Sunday, October 25, 2009
Warmth Update
Even though it continues to be somewhat warmer, I am in the middle of knitting this:

It's the ruffled Miss Marple shawl by Facile Cecile, a French designer - it's a free pattern, using one skein of Noro Kureyon sock and the same amount in length of Kid Mohair. The pattern says Rowan, but I am using one I got from Sommerfuglen in Copenhagen that is a very good match for the yarn. The ruffle is around the edge, and there will be several hundred stitches by the time I cast off.

I also finished this one just before the recent cold snap, it's a "pelerine" to go over my shoulders under a coat (or if the office heating goes off):
It's a Danish pattern from Sys Fredens, and the yarn is Noro Kochoran - I have leftovers, so I'm making a headband to match. Everyone at work admired this one, I get a lot of comments about the next one being for them - but I have offered free knitting lessons all round, although no-one has taken me up on it.
I hadn't realised, but virtually no-one else is in town this weekend, the Snowflake and her sidekick (who is sweet, but under the influence) disappeared on Friday morning early. Our PD is off to Paphos for a week of sunshine. I'm not sure why so many people go to Paphos, I much prefer Limassol or Larnaca, but I guess the sun is the sun, and there are some good deals.
Next week is my last week here before a week at home, which will be quite nice, although I have a huge number of things to do there. Last time I was at home, I was sick and I know there is a pile of washing to be done, plus I have to go lots of places like the doctor, the pharmacy, the hairdresser etc. I feel a lot better now, so let's just hope this continues.

posted by Ally at 1:57 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tallinn Ghost Walk
Last evening, we had a "corporate event" which was with our whole team for both of our company's projects in Tallinn, plus the client, so there were over 40 people participating. The first part was a Ghost Walk in the Old Town of Tallinn. We went in two groups with guides and walked around the town, while they told us legends and stories about the buildings and other landmarks we saw - we learned about the Cat Well, the Devil's wedding party, and the Mummy of Tallinn, plus quite a few others, such as the Danish flag descending from the sky in a battle in Tallinn. I knew that one, of course, but the others were all new to me. Above is our guide, in front of a house where quite a few strange things happened. The colours of houses in the Old Town are quite beautiful.

The second part was to go for a dinner at the Olde Hansa restaurant, which is mediaeval themed, and has a lot of candles, also musicians playing on mediaeval instruments, such as recorders, lutes, two-drone bagpipes and so on. The meal was huge, with various appetizers, such as smoked salmon, quails eggs, dried beef and horseradish, pate with onion jam, then main course of lentils, spelt, sauerkraut and turnips with elk and wild boar stew, fish, game sausages and some sort of game bird. Finally a creamy pudding scattered with rose petals.

We had various drinks, for me a couple of glasses of wine - however I noticed at the table where the Snowflake was (we had three long tables, there were so many people) that large quantities of vodka were being ordered and it was getting rather rowdy. I left at about 10pm, since it was the first night that I had been out since getting sick (and getting better again, now, fortunately). It's actually got quite a lot warmer, we are up to 7 or 8 degrees, which seems pleasant after 0, but I didn't want to risk a relapse. Plus I get up at 6:30 am for work. This morning I thought we would have a missing Snowflake, but no, she is here, although clearly suffering from a surfeit of vodka.... a couple of others seem to be the same, but are present. I am not especially sympathetic, I have to say. I don't mind the occasional vodka, but not before a work day and not to that quantity in front of customers. I believe the last ones left at 1 am.

Yesterday we did also hear that our request for a winter clothing allowance was refused, no great surprise that, although I know some people will be upset by it. Giulia was very keen on it, she was going around saying there was no way they could refuse. Oh yes they can, if it involves giving us money.

So I had better finish now, as I have a heap of stuff to do today, and I want to go to bed not too late tonight.
posted by Ally at 9:20 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, October 19, 2009
Rain, Rain, Go Away
I am all for rain, having lived on an island where it rains once a year if one is lucky - but this weekend, Tallinn seems to have had as much rain as Cyprus would have in ten years. I guess I have been spoilt spending the past three and a half winters in Nicosia where the temperature doesn't go below 10 degrees during the day in winter. I hear Cyprus is even now having 35 degrees, which is unusual for October. Quite different from here, where it is still dripping away.

On Friday I did got to the new shopping centre, it wasn't raining until after I got home, so I walked there and back (not very far) and looked at the bookshop and the supermarket, also the flower shop - I am fascinated by Estonian flower shops, they always have such beautiful flowers and plants, but this one is extremely expensive.

Saturday I did not go out at all, I even went to my local shopping centre via the car park rather than out the front door and along the street. So yesterday I was feeling as though I was never going to be able to go outside again and madly decided to go for a walk - I caught the tram to Kadriorg and crossed the road to the sea front, but I gave up after about half an hour, because I was getting so wet and cold. I went back to the shops and bought multivitamins, I think I may need them. In fact I think I will go back today and get some echinacea as well, I don't want to take any chances with the weather and my health.

Today we are having a very boring day at work, at least I am, because my testing environment has collapsed with space problems and is unusable - I am sitting here catching up on everything else possible, in a room with the Snowflake and her acolyte, who are still able to work, because they are one phase behind us for the project, so not up to testing yet. Think Snowflake may have had too much to drink last night, as she was late this morning and looks extremely morose, plus I can tell by the way she is wearing her hair that she has not had a shower this morning.

Well, I should try and find something productive to do. Still no database and still raining...
posted by Ally at 1:14 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, October 16, 2009
Zero Degrees
It was extremely cold when I got up this morning, really zero degrees. There were forecasts of below zero weather, but they do not seem to have come true, except possibly in the middle of the night when I am asleep.

It takes extra time to get dressed before going out now, for example this morning, I was wearing a knitted collar under my jacket, a hat and a fur muff as well as my padded jacket. I have not yet got to the stage of polar fleece footlets, but I have a pair in my computer bag, just in case. I am not risking another bout of flu. Yesterday our office was so cold we had to move, but fortunately today they have fixed the heating.

We have actually asked our company to provide a winter clothing allowance, but I am not sure this is going to happen. Some of the others seem quite optimistic about it, but I cannot see our company handing out something like this - or, if they do, it will be enough to buy one glove. I would actually like a pair of shoes that do not slip on the ice, but I expect these would be expensive. The other awful thought is that they may see their chance to get us clothing with the logo on it!!! I am so NOT wearing that.

Today we are going home quite early, so I have plans to visit a new shopping centre that opened last week in the middle of Tallinn - I hear it has a very good bookshop and a good supermarket, so I should be able to prepare for the weekend quite adequately there.

By the way, my suitcase did arrive back, covered in labels and looking a little exhausted!
posted by Ally at 10:55 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Weekend Trip to Paris
So, I had this brilliant idea - I would pack my summer clothes in a suitcase and take them back to Paris on Friday, then bring my winter clothes back to Tallinn on Sunday. With a quick stop at Ulla Popken on Saturday to get a warmer coat. Of course, one can make these plans. One can pack the suitcase with summer clothes. All sorts of things one can plan!

But when I got to Paris, nearly an hour late, by the way, on Friday night, my suitcase was not there. So I stood around for about an hour while they tried to find it, then gave up and went home, in a very bad temper. I called them three times on Saturday, and finally in the evening, they had located it - in Manchester - and were waiting for Air France to send it back from there.

Naturally it didn't arrive before I had left again for Tallinn, with another suitcase full of winter clothes, fortunately including a new padded coat, so I've had another series of conversations with baggage people, the highlight of which has been spelling my Estonian address for several French people. Although talking to the man at Tallinn airport who called to tell me it was here was also quite interesting.... the actual case may or may not turn up at my apartment some time after 7pm today.

Also my plane from Copenhagen to Tallinn on Sunday was late, they said it would be 50 minutes, then it took at least half an hour for everyone to get on board. I have got no idea what the people down the back of the plane do when they get on that causes this sort of thing, as I am nearly always at the front and so I get on as near to last as I can. And if I am near the back, I get on earlier, put my baggage in the rack and sit down so that other people can get past. I do not stand in the aisle doing my exercises or whatever it is these other ones do to hold things up.

So I started the week a bit tired, and then - lo and behold! We had a fire alarm at 5.25 am this morning, it was a false alarm as usual, but it did nothing for my sleep patterns. Fiona said that, on Sunday morning, there were three false alarms between 5.30 am and 9 am, at which point she gave up, got dressed and went to the shopping centre for coffee and breakfast.

After all of that, I am really hoping for a good night's sleep tonight - I don't feel ill any more, but I want to try to build up the immune system a bit, so that I don't get the flu again. I am refusing all invitations out at night, for the next days at least, as it has suddenly become extremely cold at nights and has rained icy rain as well. The Snowflake is back as well, and I don't feel like spending any time being told that I am old-fashioned, wrong, stupid or whatever she dreams up this week. Our poor lead architect still hasn't recovered from the time he opened a restaurant door and stood aside to let her go through it - at which she told him a very rude two word expression, which we took to mean that she disapproved of his kind gesture.
posted by Ally at 4:26 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, October 05, 2009
I Went Where for the Weekend?
Not Melbourne, but Helsinki has green and yellow trams as well! I rode around in these all day Saturday, they are very convenient for getting around the centre of town if you don't want to spend too much time walking on the cobblestones - which I did on Friday evening and Saturday morning, my feet were a bit sore after this.

I visited two yarn shops - Menita and Helsky - and two bookshops - Hobboks and Academic and General, plus assorted other shops, where I didn't buy anything, plus the Picasso Exhibition at the Ateneum, just across from my hotel. I was lucky enough to be given a suite in the hotel, they were fully booked and for some reason chose me to be upgraded.

At the yarn shops and the bookshops, I did buy a little bit, including three novels, three knitting magazines, two knitting books, and quite a lot of Drops yarn at Menita, and at Helsky some lovely hand-dyed silk / alpaca yarn. Helsky is very conveniently located, on the South Esplanade and they also have handcrafted goods, very nice jewellery and household things. Menita is easy to reach on the number 10 tram, get off at St John's Church (Johanneskyrkan), it is really a great shop, a huge variety.

In Helsinki, it is funny, everything is in both Finnish and Swedish - street names, tram stops, signs in shops, whatever. But virtually no-one seems to speak Swedish, which seems strange to me, but I guess Helsinki may not the place where many Swedish-speaking Finns live. I must read more about the history of Finland, I think it would explain a lot of the questions I have about this.

The other linguistic remark I have is that I can now understand a fair amount of actual Finnish on signs, and this is due to knowing some Estonian words. Although some are different, for example the Estonians call Stockholm Stockholm, while the Finns call it Tukholma.

Margaret, the linen is Weeks Dye Works 28 count, light grey / straw gingham. I actually had to wait ages for it to arrive, I don't know whether Loose Feathers caused a run on it and they had to dye more. It is very nice, and I am glad I did wait. I was nearly on the point of going out and buying some Graziano gingham, but I don't think this would have been anything like the correct colour.
posted by Ally at 10:33 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 4 comments
Thursday, October 01, 2009
A Little Photo
This is the nearly finished front of my Loose Feathers needlebook - note the nice checked linen, the difference between the colours is a bit more pronounced in real life. I've been doing this on and off between the necessary knitting (of which I think some colleagues are a bit envious, they have started to see that knitting is a practical activity in Estonia).

Last night I went out with the team for the first time in ages, and actually we were minus the Snowflake, who is obsessed with yoga and had a yoga session. We went to the Villa Thai, which everyone loves, and the manager is always very nice to us. Our PD had ice-cream, which always puts him in a good mood, and there was no excessive drinking or gluttony, and we left at a decent hour. I was happy not to have the Snowflake there, as she had been pouring scorn on me earlier, because I am silly enough to buy music from Itunes instead of illegally downloading it like she does.

And tomorrow afternoon I am going to Helsinki on the fast ferry, to stay two nights in the Radisson SAS there, I got a really good weekend deal, as this is mostly a business hotel. I have not been on the ferry to Helsinki before (when I last spent a weekend there, it was by plane from Paris), so let's hope there is no sea-sickness involved. I only plan to do a little sightseeing and shopping there, nothing strenuous!
posted by Ally at 9:44 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 3 comments