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  1. Havent posted in a while but any suggestions welcome! I have a friend who has been a professional artist for over 25 years painting traditional/somewhat impressionistic landscapes and townscapes and his work is well sought after.. He would like to exhibit in a few French galleries and has been offered an art fair opportunity in France but unfortunately it clashes with other commitments... He is potentially able to spend 2-6 months of the year in France but his main income would be from UK contacts. Prices range from £600 - £2000 in UK galleries... so has to be somewhere they will sell and has footfall!! Can anyone recommend suitable galleries to approach...? Many are modern art/contemporary galleries. Internet searches for galleries in certain towns/cities seem to draw a blank or bring up famous tourist attractions....! This may also be a question appropriate for the working category - I presume he doesnt need to register as a business if mainly in UK and taxed in UK... Also, not ruling out galleries further afield in France as could ship paintings... Currently ships from Scotland to London regularly.. Thanks in advance....
  2. Mark, excellent! And I bet he can sell that for more than mine!!  Honeysuckle, I was just pointing out that our project management is actually going pretty well and in a sensible order ie wind and watertight first.  In actual time spent there I am more than happy although like you. if I had the money I would gladly pay someone to bump it along a bit.  As you can see its easy to be misinterpreted when only giving half a picture...  a case of - I know what I meant even if I havent phrased it to read correctly or used the right technical term... Havent really gained any experience to date as the electrics are the only thing I have not yet challenged myself with, all the other things I have seen or done for various projects, both work (gets me out of the office for a change) and personal.  I'm sorry if some posters think I should have bought a 200 page manual a year ago and memorised it sooner but has anyone ever read the manuals re building regs for converting their barns? I think there will be a fair few who have just asked for advice and then done it.... although I appreciate that electrics can be the most dangerous to make a mess of. The long and short of it is I am now armed with some helpful links and some extremely specific information PMd to me which is more than adequate for what I want to do.  I will 'blunder' on and doubt I will get finished but at least its a start.  I will let you know how I got on in a month of so when I have recovered so again, thanks for all the help[:D] (and the interesting comments about my ability to achieve something I decided to do at short notice![:P])
  3. Fran, you dont say where you are leaving from or when?  We have things to go but logistically might be a problem.  You're not that far away in France - we border Dept 18 and 03 but are away v soon and live in Scotland.....  As for the wagon - it looks great.  I was never allowed one because of the plating being expensive here so had to make do with trailers. So long as the floors been replaced you should be fine!!  I am always more worried about the horses!  Join a breakdown service if you are worried about the long haul and cancel it when you get over or just leave it running - sometimes available as part of the insurance cover.....  The best horses I ever had came via Irish dealers - they dont always sell lemons and your chap sounds fairly legit.  I will keep my fingers crossed for your trip.
  4. Sorry - just seen the last 2 posts.  Honeysuckle and Paul - The other 50 weeks a year we both work usually 5 or 6 days a week (both kind of in construction !! tho I have several more responsibilities too), have horses, hobbies and I am in various art groups (club secretary etc), take a few painting/glass commissions and do open studios etc which are used to pay for the renovations....  I agree that I didnt give anyone much time to post and we could have got the book months ago but we had a change of plan only last week so upstairs and electrics are now the priority rather than the ground floor which we could still do but will gain far less benefit from doing this visit.  Unfortunately I spend so much time organising everyone else that my things are often left to the last minute.  Its like 'why is a joiners house never finished but he is always doing stuff for friends and family'......or why it took 6 years to renovate/project manage the barn you live in but ours is halfway there in 6-8 weeks.....albeit over 4 years period..but from no planning to permission granted!!  We have ripped out all the joists, raised and replaced them with new where necessary, floored the whole barn upstairs, knocked through windows, patio doors, fitted all except one remaining window which we are leaving til last because its currently the old entrance and we still need to get in and out that way with barrows, timber etc.......  That doesnt include the pointing, building up the wallheads, jungle/garden management and disposal (tractor and trailer the year before last, almost 5 days worth), hacking centuries of ivy from ground to roof tiles on two sides of the building off a ladder [:(] and re-tiling about a third of the front roof-not my favourite bit I must admit (bit high), sourcing materials and collecting them in our old campervan - yeah, great... cement on the bed... , helping (more like DOING!!)  a slap thro and fitting window upstairs for neighbour as favour for taking away rubbish.....  I am sure there are things I have forgotten like making new timber gates for garden etc ... ah, yes, all that with no electricity or running water. Also, being only 5ft tall its been pretty hard work lifting the other end of some of the joists/beams and patio doors etc into place, unloading bags of cement/sand etc especially in unbearable hot spells like last year in June..... Somehow, I thought we were getting on fine considering the very limited time we have spent there but maybe we should have asked to be project managed so we could take longer....   [:@]  No doubt someone will come up with a reason why we shouldnt have done it in this order but we know our (my OHs) capabilities and timescales for building/joinery jobs to almost the half day and I just labour where I can.... It works very well this way and we havent anyone to wait for until we start on fosse/electrics 2nd fix etc when hopefully we wont even need to be there. Honeysuckle, We are not stressed about our working holiday because we see it as a long term investment to enjoy and despite working reasonably hard whilst there we still manage to go fishing (me drawing) or cycling most nights or at least the occasional day trip each holiday.  If my partner wasnt self employed we could take longer holidays and get done much quicker but sadly he doesnt get paid when not working for others... Well, you did ask!  Maybe we can go back to the original topic now?! Or just forget about the whole blasted thing?!
  5. Thanks for the second bout of posts....I know I rustled a few feathers but it did prise a few more snippets of info from you all![;-)]     Re the gaine - thanks Quillan and AN other - I had guessed that it would be a better idea to pull thro several cables in one gaine so appreciate your suggestion of 25mm, it makes much more sense but I wasnt too sure what other sizes it came in and I am sure it will be a nightmare to pull through in most sizes!   As for the bathroom comment - I really meant light switch better on outside and that you wouldnt put a socket for your hoover or tv over the bath.....  I know that the wee light over the sink is usually next to the shaver point too.....  its just when you are trying to write quickly with the least amount of waffling its easier to not go into too much detail......  should have known someone would want to comment on it[:D]  I have looked at some of the links, one I have printed off, the other I get error messages....  Someone else kindly PMd me with a different site which I have also printed off relevant info from.  Unfortunately these sites dont tell me heights I need which I presume will be in the BIBLE I dont have.  I appreciate that the book would be useful but cant risk it arriving in UK after we have departed.  There is no post box at the barn so nothing gets sent there either and would be worried it would go astray if we tried to get it sent to a local campsite so thats really out .  I havent said we wouldnt like to speak to a French electrician, just that it is probably not possible prior to first fix and we need to get on.  If we only get one wall of plasterboard on then c'est la vie..... but I simply wanted to run as many cables as possible, particularly on certain walls that wont require many sockets or switches, if any, to get things moving.  I know how hard it is to get tradesmen to turn up when you really need them so cant rely on finding one until two days before we go home, hence seeking advice.    We usually find we get more done than anticipated each visit so assume that we may get to insulation/plasterboard stage before the end of the fortnight- I certainly hope so anyway, even with other little jobs that need doing its still well within timescales. The ceiling timbers are less than straight so theres lots of strapping/levelling to do first.  The internal walls will easily be done in a few days even without power saws etc. I do not intend cutting any cables or connecting any up because I suspect no electrician will want to get involved or sign it off if they havent done that themselves....  I will be leaving this to French electrician when I find a suitable one.  Because of the simplicity of the layout and size of barn I want to run some of the cabling but know that socket heights in uk (400-450mm) may not be same as France which seem to be around 200-300mm.... also heights of switches in UK are now lower than they used to be - now around 1200mm is where our sparkys put them.  I just hoped someone could answer these questions without an 'it depends' or 'you should know this and if you dont you shouldnt be doing anything' when actually the questions I originally asked werent really that difficult!  Its not like I am going to sue anyone for incorrect advice!![6]  ps, sorry sid, seem to have upset you the most and I am sure you meant well![kiss] but you are more than welcome to visit when its finished in 2030!!  No, really 2 weeks can get lots done if you know what you are doing.  Our biggest hold ups are getting rid of rubbish without a trailer and having to lug water to site in containers....etc.  A few more visits and its just cosmetic stuff....The fosse and elec/water connections will be done by someone else so that doesnt count.  
  6. Well, I see that no definitive answers are forthcoming...except you must be getting commission from book sales (!) and you think that because I asked some pretty basic questions as confirmation of current cabling and heights etc that the job is beyond me/us!  Sadly with only a week to go before we set off from Scotland on a 2 day road trip I will not risk buying the book so I guess we will just have to hope that the excellent listing of 2007 info/glossary re cables and maximum 8 lights/2300 watt per spur etc is still relevant.  Maybe Brico Depot will be able to help a little too.  If you dont know the answers guys, you just have to say so rather than advise against me doing it because you make presumptions!  We're perfectly aware that if ALL the plasterboard is on then there can be no additions/alterations without a bit of hassle which is why I asked for advice initially. I work partly for a building firm and my partner has been self employed as first and second fix joiner for 25 years - in Scotland you do both not just one or other, even roofing is done differently to England.  He clearly has a good idea of what is required when working with other trades - just doesnt have knowledge of exact 2012 French specs which we realise are somewhat different ie some practises are frowned upon in UK but norm in France.  The barn is tiny by comparison to most peoples homes and will not have solar, off peak heating or anything other than lights, sockets, electric heaters, cooker and hot water heater plus a bathroom fan, towel rail, tv and phone points etc.  Absolute common sense tells us that you cant have switches/ sockets in bathrooms and things need to be earthed.  We dont intend doing half of this - I/we will simply be running cables from either upstairs to downstairs or vice versa depending on where the fuse board is situated.  All cables will be clearly marked to help the sparky connect up as nothing would annoy me more than a heap of cables appearing and going to god knows where....I wont remember where they go after two weeks so why would I expect someone else to guess..... Anyway, now I've upset you all  I had better go... but if anyone genuinely knows what they are doing and lives near St Amand Montrond, by Montlucon and thinks they can advise specifics  then feel free to email/pm me!  Half the villlage have offered their friends etc but having seen their own electrics there is no way we would take them up on it!
  7. Quillan, Thanks for your concern regarding my safety but we're not in a position to get someone in at the drop of a hat and are on the tiniest budget known to mankind.  We can only spend 2 weeks every year at the barn and its taking forever.  I am at a loose end while my partner is doing the builder/joinery bit and all I need to know is a few heights, type of cable and how many sockets on a spur maximum etc.  Its the basic first fix and it will save us time and money.  My partner has been in the building trade for 25 years and his father and brother are both English electricians (with no intentions of camping in France to do us a homer).  I need the correct info so they can draw us a sensible wiring diagram as they would if it was in the UK.  Normally we run cables if we make alterations at our house and they connect them.  I kept the request basic to get straighforward information but not  too much information overload for my tiny brain!  We will buy all cabling in France and get someone in to do connections when required and leave some parts exposed and take photos so they know we have done it correctly without joins etc.  I am very practical and my partner has enough knowledge to supervise me!  I can wood carve with power tools, solder stained glass windows and reverse a horse trailer in tiny spaces so hopefully I can manage this too!  My french neighbour is female and did her rewire in an extension but she already had electricity connected and therefore will not encounter EDF /electrician refusing to connect her to mains if she hasnt put her sockets at the correct heights etc.
  8. I've been away a while....wondering if anyone can help someone not electrically minded?  We have now got all our new openings for windows and doors etc done and dusted now so our plan for our next short visit in 2 weeks is to frame up walls upstairs in barn and hopefully do the insulation and plasterboard if time.  Its only 3.5 x 10m and totally open plan upstairs (bedrooms downstairs due to ground level).  Do we pick a spot for fuse board on the front inside wall nearest main street, we only need say 6 double sockets in living area end and 6 in kitchen plus allowing for 5 overhead lights over whole upstairs -  we would like to run the cables ourselves.  Gaine is mentioned a lot but I am confused as to whether is is needed behind plasterboard or overhead running along beams or just if you are chasing into plaster/stonework.  We dont intend actually doing the wiring but it would be handy to run some cables upstairs (making one floor semi habitable once we have power and water) so we can plasterboard most of it.  I know we will also need a water heater in the kitchen and possibly an electric wall heater somewhere upstairs tho we intend to have a log burner and can always plug in an oil filled radiator if need be.  What do we need to do - ie what cable and what height cut outs for sockets and light switches?  I know its spur as opposed to ring but thats about it.  Its only 2 bed when finished and do we have to have lots of phone sockets or can we just put one at each end of space? Any help appreciated and sorry for waffling![:D]
  9. I have PM'd you. I got a lot of help from Steve Davies via email etc.
  10. I said in earlier an earlier post that I couldnt get rid of a dog.  Then I remembered aged 21 I went to stay in the States, originally for only a few months travelling given that my parents had moved there a few months earlier.  My German Shepherd at the time went to stay with my aunt, her family and Boxer temporarily.  They spoilt him rotten and loved him to bits.  When I returned almost 18 months later, he still remembered me but was perfectly happy where he was.  I got to see him every month or two but he was really settled with his new family and I couldnt have taken him back and disrupted everything (much as I wanted to - dog would have been fine, aunt definately wouldnt!).  So to the couple who are really struggling - I hope things get better for you.  Maybe something will turn up soon but finding a nice home for your pet isnt abandoning them and if its really short term its just like leaving them at kennels when you are going on holiday.  In my youth, I somehow bounced around rentals, flat shares and friends houses with dog in tow for a year or two until I managed to buy my first house - it wasnt easy - usually because of the dog.  I can appreciate that its now a lot harder with a whole family and the state of the economy right now.  That being said, I work for someone who has plenty of rental flats and is pet friendly.  Most have the clause in the lease automatically but when you ask, many dont really mind but you may have to pay a larger deposit. Majority are ok once you have lived there a while and proved to be reliable.  Or, not suggesting you lie but some tenants 'forget' to mention their pet. I confess to doing so on the odd occasion years ago.  Most landlords dont inspect the property once it is tenanted unless there is a problem or a complaint from neighbours. Landlords are not all bad, plus many would rather have a huge well behaved dog in a rental than 2 kids aged under 8 scribbling on walls, jiggling radiators of the wall and climbing up kitchen units etc.  I hope you can keep both dogs but as long as they get caring homes they will be fine.  Maybe you should put the children on ebay though - they cost more to keep!
  11. Scooby, that doesnt surprise me at all.  I have had horses and dogs all my life - they are more important to me than people sometimes and they couldnt be much better cared for.  I work full-time, live in a flat and dont have a garden (or a 'life' other than animals, work, animals, work...).  Bet I wouldnt qualify either!  The fact that the dog spends every minute with me when I am not at work would be irrelevant.  He even comes in the car to the shops or dentist but knows by my routine when I am getting ready for work and just goes to his bed.  When I ride he follows me round the farm and chases bunnies and deer to his hearts content (no roads nearby).  He undoubtedly gets more exercise than most dogs I know despite his owners lifestyle shortcomings! I must add that I do also have an 86 year old dog walker during the middle of the day which is as much to give the old boy something to do as to exercise the dog - demonstated by the dogs reluctance to go out if its raining !  I wouldnt leave him all day whilst away to work but have been known to take him to work and leave him in the car on the odd occasion.  He loves the car so is more than happy.  My career has always been hampered by my animals but this has always been my choice and I wouldnt change anything. ps I wish I had your garden, Scoobs!
  12. People do some terrible things to animals when in financial crisis but I cant imagine anyone who is returning to UK being so hard up that they cant keep their dog.  Many years ago, someone I know did shoot 2 horses when they became bankrupt and did a moonlight flit.  They were a nice couple - had they asked if anyone wanted the horses they would have been easy to rehome so many people, including myself were shocked by their actions.  At the time, they probably thought they had no choice.  Its not easy to disappear with lots of horses and furniture overnight. However .... sometimes one has to be practical for the animals sake in the event of job loss, illness etc  Horses for example are not like having to rehome a dog.  My oldest horse is 16 years young, huge and lively.  I have had him 12 years and he is NOT suitable in any way for a novice rider or owner.  He would be difficult to rehome for various reasons but is brilliant to do in many ways which makes up for the quirks. It would take someone experienced to manage him although he can seem quiet 60% of the time.  Unfortunately an experienced rider would usually want something to compete on and he is retired due to recurring injury.  The kindest thing to do would be to put him to sleep rather than give him away, should the worst happen.  So often horses get passed from pillar to post and labelled dangerous when they are just too much for an owner who doesnt understand their equine instincts.  Frederick - The horse charities sometimes work to very silly rules BUT unless someone who has a few paddocks with their house is accustomed to caring for horses it would be unwise to give them any.  Laminitis can catch out even the relatively experienced owner but is more often a result of well meaning people sticking a pony in the field because they are trying to help out.  Its is a very serious and painful condition which is avoidable but catches many people out.  The patient rarely makes a full recovery, needs special farriery, care and attention and is prone to the problem re-occuring.  I know of someone who 'resued' lots of new forest ponies because they have a smallholding - most of them have laminitis on and off and suffer from other problems due to their lack of knowledge.  These ponies need 'rescued' from their rescuers although if checked upon they would appear to be well looked after so not worth reporting.  If they had come from a charity organisation they would probably have been returned for expensive veterinary treatment that the centres can ill afford  -  the decision is not always just a welfare decision, ultimately there are financial implications to placing animals in the wrong homes.  Maybe your sons grazing was simply too rich but the fact that he hadnt recognised this would make him a higher risk.  I have to agree, however, that pet charities guidelines often do rule out perfectly good homes by sticking to their checklists too religiously. 
  13. Unless you are very well established (and no-one can really afford to rest on their laurels nowadays)  I would also have to stress the importance of marketing.  Time has to be spent investigating and assessing/monitoring marketing for any business.  Its absolutely no use unless you know where your guests found out about you. Marketing has to be effective rather than just done and forgotten about.  If it doesnt work, change tactics but only once you know whether it was the wording or the location of the ad that didnt get you results. I worked as PA/Office Manager based in a 4 star country house hotel and restaurant in rural perthshire.  The market was partly the shooting and golfing fraternity, therefore money was spent in some of the golf guide books and magazines, shooting times etc as well as the Tourist Board.  We got very few booking through the expensive adverts in magazines so cut back to special issues.  Also, the business had been built up over 18 years of good reputation yet my employer was still quiet over lunchtimes in the restaurant.  'Light lunches, set price?', I suggest....   'Did those, no-one came'... was the reply.  Can we try again, I suggest.  Sure, if you want.....  2 months later we were permanently busy over lunch mid week despite being in the middle of nowhere.  Instead of running for just 3 months the lunches became available all year round except December.  It took only 2 ads in the local paper just big enough to get noticed, and a monthly ad in the village newsletter (£11/month) which although living there 18 years they didnt use.  The previous attempt had been to print the menu, leave it in the lounge area midweek (quiet) and noone ever saw it.  I have great respect for my employer.  He started with nothing, was a outdoor clothing rep, then got a chip van and a night shift job to supplement. He set up an outdoor clothing shop in Edinburgh, then a few years later got into catering etc.  He now owns 40 rental properties, 4 hotels and a golf course but still couldnt market this properly.   So, so important.  He's worked his socks of for 40 years but think of what he could have had - it doesnt just stop at lunches!! Websites DO take considerable time to appear in the rankings even with key words and phrases utilised.  Pay per click can cost a fortune and where do you stop?  But for accommodation businesses aiming at an international market they are essential, as are the links from accommodation sites you can subscribe to.  Never forgot the locals, neighbours and areas tourist attractions.  Word of mouth is just as important.  Sorry, sorry, gone off on a tangent here, but amazingly even the most intelligent people often overlook what should be the most obvious when in business. The OP was asking how the recession is affecting things. A fellow UK hotellier says he is 20% down over his 3 Scottish hotels compared to same period last year but the advance bookings from the USA and Europe are really up. We no longer have the hotels so cant comment, though golf course and restaurants are busy.  The recession will just sort the men from the boys.  Hope you are all the former.
  14. I couldnt help but show my OH these pics - he is a timeserved joiner so does both new build and renov (£200-£600k region) to a high standard for folks much richer than us in UK.  He agrees the roof is a total *mess* - polite version, and said sand mastic outside, NEVER silicone... We're Scotland, so everything has to be built to withstand the beautiful seasons we get (all 4 in one week sometimes).Even if it takes us 10 years to renovate he wont hear of employing anyone other than a sparky and plumber for bits he or his electrician father cant do/need certified.  With many trades laying off employees throughout UK/Europe it can only get worse.  With many of our suppliers/local firms (I work for a small building firm) going bust if something goes wrong eg a window mechanism breaking or a sub contractor painting the outside of a house and breaking tiles when walking on roof, it is getting tougher to actually get anything done about it.  Some cash cowboy recently did a block paving job nearby which caused us a great deal of amusement, clearly clueless and the result is up and down like a  h o okers drawers - god help them when it rains.... I WAS worried about our project never getting finished with our limited time/holidays but I can see his point now!  Better late than bodged!  I feel really sorry for the owners of this conservatory.
  15. You are a star Ron....  I have checked my entire form using this and filled in the shon/shob to the best of my ability (maybe I am being thick but I came up with the same answer to 2 in a row, refering to changes etc so picked one heading - both seem to apply but  the total is double the area it should be otherwise) Anyway, apart from not being totally conviced my CU is still valid, I will be sending the forms this week. Thanks again everyone. One last thing, if anyone in Allier has a 1:5000 or 1:10,000 map of L'Etelon village near St Amand Montrand I would be grateful for a copy of the village.  I have 3 maps and none are remotely this scale and google isnt close/detailed enough!
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