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Posts posted by Patmobile

  1. I agree with Eslier.  It's quite possible to buy a property in an area that's already saturated with gites and achieve high occupancy rates and an excellent rental income.  This is because most of your competitors are dabbling in it for pocket money and don't want to, or don't know how to, run them effectively as a business.

    How many gites do you need to survive?  I have seen discussions on this forum where contributors say it is possible to live on 1000 euros a month income.  In that case the minimum number of gites needed to survive would be one, or two to be comfortable, provided a clued-up owner manages it like a proper business.


  2. I know it only makes a small difference, but the monthly payments on a 15 year 125000€ repayment mortgage at 4% would be less than 1100€, because you obviously don't pay interest throughout on the whole original sum borrowed. 

    Unfortunately 4.5% is probably as low a rate as you'll get at the moment.


  3. Apparently, when quite new in the Prime Ministerial job, Tony Blair asked a charming, and somehow familiar-looking lady, whom he met at reception at a European summit  of some kind, what job she was now doing.

    "Oh, I'm still the Queen of the Netherlands", she replied, offering him some cocktail nibbles from a dish she was circulating with.

    Moral:  Don't ask - it could be someone whose job you really ought to know already.


  4. Not many replies!

    I think there's a message here.  It's that people who run successful gite businesses don't want to give away any commercial secrets.

    I can, however, give some advice to anyone who's interested.  If you have ever run a business - and were good at it, you'll find running a successful gite business easy.  If you haven't, or you weren't, you won't.


  5. Is there such a thing as a buildings surveyor in France?   If so, how do I find one?

    We have bought four french houses without the benefit of a survey, but, the house we're considering buying this time is very large and constructed mostly in concrete.  The structure is more like a modern hotel than a traditional house, and although I can't see any blemish or defect that looks important, I'm concerned that my total lack of familiarity with structures of this type might lead me to overlook something potentially expensive.

    I'm in the Pas de Calais (62) - the house is close to the border with the Somme (80)


  6. Just catching up on this post so I hope I'm not just going to repeat what someone else may have already said.

    Graduating with a degree in French.  I know a few people with such degrees.  They can tell me all about Voltaire, Corneille and even Francoise Sagan, but they don't speak very good French.

    In France?  A golfing friend of mine, age 78, tells me his grandmother, a French speaker, was born French in Lorraine.  Then she lived in Germany, then France again, then Germany, and finally France again.  She never moved from the village of her birth.

    He himself thought he lived in France, but became a German resident while at school, and spent the last few weeks of the war in the German army shooting at allied planes.  He found it hard to get a French passport after the war.

    Confused?  If they don't know where they are, how can we?


  7. Dick,  I have not bad-mouthed a whole profession.  And not you personally either.

    Actually I am convinced that you are an excellent and dedicated teacher.  Can you accept that not all teachers are as good or as dedicated as you?

    Could you find it possible to accept that sometimes even good teachers don't achieve the best results because they are mistakenly using methods that don't work as well as they might?  If teaching could be made more effective by using, for instance, testing methods that seemed to work reasonably well, would it not be a good idea to use them?  

    As for proof, even the most rigorous scientists will sometimes accept empirical results as reasonable proof. 

    I give you the young Jade Goody and a multitude like her.  You are a teacher - this is your challenge, to turn this material into something better.


  8. No, Dick.  I'm living on Earth, same as the rest of us.  I hardly dare to say more, since you do seem to take any comment as personal criticism.

    I left the question hanging, hoping for enlightenment, not to be told I'm a silly boy and should go and stand in the corner.


  9. This thread moves so fast I'm already a page behind!

    Actually, I meant that perhaps the pupils themselves, and their parents, regard the qualifications as having little worth.

    That's why they all want to be "celebrities" rather than pass any exams at school, or go into higher education.  This is how you get the underclass - ultimately, they are not convinced the schools can offer them anything useful, - and the responsibility for that rests with.....?


  10. [quote user="Dick Smith"]

    Exactly. The idea that education is a way to improve one's life chances is becoming rather quaint in the eyes of many. Not all, yet, fortunately, and rather less so in ethnic minority groups.


    Might that not be because of the dumbing down of standards, so that some academic qualifications qualifications are seen as being virtually worthless?


  11. When I wrote, "...the members of...", I meant, and should have written, "..those members of...". 

    Yes, possibly I have been influenced by conservative commentators, but not by the Daily Mail.  I didn't even read it when I worked for Associated Newspapers, and once got severely bollocked for tossing my free daily copy directly into the bin. 

    I knew, from the way he writes so passionately and sensibly about education, that Dick could not be one of the teachers to whom I was referring.  I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I thought otherwise.

    It surely is true, though, that many of the ideas about education that have hindered, to say the least, the improvement of educational standards in Britain, have come from influential groups within the  teaching profession itself. 


  12. [quote user="Pierre ZFP"]

    And the boats aren't running either.

    I only just put the tiles back on the outbuildings from the last blow.

    I blame the wind generators. We have enough wind without having great big machines to make more .........


    Nothing to do with the windmills.  It's perfectly obvious there aren't enough of them to create this much wind.

    Why can't people see that it's the trees waving their branches around that is the cause of these storms?  Far from planting more trees, we should be cutting them down as fast as we can.


  13. I haven't seen the show, but, at last, it seems, "reality TV" has lived up to its name and shown something that is undeniably real.

    That in Britain there is a spreading underclass of talentless, dumbed-down trailer-trash with unconsciously racist views.

    Nothing personal, Dick, but isn't this largely the fault of the members of your profession who have persistently preached the "prizes for all" concept of education?  And the politicians who believed them, too, of course.


  14. When I was at school many years ago, the Physical Education teacher was a retired naval Chief Petty Officer.

    We  always addressed him as "Admiral"

    I suggest, Jemai, that when speaking to your sport teacher, you should always call him "mon Colonel".  Then, even if he finds out about his mistake, he may not fail you or punish you.

    Patrick ,

  15. Eurostar is pretty useless for commuting to London from Calais anyway, because you can only stay for a few hours before having to get back to Waterloo to check in for the return.

    The shuttle is better.  Some years ago we, too, used to get from our house in Docklands to our house in the Pas de Calais (about 80km from the tunnel) in less than 3 hours from door to door.  We don't any more, because after less than a year of owning the house here, we found we preferred to be in France all the time.


  16. We wanted to diversify our marketing effort a bit, so as an experiment, I put one of our properties on a Dutch advertising website this autumn, and got enough response to fill a couple of difficult weeks.

    It's http://www.gites.nl/

    It seems a well-run outfit, and they translate your text into Dutch for you.  There is an English language version of the site as well.  The cost is reasonable and they publish your advert before sending you an invoice, with the result, in our case, that we had an order through them before we had even paid for the ad.  The enquiries have mostly been in English.  When they write in Dutch I can usually figure out what they want and I reply in German and English, hoping they'll use the same sort of deductive process.

    I think it's true that most Dutch families expect to pay a fairly low rate, but are prepared to put up with rather basic accommodation in return.  We are not cheap by local standards, and our accommodation is far from basic.  I think the Dutch/Flemish market is rather price sensitive, so we may just use this ad to make special offers for difficult weeks which would otherwise go unfilled.


  17. It is possible to travel to London and back on Eurostar from Calais Frethun station.  Unfortunately, because of the current timetable, you can't get anything like a full day's work in at the office before having to check in at Waterloo for your return journey, so it's not so good if you're planning to work just one day at a time in London.. 

    A better bet for people who live in the Pas-de-Calais region is to take a car on the shuttle.  You can buy a bundle of 10 x 24 hour return tickets very cheaply, and although it can be a horrible drive from Dover to London, spend the whole day in your office before setting off to return at a time of your own choosing.

    You wouldn't want to do it every day, but if you have to work there one or two days a week, it's not out of the question  

    If you were to settle down in a seaside place between Calais and Le Touquet - Hardelot, for instance - you could make the trip in about 3-4 hours each way.  Best if your office is in South London, of course.


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