Saturday, May 30, 2009
A Good Vacation
I had a really good day in London on Monday - I caught the train that leaves about 10:15am, it was on time and no stops until Lomdon. Funny, when I was going through the British passport control in Paris, the girl in the next queue was saying to the agent "I'm from New Zealand", so I looked across and said "me, too!" We had a nice chat before boarding, she was travelling around Europe and had just had a week in Paris seeing the sights. Goodness she must have saved hard for such a trip, I know what the exchange rate is with the NZD.

In London, I visited John Lewis, where I bought yarn and some underwear - including Spanx, very inelegant looking, but they are surprisingly comfortable and really smooth out any bulges. Then I walked down to Liberty and spent a while wandering around there, as usual I could have bought the entire store, but refrained. Then down to Piccadilly, where I visited Waterstones and Hatchards, and bought a large pile of books. In between, I went to Pret A Manger and Starbucks, since, as usual, it was boiling hot. London is so huge, you can only do a little bit of it in one day - I caught the 7pm train back and slumped exhausted into my seat.

Just a warning for anyone who is arriving at Gare du Nord and taking a taxi - the men who try to take your bags and put them in the taxi are NOT employed by the station to do this, they are beggars who have taken it upon themselves to do this. They actually do look a bit sinister, and they just come up to you and try to grab your bags. My taxi driver told me that nothing really bad has happened yet, but it is only a matter of time.... the taxi drivers have complained to the station management, who apparently have a plan in place for whatever could happen (stolen bag, assault etc), but for some reason can't prevent the guys from being at the taxi stands. It's quite different from the airport where the taxi queue managers are employed by the airport and wear uniforms.

Apart from that, the week has been fairly dull, a lot of tidying up and cleaning, and half a day at work yesterday, to finish my expenses claims, fill in a lot of papers for Estonian bureaucracy and scan my French resident's permit for the racist HR that we have. Honestly, they think of all sorts of things, I don't know why they don't like me, but they started on day 1, when they got my name wrong and told me it didn't matter, because it was a foreign name. Like yours, I said, like everyone's, but they didn't get this. These are the ones who told Suzette that they weren't going to accept any more foreign employees in France, because it was too much trouble for them!

The one bright spot of all this bureaucracy is that I am dealing with the same lawyer in the US who found the right person in Cyprus to get me the work permit there, so I am quite relaxed about the temporary residence permit for Estonia. And of course she has a lot of copies of my papers, so I don't need to send her much - it really makes a difference when people are organised like that.

I am flying tomorrow, but going back to work on Tuesday, as I need the day after flying, if at all possible. I've been very good and have not looked at work stuff at all during the week, only to see what has arrived in my inbox, and if there are hundreds of questions about anything, but it is not too alarming, only about three mails I have to answer, and no more than twenty questions, I think.
posted by Ally at 11:47 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Paris Vacation
I'm back home, after what seemed like very long flights, which were punctuated by phone calls from work in various airport lounges. I felt so ill on Friday that I thought I must have caught the pork flu from someone on the flight, but happily that went away yesterday, so it can't be that. I'm in one of my "I hate flying" moods, which I know is totally unfair, as many people would greatly enjoy the amount of travelling I do, and I get to do it in reasonable conditions.

Since returning, I have not done a lot, except watch "Lark Rise to Candleford", series 2, and tidy up here a bit. Yesterday I tidied up some Debbie Bliss "Como" yarn by knitting it! I made the outside of the knitting bag in the first Debbie Bliss magazine, now all I need is some handles and some lining. I've also hauled out a number of bags with UFOs in them, and have been stitching away on one of these, so far. Watch over the next week for progress.

Tomorrow I am going on my London excursion, so I have to get up at a reasonable time, and actually get dressed as well - this can be the problem, I tend to look at my email before I get dressed, and then it is lunchtime! I hope London is as fine and sunny as it is here - I have reports from NZ at the moment that the weather is vile...
posted by Ally at 5:24 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Two Days Until Paris and Vacation
On Thursday I will be going to Paris and staying home all next week, it's my vacation days I have to use up by the end of May.

I am looking forward to it, although we are so busy at the moment, having just started writing designs for new developments. I seem to have all the very complex ones, of course, which I suppose is semi-fair. I have to complete another one by the end of tomorrow, plus do a very complex expenses claim, because of course they've just told us that there is a this-week-deadline for these. Plus everyone seems hung up on how many days I am actually going to be in which country for the foreseeable future. I've said to the new PD that I can decamp to Copenhagen whenever required, this is no hardship for me at all.

Re stitching, not a lot of progress, but I have nearly finished some Louisa Harding fingerless mittens that I bought yarn for in London this time last year. I plan to go over to London for the day on Monday, this is a bank holiday there, but John Lewis and Waterstones will be open, and this is what I care about. I must look out my Oyster card, I love this card, so good to go around on buses and just wave it at the card reader.

Roll on the vacation, the past two weeks have been a little fraught - we have new girl, who thinks the world revolves around her, and she is always right. She informed me last week that no-one in Germany wears bathing costumes, they all swim with nothing on, and I'm wondering just how this reconciles with all the German bathing costumes I have bought over the years. But she was quite categorical, so I suppose I am wrong! People like that do get a bit tiresome.
posted by Ally at 8:22 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, May 14, 2009
The Open Air Museum
Yesterday we had a work trip to the Open Air Museum on the outer area of Tallinn - it is a very interesting collection of old farms and other buildings from all areas of Estonia that have been brought to this site. One interesting thing is the village swing, above you see two colleagues on it, but actually four could play at once! And there are ones that are even bigger, our Estonian friends told us.

Apart from the farms, my favourite building was the chapel, which is 300 years old, and there are still services in it regularly, several times a year, or you can get married there also. There is an old village inn also, where we had a traditional meal of herrings, followed by potato with mushroom sauce, and a dessert of cream grain and jam (a lot nicer than it sounds, actually quite delicious). After that we did go into the city and have cocktails, some people until rather late and I understand there is a case of suspected Margarita poisoning today, as we have one person missing.

Normally we would not carry on like this, but it was a special occasion, as it was a leaving do for our project director, we are all rather sad that he is leaving, as he is adorable. There is a replacement, who seems OK, but he's just not the same as our old friend. We've given the leaving one an Estonian football shirt with "Grandfather" in Estonian ("Vanaisa") printed on the back, plus a card on which we all wrote in our best Estonian, naturally with a rather limited vocabulary!

So I am sitting here rather sadly trying to work - I have a lot of design documents to write, which normally I enjoy - with the others, all of whom are also sad, with the exception of one new woman who has arrived only this week. I am also rather tired (although not suffering from suspected Margarita poisoning, I don't drink them), and want to go to bed early tonight!
posted by Ally at 1:49 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, May 11, 2009
At Last - A Stitching Photo!
This is the almost completed (as of last evening, it is completed, but I took this earlier in the day) LHN Travelling Stitcher needlebook panel:
The colours are just great and go really well with the actual accessories, which I will photograph when the panel is attached.

And here is my rose, given to me by the clients on Friday:
Why a rose? Well, Friday was a project milestone, we had finished our great huge report and it was signed off on Friday, on time!!! Practically the first time in history that this has happened, and so we are all very popular with bosses etc, this is fairly unusual, at least for me.
It was a very strenuous week, with long, long workshops, and on Friday night, I was practically poleaxed by the time I got home. I did get up early on Saturday morning, it is so light here in the mornings that I can't sleep in, and I went shopping and to the supermarket, but after that I came back home again and slept until the evening. Oddly enough I have no problems sleeping in the daytime when I am tired, it is just sleeping in that I really can't do. I stayed in the apartment for most of the rest of the weekend, except another supermarket and bookshop trip on Sunday. And that's not far, we are talking about downstairs.
Some of the others went to Helsinki on Saturday, except Giulia, who was supposed to, but slept in until 5pm! Apparently it rained a lot, and their fast ferry back was cancelled, so they got back rather later than intended. I'm glad I didn't go - I could have, but I knew I would be tired, and I have been to Helsinki before in any case.
This week should be less strenuous, just writing external designs until I can do no more. It's also Roddy's last week, and we have the new PD here to take over. Plus we will have some visitors, including Sylvain, my boss, and also the new technical architect is arriving (the old one did not survive the winter, he decamped to a warmer climate). Maybe, just maybe, I will be able to have a more normal life again now....

posted by Ally at 8:46 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Tallinn Again
I arrived here after a rather strenuous flight - I went to the airport early, which achieved the desired aim of getting through security before the crowds (and there were crowds again, as there were planes for Zurich, Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Tallinn all departing from the same satellite at the same time). Then I just sat there and stitched and read until it was time to board. Trying not to think about the loo, because there are none inside the security area, totally ridiculous if you ask me. One could go out, but coming back in again is difficult....

At Copenhagen, I did the usual grocery shopping and bought some candles as well, then stitched again until I got on the plane. I have now worked out that it is best to get on the Copenhagen to Tallinn plane last, because then I can just take the most empty row in the front cabin. The staff are starting to recognise me, and don't seem to mind if I do that. Unlike the woman who tried it last time and was smartly asked for her boarding pass and sent up the back, which was the class she had paid for. Why do people try this? Do they think the airline staff are stupid? The other ones I think are nuts are the French guys who moved the "Economy After This Row" sign from in front of their row to behind it (the signs are velcroed on to the top of the seat), and caused a bit of consternation when the staff did the count and found three extra people in Economy Extra. But as soon as they looked at the boarding passes, all was revealed. What some people will do for a free snack and drink!

At Tallinn, I bought as much wine as I could carry (not a great deal, so) and taxied back here, to unpack and do some work. With a brief excursion to the supermarket downstairs to buy salad things. I'm now charging phones and camera, and doing washing. I was going to take a photo of my almost finished needlecase pocket, but no battery left in the camera, and both phones ran out of battery as well!

I should go to bed, as I am getting up tomorrow to go to the spa (this gets me out while the maid is here), then plan a long afternoon and evening completing my spreadsheet of questions (client) and answers (me). It could be a long week for us all.
posted by Ally at 9:40 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Shopping in Paris
I've been out this morning, to Des Fils et Une Aiguille, where I bought 18 hanks of Crescent Colours overdyed thread - it's wonderful that they stock this there now. Then on to WH Smith, where I bought a lot of books and some DVDs, including "Lark Rise to Candleford" Series 2.
I came home in a really good mood, then had this dreary man on MSN - he doesn't work for my company, but he has contracted for us a lot, and he is always trying to get on projects by hook or by crook. It is a little depressing, because he never has a good word to say for anyone, and I hate to think what he says about me to other people, based on what he says to me about them. Even my friends, like Nicky or David. To my face, he is always telling me that I am spoiled and snobbish, which is bad enough. Apparently his reason is that I always have pink handbags and like going to spas, pathetic! David and I actually think he tries to put people off so they will leave and there will be more place for him on projects.
Yesterday I started a new project, one of my Nashville purchases. here is the SBB photo of it:

It's LHN's Travelling Stitcher, and I did buy the pocket as well, so I have the whole kit. I've started with the needlebook, because I think I can finish that this weekend, and then move on to the big pocket. I think I am going to be sitting in the airport for a while tomorrow - I've decided to go quite early in case there is the same bun fight there was at security last time, when it took me an hour to get through, and the plane was an hour late leaving. I have luggage this time, so they wouldn't leave me behind at least, which is what I was worried about last time - fortunately last time, there were people behind me with luggage, and the captain decided to wait, because there were so many it would have taken ages to find the luggage and offload it.

Now I'm going to go and buy something for dinner, then settle down to some stitching and DVDs. I'm quite happy that my infected finger is healed - I ripped off part of a fingernail taking luggage down from the overhead locker in the plane a couple of weeks ago, and it has been sore, with nasty yellow stuff, but it has healed really well and I can type properly again.

posted by Ally at 4:56 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments