Thursday, April 30, 2009
Interlude in Paris
I came yesterday by the flight that leaves Tallinn at 1pm and gets me here about 5:30pm, via Copenhagen. This is quite stress-free, as these flights are never very full, and I have also discovered a place in Copenhagen airport where there are armchairs and powerpoints, very conducive to doing a bit of work en route.

I was up very early this morning, answering email at 5am - yes, mad, I know, but I woke up and just had to look at it. Then I went back to sleep until 8:30am, then went out to La Defense to the pharmacy and the epilation, and then to Brentanos, where I bought some books and I also on the way bought four French embroidery magazines, all full of pink for spring! I've done some work this afternoon, even though it is my RTT day (first this year, and we are supposed to take ten a year), and I will do more this weekend, even though it is a public holiday and the weekend - I have to prepare for Tuesday, it could be quite a week.
posted by Ally at 6:59 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Visit to Kadriorg
Kadriorg is a beautiful park just outside the city centre of Tallinn - in this park, there is an old Russian palace, which is a museum now, and a modern art museum. Here is a view of trees from the modern museum:

And a little pond in the park:

The Russian palace, which is pink, maybe I should live there?

But this small pink house may be more my size! It's the information office for the park:

The weather has held up all weekend, and it has been over 20 degrees, bright, fine and sunny. Today I walked out in a t-shirt, and I bought two pairs of summer shoes. I have to bring more summer clothes back from Paris.
Last night we all walked long way round to a tapas restaurant in a hotel the other side of the Old Town, it was great - there six of us, four of the team, plus our PD's wife, who is visiting for the week and one of our clients, a really lovely guy. After dinner, we went for a drink in the Old Town and his girlfriend joined us. Today they are taking PD and PD's wife by car to Parnu on the coast, as they were going to visit relatives and PD and wife had planned to go there by bus for a look around. I want to go there soon, before the summer crowds arrive - apparently it is a very nice town, but not in summer, according to our Estonian colleague.
Today I've been out again, to see a summer fair in a park near the wall of the Old Town - there were supposed to be spinners, but I didn't see any. Lots of other things though, and good food. Then I have been to the spa for a very long facial, nearly two hours - I have had skin problems the last week or so, and think I have eaten something that is not good for me, although I cannot figure out what. It feels a lot more comfortable now, after being zapped by the hydradermie machine.
Sad news that our beloved PD is leaving the company, we do have a new one, who is nice, but he is not the same! Same old reason that Leo left last year, hates the admin, which is huge for PDs now that we are part of a huge company. We were stunned when he told us and all practically burst into tears.
Next week is an easy week - two days in the office, fly to Paris, then I think I will take Thursday as an RTT, and Friday is a public holiday. We start workshops to validate our big report on the following Tuesday - it looks really great in Estonian, and we have all learned a few new words, but there are apparently some things in it that are not expressed correctly. We are going to have two rooms with two projectors and project both Estonian and English. Sasha and I run the sessions, and we each have a local colleague (not from our company but another consulting company) and a person from the translation agency. Plus the clients, who have to validate what we have written. What a zoo! To prepare for this, I am definitely going to the spa on Monday - if I work on Sunday after I get back here, this should not be a problem...
All in all, I am very happy in Estonia, I think I prefer it to Cyprus - it is true the language is much harder and sometimes the weather is not great, but there are a lot of compensations. I work in a great team, with nice clients and I have a great flat. I can go out in summer without killing myself walking in the heat, and the shopping is a lot better, no Ulla Popken, but lots of craft shops and reasonably priced shopping centres, a good supermarket just downstairs. Great public transport. Spa treatments are about half the price of Cyprus or Paris. Lots of NZ wine in the supermarket. Etc Etc.

posted by Ally at 7:30 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Saturday, April 25, 2009
I'm sitting here in my pyjamas, finishing my coffee, with the balcony door open, as the temperature outside is 12 degrees, and it is bright, fine and sunny! Spring has really come to Tallinn, yesterday was very nice as well, although I spent a lot of it asleep. In the morning we delivered our report, the Estonian version, so we all went home at lunchtime. Most of us to sleep, actually, after the efforts of the last few weeks.

I'm about to go jump in the shower, then get out my guidebooks, so that I can work out where to go today.......... either the park with the museums or the beach with the museums, I think.
posted by Ally at 9:55 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, April 17, 2009
Why do strange things always happen to me at airports? Yesterday, when I got off the plane at CDG, and walked through the airbridge to the terminal, the door into the terminal was locked! We stood there for a while, pounding on the door - which is glass, and through which we could see, and be seen by, the people waiting to get on the plane we had just got off. Did any of them point us out to a staff member? Oh no, so one guy goes back to the plane and gets the purser to get a guy on the ground to come with keys.... Really CDG is badly run.

I've just also realised I made by return booking for tomorrow and not Sunday, so I guess I shall be travelling tomorrow! Yikes! Fortunately I did go out today and do a few things, like buy square pillowcases and Nespresso capsules to take back with me, but I should have got medication as well - so I guess I'll be seeing an Estonian doctor soon, to get a prescription. There is a medical centre across the road from my place and a little way along, and it is recommended in the Swissotel leaflet, so it must be OK.

I finished my report, and have had back comments on decision sheets, mostly quite straightforward, and mostly where they couldn't really understand what I was saying - so I have to enlarge a bit in some places. The big report is being translated into Estonian, so that will be easier for them. It's always hard with a new client, especially in a different country, to know how far to go in explanations. On one hand, the system is new to them and English is not their first language (actually for most of these ones it is their third language), but on the other, they are clever people who know their business inside out.

I'm going off to have a diet Coke and read a book! Haven't done anything so frivolous for a while!
posted by Ally at 5:20 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Photos of Tallinn
Or actually of the view from my balcony.............. first towards the harbour:

And now towards the Old Town:
I like to stand on the balcony looking at this... even though it is fairly cold still and I am wrapped in a shawl. We have been above 10 degrees most afternoons, but the wind!!!
I've been holed up writing this report and am nearly finished, but goodness I am tired. I've been out walking for about two hours every day, including one walk to Toompea, the high part of the Old Town. Beautiful, but it would be inaccessible in winter. Today I caught a tram down the road and visited a craft warehouse called Karnaluks, it had everything, even linen for embroidery and silks and linen thread. Great range of yarn, mostly German and also needles, Addi and Clover. I'm going to look for the gaps in my collection and fill them up, as the prices are good. It's cash only, but they take euros as well as eesti kroon. I wonder if it is mobbed on Saturdays, sinced normally that is the only time I could get there.
Tomorrow I am going to Paris until Sunday, I have a few things to do there. I'm nearly up to SAS Silver level, and I should get to gold this year as well, I'm looking forward to this (it means I can go to lounges for free). I'll write further from there...
posted by Ally at 9:03 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Friday, April 10, 2009
Good Friday
It is a holiday here - I am in Tallinn - so I have been working at home, that is, my flat above the shopping centre. I've been down there once day, to get supplies, also took a bus to a shopping centre by the airport, where they have a Jysk (Danish bedclothes shop), as I desperately needed a square pillow. Sleeping on rectangular pillows is not doing much for my neck. I was quite right in thinking that a Danish shop would have what I wanted, so I expect to have a nice sleep tonight.

I thought about going home for the week, everyone else has, except the guy from South East Asia. But we have the first draft of our big report due on Tuesday, and I didn't want to take a day to travel, especially with the Easter crowds. And in some ways it is easier to work here, away from the distractions of home as well.

This week I have written quite a lot, so has Fiona, but I have been tired, as I have been out to dinner every night. Last night I distinguished myself at the Villa Thai by asking what sort of white wine they had by the glass. Evidently the waitress said "South African Chenin blanc", but I only heard the last bit and asked her where it was from! Of course she said "South Africa" while trying not to put on her what an idiot this woman is face, and my colleagues did not shut up about it all night. The main conclusion I have drawn from this is that I need a rest and I am getting more deaf.

Back to work!
posted by Ally at 6:12 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Paris Heatwave
Finally I got here on Monday night, quite late, after a restful and totally empty flight, where they handed us cognac after dinner.
Since then I have spent one day in the office (today) to do my expenses claims, as well as a lot of work. And I have been to the hairdressers and out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Belleville, for Suzette's leaving party - she is going back to London, since the project from hell has finished. And I bought two sunhats at Le Bon Marche, and a range of spring clothes at Ulla Popken. Apart from that, work, work, work, I have written 38 pages so far this week. By Sunday, I will be up to 50, I think - and that is half-way there.
This week I feel so much better than last week, and it is so warm here the last couple of days as well. I've been out walking every day - as opposed to my excursions last week on the bus in Tallinn, where I sat on the bus and saw various frozen landscapes. The people in the office could not believe we had snow last Saturday morning, but I've come to accept snow in spring as quite normal really. Occasionally I think of how warm it would bein Cyprus now! I was wearing my Cyprus winter clothes today, and they are too light for anything except late spring or early summer in Tallinn, I think. We;ll see about summer there, I am prepared to believe it can get hot, but no-one else in the team believes this!
I wish I could stitch - I am thinking of taking my sadly neglected project downstairs to the laundry tomorrow morning, although I really should take my notes and think about large real estate projects instead... today I signed up for Blackbird Designs Loose Feathers 2009, though, just as a little treat. The whole kit, linen and threads included, so a real indulgence. The first instalment is just beautiful:
posted by Ally at 11:16 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments