Monday, February 23, 2009
Hello Kitty Indulgence
Today I bought a Hello Kitty phone, as I need a second one for my Estonian sim is actually the first new one I have had since 2001, so I guess it is not too much of an extravagance. I still have the old one, as it has my French sim card and actually is locked for that operator, since it belongs to work, not to me. But this one is my own, I am glad to say. I am still busy mastering it, it makes strange sounds from time to time, and I need to figure this out. I have worked out how to take photos, now for the MP3 etc.

I actually went to work, there were quite a few managers there, including the Big Boss and the Big Boss's Boss (whom I have met only once before, and he did not remember me). I was very good and did all my expenses claims up to date, so now they owe me about 5000€. Had lunch with the whole assembly, which was quite fun, although I had to wait for my quiche to be cooked, as they ran out just before I got to the head of the queue.

Now I am packing my stuff to go back, I am taking my handbag, computer bag and either one or two shop bags with miscellaneous stuff in. So far I have a Chanel paper bag full of charts and threads, and I may need a second one for the books I am reading. We have worked out that they do not mind a shopping bag as well as the rest, they just think you have been in Paris for a shopping trip, especially if it is for a good label, and they let you take it on. At my stopover in Copenhagen, they have hand luggage trolleys with hooks for the shopping bags, so I don't need to carry stuff around there, just wheel it all to the gate.

This week will be fairly intense, I have three days of workshops, on fairly big subjects, and on one of them I already have an idea for a customisation to make it work the way we want it to. I think it will be beautiful and elegant, but of course now I have to sell the idea to everyone else!
posted by Ally at 9:49 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, February 20, 2009
Some Good News
I did some stitching on the plane last night! It is the first time for ages.......... what happened was we were sitting on the plane in Copenhagen, waiting in the queue for the de-icing platform, as it was snowing madly. Then they announce we are going back to the gate, as there is a problem with the aircon, and a mechanic has to look at it. So we go back, and I whip out my stitching, which is always in the pocket of my computer bag, and stitch happily for half an hour while everyone else is whinging about the delay. The flight attendant admired my work also, so I was quite happy, even though we were over an hour late into Paris, and I got home just on midnight, having left the office in Tallinn at 4pm.

Hope the others got home safely - the airline lost Sasha's booking, and ended up giving him a boarding pass to Frankfurt, with a warning that there he would have to sort out his onward booking to Tel Aviv. Giulia and Fiona were late departing Tallinn, so I hope they made their flights in Amsterdam. Fiona will see her own doctor in Ireland today - the paramedics came to the hotel for her on Wednesday night and said she had very high blood pressure, but why is the question. She is 25, slim and exercises a lot, so nothing is obvious.
posted by Ally at 10:02 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Weekend At Home Starting Tomorrow!
I have to get through one more day of sessions, then I can get a taxi to the airport at 4pm tomorrow, and get back to Paris before midnight! Today was a terrible day of sessions, we were doing a topic that had about ten experts, none of whom could make a decision on anything. I was sitting there saying things like "well, you want a letter to the customer to be produced, sometimes, but you can't tell me exactly what triggers it and what information it has to contain? So can I decide this?" Blank looks........ and another half hour of discussion. We continue tomorrow.

And Fiona is not well, she said earlier she had a sore throat, just sort of a lump in it, then she was looking terrible in the afternoon, and normally I can improve her mood with chocolate, but this was not on the menu today! She looked at it and said she felt dizzy. On the way back to the hotel we asked our Estonian colleague who comes in our minibus with us to stop in at the hotel (he lives nearby) and talk to the reception about getting a doctor. It was settled that she would go upstairs and lie down, then ring the concierge if she needed a doctor later - Giulia, our Italian colleague, is keeping watch on her. But she may not be at work tomorrow, of course, if this continues. I can manage for a day without a designer, her health is much more important - I'll take my own notes and just have stops occasionally so I can catch up with them. Hopefully she will be OK to fly, she is looking forward to seeing her parents again at the weekend. She and I and Giulia should all go to the airport at the same time, and she and Giulia have the same flight to Amsterdam, so I hope they can sit together.

Today I have also had news of the Dwarf - remember my horrible old project director who made my life a misery for a year in Cyprus? One of the people on my project worked with him in the Middle East, before he left our company and went on to be an architect (not a PD!) at another company. It sounds as though he is looking for a job again, as he asked this guy if he knew the Big Boss's phone number! So my colleague said, no, he wasn't in that league, but why didn't he ask Ally? After all, didn't we work together once? The Dwarf's exact reply was "we don't like each other". I suppose that is one way of putting it.

What will I do at home? I have to work, I have to think about design documents for my thread.... I have to do a lot of expense claims, as I need the 3000 odd euros that I've spent on flights and hotels so far. I have to do my tax. Is there anything nice I can do? I wonder if any of the things I ordered from SBB will arrive, they have dispatched a parcel last week. I succumbed and ordered a few Nashville releases, nothing major.
posted by Ally at 9:00 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Tallinn Photos
The Old Town is very picturesque, with lots of beautifully painted wooden buildings (something I appreciate, having grown up in Wellington):
Notice the ice on the ground, also here in the Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square):

I imagine that square will be full of tourists in the summer, but there's not too many people around now.
And here is the normal view from my hotel window when I wake up at weekends:
Slightly depressing! But we have the spring and summer to look forward to..... it can only get better.
At the weekend I went to the spa to have my hydradermie treatment and body treatment, it was fantastic, and I felt really good when I came out of there just after midday on Saturday. I went for a walk around the Old Town, and saw the Estonian Handicraft Shop, which is fascinating, beautiful knitting, dolls, felting. Then I slept for three hours when I got back to the hotel, and spent the evening reading and writing, and slept again at 11pm! Fantastic!
Last night we all went to the theatre to see "Le Misanthrope" by Moliere, in Estonian. Of course we didn't understand the words, but I know this play already, and there was a lot of mime, it was a vey good and inventive staging, where you did not really have to know Estonian to appreciate it. Of course we had to go out with our hosts afterwards, so it was very late to bed and I am very tired today!
posted by Ally at 9:14 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, February 13, 2009
Another Week of Work
This week has also been fairly intensive, and now it is the weekend, and it has snowed again! Which means that I will not be doing much, unless there is a miraculous melt overnight. The temperature went up again slightly towards the end of the week, to just above zero, which seems to mean snow is coming here - I think I prefer it cooler and with no snow. I like the snow when it is falling, we were out in it last night, but when it stops and turns to slush, then ice, is not my favourite thing. I am still the only one who is not complaining about the cold, apart from Roddy, our PD, who just puts on his big Russian hat and gets on with it. And of course Sasha, my Russian colleague, who finds it quite warm really, but then he was born in Siberia. He has been taking us to a nearby Russian restaurant, and I must say the food is very good. My Indian, South African, Australian, Irish, Italian and Spanish colleagues are practically transparent with the cold. This project has no two people from the same country.

In fact tomorrow I have booked for a facial and bodywrap, not in the hotel, but at a spa that is probably about ten minutes walk away in good weather, although I think I shall be getting a taxi, as that street is sheet ice at present. After that, I do not know, I would like to try and look around in the Old Town, but it may be just to the Viru Centre and then home. Of course I have work to do as well, we have four days of workshops next week. It's amazing that I am here in this facinating city, and I have seen so little of it so far.
posted by Ally at 10:04 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Little Update Late At Night
I should be sleeping, as it is Monday tomorrow, and I have to get up early tomorrow to have breakfast and be ready by the time the minibus comes. But unfortunately I just read the news from Melbourne, my sister had told me there were bad fires in Victoria, but not how completely devastating it was. The area where I lived for some time (Mornington Peninsula) does not figure on the maps of fires, but I know that that doesn't necessarily mean there aren't any at all. They may be having the "usual" ones, as opposed to horrible ones like Kinglake and Marysville.

We did have a bushfire when I was there, it destroyed some sheds and practically all our vegetation, but not the house. That was bad enough, and I was evacuated down our driveway, walking between burning rows of agapanthus, which gave me nightmares for months afterwards. My dogs also had nightmares and got agitated when they couldn't see us, I had a large wolfhound trying to sit on my knee every evening for several months, but at least no-one died. Of course I'll never live anywhere like that again, I just couldn't.

Here of course, it is completely opposite, we have had snow on Friday night, so an icy Saturday, but rain today washed it away, and I went for a walk at normal speed today. I also had a facial at the hotel spa, and had dinner with two of the others at a Russian restaurant, where Julius, the other architect, impressed us by talking Russian. I suppose it is easy for him, because he was born there.
posted by Ally at 10:11 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, February 01, 2009
A Much Better Journey
I am finally back in Tallinn, after being delayed by 40 minutes in Copenhagen......... I have to say, Copenhagen is my preferred airport to be delayed in. By a stroke of luck (connected with my inability to book myself on the correct flight on the correct day using our corporate travel system), I ended up having to buy a ticket at great speed via the internet yesterday, at which time only economy flex tickets were left on SAS. So I got to sit in a more comfortable seat, with free food and drink, I didn't mind this. On Estonian Air, the 90 minute flight from Copenhagen to Tallinn, they treat you royally, I got a potato salad with rare beef, wine, coffee and cognac. Not that I drank that, it is sitting on my desk here, in case of emergencies, two little bottles of it. I wasn't going to ask for it, but some of the men on the flight were asking for multiple little bottles of all sorts of things, so I thought why not.

In Copenhagen, I bought magazines, two Danish books, two English books, some cosmetics and a bottle of Cloudy Bay for less than 20€ - it is about 35€ in Paris. On this project, we drink NZ wine (Roddy and I love this, he is English, but has a taste for it, also the others are getting to like it a lot), also Italian wine (we have an Italian) and vodka (we have a Russian, who is teaching us to do it correctly). In pursuit of correct vodka drinking, I have brought a large jar of Maille pickled cornichons back from Paris, you have to eat one after hurling the vodka down your throat and bars here don't seem to have them, or else we can't describe them correctly, which is more likely. Oh and on my SAS flight from Paris to Copenhagen, I bought a Georg Jensen leaf bowl and some of that Boots No 7 perfect serum that is supposed to be more effective than Botox (which I would never do).

So I staggered off the flight in Tallinn, totally weighed down, but I had had the foresight to ask the hotel to send me a driver, who loaded everything, took me to the hotel, and brought it all up to my room. Which is the one I had last time, so I am happy, it is at the end of the corridor, so quiet, and I don't feel I will be disturbing anyone if I walk around at night. It is actually on the smoking floor, as I have previous bad experience of setting off smoke alarms in some hotels with Diptych candles!

The upshot of all of this is that I am travelling via Copenhagen whenever possible, and with Estonian Air into Tallinn rather than KLM, as the planes are much more comfortable. Also I should support Estonian Air now!

Tomorrow it is back to analysis sessions..... I enjoy them, but it is hard work.
posted by Ally at 9:10 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments