Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Another Long Train Voyage
Did I say the journey back to Paris should be trouble-free? Haha. I got to the station at Hyeres on Monday morning and found that the trains as far as Toulon were cancelled, because of what the French call a "mouvement social" - I personally call it an anti-social movement, because I think strikes are anti-social. Anyway the woman at the ticket office assured me that from Toulon there would be trains, so I got on the bus from Hyeres to Toulon, which took nearly an hour, but represented good value for money, as it was only 1.40 € and quite scenic.

At Toulon, there were trains, and I got on one for Marseille that stopped every station, again this was more scenic than the TGV would have been. At Marseille I had quite a wait for my train, but at least I got there in time, it would have been bad to miss it, because all the trains were fully booked. At least I arrived home at the scheduled time, although pretty tired because of lugging my case - now heavier with some algae bath products - on and off buses and trains, and finally up my four flights of stairs.

Yesterday, I overdid it madly, went to the bank at La Defense, tried to go to La Droguerie (gave up because the queue was enormous), went to Des Fils Et Une Aiguille and to Le Bon Marche and the supermarket. I was exhausted, and today I am still in my pyjamas at 11am - although thinking about getting out of bed and tackling the washing mountain.... I need to get back to normal and start preparing for 2010. 2009 has been a strange year, where I've been busy, but not accomplished much (certainly not on the stitching front), so I need to make some lists and set some goals for 2010. More of that later!
posted by Ally at 11:49 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Christmas Holiday
I've been in the south of France since last Monday, at Hyeres, to be exact, this is between Toulon and Nice.......... I came on the TGV, and had another delayed journey, the train was for 10:15, but we eventually pulled out of Gare de Lyon at midday. I'd spent a couple of hours sitting inside Gare de Lyon with snowflakes falling around me, clearly their roof has holes somewhere. And the place was so crowded that I couldn't get into the shops to buy a sandwich and a magazine. Which was a shame, as there was an enormous queue for the bar car on the train - I watched when people went and came back, and it was a good 45 minutes to get served.

The train was packed, of course....... one really strange thing, though, I was wearing my Miss Marple shawl (which has been a lifesaver the last week or so) and just opposite me, there was another woman wearing hers!

By the time I got to Hyeres, we had got past the snow which was supposedly causing the delays (I couldn't see why, it didn't seem unusual to me, but my views on snow may have changed since I spent so much time in Tallinn), and there was only rain instead. Heavy, beating rain, the likes of which I have only seen in Bangkok in the rainy season. And Hyeres apparently has only one taxi and the line to wait for it is not under cover. I was quite wet by the time I got to this hotel, and dinner wasn't for an hour! I should have arrived at Hyeres Station at about 2:45 in the afternoon, but it was 6pm or so by the time I got there...... the taxi actually seemed to be driving through water, which was slightly alarming.

I'd love to say the weather improved and the week has been fine and sunny, but unfortunately it has rained most of the week, and the rest has been windy, about hurricane force, I think. What I can't understand is why there are still flamingos en masse in the wetlands opposite the hotel. If I were them, I would have flown off to Africa long before now.

But the point of the holiday was the thalassotherapy, and that has been great. Four treatments a day, either morning or afternoon, and the rest of the time I've just been eating or resting with a book and some knitting. One of the daily treatments is water aerobics in a poll with powerful jets, and I thought I would hate this, as it is with other people, whom one doesn't know, but it was actually rather a highlight, as I found I could lift my leg further out of the water than anyone else. The other treatments are a mixture of wraps in algae, massages and therapeutic showers and baths. I feel quite a lot better after all of this, and it has been quite good for my psoriasis (which is not terribly bad, but can be uncomfortable sometimes). Psoriasis is the only skin disease that you are allowed to go to thalassotherapy with, and I had to get a letter from the doctor about it. One of these days I'll get myself to the Dead Sea, that is supposed to be the best place for psoriasis, and in fact a Danish friend who has it very badly was prescribed a cure there - it did wonders for her.

My last thalasso session was this morning - water jet aerobics, an aromatonic shower, a massage bath and an algae wrap - and I actually slept for a couple of hours this afternoon after that. I have to say my skin feels soft after all the sea water, and I'm pretty sure my thighs and my backside are rather firmer after all the water aerobics and jets of water that have been directed at them the past few days. I would have liked to go out and walk a bit as well, but the weather has made that pretty much impossible.

Back to Paris tomorrow, and I think the trains are running normally again, so it should only be about four and a half hours, as opposed to all day horror. I've got a mountain of things to do before next Sunday, when I am off to the UK for a training course (what are they going to train you to do? asked my mother, sounding very worried).
posted by Ally at 9:52 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Home Again
I have been really hanging out to get home again for Christmas, and yesterday I finally made it, but it was a twelve hour journey instead of the normal eight or so. First the plane from Tallinn was delayed an hour, and of course there was some man doing his nut at the steward about how important he was and he couldn't miss his connection from Copenhagen etc etc. I could have told him that would be late as well, given that the reason we were late was that the incoming plane from Copenhagen was late. Anyway, when we got to Copenhagen, there is Air Force One sitting there, surrounded by tanks. That would make me nervous, but I expect Barack Obama is used to it.

And in Copenhagen, I looked to see where my plane was leaving from, and it said it was five minutes late i.e. leaving in twenty minutes, but no gate. Hmm, I thought, more than five minutes late then. We finally left three hours late, and it was packed, I had to sit next to a guy who had no concept of personal space. Then when we had practically landed at CDG, we had to go up again suddenly (the pilot explained straight away that it was because we were too close to another plane) and of course I screamed, the guy got a real fright.

When I got to the baggage carousel, who should I see there but Prince Joachim and Princess Marie of Denmark, together with baby Prince Henrik and the dog! I knew there was someone important on board because there was a car beside the plane, but they boarded last and I was just a little too far back to see who it was. Last I saw of them Prince Joachim was looking at the baggage carousel with a worried expression, I hope it did turn up, nothing would surprise me. I just heard that my colleague Giulia's luggage got lost again yesterday on route from Tallinn to Rome, it's only about the fourth time. Another colleague was stuck at Schiphol for hours, but no-one was on Eurostar, thank goodness, that's a mess. I'm hoping it is sorted out by 3 January, when I have to take it, I have to go on a course for a week in the UK.

Now in Paris, it is about minus 5, which is unusually cold for this time of year, and there has been snow - I'm watching the weather forecast with attention, as I am going to the south of France on Monday for a week. It has got to be warmer than Tallinn! I was worried I was getting a cold, because Snowflake has been coughing madly all week and started nose-blowing every three seconds on Wednesday. This was a cause for concern, because there was one guy from the other project that actually has been in quarantine for swine flu all week, and he is one of the Snowflake drinking crowd. Yesterday I felt light-headed, but I think it was just the cold outside and in the airport, then the strain of the journey. And today I had sore arms, but that would have just been carrying my suitcase up four flights, it was pretty heavy. Since I've turned the heater on and warmed up the place, I feel better for sure. All I've got to do now is pack tomorrow, then go to Gare de Lyon on Monday, print out my ticket and get on the train.
posted by Ally at 10:24 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Thursday, December 03, 2009
A Long Gap
I haven't posted for a while, I've been rather busy with work, as we had a deadline at the end of last week. This week has been rather scrappy, but I've been going home tired at the end of every day, as we have been in a very small room for three weeks now, and we have sometimes eight people in here, around a table that is not big enough. And the room barely contains the table and chairs, there is no space left when we are sitting down. I am very much hoping we will not be in this room next week.

There are various tensions here at present, since the Snowflake is one of the eight people, and two others are young women that think she is wonderful and agree with everything she says and does. I read a rather nice book recently called "How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World", Audrey and Paris, respectively, of course. In my opinion, they are all what this book calls "silly girls", who do not realise yet that saying four letter words every three seconds and coming to work in the clothes that you were wearing the night before is unlikely to lead to a fulfilling career etc etc. Although I did have to laugh, one of them was proposing that our group Christmas party be fancy-dress. I told this to David, who said, oh she can wear what she wears to the office then.

Tomorrow I am going to Copenhagen, on the 1pm plane, hooray, and I am staying there for two nights, going to Paris on Sunday, staying there for two nights, and coming back here, until the 18th December, when I am going home for Christmas, double hooray!! I have to saying I am longing for the Christmas holidays, I cannot wait to get away from some of these people, there is far too much closeness in this room.

Plans for Copenhagen include Christmas shopping and going to the Christmas market in Tivoli - I went to the Tallinn Christmas market last weekend and enjoyed that a lot, as well. Lovely lambskin mittens that I have recommended the whole group buy, they are so warm.
posted by Ally at 1:54 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments