Monday, April 30, 2007

April 29 - Extreme Weekend!

So this weekend took a few turns and was definitely a way to experience polar opposite crowds in London.

Friday I moved back to the flat on Grovesnor. It’s so nice to have a home for three weeks and I have completely unpacked and bought groceries. Groceries are GLORIOUS! I will never take them for granted again. I home is a wonderful thing…even when it’s someone else’s.

So, Friday night Susan and I headed to the city to meet Zee and her parents to go to the symphony at Royal Albert Hall (which btw is across from the Albert Memorial…who knew). I was certainly looking forward to it as Mahler Symphony #5 on the programme and I, being a trombonist in my time, LOVE Mahler brass. Anyway, the concert was AMAZING and we were in a private box with sandwiches, water, juice and CHAMPAIGN! I have never felt so regal in all my life. Thanks Zee’s parents!

After the concert I was off to Chalk Farm to meet up with Keating (Jay’s housemate) to crash at his uncle’s house in a swanky neighbourhood up north. The next morning after meeting uncle Duncan and cousin Beth we were off to the Chelsea-Bolton game. What can I say about the atmosphere? It was FABULOUS! As soon as we got off the tube it was all jerseys and chanting and crazy energy. We had a couple of pints and were amazed by the volume of the chants coming from each pub. It was like a bus on the way to an eng conference.

The game was amazing! The crowds cheered from start to finish and there were some great plays. Thanks to Keatings ‘camera of destiny’ the game tied and that was pretty much the end of Chelsea’s bid for the championship. The crowds seemed saddened but the party went on. After a couple more pints we headed home and I made my way back to Woking to unpack and settle in.
Now I am watching old Grey’s Anatomys and doing some more work. I can’t believe I have been here for two weeks. Three more weeks and we are off to Sierra Leone. From what Nana has told us it should be an amazing place! For all of those who are worried I did learn that Plan is very well respected in SLE as many of the people in power now were once Plan children and so we will have diplomatic status when we are there. :) Also, our flat is across from the first response emergency station.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

April 24 - Like a fish!

So I finally found the pool and now have successfully cleared the fast lane out on four continents (North and South America, New Zealand and now Europe). It felt so good to just swim despite the slimey pool and co-ed changerooms with little pods. I have a couple of pictures by my battery is dead and the charger is in my other bag. Will add those later. (Le Voila!)On the work side, I am just starting to come to grips with just how truely global this project really is. I sat in a meeting today (discussing the future Operating Model for IT support) with folks from all across the world, Asia, South America, East and West Africa. It really blows my mind. I guess this is the logical next move. I started provincial and moved federal and now...the world! Good thing I am an international woman of mystery. :-)

Monday, April 23, 2007

April 23 - The Anniversary of Shakespeare's Death

Seriously...not sure how I figured that out but it's true (

Back to work for me. Nothing too exciting. Just organizing for Visa applications which is a real pain. Off to the Indian High Commision tomorrow with Nana, our team-mate from Sierra Leone to see if we can't all get our Visas. We shall see.

Just wanted to point out the additions to the 'left nav' of this page. I added a few good links including other ADPers and info on Woking and Plan. I'll add to this as I go along.

Thanks to team Smiths for your comments. Let's me know someone is 'watching'.
Went for Bangers and Mash and a Guinness with Laura, another ADPer here in Woking, after work to share our stories of UK life. Too funny. Bad use of the word 'pants' count = 2... oh dear!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

April 22 - Marathon Day - Go Alex, You're a Rockstar!

If anyone ever tells you it's easy to watch a marathon they obviously have never done it! I have done it thrice now and man is it ever exhausting! I spent Sunday in London (a super easy train ride from Woking) with my friends Carolyn (who is staffed in Newcastle) and Zee (ex-Accenture who is here to visit boss) watching the London Marathon ( We had a blast cheering and yelling. The best was when people had their names on their shirts. "Go're a Rockstar!" was one of our favourites. Man can those fast guys run! Here's the lead pack too fast to get a good photo!
Well, after three hours or so of cheering we finally saw our friend Alex and yelled our heads off to get his attention to no avail. Oh well. Apparently he had a good day and, despite walking the last 6 miles pulled out a 4:04 marathon. I am impressed! My marathon attempts pale in comparison. Congrats Alex!

Exhausted and a little sunburn we headed to the pub for nourishment and eventually took our seperate trains home. It was a great day of reunions and zippy runners. Incredible.

April 21 - Saturday Afternoon fun

Part of my fear about this adventure was having to spend a lot of do I say myself but so far it's not so bad. While I am in Africa and India I will have a travelling companion (Conor...must get photo of him) so it won't be so lonely but today I decided to treat myself to a night on the town.

After an afternoon of chilling and writing postcards at the coffee shop. (yes, they should be well on their way by now) I got myself a ticket to see Cole Porter's High Society at the Woking Ambassador Theatre. Apparently a lot of professional shows come through here on their way to London. This could prove to be helpful for amusement. The show was great and for 15GBP I couldn't exactly complain.

Thanks to Christie for being my first social call on my mobile and making dinner out with me dinner out with us!

Here's your skill testing question for today. My seat was H10...which door do you choose? I was confused too!

p.s. I forgot to mention that I went for a good long run this morning along the 'canal' in Woking. While it has some similar features to Ottawa (canards, bikers without helmets) it just isn't the same. It was nice to enjoy the sunshine and running is definitely my favourite way to get my bearings in a new town.

Friday, April 20, 2007

April 20 - TGIF!!! - Now I have to move AGAIN

When will this packing insanity end!?!?!?!? Seriously, I'll be glad when I get to Freetown and can settle myself in for a good few weeks. I am going to be a little sick of living out of bags soon.

Weekend plans are a little lame but to be honest I think I can use the break. I tackled the washing machine last night and man was that ever tragic. After tapas and sangria with Laura and Bryce I decided to decline the movie (it's 7GBP which is like $18 for a movie I had already seen and we were late for anyway) and head home to do laundry. I have come to the conclusion that I can't drink here anymore because 1) I get homesick very quickly and 2) I can't work any of the appliances. Seriously...who was in charge of water-based appliances in this country...obviously someone who doesn't like North Americans that's who. Managed to figure it out but didn't finish my laundry until the morning...tough work.

So, come monday stories of the new pad at the Arden ( and my adventures with Carolyn and Alex (and potentially Laura and Keating). toodles!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

April 19 - My first Mobile call

Okay, so this isn't super interesting but I got an actual call on my mobile today! Thanks to Chris Keating for being crafty enough for calling Jay to get my number.

My American ADP friends have returned from Oslo so we are off to see Blades of Glory in true North American fashion. Plans for next weekend are shaping up with a concert at Royal Albert Hall on Friday and then a 'footie' game with Keats on Saturday! Can't wait!

ta-rah..tomorrow's friday!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

April 18 - The town of Woking

One thing is for sure, this team is full of women with big personalities. I am not sure the two men were glad to see me arrive but at least Conor (my ADP colleague) is here to balance things out. One of the men is arriving from Sierra Leone on Tuesday to run a session. Conor and I will get to go to London with Nana and get our SLE visas while he gets his India visa for his visit in three weeks. Very exciting.

I took a few photos of town on my way home last night. The first is of the 'Martian' in the town centre. Woking was the original setting for HG Wells' War of the Worlds and they are very proud of it. The second is the gates that lead into the town centre. If you look closely you can see Comedy and Tragedy on the centre handles.

I also took a photo of the building that houses our office. One of the things you learn quickly here is that nothing has a street #. Everything just has a name. The office is called Chobham House and is right in the centre of the city and about a three minute walk from my current home which is great. All the shops in town close at 5 which is a bit annoying but the pubs seem to be open until midnight which is good.

On my run this morning I headed into the 'suburban' neighbourhood which was lovely. Tomorrow I am going to go and find my B&B so that I know where to go when I move on Saturday. It has definitely been nice to have a flat to come home too and I am sure the B&B will be interesting. Marte who is on our team and lives in Oslo warned me about the Woking B&Bs today. Oh joy!

Also planned today to go and watch the London Marathon on Sunday with my old friend Carolyn Hobbs. Turns out another friend is running it so we are going to cheer Alex Tanara (Rancourt) on. Total blast from the past and I can't wait. I also found out that Monique Bergeron is going to be doing a year of her clinical studies here in London starting in August so when I get back from my tour I should be able to meet up with her which is terrific.

Oh and on an unrelated note it appears that Subway here has nearly the same daily specials as at home so I headed there for a Turkey Tuesday for 1.99GBPs only to find the WORST service ever! And yes Tara...I am sure they were slower than you ever were. So much for that idea. Off to Sainsburys for me.

One more unrelated note: I have discovered the joy of Skype. If you don't have it and you want to make long distance calls to anyone I strongly suggest it. I spoke to Jay last night and a team member in Kenya today. I am going to Skype Mom and Dad in a few minutes too. It's all free and the sound quality is quite good even to Kenya!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Where am I the UK?

Here's where I am in the UK:,+surrey,+uk&sll=49.891235,-97.15369&sspn=26.282455,59.238281&layer=&ie=UTF8&z=7&ll=51.345196,-0.558929&spn=3.177321,7.404785&om=1

And here's where I am in Woking:

My home is across from the big E shaped building on the right side and work is the big white building on the top of the 'U' at the top of the left hand side!

April 18 - Running with the big dogs

Well, day two is nearly done and I think went well. Got up early and decided to run to see where the pool is and well, got totally lost. Perhaps it is a good idea I brought my GPS watch with me after all. (thanks Jay!)

Spent all day today with my boss Susan to sort out what I am supposed to be doing here and what the situation is like on the team. Susan and I worked together many moons ago in Toronto on the MCSS project and of course spent some time reminiscing. Looks like there is a lot on my plate which of course nerdy me is excited about.

We went out for lunch and got me a sim card for my cell phone and some phone cards so I can call home now. So, if email, MSN and this blog don't prove it now I can reach out and tell you I am alive.

I'll try to take more photos of the town tonight so you can all see the martian statue. Plus tomorrow we are going to hammer out our travel/meeting schedule so I can fill you in on where I will be when for real.

Off to Sainsbury's to get some more 'bits' and then to phone home.

April 17th, 2007: Arrival in the UK

Leaving on a Jet Plane
I had no idea how hard it would be to leave on this journey…it was horrible. I have grown to love Ottawa and have made some amazing friends there which made leaving it all behind for 9 months very hard. After finishing packing my 100lbs of luggage (delicately under the weight restriction for Air Canada) Jay and I hit Tim Hortons (see photo) then dinner with the gals and off to the airport. Leaving only 15 minutes until boarding time because, let’s face it, it’s Ottawa Airport I was shocked to see that the lineup was almost out the parking garage exit! After some panic and a few more tears I was on the plane complete with Lulu hoodie and asleep on take-off in true Tina style. London here I come!

Arrival in Woking
My plane arrived on schedule at 6:30 to Heathrow airport. My two huge bags made it through and I found my cab driver after a few more minutes of panic when I didn’t see him on my way out. Straight to work to meet Jaime to take me to my temporary flat. This flat actually belongs to Plan’s CIO Kelvin but has a small spare room (see photo) that he lets people stay in when he is not here. I am in the flat for a week then to a B&B for a week and then back here for 3 weeks before we leave for Sierra Leone. The flat is small but perfect for my needs. I have a fridge and laundry and a lot of large windows. It was a great day in Woking with the temp over 20 degrees and the sun shining.

I managed to get a shower and make my way back to the office getting only a little lost. Luckily Woking has a large replica Martian from the novel War of the Worlds in town centre that is my new landmark and guided me to the office.

A Day in the Office and Some Killer Jetlag
I get signed into the office and am greeted by Conor Sheehy who will be my ADP colleague and travel companion for the next 5 months across three countries. He is a Consultant and will working directly with me on testing and implementation activities. Conor is Irish and quite a hit with the ladies in the office. I have a feeling there will be no lack of excitement on our journey with him around.

I managed to stay awake for a full day from 9-4 of meetings and reading. Tomorrow I will spend most of the day with my boss Susan Smandych who was an ADPer herself when she worked for Accenture. I am hoping to have enough insight at that point that I can really sink my teeth into things. So many people to meet who are all over the world and we have deliverables to complete this week. Time to get a work on.

On my way home from work I stopped to take a peak into the mall. Looks very much like ours at home including stores like La Senza and Claire’s both of which I thought were Canadian so that shocked me a bit. Went to M&S and bough some snacks, dinner and breakfast.

Just watching a bit of telly now. I only get 4 channels but I didn’t have much more than that at home so I am not really feeling at a loss. I think it is time to head to bed (6:50pm) so I can be all ready for tomorrow. Susan is going to help me get my phone set up and buy a phone card so I look forward to calling home later this week.

I must say goodnight and take care.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My Last Day on Canadian Soil

Well this is it. I ship out to the UK at 18:35pm as our precious Air Canada flies me over the big pond Atlantic to my new home of Woking, Surrey. I am headed straight to the office from the airport which should be great! Word on the street is that the whole team is going to meet me to get me the keys to my new (and temporary) flat and walk me there in my jet-lagged daze.

'Induction' meeting (that's what they call it. Sounds like I am joining a cult.) is at 10:30 so I figure I'll just drink all the tea I can find and boot it back into the office.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes. I think I am ready to roll. Next post from jolly old England. :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Plan Travel Timeline

Here is the rough schedule for my journey. I'll update dates as I get more firm answers but if you are planning to visit (wink wink) you can use this as a guide.

April 14-May 20 - Spending all my cash in Woking UK (just outside of London)
May 21 - July 1 - Sierra Leone (shhh...don't tell my mom!)
July 2 - August 19 - Kenya (can you say safari?!!?)
August 20-September 23 - Mumbai India (how about 13,000,000 people in one place?)
September 24 - December 17: back to the terribly posh but money sucking UK
then...home to where...not sure yet...

ADP Prep and visit home

Greetings all.
Well only 5 days to go and I think I am getting closer to being ready. Currently on an MSN meeting with people all over the world for my project while sitting in my parent's kitchen. It all seems kind of strange but I have a feeling this will be 'normal' compared to my adventures in the next 9 months.

I have had all my shots (13 to be exact) and taken a test round of Malaria pills which didn't make me any crazier than usual. Finished up my work on STSI and said goodbye too all those folks. Had a few 'Tina Traini International Send-Off' Parties (thanks ladies!) and emptied my apartment to add to the excitement. Now all I have to do is pack and enjoy my last weekend in Canada for 9 months. Crazy but true.

Next post will include my temporary timeline and details on my five weeks in Woking. Just need to get back on my own laptop with the wireless working to do that.

later skaters...