Friday, October 31, 2008
Red Velvet Finish
Last night I put the last stitches into this one - there is nothing in the "N" square, because there should be a small needle in there, I need to order one from Sew and So.

I am quite pleased to have finished, it takes my total of finished for the year to twelve, which is one per month already. So it looks as though I have done something this year, unlike last year, when I spent six months in the suburbs of Paris, travelling three hours a day.

Next project is going to be Just Nan's "Memories", which I have a rather expensive kit for. And there are a couple of small LHN designs I want to do as well. I do have some larger things that I really need to get cracking on, including a barely started Wiehenburg sampler, but I'll think about those a bit later.

This week I really do have cabin fever, I so much want to go to Paris, even though they tell me it is four degrees there. Actually I think I have to go out and buy a winter coat tomorrow, because otherwise I could freeze to death between the airport and home next Thursday! I hope Ulla Popken here has something I like. Today I am sitting here wearing a silk skirt and t-shirt, which is definitely not what I would be wearing in Paris.
posted by Ally at 10:41 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Back to Work
I have to congratulate myself on doing seven one over one squares yesterday! It took most of the day, after I had gone home and had a short sleep to get over the effects of the previous sleepless night. So really it is nearly finished, thank you to those who have sent me words of encouragement.

I decided to go home next Thursday afternoon, just for a couple of days, I need to go to the hairdresser and so on, and just generally be somewhere that is not Nicosia. The Cyprus Airways flight from here leaves in the morning, and is not good if you are trying to minimize time away from work, so I found a combination of Aegean and Air France via Athens, that will allow me to leave the office after lunch and get to my place about 11pm. Then I will catch the Cyprus Airways flight back on Saturday, which allows me to go to the hairdresser on Saturday morning. Again I won't get back to the apartment until 10pm, but I will have Sunday to recover, no matter how horrific the experience is.
posted by Ally at 2:12 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
No Day
This is what today is, it is a Greek public holiday called "Ochi" Day and "Ochi" means "No". Cyprus has borrowed a lot of Greek public holidays, even though they really do not apply here. If you have read Captain Corelli's Mandolin, you will know what the occasion is, it is when Greece said No to occupation by the Italians in 1940. Questioning my colleagues, most have only a very hazy idea of what the occasion is.............

However the day is being thoroughly celebrated, with car horns for most of last night, a parade of school children marching through the city this morning, and lots of cars everywhere in consequence. The parade is rather military, there are some National Guard types and some very suspect "patriotic" organisations who march as well, but I tend not to disapprove on the grounds that it would be the longest walk some of these kids have taken since last year. Then everyone has gone to fill up the coffee shops, then I hope they will all drive home again and get their cars out of the city centre. Honestly a congestion charge here would raise enough to bail out Iceland in about a week!

I did drop in at work earlier to download a release, but there was no-one there, not even Andy, who comes to work seven days a week. So I downloaded my release, wrote a couple of emails, paid my television and habitation tax, and ordered myself a circular knitting needle kit. Now have come to a cafe for lunch and internet, but will go home soon, I hope to some peace and quiet. No-one in this country can speak below a roar or a scream!
posted by Ally at 1:40 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, October 27, 2008
Red Velvet Progress
This is the second time today that I've tried to post, we have had the most awful internet problems here today, and were down for about three hours. Not a great day, as I am also furious with Yehiel, who promised to send me something and so far has not.

But, as you see, I finished the large squares over the weekend and now only have one over one to do, great fun, but at least the end is near. this one has taken a long time, and it's not even that big, just very dense stitching.

I cannot write further today, I have too much to do!
posted by Ally at 11:10 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Friday, October 24, 2008
New Clothes
The visit (or should we say visitation?) did occur yesterday, Yehiel and the BB rolled up about 9.45 am, having got lost on the way from the hotel to the office. They disappeared to talk to the management here for two hours, so I only saw them for about one hour after that, as they had to go to lunch with our local partners, then to the airport.

It was fairly stressful, as they did get yelled at, and Yehiel was not in a good mood, as BB had overuled him on some points. BB is right, though, actually he is good value, he has said I can do an SQL course, given that I am doing it so often now (mostly to correct data that people have done strange things to, but it's also helpful for explaining things to developers who think only in code). He even said I could go and do one somewhere, if that was an option, but all the ones on our company training page are in places like Milwaukee or Houston, so I think not. One of the online ones that they offer will be far more convenient.

After that (and also some strange results from strange batch jobs that our client had never run before and decided to do so for the first time in production), I decided to go shopping and called in at Ulla Popken. Result, one poncho:

It's for indoor wear only, to keep warm on winter evenings and weekends.

And one dress:

I hardly ever wear prints, but this is polka dots, which are OK for me (although not in navy-blue).
Apart from that, I have made more progress on Red Velvet Building Blocks, I will photograph at the weekend - although I think I may have to work some of the weekend. From having been not at all busy, I am now really quite busy indeed!

posted by Ally at 12:36 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
No Idea What Day It Is
Well, Yehiel and the BB are not here, and no-one seems to think this odd, which means that they are not supposed to be! I wonder, did Yehiel tell me the wrong day, or is it just that my grasp of time is so hazy? I would assume that they will arrive this afternoon and be in the office tomorrow, time will tell if this is correct.

I did some red stitching last night, and some sorting out of knitting and worked out that I have to finish some bags (yes, plural!) and a cardigan that needs one and a half fronts, a neckband and buttons. I found out that what Rosetta (client) does in the evening is Sudoku, apparently she is addicted and cannot relax without it - a bit like David used to be. I had jokingly suggested to her that she take one of my external designs home with her to review last night, as it would be more fun than watching tv, and this was when her evening habits were revealed. Interesting, as I know from a previous conversation that she does not cook, either, and now I know she does not watch tv. I don't know what she does about food, and I think she would have to do something, as she has a daughter who is about 12 - I guess the possibilities are husband (don't know if there is one), daughter, maid (pretty sure there is one) or restaurant. Anyway I recommended she try Killer Sudoku, I think it would be her sort of thing.

Back to the grind, I guess - that is a joke, as I really do not have a lot to do...
posted by Ally at 2:13 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
And Now For Something Completely Different!
Over the weekend I managed to do this little piece, "Heart and Home" from LHN. It's in the recommended DMC colours on 32 count Lambswool linen, and it will go into a little frame that I bought from Zara Home a couple of weeks ago. Zara Home has a really nice range of frames, but I wouldn't call them particularly cheap, this was 20€. However, I have bought a few frames in their sales over the past couple of years as well.

Apart from that the weekend was the usual - shopping, swimming, listening to audio books. I can recommend "The Observations" by Jane Harris, a tale narrated by a servant girl in a most unusual household. And again I was the only person swimming at the weekend, so in effect I have my own private pool. I did also succumb to shoes this weekend, brown with bows from Aerosoles, will go nicely with coffee coloured linen suit. And I bought a folding umbrella, just in case, since the last one I had is somewhere between London and Hong Kong.

The big boss and Yehiel should be on their plane from London now, I wonder if I will see them tonight. I know they have a meeting (not at my office) as soon as they arrive, but I don't know where they are staying. Yehiel favours the Hilton, he would, as everyone says. It is actually a very nice hotel, but it is quite a bit more expensive than the others, and also you need a taxi to get there, you can't really walk from the office. Although I do sometimes walk there at the weekend, to have lunch or whatever.

If I don't run into them tonight, I will stay home and sort out my knitting stuff, have not really done any since I arrived. And continue with the Red Velvet as well, I'll post a picture soon.
posted by Ally at 12:44 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Nearly The Weekend
Oh I am tired, and I am by myself today, all alone in our big room. The temporary inhabitants have moved back to their refurbished offices, and my colleague who was here to write a report has gone back to London - he has been here for three days, so I had some company.

The works on this building are nearly finished, evidently in about three weeks time, they will start on our floor, which is the last. I guess I will have to move somewhere else for a while, that will be interesting. I hope it will be to a no-smoking room, and one where the neighbours are fairly quiet. Quiet is pretty much a vain hope in Cyprus, actually, even the guy who has been here for three days commented that people is Cyprus seemed to get up very early and drive around or use earth-moving equipment at the crack of dawn. It is practically impossible ever to sleep in at the weekend, that is true, since construction sites and water deliverers like to operate at 7am on Saturdays and Sundays.

This week I have only been out to eat dinner once, on Tuesday - on Monday and Wednesday, I went to bed really quite early, 10pm or so, after working a bit on the Red Velvet Building Blocks. I am down to four and a half large squares to go, and I can see that after the weekend, I should have only one over one squares to go. These take a bit more time, and I really prefer to do them in daylight. It is dark now by the time I go home - about 6pm, I have been trying to do that every night, and only last night did I have to stay until 7pm for a conference call.

I'm not sure what it's going to be like if I have to stay here all winter by myself, I am actually still thinking about what I should be doing. I am supposed to want to work for Yehiel's new team of consultants, but really I am not sure this is me. It seems to involve a lot of admin stuff, which is very tedious, but, apart from that, I'm not sure how customer-focussed it is. So I might have a talk with the Big Boss when he comes next week. He is doing one of his flying visits, just a day, so hopefully he will have time for a quick word!
posted by Ally at 9:37 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Monday, October 13, 2008
Red Velvet Alphabet
So I have six and a half big squares, two letters and fourteen one over one squares to go.... even though I have been so lazy the past few weeks. I think it will be quite impressive when finished, and defintely I will work on something smaller for a change. I thought of starting a little one this weekend, but just didn't.

The weekend was fairly warm, and I went swimming both days, in my "private pool", as no-one else at the hotel was outside. It did actually rain yesterday afternoon - for the first time in more than a year - but I was swimming in the morning, it is very fine and sunny mid morning, and, although the water is cold when you first get in, you soon forget that.

I also did shopping, and went to Accessorize, Zara Home and Ulla Popken. Yes, I know, but at least I stayed out of Aerosoles! I suppose I shouldn't spend anything at all, given the bleak state of the economy, just in case our company decides to downsize or I lose all my retirement savings (which I think are worth less than they were, all the retirement funds have been hit, as far as I know - I am avoiding checking, as there is nothing I can do about it). I'm not actually planning to retire at 52, either voluntarily or involuntarily! 65 or even older is my current plan, since I like my job (mostly) and have a fairly good income.

Well, I guess I had better do some work, I am writing documentation about a financial function that I have been testing, and am trying to get the client to test.
posted by Ally at 11:15 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, October 10, 2008
One Week By Myself
I have survived, but goodness, I have been busy, and that is without any real production problems. There have been some queries to investigate, and I had to call our DBA for perfromance problems. Apart from that I have worked on existing problems and testing releases, plus preparing some change requests and a demo of a financial program. There is another person coming next week for three days to prepare a report on the resourcing required for this project, both from the client side and our side. That will be interesting.

As usual, I am tired, I have been getting up at 7, and once at 6:30 - that was yesterday, because we seemed to be low on water, and I wanted to be sure of a shower. Fortunately it was fixed by the time I got home last night, and water was flowing as normal, instead of trickling. I want to do some washing tonight or tomorrow, so that's good. The hotel manager was telling me the whole water situation is a nightmare, they never know when the pipes will be open or not, and there have been so many problems with the water pumps burning out and having to be replaced. Of course it will go on for the foreseeable future, as it still has not rained at all.

Nothing much to report on the stitching front, although I think I will start a new small piece this weekend, to help me through the rest of my red effort. I haven't bought anything much lately, this time of the year, it all seems to be halloween pieces, and that doesn't interest me at all. Occasionally I do a Christmas design, but they have to be really special.
posted by Ally at 9:10 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, October 06, 2008
Vacation Has Ended!
Well, Saturday I had a great time in the spa, it was my body wrap and pedicure..... the body wrap started with being rubbed with sage exfoliation salt, then covered in volcanic mud and wrapped up in clingfilm while I lay on the top of a hot bath. Then, after half an hour, into the shower to wash it all off, then get covered in body cream, my skin felt so smooth by that point. Then a really good pedicure that got rid of all the nasty bits on my feet. So, by the time I went into the Italian restaurant at the hotel for dinner, I was feeling really quite human again.

The Italian restaurant was great, I could choose a la carte, and had salmon followed by panna cotta. It was much nicer than the buffet dinner I had on Friday night - this was the only night I tried the buffet, and I was not that impressed, I thought it was crowded with the weirdest people and also really not that great. Funny, because the lunch buffets were nice, and not at all crowded. The breakfast was a buffet as well, of course, but that wasn't too crowded at the times I was there. But for dinner, the non-buffet restaurants were definitely a better atmosphere.

So, all good things come to an end, and I got a taxi back to Nicosia yesterday afternoon. Apartment is just the same as usual, except I had to adjust the shower head, since someone much taller than I am (Alec) has been there in my absence. I have unpacked and realised that I brought no black trousers back with me, extremely clever, I don't think, so that means a visit to Ulla Popken at some stage, since I have several black tops with me.

In to the office this morning, and had a meeting with the client, in fact there does not seem to be too many problems for me at present. They have signed for support until mid-November, so theoretically I could get to go home then... we'll see.
posted by Ally at 2:58 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, October 03, 2008
Friday Facial
I had my breakfast delivered to my room today, quite early, because I had a facial at 9am, such bliss! This was rebalancing and cleansing facial, as opposed to yesterday's mini-facial, which was hydrating. I really needed this, because I haven't been having facials over the summer, it's too hot to go out at weekends, as you know. Now I look quite smooth, and the therapist screamed when I told her I was 52, evidently I have the skin of someone about 40. It doesn't altogether surprise me, because my 80 year old mother looks about 65.

I had a swim after that, and have just finished lunch. Think I'll go to the gym later, they have walking machines, and maybe swim again after that.

Now I feel recovered from the horrors of the security line, shudder. I forgot to say yesterday, that the best bit was when they closed one of the lines and told everyone there to join the other one, also very long. There was a Cypriot guy with his wife and son at the head of the closed line, and he was extremely upset about this, and decided to deal with it in Cypriot fashion i.e. yelling at the officials and standing there demanding to be let through. In the end, they got three policemen to come and tell him definitively that that line was closed, and if he didn't stop carrying on, he wasn't going anywhere except the commissariat of police! I felt kind of sorry for the wife, but she just stood there with no expression at all on her face, maybe she's used to it. The French were all saying oh-la-la madly, which was rather unfair, given the number of them that were screaming, they just weren't doing it at officials and policemen.

Happily the only travelling that I have to do now for a while is an hour or so in a taxi to Nicosia on Sunday, that should be uneventful enough, and once there I can unpack all the stuff I brought back with me, and look forward to some evenings of stitching - the autumn and winter in Nicosia can be quite productive. Holidays almost never are, given all the domestic catching up and the actual travelling and sightseeing parts!
posted by Ally at 2:14 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Spa Hotel in Limassol
I got here late last night, after the most dreadful trip from Paris - I had three suitcases, which the man from the car company took so long to bring downstairs that I thought he had had a heart attack half-way (he did not look fit, this one). Then I got to the airport, had to go to Cyprus airways to get my ticket issued, as they cannot deal with fronting up to the counter and saying that you have an electronic ticket and it was upgraded. The woman took twenty minutes to do this, after I had waited for twenty minutes for her to do the same thing for the person before me. The check-in supervisor is a nice guy who saw me as soon as I arrived and was going to send me straight to check-in, and he kept coming back to see what the hold-up was, as well. Then I get to the desk - he opened a few ropes for me to go in a straight line - and the woman there wants to know if I have a visa. No, I don't need one because I have a work permit! So we sort that one out and she decides my luggage is 10 kilos over, so who does she call? My friend, of course... so it's OK.

Finally get up to departures, and there is the hugest queue ever in security, so huge that there is no space, and it snakes around on itself fifty times, with French people screaming about who was first etc. Pretend not to understand French and stand there for an hour holding my handbag and my computer. Of course, by the time I get to the head of the queue, my leg has gone to sleep. By then, it is past the departure time for the flight, so the French are screaming even more. And they decide I have to take my shoes off, why I do not know, as I am wearing relatively dainty beige sandals. The really good bit is when I get them back, try to put them on and fall over in the middle of everyone, because I cannot put my shoes on standing up when my leg has gone to sleep. At that point they find a chair.......

I limp through the gate only to find that we have to go down stairs and board a bus (which is unusual, I don't know if it is CDG being odd or Cyprus airways trying to save money). I get a seat, because everyone is frightened I will fall over again. Clamber up the steps and collapse into my seat, only to find that we have all boarded at the front door, so everyone is walking past me saying, that is the lady that fell over. Request water swiftly.

At least at the other end, it was not too bad, my luggage did come out very quickly, and my taxi was waiting. I got to this hotel too late for dinner, but they did put fruit and wine in my room, thank goodness.

After all of that, I sure needed a spa treatment this morning. I got up at 6:30 am and went down to breakfast, then practically straight to the pool, which here opens at 8 am:
then into the spa at 10 am, where I had steam room, shower, hydrotherapy, shower, back massage and little facial with head massage. Much better after that, and that took until lunch-time. I've taken full board here, so I had buffet with fish and salad, and then dessert. If you don't have lunch in the hotel here, the options can be limited, if you don't know where to go. There are all these tourist "tavernas", but I am sick of them, unless you know a good one, they are pretty much all the same. After lunch I took a bus into Limassol and got lost, but managed to find my way back, thank goodness.

Dinner was in the Japanese restaurant, which is new in this hotel, very good. They have a set menu, with a starter of fishy things, sushi, sashimi etc, then a main course of tuna teppanyaki, vegetables and rice, and a most un-Japanese tiramisu for dessert. Lovely chef, telling us all his life story (interesting, Philippines, Japan, Abu Dhabi, UK and he is a Cypriot citizen now, and thinks he may like to work in Moscow for a while!).

This is a nice hotel, I think it is fairly recently renovated, and the Japanese and Italian restaurants are new. I have a large balcony with sea view, and the hotel backs on to the beach, no cars to get past:

And of course, hotel kitties here are fairly happy and well-fed too:

There's a lot of teenage ones, the latest lot of kittens growing up, and they seem to live in the hedges between the hotel and the beach. And there seems to be a distinct grey fur strain here, it's different from my hotel in Nicosia where there are quite a few torties and white ones with ginger and grey splotches. Interesting to recognise kitty relatives in a particular area...
posted by Ally at 9:34 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments