Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Monday, April 04, 2016

Boiler servicing

Some things are sometimes more of a challenge than they need to be.

About 5 years ago we had a new oil boiler installed at the Gite that runs the hot water and central heating.

All was fine until we accidentally ran out of oil and the muck in the bottom of the oil tank got pulled through into the boiler and it spat some black smoke out as a result.

The plumber who installed the boiler advised me of a local company in Rohan who could service it and so I logged a 'please contact me to come and clean the boiler' request on their website for when I was next coming to France.

They never phoned nor emailed me so the following time I came over to France I tried again via the website, but again no response.

This time when we arrived at the Gite I noticed that there the boiler was blowing out more black sooty smoke that was deposited all up the outside wall.

This time I avoided the electronic 'contact me' and drove over to their shop to book an engineer visit.
Yes I was told, would be probably Thursday, but the technician would phone to confirm.

By the end of Wednesday after having had no phone call I went back to the shop to confirm the appointment.

No, not Thursday, but would be Friday at 2pm. Definitely.

And here he is, the technician arrived as promised on Friday, the boiler was very thoroughly cleaned out, a new nozzle fitted and it's all running perfectly.

What a hassle though.


Friday, April 01, 2016

Misty still morning

Driving to Pontivy this morning we sped through misty lanes as the sun shone through.

It was an absolutely still morning, the windmills were static and the smoke from this industrial building was rising directly upwards.


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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Pas de publicité

Pas de pub or Pas de publicité, it's something that you sometimes see written on house letter boxes in France.

It means 'no publicity brochures' which is a popular French way of giving you plenty of material for the recycling bin.
In France the major supermarkets and shops all send out masses of promotional material that the postman duly stuffs through your letter box (unless you have a note on the box saying that you don't want such material of course).

Since we only go to the Gite periodically the publicity material builds up in our letter box.

The letter box was absolutely stuffed to the brim with publicity this time, so much so that you couldn't get any more in.

On digging through the pile it was just the publicity brochures from September through to early January this year. At that point the box was full and looked like postie gave up trying to deliver any more.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

A very rural French protest?

On our way back to the Gite on Saturday we passed this convoy of tractors and people marching.

The tractors all had tree branches attached to their cabs and were beeping their horns.

We saw some signs with an aeroplane with a cross through it, so maybe the protest was against an airport, but the nearest airfield is a tiny place so not quite sure what all the commotion was and why the tractors all had trees on them.

Very French!


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Got a new trailer

Just arrived at the Gite.

Our big new acquisition was a trailer that we brought over with us.

Every time we come to the Gite there is plenty of gardening to do and it's a bit difficult stuffing all the branches in the car (plus Liz complains at me for messing up her car).
Putting the cuttings in the hedgerows is another option but it's not ideal and always makes me feel guilty.

And so the trailer is going to be really useful to take stuff to the déchetterie.
Top tip for the ferry: it was cheaper to put the trailer on the roof rack and pay for the extra height than to tow it behind us.



Dismantling the ferry after our journey to France

We're over in Brittany on holiday at our Gite for 10 days at Easter.

Took the Brittany Ferry overnight sailing from Portsmouth Caen which was a good crossing although a lengthy drive to the port through the rain and UK motorway queues.

Typical Jack though on the ferry. Woke up in the morning to find that he had managed to drop his mobile phone down the side of the seat on the ferry, necessitating us getting a crew member and then an engineer (complete with his overalls on) to dismantle the seat in order to retrieve it.

Never a dull moment!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Paris Brest Paris cycle race

We're over at the Gite for our summer holidays, 3 weeks break, fantastic!

Yesterday we drove into Loudeac as Jack wanted to go to McDonald's and use their free Wi-Fi. Think that he was missing his social media contacts.

On the route we overtook a couple of cycles, then a few more and then more and more groups all strung out along the road from La Cheze and into Loudeac.
Everywhere we looked there was more cycles, some people standing by the roadside cheering them on, and in Loudeac itself there were camper vans full of cycling paraphernalia, lycra everywhere and more people supporting the race.

From the little yellow and orange arrows pointing the route I worked it out that we had strayed into the middle of the Paris Brest Paris cycle race which looked like a larger and more 'ordinary' version of the famous Tour de France.

There was all sorts of participants in the race from racing bikes, recumbent bikes, tandems, hand powered bikes for disabled racers and one really tall bike that I have never seen the like of before.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

When Duty Free ruled the cross-channel routes

I've just read an interesting article on this is Kent entitled 'When duty free shopping ruled the waves on the English Channel and its fleet of ferries', recalling the halcyon days of the cross channel ferries, when takings from duty free sales could be £1m a weekend, and there were 22 ships plying the channel routes.

How it's all changed now.

Worth a read.


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Eurotunnel 'gives in' to the CMA and sells its passenger ferries to DFDS

In what is probably the final step in the long running competition review for Eurotunnel's MyFerryLink operation, that I have reported on several times including January's update, Eurotunnel have today issued a press release that it holds a binding offer from DFDS for a let to buy sale of the ferries, Rodin and Berlioz.

The press release goes on to say that for the remaining vessel, 'Nord Pas de Calais' which carries freight, Eurotunnel wishes the competition authorities to allow it to continue operating the vessel alongside the fixed (rail link).

MyFerryLink's website states that they will cease operations on 2nd July (after Eurotunnel decided not to renew the lease of the two ferries to MFL).

It will be interesting to see what if anything the Competition and Markets Authority makes of this sale of the ferry assets to DFDS as I would have thought that this might now put DFDS in a dominant position. Yes they will continue to compete with P&O and Eurotunnel but DFDS already has 5 ferries on the Dover/Calais and Dover/Dunkirk routes, making 44 crossings between them each day, so I would be surprised if they really have the need for another 2 ferries as well on the same routes.

Maybe this could mark the reopening of the Dover/Boulogne route that ceased in 2010 with LDLines?

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