only about 23 and normally never says a word, says "David, why don't you send him a text?" At which we all collapse with laughter and David starts muttering in a paranoid fashion. I think they had to turn both phones off for quite some time in order to solve the problem. Which must have been torture for Leo, as he is permanently attached to his and calls all the 5000 people he knows intimately each day.

I also need to speak to HR today, the Hologram's replacement (yes, he had enough!), about all these issues with work permit, insurance, tax, fusion etc etc. I found out why there were problems with the election in Paris, too, while I was there - I knew I would get the whole story. It seems that the ones who sit around the office all the time are miffed because the HR person for Europe is no longer located in Paris. Worse still, they think an actual person who is employed in Paris currently should have been given the job, so they are deliberately being uncooperative. They all knew perfectly well that the election was not being organised correctly, and sat back and said nothing until it was nearly over. I told them they were childish and unprofessional, of course that went down a treat. Clearly they all have way too much spare time.

All in all, I will be happy when I can go home, get some sleep and go on with my stitching! That is the sum of my plans for the weekend.
posted by Ally at 9:52 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Mildly Amusing Note A Little Later
I just have to say I saw in one ONS the "Asylum Scissor Pocket" - instead of the "Alyssum Scissor Pocket". Alyssum being a flower, of course, which Asylum certainly isn't. Quite funny really, I can think of a number of projects that have threatened to send me insane, but this one doesn't look that bad...
posted by Ally at 6:36 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Back In Nicosia
I made it back yesterday, in fact the flight was relatively pleasant, although it was the little plane. Cyprus Airways seem to have decided that it is best not to put anyone next to me unless it is completely unavoidable. Of course, I was still a nervous wreck afterwards, because of the strain of going through immigration without a work permit, and I slept terribly last night. I feel just OK now, hopefully I will make it through the day. David and I are going out about 7pm for something to eat before he catches his flight.

While I was home, there was no mail at all, I think La Poste must be on strike, this happens quite often - we had a lot last year, because they were remodelling the local Post Office and the staff didn't like it, but I don't know what the reason is now. So I am still waiting for a lot of nice packages to arrive, although naturally I have more than enough to be going on with anyway!

I did do a little on the plane yesterday, of AMAP Point de Reprises, which I have only just started, and am working on the top alphabet. I plan to do the middle section, then the left, then lastly the darning patches on the right. And I am wondering if I can do it all on this trip to Cyprus, I am here until 21 February. After my success with Toccata 1, it may be possible! But I have to finish my scarf as well, I also did some of that on the flight, and I think a few more days of effort should see that done.

One thing I did manage to do in Paris, apart from going to Des Fils Et Une Aiguille was go to Ulla Popken and buy a few new clothes - I got jeans (moi!), beige cotton trousers, and three long-sleeved T-shirts (mauve, pumpkin, and green/cream), all from the new Spring ranges, for less than 200 euros, so I was pretty happy. Especially to find two pairs of trousers that fitted nicely and were the right length exactly. I am glad we have Ulla Popken in Paris, I used to have to go to Belgium or Germany to find them.

Well, I had better try and catch up on things....
posted by Ally at 10:23 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments