Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Monday, January 02, 2012

New Year Guests and the house threw us a Christmas electrical present we didn't want

Downstairs lounge with the offending faulty light
In between Christmas and New Year (on bank holiday Tuesday 27th to be precise) we received a booking enquiry from a couple and their young son that wanted to take a New Year break in our holiday Gite from the Friday before New Year Eve through to Friday the following week.

Yes the Gite was available, yes our agents were available to do the cleaning and changeover to prepare the Gite beforehand, so we quickly arranged the rental and payment straight into our bank account, I sent the guests travel directions from Eurotunnel, and everything was booked.

The afternoon before our guests were due to arrive Shirley and Geoff (our agents) went over to the Gite to prepare it ready for their arrival and to put the heating on, but 5 minutes after they'd arrived the lights in the lounge and the kitchen "blew" out and the bulb in one of the lounge lights actually started to burn! Geoff replaced the bulbs and fuse (twice) but to no avail, no lights in the kitchen or lounge.

Unfortunately the downstairs lights are also on the same circuit as the central heating boiler, so no heating or hot water either!

Shirley managed to get an electrician they know, Russell, to meet them at the house the next morning to try to diagnose and fix the problem, and other than leaving a note for the incoming guests in case they arrive early, there wasn't much else that could be done.

Next morning I kept nervously phoning Geoff and Shirley to find out what the news was, and fortunately by lunchtime Russell had found that there was a wiring fault in one of the two metal lights in the lounge that was causing the short-circuit. He removed the light and problem solved, lighting and heating restored again.


What caused the problem I have absolutely no idea. These lights (which you can see in the photo above) were in the Gite when we moved in but several years ago I had replaced the wiring in them with brand new 2-core lighting cable because I didn't feel that the previous "bell wiring" that the French owners had used was really up to the job! So why this went wrong and what caused it to suddenly fail I don't know but a big thank you is definitely due to Shirley, Geoff and Russell for sorting out the problem and doing it quickly before the guests arrived.

For those with longer memories of the Blog will remember that this story has a very familiar echo to a posting I made at Christmas 2008 when the main EDF circuit breaker failed and we had no electricity in the Gite at all, resulting in me having to try to telephone and explain to EDF (in French) that I needed them to come and fix the problem on Christmas Eve.

These things are sent to try us I suppose !



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