(not so epic) first week blog post…

So it’s a cloudy sunday evening in St. Genis, France, a stone’s throw from the Swiss border. I’ve just come back from a nice little walk up to Sergy, the next town. The weather is absolutely un-inspiring.. it’s as if someone has hidden the whole sky, and the mountains, under a fuzzy grey blanket. Yesterday also scored highly on the non-event card, with my main achievements being the purchase of some food, washing liquid and shower gel, plus the completion of a weeks washing at a rather grotty launderette (Yes, I didn’t think anything grotty was permitted in Switzerland, but I was obviously mistaken). Most useful things (such as bike shops) in Geneva seem to either be closed at the weekend, or have reduced hours (Open till 12 Noon on Saturday!), that will take some getting used to. At least I got my exercise (20km walked, pushing my bike into Geneva and back again!) and it wasn’t raining.  I was reading today on a ‘life in Switzerland’ forum that a period of 3 weeks isn’t uncommon for getting your shirts laundered, so perhaps I should be glad I have enough shirts to last me the week!

Here is the hostel where I’m staying till I get my flat:

St. Genis
My current abode in France. It’s the buildings at the edge of the field… (I’m not camping!)

Work has been really interesting this week, two and a half days of classroom/field safety course – this is the first stage of my introduction to the workings of the CERN electrical system. Working in French has been a real eye opener, I’m still at the stage of needing to dip my head in a bucket of cold water at the end of each day to cool it down. Hopefully I’ll get over that within a couple of months. Training has been the main activity this week – I’ve also had about three quarters of a day of on-line training and tests to gain the various authorisations I’ll need to actually do real work when the time comes (hopefully soon). I’m currently reading and familiarising myself with the various contracts and standard specifications that will be my bread and butter documents for the next however long. On the horizon I’m hopefully going to get involved with a transformer replacement for some old 60’s/70’s gear and the construction of an experimental control room!

Some highlights from my course:

The main electrical network connection site:

Really big stuff
You can hear this thing hum 100 meters away…

I found a really old computer in one of the equipment halls – it was next to a telephone that actually had bells on it!

I haven't seen anything this old since the last BBC Micro
Not all of the equipment here is cutting edge…

Otherwise, the big success of this week was securing an apartment from the 18th October (so next Monday). It’s just up the road from CERN (Forum Meyrin.. absolutely the closest Swiss town). It’s rather expensive, but was just on the upper limit of my budget – and was very nice! So I took it. I have to say I hadn’t heard a single good ‘finding accommodation’ story in Geneva (Demand outstrips supply by a factor of several, apparently!) Anyway, so now mine is the first good story I’ve heard. I started looking in earnest the previous day, arranged the viewing at 7.30pm and after some reflection decided to take the place at about 11pm by email. The landlord and landlady seem nice! There’s even a nuclear fall out shelter in the basement (with caged storage for essential paraphernalia such as ski’s, mountain bikes etc.) and secure underground car parking. Everything is underway for my move (i.e. I’ll be lugging my two rucksacs up the hill…) on the 18th, and as soon as I’ve got myself a sofa bed (and moved my two air beds from the UK) I will be open to guests!

My office (pictures of my flat to follow, once I’ve actually moved in!):

 

My desk and the view out of the window

What it looks like when it's sunny...

 

Finally, I should just say that the food here is currently doing very well in living up to my expectations. It’s (relatively) expensive, and worth every penny!  Here’s a snapshot from the local French supermarket cheese counter just as a sample:

 

Cheese!

Say cheese! - Thanks for taking me to the shop Estel!

 

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One thought on “(not so epic) first week blog post…

  1. @ndy says:

    Wow!
    It looks like you’re going to have a great time. Please make sure that paperless teletype ends up on your desk attached to the mainframe.

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