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Everything posted by betoulle

  1. they do a nice smoked cheese in IKEA - also very nice Hot smoked salmon.....
  2. Just to add my bit....we have a tennis court which was here when we bought the property & it is very well used, but mainly by gite guests.  The websites we use to advertise the gites have very few properties with tennis courts, so we attract a lot of 'tennis families' who return year after year to have almost unlimited access to a good court.  It is used more than the pool by our gite guests as a whole as it can be played on all year round, but (& this is a big but...) I would say it would in no way justify the expense quoted to install one, especially if you are only offering B&B - it does get used by our B&B guests but only because it is there - to my knowledge in 5 years none of our B&B guests has come to stay because of the court, whereas our regular 'tennis families' do...... It is possibly a factor in atttracting our regular B&B guests to return as it is an additional facility - we also offer tennis coaching from a local tennis pro who lives in the village & offer tennis racquets & balls for hire. If for your own use then maybe a good idea, though once you get busy especially in the season you will find that the only time you enter the court is twice a year to clean & apply anti-moss solution - a process that takes a long time - having played a lot in the past I was never fully aware of exactly how big a court is until I came to clean & treat one....... When we lived in Dubai 25years ago we used to play on a daily basis, now its a couple of times a year & never between May & October when we are busy - no time & guests using it all the time........ We in addition offer giant chess (incredibly popular) & table tennis - just as well used as the tennis court & far less expensive....... I would suggest that if you have a public tennis court nearby then advertise your property as having access to a court & see how much demand there is before you make the decision to install one & Oh yes the wind break is necessary - choose your location carefully.........
  3. good website for cheap flights is www.ebookers.fr but the cheapest flights are usually via somewhere like Heathrow or Frankfurt - flying direct from CDG still remains fairly expensive
  4. Anyone know where I might be able to buy a small tin of frogs legs - have friends in South Africa whose workers don't belive they can be eaten (they have a glut of frogs on their farm) so would like to send them a sample tin...have only seen them frozen in supermarkets
  5. No need to freeze if you confit them all & place in kilner jars topped up with duck fat - then you have confit ready for a later day.........
  6. We are affiliated with GdF & have been open now for 5 years - when we started we were told by the lady who inspects to expect occupancy for a 3 epi 4 roomed chambres d'hote in our region (Charente) to be in the region of 25% across the whole year with 75-100% occupancy between 14th July & end of August.  The last 3 years we have had approximately 33% across the year as a whole - this year we were 100% from late June to late September, but it was pretty quiet in the first 2 quarters & this one is looking to be our quietest of the year so far, so guess it will equal out to about 35% for the year as a whole.   Am sure Quillan will come up with some statistics for you - he is the expert on such matters, but a lot depends on where you are, local attractions & length of season etc.... 31% seems to be a good average figure to aim for. We also have gites & again local guide lines from GdF is 14 weeks/gite/year, so far we have always had in excess of 19 weeks/gite/season which for our gites is 1st May-31st Oct
  7. Hi Jon For your information we do all that & more & are bl***y exhausted at the end of yet another busy season, but our high percentage of regular clients makes it all worth while & shows that an attention to detail pays off - the main reason people come to us??  Our website....I rest my case.  All any of us is doing is trying to offer friendly advice - it was after all you who asked us to contact you originally.....  I say for the last time good luck with your venture...
  8. agree about the French version - we are in France after all & to not appeal to the local market does you no favours........when we had our inspection last year (following the changes in registration rules & regs) we were told that everything needs to be in French first, English 2nd (something we were already doing I might add) so all our local info for guests, invoices, tarrif at gate etc are in French, with English translation.  Sure our French version has some errors though like Cassis we had help with it, but most of our French guests have all come via the website - OK we are with GdF which is not to everyones taste, but at least it shows that we are trying to work within the local market.  The French are now getting into booking via the internet & there are some great websites around - you need to try to keep one step ahead of the competition....... the Sawday types may become few & far between in the coming years - though Jon appears to offer excellent value for money.   Apart from the typos & errors though I like Jons website & would definitely consider staying there &/ taking a course - the food looks wonderful.....good luck with your venture.
  9. Hi Quillan Think you need to look at Jons website closer - there are a couple of galleries with 10+ pics which show pics of at least 3 bedrooms & bathrooms from different angles.  Sorry to pick holes in your postings as you are 1 of the most sensible & fair posters on this site, but in this case think you need to look closer.  Do agree though that the site needs to be managed better so people find you & while you are at it Jon get them to sort out all the dreadful spelling mistakes & grammatical errors - some of which remind me of publicity for some very interesting places we stayed in India 30 years ago (eg  the lounging area & the dinning...)
  10. To get back to the original posting - we frequently accommodate wedding parties in conjunction with a nearby chateau during the season - if a 'French' wedding (last 2 years have mainly been English weddings) & they are not expecting to return to bed till 4 or 5 am we offer a late breakfast between 10.30 & midday.....the first wedding group we accommodated 4 yrs ago turned up at 1pm for breakfast & after asking around we decided that this seemed to be the norm, but  no-one has ever been that late since.  Normally there is a second 'do' on the Sunday afternoon - hog roast or BBQ, so they usually leave us straight after breakfast - no problem as far as we are concerned as it means we get a lie-in & as a rule all rooms are booked by the bride several months in advance - as they invariably stay with us for at least 2 nights its all part of the package....  Interestingly Brit wedding guests seem to come back much earlier & tend to fly back to UK on the Sunday, so our normal Sunday breakfast hours of 9-10.30am apply.  Rest of the week its 8.15-9.45 or if long staying guests we just ask them what time they'd like it each day.  We want them to enjoy their stay after all & come back the following year - you can't apply too many rules if you want to stay in business......I know of several B&Bs who insist on guests leaving the house between 8.30 & 6pm.....we like our guests to stay around to relax & enjoy themselves.....would never stay somewhere myself where I didn't feel 'at home' & free to do as I please
  11. Its probably a Loir - or edible dormouse......beautiful, very friendly, with enormous eyes.
  12. After 5 years running a B&B & gites your story is the norm I think - I now know what to expect when we take a long B&B booking from families with teens & plan accordingly...IKEA bedding & ALDI towels, remove rugs & breakables etc to minimise damage.......provide lots of games & suggestions for rainy day activities.... This year has been no exception but we have loved having all our families to stay - OK the rooms are untidy & take a while to clean, but they have all been extremely polite & friendly & must have had a great time as they have all booked to return next year.......its when you get the sullen 'Kevin' type that I get fed up.......or when they get really bored & start 'playing' with things......fortunately that sort of family rarely returns as their 'I'm bored' attitude makes the holiday difficult for Mum & Dad as well.  I have found that the more 'notes' you leave then the worse they can get - just grit your teeth & get through their stay - they are probably worse at home - at least you don't have to look after them all the time....remember Mum & Dad probably need the holiday more than the kids - you want them to go away relaxed & de-stressed, not worried  about upsetting their host.....& planning their next stay - hopefully without the teens.......   This has been our busiest summer season yet in the B&B & apart from a few permanently miserable/contrary types (who I find will never enjoy anything I suggest)we have had a great season - OK we are now completely exhausted, but after making the decision to no longer accept one-nighters we have managed to fill the place for 3 months with longer term bookings - which is great, a lot less cleaning & washing, but busier & longer breakfasts.  Only another 10 days & we can relax a little again before starting on the 'off season' projects - at least then we get a lie-in...& a break from 'doing breakfast'  If only the weather would pick up a little we could sit in the sun & read like our guests have done all summer....... Have a great relaxing winter everyone...  
  13. [quote user="Catalpa"]For rotary irons, check your local AngloInfo site - certainly the Normandy one sometimes has them available second-hand. Those of you with rotary irons, how difficult is it to get the sheets and duvet covers immaculately folded pre-pressing? [/quote]   Apologies for not replying sooner - have had a busy couple of days with changeovers......but in answer to your question, so long as you have 2 of you to fold properly no problem at all, especially the sheets.  For the duvet covers you need to do a tighter fold, but certainly have not experienced any problems.  Make sure you buy the top of the range one though with the metre wide roller which will easily accommodate king/queen size sheets & duvet covers folded into 4.  Life has been so much easier since we had it, can't believe I ironed by hand for 2 years & almost went mad in the process, especially during the season...........like today I have 34 pillowcases & 18 sheets waiting to be ironed........ Ironing now is quite pleasant as I get to sit down for an hour or so & if combined with listening to an afternoon play I can actually look forward to doing it - how sad I have become - time for a holiday of our own I think........
  14. if you have deer nearby more likely to be a deerfly - you get a swelling next day followed by a blister which itches like hell.......
  15. Get yourself a Miele roller iron - save yourself time & money in the long term as well as your sanity........we have a busy 4 room B&B & 2 gites & it has been worth its weight in gold the last 3 years - could not live without it now.  Cost us 900 euros from Metro, but if going back to UK anytime, probably cheaper to buy in John Lewis or Macro with current exchange rate....
  16. the fun wears off quickly......we have a lot of deciduous trees & on average collect 150 cubic metres of leaves a year...currently looking at our garden & thinking OK the season is at an end, so less work on the guest-front but every one of those b****y leaves we are going to have to collect & dump over the next 3 months....not to mention the conkers from approx 50 horse chestnut trees,,,,,,,,Ho Hum no peace for the wicked... But yes, you get what you pay for - to my mind the blowing method is the best, just need a 2nd pair of hand to help load the sacks & a tractor with trailer to load the sacks onto - more big boys toys..
  17. could write a book on the subject - in 5 years have very rarely had a French guest use more than 1 towel/stay & some don't appear to enter the bathroom at all especially if here for a wedding party ie usually staying barely 5 hours......saw a survey report on French TV recently that 40% of French people do not own a toothbrush....can count on the fingers of 1 hand how many of our guests have brought one with them when they stay...... the Brits on the other hand seem to fall into 2 categories a) those who bath at least once daily.......  b) the 'too posh to wash category' - we have had a lot of these this season & apart from the untidy rooms they are a joy to clean up after........ can now spot which group our guests will fall into the minute they arrive as it is quite regional as well..........Above all we like the French best as they are always tidy, make their beds, are always very appreciative etc etc  Shame that they have a tendancy to forget that they will be bringing a child/dog/granny, but always seem to have an inflatable mattress in the back of the car.........  
  18. Yes - always seem to have plenty of whites left over from baking egg custard etc - run a B&B & its one of our popular breakfast offerings - that & 'croissant bake' a version of bread & butter pudding for those times when guests dont seem keen on croissants for breakfast, so have loads of left overs.  Anyway, I freeze the egg whites in small pots - 2 or 3 whites to a pot & then just defrost & use as necessary - for meringues, pavlovas etc.  The tip came from Raymond Blanc originally
  19. the best meringues are made from egg whites which have been frozen - it breaks up the albumen & makes them drier........works every time.....also as already stated every utensil must be completely grease free
  20. forgot to say - yes to cling film & kitchen foil etc to keep cooker & microwave clean
  21. salt & pepper, bottle of olive oil, pack of butter, bottle of milk, bottle of water, enough tea, coffee, sugar etc to get them through a weekend.(guests often arrive late & stressed etc.....)  That way they don't get worried &/cross when they find they are too late for the supermarket.... kitchen roll (to stop them mopping up with our hand towels)+ loo roll (1 roll/person to get them through the weekend for same reasons as above) all cleaning products, washing up liquid, soap powder, loo cleaner etc  (septic tank friendly) also scotchbrite, vileda cloth etc to encourage them to clean...... all bin liners including toilet bin bags as otherwise the bins & dustbin get in a horrible mess - also (very important) sanitary disposal bags &/nappy sacks - again to protect septic tank make up removal pads so less stains on towels (usually.........) ample supply of citonella candles so less complaints about flies.....+ ordinary candles for power cuts. replacement light bulbs - that way they get replaced as & when.........nothing worse than finding that they have forgotten to tell you that there are no lights working... now have tea & coffee making facilities at summer kitchen by pool with paper cups, plates etc & tea,coffee etc provided, to stop gite & B&B guests from carrying cups to pool - again it all makes life easier for us during high season.....if its there & free they'll use it I find..... All BBQs are gas........but leave lots of cleaning products nearby to encourage cleaning prior to departure
  22. Me too...the families who left this morning are all regulars who want to come back so gites were spotless - all we had to do was dismantle bunk beds in big gite & replace with twin beds etc   The large family arriving are also regular guests - very organised, have phoned from airport so know exactly what time to expect them - great.  No arrivals in B&B as every one staying put. Next w/end the annual w/end from hell, (14 out, 14 in...)but I know the large family will leave the gites in a good state as they have already booked their slot for 2009........hope I dont regret making that statement next weekend.... Have a good August everyone
  23. Thanks Jo - the lack of a phone call gets me every Saturday.....in our instance we have 2 gites & 4 B&B rooms, so on a bad Saturday(like last week) we can have a family & up to five couples all arriving between 4 & 8pm.  In our case we have electric gates, so one of us has to be around to let them in - can turn into a vigil if they say they are arriving at 5-5.30 & eventually turn up at 8pm with everybody else as happened last week...  I always ask them which port they are arriving at & at what time - on the pretext of sending them a ViaMichelin to help plan the route but really so I can have a very rough idea as to when to expect them ....... they all promise to phone but rarely do (unless they get lost round Niort or take a wrong turn off the motorway, then they are calling every 20mins....) The best ones are the guests who fly in as I can monitor the flight arrival on-line & roughly calculate when they will turn up..... At least with the electric gates we can tell them in advance by email that if they turn up before 4pm (yes, we have had them arrive in the past at 11am expecting to enter a fully prepared gite) the chances are there will be no-one to let them in.....the house & gites are so far from the gate we couldn't possibly hear them....... Have found over the years that many guests arrive so stressed by the journey &/their working lives that they become blind, so a little tour does help.........had one couple who ate their meal the first night with wooden spoons as they couldn't find the cutlery which was sitting where you would expect it in a drawer........likewise, many guests have failed to find the hoover & loo brush but thats a different story......
  24. Agree about the French always eating their croissants cold - they like to dunk in their coffee/hot chocolate + they always ask for hot milk with coffee.  More & more of the 'Starbucks generation' now like hot milk with coffee too - so I always ask first - only takes a minute in the microwave. As to tea & coffee facilities I have found it best to provide a separate room - many French do not like the idea especially in a Brit-run B&B - makes it too English & immediately alienates you from your guests........I have heard of disapproving French guests removing kettles etc from rooms.  Our GdF lady is not keen on it either as you would not provide it in every bedroom in your home...so we provide a separate room with fridge - solves the milk problem & means guests can feel free to bring food in for those times they wish to eat in.    Also always provide tisanes for the French - very popular.
  25. Great thread...Yesterday was another one of 'those' Saturdays - thought it would be an easy one with lots of returning guests - anything but.......if only it was just the cleaning - yesterday's corker was from departing guests as they left late at 11am 'Oh yes & we've had no hot water since Thursday'.....why didn't they tell us when we live but 50 yards away on the other side of the garden & they drive past us at least twice a day & watch us cleaning the pool, gardening & hanging out washing?????  OH was not best pleased at having to try & purchase & fit a new thermostat on a busy changeover day.......... fortunately everybody arrived late - some very late - why can't they ever phone to give you an idea as to when to expect them?????  If nothing else I would like to know when I can start drinking......& as for eating on a Saturday - forget it, you can guarantee they will arrive just as we dish up......still its great to have 2 gites & a house full of regulars.
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