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Posts posted by Gyn_Paul

  1. Does anyone have a Boursorama banque account with a premier (gold) debit card and can tell me what the weekly card purchase limit is? I can't seem to find it on the website.

    Looking for an alternative to CA. When I'm doing a building project and might want (for perhaps 2 or 3 consecutive weeks in a year) to buy E1500-worth of building materials each week, I really baulk at paying their usuarius* higher-tier card charges for a facility I don't need for the other 49 weeks of the year.

    And please don't suggest paying by cheque : have you tried paying a large amount with a cheque without the presence of both Grandmothers, 3 pieces d'identitie, and a signed affidavit from the Pope, recently?



    *  - "Usury is the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loans intended to unfairly enrich the lender"    except, of course, it isn't a loan, it's a charge for the privilege of accessing my own money !

  2. Last year I looked at my embryonic gooseberry bushes and they were in fine fettle. Then I wandered down the same bit of the garden about 4 days later and there was hardly a leaf left on any of the six of them.

    What is devouring the leaves?

    What do I zap it with?

    When do I apply it?

    Then perhaps this year we'll manage to get at least one gooseberry crumble out of eight plants (bought another two!).


  3. I have a 20 year-old Clio which has been a good little runner in its time but now needs new injectors, which means the cost of sourcing/fitting replacements w-e-l-l  exceeds the value of the vehicle.

    I want to give it to my friend who is a garagiste, and who may either fix it up if he has the time or - more likely - use it for spares.

    My question is, how can I get it off my insurance if I'm not either selling or scraping it? I obviously can't (even notionally) sell it without a CT, which it won't pass without fixing up, and I wouldn't be, in the first instance, scraping it.

    I seem to be going round in a circle. Is there a way out?


  4. [quote user="woolybanana"]Blame not the banks, they are just the messengers. This is the fisc at work, wanting to check who is where and if they are paying their kilo of flesh, and not hiding the widow's mite under the bed[/quote]

    If this is the fisc, Wooly, then I hardly think sharing the fisc's own form with the bank is going to help them much !


  5. [quote user="Sprogster"]You should never send a bank your passport, as they require a certified true copy, which they will either do themselves if you take it into a branch, or you can get a lawyer or accountant to take and certify a copy for you that you mail to the bank. When certifying a copy passport legally you are required to do it in the presence of the passport holder so you can verify that the passport photo is of a true likeness. Therefore, if you sent the bank your original passport they cannot take a certified copy without you being there.

    The other anti money laundering requirement is address verification which is usually achieved by sending the bank a utility bill less than three months old, or a certified copy of one.

    These requirements have to be undertaken when opening an account and do not usually need to be repeated unless you change address or name through marriage for example. Sometimes a bank may ask for updated verification if there is a trigger event such as opening an additional account or applying for a mortgage.

    The anti money laundering requirements imposed under the EU money laundering directive are becoming increasingly burdensome and intrusive.[/quote]

    You are quite right Sprogster, the original CA letter was asking me to organise a certified copy if I wasn't prepared to journey the 5 hours to Machecoul (44). - more expense !

    As to the money laundering regulations, they are a laughable farce, as anyone in private or investment banking will tell you. Nobody, intent on laundering a stack of dubious money, is going to do it through a private bank account; too many transaction flags go up. It's bad enough when you move a chunk to buy a house, say. I guarantee if you transfer a heap of money into the country and leave it there sitting in an ordinary account, you will be lucky if you're not questioned about it if it stays there untouched across a f/y.   No, if you are in the Argent Blancherie business, you do it through a business account. Far more opportunities to bury transactions and movements.

    I'm also quite sure that if I was a drug baron, looking to squirrel away a couple of million, I think I'd probably be up to obtaining a false passport and a good enough version of Photoshop Pro, to 'doctor' a tax form !

    The various American agencies are quite capable of tracing the electronic footprints of any fund transfer which raises their interest ANYWHERE in Europe without any need for rural banks to photocopy customer's individual details.

  6. A while ago I had a letter from my CA bank in Loire-Atlantique asking (no, 'demanding') I send them both our passports and justicatif de l'addres, so that they could 'confirm our identities'. Given that this is a bank who ignore recomandee letters and don't act on written instructions, I certainly didn't trust them to get the passports back to us in one piece, quite apart from the fact that I would be 8 or 9 euros out of pocket for the privilege of asserting I am who I was 7 years earlier, so I ignored the letter and the problem seemed to go away.

    This week our local Banque Pop, rang me with the same request, so, we wasted an afternoon going through the same rigmarole. Despite my asking her to explain the reason for all this pantomime, I still have no clear idea as to why the bank which photocopied our passports and J de A's when we opened the account 5 years ago, needs to do it again ! We're obviously living at the same address (since she rang me) and I'm still me, with the same date of birth, so what will another passport photocopy prove?

    Has anyone else been 'invited' by their bank to jump through these ludicrous hoops?

    Slightly more worrying, she also asked for my (our) most recent tax return, which I'd not brought, so she has asked us to 'pop it in when we're next passing'. The more I think about this, the less inclined I am to do it. Our account is in credit (obviously) we have never had - nor asked for - any loan or mortgage, so why should I share details of my income, and tax affairs with the bank? I particularly hate the thought of that sort of info being photocopied and sitting in some file cupboard in the bank. Or worse yet, on a database. I just know that it will end up in the marketing department and I'll be bombarded with sales emails and literature trying to sell me insurance and 'investment opportunities' for the next year.  

    My feeling is that if the banks want tax data about their clients, and - self-evidently - the impots. gouv.fr won't give it them, then I don't see why we should either.  Obviously, if I ever wanted to borrow money from them, then it would be a different matter, and I would give them the information; how else could they decide if I am a fit person to lend money to or not?  But just at the moment, what with them owing me money and all, I think I'll keep the form to myself.

    I've asked a few people - both French and English - and we seem to be the only people required to prove themselves (so far) but it's fair to say my sample was statistically insignificant!


  7. [quote user="Théière"]Do you think some are really plain steel? the constant refilling with fresh oxygenated water would rust it away in no time. Enameled or stainless steel surely.


    You're right, of course. What was I thinking? But -all the same - it's an odd caution to put in a set of instructions, don't you think? Perhaps something to do with the anode???

  8. You didn't mention if you had a pressure reducer fitted. If you do, it is likely to be attached to the inlet side of the groupe de securitie on the cold fill. That might have failed or (slightly more likely) be clogged. Do you have a stop tap fitted to the hot out of the tank? is it connected by flexible hoses or copper? I would be tempted to check the flow directly out of the hot outlet of the tank before draining it and tackling the GdeS.


    Turn off the flow into the tank (little blue or yellow tab on the GdeS, turns through 90 degrees). Open hot tape and wait until flow stops. disconnect hot water outlet pipe. Now either put a bucket under it, or - better yet - connect a short flexible from it to a bucket (you're less liable to get 65C water over you if the hot is directed safely into a bucket).  Slowly turn the cold tab back on. If the same miserable dribble is exhibited, then the problem is with the flow going into the tank : probably in the GdeS. Turn the cold off again. Now I would disconnect the cold feed from the GdeS. check to see if there is muck on the mesh filter (if there is one) if there isn't, one further thing you could try is to check the non-return flap which is just inside the body. If you gently introduce a small screwdriver into the inlet you should feel it reach it, and it should yield with very little force (if you have it dismantled and in your hands, you should be able to open it by blowing down the inlet - not something you will be able to do while it's attached to the underside of the tank unless you are a contortionist !

    Now is the time to drain the tank and take the GdeS off.  If you get a full flow of hot out of the tank, then the problem is downstream, and the tank and associated plumbery is innocent!

    I have just changed a leaking chauffeau for a new one, and changed the GdeS at the same time. I was interested to discover that one of them had a mesh filter on the inlet, and the other one didn't. This is another place you could check before draining the tank. It's amazing how little gunk is needed on a mesh filter to reduce a 3-bar flow to a prostatic dribble.

    Whenever I have to drain down plumbing for any reason, I always make a point of bleeding the air (splutter, rust, more spluttering, then water) from a tap with the aerator removed. if you do it with the plug in the sink, it is amazing the amount of crud there is by the time the water runs clean).

    Just for interest, the instructions for one of my chauffeaux advised strongly against leaving it empty for more than a day or two. Are the insides enamel or plain steel, I wonder? If the latter, then 40 L of oxygen (in a 200L model) would make a goodly quantity of rust, I suppose.   

    Bit of a poser to know what to do for the best if leaving a house for winter eh?


  9. Some time later......

    I discover the whole connector/thermostat assembly in attached by a pair of spade connectors. A bit a gentle persuasion with a spoon (to get under the depression of the base plate) and off it comes, revealing a nut or allen bolt which holds the actual element in place.

    Turns out the 'dead' resistance was ok, and it was in fact the thermostat which had failed. So a bit of a wash-and-brushup and it's good to go. Good job I didn't cart it off to the tip last month

    Still need to get the leaking bugher off the wall, though. Inspection of the plate and the surface it mounts onto shows sufficient rust and pitting that it will never make a 3 bar seal - always assuming it was that and not some part of the tank itself leaking under the foam.

    So if you hear a loud noise it will be 200L tank progressing down 3 flights of stairs in a somewhat uncontrolled manner!


  10. One of my 2 x 200L chauffeaux decided to leak - with some ferocity - yesterday, from around the plate which holds the element (down the bolts, down my arm, soaking my sleeve ; the usual thing). Tightening the nuts, of course, had no effect, so clearly it is en route to the tip.

    I have (yet) another one which is physically sound, but with a dead element. I though to pull the good element out of the leaking one, and install it in the mechanically sound one. Unfortunately, although they are both 200L with 2200W elements, the register plates are different (one has 5 bolt holes, and the other 6).

    I've stripped off and cleaned all the gunk (mostly sand and only a bit of calc as we are blessed with water only very slightly hard), but cannot for the life of me see how to remove the element/thermostat assembly from either plate.

    What's the trick? Or are replacements sold complete with the plates (unlikely, I should have thought) ?


  11. I would of course - if I go down the wrecking route - line the inside of the parpaing with a dpm., although the render is in good condition, and  elsewhere where the block-work is revealed, damp (even on the west side of the building where the prevailing driving rain is) isn't an issue.

    As to the ceiling, I've already done the room above and replaced all the rotten floorboards, filling the the joist voids with fibreglass as I went.

    With regard to the supposed insulating quality of the terracotta; all I can say is this room has an insulated floor, an insulated ceiling, one wall against 50cm stone (barn internal wall) , and two party walls to other similarly heated bedrooms, yet it can go from 20C when the CH goes off down to about 13C or so in a couple of hours, so my feeling is that terracotta is exactly as insulating as you would expect a plant pot to be, and I can't wait to get rid of it!

    So  the consensus is that extruded foam (what is it? 60mm... 80mm?) has a greater U value than 200mm fibreglass?


  12. I'm renovating a bedroom and wondering which route to take.

    It's a first floor addition (probably 50's/60's built on to a stone ground floor) of rendered breeze-block exterior with those cellular terracotta blocks, about 30cm x 20cm (ish) and 10cms thick. With the plaster applied directly to the interior face. No insulation (other than the block's air gap).

    Insulating is the main purpose of the exercise (apart from the race to replace the ceiling before it lands on my head one night!), so the choice is either to add polystyrene-backed plasterboard directly to the existing plaster, or to strip off the plaster/terracotta blocks back to the breeze blocks, stud it, and re-board it. Then I would have a nice 200 mm cavity which I can fill with fibreglass.

    Either way, I need to take out the window and re-fit it flush to the new inside level, so that's not an issue, but the room is small already, so losing 212mm by adding the fibreglass+plasterboard on top of the existing wall, isn't really an option.

    So I suppose it boils down to which route gives the higher 'U' value.

    Anyone been down this road?


  13. I may be wide of the mark here, but I understood the 'welding-on-break' problem was a function of high-current DC circuits, which would/could throw huge arcs on high load.  - This was the spur to the industry designing spring-loaded switches which 'flip' from one state to another. Although, having said that, even with modern flipping switches, you can still generate a significant zap from a large capacitive load like - say - a lighting circuit with lots of fluorescents.

    I take it you mean that the live pole might weld, while the neutral would open normally?   This is why the electricity boards stopped fusing both the L and the N feeds on their side of the meter (a state which was common - on MANWEB at least - in the 50's-60's). If the N fuse blew, then 250v would be detectable all the way round the house's circuits right back to the consumer side of the N fuse. Not something you wanted, especially when earthing and double-insulation on all appliances was generally an aspiration rather than an assumption!

    As for that N-E fault... at least on a French board you simply kill all the breakers and restore the 30mA DD, then restore the breakers one-by-one until the culprit is found. In the UK, the only way is to physically disconnect each N from the bus-bar, and on a badly installed box with the cables tortured into position, it's not a pleasant task !


  14. [quote user="PaulT"]Yes, existing wiring can be worrying.

    The main differences to my mind are that there are no ring mains and that each major appliance, such as fridge, dishwasher, washing machine etc have their own circuits.....in fact in some ways I think the French way is better than the UK way.[/quote]

    Having once spent an entertaining 4 hours trying to track down a neutral to earth short in the UK, I can certainly attest that double-pole mini breakers are a damn sight better idea than their

    English single-pole counterpart. A neutral bus rail makes no sense at all and is just plain



  15. First of all, I would tease the bird's nest apart and see if I could get an idea of which bunches of wires are heading off in which direction, and look for a group of wires in the appropriate colours.

    Then I would disconnect the wires from the light, and tab a cable onto each of the wires in turn, running it back to the fuse box. Now you can put a meter across the ends and look for loop continuity.

    (if it's too long a run, or too much of a faff, 1st check that none of the bird's nest is earthed, then connect - in turn - the light 's wires to a local earth, then earth one side of your test meter and again look for loop (earth in this case) continuity among the bird's nest.)

    I'm assuming in all this, that none of the wires in the lamp has any volts present on them!

  16. Angela - That doesn't sound markedly different from the current 'default position' as it stands at the moment.  My understanding of a DeE is that which ever is the surviving partner is deemed to be the full owner if the property is jointly owned, which doesn't get us past the need to somehow change the property to joint ownership.

    I should point out that this is not me... My wife and I did a DeE before purchasing our current house, and since we neither of us have children (or parents) we have no 1st line inheritors.


  17. Apologies if this is old ground being ploughed again, but I've searched and cannot find a previous posting which answers this Q....

    Person 'A' bought a house in France in his own name (for reasons too complicated to go into but having to do with him and his wife selling both their UK houses serially), prior to moving here.

    They are now both resident here in France. He has children from a previous marriage, but not she, and they have none together.

    He knows the situation as it stands were he to die before she did - re fixed inheritance for the children and life interest for her etc.

    If they were starting out to but their house now, they would enact a 'Don Entre Epouse' to protect her inheritance.

    Am I right in thinking that a 'Don' enacted now doesn't act retrospectively?

    If so wouldn't it be possible to enact a Don and then for him to sell the house to his wife, thus bringing the property under its cover?

    Failing that, could the property - which was 3 broken-down cottages, and now comprises a house and two discrete gites - be subdivided and sold to his wife, leaving him with the smallest (and therefore cheapest) of the gites, or would this action attract such huge Notaire fees as to render it unfeasible?


  18. [quote user="tinabee"]

    [quote user="Gengulphus"]That a person of ordinary means should be required to pay tax at a confiscatory rate of 55% or 60% is self-evidently unjust and discriminatory.  You should leave no stone unturned to avoid paying this excessive imposition.

    I am in the reverse position, in that any bequest that I might make will be milked to the tune of 60%. 

    In a casual conversation with my notaire I expressed my repugnance at this situation, and he immediately reeled off a number of ways in which this punitive payment could be avoided or mitigated.   

    One, I have to admit, caused laughter ;  another took be completely by surprise as it revealed a possibility that I simply had not realized existed.  There were at least two which seemed to be potential runners, and which I am actively considering.  (It is pointless to go into them here, as they might well not suit your particular situation.)

    I strongly urge you to consult a sharp and imaginative notaire.



    Oh do go into them - please [blink] - even if it just a summary and we can then do our own research, it may help other readers . . .


    Yes, go on. You'd be surprised how pointless it isn't.

  19. Yeeeeesss (as Paxo would say).  I thought as I posted the original, that I should have been a bit more specific:

    The internet and the phone are BOTH bog-standard France Telecom connections, arriving at the house down a single, elderly copper pair.

    The ISP is Free, so - technically - I do have a 2nd line out of their ADSL box, but the reality is that we are so far from the nearest node (getting on for 5km) that the free box introduces such hideous delay and/or echo as to render it practically unusable.


  20. How is it possible for the internet to work but not the phone? The 'net works fine, but no d/t on the phone.

    I seem to remember that even without a filter it's possible to get a dial tone by 'dabbing' a phone across the incoming pair, but nothing. 54v right enough but nothing to dial with.

    The other confusing point is that these 'dead' phones will ring, even displaying the incoming caller's id, but once you answer it there's nothing but a periodic buzzing, which (I assume ) is the ac ring volts.

    Odd n'est pas?

    Anyone else had this problem? (I've done the usual business of disconnecting everything back to the incoming pair so I'm pretty sure the problem isn't internal).


  21. [quote user="marmite"]Gyn_paul

    Agree with you about the audio problems, just tonight I was looking forward to a new BBC  drama "By Any Means" managed to watch about 20 mins of it before giving up. The constant drumming beat and bass background music! in the end I just gave up.


    I fear it's an insoluable problem: the Sound Supervisor dubbing the finished programme is typically 35 - 45, perhaps 50 at a push, he's listening on studio-quality speakers (with sometimes a tiny, tinny, speaker in mono which he can switch to, to simulate a TV speaker), in a sound-proof room. He's looking at the levels on the PPM (stereo sound level meter), probably with a bit of compression and perhaps a bit of limiter switched in. He will have mixed the tracks to the best of his ability, and in his dubbing theatre (to his ears) the dialogue won't be drowned out by the background music (?) and - frankly - he will be unable to see (or more precisely hear) what the problem is. As far as he's concerned - in that time-honored phrase, it will be 'all right leaving him'.       I know. I've been that person.

    Now if we were to be able to bring back a few 65 - 75 year-old Dubbing Mixers, then it would be a different story (then it would be the boy-wonder producers and directors complaining about the mix!).


  22. [quote user="Department71"][quote user="Quillan"]Another update.

    Firstly I just have a Sky box and no HD TV at present so I can't look at anything technical other than what is on that box unfortunately.


    I have a 37" Plasma Panasonic that can handle HD signals, I also have a Humax freesat HD box and quite frankly I can't see much difference between normal terrestial pictures via the aerial and the Humax throwing out a HD signal via satellite on say BBC channels. So Q I don't think you are missing much.

     Maybe if my eyes were perfect my views might be different, but as they are getting older I'm happy with the terrestrial picture.

    Now don't get me on about the audio on programs.



    I am firmly of the belief that it's not just the frequency response of

    ones ears which declines over the decades, but also the ability to

    process the audio signal. When you're young you can concentrate on one

    particular sound amongst many (a voice at a party, or an instrument in

    an orchestration) and bin the extraneous noises (clattering of dishes,

    people talking in the row behind). This is - classically - what you

    can't do when you are reduced to wearing hearing aids. But I believe our

    native ability to process audio in this way declines with age too -

    regardless of any actual hearing loss. This is why so many old(er)

    people and so few young(er) people complain about things like the level

    of background music on dramas, and being overwhelmed by highly-compressed

    ads and programme trails.

    I also believe our brain's bus speed

    declines with age too, so the sample-rate for memory has a longer interval

    hence time apparently passes quicker than when we were younger, but

    that's a discussion for another time and place!


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