Sunday, 4 February 2007

Busy Times

Ages since I wrote, unusually this is largely because I've been quite busy.

Went across to France last weekend. Sailed Friday night to arrive in Le Havre early next morning, and in Rouen in time for breakfast. (In full French tradition we breakfasted at MacDonalds!) Spent the day mooching and shopping in Rouen - a lovely old city, at least in the centre. Not bad weather either.

Its always nice to get over to France and we found lots of shops to mooch around - French cities bear far less of a corporate branding than in England, although ironically many of the places we ended up in were places like Printemps, Galeries Lafayette etc. - the corporate side of French shopping. Got some lovely coffee cups from a Guy Degrenne boutique, to complement some mugs Jacqueline bought in the summer. Guy Degrenne stuff is lovely, but completely unobtainable in the UK. As it happened, when she unwrapped them at home, Jacqueline found that one of the cups was damaged. Only thing was, she couldn't find any trace of porcelain in the wrapping, so it looks like the cup had been damaged *before* it was packed up. Serves me right I suppose for not paying enought attention in the shop...

We'd booked into the Hotel Mercure - well situated literally two minutes from the cathedral - and by mid-afternoon we checked in just so I could have a rest for an hour. I had a rest, Alice played in the bathroom and Jacqueline went back out shopping for a couple of hours on her own. Nice room, very reasonable.

Being in the centre, we'd just left the car in a car park all day, but by early evening we headed out once again for the obligatory supermarket shop, to an enormous shopping centre at St Sever. Must remember to go somewhere different next time, since the supermarket was an E Leclerc, not one of our favourites. And it is such a pity that Frnech supermarkets aren't open on a Sunday - as it was we had to keep the groceries in the car overnight Saturday. Not bad on the most part, although the Port Salut smelled a little the worse for wear the next day!

Back to the hotel for a short rest once more, then out for supper - this time a traditional French crêperie. (In fact, we'd gone "local" for lunch too - moules frites for me. MacDonalds really is not typical cuisine for us!).

Sunday morning we took a lovely leisurely petit dejourner, then quit the hotel around 11am, taking the scenic route up to Honfleur in time for a spot of lunch. A couple of hours in Honfleur, which unsurprisingly is a lot quieter at this time of year than in the summer. Very lovely nevertheless - Jacqueline and I ended up in Honfleur on our first trip together to France all those years ago...

Back on the ferry for the five o'clock sailing back to Portsmouth. It was our first time using LD Lines, and I would probably rate them about as good as P&O used to be. But they're both behind Brittany Ferries. The strangest thing was the crew/staff. With very few exceptions the staff were all-male, their "uniform" was black polo shirts and black trousers, so all in all they looked to be a very swarthy crew!

What else? Well, not surprisingly without a restful weekend last weekend, this week has felt quite tough. Life at the client's is having its ups and downs at the moment, the main downs being the amount of work I have on my plate. I have always generally felt able to arrive at the client's at 9am and to work right through until 5:30pm, but over the last few weeks I've been glad to get away for an hour at lunchtime.

Oh, one of the things I did get sorted last week was a new phone, both for Jacqueline and myself.

A couple of weeks ago I made all the necessary arrangements to terminate with Voda and move across to O2. I did have reservations with going to O2 because around six or seven years ago I actually moved in the other direction because O2 (Cellnet as it was in those days) messed me around. Anyway, when I placed the order they said the kit would be with me within two weeks. Two weeks was up at the start of the week, and still no kit. I called them up and found that the kit had still not been dispatched, so I cancelled the order there and then. Given the reservations I had in any case, this was basically just a sign!

So, I called Vodafone up and negotiated a handset upgrade for Jacqueline. For me, they said that if I didn't want a new handset they would place a £100 credit on the account (obviously this being conditional on taking out a contract for a year). So, I took the credit and was straight onto eBay to find a new handset, an XDA Exec. (I had got Voda to quote me on this and they came up with a price of over £400, hence my resorting to eBay.) Long and short of it is that all phones arrived Friday, so we have spent the weekend getting used to them.

I have to say I am not sure how well I will get on with the XDA. As with all phones, there is a certain amount of disappointment when you realise that this wonderful new piece of kit does not have the one feature you thought was really cool on the old phone. It happened with my Nokia 9500, when I found out it didn't have a vibrate function.

So far, the biggest flaw with the XDA is the fact that it cannot send or receive faxes. Now, in two years owning the 9500, I think I received just the one fax. But nevertheless, is this not just basic functionality? Especially for something which in reality is a full-on PDA? Anyway, I shall without judgement for now - the connectivity aspect worked straight out of the box, it was not very difficult to get the thing to connect to the wireless lan, and it was a breeze to set up email, so hopefully it will be a net plus. If not, I'll be back on eBay to pick up another Nokia. (Seriously, if there had been a 3G Communicator on the market, that would have got my vote easily.)

Watch this space...

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