Monday, March 31, 2008
Here is Bella!

Sorry, Kathryn! Isn't she adorable? I rushed out yesterday to get the DMC I needed to do the stitching (thank goodness it is summer shopping hours, and the Debenhams that stocks DMC is open on Sundays), then spent the rest of the day stitching the needleroll. I can't finish it right now, as I need to wait a few days for Sew and So to send me some no 12 Perle cotton and Kreinik for this, but they are so good that I am sure it will only be a few days.

The needleroll is backed with green woollen material for sticking the needles into, and this rolls up and fits inside Bella. She has magnetized bits that keep her closed, plus serve as needleholders when she is open - for placing the needle in use while you are working.

Re Lady Scarlett, she is still sitting at home in her box, as she arrived when I was in the middle of the big French client stitching slump and fourteen hours a day work horror. Which was good, because she gave me something to look at at a very bleak time. But now that Bella is here, Lady Scarlett must join her in being completed soon!
posted by Ally at 9:19 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Bella is Here!
Yes, she journeyed all the way from the US to Cyprus - I expect she is the only one of her kind to touch down here. I picked her up from the Post Office this morning quite early, and rushed home to unpack her. Later I will look out the threads and see what extra colours I need to get, I do not have a full set of DMC here.

I was feeling a little depressed last night, so she is the perfect antidote. Normally I don't let myself be depressed, but sometimes things get to me. This time, it was Sylvain - this man is my boss, even though I work on Leo's project, but he is such a weirdo, basically no interest in anyone except his favourites, and he is often quite rude, he tends to scream a lot when he gets stressed. I don't have a lot of respect for him, for this and other reasons.

So I just slumped in my chair and listened to an audiobook, "The Library Paradox", by Catherine Shaw. I recommend this and others in the series, they are about a lady detective in Victorian England, living in Cambridge. They use events from the period very well, "The Library Paradox" is connected with the Dreyfus Affair, and the whole question of Jews in society at that time. Fascinating, I think David would enjoy it actually.

Today I need to go over the other side of town for my facial, I hope that will make me feel better. I came to Gloria Jean's just now, because I wanted to check my mail (if anything nasty from Sylvain, better to know what it is!), so that's why I'm writing now. Bella will be photographed later and posted tomorrow...
posted by Ally at 10:49 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Friday, March 28, 2008
The Real Friday Post
Someone just brought me a slip for a parcel! Oh, I hope it is Bella Bee - I can't go to find out until tomorrow morning, as the Post Office here closes at 1:30 pm. Fortunately the parcel is at the Post Office that opens for two hours on Saturday moring, the only one in town that does so. So the usual Saturday runaround will take place, I have to go for my facial tomorrow as well.

I found out more about the water restrictions, I live in the area that will get 8 hours of mains turned on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There are other areas that get Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and on Sundays water will be monitored to see what is available and there may be some supply. Of course everyone is now running off to get larger tanks, so I am not sure how much this is going to save. Nicosia was originally going to be the only town on restrictions, but now both Lemesos and Larnaca are joining the party as well. I don't know what it will do for tourism, as it also affects hotels - I think some have their own desalination units, so can use sea water for some things, but that is only the big ones, I should imagine.

PS - I think I'm nicer than the meaning of my name suggests............ I don't going around crushing people at all!
posted by Ally at 2:53 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Meaning of Name?

What Ally Means

You are balanced, orderly, and organized. You like your ducks in a row.

You are powerful and competent, especially in the workplace.

People can see you as stubborn and headstrong. You definitely have a dominant personality.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.

You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.

You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.

You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.

Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.

You are the total package - suave, sexy, smart, and strong.

You have the whole world under your spell, and you can influence almost everyone you know.

You don't always resist your urges to crush the weak. Just remember, they don't have as much going for them as you do.

What's Your Name's Hidden Meaning?
posted by Ally at 9:54 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Water Restrictions
I just heard that we will have water restrictions starting this week, it looks as though the water will be on for 8 hours every two days. This isn't as dire as it might seem, as Cyprus has a system where there are holding tanks between the taps and the mains supply, so you use the holding tanks rather than a direct supply. So when it is on, the tanks can be filled and used when it is off. Hopefully the lunatics who are out washing the road, their cars, the house, whatever for hours at a time will stop!

At least we have a full swimming pool, if the showers run out. Hotels are not immune, as the entire system is switched off (don't know what they do re hospitals), and it is going to affect tourism, but there isn't a choice - the reservoirs are at about 10% of capacity.

And there is no sign of electricity cuts, so at least the air-conditioning will be working!
posted by Ally at 2:12 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Progress on Victoria's Quaker
A day at home can produce good results! I didn't do any on this for all of last week, but I picked it up again on Sunday and then yesterday to make some progress. It was fine yesterday, but still there were dust storms, and going outside was not recommended, so all I did was stitch, a bit of work, etc etc, with the odd excursion to the local coffee shops for change of scenery.

Angel is here again, goodness he is annoying me. He doesn't shut doors, he is obviously suffering from the dust and makes strange snorting noises about every three seconds and he keeps asking me silly questions, like what is the nicest area of Paris? When he arrived on Monday and found that Tuesday was a public holiday, he asked if it was St Patrick's Day! Quite the wrong country. A bit like someone on the Cyprus Info Forum who wanted to know if there were any Irish Dancing schools here - oddly enough, no, it's not really a big thing among Cypriots.

Well, I had better go and get on with it, I have a fair bit of testing to do today, plus a couple of decisions to make about some changes that are proving necessary.
posted by Ally at 9:48 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Tagged By Kathryn

Four movies I'd watch again:

  • How To Make an American Quilt

  • Four Weddings and A Funeral

  • Italiensk For Begyndere

  • Diary of Bridget Jones

  • Four places I've lived:

  • Wellington

  • Melbourne

  • Paris

  • Belfast

  • Four TV shows I watch:

  • Thalassa

  • News in Greek

  • News in French

  • Eurosport skiing

  • Four places I've been:

  • Bruges, Belgium

  • Penang, Malaysia

  • Tartu, Estonia

  • Oberlech, Austria

  • Four things I love to eat:

  • Avocados

  • Prawns

  • Toast

  • Bavette with echalote sauce

  • Four places I'd rather be:

  • the Spa at Le Meridien

  • Copenhagen

  • Home in Paris

  • Poland with David and Nicky

  • Four things to look forward to:

  • Holiday in New Zealand

  • Nicky's next visit

  • Buying my own flat in Paris

  • Being a Lead Architect one day
    posted by Ally at 10:02 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
    Sunday, March 23, 2008
    Hottest March Day Ever
    Saturday was the hottest day ever in March in Cyprus, about 36 degrees......... it is still hot and very windy, we have the red dust being blown over from Egypt and I don't intend to spend a lot of time out of doors.

    Of course I saw on CNN and the other news the bad weather in the US (Kim, I hope you don't have floods? it looks terrible), and also that in Paris it is 6 degrees, which is below average for this time of year. Truly the weather on the whole planet is getting more and more unpredictable, I think. I try to do my bit for the environment, walking and not having a car, and not flying too much, but you really have to wonder where it all is going to end. I do despise those celebrities who tell us all not to fly, but that they have to for their jobs! Most people in my company, in my position, would have made medium distance flights at least every two weeks since November (when I came here), that is ten return trips, I have made two and a half so far. There are people who would have gone home every week, actually. Of course Alec does, but for him it is only a 45 minute flight, sadly there is no ferry any more because of the international situation in the Middle East.

    Today I am thinking of sleeping in the afternoon, as I really feel tired. I have some washing to do, and I want to stitch some more - back to Victoria's Quaker, as my extra thread has arrived. Tuesday is a public holiday, for Greek National Day, so I can also take that day off, for stitching etc.
    posted by Ally at 10:10 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
    Friday, March 21, 2008
    Florentine Floral Finished
    I went home last night and stitched for about two hours - that was enough to finish Florentine Floral. In real life the colours are more vibrant, but I took this picture last night in light that was not great.

    Today is Good Friday, but it is not a holiday here in Cyprus, as Greek Easter does not fall for another month. Typically it is a week different from Western Christian Easter, but this year there is a long gap. I will go home early , and I hope it will be fine enough to have a swim - again it is looking grey for the weekend.

    I have more hassle with the expenses, now I have 1500€ that I am owed since 1 February, and also the finance manager is claiming that he should stop my pay because the cheque has not arrived! Really they are inefficient........... our resources director is looking into the whole thing for me, but I am on the point of involving the inspecteur du travail, since there seems to be no end to the saga.
    posted by Ally at 9:01 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
    Thursday, March 20, 2008
    I really feel as though I have had it today, and it is not as though I have been doing anything very strenuous, only writing more and more emails regarding the missing payments. Everything was supposed to be paid today, and no, it has not been. I've had to fill in yet another spreadsheet with the reference numbers and amounts that I am still waiting for.

    I'm sure this is interfering with my sleep, I thought I was asleep all night, but I woke up exhausted. Then I had breakfast with Leo, which is exhausting in itself. And I did stay here at work until 8pm last night............. I am looking forward to the weekend, and to next Tuesday, which is a public holiday. Angel is coming back on Monday, and he intends to work on Tuesday, but I certainly do not.

    It is only just over four weeks until I go to New Zealand, I am already not looking forward to the journey. The only thing that is keeping me going is that I will be able to lie down on the plane, I couldn't do it if I had to sit up for all the time.
    posted by Ally at 2:20 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
    Wednesday, March 19, 2008
    Rant and Rave
    My goodness, the admin people have done it now.................. I was electrified yesterday to get a note from them asking me to send them a cheque for about 2000 euros, as they had tried to recover their mistaken payment from my March salary, and it was 2000 euros short! Of course I write back saying that I already sent them a cheque for the full amount, and kindly reinstate my March salary. Then back comes another email saying literally "Oh, OK, do not pay the extra amount". No explanation, apology, whatever.

    I haven't yet replied to that one, because I can't trust myself not to write something fairly rude along the lines of "well, if it hadn't been more than a whole month's salary, you would have got away with reclaiming this money twice without my noticing for some time". Plus a bit about how they shouldn't have paid me this money anyway, if they had checked their AP system, they would have noticed it had already been paid by AP. And the whole thing would never have arisen if they actually paid expenses claims on time!

    Leo is also sitting here muttering "I hate (company name)", turns out they have done something strange to him as well. I think it may be connected with expenses......
    posted by Ally at 11:30 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
    Sunday, March 16, 2008
    Petit Coeur Assembled!
    This is what I did today, sewed this together at long last - I did the stitching a few weeks ago. I love the colours, it is done in Gloriana Silks.........

    posted by Ally at 8:08 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
    Saturday, March 15, 2008
    Photos Allowed Today
    This is Florentine Floral as of yesterday morning, a bit more is done now....

    I am sitting here exhausted, as I have walked all over town today - the Post Office, Debenhams, the kiosk, Ulla Popken, Starbucks, the knitting wool shop, Jacques Dessange and another kiosk. It is now 6pm and not dark yet, although it will be in a few minutes. Darkness just drops here, and it does get dark earlier than in Paris. On the other hand, it gets light much earlier, never later than 6:30 and now about 5:30 am. Whereas in Paris it is never light before 7am, even in the height of summer, and 8:30 am in winter.

    It was hot of course, out around town, and I bought summer clothes, including a couple of shirts I can wear to work. One is DMC 340 and the other is 3689, I see from the Florentine Floral colours! So far no new linen dresses in stock, I hope some are coming. I need some, and I don't want to have to sew myself. I can, of course, but it is not my favourite activity. Would much rather embroider than sew!

    At the knitting wool shop I succumbed to Debbie Bliss Cathay - cotton, microfiber and silk, a good blend for summer, and I will make a top down short-sleeved jumper. I downloaded a pattern via Ravelry and think I can do it. But who knows how long it will take? Cannot give you the colour reference for that, but it is a colour that is not orange, ochre or yellow or apricot - this sounds dull, but it is quite a good colour for a brown-eyed blonde.
    posted by Ally at 5:56 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
    Friday, March 14, 2008
    Friday Update
    Blogger will not let me post photos at present, no idea why, so my progress with Florentine Floral is going to have to wait...

    It is very quiet here today, as Alec and Angel have both gone home, Angel for a whole week, thank goodness. He is exhausting, it takes such an effort to listen to him, and he also does not close doors, which drives both Alec and me mad. There have been high winds which mean that any unclosed doors swing to and fro, eventually banging, which is agonizing. I guess some people just don't get why they should close doors!

    What have I done this week, apart from quite a bit of Florentine Floral, going out to dinner twice, listening to Angel? Well, I did buy two pairs of summer shoes from Aerosoles - finally they got some! I have black sandals with wedge heels and woven type straps, plus beige flatties with bits cut out of the side for air, that will keep me going until some more exciting ones arrive. I did submit yet more expense reports (covered with notes regarding the dates I required payment by!). I did solve quite a lot of entirely specious "problems" raised by various people, I can only conclude that some of them do not have enough to do.

    So I am looking forward to the weekend, hopefully this hideous wind will die down. I guess it is the edge of the storm that has been sweeping Europe, or something like that.
    posted by Ally at 4:05 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
    Wednesday, March 12, 2008
    Wednesday That Feels Like Tuesday
    Last night we all went out to dinner again, this time to the fish tavern that is another favourite - we ate fish mezze until we could eat no more, and I took a kitty bag home. Hotel Kitty was most appreciative, she evidently likes deep-fried barbounia!

    This fish tavern is practically next door to Wagamama, a few minutes' walk from my hotel, and it is very popular, you always have to book. Wagamama is also popular, it is fairly newly opened here, just before Christmas, and it is the first one in Cyprus, but most people know it already from the UK, I guess.

    So I have not done much stitching last night either, just a bit more of Florentine Floral, which I am starting to get the hang of. I find that the Just Nans with many colours and just a few stitches of each are interesting, because you can normally work out a logical way of doing all the colours, rather than just doing them randomly as they occur. If that makes sense. For Florentine Floral, for example, I found that there was a sort of frame of white that I could do first and locate other colours from that basis. Maybe no-one else does this? Maybe it is the business architect approach to stitching?

    However Roddy is leaving today, so no more dinners out this week, and back to stitching progress, I hope. I did ask Roddy yesterday whether I should be planning to come back here after my NZ trip, and the answer is yes, until probably the end of June. They are supposed to go live the day after I get back, although of course we are rather sceptical about this by now, and we should support them for two months after that.

    Not sure I am going to photograph myself wearing angora scarf etc at the moment, by the way! It is rather too hot for that! I am wearing my sunhat on the way to work these days, much to the amusement of the locals.
    posted by Ally at 10:14 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
    Tuesday, March 11, 2008
    Yesterday's Photo

    This is the photo I could not post yesterday, showing my angora scarf - Louisa Harding Kimono Angora and my French beret in Anny Blatt Merinos. Both patterns are from a Louisa Harding Accesories book, Gathering Roses, that I have had for quite some time and am now getting my money's worth knitting practically every pattern in the book! The French beret has a rosette knitted in Sari Ribbon to go with it, but this is still waiting to be made up, owing to the utter impossibility of buying brooch backs - or even safety pins - in Cyprus.

    Yesterday continued really rather grey and I sat indoors and listened to my audio book, and started Just Nan's Florentine Floral, which is quite small, but has about 20 colours of DMC in it, so requires some concentration. Then I got a message from Roddy to say he had arrived and what about dinner with him and Angel (Spaniard)? So we went to Wagamama and ate a lot. Delicious tempura squid with chili sauce.....

    Of course today dawned bright and sunny, without the high winds, so it is just the sort of day to spend by the pool, instead of testing Write Off procedures!
    posted by Ally at 10:26 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
    Monday, March 10, 2008
    Green Monday
    I don't seem to be able to add any photos today, so I can't show you my fairly unimpressive progress over the weekend - it hasn't been as productive as I hoped, since I have been feeling quite tired. The weather also has been both hot and grey, with some fierce winds. Actually I was expecting the dust storms we get when the dust comes over from Egypt, but thankfully we have been spared that - I have to stay indoors when that happens, it is not very healthy outside.

    On Saturday I got sucked into going for lunch with our young Spaniard, honestly I feel guilty about him - he is perfectly nice, but it's such a struggle to converse. He's a bit funny in some ways actually, at lunch he told me that he had been in my hotel on Friday evening, not to stay or to eat, as I at first thought, but to use the gym. I said, oh yes, I believe they do allow people from outside to use it, you just pay a fee. And guess what he said! He didn't pay, he was just jogging in the area, and thought he would like to use the gym, so he jogged through the hotel reception, out the back door, past the pool and into the back door of the gym! Thus bypassing the gym reception where they ask you for your room card and check who you are. Inventive, I suppose, but.... all I can say is, it wouldn't have occurred to me.

    Actually on Friday afternoon he suddenly asked us in the office if bulls**t was a polite word in English. Fortunately none of the clients were there at the time, it was only me and one of the young men from our Greek partner company. The latter was good enough to explain that, no, it wasn't the sort of thing you should say at work, better to reserve it for when he was with his male friends. Then, later on, when he told me that Spain was having presidential elections, and I said King Juan Carlos would be surprised to hear that, he comes out with, Kings are bulls**t! So I was relieved to go home on Friday.

    Apart from that, I have spent a lot of time lounging on the sofa, listening to audio books, and nothing intellectual either. I'm going to go out in a bit, a few shops are open, thank goodness, as I urgently need some things. All I am going to say about that is that I will be glad when the menopause and all of its unpredictability is well and truly finished. It really does affect my moods and makes me quite lethargic sometimes - even when I want to do things.

    No real plans for the day, apart from doing my necessary shopping.... then I'll come back home and try to tidy up a bit, the place is a bit of a mess, and do some stitching. I have actually finished some knitting, a rather nice pink variegated angora scarf, which I thought I had better finish before the weather becomes so hot that even the thought of angora makes me turn bright red!
    posted by Ally at 9:32 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
    Friday, March 07, 2008
    Long Weekend in Sight
    I am sitting here in the office listening to the users doing something very loudly in Greek, while our own DBA asks me questions either in English or in French about various things. He is Spanish and speaks neither English nor French very well. Nice young man, but can be irritating. He has a tendency to ask why the Cypriots and the Turks don't like each other very much, which at best provokes long historical explanations, which clearly he doesn't understand, given that he has asked this several times. Add history teacher to my other roles! Yesterday I had to explain to him the differences between Protestantism, Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, as well!

    So I hope to escape quite early today, particularly as it is a long weekend, we have Monday off, and the weather should be fine, so I can swim. I also urgently need summer clothes and sandals, as I have none here, but I am worried about what is in stock. Nicosia's shops seem to have still mostly winter clothes, I don't know why, but I did see a couple of people at breakfast wearing padded coats. I would be dead if I tried that in the current heat.

    This week I have been busy testing something that's overdue and no-one else wants to do it, so of course I get landed with it. So very little stitching progress, I want to make up for that at the weekend.
    posted by Ally at 12:02 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
    Monday, March 03, 2008
    Victoria's Quaker - Nearly Half Way!

    This is the last week's progress, and the weekend's - definitely practically at the half way mark! Hopefully I can continue to progress this week, although I am not sure if Roddy is going to be in town. He seriously impedes my stitching progress, as he always takes me to dinner. Which of course is good for me, as I don't get enough social activity here.

    It is also a public holiday next Monday, and I am not going away for the weekend. I did think about going down to Limassol to the spa again, but, having just forked out a vast sum of money to Air New Zealand, I should try and economize a little. Particularly as it is getting very warm, and I will need to get some new clothes. I was so frustrated on Saturday that Aerosoles does not yet have the summer shoes in, I really need sandals for work, as I cannot wear my old Ecco sandals that I use for walking at the weekends to work. Similarly I have t-shirts and so on, but not stuff that I can wear to work.

    Anyway the point of this is that I can stitch next Monday, instead of working! I am close to running out of the red and the black silks for VQ, but I have ordered some more from Victoria Clayton and they are in the mail, so I hope they arrive before I completely run out. I am stitching this two over two on 32 count, as opposed to 1 over 1 for the original - which I have seen in person, and it is tiny! The Victoria Clayton silks come in quite small skeins, which I think is terrific if you are using a lot of colours and don't need so much of each. I believe she also offers larger hanks, which would be ideal for monochrome samplers, I really will have to look at those and see what is available, because I have Beatrix Potter etc that I would like to do.
    posted by Ally at 9:05 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments