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Everything posted by SC

  1. Remember that the quality of your website will reflect the quality of your gite. One or two bookings can pay for a good, uncomplicated website that with just a few annual modifications can serve you for many years. It should cost no more than a year's advertising with, say LF.  Although we have had requests for brochures in the past, for us that has died out completely now, everyone seems to have internet access themselves or via friends or family. Guests seem to see our press etc adverts and then check out our website right away. Some still phone of course, to assure themselves that we're for real! Steve
  2. Other economic commentators may disagree with the BBC's economist in the original post. According to Anatole Kaletsky (The Times, The Economist) conventional comparative productivity statistics give great weight to the manufacture and improvement of goods, and fail to make adjustments for the fact that much of the UK economy is now based on high value services such as law, finance, advertising, IT. Lack of manufacturing investment also affects productivity, but whereas UK labour laws and company social contributions make it practical to hire (and fire) according to product demand, in France and Germany investment in automated machinery resulting in a lower unit labour outlay is the natural course (almost supply led?). There is also no direct relationship between productivity and profit as many hard working self-employed will testify to. Or turnover and profit - look at Carrefour vs Tesco. If French labour and company law was similar to that in the UK, I think that many French companies, including some of the flagship ones, would soon be subject to takeovers from abroad, such is the scope in them for efficiency improvements. As it is too many foreign companies have had (are having - eg HP) their fingers burned for having invested in France. In the meantime, protected French business seems to be indulging in a sort of economic colonialism, taking over companies in the liberal economies that it otherwise despises, the UK, US, Spain, and using them as cash cows. EDF recently took control of 100% of Belgian electricity production prompting comparisons with the French histrionics at the highest political level over the Danone rumours. Steve
  3. <Or are you saying that either this is something different or an actual route has been decided?> The article announces the opening of an enquiry (débat public) and three possible routes are proposed, they are of course, not very detailed in the map with the newspaper article, which states that more than 150,000 households will be affected. Searching for 'haute tension cotentin maine' on www.google.fr  will give anyone interested plenty of links. Steve
  4. The rough route for the new lines between the new nuclear power station at Flamanville near Cherbourg, and the Rennes-Laval grid were published in Tuesday's Ouest France. Steve
  5. AND the best place to ensure that we all have improved bookings in the future:   We currently have bookings for twenty two weeks for our three gîtes for 2006, nineteen of which are by guests who have stayed before, some coming back for the second time, others for the third, fourth, and in one case fifth. There will be more. The cost to us? Making sure that our gîtes were built, furnished, decorated, and equipped to a high standard, are thoroughly cleaned between guests, that everything works, and that they and their situation is as good as we advertise it to be.   Of four of our guest families who took a two-centred holiday last year, one stayed in a faultless gîte in the heart of the Dordogne (feel free to e-mail me, I’ve kept their website address), another stayed in Poitou-Charentes and spent a fortune on phone calls to the UK trying to get some hot water in a generally grubby gîte (an hour from the sea, advertised as 20 minutes), a third rung us up asking if they could stay with us after a freezing night in a gîte black with mould, and a fourth arrived at their gîte near Ploermel in Brittany to find it (including the beds) so dirty they left immediately for the UK, losing a week of their summer holiday.  All the gîtes were British owned.   A letter in the current December LF, headed Holiday Dismay, chronicles a family’s decision to holiday elsewhere in future after failing to find a clean, well equipped cottage with a pool in different regions of France over the past six years.   Some of our guests go back to see mucky gîtes where they had stayed on previous years and complained about to their owners, to find exactly the same situation wrecking the holiday of another family staying there. Think about it, you plan and choose your holiday, you and your family look forward to it for months, and when you arrive its way below what you expect. Dismay is the right word.   Brittany Ferries’ Owners in France’s advertisers received a letter earlier in the year outlining an anticipated fall of 18% in trips to France (all operators) for 2005, on top of a 4% decline in Brittany Ferries passengers during 2004.   What worries me is that new customers may be put off booking decent gîtes like mine by their bad experiences elsewhere, evidently with a sizeable number of owners, and it is only a matter of time before UK consumer programs pick this up and publicise it with disastrous results for all of us.   So, if anyone reads this who doesn’t get at least a few guests returning to holiday with them, you’re doing something wrong - forget extra magazine and website advertising, spend the money in your gîte, clean it properly between guests, and reap the rewards afterwards.   Steve
  6. [quote]thanks for the info people, have armed myself with moth balls,traps and bio-stop will let you know which works on the crown green.[/quote] Wot, not the explosives???? You'll learn!   Steve
  7. The symtoms that you describe are similar lto a flu/chimney fire, has it happened more than the first time? It isn't dangerous to experiment a bit, provided you don't build up such a big fire that it gets out of control. We had a little solid fuel cooker once, on which the whole cast iron top would glow when the wind was in the west (Ok, it could have been the east, we were in the west).   If a fire draws too fast, either too much draught (oxygen) is getting in to the fire (poor door seals etc), or the flue is drawing gases out too fast, and once the flue gets very hot, boy will it draw! Or of course, a combination of both. In theory, you should be able to shut down a fire by cutting off the draught. I am not an expert but I've sorted out a few problems for myself- don't fit a double flue if it is insulated as the fire will draw  faster. I haven't come across a flue damper, if by that the other posters mean a device that restricts the flue, that isn't part of the stove itself (I could be wrong, they may well be available), but fitting a damper when that isn't the cause of the problem could be risky (If the fire continues to burn too fast but the gases can't escape under all conditions). Several DIY's like Castorama sell a flue balancing valve that lets air into the flue after a preset depression is reached. Regards, Steve
  8. <having said that i have quite a few friends french and english who know but don,t bother to have achimney swept by the rammoneur each year prefering tto clean themselves. after all problems will only arise in the event of the need to summon pompiers.> I get the impression that most country folk have a family member who will issue a certificate 'after an event', but I certainly have no proof of this. Incidentally the regulations state that you should have a non-gas flue swept twice a year, one during the period of use: Le "règlement sanitaire départemental" impose les mêmes obligations générales sur tout le territoire. Il exige deux nettoyages par an pour les installations au fuel, au bois et au charbon, dont un pendant la période de chauffe, alors qu’un seul ramonage suffit pour une installation au gaz. Le "règlement sanitaire départemental" impose les mêmes obligations générales sur tout le territoire. Il exige deux nettoyages par an pour les installations au fuel, au bois et au charbon, dont un pendant la période de chauffe, alors qu’un seul ramonage suffit pour une installation au gaz. Like you I and my neighbours just clean our chimneys once before the winter. Steve
  9. <How do you recognise a "proper" mole hill rather than a surface run ?> Sorry, it's probably a local description. What I refer to as a 'proper' mole hill is the pile of earth pushed up out of the run, usually 10cm and more high, and added to by the mole at each visit. I refer to the ridges of almost unbroken ground pushed up by the mole as he burrows horizontally just below the surface, as surface runs. You can prang these moles as you would a flounder , but I'm not suggesting that anyone does so. However if you keep an eye on a surface run and see robins and blackbirds following it, it's a sure sign that m.mole is working. creep up and you'll see him easing up the ground........ Steve
  10. I've tried most of the common ways of ridding our gardens of moles. I've never got on with traps, although I know some people that do. For me the Eradic détauper, available in agricultural suppliers, works within 24 hours every single time, provided there is a proper mole hill and not a 'surface run'. There is a small charge that is fired by a battery when the mole pushes fresh earth out of the run and I've seen them used by professionals on the television. It seems me to be an instantaneous humane death for the mole compared to trapping or poisoning. If pets may interfere with the detauper, simply place an upturned bucket over it, it still works like that. Good luck, Steve
  11. J- Whilst appreciating the convenience and time-saving of bringing from the UK if you are based there, this may save you some time and money- White washbasins with for monobloc tap, wall hung about £14 (or buy a pedestal) at Castorama branches, usually/always in stock. Chrome washbasin wastes if you're wall hanging from LeRoy merlin or La Peyre. Monobloc ceramic action taps with brass , not plastic, lever and sts flex connectors, washbasin and sink models, about £8 from Weldom. (yes, £8) Close coupled 3/6 litre (we call them pee/poo's) wc complete, about £35 special offer price in most bigger DIY's most of the time, and always in BricoDepot. Hope this helps. Steve
  12. There was an advertisement in last Saturday's Ouest France for: entourage de porte arrondie en pierre daté 1741.......1300€ There's often old stones for sale in the materiaux-maconnerie section. sc
  13. Here's one that we got recently, he didn't even hide the cc's, and it was sent to a couple of dozen other owners from Brittany to Provence. "Greeting,        Am Jose Thompson i have been trying to locate at least one owner of a nice villa or Apartment thati can rent any way,        Dear Mr or Mrs, Am contacting you on behalf of the Villa or shuold i say house for rents that was placed on the vacation home rental web site,I am Jose Thompson from Brooklyn but we stays in here in the Great Britain for our business to be in progress.         I am Interested in renting your villa /Apartment that you havefor rents i will await your mail for further details ok. in which i will be checking in and checking out in the dates below. Dec 1st 2005 checking in Dec 31st 2007 Chacking out: Or Rather Dec 1st 2005 Checinking in: Jan 31st 2006 Cheking out:" Return address was a yahoo.it mail account. sc
  14. A very nice couple with a 2yr old who stayed with us last year are looking for a  gite for a week in the Charente, not too far from the coast in the  Royan/Rochefort area from September 23rd. Must be clean, good quality and  comfortable. Please e mail Katherine direct with details: kso@inventech.co.uk sc
  15. France is criss-crossed with sentiers de grande redonne, marked on maps as GR, some of which are better maintained than others. A book, written, I think in the 1980's, that you may find interesting, is White Horses over France by Robin Hanbury-Tenison. It traces his ride from the Carmargue to Roscoffe. I have read that someone is doing a similar ride at the moment, the horses to be given to Riding for the Disabled at the end. regards, SC
  16. We had exactly the same problem in our holiday home and although we had the nest destroyed by the pompiers, the following year the hornets were back. We invariably arrived for our summer holiday in the dark, and when we turned on the light they came down the chimney. All that was missing was the Ride of the Valkyries! We used a board that fitted over the fireplace with no gaps, and each year before we left, we built a big fire in the fireplace and then put the board in place. When we came back we just removed the board and with the aid of some parrafin, lit the fire for an hour or two (in Brittany one often needs a fire in August), and the hornets, nest and grubs dropped down the chimney. More recently we had one in a hollow tree and we bought an aerosol in an agricultural merchants, especially for dealing with hornets' nests, that sprayed up to six metres. We waited until dark when they were all supposed to be in watching Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and sprayed the nest, did the same the following night to clear up the truents. This worked fine. sc
  17. >Luckily with our monthly income from the uk we don't have to rely on the rental income from the gites to live and pay bills. Thats a good job, because you haven't made an allowance for advertising Say £400-£800. sc  
  18. 'Hi, All--   I often see references to tung oil as a safe or non-toxic wood finish. However, there is evidence that tung oil is a health hazard. It appears to act as a promoter of the Epstein-Barr virus. That is, many people carry the virus with no apparent symptoms, but when the virus is activated it causes mononucleosis and chronic fatigue syndrome. Tung oil compounds also may act as promoters of cancer. Below are four abstracts of MEDLINE journal articles illustrating tung oil hazards. The last one is a bit dense, but proposes a model explaining how phorbol esters in tung oil could promote cancer. I’d really like to see some more exploration of these issues but in the meantime would urge caution in using tung oil.........................'   Out of interest I tried typing 'tung oil cancer'  into Google. The thread above at http://listserv.repp.org/pipermail/greenbuilding/1998-October/011146.html  was one of 14600 replies.   seems like nothing's safe. sc    
  19. In fact most French gite websites have a reference in the conditions to damage by the guests being the responsibility of the guest's insurer, something similar to this: Assurances : Le locataire est responsable de tous les dommages survenant de son fait. Il aura l'obligation de souscrire un contrat d'assurance confirmant qu'il bénéficie de garanties dîtes " VILLEGIATURES ". Il lui appartiendra de prendre l'initiative de compléter son assurance si besoin. Le propriétaire décline toute responsabilité à ce sujet ainsi que pour les recours que les assureurs pourraient éventuellement exercer à l'encontre du propriétaire. Some conditions state that it must be presented to the proprietor on arrival but I think that French owners who let to British holidaymakers don't expect them to have cover. If you check your own normal (French) house insurance, more than likely it will cover you for accidental damage to property that you've rented in the same way that it covers your children if they cause damage at school etc. sc
  20. Thanks for that Fil. We visited the Ile de France Lycee at the open day last year, and we will be choosing a lycee for our daughter shortly. With the exception of the French teacher in charge of Anglo-American studies who seemed very capable and was passionate about the course, no-one seemed proud of the school and we didn't get a good impression of the lycee. It was our first experience of the state system, our daughter having been in Catholic schools for the past five years, and we have been considering it as a stepping stone to a degree course in the UK.  On the same afternoon we visited a Catholic Lycee which impressed us much more than Rennes. Thank you for your comments in your second paragraph, we could only get such information from first hand experience. I'm sorry to hear about your son's difficulties with the system and hope that he has found a way forward. He should consider a teacher who continually belittles him as a failure both as a teacher and a human being, and beneath contempt.   What mortified our daughter after visiting the lycees, was that it was 'more school'; she had been expecting something more like A level college. If she does finish her education in the UK, we hope that she will then learn to enjoy her education in the way that our son did there. Good luck to you too. SC
  21. A brief piece in the December issue of French News said: "Britain now hosts the largest French community in Europe (expat they must mean!), with 300,000 French people now living there. London, Manchester and Kent are their favorite locations. Their profile tends to be the opposite of of the British in France. They are young and appreciate the more flexible job market. French students find British universities more fun, with greater emphasis on social life and sport. If the trend continues, the new French immigrants will soon outnumber their British counterparts in France." I've no idea of the source of their data, but can't believe that UK gov. departments keep this sort of information. The figure I've often seen quoted for Brits in France is 500,000, and I once saw a book for sale in Nantes with a highly detailed, but out of date statistical survey of foreign owned houses in Brittany. The French statistics office (INSEE?) has a 'shop' in major towns such as Rennes; they may have the information you require. sc
  22. Does anyone have any direct experience of their children attending the Anglo – American Studies Program at  the Ile-de-France Lycée at Rennes please? sc  
  23. Congratulations! A particularly impractical piece of information, that will however win you kudos with anyone watching, is how to make the 'roche tremblante' at Huelgoat move. There is a white dot on the upper side (I'm going back 15yrs, it may say 'push here' now), and if two of you push very hard for about one second, stop for two, then push again and keep repeating this gradually lengthening the intervals, the rock will start to move and all those Frenchies will look at you, the Anglais, who can make their rock move, in amazement. In order to appreciate the movement it may be necessary to lean an umbrella against the rock. The Devil's Grotto nearby is a useful place to throw away those unwanted kittens. Joking sc    
  24. Here's the correct website address  http://tissusmyrtille.free.fr/ If you're near a big city you may enjoy a visit to Bouchara. http://www.bouchara.com sc
  25. >When doing this through a French ins company will they want to see registrations of my business ect Possibly not if you're paying them, but you can be sure they will if they have to pay you! sc
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