Thursday, January 31, 2008
Thursday Already
This week seems to have gone quickly, although I have been suffering a bit from insomnia (the company now owes me 8000 euros worth of expenses and I also bank with Societe Generale!).

We have been terribly busy, Alec and I, and we have two PDs (Leo and Roddy) asking us every three seconds for updates.... Alec is getting rather irritable, understandable as he is working with one eye open most of the time. But I was surprised to see him fling his cellphone on the table yesterday. And today he said he felt he needed a strong drink before speaking to our DBA! I am just having moments of quiet despair, as I open yet another problem log, and look at yet another strange case of missing flags for this or that. I am dealing with a few things that are not really my field, since Alec is pretty busy, but nothing so far is too horrific.

I have not been doing a lot at night, I picked out Tournicoton's "Petit Coeur" to work on - another small project, and I think I will finish it this week, if I can find some little beads somewhere for the edging... apart from that, picking up the knitting now and then as well...
posted by Ally at 1:22 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Back in Nicosia
I did get to Paris finally - we were an hour late as usual, because they were checking the plane. It's been rather a rush, as I had to visit two doctors, the pharmacy and the hairdressers in two days, plus do quite a lot of shopping, as I am not sure I will get back to Paris before mid-April. Unusually I did not buy books, but I bought face stuff, toothpaste, shampoo, etc, also knitting wool and materials for the Wiehenburg Mystery Sampler that I just signed up for.

On Thursday night I had dinner with Suzette, who says their project (my old one!) is going from strange to stranger, as the client no longer want either the PD or the Lead Architect, just the two designers, Suzette and another girl, plus the technical architect on an as-needed basis. This means Suzette will be working directly for their Project Director, which is not something I would be happy about. I think I am better off where I am.

My flight back yesterday was on time, very quick (fifteen minutes early) AND Marcos Baghdatis was sitting across from me one row back! When he came into the lounge before the flight, I thought I recognised him, and it was confirmed when we got on, and one man asked him for his autograph - which I actually thought was rather cheeky, as Marcos was listening to his Ipod at the time and seemed rather tired. In fact I think he slept for most of the flight, wish I had been able to as well. The man who asked for his autograph spent a lot of time whirling around his extremely noisy worry beads - I hate these things, I think all they achieve is to worry everyone else.

Thanks to those who said nice things about "With All Your Heart", this was one I really enjoyed doing, and of course I was happy that all the proceeds are going to a good cause........ I'm not sure what I am going to stitch next, in fact, that is what I am going to think about as soon as I turn off this computer. I have a couple of largeish samplers I have to make a start on, but which will come first, I do not know. Stay tuned for my decision!
posted by Ally at 12:29 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
With All Your Heart
Here it is, my biscornu with scissor fob! This is the BRD special edition where all the proceeds have gone to breast cancer causes. I do think I need a little pair of pink scissors to go with this. My biscornu is filled with round-grain rice. I prefer the plastic beads, but they are unobtainable in Cyprus - I don't really like to stuff them with cottonwool or whatever, I think the "moveable" filling gives a nicer effect, and it is much easier when attaching the buttons to get through a moveable filling and get everything nicely lined up. And David is not here to assume this one is a bean-bag and start throwing it around the room!

I am busy today, as I am going to Paris tomorrow - finally I found my airline ticket, it had been changed from paper ticket to e-ticket WITHOUT TELLING ME! Of course I am clairvoyant, so should have known this. I am now engaged in a debate about upgrading it, because of course our new masters always order the worst possible fares, even if it is only one cent cheaper than something fully refundable, changeable, upgradeable. One cent saved like this is worth more than hours and hours of my time, naturally.
posted by Ally at 11:13 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Monday, January 21, 2008
A Couple of Photos
Here is "Kindness Begets Kindness", the HIH 2007 Collectors Heart:

And my pink silk wristlets and scarf, which took 2 skeins of Debbie Bliss pure silk. This is quite expensive yarn, but you get a good effect with using only a little, and it's also extremely nice to knit. I'm thinking seriously about getting some of the pure cashmere in Paris, they have it at Le Bon Marche.
Roddy has just arrived, he had a horrible trip from London, the plane was late and he got here at 6am, hideous...
posted by Ally at 9:51 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Sunny Sunday
Here it is about 17 degrees and very sunny, although we may expect some rain this week, as the Archbishop of Cyprus had another prayer session on Friday night. I know some cynical people who say His Holiness is checking the long range forecasts very carefully before he organises his prayer sessions, but, whatever, it did result in rain last time. We need it very badly, as water reserves are at an all-time low.

I was very tired on Friday night when I got home, those advertising boards really took it out of me, and I have only got up at 8:45 the past two days. Yesterday I went to have a facial in the afternoon, and Toni did a lot of lymphatic massage on my face, and I think that has really helped the lingering sinus problem from my cold. I certainly felt much fresher afterwards, and came home to work on "Kindness Begets Kindness", which is now nearly finished. If it wasn't part of a set (I have quite a few of these HIH collectors hearts), I would be tempted to frame it and give it to Sylvain! He could sometimes do with being a bit kinder. Even Roddy, who is not noted for his altruism, remarked that Sylvain was a bit on the selfish side. Apparently, at PD meetings, he always refers to "his" resources, as though we were all pawns in a chess game, and he constantly tries to get more people for his projects.

This afternoon I may have a little nap, as this is going to be a tiring week, I have to go to Paris on Wednesday. Thursday I see the work doctor, Friday, my own doctor, Saturday the hairdresser. At least I hope it works out like that, the work doctor is the only one I have made an appointment with yet. In fact, they make the appointment with me, once a year, it is compulsory for all French workers, and can always be relied upon to be at an inconvenient moment. If Sarkozy is going to reform the workplace, I wish he would start with that.

I'll be flying back to Larnaca next Saturday, at least I hope so, I have not seen any sign of my tickets yet! I ordered them at least two weeks ago, and apparently they have been ticketed and are on their way to me. By snail, it seems. Of course, Cyprus Airways is not one of our new company's preferred airlines, they would rather I went by Lufthansa or Air France or whatever, which is a tad awkward for getting to Cyprus. So they won't do an e-ticket, unless you beg and plead and make them call Cyprus Airways - who of course would rather actually do an e-ticket. Honestly!

Ah well, instead of stressing over things I cannot influence, I am going to go and finish the washing - this has been somewhat delayed, because this morning I managed to run the machine for one load without actually putting the washing in the machine. I must be getting older or something....
posted by Ally at 2:09 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, January 18, 2008
Torture By Advertising Board
I am testing this Advertising Board development for the zillionth time........ it is getting very tedious, and I am close to getting very cross. However I will summon up all my patience and draw another set of diagrams showing the contracted KWH of each board being subtracted from the measured consumption of the street lights in the street where the board is. When I walk down streets now, I look at flashing billboards in a different way. How many KWH does that one use, I think.

Can you tell that I am looking forward to the weekend? I am feeling quite tired, more so as I went out to dinner last night, not having eaten anything for dinner all week, and I got back quite late, then sat and stitched and knitted for an hour. I am close to finishing a long pink silk scarf from Debbie Bliss pure silk yarn, which is very nice to knit with. I bought two skeins a couple of weeks ago, and have made the Victorian Cabled Wristlets that practically everyone else in the universe has made, and nearly finished a matching scarf.

Other reasons for feeling slightly aggrieved - my airline tickets for next week have not arrived, and the Queen is not sending Prince Charles or whoever to Sir Edmund Hillary's funeral. I mean, the Gov Gen will attend, of course, but I was expecting a member of the Royal Family as well. Either Charles or Edward would have made sense. I think it will be the biggest State Funeral ever in New Zealand.

Of course there are lots of new stitching releases that make me cheerful whenever I think of them, apparently some really nice "With My Needle" and "Just Nan" pieces are coming soon. Also a charming man has just brought me heaps of mail, including a Spring Ulla Popken catalogue....
posted by Ally at 11:19 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Drool - Total Must Haves

Naturally I pre-ordered these the second I saw them, on the SBB website! They will be released at Nashville in early February, and are both from Cat's Whiskers. I think I distorted the top one a bit in my efforts to make it larger, but the idea is clear, a box where the lid and front open out to reveal treasures.
Nashville is often fatal to any hopes of spending less!

posted by Ally at 3:58 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
I came in late this morning, as it was fire drill here until 10am, and this involves lots of shrieking in Greek and rushing up and down stairs - I have previous experience of this, so avoided it this time. I sat at home and knitted (pink silk from Debbie Bliss, yum!) until 9am, then went to Gloria Jean's for coffee and an email check. Good thing I did not decide to sleep in, as housemaids were yelling outside my door at 7:30 am. No particular reason, probably they just come from villages where that is the norm, to speak so loudly that you can be heard from one mountain top to the next. But I am really good these days and get up around 7am during the week.

For the enquiring minds, I am flying via Auckland, but don't have a lot of time there, I think the plane from Hong Kong lands at 9am and then my domestic flight leaves at 10:30, something like that. I'll be flying to Wellington, my mother will arrive there from Napier two hours later, and we will spend the weekend with my sister, who lives in Wellington. Doing what exactly, I am not sure, my sister is in charge of this, but I have let it be known that I wish to go to Nancy's. I remember when Nancy's was first opened in Wellington, it used to be inside James Smiths department store - this dates me, it would have been pre-1968! So Nancy's is at least 40 years old. And the original lady was called Nancy as well, my mother knew her, but I think she is no longer with us.

Alec is back today, just for today and tomorrow. If you didn't know him, you wouldn't think he had just had an eye operation, no patch or anything. I can tell, because the affected eye looks a bit different, but that's about it. He also looks thin! He laughed when I told him I was supposed to be seeing that he didn't do too much... he seems in quite good spirits, but I guess he is worried about how much sight will return in that eye.
posted by Ally at 11:16 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Monday, January 14, 2008
Finish - Garden of Life
This is David's birthday present, finished over the weekend, now all I have to do is find a framer here and get that done. The photo is a bit distorted, I don't think I've quite mastered the new camera yet, but I think it has come out better than it would have done with the old camera. This is such a nice design, it makes me want to do some more Blackbird Designs, but I didn't bring any with me. I have just started (last night) on the 2007 Heart from Heart in Hand, as that is a nice small project for this week. Then I will think about something a bit larger.

Had a very quiet weekend, I finally managed to go to the pharmacy, and just got some Panadol Cold and Flu capsules which have completely chased away this cold, I only needed to take two and that was it. I also bought two new pairs of black shoes at Aerosoles sale, and a huge white jasmine candle in a glass at Zara Home. Plus the usual heap of newspapers and magazines, of course. Then I spent most of the weekend hibernating in my pyjamas to the scent of white jasmine. Nice to be able to get some stitching done in peace.

The big news I booked my trip to New Zealand, I will be flying Air New Zealand via London and Hong Kong. The fares are surprisingly cheap, economy class starts at 1000€ return (this is cheap when you think of the cost of a four hour trip to Cyprus), but I have booked something a bit more spacious, I need to be able to lie down and take a sleeping pill if necessary. I still get scared of flying sometimes, the ongoing legacy of all those Easyjet flights from Paris to Belfast. It's also easier for luggage etc, and lounge access, that sort of thing. Roll on the end of April!
posted by Ally at 10:05 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Friday, January 11, 2008
Friday At Last
Today I really am going to get something from a pharmacy - although I feel not bad, I am at the stage where I periodically cough very loudly and very indelicately. This is extremely unlovely, and exhausting as well.

Also I am sure that my doctor in Paris would go berserk if he knew, and start madly prescribing things, and lecture me about my blood pressure. And I will see him in three weeks, so I need to look super-healthy. I also have to see the "work doctor", who examines us every year to make sure that we are fit for work. This will be a new one, as we changed companies, because of the takeover last year. But I expect it will be as usual, they weigh us and give us eye tests, etc.

Now I am by myself in the office, and have only to finish a spreadsheet and look at one problem for Rosetta. Roddy has gone home and Leo has gone to Morocco on holidays for two weeks, half his luck.

Yesterday I succumbed to a handbag on the way home:

The one on the right.......... these are a brand called KEM, which is Greek, so I don't think anyone in France will have one like it. On sale at a shop around the corner from the hotel - I walk home down Nicosia's top shopping street, which can be a bit of a trap actually. But this one I bought for Spring weekend wear, I think it will be good for that.

I made a booking yesterday also to go to Paris at the end of the month, for doctor's appointments, as noted above, but also because I won't get another chance before the go-live here and all the aftermath of that, at least I don't think so. Goodness, our company's travel booking system is bizarre, it took ages, and then this morning, I got an automated letter from that system giving all their travel advice for Cyprus! It was hilarious, here are the cultural tips:

General Cultural Tips
Villagers love receiving visitors.
Refusing an offer of Greek coffee or a cold drink is viewed as impolite.
Bring a small gift of wine or chocolates when invited to a meal.
Casual attire is acceptable. Beach wear should only be worn at the beach or by the pool.
Photography is forbidden near military camps or installations and is often restricted elsewhere.

Business Cultural Tips
Formal business dress is appropriate.
Handshakes are customarily exchanged when greeting and leaving.
Make business appointments in advance.
Punctuality is important.

No-one is ever on time for anything here! Ever! Even television only keeps loosely to the schedule, and don't even talk about planes and buses, not to mention shops, clients etc.

Well, that is enough talking for today. I'm hoping to go early and get a head start on everything, and I hope to make some progress stitching this weekend, after feeling blah all week.

posted by Ally at 10:14 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Considerably Improved
I didn't go to the pharmacy yesterday either - I am beginning to wonder if the one across the road from my place is on holiday - but I feel quite a lot better.

This may be due to the following, consumed last night at Wagamama:

- Sweet potato wedges with wasabi mayonnaise
- Stir-fried prawn curry
- Half a white chocolate and ginger cheesecake
- Half a Chili and Tamarind pavlova
- Two Apple and Lime juices

Roddy and I shared our desserts, that's why I had half of two. I think all those hottish dishes (nothing was really strong chili, I just can't do that) have chased away the germs, because I feel a lot better today. Tired, but then that's not abnormal. Actually this was the first time since Thursday that I have eaten dinner.

Today Leo is here, just for the day, they are supposed to, or were supposed to, have big meetings, but one of the client's guys has just not shown up. Anyway I think we will go out to dinner tonight, maybe to Nando's. I just hope Leo and Roddy do not talk about maths the whole time, which is what they are doing now, instead of working. Terrible when you get two mathematicians together, I wish David would come back so we could talk about Euripides or the Spanish Inquisition, or something normal!
posted by Ally at 2:34 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Common Cold
I didn't get to leave early last night and go to the pharmacy, in fact, I got to the pharmacy across the road from my apartment about five minutes after it shut! Goodness, I was cross, and I felt really bad by then! So I watched television for a little while - after miscounting in both my attempts at stitching and knitting, and failing to fill in even one number in Sudoku level 7 - then had a very hot bath and went to bed. Hotel kitty was miaowing outside my door to come in, but I did not let her. She cast me a baleful glance when I went out this morning (she sleeps on a chair in the lobby, from where she can keep an eye on everyone's comings and goings).

But I am here today, although contemplating nipping out to the pharmacy at some stage, and I was rewarded with nice mail - Mary Peacock Ackworth chart and With My Needle "Maidens of the Sea" chart, from Wyndham. They came via Paris, of course, as Wyndham do not ship to Cyprus. Not sure why, it can't be that complicated.

Tonight Roddy and I are going to Wagamama's , it just opened here before Christmas, and I am a big fan, so is he. I went there last week, and had the nicest asparagus with sesame, then chicken katsu..... it's always hard to choose, perhaps prawns tonight?
posted by Ally at 11:03 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, January 07, 2008
Instant Gratification
This is what I knitted on Thursday and Friday evening, a bow-tie scarf (free pattern available in numerous places on the internet, there are a lot of versions, but the designer of this one is called Katherine Burgess). It took just less than a skein of Noro Cashmere Island, so it is lovely and soft:
Then on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, this is another one skein project, from a Louisa Harding accessories booklet. The yarn is called Impression, and it is a fuzzy, variegated, ribbony yarn that is very soft:
I plan to make some wristlets and a scarf of this yarn too, as I have another two skeins. This will make a nice set with not too much effort.
The wooden background is the coffee table in my hotel apartment, it has glass on the top.
Actually over the weekend, I was feeling a bit grotty with a cold, that explains the knitting - it's kind of nice when you feel low to do something that doesn't require a lot of effort but gives a quick result. I did do some stitching as well, and I think I will finish David's present this week, also my pink biscornu set.
I'm still sneezing a bit, so I am going to leave early today, go to the pharmacist and get some stuff to take to get rid of it. Roddy is here, and he is leaving early as well, since he arrived on a 4am flight.
posted by Ally at 12:24 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Oh No, Bad News!
Leo just called me, and Alec won't be back on site until the end of January - he had to have an emergency eye operation last week! He was saying the week before Christmas that he had a headache and his eyes felt sore, and it turns out it is a detached retina. Which I have just tried to read about, and it sounds so painful that I couldn't finish the page, so goodness knows how dreadful it must be actually going through it. Plus the further possibilities are horrific, he could be left without sight in that eye. Of course he cannot fly until the doctor says so either, after that type of surgery.

This means that I am it on site until he gets back, although Leo says Roddy will be here next week. But he will just have meetings and things, being a PD! Then probably give me extra things to do....

I have now mastered the camera and downloading to my laptop, it is extremely easy, as all I need to do is put the camera's memory card into the correct slot on my laptop, which is apparently necessary, because I have Windows XP, but in fact I think it is the easiest way.

So here is Hotel Kitty, sitting on a pile of sun loungers, of course she started to move when she saw the camera:

And here is my new La Droguerie scarf, in various shades of alpaca, with the lace trim just draped on one edge, to show what it will look like:

This is the one where I have to sew in 64 ends! I am also in the middle of making up my pink biscornu from BRD, the one that was sold to raise funds for breast cancer research. So there is a little bit of sewing going on.

Today I also ordered the Judith Hayle Samplers book, to be sent to me here in Cyprus, I can hardly wait for that.
posted by Ally at 1:58 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Back to Work!
I must say I would rather be outside at present, the sun is shining brightly, and I would like to go and sit in the garden with the cat and do some stitching! We have a garden at the hotel, sort of, in that we can sit in the area next to the pool, which has some trees and flower pots and even in winter, they leave out some chairs and loungers for the mad Northern Europeans who come to stay. The pool is officially closed, but some of us still use it if it's sunny enough (it's not heated).

There's a new heading in my sidebar for 2008 finishes, and I hope it will have some there soon - I have to assemble my pink biscornu set this week, and also sew in 64 ends of a striped La Droguerie scarf, and sew up my Elle Tricote Noro Silk Garden mittens. Then I can think about finishing a couple of other things and maybe start a new sampler....

Today I am the only one here, I am expecting Alec back next week, but until then, I am alone, apart from the clients, who are very much preoccupied with the change to the euro. Yesterday I did go out to get newspapers and food, but I still had Cyprus pounds. I paid for my dinner in pounds, and the waitress came running out of the restaurant after me, because she thought I hadn't left enough - she was looking at the euro amount! Which was something like 18 euros, but I had paid in Cyprus pounds, which was about £11. I guess they will get used to it soon. I like the euro myself, having used it already since it came in in France, and never having had any attachment to the currency it replaced (I only used francs for about a year), but I guess it can be slightly traumatic for those who have used the old currency all their lives. But there are people here who still think in piastres, which haven't been used since the 1950's, and this is really silly. It will make it a lot easier for me to do my expenses, that's for sure, I won't have to worry about the exchange rate, or at least, I hope I won't. Amex seem to do some strange things sometimes with rates.

Ah, I just noticed a package on the other desk, it is from SBB, and I opened it to find the latest SANQ and two Little By Little charts, "Mecklenburg" and "Counting Book Samplar". This has reminded me also to download the latest "Gift of Stitching", and there is a silk sampler pocketbook and an Elizabethan biscornu that I like, also two parts of the mystery sampler. I still haven't decided about that, it's big!
posted by Ally at 11:04 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments