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Everything posted by Gardian

  1. This all started when I was at our neighbour’s birthday party on Saturday night.   Four of their five sons and daughters were there, together with two other young couples. In turn, all of their children attended, ranging in age from early teens down to 18 months. When you counted up the numerous kids and added in the ones of other young couples we know down here, I got to an average of about 2.5 in each family.   Not surprising you might say – there are tax and other benefits for having a biggish family here in France.   I then got to thinking about the young men and women who we know back in the UK (including our own two sons) who are married or in stable partnerships and aged 20 -35. I got up to about 30+ couples, but could muster less than 10 kids between the lot of them.   Isn’t this particular generation heading for a demographic crisis when they reach retirement age for lack of a tax-paying population to support the UK society? Sure, property equity release might help, but all the evidence suggests that most aren’t doing sufficient for their retirement anyway.   This isn’t a poke at the Government – just a thought that it ought to be seriously thinking of following the French lead, and quickly. Anyone agree?
  2. Gardian


    Ron - belated thanks for the info. Will now prepare myself for the good fight with Nimes CPAM. Wish me luck! I'll need it.
  3. First of all, agree with everybody else, no bad words re Ryanair whatsoever. Second - why worry re all the surcharges, or rather price re-structuring? So if you or your guests have to pay another tenner because they're a bit overweight (on their luggage!), then why loose sleep? Summer's coming and down here, you won't need much luggage anyway to keep out the cold of the area north of the Loire (or am I in the wrong thread?)    
  4. We were sensitive to this potential issue when we first arrived here - perhaps, overly so. All the things that have been said about first-time buyers are true, but where else in the world is it much different? Supply and Demand ultimately rule. The market will always adjust to the youngsters coming in at the bottom of the chain - it has to, or the process just won't work. We can remember agonising over whether we could afford the extra £300 or so for a garage when our 1st house was being built over 30 yrs ago - bet that most of us had that sort of experience.  We've experienced no antipathy here whatsoever, or at least none that we're aware of and no more so than any other other 'incomer', including French from other areas. Much has been said about we Brits coming in and so on. Well, "Live and let live", Make your own bed" and all that. Abroad around here is 20kms to the north or any other point of the compass, and long may it remain so. That's why we all like it.  
  5. Given where you live, the firm we used (Bucks) wouldn't be much help to you. However, apart from the obvious things when you 'buy' any service (2-3 quotes, good local reputation, etc), I would suggest the following: Experience of moves to mainland Europe? (ask to see commendations & follow them up) Packing service (it costs only a small proportion of the overall cost & is something less to worry about) The proposed timetable - judge whether it's realistic, bearing in mind the speed of a removal lorry Access to your new property - narrow, steep climb, get close to the building? If any of these are iffy, what is their attitude? There's probably more things that someone else will come up with. We had a smashing firm, who made the move as smooth as it could have been. I suspect that most are like that though - it seems to go with the trade!!
  6. Donna ........... Where are you in the UK?  
  7. Gardian


    Same problem for us. I earned nothing in the Tax Year that we moved down here(in Autumn '04), so my E106 lasted till end-Dec '05. My wife earned sufficient in that Tax Yr (which I think is £3-4K ish) to last her till the end of this yr. Newcastle says "Talk to CPAM". CPAM says "Talk to Newcastle". That was a couple of weeks ago. For the moment, I've decided to metaphorically stick my head in the sand and prepare my potager and gather up the many leaves that are still falling. I join Jazzer in appealing for informed help.
  8. Endorse all the complimentary comments re HIFX. Have used them for everything from house purchase (scary at the time, because it was the 1st transaction), to occasional tsfrs, to our regular mthly 'salary'. Reliable, efficient, helpful. There may well be other methods that will save you a quid or two, but what price peace of mind? By the way, there are probably several other good brokers who offer as good a service. Whatever, they're all bound to be better (provided financially secure) than the clearing banks, who I wouldn't give house room to. (I modified that last comment for reasons of potential libel and good taste!)  
  9. Casse buches. Got mine a couple of weeks ago at Castorama (www.castorama.fr), then jardin, bucheronnage, accessoires, casse buches. 54.90E, ref 601425. It's like a sort-of pile driver and deals with all the oversize half metre logs that I get delivered. Works like a dream and very satisfying.
  10. All comments so far exactly mirror our experience. Our neighbours are from Lyon originally (some 200 kms to the north) and say that they still feel like 'foreigners'. As for the builder we are acquainted with, he is a Belgian national, is 31 and has lived here since his parents moved down here lock stock and barrel 25 years ago. They are 'part and parcel' of the village (only 400 souls), yet when Gabriel wanted to buy some land to build his own house, the shutters went up. "Only for born & bred!" He found a piece of land and bought it (from a another Belgian), but when will he really be accepted?  And his kids - born & bred, eh? Moral of the story is that it's fine, but it takes time - probably longer than most of us have got.  Do try with the use of the French. Oh, and keep in with the secretary at the Mairie - she's the one with the real power (as always!)   
  11. Similar 'problem' when we first moved in. I spotted that it wasn't working after a couple of months and rang EDF. "C'est pas normal" said the bloke on the Helpdesk. Appointment made for a week or so later (a one hour slot, "no might be a.m. or might be p.m.") Engineer turned up on the dot, got straight out of the van and announced himself with one word - "Fourmis". The meter was full of them (apparently a quite common occurence around here). He replaced the meter in 15 mins flat and simply got me to sign his work sheet. "Our problem" was his answer to my inevitable question. By the way, he just changed the meter and didn't bother to clear out the ants, so you never know, they might well return! Me plastering the box with honey will be totally coincidental. Just tell them about it and I've no doubt that you won't have to carry the can.  
  12. Dick ............... Colston Ave rings a bell, but can't place it now. I lived in Benfleet Close, which (I think) was off Benhill Rd and which led to All Saints Road and thence to Sutton Green. Lived there from the age of 5 ('52) till I got married in ........ oh, sometime in the early 70's!    I used to walk to the trolley stop and take it to ??? (by St Philomena's School) thence on to school at Wallington CGS. The 654's were a short wheelbase job weren't they - something to do with a hill somewhere en route, but goodness knows why another 6' or so of length would make that much difference. All the stops in those days were named after the adjoining pub - 'The Grapes', 'The Cock' (long after it had disappeared in Sutton), 'The Greyhound' (always affectionately known as 'The Dog') As an obvious 'bus anorak', do you remember the 'RTL's'? Think that's what they were designated. Low bridge, 4 seats to the left upstairs. Went from Morden-ish to Raynes Pk or further. Memory fading.         
  13. Dicksmith - that brought back memories! The '654's were based at Carshalton garage, not far from where I lived as a lad. They used to turn at Sutton Green ......... but I'm getting nostalgic and anorak-ish.  
  14. Forget it ! Best to order through the net in the UK & get the stuff delivered to friends who are coming out. Whatever, you'll spend days and lots of kms trying to find what you want - but that's what being down here is all about, isn't it? But don't hold your breath expecting a result on every trip.  
  15. Will email you later on, rather than bore everyone else and sound too much like a rep for the local Tourist Office!  
  16. Hmm. Point taken. All I was saying is how irritating the erratic distribution is, both in terms of availability and content. Still, to get them at all same day is a bonus (they print in Marseilles overnight). I'll tell the bloke in the Presse what a fine fellow he is tomorrow morning! Still none of this helps Steve and I agree re the online version. SaligoBay & the Midi Libre - yes, it's a scream, isn't it? I buy it sometimes for the weather forecast, but I don't know why I bother. In Summer, well it's always the same. Any other time, you might as well toss a coin. Come to think of it Miki, that's one other thing that annoys us over here .......!    
  17. Just a rant really, but it might strike a chord out there - and just maybe, someone from Eurostar / SNCF might be reading. Ever tried booking either of the above through the internet? It's do-able, but if you want to do anything a bit different, (like 1st class on the Eurostar to Lille, then 2nd onwards) then ............!! The 2 (or is it 3) month leadtime is also a pain. The July - early Sept Eurostar direct to Avignon is a nice service, but why on earth, if they really mean it, don't they offer it for a longer season and / or for more days / wk?  Cost, provided it's reasonable, isn't always a factor. It needs Marketing, with a capital 'M'. By the way, love Ryanair down here to Nimes (simplicity to book, as everyone knows) and hardly ever a problem with 20 or so round trips in the last 12 months for us, family and friends. However, not everybody wants to fly and rail travel is civilised. Why can't they make it a bit easier to spend money with them?      
  18. Yes, it's maddening isn't it? Maybe we should be grateful, because not so many years ago it was the following day (if you were lucky) when the papers turned up. But we're now in 2006 .......... Our local Presse always has 6 or more copies of the S/Times (there must be plenty of other local Brits, though I've never seen nor heard of them)), but only sporadic copies of the others. I've asked about the S/Tele, but get a resigned shrug, bless him. When it does miraculously appear, it is invariably missing several of the more interesting bits. It's not as though it's that cheap - you'd think that someone, somewhere would have a check list that says "Main paper, Sport, Weekend, Gardening", etc, etc. Tried emailing the Sundays distribution in London - no response.  Feel as if I'm a bit 'sad' writing this, but along with our old friend the 'lunchtime closing hours' syndrome, it's just about the only thing that annoys us over here. No solution - just shared frustration.     
  19. Pyrenees - Nice.  Pretty wide area! Have a think about the oak forest area of the NE Gard. Tranquil (almost to a fault), under-developed (happily), and without the inflated property prices of some other parts. Less than an hour to Nimes airport or the TGV at Avignon. Very un-touristy, even in August. Finding good property isn't easy though.   
  20. Just been quoted E60 for double sockets, so your E75 is maybe a bit high, but not miles out.
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