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Jill<br><br>Jill (99)

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  1. Without reading through every single other post, I would just like to add that I often find lights in many gites to be too dim.  In one place I had to lie on the floor in an entrance hall to get enough light to read in an evening and that wasn't enough, so I went to bed early with a headache.  I just found myself going to bed ridiculously early and not being able to sleep, because I could neither read nor do the cross stitch I'd taken with me. Also, in parts of the kitchen it was too dark to see what I was doing.  In future, I'll probably start taking a desk lamp or a bright uplighter with me. Also, I sometimes think that gite owners assume that everyone is going to go out to restaurants, or just barbecue or warm up a tin of cassoulet.  I now take with me a salad bowl, baking trays and sharp knives, having bought a rabbit (pre-decoupe) which actually needed decapitating.  After trying to hack at it with a penknife, I went to ask the gite owners if they had a knife, and they lent me one from a large case, containing more knives than they have in stock in some hardwear stores.  They didn't say to keep the knife for a week, so I returned it and bought one which I now take with me. In case any B&B owners read this, it would be really nice if B&B's could find space for either a communal kitchen (if they have several rooms) or just a coin cuisine.  We did stay at one B&B where there was a sort of cupboard unit which closed off, containing sink and hob.  I've almost run out of places in France where I would be able to find enough to visit for a full week, and whilst we usually camp, it is hard work having to pack up after only 3 to 5 days in order to move on.  Hotels/B&B's work out too expensively if you have to go out for meals, so B&B's with a coin cuisine would be really excellent.  I have considered taking in a Remoska and camp stove.  Thanks.
  2. I'd say it is impossible to define being English.  Very few of us are able to trace our families back to the 11th century (on every single line? or just on the male line of each generation).  I traced my family on whichever lines I could get a lead on, and got back to 1648. But I suspect my Durrant/Durrance ancestors may have come from France at some stage prior to the mid 18th century, where I found them.  It would actually be interesting for Nick Griffin and other members of their party to have their DNA tested.  According to one website I looked at, the Celts were dark haired and came from Spain, yet they have been considered by some to be the indigenous people of this country!!! The English language has been developed from various old languages.  We are all a complete mix, just as immigrants are mixes from their part of the world.  You may remember a few years ago when there was some DNA testing and a Black Caribean discovered he actually had German DNA.  So many immigrants may have had British DNA established 10 generations ago in different parts of the world.  So, how do we decide who is indigenous? How many generations should we go back?  If people are to be sent back to their original countries, how could this be done at the same time as keeping them alive!?  The British have always been mixed, as is the case in most countries. I agree with those who said that it is about how English/British you fees and being proud of being British.  There are people who choose to be called British Asians, and why not? I know Asians who are very British.  If they were born here and speak English.  I agree that there does need to be some controls on people coming in, but the French probably feel the same way about those of you who live in France.  Gosh, imagine if the Americans wanted to send everyone back from where they came from!  There are many British people who don't have any pride in Britain.  I'm English, but I'm also European and proud to be both, but also proud to be part of a multicultural society which makes life more interesting.
  3. Sorry no - not instant coffee - foul stuff.  I know about it if I haven't had strong ground coffee in the morning.  I'm like a zombie if I have to have hotel coffee.   Going over to France on Brittany Ferries in October last year, I was horrified when the bar didn't open in the morning to serve espresso as it had done a month earlier.  I was desperate for a coffee by the time I'd driven from Ouistreham to Avranches.  How can they not serve decent coffee on a French boat!? Thanks for other suggetions.  I'll take a look at Gaggia and see what Senseo is, as I've not heard of that.  Meanwhile, we have got out our Bialetti which we usually just use for camping.  I'm thinking of getting a smaller one.  The one we have does about 3 teacups full, but I like to space out my coffee in a morning, and by the time I get to the second one it's cold.  So, I may just get a smaller one of those.  I don't think I'd want a pod one, because the Illy pods which came with our current machine were tasteless, and with pods you are tied to a brand.  They might have been OK for a thimbleful, but not a cup. I do like to get Lavazza when it is on offer.  Thanks for all the suggestions.
  4. Can anyone recommend a good make of expresso machine?  Ours died yesterday after months of dripping when it was not in use.  It's our second Di Longhi.  We don't really want the sort that operates on pods as I expect that would work out too expensive and they are only really for small cups of after dinner coffee. Some pods came with this machine, but the coffee was too weak.  We tend to have two tea cups each for breakfast.  We used to have filter machines, but as we have very different work hours, it always meant that one of us had to have coffee which had stood for several hours - then it gets a film on top of it and isn't as nice.  So we need something more instantaneous.  Today, I had to use my Bialetti and it took about 15 minutes before it was ready and then more than 5 minutes for it to be cool enough to drink.  I also think that the Bialetti give it a metallic taste.  I suppose 3 espresso machines in 10 years isn't too bad really, because things are not made to last these days.  We don't need anything fancy such as frothers as we don't take milk with our coffee nor have capuccinos etc.  Thanks for your suggestions.
  5. Does anyone know anywhere good for lunches (or perhaps dinner) on the Tourlaville side of Cherbourg or on the southern side?  We are meeting with French friends - a couple who live at Tourlavile and a couple who live near Caen who will come up there to join us.  I'd like to take them to a restaurant - good food at reasonable prices - bearing in mind that one of them used to be a chef in the French Navy and also used to own his own restaurant.  Although his tastes are quite simple - he really appreciated a Beef Cobbler I prepared on the only occasion I have had to entertain them.  We have been their guests so many times, but seldom managed to receive them as our guests because when they have seldom visited England, and when they did they tended to stay with relatives (French/British war weddings).  We've visited them many times, but it's always been a problem to find an opportunity to return their hospitality.  So I really would like to take them out for a meal, especially since one was a bridesmaid at our wedding and the other was a guest - 30 years ago.
  6. I've not encouraged my children to keep Mother's Day.  Yet another commercial event!  I told them when they were quite young that if they didn't appreciate me, then I didn't want them to feel obliged to do anything about Mother's Day.  If they should wish to show they care about their mother (or father) then it would mean far more to us to receive a gesture of some kind at any other time of the year, rather than on Mother's Day, which is just plain artificial.  A gift given because someone as seen something they think someone would appreciate it at some randome moment has far more meaning.  I've just spent a pleasant couple of hours with my 18 year old son - an aperitif, dinner, a chat over a glass of wine and now we have gone our own ways for the rest of the evening.  My husband is at work, my daughter is working in France and I doubt if she even knows it is Mother's Day.  She phoned for a chat this morning and we are going over to see her in a couple of weeks.  The fact that my son and I had a pleasant couple of hours had nothing to do with Mother's Day - it is just what we do some Sunday evenings.  When my mother was alive, I took her out for a meal from time to time, but I have to admit, Mother's Day was a chore - going out for a meal in a crowded restaurant or pub is not pleasant, and buying gifts for the sake of it doesn't have a meaning.  But it was good to take my mother out for a meal at other times of the year and know that she enjoyed it.  Well, I hope you enjoyed Mother's Day and other days too.
  7. [quote user="NormanH"]' habite' as in the joke about the ascenceur 'tu mets ta main où t'habite' more seriously I have problems with making the difference between nasalised vowels, such as tente/tante "démonte sa tente" could be misunderstood. vin/vent although down here it sounds more like  veng et vang I can't do those either.. [/quote] I had a problem with that too.  I was waiting for a castle to open at the top of a hill village in Provence, when an elderly lady went past, saying "il fait chaud - heureusement qu'il y a du vin".  I was looking around for the wine and wondering why she thought wine was such a good thing when it was so hot (I only drink red, which is hardly refreshing).  But then I decided to ask her again, and then realised it was wind she was talking about.  I love that accent - I wish I could do it.
  8. I don't know about euro to euro bank transfers - I just know it is expensive to pay English money by bank transfer to a foreign account.  Anyway, it's OK, the place in Italy has accepted our reservation and said that we can just pay cash when we arrive.  Very kind of them really, but that happened last time we booked a place in Italy.  Some do in France too, but I'm always a bit wary as a Chambre d'hote did not honour our booking for a few days a few years ago.  We arrived there and they said that a booking for a full week had come in so they had booked us in at a neighbouring Chambre d'hote - it was miles away and instead of us having en suite bathroom, kitchen, dining room and lounge to make use of, we ended up with rooms where we couldn't even stand up straight in half of the room!  So I'm always a worried about booking without official stuff.  My daughter is living in France this year and has a French bank account, I was hoping we would be able to use that to make a deposit.  My bank advised me against bank transfers and told me a few years ago that making out an English cheque was acceptable.  I've found that does work - they just give it to you to tear up when you arrive, but if you didn't turn up, they could at least get some money out of it even after charges.
  9. If you have a French bank account, can you pay a cheque to another country which has the Euro, such as Italy, without incurring additional costs?  Have any of you done this?  Or is it classed as being a foreign cheque?  We need to pay a deposit on a holiday flat in Italy.  No we aren't being traitors - we'll be in France at Easter and for a few days on the way from Italy too.  Thanks.
  10. I'll get her to look into it.  It was quite simply that it would be useful if a family member had a bank account in France.  I'd like one myself if it wasn't going to cost much.  This is because of the problems making reservations for campsites and gites.  Gite owners don't usually take credit cards and as we prefer smaller campsites, they don't tend to take them either.  So we always have problems making deposits.  Once, we booked a chambre d'hote and it was confirmed in writing.  When we got there, we were told that they had taken another booking in preference to ours but had found us an alternative chambre d'hote.  Perhaps they wouldn't have done that so easily if we had been able to pay a deposit.  We used to have a Eurocheque book (not as in Euros but the cheques where you could make a cheque out in the currency of the country - pre-Euroand it would come out of your bank account and only cost £1.50 to do it).  When Eurocheques were stopped it became a problem.  The cost of having a cheque made at the bank is ridiculously high.  Sometimes people will take the booking on trust, but you always have the worry that when you arrive they will have put someone else in your place.  My bank did suggest that making out a cheque on an English cheque book was actually acceptable and I have found that some places will accept an English cheque on the basis that if we don't turn up, they can cash the cheque and will at least get part of the money after commission has been taken off.  They always give us the cheque back as soon as we pay them cash.  That used to happen with Eurocheques too.  If only we had the Euro.
  11. This leads me to ask - are there charity shops in France?  I don't think I've ever seen any.  Most High Streets in England are full of them these days.  Oxfam has an excellent bookshop in Nottingham (I even got a really old volume of Balzac in French there - leather bound and a volume of Moliere with a date of something like Lac Leman 1870 handwritten in it.  When my children were small, I used to come back from our local town with carrier bags full of books.  I still have a real weakness for buying books in charity shops.  Mind you, I did get a bit carried away - I think we have about 5 copies of Pride and Prejudice!  I often buy books on markets in French.  We bought a book about Catherine de Medicis (a pretty one - imitation leather) for my daughter's coursework and when she started doing the research in English, it turned out to be the definitive book.  I love second hand book stalls! 
  12. I can adjust the beam up and down, and I'm not sure whether I had done or not, but I had full beam on most of the time because there were no other cars about most of the time.  Because it was wet, the tarmac shone the same colour as the white lines.  But also, the white lines seemed shorter and further apart than they are in England, so when I could see them, I couldn't see them far enough ahead to maintain a decent speed.  The worst problem was when approaching a slip road.  The road just seemed to open up in front of me and the arrows you get dividing main road from slip road on the motorways didn't seem very apparent on that stretch of road.  Admitedly, a lot of work is being carried out at various points on that road, but that was where I felt safest as there were traffic bollards and separators to guide me.  My daughter mentioned it to a French colleague who said - yes, that's how it is.
  13. Hi and thanks.  It's actually that my daughter is in France for her "year abroad" and has a bank account for her salary to be paid in.  It's a question of whether she can keep it on when she returns - i.e. she won't have a French address anymore.  It would be useful to keep the French account if it were possible.  She doesn't seem to want to ask the bank if it is possible as she is sure it isn't, but she has until May to find out.  Of course, if we'd got the Euro ourselves, everything would have been a lot easier!  If people can have Swiss bank accounts then they ought to be able to have French ones!
  14. I'd heard Gigondas was good, but it is expensive, as you say.  Probably I'll have to sneak one into the shopping trolley when no one is looking.  Yes, I like Chinon too, but hadn't even realised that you could get red wine from the Loire Valley until we rented a flat in Saumur at Easter this year.  The owner of the flat left a selection of wines for us, which he had bought from local vinyards and bottled himself.  That was a good opportunity for us to discover Loire reds.  I liked the Saumur Champigny, but the Nicholas de Bourgueuil was not so good.  You don't see much Loire wine out of the Loire valley though.  The range of wines varies a lot in supermarkets.  Some have very limited ranges.  I was in an Intermarche a few weeks ago and found they had a much better range in small quantities (and at better prices) than the local huge Leclerc.    I'd like to be able to go to vinyards and taste wines to bring back to bottle myself, as the visit to the Loire valley as well as wine a friend in Annemasse used to serve to us was proof you can get good wine that way.  However, having had an unpleasant experience at a Foie Gras degustation where the owner virtually barred our way out, demanding why we were not buying anything, we haven't got the guts to go to degustations any more.  At that time, we had never had Foie Gras and on tasting on that occasion, we didn't think it was anything special.  But, since then, I have had it in restaurants and now I love it.  It doesn't mean I would want to buy Fois Gras at degustation prices though - although I have bought it when there has been degustations on camp sites.  We also bought some wine from a degustation at a campsite near Carcassonne this summer.   I just don't really want to go to a vinyard and find the wines aren't to our tastes, and then the owners turn nasty if we choose not to buy anything!  We stayed in the Chalonnais a few years ago and didn't take to the wine in that area at all.  We'd had a bottle of the local stuff from the campsite, not liked it and decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and went to the local co-operative to taste the wines (safer from bullying hopefully), but having tested the various wines there, we decided not to buy - tasted like grass.  Have others amongst you had unpleasant experiences with owners of vinyards or other degustation places turning nasty?
  15. If you have lived in France,  but moved away, and had a bank account in France, did you have to close it when you left France/returned to UK?  Is it possible to keep on a Frence account open when you only have a British address? What about a French internet bank account - do you have to have a French address in order to open one?
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