Sunday, October 12, 2008

update from Northern Ireland

Well, I say update from Northern Ireland, but I'm actually back in London for 72 hours. And even then I went up to Birmingham yesterday. But I figured I'd visit my apartment to make sure it's in one piece. Quite a strange feeling to be coming back to London and have a sense of coming home (maybe not home home, but home none the less). Though the flat still does need some work to feel like home (like say something hung on a wall?!).

I've got a good set up in in Derry (aka Londonderry depending upon your religious & political persuasion) with a nice flat (5 of us in the same building), though it definitely wouldn't be my city of choice if I ever chose to live in Ireland (would definitely choose Belfast or Dublin). I'm really looking forward to having some more time in London, but as far as field jobs go, it's a good set up with good people. And the UK driving is coming along... I can now say I am 98% when shifting with my left hand and staying on the left (wrong) side of the road. I still find myself routinely trying to get in the passenger door to drive and can't reverse looking over my left shoulder, but will probably come.

Work has been quite intense lately. I'm managing the Northern Ireland project and doing very little "field work" despite the fact I'm in the field (I spend most my time sitting in the field trailer drinking lattes). But the budget has tripled since I took over and has gone from me managing 1 or 2 people to having a team of 4-5 people full time and many others part time with me trying to hold on to the reins. I've been working from site trying to train up the field team and deal with all the clients that want to come and see the site. Has sometimes felt like I'm getting very little done and everything is piling up. But everyone (including bosses and clients) and very happy with the status and prospects.

At the same time I was in Lyon for meetings a few weeks (month?) back and I'm now senior hydro for a project in Strasbourg. I need to do a site visit and kick off some work there in a few weeks. Apparently the client is sold that the N. Ireland project is going so well and was quite impressed at the meeting and Ireland site visit, so now they want me to the same in France. So I'm getting lots of kudos (literally told I have been the turning point for sealing the contract for the next 3 years across all of Europe), but lots of pressure to keep up the pace! Sheesh.

And then at the same time I've been given the task of recruiting another hydro for the London office and a data manager for the Milan office. I'll probably head over to Milan in late October for a visit while some staff are visiting from the US. The sacrifices I make... :) Starting to get involved in recruiting and my more regional roles are great for the career, but I have time to do this like I have money to burn (which obviously I don't with the stock market down - though I must say I've been hoarding cash in savings accounts for the past 18 months and I'm feeling like a genius right about now).

Well, that's a lot of babble all about work, but that's certainly been most of my life this past month. What else... I made some friends in Paris during my travels to Lyon and that could be fun in the coming months (especially as I have more upcoming work in France). And I've been on a couple dates with someone I met in London (though she's a doctor living in Birmingham, so definitely limitations). And I've bought my ticket home to Winnipeg for Christmas and Chicago for New Years (home to Wpg on Friday Dec 19 and leave Wednesday Dec 31). And there are 3 flies in my apartment.

Oh, almost forgot, I think I'm almost a Canadian employee again! At least they've screwed up and can no longer direct deposit my US paycheques / expense cheques - a sign the transfer really is happening!! Not sure if you can all follow this as I know I can't.... I'm currently a Canadian with a US work visa based in US but working in the UK with a UK visa (I'm double visa'd right now). Soon I'll be a Canadian employee being paid in Canada but paying taxes and living in the UK with a UK Visa. Follow? All I know is that the original UK offer was ~35% more than my US salary and the CDN expat offer is ~15% more than that and since I got CDN Expat offer the CDN dollar has gone up 5%, so I won't complain about the $1800 (!) plane ticket home at Christmas (should have worked that into the Expat contract!). Okay, heading back to Derry in a couple hours so must do some errands...