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Posts posted by Catalpa

  1. @Lori - Very Important Question here... your air fryer - can you cook cakes in it?! 🤔

    On other matters - OH and I have long pondered the question of moving (permanently) from the grey winter skies of Normandy (usually November through April) to somewhere with a better climate. After all, we reason, if it's 30°+ in July and August, once retired we would just avoid doing much in the afternoons. But the last couple of years - particularly this year - have taught me to be careful what you wish for. I'm not convinced 35°-40° are freak occurrences and if it's too hot here in southern Normandy, the heat would be too activity-limiting further south.

    However, moving is expensive. If I were already in the south and the layout of the property allowed for it, rather than move I'd probably look at providing myself with summer quarters - lots of shade on the north side of the house, a covered summer kitchen, perhaps more insulation, etc.

    We don't have clima but even in our south-facing house, the 2-3 ft thick stone walls, shutters + insulation and a ceiling fan has kept things bearable indoors, at worst 24-26°C max. We have absurd quantities of foiliage against the walls  which helps. Our bedroom is behind the greenery. We have massive pruning sessions in late September.




  2. Salut, Mint. 😊

    I think the problem with finding articles like that in the MSM, the Times / Telegraph / Mail (as egs) is factual reporting like the Lichfield article doesn't carry the political bias - generally uncritically pro-Tory, even pro-Boris, pro-rightwing. So unless you're looking at the Guardian (not without its bias or selectivity) or Byline Times (definitely worth a look) factual, accurate reporting isn't the news they care to print or comment on. I think it's a real problem. Starmer - and other parties generally - have the same problem in that if the majority of big name news distributors aren't reporting their announcements, views and activities, how do they make themselves heard over all the Tory party noise?


    If you use Twitter, you can follow people like Lichfield, Annette Dittert, Byline Times, etc, and if you carefully select who / what you follow, I find Twitter a really useful tool for finding good quality reporting.

    • Haha 1
  3.  A further thought - for a few years, when I was managing projects in Germany and the NL (commuting from the UK) I was in the countries most weeks. Post-Brexit, I suspect I wouldn't have had sufficient days left over for our holiday visits to France once my work trips had been totted up. 😬

    Going through those passport stamps at Dover would have been a nightmare. There's no electronic registration system to deliver this info at border control, afaIaa?

  4. The forum no longer allows for new topics? That doesn't bode well.

    I tend to trust journalist John Lichfield and he has written a piece for The Local on the chaos at Dover. Frankly, even if all border check booths had been open earlier, I don't see last weekend being managed much better. Or this. It's the extra checks, innit? Which will increase once people have half-a-dozen arrival / departure stamps in their passports and officials decide to figure out total number of nights spent across all EU countries in the previous 180 (or whatever).

    Lichfield article link:


  5. 12 hours ago, Lori said:

    This is the slowest site to load that I visit.  It is painfully slow to  move from one page to the next.  50% of the time it just 'times out' and shows an error message.  Really, really bad and has been this way (at least for me) since the software change.  I often just give up on the site.  It takes far too long to post anything, read anything or navigate between pages.

    Never have this issue with any other site I visit.

    Snap. I have a very fast fibre connection and all other sites load in seconds (or even faster!) but this site just hangs until it finally loads. Then it takes forever to move from topic to topic or page to page. I usually get impatient and go elsewhere. I've up-to-date Windows, ditto Firefox so no obvious version / compatibility issues.

    I realise there's nothing to be done atm with - as the Banana explains - lack of helpful and informed tech support but I thought it was worth commenting that I'm another with access problems.

  6. Basically, if you are a now a permanent, full-time French resident, you do need to register with the tax authorities. The fact you have no France-derived income doesn't necessarily mean your pensions are exempt from any French contributions, etc.

    If you have a local tax office, go along and speak to them - you'll need to register anyway to ensure you get sent a tax form next year.

    You say your CdeS was issued in July 2021 but presumably you arrived before that? What was your 'official' moved to France date? That tends to be the date that matters.

  7. 3 hours ago, alittlebitfrench said:

    Take off you rose tinted glasses ET. 

    I do find these clichés tedious.

    Someone's experience of France - or any country - is just that: their experience. If others have different experiences and perceptions - and, unsurprisingly, they do - their's are no less important or less valid or anything else. Just different. Which is fine.

    3 hours ago, alittlebitfrench said:

    Macron has torn France apart.

    Macron (and any previous president) may have exacerbated if not caused various rifts in France but duh! Brexit and the UK? Johnson and the UK? Scottish independence? The UK not a bitterly divided nation at present? ? Germany has its problems too. And that's before we look further east. Macron's France and its challenges in the 2020s is not unique.
    And a re an earlier ALBF remark:

    <<  Sell house UK buy cheap house France. Retire, convert it into a gîte, set up some dumb tourist business and live a fruitful life in France. Mostly all move to the same places and try and do the same thing. Which is as dumb as the idea in the first place. 

    They never ask the question why French people don't do this. >>


    If ideas and people have to be referred to as "dumb" in order to (try to) make a point, I don't think that argument is particularly strong or even well thought through. To say the least. ?

    However, tens of thousands of French people clearly do operate successful gîtes and b&b businesses. That's bleddy obvious! In fact, plenty of nationalities are successful and do make adequate livings from them. They might not be able to support a family of 5 on their earnings but as a supplementary income, good quality properties and the right location will deliver - particularly in this new Covid world where many tourists want a holiday where they retain some control over their environment.

    I don't know why people who find a niche and do something well and receive an income from it should be described as dumb. That's just petty and negative.

  8. << Is the confrontational attitude in the responses of some/many members responsible for the waning popularity of this Forum? >>

    Yes. Definitely.

    Part of the problem is there isn't the variety of posters and experiences that there used to be. So the permanently and vocal depressed who blame France for their woes rather than themselves are foremost in their disparagement of others' questions and experiences rather than being just a part of the background noise of forum life.

    We purchased this house in 2000, moved permanently in 2004, have run businesses and been employees at various times over the past 18 years (cannot recommend being an employee of a good French company highly enough! it makes life so simple) and life here is good. France is not utopia, no country is once the tax bills start to arrive, but it is a very good place to be.

    We did not speak perfect French on arrival, I don't even now and though OH has worked - as the only British person - in a French company for the past 8 years, he would not say his French is perfect. Enough French and making the effort to learn combined with a positive personality gets you a long way. OH retires this year and his boss has asked him if he has any British compatriots with a similar work ethic (primarily not clock-watching) who would be interested in joining the company. There are a lot of companies out there who need staff and to begin with, enough French to understand the health & safety videos is all that's asked for.

    I have many positive things to say about France but (having contributed to Living / Complete France forums in various guises for 22 years) I don't find this forum is the place to do that nowadays.

    Which is a shame.

    • Like 1
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  9. I forgot to reply to this:

    You didn't mention how well-grown the tree is. When a tree (or shrub) is recently transplanted in spring, if it bursts too enthusiastically into leaf, that may place stress on the existing root system by summer, esp if it's a dry season. If it's a particularly bushy specimen, it might be worth thinning it out the shoots for this year so it doesn't have too much lush, leafy growth to support.

  10. To start off your research, I recommend talking to your local Office de Tourisme and, if you're in a very touristy area, your Mairie may also be aware of the process. You'll need to register at the Mairie anyway if you decide to go ahead. Do you intend this to be your main source of income - more than, say, pensions or other business ventures? You don't need to tell us but that will probably affect how you set up your business.

    This forum might also be of help -


    You pay for services (it's her business) but they're realistic sums; Valerie has been around for years and seems to have plenty of satisfied customers. I don't know her, have never used her services personally, but I do know people who have and they've been happy with the advice and info she provided.

    You could try asking your questions on the laymyhat forum - there's a b&b section there. It is pretty quiet nowadays, though. Which probably tells you there aren't a lot of new people starting up.


    I don't think it's the worst time to be starting a b&b or gîte. A lot of people have stopped doing both during the past 2 years because it's often done to supplement a pension or other activity and fewer (older) people want to have possibly diseased strangers passing through their home on a regular basis if they don't have to. So there may be less competition now.

    For some holidaymakers, the prospect of travelling long distances on metal tubes with recycled air is not as appealing as it might have been 2 years ago so they are looking for easier, closer options where they have control over their environment and who is in it. It's obvious but still worth saying: don't plan to rely on British visitors... to be successful, you need to appeal to the French market and, depending on where you are, probably Belgian and Dutch holidaymakers too. Perhaps Italian and German as well.

    Hope that starts you off with a few ideas.

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  11. If it was "transplanted late last year" I read that as transplanted somewhere between October and December 2021. So it has been in its new spot for less than 6 months?

    If that is correct, as you've moved it once, I don't see any reason not to move it again before the end of this month as it won't have put much effort into growing new roots. Move it on a day where there is no frost in the ground, prepare the hole carefully so that it doesn't run the risk of becoming waterlogged if you get a lot of rain in early spring, and try not to lose any of the existing soil from around the root ball.

    If we move a tree or shrub that was well-established, we run a few lengths of old hose pipe under the rootball and out of the earth at the surface. We poke a few holes in the hose pipe where it runs under the plant. If it turns out to be a very dry spring or summer, we can water the plant (or tree) by putting water down the hosepipe from the surface so that water goes where it is needed and encourages the roots to grow down to the water source.

    • Like 1
  12. 3 hours ago, BenC said:

    1. Is it possible to buy a place in France and outsource the holiday rental and management to minimise my hands-on time?

    2. Does anyone have any stories of owning a holiday home that makes them a decent profit? (Surely someone does!)

    3. Are the standing costs for owning a house in France the same regardless of location? 

    4. Does AirBnB make it easier or harder to rent your place out?

    5. Are there any questions I've not asked that I should be asking?


    1. Sure you can.

    2. I know there are but whether they'd recommend now as a time to invest in French property is something I don't know. While the FR property market values are generally (with exceptions) very slow-growing, the turnover of rural properties is quite high atm due to French city dwellers suddenly deciding a rural bolthole isn't a bad thing in Time of Covid. So you would be buying at the top of the market.

    3. No. For eg, the equivalent of Council Tax varies according to location. Other taxes may vary too depending on what you buy or do to it. Turning outbuildings into gîtes is also far more complicated and regulated than it used to be.

    4. Airbnb gets your place in front of would-be guests but there are +ves and -ves to using Airbnb exclusively. You still need a trustworthy caretaker. And Airbnb will be superseded by something else eventually because that's what happens.

    5. Oh loads! ?

    Imo - if you are determined to purchase as a holiday let which your family will use from time to time, don't start from scratch. Buy an existing business because then you'll get an idea of actual returns over the years rather than best guess. You would probably inherit the renting infrastructure too - property managers, cleaners, emergency call out people for when guests do something stupid...

    Finally, there's an independent holiday rental owners forum you could take a look at -


    It's quieter than it used to be a few years ago, but you may still find some useful information there.

  13. On 02/02/2022 at 18:13, Ella52 said:

    Also wish to take some furniture back to my son who has moved house and needs furniture that we have in excess!! Notably, an Irish antique table an chairs that belonged to his grandmother, plus some other items, e.g, occasional tables and a bed frame made for him by his father.

    Re furniture, a friend locally has a holiday home and is an antique restorer in the UK. He regularly takes furniture back - things he's acquired here and plans to restore and sell in the UK. On the rare occasion he is stopped, he explains he has a French house and he needs these pieces of his furniture back in the UK now. No Carnet or form filling in advance and no difficulties. I had this conversation with him last weekend so it's not a story via a friend-of-a-friend or from 2 years ago - it's what he's experiencing personally this year.

    But it's not guaranteed that would be your experience, of course. ?‍♀️

  14. 14 hours ago, Loiseau said:

    It seems strange not to have gathered with friends and family to see him off, but it’s what he wanted for his family.

    You (one) can still gather with friends and family, say a few words, anecdotes, etc, just without the casket. Seems perfectly satisfactory to me.

    Having signed up to the process in advance, a friend's husband died (preceded by a long illness) and iIrc, one of the local funeral services took care of transport to the teaching hospital at Caen for around 200 euro. That's it, body gone, no cremation or other disposal fees to pay. She arranged two memorial parties in FR and UK which she and her OH felt would be a much better use of their funds.

    OH and I aren't even slightly religious, don't feel the body is relevant once someone is dead, definitely don't want to rot down underground so it's what we've arranged. France has had a few scandals over the years with donated bodies being treated too casually so there's that to factor in but if you're happy with the idea...

    Info: https://afif.asso.fr/francais/conseils/conseil15.html

    Of course, putting the arrangements in place doesn't commit you. Once a partner has died, you don't have to go ahead with the donation. If reality causes wishes to alter, you just make traditional arrangements with the pompes funèbres at the time.

  15. On 17/10/2021 at 19:49, Loiseau said:

    As the banana says, there is a lot more self-testing in England than in France. With the home kits of 7 tests that we can pick up from the chemist's (now you have to register online to pick one up, rather than just grab a couple of boxes) it is a matter of moments to test yourself before going to a big family gathering, or to meet a friend that you think might be especially vulnerable.

    Generally, in any country, presumably most tests are carried out by the individual because you think you might have the virus. (I know some going into hospital, for eg, may be required to test and there are the circs you describe, Loiseau). My reasoning may be wrong (not unusual) but if what drives testing at this stage is having symptoms, are the positives only because the UK is testing more or is the UK testing more because people already think they're infected? I'm not convinced "testing more" is a valid reason for growth in cases. I do think the resistance to mask-wearing and casual, non-distanced gatherings on transport and in public spaces are much more likely causes, especially with the more contagious / transmissible Delta variant.

    Anecdotal experience from people returning to the UK suggests their Day 2 tests aren't all being analysed - ie, tests are being returned to labs but results are never forthcoming, either +ve or -ve, which leads people to suspect only a sample number of the Day 2 tests are actually analysed.

  16. Hello Old Members! ?

    It's a cleaner layout - better than having that soddin lavender fields wallpaper behind the (very narrow) column of posts - and I'm sure I can adjust to the new functionality - but what is irritating and probably make or break for me is I can't post anything if I'm using my preferred (latest ver) Firefox browser. This is posted via Chrome; using Firefox causes the submit reply button to hang on 'saving' and saving never completes.

    I've no desire to change from Firefox to Chrome for one pretty much comatose forum so if Firefox is causing the problem with posting a response, I'm unlikely to persevere.

  17. Sorry to hear you may have Covid. Cabinets Infirmiers certainly can and locally do carry out Covid tests and a good time to contact them by phone is 7am / 7.30am because that's when people often go in to get their early blood tests done.

    Do you have any neighbours you can call on (masked and socially distanced) who would be able to make phone calls or even pick up a Covid test for you?

  18. Friends coming by car to Normandy earlier in the summer were spot-checked at the tunnel and my Hellmann's mayonnaise supply was confiscated. Sob. So was their dog's special diet food which was a bit of a blow for them - dried food but (unsurprisingly) it contained meat. My reading of the rules suggests it should have been permitted but they didn't argue.

    I have to visit the UK in October and want to bring back a new satellite box - just a Freesat free-to-air digital recorder thing. The last one was a Humax but I think that's obsolete / been superseded so I need to research. Maybe Amazon UK for delivery to France is the answer there.

    In recent times, apart from trophies from charity shops, books, etc, I don't bring much back from the UK - though I've not been over for 18 months.

  19. Our acceptance of invitations depends on how careful we think the hosts / other guests are - one person's perception of 'we hardly see anyone' is not someone else's analysis of their socialising - and whether the meal / gathering will be inside or out of doors.


    the meal is to be outside and you can rely on people to keep out of

    your personal space, as I'm double vaxxed (2nd in June) I would consider

    seeing them. It seems that there's little risk of infection from

    surfaces - plates, glasses or the food itself.


    would not (and don't) spend time with a group of people inside - whether

    they're vaccinated or not. 31st August delivered nearly 20,000 new

    cases in FR and there's more asymptomatic people and less testing nowadays.

    Infection reinforcing immune response is great if it works but this disease is unpredictable with

    no guarantees as to its effect on even a double vaxxed person. Yes, I'm now unlikely to die if I get it but I don't

    know how ill I'll be, how well I'll

    recover, or if I might develop long Covid. I continue to be of the

    opinion that I should do my best to avoid it.
  20. [quote user="chessie"]Anyone else let 'the grass grow under their feet' this year ? [/quote]
    This and most years. [:$] Even the sheep are too few and too old (they're aged between 10 and 12) to make inroads into the grass on the hill. This morning, as I saw very large thistles coming into flower, I thought I should wander round with a bucket and trim the flower heads so they didn't set seed. Then an amble through Twitter delivered this contribution...

    ...so I realised I must leave the flower heads in place for now and only remove them before they distribute next year's seedlings as I don't want a hillside of thistles. (Yes, I know there are rules about this but they're sparsely followed around here - different if we had houses and gardens around us - we don't).

    A compromise is to mow a path or two through the grass for easy access on a dewy morning and to mow in late July. Until then, enjoy your insect-ful acre, Chessie. [8-|]

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