kangeiko: artic ice with the sun in the background, and a sledge being dragged by dogs (TG adventure)
I arrived in Bishkek a few hours ago. Er... 15 hours ago? I arrived at 5am local time, but it was only midnight on my body clock. By the time I arrived at the hotel, half-dead with exhaustion (the stop-over in Moscow was for some reason particularly grueling this time around), it was already breakfast time. So... I ate breakfast, and then went to bed. I went to the office in the afternoon, so now my brain is telling me that it's lunchtime, and my eyes are telling me that it's dinner time. Either way, I had a very delicious meal. I'm staying in some standard chain hotel, but the nice thing (as well as the frankly palatial room) is that there is a rooftop terrace with a view across the city. Of course, it's an ex-Soviet city in the throes of a construction boom, so the view is mostly of half-finished towering buildings, but I suppose we can't have everything.

This month is going to be one solid block of travel time. I'm only in Bishkek for a few days, before I have to head back and go on to Germany. After that, the US (DC and NYC). I'm half excited about being on the move again, and half terrified of the inevitable jetlag.

That said... I'm not tired? I don't know if this is because I had a vitamin B12 shot a few hours before getting on the plane. My arm is bruised and swollen but I feel rested and awake. And like I could sleep well this evening.

There is a not-so-small part of me that is wondering if this is because I have left the anxiety of my job in London, and all I have to be anxious about when out and about is not getting lost. (My Russian stretches to asking for directions, but not necessarily understanding the answer. Although I have been told that I have an absolutely beautiful accent when asking for Krassnaya Ploshit, so if I ever need to find Moscow's Red Square, I'll be able to do so with impeccable diction. And the set off in the wrong direction.)

Anyway, small fandom note, when I was on the plane I watched Deadpool as the in-flight film.

Read more... )
kangeiko: (Ayrton/Alain)
I haven't posted on this for ages. I feel like I've sort of left DW/LJ for tumblr, but tumblr is so exhausting a lot of the time. And I've started being online via laptop rather than tablet/phone a lot more, which makes it easier to use DW/LJ, so let's see how long this lasts, anyway.

At the moment, I'm in Iraq. I've been travelling for work since the beginning of December last year, and I am very very tired. I was in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda and am now spending my March mostly in Iraq. I get to come home for Easter, though, and I am SO ready for that. I think it's one thing to be for travel in principle, and to enjoy it to a certain degree, but the last few months have been exhausting. I've had several security incidents - including explosions in the middle of the night in South Sudan, armed men entering my car in Kenya, and a battle 25miles down the road last week in Iraq - and it leaves you quite jumpy.

I was talking to friends of mine about how I was failing to sleep in the interim. And that's sort of true. I'm picky and sickly at the best of times, and the security situation, almost constant food poisoning and high work stress has left me wrung out.

So anyway, I finish at Easter, and then I come home for a few weeks. And then I start a new job. It's much more senior than anything I've ever done before, and I am properly gulping in trepidation over it. That's also partly why I want to come back to DW/LJ - where I have a calmer connection, I think, with fandom than I do with tumblr. Tumblr and twitter and Skype have kept me sane the last few months, but I feel like I'm constantly shouting and being angry, and I need some sort of outlet that allows for slightly more complex and rounded thought.

Anyway, fandom-wise, it's mostly been F1, with a side-helping of Top Gear. You can basically see where this is going. Yes, a lot of fandom-related tears since October onwards. In fact, from before, probably. I've started writing again, which is new and exciting - I've been writing more or less every day in fact. I really don't think I'll be continuing at that pace once I've started my new job, so... we'll see. I'm enjoying this burst of limited creativity for however long it lasts.

Italy!

Jul. 5th, 2013 12:56 pm
kangeiko: (SQUEE!)
Pictures of my South Sudan trip, and the last part of the round-up, will be coming at some point soon, I promise. here's a teaser: work! trekking! food poisoning! plus bonus getting lost in a landmine area after dark! Never a dull moment, eh.

BUT before then, I want to squee SO HARD your eardrums may suffer. For I am going back to Italy this summer, this time for 2 weeks. And in those two weeks I will be doing:

- 1 week Italian study at Scuola di Leonardo da Vinci in Rome
- Visiting the Uffizi in Florence (& other things too, I presume!)
- candlelight tour of the Vatican & Sistine Chapel (*fingers crossed* I need to book tickets for this, hopefully I can snag some)
- MONZA GP!!!!!!!!!!! I am parking myself at the apex of Parabolica and even brute force will not move me!!!!!
- Ballet at Teatro alla Scala in Milan (including formal wear, because there is a dress code o.O)
- a day at Ostia Antica, plus (hopefully) visiting the Decorated Houses

I will doubtless do other things while I am there, for I have several days in Florence, Rome and Milan. Sadly, I doubt I'll have enough time to visit The Last Supper in Milan. But the above is enough to be getting on with, don't you think??

I am so excited about it all, and, plus, booking things on the Italian sites rather than via the UK option has meant that I've got the above rather cheap, plus have excercised my bad Italian a little.

Now, the only things I have left to actually book are -
2 nights' accommodation in Rome
- tour of the Vatican (tickets are not on sale yet)
- tickets to the Uffizi (we've been told to book ahead for this to skip the queues)
- tour of the Decorated Houses at Ostia. The only way I can book this is by phoning, so I'm hoping they can either understand English, or I can make myself understood somehow...

ANYWAY. Work has been dreadful, so it's really nice to have this to look forward to.
kangeiko: (need a fucking drink)
So, after carping on about the Olympics, I figured I'd get myself some tickets because of... I don't know, the vague possibility I'll kick myself 20 years down the line? I don't even know. But I figured the tickets would be all sold out - they aren't - or incredibly expensive - not all of them. So... I've got time off, just pick up a couple, right? My brother's in the city, it's all fairly straight-forward.

BUT NO. Because he can't confirm what dates he'll be in London, or whether he has the £20 for a ticket (FFS, I'll pay! you know? who cares.), or whether he'll be on fire with his head on Mars. I DON'T KNOW. And texting back and forth is expensive because I'm still in Senegal. So I phoned him from a colleague's phone. he didn't pick up, but promptly phoned her back when i was in a meeting. GAH.

I'm sticking a pin in it until tomorrow. This will be much easier once I have access to a phoneline again.

In the meantime - trip done! *airpunch* And report written. Because I am just that efficient.

And now: to prepare for my night-flight and 3+ hours at heathrow passport control... /yay
kangeiko: artic ice with the sun in the background, and a sledge being dragged by dogs (TG adventure)

The common image of Africa is of desert and red sand. Maybe that's true of some parts - the Sahelian and Sahara regions, for instance - and red is certainly a major part of the African palette. But green is a much bigger part. My experience of Africa has primarily been one of greenery dripping with rain, and the thick smell of flowers in the air. Even in cities like Abuja, which are more akin to Milton Keynes than anywhere else, trees and bushes and ferns are abundant. In a place like Lilongwe - lazy and sprawling - it feels like the city is barely hours old, freshly claimed from the forest. I know, intellectually, just how much work goes into keeping each compound lush and beautiful. I've seen the hours put in, and bills for a full-time gardener on staff. But leave the compound and walk along the street, and you should watch where you step, because on the ground is a carpet of blue-purple flowers, thick and soft, freshly fallen that morning from the blossoming trees. I will try to take a picture of the road near my house in the enxt few days, before the trees finish losing their blossoms. Even then, the green is not yet done. The rains are coming, and with them, the most beautiful time of year. Every tree and shrub bursts into bloom, and the fern underfoot - kept neatly trimmed in a thicker lawn than mere grass could provide - make a bid for freedom. The green explodes into life.

The animals and birds respond. My colleague has been bemoaning the birds outside her window: charming in daylight hours, but infuriating at 5am. I don't have sognbirds keeping me awake, but there is a persistent rooster that wakes up at about 4am and makes his presence known. My grandparents had roosters on their farm, and when I was little I'd be woken by the crowing. Last night, I curled up on my bed - on my own sheets, with my own pillow case, in my own bedclothes and with my books and water bottle and phone beside me - and fell asleep after a struggle. Too much coffee, you see. I slept oddly, trying to wake at the usual 6.45am but unable to do so, staggering upright finally at 10am. I dreamed I was at home. I woke, and stretched, and here's the thing: I was. Suddenly, everything was familiar.

I stretched and staggered into the bathroom to brush my teeth, my hands automatically reaching for the bottled water to wet my toothbrush rather than turning on the tap. I pulled on my gym kit while half-asleep, forced down a banana, and worked my way through Davina's aerobics and legs workout. I was half-way through a follow-up pilates session by the time I was fully awake. I filtered some water, filled the kettle, and got into the shower for a luxurious eucalyptus-scented wake-up call. Wandering out refreshed, I had a pot of rooibos tea and scrambled eggs while reading The Observer that had helpfully downloaded onto my Kindle while showering. I did a load of laundry. I read a chapter of Antonia Fraser's Mary, Queen of Scots. I did my washing up. I listened to the worshippers singing as they returned home from church. I made another pot of tea, opened all the windows and sat down with melba toast and home-made jam and my laptop to check my email.

Outside, it started to rain.
kangeiko: artic ice with the sun in the background, and a sledge being dragged by dogs (TG adventure)

I was totally intending to do a travel round-up, but I'm struggling with the connection. Instead, I'm going to whine about working on a giant spreadsheet that gets more complex with every added formula. Why, world, why? This is why I don't like project work. Or, well, I do, but I feel like I've been dropped in the middle of it with no briefing, and am struggling to make sense of everything in the allotted time.

On the plus side, I'm definitely travelling in-country in a couple of weeks, which should be awesome. On the downside, the rest of my time seems to be pencilled in to interview panels and workshops, with no actual time to get any of the work done. ARGH. Plus Monday is a bank holiday! And my normal lift has her sister visiting so probably won't want to drive us around!

Oh, I totally forgot to mention that I've been driving a giant 4x4 pick-up truck in Africa. THIS IS SO COOL. Also terrifying. And painful. I can't change gear without sacrificing a wrist-bone. And no one here indicates, and pedestrians don't look, but walk in the middle of the street, and there are no street lights. I'm so not ready to be driving myself around anyway (at least not for the next couple of weeks), but I'm putting in the time behind the wheel, which is good. I've been trying to persuade the business manager to let me borrow a car over the next few weekends so we can go to the beach, but he just moans something about likelihood of me ending up a mangled wreck in a country with poor medical coverage, and changes the subject. BORING. Just because the lake-side roads are rubbish and inter-city traffic is hideously dangerous and we've suffered several car accidents as an org this year already...

ANYWAY. No beach until the end of the month, when we're gonna try to persuade a colleague to drop us off. Er, 200km out of his way, but whatev. Better than the mangled wreck option.

In any case, when I get back to the UK, there will be Top Gear Live!  Front row centre seats, bb, oh yeah!

Yes, I can be fannish, what of it?
kangeiko: artic ice with the sun in the background, and a sledge being dragged by dogs (TG adventure)
Safely back from Burundi. The placed was beautiful, but the conference was very stressful. I had hoped to have some time to write, and I did, a bit, but it really wasn't the most conducive environment for creativity, so I got neither of my [community profile] help_japan fics done, for which I apologise. I'd hoped to get them done by the end of June, but that's looking less likely by the second. I got back on Friday morning (by virtue of saying "sod it" and getting a flight a few nights earlier), and on Tuesday I leave again, this time for full immersion security simulations, complete with men in balaklavas and toting AK47s. Then I get back, repack, and set off for the Isle of Wight, to see an old friend I haven't seen for months. Then I get back, repack, and set off for women traveller-specific security training, i.e. The Rape Simulation Exercise. That one promises to be a barrel of laughs for all concerned. Then I get back, have a couple of days at work doing admin-y things, repack, and set off for the Superprix at Brands. Then I get back, have a week at work, and 84 celebrations are in that weekend. Then I have another week at work, and then pack and set off for the MSVR weekender at Brands Hatch. Then I get back, etc etc.

Basically, I will be lucky to have time to breathe, let alone write, for the next few weeks. GAH. My existential writer-angst is made all the more poignant by the fact that both of the people I bid on for [community profile] help_japan have already finished their fics for me, and OMG they are EXCELLENT. I mean seriously, overwhelmingly good. Stuck as I was with minimal internet connectivity, they even emailed me copies I could download and read offline, which made me a very happy camper indeed.

So, without further ado, I urge you to go and read the following excellent fic. Both are Top Gear RPF, J/J, and both are NC-17, so use your own judgement if RPF troubles you.

Wise Man by [livejournal.com profile] marginaliana [locked to AO3 registered users only] is set during the Middle East episode because, well, I was a little bewildered that no one was writing about it when it could be the source of so much angst. So I asked for it specifically, and [livejournal.com profile] marginaliana obliged with a sweet, angsty, hot fic from Jeremy's POV, centred around James's accident.

and

Well After All by[livejournal.com profile] blacktofade , which is also set during the Middle East episode, this time from James' POV. [livejournal.com profile] blacktofade asked if I had any particular wishes or kinks, and I immediately said, "awkwardness and uncertainty during first-time sex, please!" And Well After All delivers. Boy, does it deliver. Hot and funny and awkward and brilliant.

Both of these fics are absolutely amazing, and I swear I didn't arrange it to have one from James's POV and one from Jeremy's, but it made me insanely happy. You wanted Middle East fics? THESE ARE THE DEFINITIVE ONES.
kangeiko: (travel)

Safely landed and tucked away in Nicaragua. I'm very confused about what time or day it is, and was wide awake at 5am this morning despite trying to wear myself out by going to bed at 11pm last night. The flight took approximately eleventy billion hours. But at least we got there in the end - several colleagues took a different route and had their connecting flight inexplicably cancelled, ending up stranded in Miami.

Nicaragua is HOT. Hot like Africa Hot. The hotel is a corporate affair, though, so there's wifi and air conditioning.

The conference is pretty cool actually. Strategy for a different region, which means I can approach it with a fresh mind, rather than having years of history and preconceptions weighing me down. And it is a difficult time, with many challenges. Latin America and Caribbean countries are (with the notable exception of Haiti) mostly classed as middle income countries, and are not high on the UK's development priorities. But 3/4 of the world's poor people live in places termed 'middle income'. They are the hidden poor, masked by a growing GDP and structural inequality. So tackling inequality and hidden poverty  - rather than the visible poverty I normally work with - is an interesting and different challenge. I'm looking forward to see how things develop here.

In the meantime, despite frequent reminders that I will be unavailable, the moment Africa received my out of office, things spontaneously caught fire and my boss had to email my private email to ask me to call them back. SIGH.

I have a couple of days off in the middle of the conference, so will try to post some pictures of whatever I end up doing.

Edited - this didn't crosspost before, trying again...
kangeiko: (Default)

Ok,

So I watched The Five Doctors, and I realised I'd seen it before and really liked Five, coincidentally. I also watched The Curse of Fenric, which was brilliant, but I think I've figured out my issues there - I really like Ace, but don't like Seven much, mainly because he's so god-awful to Ace (especially in Fenric, right at the end, you know what I'm talking about).

Generally, I seem to get on quite well with Five and Ten, and not so well with One (or at least the version in The Five Doctors), Two or Nine. I wasn't too sure on Three. I think it's something to do with the level of fun I see the Doctor having - I like him more when he's happy and fun to be around, and not so much when he's crotchety. Maybe I'm watching the wrong things? And I haven't seen Four or Six (or Eight) at all.

So. Bearing the above first impressions in mind, what should I watch next? A lost gem that will change my mind about One or Two? The absolute classic story for Five? Seven being nice to Ace? Something else altogether?

In other news, I am going to Naples in a month or so. Pompeii and Vesuvius, here I come!

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

kangeiko: (Default)
I'm back! Did you miss me?

Zambia was mind-blowing. We worked SO hard, and did SO much work, and there was still so much wonderful stuff in between! I have pictures. :) Heavily edited, as I took 510 pictures/vids when I was out there.

Zambia pictures )

*

Getting back had been interesting. I am suddenly on holiday, and somewhat at a loose end. Today I had a wonderful day pootling about town with [livejournal.com profile] wingsmith, shopping and eating at the Wolseley, and wandering down Jermyn street, and, oh yes, running into David Boreanaz. You'll notice the slightly shocked look on my face. He was really very lovely indeed.

David & me )

Thankfully, a little later there was an amazing cheese shop, so my sense of reality returned, intact.

*

Things for next week: I shall be working on my Multiverse fic, and meeting up with lots of people I haven't seen in ages, and reading all the books I bought, and mostly enjoying the sunshine. If you're in London and fancy meeting up, drop me a note. I am currently footloose and fancy-free.
kangeiko: (travel)
Arrived stupidly early yesterday, am settled in the lodge now. Also, lodge = paradise. Saw giraffes and hear lions roar and there's an amazing pool and acres and acres of gorgeous land, and the meeting room is on top of a hill, with spectacular views across the whole reserve.

It's almost a shame to have to work...
kangeiko: (travel)
Where Air France allowed me to check in two suitcases, British Airways, for no apparent reason, only allows one.

*unpacks*

*repacks*

*things do not fit*

WTF.
kangeiko: (Default)
OK, now, this is just getting ridiculous. Either I have stupid fingers or was temporarily unable to count last night, or The Berkley website is messing me about and making reservations for me for the wrong month. Neither option fills me with much joy. I am eschewing the electronic option in favour of, er, emailing in a reservation. There shall be tea!!

But not, it appears, on Mothering Sunday, for Claridge's is fully booked. I am quite upset by this. Viable alternatives for afternoon tea with my mother, people? Don't say the Ritz, she'd... ok, she probably won't hate it, but I'm not convinced she would have a good time, either. Thoughts?

Other annoying things: someone, either the post office or the suppliers, is holding my curling iron hostage. I will not stand for it. I have sent a very stroppy email to Amazon.

*

Today was v. busy - not more work than usual, just very fast, everything crashing and things needing to be done immediately. Things almost calmed down in the afternoon, when one of the Directors called me (presumably because my boss is off sunning himself in, er, Devon for the half term) and asked if I could brief him on XYZ tomorrow morning, before his meeting with the CEO. When's his meeting with the CEO? 9am. *sigh* Which means I have an 8am tomorrow I am not really looking forward to. I think I am fully prepared, but you never know until you're there.

*

In other news, aaaah, Burkina in a week!

And, as it turns out, aaaaah, Zambia in June!

(And possibly Kenya in September, although that's less likely. Carbon footprint, credit crunch, et cetera.)

I'm really glad my shots are up to date...
kangeiko: (travel)
I wanted to say this before I forget, because it's actually a rather important thing (at least for me) -

in which I rock )

I am now planning for my Africa trip more or less full-time. Work work work biscuit work work )

Now all I need is to work out how I'm going to last 11 hours on a plane without screaming and jumping out the airlock, and it's all going to be just fine.

*

On the job front )

Also next week )

*

Finally, I have purchased two pairs of jeans. And a cute dress. I plan to wear the dress - with these really cute brown patent leather Mary Janes I bought a few weeks ago - to the office at one point. Not yet, though. It's a cute outfit, and I'm saving it for when I need a pick-me-up. Or after I've spent a month on Malarone and lost buckets of weight as a result.

Yes, I can be shallow. What?
kangeiko: (Default)
Status:

1. [livejournal.com profile] athena25 is moving back in, almost a year to the day. This is strangely symmetrical, and pleases my brain.
2. Staff conference this week rocked. Sometimes work is just made of awesomesauce.
3. Africa trip is booked, I'm away late Feb - mid March. I have all the malaria pills in the world. And an invitation to ride a crocodile. (I may pass on that last one.) Told parents; father did not take it well.
4. Spent hour on the phone to Cutie. Spent conference flirting with Other Cutie. It's not being a tease if you're both doing it.
5. Now have capacity to work from home, despite my manager's best efforts to prevent this in the hope that I will not work weekends. Bless her.
6. Still no word on job. Hope to know by end of next week. Cross your fingers for me!
kangeiko: (Default)
The weekend was spent in Edinburgh, celebrating best mate E's nuptials. There was much drinking, much eating, and a ceidlih, which means my arches re in dire need of TLC. Never mind, there were also lots of gorgeous Navy guys in uniform happy to provide it. Of course, I refused to give anyone my number, much to E's eye-rolling amusement. But the flirting and the waltzing was lovely. (And my dress was made entirely out of AWESOME).

The bride looked beautiful in red silk, the groom very handsome in his uniform, and they had a guard of honour (or whatever it's called) doing a sword-arch thing for them to walk under. Very pretty.

Then came shopping in Edinburgh, which was also lovely.

At 3pm on Sunday, I got on the train to travel down to London. At 6pm one of the electric lines came down, and we were stranded. I finally got into Kings X at 1am, 1 hour wait for a taxi home, then an hour in the taxi... I got in at 3am. 3AM PEOPLE. I was in agony all day Monday, and also today, as I worked until the building shut & the night watchman chucked me out. Poo.

BUT. I have news! ) *bounce*
kangeiko: (Default)
I'm back! Tired at the moment and with a huge 'to do' list, so catching up on lj and ij will be time-consuming and may not happen. Fill me in on anything important that I missed?

And speaking of missing important things - I managed to miss dearest [livejournal.com profile] monanotlisa's birthday! I fail. Belated birthday wishes, my sweet. *waves hands in the wish-granting manner of many fairies etc* Your wish, my command, virtual Sam Seaborn to follow in virtual cake, covered in virtual cream and no virtual spoon.

Bed now, I think. I am v. tired indeed.
kangeiko: (Default)

I'm off on my hols tomorrow. I expect that I shall have some internet access out there, but it'll be rather sporadic. Send cake and cabling etc c/o Eastern Europe. See you in a week and a half!

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