Friday, June 14, 2013
Summer in Riga

As I hinted in my last update, I have ended up in Latvia for a project........ I thought it was probable, but almost no-one else did, for reasons to do with strange sales things that I don't actually understand. And of course the reason I though it was probable was that I met the customer and just got this feeling, from the questions that they were asking me, and no-one else understands that.

I've actually been here about six weeks, but have been frantically busy.  As usual my company has been administratively incompetent, and the other person who is supposed to be here is not, so I've been doing most of his work as well.  I also caught the most terrible cold, and found out that I have an allergy to a tree I've never seen before that drops large white things like cottom wool all over Riga.  When I go home next weekend for a few days, I am going to the pharmacy to stock up on all sorts of things for common ailments, because actually you cannot get them here.

It is a very beautiful city, you can see above the view that I have from my hotel room, straight across the river to the Old Town.  At weekends I have not done much, because of not feeling great and having to work a lot, but I can report that there are some nice shops in the Old Town with traditional costumes and crafts, also quite a few yarn shops.  Nothing for embroidery yet that I have seen, although linen is evidently a traditional product here, and there is good linen fabric available.  But I brought supplies with me anyway, as usual I travel with lots of stuff, because you never know - and in fact, with not being able to fly because of the cold, that was very sensible.

posted by Ally at 1:36 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 4 comments
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Yes, I know, it is over a year since I last wrote a post....... quite often I have thought of starting to blog again, but never quite made it, and I don't know how long I will keep this up, or whether there will be another silence.

So, what have I been up to?  I think when I last wrote, I had just escaped from the House of Horrors, where we were expected to work day and night, and I was going on holiday to Cyprus.  Which I did, and I had a great time.

But, quite honestly, the rest of last year and some of this year so far have been an absolute horror story, mostly because of the strange happenings at work, which everyone blames on the economic downturn.  I suppose this can cause weird behaviour, but really I have to wonder.

I haven't been on any exciting projects, although I have paid brief visits to a few new locations - Dublin, Cork, Liege, St Petersburg and Riga.  St Petersburg was only for a week, and it was in January, so not conducive to sightseeing, although I did take taxis twice a day past many of the main sights - St Isaac's Cathedral, the Bronze Horseman, the Hermitage.  I'd like to go back in the summer, so I could see things, but not by air, as the airport is a complete nightmare.

Riga was interesting also.  So far I have only spent two days there, but I hope to go again.  People were telling me, oh, it's just like Tallinn, and, yes, there are some things that remind me of Tallinn, some old wooden houses, some of the names of shops, some Soviet apartment blocks, things like that.  But I think there are many differences as well, and hopefully I will learn more about Riga.

Right now I am working at home, just writing documents while one of my colleagues is on vacation - he is on a tour of India, while I am sitting here designing algorithms!  This lasts for another week or so, then I am having a few days off, before we see what happens in May.

As for stitching and knitting, yes, some progress - I'll tell more, next time, I hope
posted by Ally at 3:39 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Monday, March 12, 2012
Nearly Vacation Time Again!
So I have been bad about updating again......... also about taking photos of things I have finished, which is still mostly knitting.

Since coming back after Christmas vacation, I have not been very well, it seems to be stress-related, although the doctor has sent me off for cardiac tests as well, which so far have revealed nothing untoward. The project I am on has not been going well at all, and we have had a continuous series of unreasonable deadlines, enforced by managers yelling at us. Since I don't actually work for the company that is implementing the project, I was spared some of the yelling, but with me they adopted the system of progressively giving me more and more work - as soon as I met one deadline, they would follow it up with more and more and more, to the point where it was just imposssible. It all came to a head when, one day before a very large document was due, I was ordered to include new requirements that needed several days work of analysis. This was also on a day where our team manager had a major meltdown in the office and screamed for about three hours straight, the noise was horrific.

After this, I was on sick leave for a week - it wouldn't have been so long, except for the fact that the project manager actually emailed me and told me to come in and ensure that all my deadlines were met! Naturally I practically expired on the spot. I called my boss, who was absolutely enraged and told me to go back to the doctor and get a sick note for the entire week while he dealt with the project manager. It is actually illegal in France, and I think generally in Europe, to tell a sick employee to get back to work. Of course the project manager claims that he didn't know I was sick, that no-one told him....

My week at home was spent mostly in bed, it coincided with a very cold spell, we had temperatures well below zero, even in the afternoons. Actually it was as cold as it would be in Estonia sometimes, I remember thinking about this, and thinking how we would go out in the morning in Estonia and say, "oh great, it is only minus 5 today, that is not too bad at all", whereas minus 5 in Paris is quite unusual and feels much colder.

I have been back at work for three weeks now, and in fact this week will be my last week on this project. My boss told them I was not available any longer when they asked if I could continue, which actually was nice of him, although it is true that I did have holidays scheduled for the last week of March anyway. These have now been extended to two weeks, to allow me to recuperate a bit and get some rest, since I have weeks and weeks of holidays available to me in any case. And when I come back, I may not be on another project immediately, it could take a couple of weeks to sort out administrative matters. There are some other people, from a third company that often works with my company and the company whose managers scream, on this project and they are quite envious that I am escaping - their manager has just agreed to their staying for three months more, and I thought they would cry when they heard the news.

What will I do for my vacation? Well, I am still visiting cardiologists, and I have to do a bit of that still - even though it has been determined that I was having panic attacks, very frightening, some of the symptoms are like cardiac symptoms. But I hope to get away for a a bit and catch some sun, and I will certainly be choosing somewhere extremely quiet, with absolutely no risk of people screaming! More of that (holiday, not screaming( soon, I hope).
posted by Ally at 11:30 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Saturday, January 07, 2012
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year to anyone out there who is still looking at my blog! I didn't intend to have a six month break from blogging, this is just how it worked out with everything that happened in the second half of last year, mostly work-related. I hope to be back a little more regularly this year - although I am scheduled to go back to work on Monday and I see from my calendar that they have already arranged 12 hours of meetings for me next week, plus a document due on Friday.

No wonder I ended up with a horrid lung infection in December that took ages to clear - it wasn't really better until I spent a week in Cyprus over Christmas. That was a good holiday, I went to Le Meridien and swam in a heated pool every day and took walks on the beach with hotel cats. I hope to have another week away in March, to chase off the winter entirely. I've found I have to be a bit careful in winter after 2010, the "year of the three winters".

I haven't done a lot of stitching, mostly due to the work situation, stress and fatigue, but I have knitted a bit......... no challenges or anything this year, I am just going to take it as it comes and do what I feel like.

posted by Ally at 9:15 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 3 comments
Sunday, July 03, 2011
Busy At Work Again
Not long after my last post, I got involved in all the hooha necessary to start my new project, and I have now been on site for two whole weeks, so the time for doing anything else is severely limited, given French working hours.

I don't know why everyone thinks the French work less than anyone else, I leave the house at 8am in the morning and don't get back until at least 7pm, and this is with a 30 to 45 minute commute - except on my second day, when something odd happened with the metro and it took an hour and a half to get home. Normally it is an easy commute, a bus to Etoile and then a few stops on the metro, although I may have to stand all the way. The bus stop is at the end of my street and the office is opposite the metro station, in a pedestrian area, so that aspect is entirely stress-free. I normally buy coffee and a croissant at the station and sit in a nice park outside the office to have that.

At the new project we have an office on the 27th floor of a tall building, so at least the view is good, although I do sit in a windowless cubicle with about four other people, it gets a bit crowded if anyone has visitors. In fact I sit next to someone I worked with about four years ago and was not keen on then, but she has matured somewhat (she's very young, not 30) and there is another one I used to work with on the same project as well. He used to be a giant pain as well, actually that whole project was horrible, but he is also much improved. Probably I am myself, in fact, given the conditions we had at the other project, where I was permanently tired and had people screaming at me all day long.

So I have not been doing much in the evenings and at weekends, except a little stitching and knitting on the days I do not have to finish some work. It has also been very hot for most of the time, and it is the period of the summer sales, so last Saturday and yesterday I have been shopping and spent a little bit of money - a new set of sheets, three pairs of shoes, a dress, a suit and, of all things, a colander! Plus a few books, but that is nothing exceptional.

I think the involuntary two month "holiday", plus having the wisdom tooth out, has done me a fair bit of good, so I hope it continues - having a summer this year is definitely a plus, even with the few days that have been too hot. We have a public holiday coming up, for 14th July, and that is a four day weekend, and I am having two weeks off at the end of August, I hope.
posted by Ally at 6:49 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Monday, June 06, 2011
Religieuse a la Violette
I met a friend from Melbourne today and her sister - they are doing the Grand Tour and had just flown in from Amsterdam - and we went to, where I had one of these:

I swear I am only having a very small dinner tonight! These violet flavoured religieuses from Laduree are my favourites, but I also like the chocolate and coffee ones from the local bakery. It's hard to choose at Laduree, there are so many wonderful patisseries...

posted by Ally at 6:29 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, June 05, 2011
Some Finishes!
And here are the two new Crazy January finishes!

This is Bird in Hand, from Blackbird Designs, on 32 count Lambswool linen, with Belle Soie Cranberry:

This one is Small Token by Blackbird Designs, with the recommended Crescent Colours threads on a 32 count linen, the name of which escapes me:

So that is five out of fifteen finished - there are some bigger ones left, so I hope I will continue to make progress.

You will notice that I am in the process of changing my blog template, it may change a few times, as I try out different colours and designs. I am no HTML programmer - I used to be an excellent Cobol programmer in my day, but HTML really doesn't grab me, and I just do it by trial and error.

Now I think it is time to do some stitching - it is very hot here today, we had thunderstorms last night, and I think it was 25 degrees all night.
posted by Ally at 1:49 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments