Friday, March 30, 2007
Very Tiring Week
It was a total loss as far as stitching was concerned, as I predicted. For the next five weeks, stitching will be a weekend activity.

We have had three days of process analysis workshops, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, these involve getting up at 7:00 to get out to St Maurice in time to have coffee and go through my notes and plan for the session. Session starts at 10:00, and we go through until 4:00, 4:30, 5:00, whenever we finish the day's topics. We do have a break for lunch, but we have this in their cantine, with them. Then I can leave about 6:00 or 6:30, and get home between 7:30 and 8:00, depending upon transport and whether I have to buy food on the way. I cook and eat, if I am able to, and I finish off whatever I have to do for the next session, or transcribe my notes, then I fall into bed.

The other two days a week are at our office at La Defense, so we do get a break from the beady eyes of the client, but it's very busy preparing for three days of workshops. We are at La Defense today, and it is pouring cats and dogs, I am really cross, because I would have liked to go over to the shopping centre... I am suffering shopping withdrawal symptoms.

I cannot wait to go home today, but I have to do a vast number of slides for Monday... I think it will be me talking all day, pretty much, as it is my subjects, meters etc...
posted by Ally at 10:21 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, March 26, 2007
It Will Be A Miracle
If I get any stitching at all done this week! I have spent several hours today, talking in Franch or taking notes while others talk. In between I translate for Suzette.

Tomorrow will be like that also, we are at the client site again, and we have a six hour session (with a break for lunch, thank God) on something I know nothing about. Guess who is presenting it? Yes, moi, and I am still reading my notes and preparing slides, so that I can expose my total ignorance in public in French. What a lucky girl I am! Sometimes I struggle to remember why I wanted to be a business architect and tell people how to set up their electricity billing systems.

But this is par for the course at the beginning of a project, each client is different and we have to learn how they operate and how they can use our system. It just makes it slightly harder when it is also in French. In a week or so I will settle down with this.

Now I have to go and finish my slides for tomorrow. I tell you I will be out of there as soon as decently possible tomorrow and into my bed. Wednesday we have a day at our office to write up and to prepare for Thursday at the client. Then also Friday we are back at our office, to prepare for Monday and Tuesday. Roll on, weekend! Roll on, Easter!
posted by Ally at 10:14 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Stash Enhancement In Vernon
Today I had a great afternoon, although the end of it was freezing cold........... I had lunch in a little cafe next to Gare St Lazare, then caught a train to Vernon, 45 minutes from Paris, where there was an exhibition of a local stitchers group in a hall in the centre of town. A ten minute walk from the station took me there.

The ground floor was filled with the creations of these ladies, including some huge samplers (they must have larger walls than I have). In the mezzanine floor, there were some commercial stands, including my teacher, Veronique de Luna, but also Isabelle Vautier, Sophie Delaborde and Jacky from AMAP. I had the opportunity to see their creations in real life, believe me, they are wonderful. Of course I could not resist some new AMAPs, plus Vicky Clayton silks and wooden thread keepers, together with a couple of pink and green creations from Sophie, and Isabelle Vautier's new book of red samplers. She sweetly inscribed this to me, I'm so lucky! These French designers are lovely people, very special, so lovely to talk to as well as being so creative. Jacky told me she likes to work on very fine linen, one over one in half crosses, and it does give a lovely effect, I admired the tiny cushion from the Quaker accessories, so tiny, and it is filled with rice!

The getting cold happened on the way home, I had to wait ages in the station, and there was no heating, I was glad to get into the train, I can tell you. I have turned the heater on here, the weather has not been great this week, but today is really cold and foggy. The clocks go forward overnight and it will be nice to have longer evenings, but I hope it warms up a little. I am just about to have spaghetti bolognaise, as that will be warming.

I'll take photos of my new acquisitions tomorrow, I need to find the camera...
posted by Ally at 9:17 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Looking forward to the weekend
It's not that I don't like work, or anything like that, because most of the time I do - it's not just something I do to earn money, I do it because I like it and believe in it. However, coming back from Cyprus and straight on to another project has been very taxing. I still haven't unpacked everything, and there is still a lot of tidying up to do, and I am doing a full working week, with workshops starting next week.

I noticed this morning that my bathroom floor is really quite dusty and dirty, and it occurred to me that it may not have been cleaned properly since last summer - I probably ran the broom over it a couple times since then, but nothing else. When you are only home one weekend a month, and there's so much to do, something misses out, inevitably. You should see the fridge also!

This week I have managed to do only a little stitching - on the LHN Thread Gathering, it is now "THR" and part of "E", plus half of the middle line of letters. I'm only getting about half an hour in the evening when I can do anything, unfortunately, and I hope this doesn't continue.

The positive part of being in Paris, apart from having normal facilities for everything, like transport, shopping and so on, is that I am by necessity much more active, as I have to walk up four flights of stairs at least once a day, plus walk to the bus and the train and often stand up on them as well. I can feel that I am becoming a little fitter.... it was a problem in Nicosia that I couldn't walk anywhere much because of the danger on the roads, I'd hate to live permanently in a country that was given over to cars and driving. At least in Paris it is normal to walk and safe to do so. Anyone who thinks the traffic is bad here should just take a trip to Cyprus - if they dare!

Well, I had better go and do some work, and try not to dream too much of being at home and stitching! I'm waiting for my leave to be approved, hopefully that will happen soon and I will have that time to look forward to.
posted by Ally at 10:00 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Another Busy Week
Tuesday evening already, and it is another busy week - I have nearly finished my translation, now we need to prepare for the start of workshops next week. Eliane told me today to get up to speed with open item accounting as soon as possible - I haven't done accounting for years, and never open item! But I think that means they want to keep me in France, when the project goes international, so I am happy about that. The international pilot site will be somewhere in the USA, it seems, and with my current problems with flying, this is not what I want to do.

The other good thing is that I have to have quite a lot of vacation this year, as I already have forty days outstanding, plus 2.5 days of RTT (this is what we get for working more than 35 hours a week). So it looks as though I will get all the long weekends in May, plus maybe another two weeks then, and the whole month of August. If I can take two weeks in May, I will go to the UK on the ferry and go to some needlework shops, plus go to the Bronte house in Haworth. I looked up today what was on at Royal Shakespeare Company as well, and unfortunately nothing I am very keen on seeing. I don't think I will go to London, but definitely York, and I'm not sure where else. No idea what I will do in August. This is all courtesy of the Dwarf, who didn't believe in vacations, or French employment law, for that matter.

I have been stitching a little, mostly on Thread Gathering by LHN, and I printed off the Sajou SAL from the Swappons blog, as I am getting a thing about redwork at the moment, and want to do quite a bit of it - I just wish I had more time! At least the long weekends should be good for stitching.
posted by Ally at 10:16 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, March 17, 2007
A New Name
As I said, I have had a little update of the name, as I have definitively returned from Cyprus...

I've been out today, setting out for the LNS which used to be in the rue Cesar Franck near me - and no longer is! So I walked on further and had lunch at Poivrier, which has lovely plates with open sandwiches, I chose scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on Poilane bread, with salad and a tartare of courgettes and tomatoes. Then walked further still to the hairdressers, where I spent two hours and 200 €, so that I now look respectable again. Have been feeling a bit shaggy the past couple of weeks.

Small comment on the price for anyone who has fainted - I do go to an expensive hairdresser, as I have fine, floppy hair and need a good cut. I also had a balayage to even up the colour and a mask to make it shine, so it adds up. I've been going to this one (Maniatis) for about five years, so they know me well and always do a good job. But yes, it's about three times as much as you would pay for the same services at a "neighbourhood" salon.

I also had to walk home, as there were no busses, owing to a demonstration that seemed to be against homosexual parents. It was incredibly noisy, and it is scheduled to finish with an open-air concert next to Invalides, so I hope that doesn't go on too long, as that is within hearing distance. A lot of teenagers holding banners that said "A mother and a father = a child". I guess they are entitled to their views, although I don't share them (in my humble opinion, there is no one successful recipe for a family), and I do think it is a pity to close off main streets on a Saturday afternoon when everyone is out wanting to do things. I at least can walk home, but there are plenty of people who cannot.

Now I am back home and there is a huge pile of clothes on the floor from my wardrobe, my plan for the evening is to sort those out, and to do some stitching. Haven't got the faintest idea what is on TV, probably rubbish as usual on Saturday, but I do have a new Hercule Poirot DVD.
posted by Ally at 6:30 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, March 15, 2007
At Home on Thursday Evening
I have found that I have a wireless network that I can access from home, good news! So I am sitting here in bed with my computer on my knees writing.

It has been a busy week with two days in the Far East, now two days at La Defense. I am translating the system requirements written by the client from French to English, as this will be needed by quite a few people, including Suzette, who has just joined us from our London office and does not speak French. She is very nice and is sitting next to me in both the Far East and La Defense.

Needless to say, very little stitching progress, I shall have to make up for that at the weekend! This is really just a quick post to say I am still alive... I haven't managed to do much blog reading either this week, it has been so busy.
posted by Ally at 9:56 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Somewhere in the East of Paris
This is quite different from what I had imagined – for the suburbs, it is fairly quiet and green, we are right next to a canal of the Marne. The journey is not as long as I had feared, less than an hour if all goes well. I can imagine that, if there is a problem, it could be an hour and a half, but that is not the regular situation. The thing is that the others who come here live in the western suburbs, not in Paris, so it is longer for them. Eliane is driving 40 kilometers each way, which is considered excessive here.

Tuesday was my first day at the client, it was a bit tiring, as I was in a meeting practically all day, in French, and at present I have to concentrate quite a bit to understand everything. Especially as I don’t know much about water (the client’s business), so there is some terminology that is new to me anyway. It will get better in a week or two.

There is a cantine at the client, and it is better than the one at our own offices, on Tuesday I had omelette fines herbes with broccoli puree and haricots. Today salad with avocado and tuna.

On Tuesday I got home at 7:30 pm and then had to call Leo and David, I have been speaking to them every day, just to tie up the few loose ends. Also, I miss David terribly, because really he is my best friend, my “just friends” best friend. And I miss Leo and Alec, I’ve worked with Alec for three years and known him ever since I came to Paris. Most of all, of course, I miss Nicky, but I think he will be over for a few days soon.

So during the week, I don’t think I get much time to stitch, after getting in, tidying up a bit, making dinner - which I am determined to do, for financial reasons, it really is cheaper. Even if I spend 6 euros on two salmon pieces, that is still only 3 euros per meal, as opposed to at least 10 euros, and more likely 15, for salmon in a restaurant. A steak to have at home costs anywhere from 4 euros up, but that’s still cheaper than a restaurant, even if my cooking is not as good. I am trying to eat quite a varied menu, and to have a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, I think the benefits will be seen in my health and energy.

One thing is of course that I am walking around a lot more during the day here, I think I will get a pedometer and see how many steps I do. But naturally one walks more here than in Nicosia, because there is the walk to the transport, and the changes from bus to train, and the coffee machine is down a flight of stairs. Then there is the staircase at home. Also it’s not as dangerous to walk here, the traffic is relatively well-behaved, compared to Nicosia. I’m also carrying a weight i.e. laptop, which is a very heavy IBM T43, everywhere I go, so I guess that must burn some energy as well. Naturally all the PDs have little lightweight laptops – and they are mostly quite strong men – but the official line is that we workers need more powerful ones, for the software we use, and these are necessarily heavier. Hmmm, not sure that holds water technically.

At the weekend I have a fair bit to do, but I’m determined to get quite a bit of stitching done, including finishing AMAP Point de Reprises. I have started the LHN Thread Gathering, and put a few stitches in each night, just a needleful really. I’m also going to sort out the stash, and try and move everything to the same area of my room, a bookcase that is between my bed and the heater. It means the books from there get moved, to the kitchen temporarily, and I am simultaneously sorting out books that can go to a good home somewhere else.

I just talked to David, it is raining in Nicosia, not here, haha!
posted by Ally at 7:08 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Home Again
Just a quick post to say I made it in one piece. Galatia, our driver, took me to the airport and she was very good, came with me to the check in, as I had three large bags. I was lucky, they didn't make me pay excess, although I must have had 50 kilos. But it was the large plane and only half full, so there wouldn't have been a weight problem at all. Then when I got here, the driver at this end took them up the stairs for me - I live on the fourth floor, no elevator, which is quite common here.

At present my place is in chaos. I have emptied one of the suitcases, and there is a stack of washing, I am on the second load already. I'm also trying to tidy up some of the stash, books etc, etc. And I can't fit anything else in my wardrobe, so at some stage everything will have to come out and be sorted. I am going to be ruthless and get rid of all the things I never wear.

I'm just about to go and do some shopping, then it's back to the tidying and I hope I can stitch this evening. Off to work tomorrow, have to be there by 9am, and I think I get to meet the new client in the afternoon!
posted by Ally at 1:41 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, March 09, 2007
Last Day in Cyprus - For Real
Truly this time it is - short of they kidnap me and take my passport away. I am quite sad, because I shall miss these people (apart from lawyers and immigration officials), but at the same time I am looking forward to going home and living in my own apartment. Even though it is half the size of the apartment here, it has all my things around me, and it is near everything I need in Paris.

It has been quite a week, despite the terrible start on Monday morning. Leo held a farewell party for me on Wednesday night, at a nightclub near here. It was mezze followed by entertainment - band, singers and dancing girls. Who were the usual ones that you find in Cyprus, Russian with very long legs. Bet they all have work permits. David was transfixed by them, and one of the waiters came up to him and was whispering in his ear - he told me later that the guy was asking which one he thought was the most beautiful. And he followed this up by saying "I think they are all so beautiful, each night I dream I am sleeping with them!" David is pretty sure that, if he had said one of them was the most beautiful, arrangements would have been made. Oddly enough, none of the other guys got this treatment, but I don't think it was one of David's fantasies, I did see the waiter and David was looking rather embarrassed by whatever he was saying.

Despite this, and despite the fact that Rosetta and I were the only two women in the place who were customers, it was not as seedy as it may sound, and we enjoyed the singing and dancing. The dancing girls were good, and they had rather good costumes as well (although we did wonder if they would come off when we left). All the songs were Greek, which was nice, I remember when we went to a French cabaret at Christmas, all the songs were just American popular songs, not really what you come to Paris to hear. And the men in the audience were throwing carnations at the performers the whole time. This is what happens these days instead of throwing plates. Throwing plates is now considered to be dangerous, but Cypriots have to throw something, so they buy carnations at £5 a bunch and throw them. Waiters were scurrying round with ice buckets full of carnations rather than ice, replenishing them as fast as they were thrown.

After getting home at 1:30am, I didn't come to work until 9:30 yesterday, and I was the earliest. Then, halfway through the morning, the whole team of users walked in laden with presents for me and a card they had all signed. So now I have new handbag, scarf, necklace and bracelet, and set of soap and bath stuff, really neat. I was thinking about needing another suitcase, so now I definitely have to go and buy one this afternoon. I have to leave here no later than four, I think, otherwise I will never get everything done, let alone manage to have something to eat and manage to get up in time to have breakfast and leave at 8:00 tomorrow. I've worked out that having breakfast before the flight as normal in the hotel is the best thing, I feel less jittery and sick about getting on the plane.

Very little stitching has been done this week, although I have managed to do a bit more hemstitching on Point de Reprises and start the Renato Parolin redwork "Con Il Cuore", just a small start, a few stitches. It's going to be interesting when I get to Paris working out my timetable and how and when I can have time for doing the things I want to do.

I'm going to miss David and Alec most horribly, though, I've worked with those guys for years now... David and I cried yesterday (Alec doesn't cry, but his eyes were slightly misty), we have got so close we can finish each others sentences. I'm really hoping I don't get buried in the suburbs of Paris forever, we all want to work together again, preferably in Athens.

By the way I will no longer be a Kiwi Stitching in Cyprus, so I will have a slight change of name, not sure what yet...
posted by Ally at 10:07 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Difficult to Work Today
I don't know why, but I just can't concentrate - I have one big thing I really should be doing. David is sitting beside me, clearly playing Freecell, but he has been here since 6:00 am, as he is working with a guy in the Far East about something.

We are all going out to dinner tonight, including Andy and Rosetta, to celebrate my last week, I do not know where we are going though. Means no stitching tonight, so I shall have to steal half an hour this afternoon and continue with my hemstitching - I am doing a zig-zag hemstitch around the AMAP Point de Reprises. No, I haven't finished those last two darning squares, I think that will be a weekend task. I have also last night overcast around my linen for the Renato Parolin redwork, I still have to mark the centres on that. I'm doing all three on one piece of linen, it doesn't need to be divided until it's finished, as they are not big pieces.
posted by Ally at 11:39 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Somewhat Better
Last night I didn't do any real stitching - all I did was oversew the edges and mark the middles for the LHN "Threads" piece, and I also started withdrawing threads for the hemstitch on Point de Reprises. I couldn't have concentrated on the darning patterns. In the end I went to bed at 10:30 pm, which is extremely early for me. Tonight I think I will try to do the same, as I am already very tired again.... I have been dealing with Rosetta's problems, which keep on coming. Leo is having a meeting with their big boss right now, I think one of the subjects is the total unfairness of taking me away (from Rosetta's point of view), but it won't do any good!

I still have done no packing or anything like that, I really need to make a start though. I will be overweight going back, I am allowed 30 kilos. But I have two large bags, so it will be more than that. I'll also need to order the expensive taxi who will carry my bags up the stairs, I can't possibly do it. Not without wrecking my health for the rest of the weekend, and I have other things to do.

At least in Paris it is lighter in the evenings than here, it is still dark about 6pm here!
posted by Ally at 4:42 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, March 05, 2007
What A Morning
It started about 9:00 pm last night when Leo called me and said Galatia would pick me up at 7:40 today and also collect Alec so that we could be at the Immigration Office regarding our work permits.. .so I get up at 6:20 am, since I have to have breakfast, otherwise I collapse about 10:00 am. We get to this office, and find it is the wrong one, after waiting for half an hour, so pile into the taxi again and off to the right one, where we are supposed to have this appointment. The appointment turned out to mean standing in a queue for a long time, only to receive - not a work permit, but a pink receipt identical to the one I was given in October 2005. At which time I was told that my work permit would be issued in two weeks, just like the man told me today. Do I believe him? Haha.

I did try to complain, but of course, all the response you get is "lady, we got too much work", so it's not really a lot of use. I squawked a bit, which embarassed Alec, but to no avail.

Anyway I got back here, not long after 9:00 am, feeling as though I had done a day's work already, only to find that my young man in the Far East still does not understand that we do not add demand registers together to get maximum demand. Also that Rosetta has given me eight more problems to look at!

We are all in a great mood, Alec because he also came to the ministry, and David and Leo because they are having trouble with their new email system - they belong to a part of the company that merged with the big one at the beginning of March, so all their systems have changed.

On a far more pleasant subject, thanks to Kim for her kind comments on Point de Reprises. I am glad I went with the stronger colours, the bright reds and the yellow, which I did have doubts about. They work when you get them together with the more muted tones, and I also think they give a good impression of the period of the sampler as well. It's also really good to know that there are others out there working on this. When I first saw it on the AMAP site, I just fell in love with it and had to have it. I think AMAP are wonderful, the most beautiful designs and so fast to get them as well, often they arrive two days after I've ordered them, and that is good, even from Chantilly to Paris (I think she's in the Chantilly area somewhere).

I have decided that my next works will be the LHN "Threads" and the Renato Parolin redwork, should be able to get them ready to start sometime this week, as I have only two half squares of darning and the hemstitch left to do on Point de Reprises.

Well, back to Rosetta's latest effusions!
posted by Ally at 12:06 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Progress on AMAP Point de Reprises
See where I am now - I have three darning squares to go, plus half an alphabet on the left hand side, then it's only the date and the hemstitching around the edge:

Here is a little picture of some darning squares. The one that is not completed yet is a pain!
I think this is a sampler that looks better in real life than in the photos, the colours are unusual, but give a good effect when you see them together. I was doubtful when I started about some of the colours, but now that I have nearly finished, I think it works well.
I hope I'll get there with the darning squares and the alphabet this weekend, but I'm not sure. I am about to take to my bed for an afternoon nap, I think. I went out shopping earlier and feel tired after negiotiating the children, the cars, the cigarettes. It's a pain here that the shops shut so early on Saturdays, it means everyone does all their shopping for the week on Saturday morning. I was only buying mundane stuff like hair conditioner, too.
Yesterday was a very quiet day at work, I sat in our room all by myself, with virtually no interruptions. Just after lunch I went to get a coke from the cantine, and noticed in the office at the other end of the floor, where our client's designers sit, that the Dwarf was there! I thought after his visit a couple of weeks ago that he wasn't coming back, and actually Leo told me there was no need for him to do so, so I don't know why he was there. Looks just as unpleasant as ever. Eliane told me that she saw his project plan for his current project, and it is full of holes.
I left at about 5:30 for once, and in the evening went to Nando's for dinner - we don't have Nando's in Paris, andI like it. I have no great plans for the weekend, even though it is my last in Cyprus. I did all the tourist things back in September, when I also thought it was my last weekend. And it was a better time of year to do them as well. I do have to do some tidying up before packing next week, I have heaps of magazines and paperbacks that don't need to get taken back.
It's going to be so strange being at home all the time and living in my own apartment. Which needs to be thoroughly turned out and cleaned and tidied, since I have spent so little time there over the past two years.
posted by Ally at 3:33 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Good News
Our Resources Director sent out the bonus letters, and I got the maximum that I could get - although of course it gets reduced by 23% for social tax and other deductions and by 40% of the remainder for income tax. So I end up getting less than 50% of it, but I try to think that it is the thought that counts. It's also not spending money, it will be staying in the bank as far as possible, I think I need to open another savings account or something, the banking rules are so complicated.

Last night it poured with rain, unusually for here, and there was thunder after I got home, fortunately not while I was walking home. I finished darning square 6, and I have got 7 and 8 half-done, so I am on track.

I have also looked at the March issue of "The Gift of Stitching", and actually there are three things in it that I would want to stitch - a Jane Austen sampler, a stitching pochette and a Spanish sampler. Although they say "Jane Austin", such ignorance. I do think this magazine is getting better, last year there were some woeful issues.

This morning I had Jerry on MSN myself, he always asks when we are going live here, and he asked me again and if I knew when I would be leaving. So I told him and where I was going, and he acts really surprised "oh I thought they would want a really top French architect for that and anyway I thought that was all postponed, so you may end up with nowhere to go". He is a contractor, and I wonder if he sometimes feels insecure about his future, because he quite often makes what seem to be deliberately destabilizing comments. I am not worried about what he says, because I have the real story from Eliane. She says she is longing for me to start!

Rosetta is in a mega-sulk because I am going, goodness, she has dreamed up some great stuff for me to look at. I had better go and do it so that I can qualify for an AMAP break later!
posted by Ally at 10:03 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments