Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Some Good News
I heard from Nicky today that he will be coming down here for two days at the end of the week for work, this is good news.... I hope he won't have to spend all his time working, and of course one of the days is the one where I have to be out all day anyway, but even so.... and naturally I shall be totally tired out by the end of the week, because of this wretched report (I just hit a part where I've been instructed to put in about 100 diagrams, great!)
posted by Ally at 5:37 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Cold, Cold Paris
Now we seem to be in the new Ice Age, it is about 12 degrees with an icy wind sweeping from somewhere, and there are bad storms in various parts of the country. I put on a jumper this morning (the one I used to wear in the winter in Cyprus), together with a raincoat and a scarf. However it does seem to have stopped raining for the moment, at least.

My return to work has not been too hideous, although I still wish I was on a project with David and Alec, as opposed to Madame - who appears to have done nothing while I was away. Suzette has been doing her best, but I think she is quite annoyed with Madame also. We had to deliver a new part of the PA report yesterday, which basically meant that I had to write it in one day. The final version needs to be done by the end of the week, so I will be busy. We need to spend one day out at the client site, as well, unfortunately, with the lady who picks her nose all the time.

As it is so cold, I started to knit a pair of socks from some of the yarn I bought at Loop in London - actually the guy in the shop was a keen sock knitter, he was wearing a lovely cabled pair he had knit himself. But these are just quite basic ones, no cables or anything, as I haven't knit a pair of socks for ages. The yarn is Opal sock yarn in green, peach, yellow, brown combination, doesn't that sound strange? But it knits up into stripes and patches of the different colours, it looks very nice, and so much easier than Fair Isle knitting. I have quite a bit of this yarn and similar ones, so I shall try to make a few pairs of socks before the winter.

Well, I must get on with writing.... although I am a bit distracted today, I am worried about David,I know he is in Belfast, but he doesn't seem to be on Skype or MSN, and I want to talk to him...
posted by Ally at 11:22 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Rainy Sunday in Paris
I have put the weather to good use, and gone through my huge pile of papers - because I need to give tax stuff to the accountant tomorrow - and now I have this huge heap on the floor of things to be thrown out (or at least a heap that I will go through to double-check that they can be thrown out). And a massive pile of bank statements where I need to find the right one for the accountant. But I located the payslips, at least that is something. There was mail in the box that I got while I was in Cyprus and just never opened, I'm not sure when I am supposed to do all these things..........

The last two days have been busy, I did go to the foot place on Friday, but the epilation was busy, so I had to do that after the hairdressers yesterday, and in between I managed to go to the Louvre bookshop and pick up three catalogues that are part of my Benefactor package.

I have managed to do some more of Thread Gathering:

These are the first decent photographs I have managed to take of this piece! I only have the border to finish, and another bit of blue backstitching. The colours are not my normal choice, but I like them for a change, and I think I will get this one framed quite soon - although I don't know where, I guess I will ask the lady at Des Fils et Une Aiguille who she recommends.

And this is a photo of one of my new jackets I bought in London:

I am particularly enamoured of those sleeves, I guess they must be fashionable at present, but I intend to wear them even if they go out of fashion in the next five minutes. Actually you can see the other one (embroidered flowers) beside it, but it needs to be ironed! Along with many other things.... although I did cheat by sending eight garments to the drycleaner, and then staggering home with them yesterday. Fortunately I have a fidelity card with the drycleaners.

Have also spoken to my mother on the phone, and she told me all the things she told me last time, together with an update on who has died etc. Not a word from my sister, who normally keeps me informed on events in NZ, but I think she is probably in a snit because I've been to London and Copenhagen, after going to Helsinki a couple of weeks ago. Actually I get on quite well with her, I get on with all the family generally, but she has a very different lifestyle from me, much more settled, and I think she disapproves sometimes of me. She tends to tell me off for reading the Daily Mail instead of the Guardian, that sort of thing. And she was always telling me that I shouldn't be bored in Nicosia, there was something fascinating to do everywhere if only I could see it! Her example was of a Japanese garden in Toowoomba, but I have a feeling that, if I had to spend several months in Toowoomba (which I am sure is lovely if you actually live there and have your life there) for work, I would say the same as I did about Nicosia after nearly two years.

It is still drip, drip, drip outside......... sad for the tourists, in the market this morning I counted about six copies of Rick Steves' Guide to Paris, it is prime season for Americans. Mr Steves is an American travel writer, who is sometimes cursed in our neighbourhood, as he has recommended it highly as a place to stay. It is a nice place, but sometimes it would be more convenient to go to the traiteur and not be held up by people videoing the food instead of buying it! However it is true I do meet some nice people in the supermarket when they ask me which cheese is like Philly or which bottles are the hairconditioners as opposed to the shampoo.

Back to the grindstone tomorrow, I wonder what my leader has achieved while I have been away...

posted by Ally at 3:26 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Friday, May 25, 2007
Sort of panic, anyway, I've realised exactly how much I have to do before I go back to work.... I just took a whole lot of clothes to the drycleaner and made them promise I could have them tomorrow evening. Now I am at McDonalds, I will be very happy in June when the Mairie of Paris installs wifi in parks and gardens, I am sure I will be able to find a suitable spot near me to sit and work or whatever...

After this, I am going to the epilation and to the foot place, hopefully both of them will not be too busy. Actually my feet really took a beating in London, so I need a pedicure badly, the little Thai lady will tut-tut when she sees them. I have a hair appointment booked for tomorrow at 10am, so at least I will be properly groomed - for once - when I go back to work.

I went to Muji yesterday and bought some plastic boxes to keep the bathroom stuff in, and two rattan baskets for stash, I am trying to sort out my charts at present. I think I may go back today and get some more of both, the bathroom looks heaps better already. Sometimes it is a real problem having such a small apartment, but then think of how much cleaning I don't have to do!

David sent me email while I was away, he is spending two weeks in Belfast - he wanted to go to Dublin, so I guess he got near! He will go to Utrecht after that, I think, goodness I wish I was going too.... Madame LA will probably be cross with me on Monday because I didn't get all her shopping. It would be so much more straightforward and practical to be working with my friends again....
posted by Ally at 11:12 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Back Home Again
I had a very quick trip to Copenhagen - I was back home from London, totally exhausted, on Monday evening, went to bed, got up again at 8:00 am Tuesday morning and went to the airport for the 11am flight to Copenhagen. So I was there about 1pm, and went straight to the hotel to drop my bag and back out the door, shopping!

My first stop was Sommerfuglen, which is a very good shop, more knitting than embroidery, although they do have all the Danish Handcraft Guild kits and so on. I bought sock yarn, including a Chinese brand I have never seen before, and knitting needles of rosewood and black wood (forget what the English for this type of wood is). Then on to Magasin, the city's biggest department store, at Kongens Nytorv, where I got some magazines and books. Food magazines mostly, but also just some Danish weeklies with pictures of the Royal Family, that sort of thing.

I went to dinner that night at the Rio Bravo tavern, which, despite its name, serves traditional Danish food, and I had my favourite hakkebøf with bearnaise sauce and potatoes. This is a steak haché in French, I love these, childish tastes, I know. I also managed a traditional Danish lunch yesterday, of crumbed fish filet served with remoulade, which I adore. But I couldn't bring back a bottle of remoulade, because you can't take it through airport security and the fine Food shop at the airport is closed for renovations until June. Goodness, I was annoyed about this, well, not specifically the Fine Food shop being closed - they have a perfect right to do renovations - but the whole liquids on planes business. Am I a terrorist who is going to make a bomb out of a bottle of remoulade? Is someone else who is a terrorist going to go through my bags looking for the bottle of remoulade so that he can make a bomb? The whole thing is totally pointless, and I am also getting very bored with security queues where you get people who either don't know about the rules or want to have an argument about them. Once you have seen the first few girls who scream, "but you stole my water!", it all gets a bit much.

Anyway I spent most of the morning yesterday in Fields, which is a big shopping centre at Orestad, on the way to the airport. It was extremely empty (at weekends it is a nightmare), so I had a good look around, bought some more sock wool at Panduro and some Danish detective novels in GAD. Well, one of them is Swedish, it's by Pernille Marklund, but it is in the Danish translation, as I simply cannot read Swedish.

I got home latish last night, 9pm, and stayed up quite late, doing washing and so on, while I read and did some Thread Gathering - I am well into the border now and should be having a finish soon. Now I am going out to do all the things I need to do........... back to work on Monday, and I have a lot to do before then.
posted by Ally at 1:22 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Sunday in London
I finally made it to M&S to buy trousers for Madame LA - her instructions were black ones and white ones, but I could only get the white ones, the black ones have obviously been very popular, as they had sizes 10 and 20, but nothing in between. Also picked up a t-shirt for me, a jacket in beige linen with cross-stitch all over it (had to have that, will photograph it once I am back home) and a CD box with Greek music and recipes. Normally I don't go to M&S, but it's quite enjoyable once in a very long while.

Also went to Lords for about two hours, and just kind of flaked out there, watching cricket, which is something I have not done for a long time. I could have stayed a lot longer, but needed to do a few other things as well, also was getting hungry. The breakfasts at this hotel are dire, a terrible contrast with breakfasts in Helsinki, I can tell you, so I have been eating mostly at Pret A Manger. Today I bought their cookery book as well, so I can make the salads at home - mango and crayfish anyone? That is the sort of thing I might well "cook".

So tomorrow I need to do a bit of last minute shopping, like flowers and sausages, I already have the baked beans and the chutney. Hope I can get everything into the new suitcase. Speaking of which, I am glad I live in Paris, I saw the same suitcase for £142.50 here, and mine was 240€, including the overnight bag, which I bet is the best part of £100 here.

I'll be home early evening tomorrow, and then I fly to Copenhagen on Tuesday, just for the night. This is purely to do some shopping, like Sommerfuglen, Illum and the food shop at the airport. I am still so annoyed about the whole plastic bag thing, there is no way I can take everything I need for my hair and skin in one tiny plastic bag. And I don't think these rules are going to stop terrorism, actually I think it gives terrorists a message that they have the power to make things difficult for the rest of the world. But do not let me go on about that, I may not stop!

The best part of London has been getting the daily tickets and just going around on the bus, I've seen a lot of places I've only read about, and it gives you a really good view. Much better than the horrid Tube, with all its stairs and the narrow platforms.
posted by Ally at 8:10 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, May 19, 2007
I Lasted Three Days
Without a computer..... Thursday, Friday and Saturday until now, which is 10pm.... and I have logged on to the hotel computer in the lounge, because I was getting severe withdrawal symptoms. I found I had 85 emails, at least half of which were total rubbish. I literally got itchy fingers, I cannot explain this.

This trip has been really good, I got here as planned on Thursday just after lunchtime, and found the hotel, it is about two minutes walk from Bayswater Tube station, so not a bad location. Whiteleys is across the road, I remember that as a department store in the 60s, now it is a shopping centre with not a lot there, except the usual chains like Zara and H&M, but it has restaurants, so is good for popping over for a not too expensive dinner.

Yesterday I went on the Docklands Light Railway from beginning to end, and all branches (I am a closet railway fan, I've always loved travelling by train, and actually my brother loves trains so much that he designs railways, it's a bit of a family thing). I also went shopping at Canary Wharf, and bought some fiendishly expensive Eve Lom face stuff. Then I got lost on busses and saw the Bank of England, Holborn Viaduct and Coleherne Court, where Princess Diana lived before she got married.

Today I did some duty shopping, and some personal shopping, I went to Clarks and bought some sandals (very embarrassing, because they have differnt sizes in the UK, apparently I am 5 1/2 instead of 39). Also to Evans and bough two pairs of linen trousers and two jackets, one beige linen, which I will photograph when I get back, it is so nice, and one like a very short turquoise raincoat. A few books too, of course... but there is nothing in the shops here about embroidery.

Have looked at the samplers in the V&A also, saw Jane Bostocke again, and Mrs Archibald Christie (aka Agatha).... and been to Loop in Islington, a very nice yarn shop. Also Liberty's, but there is really nothing except tent-stitchy needlepoint stuff in their embroidery department.

Tomorrow, it's Lords for England v WI.... hope it doesn't rain.....
posted by Ally at 11:41 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Holidays are Here!
And Kathryn in NZ tagged me.......... to tell 8 things you don't know about me, I have just time to do this before catching the train tomorrow!

1) When I was at university, I worked as a cocktail bartender in a nightclub for years, so I am very good at making cocktails and I know quite a bit about some aspects of nightlife that you would never guess.
2) I am petrified of flying, and only do it under duress for work, or in vain attempts to conquer my fear. I therefore have a staggering number of unused frequent flyer points.
3) I am not at all athletic, but I played cricket for my university.
4) I have a MA with double Hons in Ancient Greek and Latin, and my ambition is to do a PhD at the Sorbonne when I retire from being a business architect.
5) I have terrible trouble sleeping and the slightest noise will wake me, this is after many years spent on 24 hour call and answering calls in the middle of the night.
6) I am so addicted to pink that our office manager will extract everything pink from the incoming stationery orders and put it on my desk.
7) My best friend David and I play silly games with soft toys (he has a moose, and I have a lion and a rabbit), they write letters to each other and send postcards when they are on holiday. Yes, I know I am 51 and David is 59!
8) I am really quite fond of MacDonalds, and go there about once a week - I know, I know!

I am not going to tag anyone else, I think everyone I know has answered this already - or everyone I know I know! If you haven't, please feel free...

It was good to have a day today where I didn't have to get up for work, I was in there before 8am the last two days, writing madly. However much I try, I can't do a whole chapter a day. I left the others with a lot of notes, I guess Suzette will inherit the task of putting them together. Her parents arrive this afternoon for two weeks, she is really happy about this. They are both accountants, and her three siblings all work in IT. In fact her younger sister works for us as well, I didn't realise they were related, her surname is not quite Smith, but just about.

I spoke to Leo on the phone today, I had a missed call from him, but he had solved his problem before I called back, so we just had a chat. He is in the Netherlands, and enjoying his new project. He says there are no street kittens there, they all live in family comfort. I have threatened to send some from Cyprus to lodge with him while they find new homes with kind Dutch families.

I went to Le Bon Marche to buy a new suitcase - a little one on wheels, from Mr Kipling, in a lilac and white flower print, with matching embroidery and book bag that slips over the handle. Apart from that I have done nothing all day, except some more of Thread Gathering. Just what the doctor ordered!

So tomorrow I am on the train at 10:30 and in London before lunch. I must remember to speak English there! When I am out and about, French is second-nature to me now. I don't know what I'll do in the afternoon after I find my hotel (which is near Bayswater tube), maybe a first look at the V&A, or maybe some shopping. I am taking heaps of stitching with me, but I will go to Liberty's all the same, who knows what I will find there? And I have a couple of addresses for knitting yarns as well.

I won't be posting again for about a week, as I am NOT taking the computer with me, partly because it is so heavy and partly because I don't want them to think I am working there, I nearly got arrested the last time I went to the UK with a computer.
posted by Ally at 2:09 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Monday, May 14, 2007
Two Days Until My Holidays!
The weekend was very quiet........... on Saturday morning I went to Brentanos, Des Fils Et Une Aiguille (just for some threads) and the supermarket, then went home and did housework etc. Yesterday I got out of bed at 11:30am and I was back there by 4pm, I tell you I need this holiday!

I did do a fair bit of stitching, I will have to try and take another photo of Thread Gathering, and I started a little HIH freebie called "Spring Basket" - very simple, on some left-over linen, with my stock of GAST and WDW, I still have quite a bit of the right colours from HIH kits. I plan to take quite a bit of stuff away with me, as I am not taking the computer, and I want to have a complete break from reality.

Madame LA is giving me her shopping list for the UK, would you believe! I only hope it is not too expensive, heavy or troublesome to get. David asked if she was giving me her wallet too. I'm not really sure why she thinks it's OK to behave as though I am the village idiot, then ask me to do her shopping for her. I think it is stuff from Marks & Spencers, I suppose there will be one near my hotel and I just hope there is not too much of it. I must also check and see if I have any pounds sterling at home, I'm not sure if I had a little bit left over from Northern Ireland.

Poor David, he is frantically bored in Cyprus, he is in the middle of writing Leo a begging letter, asking if he can come to the Netherlands (where there is a new project) right now. Leo is going to be the PD for it, and is already spending most of his time there. I told David I was going to visit bookshops in London, and he said he had nearly forgotten what it was like to live in a town with more than one bookshop.

Well, back to work for a bit,I am writing frantically today and tomorrow....
posted by Ally at 1:49 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Friday, May 11, 2007
Rather Better
I didn't get up until 8am........ but that was because I sneezed so hard at 3:30 am that I woke myself up! So I was wandering around at that hour for a while. I'm so glad I don't have a job where I have to be there at certain hours, normally we can pick and choose a bit, so long as we are available to clients. Of course, if they schedule a meeting at some horrible hour, we must be there. Suzette's boyfriend in California, who is studying film, thinks it would be fascinating to make a documentary about us, because our lives are so weird, but I am not so sure.

On the other hand, it may be restful to know that you only have to work between 9 and 5, or whatever. I'm not sure about this.

Tomorrow I will go to Brentano's and to my LNS in rue Chabanais.......... I need to work out what I shall do over my holiday, 10 days without computer (well, about six entirely without it, in fact). I want to make progress! Finish Thread Gathering, put the last few stitches in AMAP Point de Reprises, get some more things into ziplock bags to start. Unpack my last case from Cyprus and get out the stuff I need to finish!

Thread Gathering is kind of fun, it is the first LHN I have done, and I have a few more - I like the designs, but it is a bit boring just doing cross-stitch. Even in the Crescent Colours. I am going to collect the Belle Soie range, I got a skein of this in my Stash Enhancement package from Traditional Stitches, and I had great difficulty in wresting it back from Suzette. She sits opposite me, and of course she saw me open the package. She loved it and said was I going to get more and could she play with it.

Well, it is bed time....
posted by Ally at 11:55 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Another Quelle Horreur Day, But Some SEX
As in Stash Enhancement..........not the other sort!

I went to La Defense this morning and spent it all trying to get onto the O system, and listening to Sylvain trying to do the same. He said "Merde!" about 500 times, and I felt like saying it too. Sylvain is like a nerdy sort of Inspector Clouseau, for a start he is 7 feet tall, and he weighs half of what I do, and he talks just like a joke Frenchman. David and I want him to go into films, we will be his agents and make a fortune. But he is nice, he worked in the US for about 5 years, and I think he has heard all the jokes.

Then we had to go and visit our client, and have a three hour meeting, I kid you not. Madame LA was extremely unsupportive throughout, and practically told them I am an idiot. The upshot is that I have to write three more chapters before Wednesday, and there is a lot of revising to do! Of course these are the three chapters where I know nothing at all! I am no financials expert, but I guess I need to learn and pick my friends' brains - David, Nicky and Alec know a lot more about this than I do. Suzette will be a big help, she is also hating much of this, so I have to keep her still enjoying it. Madame LA is failing a bit in that respect, she should be doing a lot more to keep us zen, it is part of her job.

So, after that, I went to visit Le Comptoir in Rue Cadet, a needlework shop I have not visited before - very nice, heaps of charts and knitting wool, a bit of linen, not much thread. I bought a Reflets de Soie Sampler, Berthe Massenet, and two little Tournicoton charts, and some 16 thread linen, which can be a bit hard to get.

Truly I am looking forward to a holiday next week, I will be on the train on Thursday to London. I have Wednesday off as well, and I am going to do a few essentials then. One thing I have to do is buy a new case, also have to go to the epilation, of course. I now have a heap of wasing and house-cleaning to do, as well. I don't think I will take my computer to London, in fact, I am sick of lugging it around, so it will be a complete break.
posted by Ally at 10:25 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Another Day of Disorganisation!
I did all my software downloads this morning, it took the whole morning, then after lunch (enlivened by a life-sized toy emu in the cafeteria, they are evidently having African week and thought it was an ostrich), I did two compulsory online courses, Sexual Harassment and Business Ethics.

Evidently in France, we are allowed to kiss our colleagues, but only in public! Of course, there are people I kiss every morning or whenever I see them, if that's not every day. You are also allowed to ask colleagues out on a date, but only twice, if they refuse, you can't keep on asking them. There have been a lot of jokes about this course, you can imagine. I suppose it is there for a good reason, but honestly, some of the material.

After that, I had to attend a conference call about the problem reporting system that will replace ours. I got on late, because they sent me the code late, and the first thing I heard was the organiser asking everyone to get off, because there was a problem with the sound. Then, when I get on again, I hear David apologising profusely for causing this, apparently it happened when he dialed in. Typical, if something like this is going to happen, it will happen to David. He has of course taken my place as the problem reporter in Cyprus, and is getting very bored with it.

So I used up the whole day like this, you can imagine it is not my favourite sort of thing to do. Tomorrow I have to look at the PA report again and work out what I need to do before next Wedensday, as I am on holidays from then. I need some time to go to the hairdresser as well, I can't think when I am supposed to do that!

Now I am going to go and do some stitching, Thread Gathering is coming along quite well, and I'd like to get it finished before the holidays. Then I can start something else! I am always in awe of these people who have multiple finishes each month, or even week, I suppose they are more assiduous than I am.
posted by Ally at 9:04 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
8th May
It's another public holiday, this one is for the end of WW2.... now I am back from Helsinki, and about to go to WH Smith and buy some newspapers and maybe some books, I just feel like having a restful afternoon, I was tired when I got back last night.

One thing, our delightful new employer, a very large company indeed, has managed to assign me a "buddy" - we are all supposed to have buddies to help us settle in, the people in the UK have been waiting since January to get theirs. So I was pretty impressed to get one so quickly, the only problem is that he is in Nicosia! After them getting my name wrong at the orientation, I was a bit miffed, to say the least.
posted by Ally at 2:12 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, May 07, 2007
Nearly On the Way Back From Helsinki
I am sitting in the airport lounge reading through the first draft of the PA report, as sent by Madame LA to the client this morning - it looks quite good, I am wondering how she is getting on translating it into French, though, as it is 135 pages. I would have a hard time translating 135 pages of French into English by Wednesday morning.

Of course I have a lot to do this week to get the second draft done - it has to be delivered while I am on holiday in the UK, so I have to do my bit beforehand, and my bit is most of it, I am sure.

Today I feel more rested than I have done, I am sure the fresh air yesterday helped a lot. I spent most of the evening watching the French channel I eventually found on tv - after I couldn't take CNN's election coverage any more, it was atrocious and so patronizing about the French as well. Of course it was Sarkozy who has won and of course there have been a few riots as well, although nowhere near me, it seems.

I don't know what I feel about the Sarkozy victory.... when you listen to him, it all seems quite plausible, and you find yourself agreeing. But it's like Plato's Republic, you read that, nodding along all the way, and then you realise that what he is describing is fascism. I don't think Sarkozy is on that level (he is no Plato, for sure), but there is something strange there. And he does remind me somewhat of the Dwarf, which is unfortunate.

Well, I think I shall put my computer away and take out my stitching instead. It was funny, I had to take my computer out of its bag to come through security, and it was also interesting with my plastic bag full of toiletries. It was too big, so they gave me a smaller one, and I had to sacrifice a nearly empty bottle of conditioner and a nearly empty deodorant to the Finnish authorities! However, my two pairs of embroidery scissors (I have two wrapped up in different folds of cloth, in case one is detected) escaped their notice. I am very bolshie about the security checks on toiletries and so on, I don't believe it does anything to protect us from terrorism at all. Actually I think only the El Al level of security checking would, and many people would find that unacceptable, given the questions they ask.

Anyway, on to the stitching!
posted by Ally at 11:56 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Sunday In Helsinki
I had Madame LA on MSN earlier, I don't actually think she is too happy with me going away this weekend, but I do need some time off, and when I booked this weekend,I didn't know the report was due on Monday. And I slaved during the week, and will do so next week as well. I'm not going to let myself get into the whole horror scene of the Dwarf regime again, that was so much work it made me sick, I had whole weekends when I could do nothing. and I can't afford that now, when I am back in my own apartment and have to do housework, washing etc.

Today I have been on the tourist tram around Helsinki, also over to the island fortress of Suomenlinna on a little ferry. Great place, and people live there, some of them in pink houses with white trims, I am envious. It would be lovely in winter, covered in snow, the tourist office runs walks then as well. I certainly got lots of fresh sea air, in fact the air here is the best I have breathed since the mountains of Cyprus. Then I went to Stockmanns again, they have a great book department and I could have bought quite a few, I contented myself with a Scandinavian cookery book. No embroidery books that I don't already have, and nothing about Finnish embroidery or knitting. There must be some?

I have now come back and had another shrimp sandwich, and am about to eat my banana from breakfast while watching the French election. I think it will be Sarkozy, and I am a bit worried - there will likely be riots, at least, and I think Al Qaeda have been making threats as well. Goodness, I can't stand any of these people, I am well aware that some of them have horrible lives, but I don't think bombing people is the way to improve things.

They are now showing the Salle Gaveau, past which my bus takes me every day, the street is packed with Sarkozy supporters, the bus would not get through at all!
posted by Ally at 8:14 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Anyone Speak Finnish?
I certainly don't! But everything here is in Swedish as well (which I can understand, sort of, and even make a fool of myself trying to speak it), and at the hotel and in shops they all speak English, very good English, actually, with a lovely accent.

Finnair is to be recommended, and I had a comfortable seat near the front, a whole row to myself. I was a bit worried, because they were piling people on, I think economy was totally packed, but the front was fairly empty, the way I like it. I did not suffer as much panic on take-off and landing as usual, or indeed during the flight. Part of the reason I am sure is that I had no visa worries, as I used to with Cyprus, I knew I would just walk off the plane into the street without a problem. Great lunch also, pate, fish and apple pie, everything seemed fresh.

My hotel is right in the centre, opposite the department store Stockmann - I already walked over there and bought some magazines, including Knitters and Cross-Stitch & Needlework - which has an article about the Sweetheart Tree and a nice sampler. Of course I also had to get a shrimp open sandwich which I have just eaten, delicious.

For anyone from Melbourne, guess what colour the trams are here? Green and yellow, they look just like Melbourne ones. That is, if they are still the same colour as when I lived there (pre-2001).

I see I have a new commenter, Kathryn from Auckland - I lived in Auckland a long time ago, 1969 to 1973 and again 1980-1981. Those were the secondary school years (Epsom) and a couple of years at Auckland University as well. I feel guilty encouraging you to buy things, but Lady Scarlet is just so adorable you will not regret it!
posted by Ally at 5:28 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Friday, May 04, 2007
Friday at Last
This week I wrote about 100 pages.... not all of it is really great, actually but we have to deliver the first draft on Monday at 9am. And I will not be here, I will be in Helsinki.

I was rather worried about Helsinki, because I thought I would not be able to print out my e-ticket - we have no printers in this office that are working, so I went off to the local photocopy place and sweet-talked the man there into logging on to my email and printing the ticket! The boss subsequently noticed that there were no printers working and yelled at the receptionist (they don't get on at all), and there will be a man coming on Monday. Allegedly, but I'd be surprised if anyone turned up, given that it's another long weekend.

So I have my ticket, and I have a hotel with wireless LAN booked, now I just need to pack and get some money from the bank. I am taking handluggage only, so it is back to burying the scissors in the middle of several folds of linen (seems to work), and deciding how I can manage for a weekend with only a plastic bag of toiletries.

And I hope I get to do a bit of sightseeing, let's see how I go. At least it will be nice to be somewhere cooler, and somewhere where I have a nice big space to relax in for a while (I am sure the hotel room will be bigger than my apartment!).
posted by Ally at 6:22 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Quelle Horreur!
Well, we had our orientation day, and are now employees of a much larger software company that takes over other companies every five minutes! You may be able to guess which one. There were six people from another company like ours (although smaller) in with us, they seemed nice. Actually everyone seemed nice, but it was all so disorganised. We got there for an 8:30 start, then they told us it would be 9 am, and we didn't have passwords, which were supposed to have been set up for us. I was ravenous by the time they gave us coffee and croissants.

The good thing is that the photo on my access pass is stunning, far the best I have had for years. People have been saying, is that really me, all day. I used one that was taken in Agia Napa last year, it actually had Nicky and me, I cropped him out (sad....) and sent it to them, but I think they did something with the light and shade, it looks great.

And the lunch was good, and I got to see Derek and Casey as well, they are sweet, also Gil. We did have someone giving us the corporate rah-rah during lunch, but it was OK, I was eating smoked salmon at the time. And they had Badoit, which is my favourite water.

Bad thing is I have lost a day with PA report, but Suzette has done heaps today, she sent it to me. She starts her French lessons tonight, she is a complete beginner, so this lovely language is completely in front of her, what fun. The instructor today started to apologise to me that she hadn't prepared the course in English - that's OK, I said, I understand French! And I do, although I speak it with what everyone thinks is an English accent. Of course, it is a NZ accent, but fortunately they think it is "cute".

Actually I had huge problems when I was in the US for work because of my accent - again, it is "cute", and they haven't usually heard it, so I got asked, where do I come from? And when I said NZ, the lady in the supermarket in NJ asked me whether they had microwaves in NZ (I was buying something that goes in the microwave at the time. Sweet! Although I got a few surprises as well - opposite the office was a wine shop, and as soon as the lady heard me speak, she said, we have a lot of wine from NZ and it's one of our biggest sellers. Actually I remember that little town in NJ quite fondly, there was also a great knitting wool shop, and a lovely filipino man who had a soup bar at the bottom of the building, he was so nice. I had soup every day, as it was snowing madly.

Of course, no stitching today, but I may fondle silks before I go to bed, this is a good way of dealing with trauma. Somtimes I think I hate computers, or PCs anyway. It doesn't mean I hate my job, because really my job is not about computers, it is about how things are done, and it just happens that these days it is with PCs. In the age of Dickens, I would have been advising on copperplate handwriting, I guess, and what colour each ledger should be bound in.
posted by Ally at 10:31 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Happy May Day!
It is a public holiday here in France, and the tradition is to buy Lily of the Valley, there are about six stands between here and the boulangerie.... however there seem to be no newspapers, which is unusual, I wonder if there will be some later.

I just tried to take a picture of Thread Gathering, I have the whole two words now, but they are all hopeless, it's the light or the colours or something, it's a rather darker piece than I normally do. In lieu of this, here are the books I bought yesterday:

I went to Brentano's, which has the best selection of craft books in Paris. The first needs no introduction, I will just say that it is a totally wonderful book. It was 45 euros, which is not bad, I think, and has so much interesting information (you know I am into history) and beautiful photos of so many samplers, all the ones that Needleprint has charted and many more.

The second is a novel, about three girls in LA who knit, I am enjoying it very much. I have quite a few novels that feature knitters and quilters, but there are not so many about embroiderers. Maybe I have to write my own? Although my writing style is more geared towards the factual, what I normally write is PA report and decision sheets and external designs, so I may not be a great novelist. It's a thought, anyway.

Speaking of PA report, I worked all Sunday, and have to work today, it is pretty slow, because I am constructing a solution and need to stop and think or verify stuff. Madame LA has done a bit of work, like saying, we will use this functionality, but she hasn't gone through the whole thing. It can be a bit like a maze, because you know the functionality that she wants to use, then you have to map it all out and go through the whole procedure that a customer service person would and work out how everything relates and where all the information is coming from. Occasionally there is a dead end, and you have to work out whether to go back and try another path, or whether you can overcome it somehow.

Still at least it is better than working for the Dwarf, he used to demand that everything had a solution that did not require customisation or development, and that this be our preferred solution. The lies I used to have to tell, because some of these solutions were horrible and only a moron would have preferred them. And he shouldn't even have been giving us these dictates, because the solution belongs to the architects, not the project director.

Yesterday I did no work, I went shopping instead. I went to Loisirs et Creations to pick up some DMC for Lady Scarlet, then I went to the nail bar up the street and had a spa pedicure. This is still pretty unusual here, there are few places that have the proper chairs with the whirlpool for the feet, but it is one of my favourite things to do. I use my feet for walking, so it is a real treat to have them massaged and so on, and I have pink toenails that match my handbag now. Then I went to Brentano's and on to WH Smith, where I bought a couple of novels. Then home to sleep and read and stitch, I feel almost human now.

Tomorrow we have to go out into the suburbs for the O orientation day, it starts at 8:30 am, fortunately with breakfast! I have all the emails with new passwords, all of which are very complex, and I can see exactly why David was always forgetting his when the Israeli office merged. They are not very kind to the elderly, in my opinion! It will take the whole day to do this orientation, and that leaves only two days of real work this week, which is very tight for finishing the PA report. So I have to do a lot today, while the rest of France is enjoying themselves.
posted by Ally at 11:48 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments