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Andyphilpott

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Everything posted by Andyphilpott

  1. As the new Tom Tom Go 910 contains French safety camera locations (by GPS referencing) as part of its pre loaded software, and as I understand it the use of such camera locators is illegal in France, does that mean that this Tom Tom unit cannot be used in France? It is possible to deactivate the safety camera locator but not really to delete it from the software. Will deactivating suffice? Or have I got it entirely wrong and it is only radar detection devices which are illegal? Any experts out there? I have asked TomTom but they have not yet got back to me, the absence of a response suggesting to me that maybe there is a problem. Andy Philpott
  2. Re Jc's post on Dart Tags. the problem with the DART lane is that although it SAYS priority for tags, it retains the ability to go through by dropping coins in. Regulars know that and use the Dart lane at all times. It takes much longer for the barrier to operate whilst the machine digests the coins, assuming the driver does not drop them on the ground, get out, fumble around under the car to find the £1, cannot find it, have no more change, call the attendant etc etc whilst my blood gradually reaches boiling point. I am not usually homicidal, honest. They really need it to be tag only (as in France) to make it effective. In fact the real issue is having to pay the toll at all. When the bridge was built the concession given to the operators was for 25 years (I think) after which the tolls would no longer apply as the builder would have been paid for the work. On expiry, our Labour benefactors reneged on that and decided to keep the tolls 'to reduce pollution' . Go figure. I cannot believe that tail backs of virtually stationery traffic on both sides most of the time does not create much more pollution (and definitely waste) than cars simply driving through. Still, what do you expect from the shysters who call themselves politicians these days. Andy
  3. Just checked with my card issuer (NatWest) and although it provides an excellent level of travel insurance Excess CDW is not covered so I too would be interested to learn of issuers who do provide this. As for the 500 dollars re 20 dollars question in the post before Richard R's I guess my view would be that the £2.50 per day charge by Holiday Autos is not too bad when you think how easy it is to lose much more than that by, for example, having a wing mirror knocked off whilst parked. I have only had one claim on HA and that was for a lost wheel trim which was £20 alone. However since I am almost certain to hire for more than 22 days in the next 12 months I think I will take up the alternative insurance mentioned in my original post and I will post again if there is anything worthwhile to report. Andy    
  4. I never though of that - thanks - I will check up on that Andy
  5. Yes they really are a great investment. I have had mine nearly 3 years now (I posted about them then as I was so impressed!) and the only problem is when using my wife's Peugot as you have to hold it in just the right place by the rear view mirror for it to work. Not a big deal and we are quite used to it now. The other downside is the big bill at the end of the month when we have driven to the Var and back! Seems to be more than when you pay as you go but of course it isn't! We too have had many occasions of hooting and waving when we have driven into the Telepeage lane. Always makes me smile.  I just wish that they would have dedicated lanes on the Dartford River Crossing too - I have a 'doofer' for want of a better word (It is actually a Dart Tag) which works on all lanes but without a dedicated lane other drivers often go through the one that is supposed to give priority to Dart Tag which slows it all down. Also you have to top up the tag regularly rather than the better French system of charging your bank for all use during the month. Andy
  6. I am looking to book another hire car soon for a trip to the Var and I usually pay an additional  £2.50 approx per day to insure the excess applied to the Collision Damage Waiver which is generally included in the hire charge. However there seem to be more and more 'get outs' arising, such as damage to tyres/windows/roof or underside of the car not being covered. With the excess generally around £500 and the propensity of French drivers to not worry much about the odd dent, the risk is quite real. So I have been doing some research on the net and I have found an insurer (www.insurance4carhire.com) who sell an annual policy which not only covers all damage but works out cheaper if you expect to hire for more than 21 days in any 12 months. I have not used them yet so would be interested if any forum members have any experience, good or bad, of them. The actual insurer is based in Ireland although that does not seem to be a real problem. All administration is from London. The policy allows for rentals of up to 31 days at a time and they also have policies which cover countries outside Europe. Andy
  7. In an effort to get back to the subject, it occurs to me that with all items now having to go into the hold, the liklihood of damage to cameras, laptops etc is so much greater and as airlines only (I think) compensate by weight of bag, the chances of getting much from them is slim I guess. We all know of the problem of theft of/from baggage and now the pickings will be that much better. Make sure that you are well insured! Andy
  8. I couldn't agree more with Lizzie 15. To be honest I have no need to make friends through an internet forum of any sort - I have plenty of real people to talk to! To me, the value of the forum is in the information which can be gleaned frompeople who have experience of the subject on which I am enquiring and who then convey that information in a straightforward way. For that I am most grateful. I do my best to contribute occasionally in such a way and if I have offended anyone it was unintentional. For the (few, I think) snipers and moaners I can only feel sorry and hope that one day they get a life. Andy
  9. This is obviously a thorny subject with some fairly polarised views, but here is my two penn'orth I have some sympathy with Alacazar as security at either aires or hotels is not good and it is always a risk to park up when loaded with items. On the other hand falling asleep at the wheel is definitely a bad! But I do not wish to remove all risk by travelling down by horse and cart either (even if it does!) Our drive to the south is around 700 miles but both of us are used to long distance driving anyway, which helps, but we rotate drivers every couple of  hours (not an option if you drive alone though) and drink Red Bull or take Pro Plus which keeps us pretty alert. There is always risk in driving and I just look to try to minimise it as far as possible. Nothing to do with cost saving either - why is that assumption so often made? The problem with the Autoroutes of course is that all vehicles are travelling at a fair speed so any accident is likely to to be serious. However, much as I personally dislike speed limits, I have to admit that the quality of driving on the Autoroutes at least has improved considerably since enforcement started and the journey does not take much longer now. With fewer accidents there seem to be fewer hold ups (although I do try to travel at 'unsociable' hours and avoid weekends now so that may well be another factor) I did see some stats once which implied that most accidents tend to happen within a short distance from home - possibly apocryphal! We have stayed over in aires in the past but stopped that when we read the reports of thefts etc so now just use them for a break during the day. The reports of gassing are true - and staying on a camp site does not necessarily get over that; we were camping outside Nice several years ago and that is exactly what happened to us. This has got a little off subject and for that I apologise! Andy    
  10. I don't believe that the installers were deliberately misleading me. They just failed to tell me in advance of the potential problem re switching off even though they were aware that it is a holiday home. Maybe they assumed I would know. Had I known of the potential problem I would have checked it out before I embarked on this. With the help provided by this forum I really do not think I will hit a major problem so thanks to all those who have expressed helpful views. Andy
  11. Many thanks for this info Benjamin - I will make good use of the info! To be fair to English TV and Radio they did offer to give instructions over the phone if a problem arose but I always prefer an unbiased opinion - hence my query. This is what makes the Forum so useful Andy
  12. Reasons as follows 1. In case one card is lost stolen - back up until the replacement arrives 2. Separating business and personal expenses. 3.  Taking advantage of special terms. In the UK we have had many zero per cent balance transfer offers on sometimes crazy (for the credit card companies) terms even with the balance transferred going into your bank account (although that has now stopped) At one point I had more than a dozen cards generating over £3000 p.a. in interest on the money they lent me and I deposited in a high interest account! As the terms have now become less advantageous I have dumped most of the cards once the borrowing was repaid. However be warned you have to be very well organised to take advantage of this as one slip and the card companies skin you alive. See the Money Saving Expert web site. Other than this, I tend to agree wih Miki. I have just a couple of credit cards for general use and a debit card on French and Englis Bank accounts for the few times that I need cash. Andy
  13. I have just had a dish fitted with a Pace Digibox and all works fine. However in the instructions which came with it I noted that they ask that the power be left on all the time which from my point of view is not really practical; mine is a holiday home unoccupied for long periods and I always turn off all power, disconnecting plugs and the aerial when I leave. This is because we are in an area prone to lightning strikes and frequent power cuts. I have a surge protector fitted which might (or might not) give protection against lightning strikes (on the TV socket only) but that does not guarantee that the power will stay on as the mains cut off circuit breaker is often tripped as power is restored. I spoke to the installers as this was the first I had heard of having to leave the power on, and I was told that the reason for this is so that Sky can download upgraded software at any time. They seemed to know what they are talking about, but this is new territory for me. They also suggest that if I do turn the power off it would be possible for me to find the whole shebang not working on my next visit because of the absence of the upgrade. They are to let me know how a 'manual upgrade' can take place (with luck). Does anyone have any experience of this? My system is not connected to a phone and only gives me the basic UK channels as I have no need for the multiplicity of other channels. Thanks Andy
  14. Yes it is quite incredible Chris - I guess being at night accentuates that. Andy
  15. Hi Anne - yes they are certainly elusive and ay any hint of a dog they are off. I find it amazing to see how agile they are. Hulking great boars throwing themselves up what appears to be near vertical climbs but I guess if you had been chased by dogs with hunters firing off in all directions you would be pretty nervous! Last year we were towards the end of a fairly long trek and spotted a family group grubbing away only 50 or so yards away. A large boar and a couple of sows with several piglets (or is that sanglierettes). We watched for some time and I took a few pictures but as we tried to get closer they spotted us and went off like little rockets.  I think that it is the movement they spot first so if you do see some keep very still and enjoy! When we looked at the pictures later you would be hard pressed to tell that there was anything there so well are they camouflaged. Sanglier tastes more like beef than pork to me - my local restaurant (in France!) does it a couple of different ways and I usually go for it. I know that it is part of the culture but I do wish the hunters could perhaps forego the parade through the village with the bleeding sanglier draped over the bonnet of the 4WD though. Pretty hypocritical of me though given my fondness for eating them! Back to work now - roll on my next visit (although we are having a short break to Carcassonne and Collioure this weekend to get a French fix)   Andy  
  16. The following comments are only my humble opinion on the subject so to those who I uspet - sorry in advance! I hope not for the sake of those depending on tourists from outside the Eurozone in France  and all those involved in it - (just look at how travel to te US has jumped since the dollar started to fall), UK pensioners living in France on sterling income, those engaged in exporting anything from the Eurozone and anyone who exists (or is fed by anyone) on anything other than the Euro. My house in France will be worth loads more in sterling terms but that is only paper money, not real spendable cash. Selling it will still give me the same amount of cash to buy the same things in the Eurozone, although much more purchasing power outside the Eurozone. A very selfish view of things really, without much thought to the way it would affect others who remain in Euroland. The downsides for a nation overall to an overly strong currency are well publicised - unless you have protectionism (i.e. contrary to world trade) then the stronger your currency the harder it is to sell overseas. I thought we learned that lesson well some decades ago culminating in the devaluation of the pound. So who benefits from the Euro at 1.10 against sterling? UK exporters to the extent that they cut back imports from the Eurozone, resourcing from cheaper producers, and increase sales within the Eurozone as the same goods are cheaper for those paying with the strong currency. (My wife would be delighted as she is in manufacturing and a strong pound has certainly hindered exports). French people holidaying in the UK. House owners in France who want to sell up and return to the UK. Eurozone business who want to invest in the UK. I am hard pressed to think of others. I am certainly no economist or expert of any sort and this response has not been subject to massive research but I hope that you get my drift. Maybe I have got it all wrong! Andy
  17. I must say I agree - I rarely bother with the Postbag as even in the unlikely event that the post stays on subject (see where this one has gone!) it does seem to end up in bickering. Life is too short to become engaged in petty squabbles and I find the exchanges neither entertaining nor edifying. I agree with the other contibutors who suggest that you stick to the specific categories which are generally conducted in a more adult manner. I have often found these very useful indeed with some excellent and well thought out contributions. So don't give up yet! Some people like the Postbag and they are welcome to it - the Forum overall certainly cannot please all the people all the time and we all have a choice as to which sections we use. If anyone feels moved to object to my opinion please do not bother - the opinion is mine only and in truth I really do not care what objectors think. Andy
  18. We have loads of Sanglier in the Var - even more since the dreadful fires burnt out much of the tree cover in the Eastern part a couple of years ago (which also seems to have wiped out many of the Hermann tortoises which we used to see). We have been lucky enough to see them quite often, either driving along the mountain roads at night when we come round a corner to see whole families in the road diving for cover, or when out hiking in the mountains if we keep quiet and the wind is not blowing towards them. They bolt as soon as they see or hear or smell you. Hunting season is manic so hiking then requires very colourful clothing and plenty of noisy chatting to avoid getting shot. A young chap from our village was killed a couple of years ago when a hunter mistook him for a sanglier. Mind you I am a bit partial to a daube de sanglier. Andy
  19. We have always heard an odd noise at night from the direction of the river and it turned out to be a Scops Owl (or so we have been told - never seen it) - quite loud! Up to then we had thought it was probably toads. Yours may well be different though so Chris is probably correct - I am no expert at all! Andy
  20. Just checked them and they are slightly cheaper than Holiday Autos so thanks for that lead Andy
  21. I paid for my crossing some time ago using my credit card which then expired and was replaced by a new one - same number, different expiry date. Just in case, I asked Eurotunnel if the need to use the same card when checking in was literally correct, but I am happy to say that they confirmed that the renewed card will work. I will know if it does at the end of May! Andy
  22. Not that I am aware of - but I have been called a lot of things by a lot of people over the years! Andy
  23. I agree with Sunday Driver. I fail to see any connection between taking out a bank loan and paying tax. I would be delighted to pay loads of income tax and wealth tax - it would mean I have been succesful. All Banks have to operate to a code of practice and, yes, they all have small print. It is surely up to us to read it deal with it. There is no compulsion to accept their loan after all. I have not yet borrowed from a French Bank, although had a loan set up with one for a Leaseback opportunity which did not take off. The process was straightforward at around the rates quoted in the original post. Not with Credit Ag (who my main accounts are with) as I obtained competing quotes for the business from a number of lenders, some of whom I rejected because of terms which, to me, were unacceptable. How did I know that? I read the documents! Not exactly rocker science. As hastobe found, there was an early repayment penalty on mine but it only existed for the first few years anyway during which time the mathematics showed I would not be in a position to make a lump sum repayment. I really have no complaints about Banks generally - if you don't like the service/cost move Banks! I really cannot understand people who glibly sign papers that they have not read/understood and then complain later that they have been badly treated. Caveat Emptor. Andy
  24. I use the car hire at Nice too when we visit our place in Collobrieres, (even though Toulon is nearer for us since the Ryanair flights to Toulon are usually far more expensive than Easyjet to Nice) and for the last few years I have been booking with Holiday Autos which I have invariably found to be cheaper than booking direct with the car hire people. There is also another benefit from Holiday Autos as for a small fee you can protect your excess (subject to the usual exclusions) I did in fact use that once when I lost a wheel trim. Paid up no problem. In my view it is worth the extra cost. However like you I got really fed up with Europcar and their long queues. I therefore usually book the car and if Holiday Autos say it is with Europcar I ask them to switch to Hertz who are much more effecient and there is no extra charge for the switch. Indeed,  they will record all the details in their computer the first time you hire from them and you just tell them when you last hired from them at the desk and they accelerate the process as they do not need to type it all in again. Other than this there is just one solution. When you arrive leave your other half to collect the bags and sprint like mad round to the pick up office, trampling any others trying to do the same, and get there before the queues. Even then it is pot luck if another flight from elsewhere arrived just before! Actually there is a second solution and that is to join the Hertz club so you go straight to the executive desk where that paperwor has already been done and just pick up the keys. Amazing service. Problem is you have to book direct with them which adds something like 40% to the cost of doing through HA. As a matter of interest, where in the Var are you? Andy Philpott
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