Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited


Everything posted by Eslier

  1. If you are eligible to use the student edition of MS Office, it now gives you a license to load it onto three computers without any additional cost. It is worth noting that MS have changed the way they deal with the student edition of Office. You no longer have to obtain an activation code, after having a card signed and stamped by your school / college. The CD supplied with the box provides you with a full working version. They just take your word for the fact that you are eligible to use it !
  2. Thanks guys, but I was hoping someone was going to tell me there's one which doesn't require reagents. I have seen one advertised, made in China, where you just drop two electrodes into the water but it looks a bit cheap and cheerful.
  3. Is it possible to buy such a thing as a meter which will give a digital readout of chlorine, ph and cynauric acid etc. ?   If so, does anyone know how much they cost and where I can buy one (online possibly) ?.
  4. Mobile phone companies now offer "gprs" as a means to gain high speed web access via a mobile phone. If you get yourself a Motorola phone with gprs capability - something like the Razor V3i it comes with a lead to connect to your laptop and a cd with the necessary software to configure windows to connect to the internet via your mobile phone.  I've not got as far a checking out the charges made by the French mobile operators but, in the UK, charging is according to the kb of data downloaded. I've just been looking into this myself in advance of a trip back to England at Christmas when it is essential I have regular access to my email. I would be very interested to hear from anyone, who has actually used this setup, if it is a good as it sounds.
  5. I have been following this with interest. The gite rental business is no different from any others and has and will continue to develop. It is a good thing when suggestions such as those made by Pun encourage us to think "outside the box". It is interesting to note that many gite owners are getting closer to the "all inclusive" holiday with things like electricity and bed linen etc. now included witin most summer pricing. My own thoughts are that  the idea of all cleaning being inclusive should be an attraction to potential clients but, surprisingly, my own experience tells me otherwise.  Our gites are at the top end of the pricing scale and for most of our clients money isn't really a problem. Ours are the sort of clients who will quite happily pay for a Friday night / Saturday Brittany Ferries crossing in the peak season at anything up to £800 return. You might think, therefore, think that paying a few extra Euros (anything between 35 and 75 depending on the size of the property) for the optional cleaning service would be a popular option. Not so !  We are currently on booking number 48 of the year (some one week and some two week bookings) and of those, just three have opted to pay for cleaning. We have an arrangement with a local gite maintenance company wherby our guests can call them in on the Friday prior to the Saturday of their departure. The money is paid direct to them so it is made clear that we are not trying to profit from the arrangement. I would say we've probably had about another three groups who clearly haven't made much effort whatsoever to clean up after them, about another three who have done a fantastic job of cleaning up and the majority just make a bit of effort and do an ok job. In any case, the properties are thoroughly cleaned to a high standard prior to the arrival of the next guests. One thing that confuses me Pun, why do you think you need eight hours for cleaning one gite ?  Will you be the only one doing the cleaning ?  If there are two of you, then 10am to 4pm gives you 12 man hours which should be enough to give even a fairly large property a pretty good clean.  If you are on your own then perhaps it would be worth employing someone to come in and give you a hand. I must say that I agree with the sentiments of others that I don't think 9am departures and 5pm arrivals will be popular with your guests.
  6. I've been on rough crossings in the summer and really calm ones in the middle of winter so I think a lot of it has to do with luck. Personally, I would worry more about the driving conditions around Christmas time, with snow and ice not being uncommon. Last year, the snow and freezing temperatures were so bad between Christmas and New Year that the A84 motorway was closed for a couple of days and people had to be rescued from their cars. We sailed on the ferry from Caen at that time (having missed the morning crossing due to the atrocious driving conditions) and it was as calm as any crossing I have ever made. You'll only suffer a rough crossing if there are of have been strong winds. If your destination is nearer to Caen than Calais then I would say that is the safest bet.
  7. I looked into this earlier in the year as we have come very close to the TVA threshold this year. I also had a similar non difinitive response from our accountant.  In the end, rather than ask our accountants to investigate further, I decided that I didn't want to register for TVA  (we are already on the régime réal anyway so that wouldn't have been a problem)  this year and we have deliberately kept our income to just under the 70k€ threshold.  We wouldn't have gone over by more than a couple of thousand anyway so it isn't a problem.   Next year, we might not have a choice but it isn't necessary to register for TVA until the actual month that you go over the threshold so by then we should be well into the peak rental season. When you find out for certain (if there is such a thing as a definitive answer in France !) then I would be very interested to know what it is.
  8. Jenny, I really do sympathise with you and I applaud you for identifying the true dilemma here.  Recommendations can often be a good source of bookings - we quite often receive bookings as a result of recommendations, some even for the valuable off season periods. To help you make your decision, it is often easiest to break the issue down. There is no doubt, from what you have said, that your guests have left your gite in an unreasonable state. I assume from the size of party, it is a three bedroom property so, based upon our own experience, I guess you would usually expect to spend about six hours (three hours for two people) cleaning it and preparing it for the next guests. I would say that this is the time it takes to do the job properly assuming the gite has been left in a reasonably clean and tidy manner by the outgoing guests. So, if the house has been left in a really bad state, how much extra time did it take you ?  In truth probably not much more than an extra couple of hours but lets say you work on the basis of an extra four hours.  If you make a charge to your guests for cleaning then this should be at a reasonable rate so let's work with 15€ an hour. This means the total amount we are talking about here is 60€. So what happens if you charge your guests the 60€ ?   Well, firstly, you feel much better for it as it will seem that justice has been done, and you will be 60€ better off. Secondly, your guests will probably make contact back with you disputing the charge and this could get upsetting if they start making up a list of things they weren't happy with (probably all totally unreasonable). If you are strong willed and will find it easy not to get into an argument with them, and you are certain this won't upset you then fine. The third consequence is that you won't get any recommendations from these people and you may even find they tell their friends: "if you are going to the ?? are of France, whatever you do don't stay at ??? where we stayed". What if you choose not to charge them the 60€ ?  Well, you are 60€ worse off than you might have been and have worked those extra hours for no reward.  You aren't going to get any unpleasant correspondence from your guests so the matter is closed. You might get bookings from their friends if they recommend you and there's a good chance their friends will be more considerate. If these people contact you to book again in the future you always have the opportunity to tell them you are fully booked, or you tell them you now add on a compulsory cleaning charge to all bookings. You will need to make the decision that you feel most comfortable with. If it was me, I would consider it not worth the trouble of dealing with any unpleasantness for the sake of a small sum like 60€.
  9. There is a National Express direct service to London which departs from the Portsmouth ferryport at 20.10 which fits in ok with the 18.30 arrival of the Brittany Ferries service from St.Malo. There is a direct train service from Portsmouth Harbour to London departing 22.18 which fits in ok with the 21.45 Brittany Ferries service from Caen.  Portsmouth Harbour station is a very short - less than five minutes - taxi ride from the ferryport.
  10. Sorry Brian, I can assure you that you are wrong. The fact that I am using my fingers which are attached to my hands is living proof !   I have laid my hand flat on the switched on induction ring on a number of occassions and held it there. I guarantee that no heat was generated.   I do however concede that I was being a little over simplistic before - yes the base of the pan does heat up but the transfer of heat is rapid so the outside of the pan will heat up at a slower rate. Many induction hob suitable pans are in fact made of aluminium but with a pice of encapsulated steel or stainless steel in the base. This is to prevent hotspot areas as the aluminium conducts the heat more evenly across the base of the pan.
  11. [quote user="Joric"]My licence covers me to 17 so that number would be perfect.[/quote] If you are referring to a UK driving license then you will have a category "D1" which cover you for driving a minibus. Unfortunately, despite european harmonisation of license codes, the French interpret this differently from the UK government. In most cases you will need a full category "D" license to drive a minibus with more than 9 seats in France. (Category D is what we used to call a PSV license an involves a test which has to be renewed - I believe - every two years. A 17 seat minibus is also subject to tachograph laws. Strictly speaking, as I understand it, you can drive a 17 seat minibus if it is only carrying you and your own family but the minute you take other passengers (group of kids, b&b guests, local society, scout group etc.) then in France this is classified as driving for "hire or reward". So, in view of these restrictions, you will probably find that you would need to go to a specialist rental company to hire a larger minibus and they will almost certainly expect you to have a full cat D on your license.
  12. Yes, I see your point Miki. It's true that if it is included in the rental price then the guests are still paying for it, but I think a lot of people prefer to know exactly what it will cost them and so an all inclusive price is perhaps more popular. You make a good point about encouraging guests not to be wasteful. I tend to think however that those guests who are keen to be environmentally friendly will take care with their energy usage anyway. For those who have little interest in saving the planet then it isn't my place to try and convert them whilst they are on holiday - I would sooner they felt relaxed and enjoy themselves. I agree, I find it surprising too that our guestes seem to use such a small amount of electricity but I can assure you the figures I quoted are true. We used to allow the first ten units free and then charge extra as used.  We are on the Heures Creuse tarif, all the heaters are thermostatically controlled and the houses in question do seem to hold their warmth well. There are also log fires for cold evenings. You may well be right Miki, and we may be caught out this winter (it's the first time we have offered an all inclusive price for the winter) and end up with huge bills. Time will tell - we'll see !
  13. Brittany Ferries Holiday Homes recommend between 6€ and 12€ per day depending on the size of the property. We used to charge extra in the winter for the electricity used at cost. Even with electric heating, we found that the average usage wasn't more that around 15€ per week, and the most anyone ever used was about 20€ (I think they used to washing machine a lot). Now we don't charge, it's easier, and nicer for the guests, to just quote an all inclusive price.
  14. The laymans explanation of what an induction hob does, without going into how it does it . . . The induction hob heats the contents of the pan without heating either the top of the hob itself or the pan.  If you switch the hob on without a pan on top, the hob remains cold to touch - you can put your hand on it quite safely without feeling any heat. Likewise, the pan does not heat up directly from the hob. The only heat that is generated is from the contents of the pan. This will obviously cause both the pan and the hob to heat up but only to the extent of the temperature of the pan's contents. The heating process is very quick. If you place some water in a pan and put it on the hob, you will start to see bubbles rising almost instantly. If you turn the hob off then it stops boiling instantly - there is no delay. Because the hob does not heat the pan, it is important to use an induction ring that is either the same size or larger than the base of your pan for effective cooking. Obviously, the size of induction ring needed for a frying pan is quite large so some hobs only have room for three rings to accommodate this.
  15. For private sales you could do well at: http://www.french-property-news.com/
  16. It sounds like he is trying to connect to the authenticated server using port 587 - which is a good thing. To follow the steps to set up OE correctly click on THIS LINK
  17. We've just installed one in one of our holiday rental properties. It is absolutely fab. We went for one of the glass top ones which have touch controls and therefore no knobs etc. so it is very easy to keep clean. As others have said, the  level of control is excellent and the safety  factor should not be underestimated either. Not sure about  economy - didn't really think about that. They're not cheap at the moment but will almost certainly come down in price and, in a couple of years, will probably become one of those "must haves" for the kitchen. There is a good range of quality pans available now which can be used with induction. In fact, our hob came with a booklet listing all the manufacturers (and their websites) who make compatible ranges. (If you are interested, ours is a Sauter PVI3B1 and we paid 900€ for it)
  18. I agree with Susan on this (in fact I usually find I agree with most of her posts). We all have clauses in our contracts to protect us from these things but a responsible gite owner needs to be fair to his or her clients too.  As far as the washing machine is concerned, I would say that as long as the new guests have been informed shortly after arrival when to expect the repair man then that should be ok if they will only be without it for a few days. If it's impossible to find someone to repair it at the moment (being August) then I think, if it were me, I would call around with a couple of bottles of wine to apologise. If you don't live near a gite that you rent out then these sort of things can be very difficult to deal with. This is where you see one of the significant benefts of employing a local gite changeover / management business to look after such things. They will be used to dealing with this sort of thing and know how to handle it and maybe even sort out the repair themselves straight away. A friendly neighbour or friend of a friend who lives in the village won't be able to deal with problems so effectively. [quote]How do you define what would be considered as wear and tear, and what would be the responsibility of the guests? I'm more than a little confused, as a recent thread regarding damage to a patio table produced a lot of replies saying bill the guests for the cost! Where should you draw the line?[/quote] In general, you will find that most things are wear and tear unless it is obvious that some sort of damage has been done deliberately. You will find that many gite owners don't even hold their guests responsible for accidental damage - like red wine stains on rugs or furniture etc. It's just one of the running costs that need to be factored into your budgets. Regarding the previous comments made about the broken patio table, I think you will find that most experienced gite owners would accept that damage of that kind can happen in exactly the way described (I actually saw one blow over and damage the table last week - and that had a heavy base too). You will probably find that many of the indignant "charge them" replies  came from people who don't run a gite business themselves.
  19. Welcome to France ProMan.  I can sympathise with the way you must feel but I am afraid this is just the way of things over here.  Artisans do, however, often seem to manage to operate on a just in time basis so, if you have told them you want to move in by Christmas then there's a good chance they'll turn up on mass around the beginning of December, and get the work about three quaters finished by Christmas. Don't give up hope, the work will be done eventually and the standard that French artisans work to is usually excellent so it will be worth waiting for. The general rule seems to be, however long you expect your renovation to take, it will probably take two to three times longer so if you start looking forward to moving in for Christmas 2007 then anything earlier will be a bonus !   Val is right, don't fall out with your builder but at the same time don't let him think you are happy to sit back and wait. A friendly phone call once or twice a week will ensure that he fits you in as soon as he can and doesn't let too many others who are also chasing him jump the queue in front of you. Frederick, if you apply British values then you are absolutely right, but this isn't Britain it is France and is a very different place. Over here the artisan, the notaire, the farmer, the doctor and the man who sweeps up at the decheterie are all social equals. If you are the client of the artisan then you are expected to respect him and he will respect you. Jumping up and down, getting angry and telling an artisan that you expect him to jump when you say jump won't get you very far. It isn't easy for people who don't live here to understand this but once you have lived here a few years you start to appreciate this much more relaxed way of life and everything taking its time. It's all part of what makes France the special place that we all enjoy being in, and I very much hope things don't change and become more like Britain.
  20. Yes - we have one but now hardly ever have to use it. An excellent product and very effective. What's also nice is that there is no harm or pain caused to the dog. The citronella smell isn't bad but it is enough of a deterent to stop the dog barking - and they learn very quickly. They are actually made in France by a company called Dynavet. You will usually find them for sale on ebay.fr if you want to pick one up at a slightly lower price. Replacement batteries can be expensive so remember to take the battery out when not in use.
  21. Check what the guarantee is with each one. When I was looking for one earlier in the year I found the same price variation as you but discovered that whilst the more expensive ones were generally guaranteed for 5 years, the cheapest were only guaranteed for 1 year.  In the end I went for a mid priced one that is guaranteed for two years. If you visit somewhere like Castorama they will have a good display with many to choose from - all usually in stock.
  22. Surely, the important thing here is the contract.  You state, you have issued a "standard" contract that simply states the rental is for a minimum period of three months and that 60 days notice must be given to terminate the contract. Surely then, if your tenants gave notice at the end of June, then they have complied with the contract and are entitled not to have to pay for September. It sounds as though you have used a standard long term letting contract rather than a holiday let contract which is, I guess, where the confusion lies. Did your tenant(s) provide you with written notice at the end of June or did you, at any time give them confirmation in writing that you had accepted their notice ?   If this is the case then you probably just have to write it off and forget about any rent for September. If nothing of this sort has been exchanged in writing then it would be difficult for your tenants to prove that 60 days notice has been given.
  23. aj, I sympathise greatly with the way you must feel. We have been in a similar position before.  Like the majority of those people who have responded here, my first reaction would be to keep the deposit - which is only what these people deserve. There is, however, another way of looking at it. It's possible that what your departing guests said about the table could be the truth. Cafetieres get broken quite easily and the glass is not costly to replace. Cleaning - well, in truth a gite that is left uncleaned  probably only takes about an hour or two longer (depending on the size) to clean than one where the guests have made  the usual  "just about clean"  effort on a normal changeover. For us, our three bedroom gite takes five to six hours to clean properly on a normal week. If it was left uncleaned then it probably still wouldn't take more than seven hours. The important thing is that these guests have gone and you never have to see them again. If they ask to come back then you can decline their booking. Yes you can keep their deposit but this will inevitably lead to a torrent of unpleasant correspondence back and forth between you. Yes, you can win in the end because you have the money, but you have to ask yourselves whether it is worth it. You have the choice of drawing a line under it and putting it behind you or letting the whole thing drag on and you get more and more worked up about it. You are in the right but, if you are like most people, that won't stop you becoming upset about it.
  • Create New...