Sunday, September 28, 2008
Well, I have not done much at all this week, except some necessary things around the apartment - it gets incredibly dusty when I am not there, for some reason. Here is the newly dusted and rearranged top of bookshelves where I keep quite a lot of my smalls:

I would love some more bookshelves, actually, but have not got around to buying any yet... it's quite a business, because arranging for anything to be delivered here is complex. So I have piles of books up the wall in the hallway.

Now it's nearly time to think of going back to Cyprus, I leave Paris on Wednesday, but am going to a Limassol hotel until Sunday, when I shall go back to Nicosia. The Limassol hotel is a good one, five star with spa, and right on the beach, so should be relaxing. I still feel rather stressed at times, probably because of all the emails I have answered while on holiday. Our developers are nice guys, but I've been asked the same question by three of them, don't they ever talk to each other? Alec has been overwhelmed with questions as well, I spoke to him on Monday. He will not be there this week, he is working from home, because it is Jewish holidays. He is not specially religious, but likes to be with his family at such times.

I'm going to look through the spa brochure now, and pre-book some treatments, I think.....

posted by Ally at 12:08 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Monday, September 22, 2008
Back Home
I did so much in London, thoroughly tired out my legs, in fact, and the journey home was not great fun - it was lucky I went to St Pancras early, because I don't think I would have got a seat if I had gone later. My train was cancelled, and I got put on an earlier train with about a million other people and tons of luggage. Of course I had my case, a large John Lewis bag, a Loop bag and two Waterstones bags, so I was not entirely guiltless, but at least I didn't have enormous suitcases, these simply do not fit anwhere on Eurostar. Then, when I got to Paris, there was some sort of strike that meant the taxi queue was enormous, so it took quite a while to get back home. Phew, no wonder I slept until 10am on Sunday.

In London, I did go to all my favourite shops, Hatchards, Liberty, the big Waterstones in Piccadilly, Loop in Islington. Also went to John Lewis and a new knitting shop called IKnit in Lambeth. It's a pity that there are no real LNS in London, Liberty doesn't really count in that direction, although they do sometimes have some nice kits and so on. Of course I did manage to buy a lot of fancy sock yarn and have started knitting up some grey Alpaca silk into a lacey pattern from one of my new books. I was really impressed with the selection of knitting books at IKnit, they had everything I could think of. Also bought about ten books at Waterstones, including one called "What Would Audrey Do?" - for those of us who would like to be as stylish as Audrey Hepburn. I fear Audrey would never have a blog, so maybe I've failed already.

I travelled everywhere by bus in London, I hate the underground, and I have a new Oyster Card that I can use when I go again. In York I walked everywhere, of course, it's so small. I did know about the Vikings there, it's one of the most interesting things about York for me, since of course my ancestors were Vikings. Not that I know who they were, or anything, but they must have been, because my family is Danish! David is prone to making remarks about my violent Viking tendencies if I get cross about anything, in fact.

Now back home I have a heap of stuff to do - have spent the last two days lying on my bed reading, basically, which is incredibly lazy, and really cannot continue like this. I still have the two suitcases from Cyprus to unpack, and have to sort out clothes, books, stitching, knitting, the kitchen, the bathroom, etc, etc. Think I will take a turn past Le Bon Marche first, however!
posted by Ally at 12:43 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, September 18, 2008
York Minster......... and a Suite in London
Yesterday the main thing I did was to visit York Minster, where I spent a lot of time, it is fascinating - here is the top of the main door:

And a very pious couple inside:

It was truly interesting to see all the inscriptions and plaques........ the choir........ the chapter house.... I really loved it.
I did also visit a needlework shop called the Viking Loom, very near the Minster, and it was interesting, but did not have a large variety. I did buy a small scroll frame, some small scissors and some brooch backs for the knitted rosettes I make from time to time. Also visited a yarn shop called Sheepish, and bought a couple of balls of Kid Silk Haze, but York is not a needlecraft paradise. Lovely town, though, I wouldn't mind living in the historic part, it really is well preserved and very picturesque. Lots of streets called Something-gate, very Scandinavian (in Danish we call a street "gade", and the Swedes and Norwegians say "gata").
Today I came down to London on a quite fast train - trains have improved here, I find, they are faster, have free wifi and the attendants offer you coffee every five minutes. I left my case at Kings Cross for a couple of hours and went to John Lewis in Oxford Street, where I was told that there was a good selection of Louisa Harding yarns, I'm in love with Louisa, she did the accessories book I have been knitting my way through. So I bought a new winter book from Louisa, plus several balls of yarn for things from it.
Then I got a taxi to my hotel, the Thistle City Barbican, and it is very nice, so nice that they have given me a suite!!! I can't think why, I booked a standard room, but when I got to the room, it was like, oh my goodness, this is rather large, where is the bed - oh, through that door there.... it is considerably larger than my apartment in Paris. I've never been to this hotel before, and I just picked it out of the selection because it was reasonably priced and seemed respectable. I used to stay in a place in Sloane Square, but it changed hands and got very expensive, also was a bit noisy, so this seemed like a good idea. So I am now watching a tv that has a screen 4 times the size of my one at home. This is the tv in the sitting room, there is another one the same size in the bedroom!
Tomorrow I plan to go to a few favourite shops, like Hatchards and Liberty, also have a swim downstairs, there is a pool here (another reason why I chose it). I'm still plagued by work emails, I dealt with them on the train today, muttering to myself, the ladies across the aisle must have thought I was mad. I'm tempted to tell everyone I am going for a retreat in a Trappist convent next week.

posted by Ally at 11:30 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 3 comments
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
This morning I got up very early, about 6:30 am, and I got to the Gare du Nord at about 7:15 - to find that my train had been cancelled, but I could go on one that left at about 7:50. This was fairly good timimg, because the journey is longer at the moment, we waited in Calais for 25 minutes before going into the tunnel, and the tunnel seemed to take much longer than normal. It's all because of the fire in the freight tunnel last week. My poor friend Suzette was going home to London last weekend, but couldn't go, because there were no trains at all on Friday.

I couldn't believe it, but in the row in front of me, which was one with seats facing each other, there were two Australian men, and a whole Lebanese family, husband, wife, and three children who were extremely good at singing. The two Australians and the Lebanese guy had one of these male conversations about everything, and how they were all historians, mathematicians, scientists and economists and knew everything, you know the sort of thing. It was pretty noisy, but I only wanted to kill them all about twice. Once when they started on the problems of the Middle East, and they were all being, frankly, anti-semitic, and the second time when the younger Australian asserted firmly that, before Eurostar used St Pancras, it used Kings Cross. Well, no, it was Waterloo. Not that it's important, but he asserted it so firmly!

Then I got the train to York, whh is only just over two hours from London and does leave from Kings Cross, right next door to St Pancras........... here I am staying at the Novotel, which is not bad (better than French Novotels I have stayed at). I already had a walk around the town today, but plan to see the sights tomorrow and take some pictures. I just had dinner in the hotel, with lamb, mashed potatoes and carrots, and two glasses of Montana Sauvignon Blanc! Hopefully I will sleep well, I am a bit disturbed, because I have had calls from Alec both yesterday and today, so ended up working for a little while before dinner. Thank goodness for wireless connctions and credit cards!
posted by Ally at 10:39 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Vacation At Last
Today I am at the hotel I booked in Larnaca - I ran out of work yesterday at 4pm, after working my socks off all day, and my taxi got me here by 6pm, so that was excellent. This hotel is full of German package tourists, but it is not bad, room is comfortable, pools are good and it is right on the beach, in the hotel strip north of Larnaca town. The dinner was ok, nothing outstanding, as was breakfast.

I've spent two hours at the pool this morning, now an ensconced in the bar checking email and so on. Plan to spend the afternoon stitching and snoozing, as I didn't actually sleep much at night - more noise from adjoining rooms than I am used to at the hotel in Nicosia, where I have a very quiet two bedroom apartment. Here there are hotel cats as well, one came by my sunbed to inspect me this morning.

If you had told me a few years ago that I would have a wardrobe of swimsuits, beachdresses and flip-flops, I would not have believed it, but now I do, since coming to Cyprus! Actually I like watching the Germans and their beach wardrobes, because I think Germany must have the best choice, in fact, I get all mine from Ulla Popken, and recognize some swimsuits that I see here at present.

Got to go.... off for a walk along the beach before lunch!
posted by Ally at 11:10 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Monday, September 08, 2008
Into the Home Straight, Thank Goodness
Literally, I will be home in a week..... Friday, I am out of here and down to Larnaca, Sunday morning on the plane and arriving in Paris at 2pm. I am literally thirsting for my taxi to arrive on Friday afternoon. I started packing at the weekend, and moving stuff that needs to remain here into the spare room, to make room for Alec, who will arrive on Sunday.

I am having a slightly frustrating time at work, we have a problem with a screen that does not work, it times out every single time the user tries to access it. So naturally we are trying to put it right, because we agreed to deliver to them a screen that they could use for this function. So I spend hours testing new, improved SQL and finally determine that we have to modify it quite substantially, to remove a lot of joins that really are causing a problem. Now I am at the stage of modifying external designs for the developers to make changes, and everyone seems to have woken up to how much work they will have to do, and should we be charging extra for this? Mmm, perhaps not, as we delivered a screen that doesn't really work, is my view, but you would be amazed...

Plus batch jobs have not yet started and it is 15:30, what time am I going to be able to leave tonight? I like to stay until after the bills have been produced, but this could be 19:00 at the rate we are going. And I have the lovely job of sticking receipts on to pieces of paper for my expenses claims as well, have to do that and photocopy them by the end of the week, so that I can mail them from Paris. Grrrr.... I want to go home and get into the pool.
posted by Ally at 9:33 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 4 comments
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Great News!
I got a work permit, valid until the end of September 2009! Not that I intend to be here that long (famous last words), but it doesn't cost any more to get it for that length of time, and it gives me a certain peace of mind. Well worth paying the new lawyer (number three) 3500€, considering what we have been through over the past three years. Advice to anyone coming to work in Cyprus - do NOT hire a general lawyer for work permit issues, they do not have the knowledge or contacts.

Apart from that, I am quite busy, since Alec is not here, and I have had to stay until after 7pm on both Monday and Tuesday, since billing has been late running......... also Yehiel was here yesterday, I took him out of the building to lunch, as he was complaining about the smoke and the lack of air-conditioning. He was mildly surprised when I said it was quite a lot cooler than it has been, because it is still 35 degrees, but this is quite a drop from 40 plus. It does feel relatively cool.

I've been doing small amounts of my Red Velvet Building Blocks at night, I think it will show as definite progress by the end of the week. I would love to get it finished before the holidays, which are going to start next Friday afternoon at 4pm precisely - I intend to order a taxi to take me to the hotel in Larnaca for 4:30pm. It is all planned, when I arrive there, I shall swim immediately!
posted by Ally at 10:08 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, September 01, 2008
Lazy, Dusty Weekend
Yes, we have had the dust over from Egypt again, I don't like that at all, as I have to stay mostly inside, and even then the dust seems to come through closed windows. I only went out to swim, buy newspapers and cold drinks, and briefly on Saturday to Zara Home, that trap where I always see something I have to have - in this case, a crochet cushion, some pink beaded coasters, a cherub candle and a basket that is perfect for my knitting yarn.

I suppose the weather could be worse, I could be in New Orleans or thereabouts, it sounds horrible, and they seem to have these hurricanes so often. Actually I'd be frightened to live there, I think. In Australia, one bushfire on the Mornington Peninsula was enough for me to move to St Kilda Road. I have to say that calling a hurricane Gustav seems weird to me, I think of Gustav as a rather frail, elderly great-uncle! But I guess that's just my family....

Hopefully this week will go ok, and not be too horribly tiring, I am starting to get so fatigued with the heat and everything. Yehiel is coming tomorrow for the day, so I will probably collect lots of extra work to do. I hope I will also get a new work permit, I do have a current application! The new lawyer is a marvel, we should have known him three years ago. He collected the client letter from me on Thursday, took it straight to the Labour Ministry and got them to stamp it as authorised straight away and took it to the Migration Office the same day. Got a call from him at 8pm, he was still with them, checking my file, and pointing out all the relevant information. He came to bring my passport back to me on Friday and told me that it should only be a matter of days. Quite apart from this, he is a nice guy, the sort of person you would be perfectly happy to chat with or invite for dinner, whatever. This is a great contrast to the incredible laziness and rudeness of the two previous lawyers. who both had the most inappropriately high self-esteem that it has ever been my misfortune to see.
posted by Ally at 8:57 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments