Saturday, May 29, 2010
Weekend In Hobart
I was going to say I think Hobart is the quietest place I have ever had to stay for work, but quiet is not really the right word - in fact, there is a lot of noise, but not much going on. I walked around the shops this morning, and there were very few people about - even down at the seafront there seemed to be fewer tourists than usual. Although the hotel is very busy, I don't know what all the occupants are doing, there seem to be conferences and so on.

This morning I went for breakfast to a cafe just along from the hotel, and managed to get sworn at by the woman behind the counter! I am not joking.......... when I gave my order, which included black coffee, she said "... and a flat white...", so I said, "no, I asked for a black coffee", and the reply to this was "Jesus, keep your hair on"!!!! Think she must have been having a bad morning or something, because my manner is pretty mild, but I don't think I'll be going back there again.

On a much more pleasant note, I went today to book a facial for tomorrow, there is a place called the Savoy Baths that is open on Sundays for that sort of thing - that, at least, is something to do in this place. I just wish it did not get dark before 5pm every day, I've had one winter already this year!
posted by Ally at 11:45 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Update From Tasmania
Well, here I am in Hobart again......... I arrived here Wednesday morning, after setting out from my place in Paris at 8:30 am on Monday morning, when my Etihad chauffeur picked me up. First there was a shortish (less than seven hours) flight to Abu Dhabi, then fourteen hours through to Melbourne, which was very difficult, just so long and also very turbulent, as it was over the ocean - it did get calmer once we started to go across Australia.

I managed to do something to my ankle at Charles de Gaulle, because of course we had to go down steps and up steps to the plane, after having to walk up steps and down steps to get from one side of the terminal to the other, because whoever designed Terminal 2A decided it would be great to put a raised restaurant in the middle and not have escalators. I hadn't expected at all that we would be bussed out to the plane. And when we got to Abu Dhabi, there was trouble connecting the airbridge and opening the door, so they opened the door and brought steps. At that point I called for a wheelchair, and got wheeled around the airport by a man named John, who kept asking me if I believed in the miracles of the Holy Mother Mary. He would want to pick his audience for that one fairly carefully in Abu Dhabi, I would have thought. "Are you a Christian?" would not be the ideal conversation opener in most of the Middle East.

Apart from the length and the turbulence, the flight was not too gruesome - I got moved to the front right hand seat in the cabin, which is a single, after being assigned a seat next to another initially. I don't know, this has happened to me on every flight lately, that I've been moved so that a family could sit together, and normally I do end up with a better seat. This one was quite spacious, and also easy to get in and out of, since there was no-one in front - those "pods" can be a bit tricky to manoeuvre in to, if there are seats both in front and behind, the actual opening is a bit narrow. The lie-flat feature of the seat was great, quite long enough for me. I am 165 cm, but I don't think you would be comfortable if you were taller than 170, you would have to bend.

The food was not bad, I had tagine of lamb on the way from Paris, and from Abu Dhabi, a grilled beef tenderloin and a hot breakfast. You could ask for food at any time, the staff were very good and attentive in fact. And I watched two movies - "The Last Station" about Tolstoy, this had Helen Mirren as Countess Tolstoy, she was excellent, of course, and "The Lovely Bones", which I liked far more than I thought I would. It was sad, but very well done, with flashes of lightness and humour. Apart from that, I slept quite a bit, so the flat bed seats are good for something.

Getting off at Melbourne was the usual long walk, then fuss at all the checks, but one good thing was that I didn't have to do the suitcase-lifting. Etihad give you a card that allows you to bypass that, if you have nothing to declare and not more than two suitcases, the nice man who looks at the card and tells you which line to go in for the x-ray just waves you through the door behind him. This was great, because I hate that bit, I think it is set up especially so that sadistic staff can laugh at people who get off fourteen hour flights and fall flat on their faces when they try to lift their bags onto the waist-high conveyor belt.

I had to stay the night in Melbourne, and chose an airport hotel - NOT the Hilton, the prices there are outrageous. The Best Western is further away, but has a courtesy bus and a decent restaurant, at half the Hilton price. They delivered me back in timefor the 8:45 am flight to Hobart, and everything went very well. The nice Qantas man did not charge me excess baggage, although I was a few kilos over, and I also managed to get a huge L'Occitane free gift, when I bought some shampoo and conditioner. At Hobart, I had to wait an hour or so to check in to the hotel, but I called my project manager, who said not to come in that day, so I had a long sleep before I had to go to work the next day.

There seems to be a great shortage of accommodation in Hobart this week, so I have been staying at one hotel for three days, before moving to an apartment hotel this morning. At last I can unpack properly, and also there is a washing machine in my apartment! I am about to spend Saturday evening taking advantage of this.
posted by Ally at 2:13 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Friday, May 14, 2010
I've been in the office all day, which is how long it has taken me to do one expenses claim, book a car to the airport on Monday, book a hotel at Melbourne Airport on Tuesday night, book a flight to Hobart on Wednesday morning and book a hotel in Hobart until the end of the month, plus put on hold flights to Perth (see brother and family) and Napier (see mother). Dizzy? Yes, so am I, and I am really glad I am not a travel agent.

I gave up on work's travel agent after their system showed me a Virgin flight from Melbourne to Hobart, went through the whole approval process, then told me it couldn't be ticketed. I called them and asked why not, please, and got told that they didn't have an agreement with that airline, but they could possibly rebook me via Qantas, and she would try, but if I didn't get an email within about three hours, it wouldn't have worked and I should call again. By the time three hours had passed, I hadn't had an email and couldn't face calling again, so I just cancelled it online, and used a few of my very old Qantas points to buy a ticket from Melbourne to Hobart on Wednesday morning.

Part of the reason I couldn't face it was that it took me hours to get a hotel in Hobart, the one where I stayed before was full, and in fact practically everything seems to be next week. I've been chatting on Skype to David, who said hopefully that there must be a conference of bogans (he is entranced by Australian slang), and could he join it? I've told him that it's impossible for an ex-public schoolboy who moonlights as a cantor to become a bogan, especially at the age of 62, and I think he is sulking now. Anyway, I did manage to get a hotel for four nights, then another one after that, from the weekend, so I shall not be roofless.

I've now nearly finished everything, so I can go home and think about what I'm going to pack and what needs to be washed and so on. Packing for two and a half months in 30 kilos is going to be a real pain, as far as I can see. It's one of the reasons why I like to come home periodically, so I can change my clothes and handbags and so on, quite apart from the fact that it is my home and I miss it. For this trip I have to consider that I am seeing relatives as well - I really can't avoid it this time, but it's really funny that my sister will be on her winter holiday in Vanuatu the week I am in New Zealand! Apart from this obligatory visiting, I have weekend trips to Melbourne and Sydney to think about, and maybe meeting some online friends in person.
posted by Ally at 5:09 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Still in Paris
Yesterday I went to a needlework shop that shall be nameless - because, although they sell a good variety of threads, they do something very funny. I arrived with a list of GAST and WDW that I need for a few pieces and find that they organise them by numbers! They were quite cross that I only had the names of the colours, and the procedure was that they looked up the numbers of the colours in the book, then looked for them on the rings on which they were stored, then snipped through the cardboard bit to get the hank off the ring! So now I'm going to have to sellotape them together again so they don't fall off my rings.... honestly, I've never seen a pattern that gives GAST or WDW numbers as well as or instead of colours.

But I did get most of the threads I need, so at least that is the good part.

I am more or less on track for departing for Tasmania on Monday, although I still don't have final approval for my ticket - but the resources director told me to go ahead and buy it, since I have authority from the work doctor and the big, big boss, we are just waiting on HR, and it is a public holiday today in France, so they won't be there.

My plans for the day include going to the hairdresser, then coming home and stitching, I am still on the scissor bed. Tomorrow I need to buy some more scissors to put in it, because the ones I lost at Hobart airport were the ones this bed was for. Also need to go to the office and do one last set of expenses, sigh.........
posted by Ally at 1:01 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Monday, May 10, 2010
Another Trip to Tasmania
Some of us just have all the luck, I heard today that I should go back to Tasmania again next week, so I've booked a seat and am just waiting for it to be approved. This time I am not allowed to go via Bangkok (too dangerous for our work travel agents), so it looks like Abu Dhabi, where I've never been. But it seems to be quite a good flight, direct from Paris, two hours in transit in Abu Dhabi, then straight through to Melbourne, where I can stay overnight and sleep before going on to Tasmania.

At least this time, I can pack properly before I go, so I hopefully will not be dragging too much stuff around the world. But this time I am taking my Nespresso machine and a square pillow, because the rectangle pillows in the hotel did nothing for my neck. I won't even begin to describe the coffee.

I also may be able to go to New Zealand for a week at the end, since it will be my summer holidays. That will please my mother and sister, although it may kill me, being yet another series of plane trips, something like Hobart - Melbourne - Auckland - Napier. Why, oh why, are there no international flights from Hobart when the airport is called Hobart International Airport?
posted by Ally at 8:14 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Saturday, May 08, 2010
This is what I am working on at present - the LHN scissor bed from this year's Nashville Market. I'm using an unidentified linen I had around, and it is lighter than that used for the model, so I'm replacing the Tufted Yellow with Gold Leaf, and it seems to work - you can't see that in the photo, because the photo was yesterday, and I've done a bit more today.

I've also been excavating in the wardrobe and have two bags of clothes for the next charity collection. A few date from when I lived in Australia, so it's high time they went. Apart from that, I have not being doing much, apart from stitching, watching the news and buying books for my Kindle. That volcano is going to cause trouble again - I'm half hoping that it will delay my going anywhere in the next week or so, I'd like to get a bit more done here. Although it is back to work, remotely, on Monday.
posted by Ally at 4:06 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, May 07, 2010
Miss Paris
Here is one I bought yesterday, on my delayed excursion to Des Fils Et Une Aiguille - "Mam'zelle Paris" by C'Est Mon Monde. I think it is a must for all the Francophiles out there!

I also bought a few CHS charts, and some linen, nothing very exciting though.

I am still feeling very tired and have not done very much at all this week - the suitcases are upstairs, but not fully unpacked. There's no word from either Australia about whether I am going back there or the work doctor about whether I am allowed to travel, so it's still up in the air what I shall be doing after the end of May. I still cannot believe how totally disorganised things are, although, after all this time I should not be surprised. While I was at work on Tuesday, I did hear that the new French project should start "soon", added to which it is in the centre of Paris, five metro stops from my place, and will be virtually Snowflake-less. I say virtually, because apparently she is going to have some sort of part-time advisory role for the client. Probably advising them that I am wrong about everything, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Today is going to be another idle day, with some stitching and some washing, some unpacking etc.......
posted by Ally at 10:31 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Home and More or Less Awake
There is still one suitcase sitting at the bottom of the stairs, however, as it is too heavy for me to carry up - I've already brought one up, after half emptying it and carrying the contents upstairs. I had a lot of luggage, since I did not know what the weather would be like in Tasmania, and I bought things there, and I took stuff from Tallinn because of only having about eighteen hours at home between trips.

I've just about recovered from various events along the way - the scissors, of course, but also the man who checked me in in Hobart. He was weird, he looked at my luggage, grabbed my passport and announced that this would cost a lot to send to New Zealand. I pointed out that I was not going to New Zealand, but to Paris, upon which he announced that this would cost $50 per kilo and who was going to pay for that? He finally managed to understand that first I was going to Melbourne and was perfectly happy to pay excess that far, after which I would put myself at the mercy of Thai Airways. So I paid $200 for the luggage to get to Melbourne, on a virtually empty plane, mind you, and nothing at all to get it from Melbourne to Paris. What really did not impress me was his assumption I was going to New Zealand and the "who is going to pay for that?" Maybe he was ratty because it was so early in the morning, check-in people are usually nice - and I am always nice to them, because I know they have to deal with some people who are horrid to them.

Melbourne to Bangkok was quite a turbulent flight, which I hate, and there were a few little shrieks, but I consoled myself with watching "The Young Victoria" (really good movie) and "Did You Hear About the Morgans?", which was so funny. Also bought a beautiful Links of London silver bracelet with a red heart dangling from it. At Bangkok, we had to go downstairs, outside and get on a bus, which drove us miles around the airport before arriving at the terminal - and there was still about a kilometer to walk before getting to the gate for Copenhagen.

Bangkok to Copenhagen seemed very long, and there weren't any movies I wanted to watch really. Everyone else seemed to be watching "Avatar", but that's not my sort of thing. I did get some sleep, and I had a lovely breakfast of spinach and cheese pancakes. One thing I really like about SAS long flights is that they have a snack bar, where you can go in the night and get a sandwich or fruit or a glass of wine or some juice or Coke. They also walk around very softly and offer those who are awake water or juice from a tray, so it's all very peaceful.

I was very happy to land in Copenhagen and go to the lounge and have a shower, second breakfast and a long nap in a lounger covered by a red blanket. They have a quiet room which was occupied only by me and someone else who was sleeping. My plane to Paris wasn't until 3pm, and I was still tired but this plane was empty as well, me and one other person in business. finally I got home about 6:30pm, managed to go and buy food and carry essential baggage upstairs. I went to bed at 8:30pm!

Yesterday I was going to do all sorts of things, but I only did what I had to, which was go to work and see the doctor there. We have to do this once every two years, but she also wanted to see me because of the business class thing. We had a long discussion about it, and she agrees with my doctor that medically it is not a good idea for me to do long haul flights sitting up in economy, but she has to talk to HR before filling out my "fiche". There are questions of setting precedents apparently. Then I had lunch and did a whole lot of expenses claims, goodness those take ages. By the way, the term "decoupage and collage" for these has now spread from France to Australia, the colleagues down there liked this expression!

Today I have brought one suitcase up - luckily the hall downstairs is not accessible from the street except by residents, and no-one has yet complained about suitcases sitting there for two days. They are labelled, and I guess people realise they are mine, and that I can't lift them upstairs for the moment. My poor little flat is crowded with suitcases at present, and I have to do some significant unpacking and rearranging, particularly of wardrobe space. I don't think I will be doing anything else today!
posted by Ally at 12:31 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, May 01, 2010
On the Way Home
Today I am in Melbourne, but very tired as I came on the 6am flight from Hobart. I had a bad experience at the security at Hobart Airport, they took a pair of scissors from me - but I really didn't know that small ones weren't OK here. The whole thing is so inconsistent, because there were people with water bottles allowed through, which would not be in France. Sigh, I just smiled at the guy and said I hoped Charity needed embroidery scissors when he told me they would be donated to charity.

But when I got to Melbourne, there was a car waiting for me, because I had had the foresight to book one, and the nice driver collected my luggage from the carousel, so that I did not have to touch it at all until it was in my hotel room. And I lucked out on that, because the hotel was not full last night, so they gave me a room at once, and I could shower before going my merry way in Melbourne.

I went to Bustle and Bows in Surrey Hills, then Sunspun in Canterbury, then the Needlepoint (which used to be the other Bustle and Bows) - I did buy a few things, but I have to say I now prefer Des Fils et Une Aiguille (my LNS in Paris). Where I will hasten next Tuesday afternoon after I have done my duty in the office. I will be on a mission to buy as many CHS charts as possible - I heard the sad news that Kathy Barrick is giving up designing. I have so many CHS charts, but there are still some that really I would love to get, many of the earlier ones from before I started to notice them.

Now I have to try and get a good night's sleep before going to the airport tomorrow and catching my plane to Bangkok, Copenhagen and Paris - I'll get home about 6pm on Monday, all being well. Then it's off to the office on Tuesday, I have to see the "work doctor", the occupational health specialist, as we all so once every two years. I'm just hoping I can still walk by then...
posted by Ally at 1:01 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments