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Posts posted by Patmobile

  1. [quote user="Eslier"]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 !


    I suppose I could say I was studying to qualify as a professional golfer......

    Or I'm doing an immersion course in wine...

    Or an intensive course in retirement studies (with grandparenting module)....

    Thank you for a very useful tip.


  2. I do have the old Office 2000 disks, but I long ago sold the company to which the software is registered and I have 4 PCs so should probably be paying 4 licences, even though 2 of the machines are just emergency backups.

    I'm looking for an alternative because I want to get all the computers running the same legally licensed software and I think microsoft Office is expensive.  Something like £165 if you buy it with a new machine.

    I still want to be able to open all my old Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. files, of course.

    It sems you can't buy Outlook without buying the whole MS Office package, but Outlook is the one really indispensable bit of software in it.


  3. We have 4 holiday cottages and the average labour time taken to clean and thoroughly prepare each one of them for incoming guests is 4 hours. 

    Taking bags to bin - approximately 60 seconds.  How could you charge for that?

    I know of another proprietor who always finds fault and never returns the full deposit.  This is dishonest, in my opinion, amounting almost to theft.

    We have only once in 4 years retained part of a deposit, and only then with the approval of the renter, when they managed to break a roller shutter mechanism.   We never charge for minor breakages like glasses or plates - sh*t happens!  We also always hand the money back on departure.

    We expect to have to work hard to win our rewards.  Gite owners who don't expect to have to get their hands dirty with some real work every Saturday deserve to find they have a lot of free Saturdays.  No doubt the proprietor in question will lose business.  He'll then go round complaining that business is bad.

    It's because of people like this that I never use the word "gite" in any of our marketing.  I believe that the word now carries connotations, for many British holidaymakers, of amateur management and slapdash standards.


  4. Is anyone using Open Office?

    I'm thinking of replacing my office desktop computer.  Even if supplied with a new machine, MS Office is expensive so I'm thinking of going over to Open Office which is free, but I'd like to know if any of you have any experience with it.

    The big problem is it doesn't seem to have an Outlook type programme in it.  I don't know how I could live without Outlook, as I use it to keep track of all our gite bookings.  With its task list,  reminders to ask for balance payments, diary planner, e-mail, daily schedule, etc. it's an essential management tool.

    There must be a free alternative, surely?


  5. As an organiser of exhibitions and other events, I often found it useful to have a catch-all clause buried in the small print.  Something to the effect that, "In any event where none of the foregoing terms and conditions can be deemed to apply, the decision of the proprietor shall be final and binding on all parties."  Or possibly "....the proprietor shall be entitled to add a new clause to these terms and conditions at any time and without notice".

    Once you've got this in, it doesn't really matter what all the other clauses say.  No-one ever reads them anyway.


  6. If I were Mr. Blair, I think I would be hanging on to

    the job for a while – at least for as long as it took me to line up a tasty,

    well paid sinecure in the USA.

    My fear (as Blair) would be that, the moment I left

    office, I could be in danger of being hauled up before the International Court

    on charges of crimes against humanity. 

    I would be worried about spending a lot of time in

    the Milosevic suite, reserved for warmongering politicians, particularly as the

    court would be bound to investigate my "dodgy dossier", with which I

    managed to convince most Labour MP's to vote for war.  No doubt the court

    would not ignore the evidence in the way my tame

    Hutton enquiry did.  I would calculate that even Cherie's superb advocacy

    would be unlikely to get me off in a proper court of law.

    If I were

    Blair, I would have been hoping that the whole thing would have blown over by

    now, but I would now realise that my escape plan must be in place before the

    party or the country kick me out.  It could take a few more months, but

    then it'll be off to the USA for me!

    Of course, I might be entirely wrong about dear, sweet Mr Blair, BUT, my

    money's on him going to the USA - or prison - within 2 years of leaving office.




  7. I always thought his deliberate and distasteful teasing of dangerous creatures, intended solely to provoke them into aggressive behaviour for the benefit of the camera, would end, one day, in tears.  I think he probably expected to be injured from time to time, but calculated fame and income to be worth the risk.

    The fish clearly didn't realise the teasing was just for the entertainment of TV viewers.


  8. [quote user="Miki"]

    Like Mikey, we show them the meter, which is easily seen in the

    cupboard, we zero the meter and tell them the cost (which is also in

    the information book that guests are given to read, which tells them of

    all the things they need to know about the cottage and the area) of the

    heating. At the end of the stay we will not charge for small amounts

    used....now what could be better than that, not charged at all...Now

    that's NICE.


    Do you show them how to zero the meter?  If so, what's to stop them from doing it themselves at any time they want?

    Now that's really nice!!


  9. Surely the Pas-de Calais should be the region to be given its own section (OK, I'll allow the Somme in, but not the whole of Picardie). Furthermore the Pas-de Calais section should be the first in the listings.

    After all, it's obvious that the rest of France is just an appendage, dangling off the bottom of this important, historic region.  A region which has the strategic advantage of being situated within 3 hours drive of  4 European capital cities - 5, if you count Luxembourg - yet retains a truly France Profonde ambiance.

    Brittany is so far detached from mainstream France, it should be lumped in with Corsica or even the DOM/TOM bits.

  10. I see that the Queen's nephew has become a gite proprietor. (Sunday Times 30/7)

    No doubt Lord Linley will soon be posting on this forum for advice on loo cleaning,  septic tank pumping, and filling out his french income tax forms.

    I wonder if he'll be getting the Gite de France inspectors round?  Probably not - apparently his place lets out at upwards of £5,000 per week.


  11. Now that The West Wing  has come to the end of its final series, I'm feeling a lot less comfortable about the state the World is in.

    Watching this excellent series every week helped me to believe that there really are some politicians, even American politicians, whose main concern is peace, justice and prosperity for all.  I felt comfortable knowing that President Jeb Bartlett and his dedicated staff were looking out for all of us.

    Now it's over, the illusion is gone and reality has returned.  I saw Bush and Blair on TV, giving a press conference in the White House the other day, and felt very queasy.  The world is really run, it seems, by a barely coherent idiot along with a plausible liar as his lickspittle sidekick.

    The good old Maggie and Ronnie Show gave me far more confidence than this one.



  12. At a lunch with a group of 30-40 golfers from various clubs in the Pas de Calais and Picardie, we were served generous quantities of a red wine, which all agreed was delicious, included in the very reasonable cost of the meal.

    My french colleagues were surprised and a bit miffed when I pointed out that it came from Chile.  They cheered up somewhat when they were informed by the restaurant manager thet the Chilean vineyard belongs to the daughter of a prominent French businessman from the Pas de Calais.

    They all then concurred that the magic ingredient in this foreign wine must have been French savoir-faire.

    I was left with the impression that if they had known it was Chilean from the start they would have hated it.


  13. Have you considered somewhere in Quebec (or Switzerland)?  Much more likely to fulfill all the requirements than any place in France, I should think, and if you speak reasonable French you'll find people friendly.

    If it has to be France, Alsace might be a good starting point for a search, as it's neater and cleaner than most of the rest of the country. 



  14. On the golf course it is customary, so I'm told, to tu-toi your playing partners, whoever they might be and whether or not you've met them before.  Once back in the clubhouse, the more formal form of address should be used, if appropriate.

    I've played, on tu-toi terms, with amongst other dignitaries, the president of a major french bank, and a member of parliament.  Back in the bar, in the presence of the banker's minions and the politician's constituents, it felt perfectly reasonable to revert to "vous", as a signal that I did'nt feel I had become a special buddy.

    This temporay relaxation of the rule might apply in any sporting situation.  Be careful, though.  One explanation for Zidane's headbut in the World Cup Final is that the Italian kept calling him "tu".


  15. [quote user="Alcazar"]

    I STILL try to get my wife to buy those wines from Eastenders, to seve to the staff at her school, at ends of tems etc. You know, the ones named after a certain part of a male dog's anatomy[:D]

    Can't remotely understand why she ignores me...........



    Your wife has probably figured out that much better wines are on sale, at less than half the price, at the Aldi (or is it Lidl) shop 90 seconds further down the road past the roundabout.   She's probably already worked out that if she stuck a seaside postcard on the front of every bottle, she would still have the laugh and save about £1.50 into the bargain.

    She wouldn't have to queue up with the coach parties, either


    (and me new haircut)  

  16. The obsession surely stems from the fact that all wine, and to some extent, decent food, are vastly overpriced in Britain.  Thus it's a pleasure and a surprise to British visitors to France to find they can buy decent wine for a couple of euros, and eat a decent meal out for less than a tenner.

    You can blame the government for the excessive duty on wine, but who do you blame for the outrageous cost of pub and restaurant food in Britain?


    (with my new haircut)

  17. I  got a full time job here in France for a while, a couple of years back.  My wife and I were not required to apply for Cartes de Sejour when we moved here and my employer did not need to ask me, once I had shown my passport as proof of my EU citizenship.

    So, if my experience is anything to go by, you don't need to show them anything but a passport.


    (with new haircut)

  18. You can download the form off the internet.  I can't remember the website address, but I'm sure Sunday Driver will know it.  If he doesn't post it here within an hour or two I'll be surprised, but you will probably be able to find it by doing a search on the forum.

    It will help the buyer to get the car registered to them if you sell it with a CT less than 6 months old.  In fact, it might put them completely off the sale if you haven't got this.


  19. I rather hope they will have plenty of consultation with Gites de France which is probably still dominated by the agricultural lobby and hopefully will stick out for the retention of a large rabattement.  I don't want the rules to change - the generous allowances in the existing tax regime suit me fine, and though a couple of our cottages are in Gites de France, we don't rely on their reservation service for anything.

    As for the "quality" standards of Gites de France and Clevacances, these seem to vary from one place to another, but they are not hard to achieve, particularly if you get a copy of their quality scoring matrix.  You then just make sure you score all the necessary points by having such things as a pressure cooker (return it to the shop after inspection) an oilcloth table cloth, a chair and a bedside table & lamp by every bed, etc.  It's also helpful to know the minimum required areas for bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.

    Points are even scored for the basket of freeby goodies you put out for arriving guests.  Gites de France suggest some vegetables and salad stuff.  Most British visitors seem to prefer finding a bottle of wine, some tea and some chocolate biscuits.



  20. If you are bringing your own laptop I believe you can connect at La Chope, a cafe/bar in Hesdin run by a helpful and knowledgeable English couple.

    Our cottages have wireless broadband access for guests, and many hotels in the Accor group do as well.  Some Accor group hotels also have Pay-To-Use internet terminals in their lobbies.

    Hope this helps.



  21. Yes, but surely Barthez must have been slipped a bung by the Portuguese at half-time?  Fortunately, even his antics couldn't turn the Portuguese drama queens into goalscorers.

    Patrick - in a state of high nervousness and in need of a stiff drink 

  22. According to my well-placed sources, until recently Tony Blair had been trying to persuade Wayne Rooney to stand in the next by-election in a safe Labour seat.  The plan was to bump him up to Deputy PM as soon as he got elected.

    As you would expect, after Saturday's debacle the No. 10 press office is flatly denying this story.

    Rumour has it Blair is now attempting to "tap up" Peter Crouch instead.

    Eric Cantona played the French Ambassador in Elizabeth, I think.  Rooney for Secretary-General of the UN?


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