Friday, August 31, 2007
Boo hoo hoo, end of holidays...
Yes, today was the last weekday of holidays..... I went to pay my taxes, I feel better about handing the cheque in at the Treasury in person, and I went to collect the forms for French cistizenship at the Prefecture.

This was interesting, although I didn't have to wait long - there were a lot of Africans etc, and they won't give out the forms unless you seem to qualify. One man was having an argument with them, because they wouldn't give him the forms, but his wife and children were in Africa, so that is where his closest family ties are, so he would get refused. I don't think his French was great, either, and that is another motive of refusal.

When it got to my turn, the woman looked me up in the computer and gave me the forms at once. She did enquire whether I was married and had children, then just said to make sure I arranged the documents really well. So I imagine there won't be a problem, once I have submitted the documents - which is going to take a while, there will have to be some extra things from NZ. After that, normally the wait is 18 months, I know this, because our boss, who is American but married to a French woman has done it not long ago. It will be good for me to have dual citizenship, I'll be able to vote again (at present I have no vote anywhere), and I pay taxes (and how!), so it will be good to feel I have some say.

After that, I went down to Montparnasse and bought the latest "De Fil En Aiguille", it has beginner's cartonnage, with embroidery by Sophie Delaborde, whom I have met and just adore. Then went to Hippo for lunch and had two courses, so I came home and flaked in front of "The Queen". This is such a good movie, and the Prince Philip reminded me of my grandfather, saying "the whole world's gorn mad". Tony and Cherie were gruesome, just like one always imagines them, and the Alastair spin-doctor character (forgotten his surname) was mad, also just like one imagines.

There is another Diana thing on tv tonight, we had a whole evening of it last night, some of which was mawkish in the extreme. And we have had the memorial service, with Prince Harry, and I can't get over the voices of William and Harry, both of them. They certainly don't say, I've GORN and LORST my specs, I took them ORFF and put them down...

So.... I've done practically all the big things I had to do on my holiday, there's still a bit of a clothes mess, but nothing like there was. Some more shopping tomorrow, but nothing too strenuous, I hope. The big shock is going to be getting up by 7am on Monday, urghhhh..... the days are getting shorter, and it is light from 7am to about 8pm at present, a bit different from the 6am to 10pm we had only a while ago.
posted by Ally at 10:40 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Today's Excursions
Another day of doing bits and bobs.......... I walked to Le Bon Marche, so that I could walk past Rue Monsieur, where Nancy Mitford lived in Paris - it is very close to here, I hadn't realised how close it was until I was reading one of the letters that said "I can hear the bells of St Francois Xavier...". Well, of course, St FX is only just down the road, so I had to go and look, but there is no plaque or anything. The house itself is hidden behind a very opaque wall and gate, but you can make out that it is a two or three story house, relatively old, I think, in a classical style, and has a courtyard and a garden with trees. Obviously flats, as there are several bells, with initials only, I always think VIPs must live there if they have initials only. Such a pity no plaque, she had the Legion d'Honneur and did a lot for French culture with her writing.

Once at Le Bon Marche, I managed to get the different drawing pencils I need for the Country Bumpkin class (I'm getting everything ready now, in case of work horror later on, although it is still eight weeks away). I also bought a pink microwave egg cooker and a pink foldable chopping board, too tempting. Then on to the new Zara Home, I am so glad we have this now, it was weird that there was one in Nicosia and not in Paris! I bought two bathmats and an ashtray aka thread tray. Then popped into a little cafe in Rue Vignon and had avocado and shrimp salad for lunch.

Now back home to continue with Mitfords, etc, etc. I did empty out half the wardrobe yesterday, so now have to remove all the surplus clothes from the floor where they repose and vacuum the inside of the wardrobe before I decide what goes where. I tried on all the new winter clothes yesterday for the first time, everything fits pretty well, and I am happy that the ones for work will give the right impression. I have had no new winter clothes for two years, owing to the Nicosia escapade, I didn't need them.

Last night I was chatting to David, he was online in Poland, he says the hotel is quite strange, like Fawlty Towers, and the manager speaks no English and roars at him in Polish (of which he doesn't know a word). However the food is not bad, he says fish and puddings are the best, nothing vegetarian or pasta or curry or anything remotely ethnic exists. They are are on the outskirts of town, but can catch an antique-looking tram to the centre, I wondered if Melbourne sold some old trams there, like to Lisbon. He has been to visit a couple of ancient Jewish areas, but says hopes of finding any long-lost relatives are slim, as there are very few Jews left in Poland today.
posted by Ally at 3:16 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, August 27, 2007
Another Organisational Day
I've been good today, I took my dry-cleaning down the road, went and had epilation, made an appointment for a facial, made an appointment for a mammogram and did supermarket shopping. I bought 4 bottles of rose for 5 euros, special offer at Monoprix! I wonder what it is like, if it's any good, I'll go back and get some more. It's unlikely to be totally awful, wine here rarely is, but sometimes you find some that is better for cooking.

The woman at the radiography centre seemed faintly scandalised that I had not had a mammogram (mammographie in French) before, but I am only 51, and they send out the forms during the year after you turn fifty. She is going to get a hell of a shock when she sees me, because I do not look anything like your average French 51 year old. I think a lot of French women look older than their age, because of the extreme thinness that a lot still have, also the nice burgundy hair dye that the over forties affect!

Now I am home, doing washing and stuff, and thinking about emptying everything out of half the wardrobe. Big step! But it has to be done........ as an antidote, I am reading the letters of the Mitford sisters, as edited by Charlotte Mosley (Diana M's daughter-in-law). It is fascinating, think that Diana M used to live only a few streets from me. The only surviving one of those sisters is Deborah Devonshire, she is the same age as my only aunt, so really getting on, but apparently also very active like my aunt (who recently told my sister that she still spent a lot of time helping the elderly - most of whom are now younger than she is, but not so efficient).

I've also put the first few stitches into Blackbird Designs "Garden of Life", which is going to be a 60th birthday present for David. I thought long and hard about what to do for his 60th, and I thought this one was a good choice, not too sentimental, but it expresses feelings of friendship perfectly. Also his wife will like it, she is American and they have a quite American antiquey style of sitting room, which it will fit into nicely, I think. She doesn't stitch or anything, but he's often looked at mine and said, oh my wife would love something like that - so I think it might go down rather well.

Kathryn, those do-whats-its are SO expensive! I can think of a lot of other things to do with 30 USD......... at least the thread I am waiting for will only take four or five days from the UK, Sew and So are the most efficient company that I have ever dealt with.
posted by Ally at 3:33 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Finish Photos
But first a photo of the view from my balcony at the hotel in Austria, I still miss this!
Next, the Daisy sampler that I finished a while ago and didn't photograph - I don't know why the linen looks wrinkled, as it is not:
And an almost-finish - The Sampler Lady, she is just waiting for another skein of Old Blue Jeans to arrive from the UK, so that her sleeve and bodice can be completed. There is so little to do on this, and literally it will take another ten stitches to finsh, so frustrating that the thread just wouldn't stretch a little bit:
Actually she was a fair bit of work, all that background in the skirt took a while, but I am happy with the result.
Apart from this, I am going well with the tidying up, it is nearly time to start on the wardrobe, which is the biggest task left. There is far too much in it, and I'm sure there's things I haven't worn since I was in Australia. I need to go and buy more shoe boxes.....
Next week is the last week of my holidays, I heard from Gil during the week, he has now taken over from Madame LA (everyone is pleased, I think), but says he has one million questions to ask me when I get back. I dread to think, however I am sure our Resources Director will not send me to Poland or wherever. Poland would be my preference, since David and Nicky are there.......... however there is still such a shortage of French-speakers that I am doomed to the suburbs of Paris for a long time, I believe.
I thought I was going to have a visit from some cousins in September, they wrote and asked ages ago if they could stay with me - I had to say no, I can't have two extra people for a week in an apartment of 29 square meters, but I offered to find them a reasonable hotel or apartment for the week. Then I didn't hear anything and forgot about it. And then yesterday I get email giving details of their European trip, and it doesn't include Paris! So I'm a little bit dismayed in one way, it looks as though they altered their plans because they couldn't get somewhere free to stay. I actually like these cousins, and they did stay with me before when I had a larger apartment (in my first year here, this was paid for by the company) and were good guests, better than some closer relations who shall not be named! I'm disappointed not to see them again, but still....
Anyway, better go and check on a few online shops and so on, before I go home (am at my Sunday morning McDo as usual), I am thinking of walking most of the way, as for once it is fine! We have had the most dreary weather all week, torrential rain, apparently it is the worst summer for 30 years, and it is going to rain again during the week as well.

posted by Ally at 12:56 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Home Again
I arrived back on Saturday night as scheduled, goodness it seemed like a long trip and I was whacked when I got in. Since then I've spent most of my time clearing up stuff around the flat and doing housework, washing etc. I think I've mentioned my flat is only 29 square meters, which would have seemed unimaginably small to me when I lived in Melbourne, but actually there are people living in Paris in less than 20 square meters who would be very envious. Rents are not cheap, it costs nearly 1000€ a month. Apart from the size, the main disadvantage is the four flights of stairs, but there are advantages - bathtub, washing machine, dishwasher and a view of the Eiffel Tower (top half only). And of course the area is excellent, central, and just around the corner from busses and metro.

I've done a lot of rearranging stuff, I hauled all my stash out from under the desk, where it was in a motley array of boxes and bags, and some of it is now in new stacking drawers from Muji, a shop that is going to see more of me in the next week or so. Under the desk now are - my important papers (in France we have to keep everything for ever) in a three-drawer Muji cabinet, plus ten Muji shoe boxes with about twenty pairs of shoes in them, and a pile of charts that need another three-drawer box, I think. All my knitting wool is in a large basket that used to hold the shoes!

There are still quite a lot of bits and pieces to tidy up before I start on the wardrobe, that will be next weeks job, I guess. On my bed there is a huge pile of finished stitching, everything I've done for practically ever that hasn't been framed or given away, or isn't a small that has been assembled. Off to Loisirs and Creations tomorrow to buy a large artists portfolio for those! It's quite a challenge, but I am determined that, by the time I go back to work, the place will be in a tidy state once again. This will teach me not to go to Cyprus for nearly two years and just come back and put everything in piles once a month.

I made a facial appointment for Thursday morning, I am in withdrawal from the Alpine Spa, I miss being massaged and swimmimg every day. No chance here! For one thing, the weather is not great, still - this morning was nice, but now we are about to have a downpour. I went out to Bois D'Arcy to visit Plume de Paon this morning (nice shop, great selection of threads in particular - WDW, GAST, Crescent Colours, Soie d'Alger, Gloriana, Atalie, Soies de Marie, among others). I came back via Versailles and the place was crawling with tourists, at least it was decent weather for them then. I see a lot of American drowned rats in the neighbourhood these days, poor things.

At least I am now at a stage where I am not panicked about going back to work, I do feel a lot better physically and mentally. I still have moments where I think of ringing Mr Resources Director and asking if I can go to Poland too. I quite hope that our French client's Rumanian branch will decide to go ahead with our system, and then I could go there perhaps. It will also be a French speaking project. But Poland would be good, I think - guess who else I just heard was there?
posted by Ally at 5:50 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, August 17, 2007
All Good Things...
Must come to an end... tomorrow, at 9:15 the taxi will come and take me to Langen am Arlberg railway station, and at 6:30pm I will arrive in Paris. Although, truly, one of the best things about living in Europe is being able to go on holiday on a train, no horrible airports, no horrible planes. At least on a train you can sit there and look at the scenery, embroider, whatever. And you can take whatever you like with you, within reason. No beastly check-in etc, except for Eurostar. Just buy ticket, get on and go. Every now and then someone wheels a cart along and you buy a coffee or whatever. On German and Swiss trains, it comes in a real mug as well, French ones it is unfortunately in a plastic thing.

So what did I do this week....

- went to the village twice
- went on two long walks
- went swimming five times
- facial, pedicure, three massages, lavender body wrap, edelweiss body wrap, youth bath in oil
- six four course dinners (small courses!)
- six healthy breakfasts
- some stitching (Sampler Lady is coming along nicely)
- read "Abundance" by Sena Jeter Naslund, about Marie Antoinette, I recommend this highly.

Not bad for just a week away from home... my skin is so soft, especially after the edelweiss wrap this afternoon, and I feel quite relaxed, to tackle all that I have to do next week. I am embarking on one of those wardrobe exercises where you look at everything you haven't worn for a year. I just haven't the space for it all. And I am going to keep on walking and keep on having wraps etc.

On the more boring side of things I have to have a mammographie as well, you get one free when you turn fifty here, and I have had the papers for ages and not been able to do it, because I have been away so much. Now I will do it and get them off my back (I get reminder letters all the time).

And I have to go and pay my last instalment of taxes for 2006, it's over 4000 euros this time. At least we know that comes around every February, May and September, three times a year as regular as clockwork! I had to disillusion poor Derek, my Australian colleague about taxes earlier in the year, he said, this is great, they only take about 1000 euros a month for tax! So I had to break the news to him that this was only social tax that was deducted from our pay, we get a bill three times a year for income tax, and it is at least the same as the social tax, maybe a bit more. Poor Derek, I don't think he has bought his boat yet!

I heard from David, he is in Poland on a new project, it all happened rather suddenly, and I'm not sure he is very pleased. Not only does he not speak Polish, but in fact it is where his ancestors came from, and of course they had to flee for fairly obvious reasons.... not Nazis, but long before that.
posted by Ally at 10:07 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The Goldener Berg
This is my hotel in Austria, my only regret is that I cannot live here for ever, and that I will have to leave on Saturday morning.

Just look:- Everything is just as nice as it looks in the pictures, I have to say that they do not exaggerate at all. And it is so reasonable (I guess they make their money in the winter on skiers, the rates are a lot more expensive then). I am paying just under 80 euros a night for a lovely room, with a big bed and a terrace overlooking the mountains, together with breakfast and dinner. And what breakfast! what dinner! Every morning I eat fresh kiwifruit, pink grapefruit and berries with yoghurt, followed by a soft-boiled egg of unparalleled freshness. Dinner tonight was barbecue night, we started with grilled courgettes in parmesan and tomato dressing, followed by entrecote with grilled king prawns, salad and baked potato. Then poached apricots with nut ice-cream. They make everything themselves, bread, ice-cream, you name it.

It took a long while to get here from Zurich, three changes of train, a bus (because of track work) and a taxi up into the mountains from Langen im Arlberg station. You can only drive to the hotel in the summer, in the winter the roads are closed, and you come up a cable car, while you luggage goes through a tunnel. This part of the village just has half a dozen chalet hotels, nothing else, except the cable car and chairlift stations.

My first day I went up the chairlift and walked down again, getting slightly geographically embarrassed in the process, so that my walk was a little longer than planned. Yesterday I went up another cable car on the other side of the valley, this one was actually quite scary, as it was twice as long as I thought it would be. I had originally thought of just sitting up there for a while (I could see exactly the path I should have taken the previous day, the view across to the hotel was superb), but there was no way I was taking that thing down again! So I went on a three hour walk down instead, it was not too bad, and of course, there were plenty of other people doing exactly the same thing. That is what is good about walking here, there are marked trails, and if you keep to those that are marked as suitable for families, there is no risk whatever. Everyone else is out with their grandmothers and their dogs, but not too many people - it's certainly not crowded.

I've also been spending time in the spa, there is no-one else in the pool in the morning, so I have had my own private indoor swimming pool and spa pool outside with a view over the mountains. I have also had a facial, a pedicure and two massages since I have been here. Tomorrow I am having another massage and an edelweiss youth bath. My back feels better than it has done for ages, and, although my legs were completely done in after the three hours downhill yesterday, I can now walk again - I spent quite a while in the whirlpool this morning. Of course the psoriasis is really good now, I am not sleeping with clingfilm on my elbows at present. I think the water and the peacefulness really helps.

The other guests are mostly families and mostly German speakers, but it's no problem to speak English here. I have enough German to eavesdrop to a certain extent, but the local accent can be a bit hard to understand. A lot of people have brought their dogs, the family at the next table to me at dinner have a beautiful big shaggy black dog called Anna. Not that Anna comes to dinner, but I met her in the cable car, and she was obviously enjoying her holiday very much. The parents and the two daughters - about ten and twelve, I think - go out with Anna and rucksacks every day, it's nice to see a family like that out and about and having such a good holiday.

Guess where I am coming for holidays next year?
posted by Ally at 9:43 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Saturday, August 11, 2007
More From Zurich
After a nice breakfast this morning (although my all-time favourite breakfasts are still the Helsinki ones), I went off to the local Ulla Popken shop. This might seem like a weird thing to do, but the one in Paris doesn't have underwear, and I desperately needed bras. I now have two new ones, plus a nightdress and a swimsuit, all desperately needed. It's really hard to buy these in Paris if you are not small, or exceedingly rich. The last bra I bought in Paris was 125€, and it was great, but that is really expensive. The swimsuit was reduced a bit, and it is really cute, black with pink and blue piping and a racing back so it won't fall off in the water.

Then I headed up the Uetliberg, a mountain railway from which there would have been a great view if it had been fine (you would also have had a picture, but taking photos in the rain is no fun). I walked from the station to the summit and back again, it was marked as 15 mins up and 10 mins down, I think it took me about forty minutes all up, which is not bad. My Asian friends complain madly about the times given on the walking trails in Europe - one guy, who works in the Netherlands, tells me he always doubles the time, as the Dutch are all twice his height. I normally come in somewhere between his time and the European time. I'd forgotten how nice it was not to walk on hard pavements, so I'm looking forward to a week in Austria with some more walking.

Then I came down again and found a bookshop, where I bought two books on knitting socks, perfectly normal to find those here, and I caught a tram back to the Old Town, where I just happened upon a wool shop, so bought a couple of balls of coloured sock yarn. I have a sock with me that I should finish this week.

I've just had another Swiss meal, this time Zurich veal with roesti, and I'm back in my hotel room. It is the big street parade, so outside it is fairly noisy, but I can't hear much from my room - in fact, I've got it on tv, as the view is better than it is outside anyway. There are people dressed up everywhere, of all ages and sizes, and a lot of drinking going on, and all this techno music, of course, but it all seems fairly harmless, everyone is having a good time.

Tomorrow it is the train into Austria, I just called the hotel there and they are sending me a taxi to the station at Langen am Arlberg to meet the train, so that is very helpful. It's quite a long way up the mountains and there's no bus on Sundays. Even the weather forecast is set to improve, so I am hopeful of a good week for resting and walking - I didn't bring walking shoes, but only my Ecco sandals that are just as good for anything except mountaineering. Actually speaking of shoes, I saw about fifty pairs I would like to buy today, there are heaps of shoes shops here with wider fittings, and really good ones as well. I saw a brand that I liked in Melbourne, that cost 250AUD there for about 125SF - if you just look at the exchange rate, they still seem expensive, but it's better value if you consider the time you take to earn 125SF as opposed to the time you take to earn 250AUD. However I resisted, I just thought how heavy my case would become!
posted by Ally at 8:38 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Friday, August 10, 2007
In der Schweiz
I got up so early this morning to catch the train, and when I got to Gare de l'Est, the main entrance was blocked because of a suspicious parcel. It was a bag sitting on a seat (naturally in the main waiting area, so there wasn't anywhere to sit down while I waited for the train), and they had blocked this off, with a lot of police standing there and looking at it. It was still there when my train pulled out, as far as I could see.

The train was crowded until Strasbourg, then fairly empty for the rest of the way. Eastern France is well and truly under water, we saw flooded fields everywhere. In Switzerland the road and railway through to Fribourg are still closed as well, but elsewhere it does not seem too bad. The train was not as sparkling new as I expected, they could do with cleaning it a bit more, I think, also it is still not as spacious as the German trains, I think this is a French thing, to cram everything together. But it was still rather nice, and so fast, yet so smooth. It is the fastest TGV.

Hotel is also nice, in the middle of the Old Town, which is picturesque, but the shops are crummy, the good shops are over the bridges not far away. I have a courtyard room, which is good, because tomorrow is the techno Street Parade, they say this is huge. So there's a lot of funny-looking people in town, it's rather amusing. Apart from that, it seems a quiet city. I had dinner in a restaurant where there was practically no-one else, and all the restaurants seem to be like that. Lovely calves liver with roesti and spinach, I love calves liver, and this was done just right, with crunchy bits and herbs. I may need a repeat tomorrow.

Tomorrow it is sightseeing and shopping, and avoiding the Street Parade - I plan to steer clear of the Old Town in fact, and go over to the other side and even go up a small mountain. It would be a plus if I could find a needlework shop or yarn shop that is open in August, but that may be asking too much. My advice to stitchers who come to Europe is, do not do so in August!
posted by Ally at 11:20 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
So I am catching the train from Gare de l'Est to Zurich on Friday............. guess what sort of terrorist alert has just been announced? Yes, right, one for trains in the east of France! This is just totally incredible, apparently the Luxembourg government warned the French government about some Iranian group that plans to do something nasty. The risk is supposed to be highest on the Luxembourg to Basle line, but they have put Plan Vigipirate Rouge into action on all trains in the east, and apparently are looking for several Iranians. If they find them, I certainly hope they send them back to Iran quick smart, I am not at all impressed by this threat - right in the middle of summer holidays, and on a mode of transport that has so far been safe and relatively hassle-free. It means they will certainly be searching luggage on Friday, what a complete pain. It's already bad enough flying because of these people, now they have to start on trains!

Apart from this, nothing of note, I am not getting a lot done, as I am still tired, but went to BHV to buy a new shower hose today. I picked up a picture frame there that I thought would be nice for the Daisy sampler, but it is a little too small, so I shall go back and get the next size up. Also cannot remove the old shower hose from the fitting, I wonder if I need a wrench or something? I don't know anything about DIY, and was amazed to find, when I came to France, that replacing the shower hose is seen as a normal domestic task.

Tomorrow have to buck up a bit and do my packing... hope they catch these lowlifes before Friday.
posted by Ally at 9:25 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
More of my Lazy Vacation
I'm really not doing anything, yesterday I went to work for about two hours, much to Sylvain's surprise. He is a fine one to talk, he is famous for working during vacations. Then I met Suzette for lunch at a Danish restaurant on the Champs Elysees. She had never tried Danish food before, and was impressed by the pickled herrings. It was a really nice restaurant, quite expensive, but my treat, as she is going home to Manila for a while, owing to the latest work permit fiasco. She did have the choice of working from London, but as she said, there is no-one else there and she would just be on the phone to either Paris or Manila the whole time. I hope she's not away too long....

Really it's amazing how much less tense I feel, being away from our client and not having to travel for three hours a day. I'm looking forward to the trip to Zurich on Friday, it is four and a half hours by train, from Paris Est on the new high-speed line that only takes two hours twenty minutes to Strasbourg (it was at least four hours before, I think, lomg, anyway). I've never been to Zurich before, so I decided to stop for two nights on the way to Oberlech, which is where I am staying in Austria. I should get a fair bit of stitching done on the train, which is also brand new and very comfortable, apparently. At least it will be clean looking, unlike some of the French TGVs which are, frankly, very old and shabby. Even Eurostar is looking a bit tired, in my opinion.

I'm out and about today, to pick up my train ticket and do various other errands. It is at least fine and sunny, without being searingly hot as it was over the weekend. Yesterday there was a huge storm in the morning, I was drenched on the way to work. And the forecast for the rest of the week is not great. I'm taking quite a lot of stitching and books to Austria in case the weather is vile there as well.
posted by Ally at 1:47 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Very Naughty
I went shopping yesterday, and, as I was passing by the Ulla Popken shop, I thought, let's go inside and see if they have the new collection yet.............. well, they did, and I bought a black top for work, a white ribbed cardigan, a green t-shirt (both of these to be worn in Austria) and a winter cape. This will sit in my wardrobe for the next three months, but will get a lot of wear after that.

Apart from that did very little - a bit of the Sampler Lady and watched Fabien Cosma (a French doctor series) on tv. So nice not to have to rush around at the weekend and do everything I couldn't do during the week. Today I am doing a bit of tidying up around the place, nothing too strenuous, as the temperature is very high, it could go up to 35 or more. Of course, there is a drop in temperature scheduled for tomorrow, back down to 20, it seems!
posted by Ally at 12:07 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Oh so nice to know that I don't have to tear around and do every single thing this weekend, I can go to the epilation and the drycleaners on Monday or whenever..... I have however been to the post office and waited in a long line to pick up an enormous parcel of winter clothes from Ulla Popken. Last week I placed a large order as soon as the catalogue came out, and they shipped it at once. So I'll be doing some wardrobe rearranging later today, I think. I have new jumpers, a suede jacket, and a very useful boiled wool cardigan jacket with shawl collar and large button in the front, also a skirt and top in a turquoise and rust print, which is daring for me, as I hardly ever wear prints, normally just solid colours.

Now my plans are to go and do some leisurely shopping at Monoprix and so on, then go home and stitch all afternoon...............
posted by Ally at 1:13 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, August 03, 2007
Last Day Before Holidays!
Oh yes,it has arrived, I never thought it would.... I am ecstatic that in eight hours time I will be out of here for four weeks. I do have to go to our own office on Monday morning, to do a couple of things, but that is it.

Poor Suzette has been banished from the office, her work permit has expired and they are having trouble getting her another one, it can take weeks. So she is at home for the duration, of course she is not supposed to be working, but she is. We will have lunch on Monday, so we can catch up, I miss her when she is not here. Everyone is furious with Inhuman Resources, as we call them - they knew her work permit was about to expire and did nothing. This is so typical of them, they never do anything on time.

I've actually been looking up the regulations regarding 3rd country nationals who are long-term EU residents. These apply to me, as I have a 10 year residence permit for France, and it appears I have very similar working rights to EU nationals, the only countries where I can't work more or less automatically are UK, Ireland and Denmark. I'm going to try and find out what formalities there are, as I know HR will not do anything about it, unless pushed. I've already told the Resources Director (who is nothing to do with HR, he is in charge of staffing the projects) that I am not going to tolerate being restricted in the projects I can work on just because HR cannot be bothered to get work permits. Unfortunately Suzette doesn't fall into the long-term category yet, but there are a couple of other people that I will be telling about this, they can also use the knowledge.

There are other changes around here, Tom is leaving for another project in the Netherlands (lucky, lucky man!), so we are getting a person called Jacques, who is already working for the giant company that took us over. Madame LA is leaving our group and joining another one (of supposed experts, there have been a few comments about this), so we will be getting a Monsieur LA. This will not happen immediately, I think all of them will be here when I come back from holidays, as there is a certain handover period. All I can say is I wish I were going to the Netherlands. Think of all the stitching I could get done on a four hours each way train trip every week! I must try and work on our Resources Director.... in fact, I would rather be almost anywhere but here, the combination of at least three hours travel per day, plus the relentless nose-picking that goes on is not pleasant.

I had some good news, I am going to do the Susan O'Connor (of "Inspirations" fame) classes later in the year, she is coming to Paris for three one-day classes. I signed up for all three, they are broderie traditionelle, not counted thread, but should be fun for a change. They are: monogram in whitework, thread painting and stumpwork, quite different things for me to do. When I used to get "Inspirations", hers were the designs I liked most. I don't get it any longer, because it is expensive to subscribe from here, plus I was finding that some issues had nothing except baby stuff, and that just doesn't interest me. If I see that there is something interesting, I just order the individual issue.

Well, I had better go and finish my work and see what's what.... I hope I can get out of here before seven pm, it would be great.
posted by Ally at 11:25 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments