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Paul Bradford

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  1. I forgot to add, that you don't see the bargains here for double glazing that you do in the UK. If you can fit it yourself, or have someone do it for you, look at the cost of sourcing it in the UK. Not from one of the big names, but a contractor or manufacturer local to where you live now.
  2. Hi John, Everyone's circumstances and budgets are going to be different. I am not a heating engineer. I, like many people want to reduce their heating costs. We live in a house built in 1992 with oil fired underfloor heating. We moved here permanently in 2006. In 2008 I installed a solar hot water system from Navitron. www.navitron.org.uk They also supply water and wind turbines and solar pv. Navitron also have a forum where you could explain your situation and ask for suggestions. Our system uses evacuated tube panels. We have never had a broken one due to any hailstorms (and there have been some powerful ones) or any other storm or bird strike (I say that as I found a large dead bird of prey on the roof one day!) The tubes produce hot water throughout the year. Obviously they work better on sunny days, but even today, with the overcast sky the temperature outside is 12c. The collector temperature on the roof is 31c and rising. The temperature in the centre of the tank is 23c. When the differential reaches 11c, the water circulates through the coil. Preheated water uses less energy to heat up. In the Summer we have never had to cover the panels. The system operates as it should and if it gets too hot, it uses the expansion tank. There is only a few litres of water in the pipes from the manifold to the tank. The solar hot water system saves us 500 litres of fuel oil per year. It paid for itself in less than four years. Two years ago, I installed a 500 litre tank. It is a more modern tank with corrugated coils and heats the water more efficiently. If I knew when I installed it, what I subsequently found out, I wouldn't have put it on the roof. The roof pitch is about 30-35 degrees. The optimum pitch is that of the degree of Latitude for where you are. Our roof faces directly South. Five years ago, we had Solar Photovoltaic panels installed. Our 4kwh system on the lower pitch roof, produces less electricity that a friends 3kwh on his higher pitched roof in the UK. However, our return on that is 10% and it will have paid for itself in 8-9 years. Panel life is to a degree an unknown, but there are several places in the world where panels have been installed many years ago and test results are published. They are expected to be producing 80% or their rated power after 25 years. The worlds first solar panel built over 60 years ago is still working. Geothermal is very expensive and works best with underfloor heating as a friend of ours found to their cost. They had a system installed, but their house is heated by radiators. They have had to go to additional expense to heat their house sufficiently. If you are considering an air source heat pump, do your research first as it might not be ideal for you. https://www.bsria.co.uk/news/article/air-source-heat-pumps/ Whatever system you choose to use, you have to look at your cost to change. i.e how much more will you have to spend to get the system that you desire against how much it might cost you to improve what you already have by increased insulation or double glazing. I asked our Central heating Engineer a few years ago about putting in a more efficient boiler. He said that as ours was over 95% efficient, we would be wasting our money. Paul
  3. Our photo-voltaic system has just been commissioned and as of last Monday afternoon we are exporting electricity for EDF to buy back. The installation company and EDF were there to commission it. The EDF technician asked me why we had a 4kw system installed as we would have had a larger FIT (feed in tariff) had we gone for the 3kw. Ours is €0.46 per kwh against €0.58 per kwh for the smaller system. I had only just found this out having seen an advert in Auchan supermarket. I told him that it would be something that I would be taking up with the company as our potential gain for the more expensive system was approx €130.00 per year. The EDF guy then went on to say that with the smaller system we wouldn't have to pay tax on what we sold to EDF, whereas we will now. I was surprised to hear this as we had been told that only systems over 10kw which were classed as commercial would attract taxation. The Installation guy looked uncomfortable and said he would make sure the Sales agent was told. I'm am needless to say quite unhappy with the situation and wonder if anyone knows to whom I could complain. I pointed out to the Sales agent that I was quite a sceptical person and asked a lot of questions before agreeing to the contract. I also told her that I had read articles about companies miss-selling systems. She told me that was in the past and the industry was performing better now. I'm not unhappy with the system. I just have an issue that we were not given all of the facts and believe the company were more interested in selling us the system that worked better for them.
  4. Have a look at the forum on www.rafcommands.com I was able to dig up information on my wife's great Uncle. If you cannot find something, add a posting, giving all the information that you are looking for. You may be suprised. I received a telephone call from a chap that had been researching Battle of Britain pilots and he gave me the aircraft number that he had crashed in and the location of his death. As a result of the posting, last year, for the 65th anniversary of WW2, we received an invitation to a ceremony in Holland where a monument to him and his pilot (they were in a fighter bomber) was inaugurated. It was where they both won their DFC's. They were hidden for three days and left on a British destroyer.We were feted for the day by the local villagers and are still in contact with them. It was very moving and we will remember it forever. Keep searching the internet, you may find something else. Good luck. Paul
  5. I would have a concern about ordering chilled items. If a lot of people order chilled goods, how certain can you be that the goods will be kept at a low enough temperature, either at the delivery address, or en route to drop off? The temperature in a van can get quite high on the journey.
  6. Hi All, Thank you for taking the time to reply. Thank you Lou for supplying the wording to your clause. I can now pass this information on to my friend. Regards Paul
  7. Hi All, Has anyone any experience of inserting a clause into a Compromis de Vente or Sous-Seing Privé relating to the purchase being reliant upon the sale of a house in the UK. I have heard that this is not liked by the Immobiliers here, but is it possible to do it? I would be grateful if anyone has had any experience of this. From what I have read of this legal process, it mentions substantive clauses being inserted regarding mortgages being available. It doesn't specifically say that you cannot insert a reasonable clause. I would be grateful if I can have definitive replies rather than conjecture. Also, if anyone has successfully had such a clause inserted into their Compromis de Vente or Sous-Seing Privé, would they be happy to furnish me with a copy, with names blanked out if you wish? Thanking you in advance, Paul Bradford
  8.   Hi Shelly, Ax-Les-Thermes is good. It's on the route to Andorra, which is about another 30 minutes drive. We live in Monflanquin and it's about a 3 1/2 hour drive.  Nice place to stay in the centre of town is the Grand Tetras. A spa hotel. Costs around €100 per night for a large studio for 4. Twin beds and a sofa bed. Corner kitchen. Hot springs in the town. Very French. We have been there three times now. This year however we will try somewhere else, probably St Lary. Regards, Paul
  9. Hi Kim, If you use one of the Brico stores ask if they have the inclusive service. Most will have some of the woodburners that carry a tax rebate if you have them installed by a professional. We bought ours through such a place on recomendation. The installer collected it and then spent three hours or so installing it with a colleague, including fitting a chimney liner. The price was around €1600 for the lot. I recommended the same place to a friend and lent him our catalogue. (We had a Godin fitted). When he went to see them, they didn't have any Godin on display and he thought they didn't supply them anymore. He didn't see anything else he liked. He then went to a store in our local town and ordered one from them. As it happens, it was the same model as ours. He was initially charged almost €4000, but got it reduced to €3500. Hope this helps, regards Paul
  10. Hi All, Does anyone know where I can buy a pellet basket for my poele? I have read articles on them, including in the latest issue of The Connexion, but they haven't mentioned where to buy one. I have seen one on an eco site here in France for around €120 delivered. I haven't seen any in the brico's or stove shops, although they sell pellets. I have also seen them in the USA. Regards Paul
  11. Hi All, My wife is interested in buying a pair of Ariat Grasmere Riding Boots, but wonders if there is anywhere in this region that sells them. She would obviously like to try before buying as sizing can be different between different manufacturers. Thanking you in advance. Paul
  12. I recently went to see our Broker over here as we wanted travel insurance for a forthcoming trip to the USA with the children. I asked if we could buy an annual policy. It was going to be quite expensive. Our Broker then went to check our car insurance policy. He came back with it and a copy of our Assistance Cover. It transpires that not only are we covered anywhere in the world, we don't even have to have our car with us! He stated it even covered us for the times we go skiing and generally pay for the mountain recovery insurance. So, our €500.00 fully comprehensive policy, really is comprehensive and better value than we thought! Paul
  13. Sunday Driver.Glad to hear that you are both reasonably well. Is it worth looking on the bright side? You now have a convertible ready for the summer! Seriously though, I sold cars for a while through a main dealer before coming here. I had several customers that had been involved in accidents, through no fault of their own and had been given 'market value' for their car. This, not surprisingly was only enough to buy them a vehicle a couple of years older than the one they had lost. I often thought and still do, that if I was in that position and offered 'market value' I would just say 'No thanks, just find me a replacement vehicle in the same condition mine was in.' I wonder how that would be received, especially if you were prepared to go to court over the matter? Regards Paul
  14. Hi Lilly, We have underfloor heating both down and upstairs. Our house is about 14 years old and the system has been in since it was built. During the winter we only have the heating on downstairs, apart from the bathroom upstairs as we find it gets too hot. We have a logburner as well, but that is really for ambience as we don't seem to need often. Regarding a solar sytem with evacuated tubes, I agree with Poolguy. You could run your hot water and heating system from it during the winter, topping up if required from your boiler. During the summer months, you should be able to divert the extra hot water to heat a pool. Electric underfloor heating is expensive and will only get dearer, even if you have superb insulation. You are far better off going for solar heating using evacuated tubes. The payback time is a few years and obviously almost free after that. Also, you will receive money back on your tax return. I'm installing my own solar panel at the moment (when I can find the time!). At the time I purchased the system, it was too expensive to have another coil put into the water tank to link up with the underfloor heating. However, if we decide to stay here, I will look at installing an additional tank and system to do just that. Regards Paul 
  15. Dear All, Thanks for the replies. I'll try Gamm Vert first, then the Boulongerie. I have seen them for sale in the UK, but they can be a bit expensive to get posted here. Thanks again, Regards Paul
  16. Hi, I don't know whether this should be under sport! Does anyone know where I might be able to get some hessian sacks? We would like to have some sack races at our daughters birthday party, but can't seem to find them anywhere. It's not important that they be hessian, it's just that was the type traditionally used. Paul
  17. For those living here on a UK pension, the best bet would be to use a currency broker to move your money here. That way you would not have any charges and could fix your rate for up to two years. If you could afford it, a better way would be to say, save up your pension in the UK for six months, then bulk buy more euros, getting a better deal. I was fortunate to fix mine last June for two years. I had no idea it would change so rapidly so was very lucky. I had enquired about having my Police pension paid directly to a bank here, but the Force wanted to charge me £10 per month for that privilige. Add that to the €20 or so per month that I would have been charged to receive it in my account here and the flucturating exchange rate, over a year I would be quite a few euros lighter than by fixing the rate. I fear that the euro is likely to get stronger as confidence in the $ recedes, giving you even more reason to try and fix your rate. Paul
  18. Hi Bob, My wife's Astra was not four years old until November, so I got her CT then. The CT however does need to be less than six months old when you register it, otherwise you'll need a new one! I did however change my headlights and register it before then, although regarding headlights, there probably isn't a requirement if you have deflectors fitted. I read somewhere recently that there is no longer a requirement to re-register your car unless it is sold. (The buyer changing the registration I believe) I don't know what your car is, but Vauxhall UK have a department dealing with Certificates of Conformity. Ours cost about £40 from them. Two copies, French and English sent by DHL. Not bad! You don't have to go to your prefecture, it can be re-registered by taking the forms to your local Mairie. Although, if you go to the Prefecture, I believe you get your Carte Gris while you wait. Our Mairie gave me a receipt for my paperwork, then sent us a letter when it arrived there. It took less than two weeks. When I registered my car, as none of the utility bills were in my name, just the bank account, I had to get a letter from my wife stating that I lived with her! Have a look in your telephone book for the Hotel des Impots. Some of our bills are bi-monthly and others six monthly. Hope that helps, Regards Paul
  19. Hi OakBri, Sorry to correct you, but an amber traffic light means stop at the stop line. You may only go on if you have crossed the stop line when the light changes to amber. Red/amber also means stop. When I did my Driver Training I was taught: 'If the lights are green when you approach, assume they will change before you get there, that way you'll be prepared.' Regards Paul
  20. Hi All, Thanks very much to all of those that supplied information. My mum arrived this evening and I am now in a position to advise her. Would those in power think that the information supplied might be streamlined and readily available on this system? I'm sure there will be others in the same position. Regards Paul
  21. Hi All, My mum is coming over for a week and is worried that she will miss a blood test, for the hospital to keep an eye on her dosage of warfarin. She is new to this, only having been on it for a couple of months. Is there anywhere in the Monflanquin/Villereal/Villeneauve/Fumel area that one would/can go to for a blood test? Once she has the results she can telephone the hospital. I have tried to reassure her, but she is a bit concerned. Thanking you in advance, Regards Paul
  22. Hi Chris, I'm not sure how low they go, but I would imagine quite low seeing some of the prices that you can obtain properties for. Anyway my wife has just taken out a mortgage to buy a plot of land next to our house. It was for €30,000. She applied for a mortgage here, as releasing funds in the UK was going to take too long. The bank (Banque Populaire) were quite happy to lend. The land was just arable land, which we were planning to just keep as meadow. (Since applying for the mortgage, CU has been granted on the land. We didn't want this, but the Notaire made it a condition of sale! It made no difference to the price paid.) The rate was 4.4% which the Bank Manager apologised for as she said it had only just gone up. It is over 15 years, but I think it would have been quite easy to get longer if we had wanted. There are no penalties for early redemption. They wanted proof of income. I had to sign to say that I would pay if my wife defaulted! We had to take out a small insurance policy. There was no valuation fee. The Notaire's charge was normal. The Bank Manager took us out to lunch as well! She was astounded at the interest rates in the UK. I forgot to mention this rate is fixed for the full term, which is not unusual here. Apparently people like to know they have a regular amount going out each month. Hope this helps, Paul
  23. Hi All, I've posted this in the South-West as it's relevant to here, but I couldn't find a section that it fitted into anyway. A bit of short notice, but my wife rather fancies the idea of a birthday party in just over two weeks. Does anyone know of a family disco that would be able to attend on the 17th November in Monflanquin (47)? An idea of prices would be useful. I tried a search, but couldn't see anything. Regards Paul
  24. I wouldn't bother with the tablets. We had our fosse drained and cleaned last year. Friends had just had theirs done and we thought we should do it, as we had no idea when it was last done. We had had the house for three years by this time, but up to then only used it during the holidays. The chap that came to empty it couldn't understand why we wanted it emptied if we didn't have a problem. He cleaned it and thoroughly flushed it out. He then told me to fill it three-quarters full with fresh water, then add a couple of tubs of live yoghurt. He said one of those a month would suffice to keep the fosse healthy. He told me not to waste my money on the additive products. He said it shouldn't need cleaning for another three to four years. We did as he suggested and have never had a problem. I lift the lid occsionally to check on it, and it's working fine. Cost:- €140. Excellent value for money. Paul
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