Saturday, January 31, 2009
Quick Visit to Paris
I left the office in Tallinn at 4pm yesterday and arrived in my apartment in Paris just after 11om, so that is about 8 hours of travel time - I will do the same tomorrow, but via Copenhagen and arriving in Tallinn about 5:30pm. I really don't want to go via Amsterdam again, as the KLM planes from Amsterdam to Tallinn are very small and uncomfortable, I am hoping the SAS ones will be a bit more comfortable.

Today I am going to the hairdresser, finding more warm clothes in my wardrobe and doing a bit of shopping......... probably some work in the evening as well. I've already had two cups of Nespresso, and now I am going to have a shower and get dressed and walk out in the sunlight!
posted by Ally at 12:01 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
What A Week!
I think this blog may not contain a great deal about stitching for the next little while.....

This week is the first week of process analysis sessions, and a daily timetable is something like this:
  • from 6am to 6.45 am (depending upon day and degree of unpreparedness and/or guilt) - wake up, leap out of bed, shower, dress, take breakfast, either downstairs or in room if it is necessary to write documents / review notes
  • 8am - assemble in hotel lobby with 6 other people to get minibus taxi to office
  • 9am - PA session 1, until midday
  • 12 noon - eat lunch in client cantine, where menu is in Estonian. Hope there is someone who can translate the menu, or else eat something which may be a surprise. I like liver, but some don't. When in doubt, choose potatoes and salad.
  • 1pm - PA session 2, until 4pm
  • 4pm - 6pm - stress, relax, write notes, answer questions
  • 6pm - assemble to catch minibus taxi back to hotel
  • Evening - anything from sliding around on streets to view unsuitable apartments (Monday) to swimming (Tuesday) to doing homework (every day). Homework is writing notes, preparing for next day, thinking about how many decision sheets I will have to write etc etc etc. Try to fit in dinner, either in room or in cafe restaurant of hotel.
  • Bedtime - 11 to 12..... wake up during night several times thinking of phone number formats, validation of personal id numbers, other strange problems....
You can see why I am glad this hotel has an indoor pool. Thank goodness there are no sessions on Fridays (normally)! And this Friday I am travelling home to Paris, to pick up more clothes, go to the hairdresser, pay tax etc etc.

I am holding up OK, I have had no disasters and no unexpected huge requirements from the clients this week. By the end of tomorrow, I will be unable to speak for about two days, as these sessions are hard on my voice, but that will wear off over the weekend, it's normal.

Over the weekend, I did get to see some of the Old Town and visit some shops - I still have not tracked down a stitching shop, but I visited two yarn shops, also a bookshop where I bought books of Estonian traditional mitten patterns, with lovely pictures. I bought a fine white lace shawl, not elaborate, but useful. This was on Saturday, and on Sunday I did not go outdoors at all, the weather was not great, and I was tired. I swam and read (business, not pleasure) and knitted a bit.

I am in two minds about moving into an apartment, after the ones we saw on Monday. They were in the centre, not far from the Old Town. I think if I had been able to see where we were, I would have liked the situation, but we had to walk from the car over an icy, unlit courtyard to get to them (I practically had to be carried). They were fine inside, very Ikea, which I don't mind, but some of my colleagues do. However the water pressure was appalling, we tested the showers. Most people didn't like the kitchens, which I don't care about. The others are going to see some more tomorrow, but I am not going to, I've given a list of requirements to be checked (water pressure, balcony, proximity to swimming pool, no nightclubs nearby), and if they pass, I will visit when I come back.

Also this week I have learned about five words of Estonian, and have listened to many more. I have a translator, who is from an IT company that is a partner of ours, and I listen to all the Estonian dialogue and watch people as they speak, which is interesting. I have already made a couple of pertinent remarks in English on Estonian conversations, so I may be able to understand some soon.
posted by Ally at 9:29 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Thursday, January 22, 2009
A Brief Note
Since arriving, I haven't been anywhere except the hotel, the office, a restaurant and tonight a department store next to the hotel. And I have not been out in daylight at all.... we leave the hotel at 8am in the dark and leave the office at 6pm in the dark. It has been snowing on and off all day, but it is not too bad to walk from the taxi to the door, that sort of thing.

Tallin Old Town is very pretty, even in the dark, I look forward to exploring it at the weekend, although I have work to do - workshops start on Monday, and I am first up for a whole day, then I have Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday whole days, which is 9 to 12 and 1 to 4 in workshops, plus preparation time, plus documentation time. I think I am lucky in my designer, she is an enthusiastic young Irish woman, Fiona - she is doing me skeletons for all my workshop prep sheets, with the things she knows, so that I can review and complete them.

No stitching or knitting this week, maybe at the weekend - I want to find shops as well. Tomorrow after work I have booked an aromatherapy massage, and I want to sleep more on Saturday and Sunday, until it is light.
posted by Ally at 7:53 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, January 19, 2009
Arrival in Tallin
Goodness, what a long day! I got up at 6:45, which is about three hours earlier than I have been doing (not that I sleep until that time, I just sit in bed, doing emails and drinking coffee until it feels warm enough to get up properly). Took a taxi to the airport in the dark, and of course the plane for Amsterdam was late taking off. I had the emergency exit row to myself, I was originally in the row behind, but they asked me to move, so that a young couple travelling with six week old twins (totally sweet!) could have that. And it was a quick flight because of a high wind, although a slightly hairy landing.

Schiphol, where I've never been before, was really quite OK, not bad shops, but we had to catch a bus out to the plane for Tallinn, and it was a tiny Fokker with miniature seats. Halfway through the flight they had to give me a row to myself because I suddenly started feeling really ill, which turned out later to be the KLM sandwich I had eaten. It was a good thing that it only took half an hour from landing to get to the hotel, because I needed the bathroom urgently by that time! I did have a little skirmish with a sniffer doggie, who decided that my new pink hat with fur trim would be quite tasty, but I managed to rescue it.

So far I have not seen any of the team (don't know them, except Roddy, and two others I know by sight, I think). I had something to eat in a nice restaurant on the 11th floor, my room is on the 18th, and now I am just trying to relax a bit, so that I can be clear for our 9:45am meeting tomorrow. Roddy will not get here until after midnight, that's why tomorrow will be a slow start. I'll take some photos of the room when I feel a bit more normal, as it's very nice, and it has a Lavazza espresso machine. Have not seen much of what Tallinn looks like, as it gets dark at 4pm and I arrived at 5:15pm, all I know is that there is light snow, and it is not too cold, just below zero apparently, so warmer than Paris has been.
posted by Ally at 9:13 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Friday, January 16, 2009
Work Again
Today I have come to the office, as I had to print out travel documents and so on, plus of course the Cypriots have finally decided to comment on my latest work of fiction, after being repeatedly being requested to do so since the end of October! This means I have to do some updates at the speed of light, as our developers are already working on this.... it's quite tedious stuff too, adding extra columns, swapping stuff around and refining descriptions of things. Lots of KWH, total sales excluding VAT, and load entitlement amounts!

I have been looking up stitching shops in Tallinn, I am not sure that there is anything wonderful - if anyone does know of anything, please enlighten me. I looked up DMC stockists and found that the only one on DMC's website is a department store in the centre, plus I found from a blog that there is a sort of cross-stitch shop in a big shopping centre near the airport. I've tried to look for Estonian blogs, but haven't found very much. I have a feeling there are more knitting shops than stitching ones, but we shall see.

I also spoke to Madame L.A., who has been to work in Tallinn before, when they were doing scoping, I think. I asked her what the spa and the pool in the hotel were like, and she told me she had no idea, as she was too busy working to find out! Honestly some people are irritating.... when we were at that horrible project in 2007, she was always saying to us that she was up really late working, but as Suzette said, what was the end result? Suzette and I did all the documentation.

The weekend is going to be consecrated to packing, I can't take as much as I used to to Cyprus, as I am back in economy class. That is going to be weird, going to the airport and not being greeted by name at check-in and on the plane!
posted by Ally at 3:40 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Interesting News Re Travel
Well, I am off to Tallinn on Monday!

This all came about yesterday, when I was expecting that I would be told to go to Cyprus at the weekend. Yehiel could not get them to sign a contract that started before March, however, and rang to tell me this while I was in Monoprix. I was totally depressed about this, because I had no idea what I would do, I was not happy if I had to hang around until March! Then our resources director called and said I was to go to Estonia on Monday, for at least ten weeks - which means that I can't go to Cyprus in March anyway, which I don't think the Nicosians will be very rapt to hear. They will need to get someone else.

Of course when I heard this, I immediately bought more polar fleece footlets! Fortunately I do have quite a lot of warm clothes, I am taking my fuchsia wool coat, plus my aubergine rain cape, as this can go over a coat and also has a hood. And the hotel has a swimming pool, such luck, and a full spa, so guess where I will be next weekend (I am initially staying two weeks, then coming home for a weekend).

So today I rushed out to buy tickets, our work travel site doesn't seem to work from my home connection, and also a guide to Estonia. I have actually been there before, on holiday about ten years ago, so I am sure it has changed greatly, as this was immediately after the Communist era, and everything was a bit grey.

Not sure entirely what I am going to do there, but it will be either operational or financial architect, hopefully operational. Process analysis starts pretty much immediately, so I am hoping I get all the existing documentation today, so I can read it beforehand.
posted by Ally at 2:37 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Slightly Warmer
Today I feel much happier - it is well above zero, for a start, the promised 5 degrees. I haven't yet been outside, but I hope the ice that is everywhere has melted or started to melt. That will make walking around less treacherous.

I also went to the sales yesterday, and bought a new handbag at Galeries Lafayette at Montparnasse - it was 50% off, so that was only 230€, and it goes perfectly with my new winter coat that I got in Nicosia:
I have been stitching a little, here is the very start of a little Quaker sampler:
And a very bad photo of a CHS piece that I am going to make up into a heart-shaped hanging ornament, to put on a door, I think:

I have spoken to Yehiel this morning, and he seems to think I may be able to go to Cyprus later this week - I am tentatively planning for Saturday, if that is the case. They are trying to work out contractual things, about which our giant new company is very strict. Wish they were as strict about things like paying expenses on time!
Have also spoken to Suzette, who is just back from Christmas in California with the boyfriend and his family - I am sure we can expect an interesting announcement soon! I do hope so, he sounds really nice.
And poor David is in Poland this week, still worrying about his son. I hope this war ends soon, and I hope all the demonstrations here stop, some of them are violent. And several synagogues have been attacked, which is just horrible.

posted by Ally at 12:42 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Winter Continues
I am still at home, have had an exceedingly boring week, in fact. I thought I might be on a plane today, but we still do not have a signed contract from our client, and I am not allowed to move until we do. So I just stay home and potter about and so on, it is really excruciating, and I am not going to stand for it much longer. I would have gone to our office this week, but there has been a train strike and ice everywhere - I actually tried to go in on Monday, and found I would have to wait an hour for a train, so decided I could face neither that nor the walk from the station to the office, which was probably covered with ice. I do not mind snow, but I hate ice, and given that I live alone up four flights of stairs, I do not want to break an ankle right now.

The weather in Paris is not as bad as the television would have you believe, it's been nothing like as bad as Marseille, for example. Just very cold, and we had snow on two days that has solidified into ice because of the low temperatures. No rain or wind or anything like that, and in the afternoons it has been brilliantly sunny, just very cold. We are supposed to get up to 5 degrees by Tuesday, that will be a treat.

I haven't done a lot of stitching, mainly through guilt, I find it weird to be able to do it in actual work time, when they are paying me, so mostly I read or study things that I ought to know. In between times I chat to David, who is at home in Israel, because of the war, and is very worried because his younger son is in the invasion force. They all have to do army service, I think two years at least. David himself did it, I can't imagine him in the army, but he says he spent most of his time being yelled at by the sergeant, who he said would have been anti-semitic if he wasn't a Jew himself. Mostly for his uniform not being properly ironed, which I can understand, because David is useless with the iron, although he spends a lot of time ironing in vain.

Anyway, let's hope I am on the move again next week - this is fearfully boring, because of course I can't plan to do anything, given that I have no idea when I shall be required to travel!
posted by Ally at 4:44 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, January 03, 2009
New Year Finish
And here is "Home is Where You Hang Your Needlework" from Homespun Elegance - on Permin 32ct Tumbleweed, with Gloriana Charcoal and Belle Soie Red Fox.

It was supposed to be finished on New Year's Eve, but I lost two days this week, Tuesday and Wednesday, I have never felt so awful in my life. The medicine did not really feel as though it was working until Thursday, and now that I have finished it, I am just hoping that my improvement continues. I do feel a lot better now, so really need to take care not to get so sick again.

To this end, I have been shopping yesterday and today - socks, gloves, new hat, foot protectors made out of polar fleece. The latter I intend to wear to work, and I don't care who thinks they look silly. Our workplace is in Hauts de Seine, and it is always much cooler there than inside Paris. Frankly, if I could have found a balaclava, I would seriously have considered buying it, but they don't have those at le Bon Marche or at Monoprix. The problem is the early morning hours, when the temperature is very low indeed, well below zero. We have had snow in the night, but it goes by mid-morning, although I think there may be snow on the ground in the suburbs. I guess I will find out on Monday morning.

I am thinking about my next project, I am kitting up a few things, but for a couple have to wait for some more threads to arrive.... wait and see what I choose to fill in before they do.

The other news is I bought a Nespresso machine yesterday at Le Bon Marche, so at least I am now well supplied with hot drinks (more anti-illness measures). I love the preserved ginger flavour coffee that they have for Christmas!
posted by Ally at 7:36 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments