I've run projects from 900 miles away, but never before from 9000 kms.
Perhaps the hardest part is the time difference. We're 8 hours ahead here in HK, and that plays havoc with communications and decision making.
Earlier this week, for example, I was seriously let down by the kitchen company I'd chosen for our small Chelsea renovation.
Suddenly, after weeks of work on the design, the Italian makers, Cesar, said that a fundamental part of the kitchen couldn't be done.
I had paid the deposit and placed the final order over two weeks ago. The finished cabinets with a rather special cement finish were due to be fitted in about 6 weeks.
Cesar's only solution involved not just a major compromise on the style of the cabinets, but putting my order at the back of the queue again!
So I'd have to wait 9 weeks for a kitchen that was going to be a compromise. A compromise caused by Cesar - they had after all seen and quoted on the detailed designs.
It just didn't make sense. And I was convinced that a German maker would have accepted that it was their mistake, and made every effort to deliver on the original schedule.
After a few days of emails with my project manager and the kitchen company, I did in fact switch to a German manufacturer. They can deliver from scratch in just 4-5 weeks. Guaranteed.
But it's an enormous headache doing it all from here, as I can't see colours properly or finishes or designs. And replies to my emails often don't come back until the next afternoon (my time).
You'd think that the Italians might be keen to get the business given the recession in their country, but no. They didn't even offer to push their delivery date but so much as a few days.
So now, the kitchen and all the appliances will be German.
I guess that's the story of Europe in a nutshell.