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Posts posted by Patmobile

  1. The paparazzi are ultimately to blame.  Hounded mercilessly by hordes of them, she was always trying to escape and have a private life.  Unfortunately, the drunk driver who thought he could outrun them was fatally wrong.

    The bast-ards were there when it happened, they know they caused it, but they couldn't even let her die privately.


  2. Of course Father Christmas exists.

    Intelligent people like the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope are widely respected for believing in the existence of God (not to mention getting dressed up in funny clothes and chanting weird songs in archaic language), so why shouldn't we believe in another mythical character for whose existence there is rather more evidence?

    Tell your children to respond to taunts of "There is no Father Christmas" with "There is no God", and maybe the teasing will stop.


    Santa, please send me a Porsche for Christmas

  3. [quote user="Llwyncelyn"]

    Sunday Driver I am so so grateful.........and I feel so so foolish.  But I can remember the man on the top of the Clapham Omnibus and the High Trees principle and even the Wednesbury cinema case! But of course reality is different as is life!


    thanks again.


    I used to live in that famous Hightrees House.  Years ago, while I was still there, the council cut down the only trees that were close to it, so we unofficially renamed it No-trees House.


  4. [quote user="Will "]On the other hand, though, Eslier's occupancy figures seem rather optimistic to me, particularly for a start-up operation in Normandy. 12 weeks in total for each cottage is more generally reckoned to be realistic - some people haven't even been achieving that. Of course you can get more, but that's once you are established, and means a lot more effort in sales and marketing (which can count for much more than money alone, but does take up a lot of time, plus expense to advertise in the right places).[/quote]

    I'm disappointed to hear that, because we have been considering extending our business into Normandy.  Is just 12 weeks occupancy truly the realistic expectation there?

    I think Eslier is suggesting ten weeks for each cottage, though, which seems cautious even by your yardstick.



  5. Always best to err on the cautious side when trying to make predictions about proposed new businesses, but I would suggest that Eslier's cost figures are way too pessimistic.  In your first year or two you might find your fixed costs running at a relatively high percentage of turnover, but soon you should be able to achieve higher sales while increasing costs only marginally.  Of course it will depend on where you are, what your marketing is like, and, frankly, whether you're any good at managing a business.  

    Our biggest cost category is Marketing/Advertising.  Our total running costs are comfortably less than 20% of sales, and it's worth remembering that the French tax system treats income from renting out holiday accomodation much more favourably than it does unearned income. 

    The net return after tax, therefore, on your holiday cottage business should be vastly better than the net interest you might earn by investing the capital in other ways.  On top of that, if you invest sensibly in good properties, and maintain them well, you can expect reasonable capital growth as well as income.

    To earn a resonable living, though, you are likely to need more than two cottages.


  6. We had no problems with the inspectors from Gites de France when they came to look at our cottages.  However, I was surprised to find that the two inspectors, one male one female, were in fact gite proprietors in their own right.  In other words, they are business competitors.

    I have no idea if the same situation applies when it comes to Chambres d'Hotes. 

    Coco, could your inspectors be competitors?  Might they prefer not to have another 3 epis rated establishment nearby?  Is this why you'll never get the top rating?


  7. Just had a seasonal knock on the door - le facteur avec ses calendriers.  Actually they're called the "Almanch du Facteur" and they're packed with useful stuff.

    I chose two - one for each of our desks.  One has a couple of pictures of coastal spots in Brittany and includes a map of radar speed traps all over France, times of sunrise and sunset, recipes, household tips, city maps for our region, postcodes, a map of Europe with flags, population and area details, as well as a calendar with all the saints days.

    The other shows the chateaux of Chenonceau and Vaux le Vicomte on the covers, with a map of the world, local tide tables, gastronomic guides to French regions, and a list of useful phone numbers and internet sites, as well as the calendar, postcodes and city maps.

    You pay what you want to, of course.  It's like a Christmas tip to the postman, I suppose.  Having been, according to my neighbour, a bit stingy last year, I gave generously this time.

    Have you had yours yet?  What did you choose?


  8. To avoid any confusion, I have never talked to you, which does not mean that I am not talking to you, just that, as we have not had anything to talk about as yet, we have not talked, until now, if you call this talking, in which case we have talked, and I am talking to you, though I reserve the right to decide not to be talking to you, should you start talking through your hat.  I do not permit that kind of talk from anyone except myself.



  9. [quote user="powerdesal"]Will,

    Its a great play on words the 'up to 30%', why stop there, why not 'up to 50%', after all, 7.4% fits into 'up to 50%' just as easily.

    I too am a power generation professional, and have been since an apprenticeship with C.E.G.B. ( remember them). I believe the point you make about environmental interests using higher figures is the whole point. Why let the truth get in the way ?


    As in "upwards of 50 years" and "expected service life of 25 years", perhaps?

    Hoist on your own petard, I think.


  10. To return to the original topic......

    Well, after all that, it turned out not to be a scam.  The money turned up in the bank account, we waited a while to make sure there was no problem, tranferred it to another account, got in touch with the nice people who had had a genuine visa problem and returned their money.

    I feel a bit ashamed of myself for having doubted them.


  11. The loss is presumably proportional to the distance over which the power is transmitted.  This can produce different average loss figures in different countries.

    Decentralised production (more but smaller local generating plants) would mean less distance from the supplying plant to the consumer.  Therefore less power loss would be experienced than if sending power over great distances from a few large generating stations.

    Am I right?


  12. [quote user="BJSLIV"]I think patmobile  has a number of individual supplies some of which are 3 phase! (for a gite?). The Gdf opening offer gave you 3 months a year without any line rental so there would be some saving there, though probably less than could be achieved by ditching the three phase. The unit cost is the same, unless they have changed recently. They make it seem cheaper because Gdf don't include the local taxes and VAT on their website , whereas Edf do![/quote]

    I may have got this slightly wrong! But not by very much. 

    Yes, it's a 3 phase 36kW supply with an abonnement currently of 1336,34 each year inc taxes.  To my surprise Gdf have offered an abonnement of which even with taxes on top would come to, I calculate, 1071€ (a saving of better than 10%).  Add to this saving the 2 months abonnement "offerts" in the first year, and the total saving on the standing charge should come to around 440€.

    The price they offer per kWh, 7.78 HP, and 4.58 HC, (hors taxes) appear to offer a saving of roughly 10% on the equivalent published Edf rates, once you have added in the taxes.  I haven't yet tried to calculate how much this would save me, but with heating, lighting and hot water for 3 cottages, the laundry, and external automatic courtyard lighting all coming off the same supply, I think it will be significant.

    There is another cottage, supplied separately that I'm hoping to get on a similar deal.

    I'll post again once my first bill comes in, when I'll be able to tell if my calculations are correct.




  13. I've just signed up to have electricity supplied to 3 of our gites by Gaz de France instead of EDF.  If I've done my sums right, I'll save over €500 in the first year on the abonnement alone, as well as a substantial reduction on the rate per kWh.

    The price is fixed for one year after which, for the following year, they will be fixed again at a rate adjusted by the same percentage as any change in the corresponding EDF rate over the previous contract period.

    I hope this is the start of a new competitive market that will see electricity prices plummet over the next couple of years.

    Can't wait to see the bill.



  14. I like wind turbines.  They are far more attractive then the alternative - a dirty great power station next door.  I've walked around close to wind turbines here in France in all sorts of wind conditions, and they make no more noise than the trees in my garden.

    I've never seen a dead bird anywhere near one, even those some miles to the north of the Somme estuary, which must be on a major migration route.

    Every time I see them turning I'm reminded of the inexhaustible power of nature.

    I never heard anyone complain about the windmills that used to be common all over East Anglia, Belgium & Holland.  In fact most people regarded them as quaintly attractive.  What's the difference?

    It would surely be reasonable to insist that people who object to wind generators should pay twice the price for electricity, on the grounds that a) they are imposing a genuinely ugly power station on someone else, and b) they should pay to clean up the mess made by the power stations they seem to prefer.

    I'm certain this modest proposal will win lots of support.


  15. I seem to remember a post some time ago about people who reserve gites then say they need a visa, but I couldn't find it again when I did a search, and couldn't remember if it was some sort of scam, or what.

    An enquiry came in on 22/10 for dates in November.  I responded, as always, with details and prices. 

    The enquirer reserved on 23/10, and asked for confirmation because they needed to arrange visas.  We don't consider bookings confirmed until a payment has been received so I sent them our booking form and T & C's as well as the bank co-ordinates for a transfer to one of our UK accounts.  (For short notice bookings we ask for payment by direct transfer or PayPal).

    On 26/10 they emailed to say they had sent the money to the bank.  (As of this morning nothing has arrived in the account).  No completed booking form (contract) has been received in the post, though, obviously that can take some time.

    On 29/10 we received a message saying they had a visa problem because the passport of one of them was expires in March, and the french would not issue a visa until he has a new one.  I quote the next part of the message here,

    "If you are unable to refund the money already paid, please advise whether

    you are prepared to keep, after deduction of any administration fees, the

    balance until such time as we are able to organise the necessary visas.


    We should be able to get the matter sorted within the next couple of


    I have told them I'm prepared to give them a refund, by cheque from our payments account, once the money has cleared through the receiving account.  I've asked them for an address to send the cheque to.

     I don't know the nationality of these people.  The name sounds possibly South African.  None of their correspondence bears any of the usual hallmarks that make African scams so obvious.  (Hope the scammers never learn to spell, or write good English).  They have not asked for an immediate refund.

    The only thing that worries me is that they have our bank account details.  I know we've had some heated postings on that subject before, but we watch our accounts online on a daily basis, and the receiving account, though a normal current account with a balance of a few hundreds in it, is not where most of our money resides.  It's not even the same bank.

    Nevertheless, I'm concerned that somone may be scamming me in some way that I haven't considered.

    What do you think?




  16. Maybe the installation software on my CD-Rom is an early version.  It worked for me in all modes.  USB, wireless and ethernet.  I just find it works most reliably with the wireless mode switched off.  As a wireless unit it has poor range and it's not easy to add new users.

    I've never tried the TV option. 


    I agree, delete the Espace Wanadoo software.  It does work, but it's a pain in the butt - and why would anyone want it?


  17. Forget using the Livebox wirelessly!

    I have connected the livebox direct by network cable into a cheap network hub and switched off the Livebox wireless facility, which is useless   A netgear wireless access point (also cheap) is then connected to the hub as is one of our desktop computers which controls the access point and the network. 

    Everything else, sometimes 3 or 4 other computers (ours and guests), connect wirelessly through the Netgear wireless access point, which is far more accessible and far more reliable than the Livebox working wirelessly.

    The Netgear handbook says I can add up to 64 computers to the network this way.  I could have done this with a Netgear wireless router, but I already had all the other bits when the stupid Livebox arrived, so I didn't have to buy one.

    Working like this, with wireless turned off, the Livebox is a reasonably acceptable bit of kit.


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