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Everything posted by SC

  1. Forgive me if this has been asked before, but I've searched the forum without success. I'm a novice as far as satellite tv is concerned, but I've installed a freeview satellite system in France using a Strong SRT4120 receiver bought in France. The signal strength and quality seem OK (85%, 70%), and I can receive all the freeview channels on the Lyngsat Astra list without problems. I can receive the BBC interactive channels, but have no interactivity, for example, I can't select and view the different windows shown on the screen, the red button on my remote always returns the complete installed channel menu list. I have tried all the other likely buttons without success. Is this due to the spec of the receiver? There's no mention of the MHEG standard in the spec. Am I correct in thinking that receivers with MHEG spec are more difficult to find in France and that I need this in order to use BBCi features? Or am I overlooking something more basic? thanks in advance. steve
  2. Tell us more about beaver cheese, Jond [;)]   Steve
  3. Unfortunately getting on junk e mail lists is a by-product of most amateur, and more often than not 'professional' website design that leaves your e mail address readable by harvesting programs. Once on the lists, there's not really any going back for most except to change e mail address, with all that entails. Anti-spam can be over-zealous, as you can read about on the Wanadoo / NTL thread in the computer forum, and personally I wouldn't want to lose a customer who might be spending a couple of thousand pounds, even if he is called Mr. Erection!. Things are much better than they were a year or so ago (before the Chinese government took action to close spam servers), when we were getting over 100 per day, now it's a dozen or so. sc
  4. I'm not sure why you want a three phase supply unless it is for Option Tempo? If it is then you will save quite a lot on your standing charge and summertime consumption, but remember that the power is measured over the three phases, ie an 18Kva supply is limited to 6Kva per phase. (thank you, Punch, I think it was about four years ago!) If you use one phase per gite that's fine, there's no obligation to balance the consumption per phase. 6Kva per gite works fine for us. All the financial advantages of Option Tempo can be wiped out if you need electric heaters and have gite guests during a couple of cold weeks in the November - March period and your rental doesn't reflect this. There's only one meter, and I think on ours you can read the usage of each phase individually if you wish. sc
  5. According to the director of 'de particulier a particulier' estate agency publication, it's quite possible that the price of houses will fall by 30-40% in the next five years, like it did between 1990 and 1996, due to current overvaluation. This isn't what most of us want to hear! Around here (South56), it seems to me that individual building plots in areas popular with the French, and properties for renovation in areas inland popular with the British, are both considerably overvalued in relation to the finished project. I wonder if the price of properties for renovation has escalated out of proportion because most of us Brits don't look at renovated properties (and their price) when we're searching? sc
  6. John - the photos on your website make it clear that your gite is furnished and equipped to a high standard with good furnishings, and the books, pictures and toys make it so much more welcoming than gites with just the bare essentials, which in my experience often signals a more general lack of interest in the guests after their money is in the bank. The views from the terrace in particular, make me want to pick up the phone right away! I assume that with a UK phone number you must be relying on cleaners to handle your changeovers, and I think therefore that your quality survey is a very good idea - it shows your guests that you care, even after they've returned home. It's not surprising that you have a 'pool of renters'. Ross - Owners can just pick comments from the blue and say they're quoting from their guestbooks. I know that guestbook comments often appear in adverts, but does anyone really believe them? I suppose if one uses the 'my favorite beach', 'we had a fantastic time at...', sort of comment, then it helps to set the scene. I wouldn't want to upset any of our regular guests by not using their comments on our website though, as you can be sure that they'd be looking out for them! You've made me think about it though, thank you. I never found out if the comment in one of our guest books 'Don't go to Damgan in the mornings, because the tide is out' was intended to be funny or not! Fortunately we do our own cleaning, and knowing how long it takes us, I dread to think how much we would have to pay someone else to do it to the same standard. Steve
  7. We had a fire the flue very soon after we arrived and it was pretty scary. Ever since then we've swept them properly ourselves at the end of each winter, on the basis that if they're properly swept, they won't cause a fire so the insurance company won't be involved. The insurance certificate with the buche de rammonage must be completed and sent to the manufacturer. The one's I've seen cover you separately for damage caused by a subsequent chimney fire that your house insurer won't pay for. At least that's what the big print says! Steve
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. <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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  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. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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    
  21. 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
  22. >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
  23. A French mobile home/campsite operator near us charges a caution of '180€ for equipment and 30€ for cleaning', which would exceed 20% of a two week rental there. It's made plain that this is not the limit of the guest's liability. A bigger can of worms is the law regarding method of reservation (or ordering if applied to goods) deposit and balance payment. There are two types of contract: Arrhes (the default) and acompte. Arrhes: reservation deposit 25%, if guest cancels they lose their deposit, if proprietors cancel they refund twice the deposit. Acompte: reservation deposit on account 25%. If guest cancels they lose deposit and must pay the balance of the rental, if proprietors cancel they refund deposit and guest's other losses. Contracts are deemed to be arrhes if not otherwise stated. Balances and caution are paid on arrival. sc    
  24. I'm >having a real hard time >getting used to english supermarkets >again, rows of crisps, fizzy >drinks, biscuits and packet and >tinned everything, alot of gluten >free, hardly anything in the >home baking section other than >angel delight , jelly and >flour, I often wonder if I'm living in the same country as some of the posters; maybe other parts of France are different. Our locals do (and know) very little home baking, they usually buy it in, which is why bakers and charcuteries are so busy. Our French hypermarkets have very little for home baking, and what there is has a high price tag, and didn't you notice the huge range of readymeals and rows of crisps, fizzy drinks, biscuits and packet and tinned everything here? Brits are bigger than French people, but the French are catching up. It's a diet thing.The difference isn't as noticeable now as it was 40 years ago, but French people of around 1m75, will tell you how they were considered very tall when young, but now see plenty of younger folks around them at 1m80. If you want to see a lot of really fat French folks, go to any Brittany market or rural village. sc
  25. Seriously if you join La Bretesche Golf Club, you'll meet a few other British members. sc
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