Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Monday, December 03, 2007

Another week in France and a blowy trip home

Just got back on Sunday from being away in Brittany for a week at our Gite to give me a well deserved break from work and to get on with some work in the second house.

The week's break was really good, very relaxing, and I didn't think about work at all! Instead I spent the week sorting out the wiring for two of the new bedrooms in the second house; this sounds somewhat easier than it actually was as I had to move light switches from where they were positioned, put in new sockets for bedside lights, additional power and aerial sockets so we've flexibility to put a TV in the bedroom if we want, re-do the cabling for the lights from being central ceiling pendants to now be halogen tracks across the room, putting additional wooden braces into the plasterboard walls to take the weight of the halogen light transformer, etc, etc.

I also of course managed to watch some TV and drink a fair amount of red wine in the evenings !

All in all, a wonderful time.

Not everything went according to plan though, putting the cover on the swimming pool proved to be impossible and after two hours of struggling I eventually decided I probably had the wrong sized cover, but far and away the most exciting time was getting back home on Sunday morning.

I'd travelled over to Brittany using one of the Speedferries 10-trip Flex vouchers I bought in September 2006 for £24 each. No problems at all, a nice easy run over and drive down, arriving at the Gite on Saturday evening, just under 12 hours door-to-door elapsed time (including ferry, petrol station and stop-off's enroute).

On Saturday 1st I saw the weather forecast was not good and that there were strong winds and gales building up on Saturday evening. Phoning the Speedferries customer service desk they couldn't tell me that anything was going to be cancelled until the morning of the crossing itself.

When I got up at 3am on Sunday morning there was still no news of cancelled services on BBCi so I set off hoping that the weather forecast had proven to be wrong. Driving up from Brittany the weather was pretty good until I got to close to the port when the rain started. By the time I got to the dockside the rain was lashing down and the wind had picked up, so sure enough the boat was cancelled. Apparently Speedferries had sent me a text to tell me of this but for some reason I never received it.

Fortunately although speedferries had had to cancel their high-speed catamaran, they thought that the larger ferry boats were still operating so I drove on to Calais and sure enough both P&O and Sea France were still running.

I was a bit shocked by the "112" I was quoted for P&O until I found out the price was 112 Euro's (£78), not quite as good as my £24 with speedferries but not too outrageous so I paid up and booked a slot on the next boat over. Sea France wanted €119 and I found out from another fellow traveller that Eurotunnel were charging €151 so by chance I'd ended up with the cheapest option.

And the crossing itself was pretty good despite the 60-65mph (gusting to 85mph) winds.

Took a bit longer than normal as the boat had it's stabilisers out (which are apparently 5m long "wings" that come out from the sides), it was a bit rocky at times but no-where near as bad as the ferry ships I travelled on years ago.

It did take us ages to get into port as we had to queue behind other ferries until we could be towed into our berth by the Dover port tug. Instead of being the scheduled 90 minute crossing it took over 3 hours before we were finally back on dry land, but at least I got back home in the end somewhat tired after such a long day.

Slept well that night!

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  • A couple of years ago we were travelling over to the UK for a family wedding - our two girls were bridesmaids.

    Like you, our Speedferry crossing was cancelled but they were VERY helpful and phoned round all the other ferry/tunnel companies for us.

    Our problem was - we had a trailer carrying lots of things for the wedding.

    The Speed ferry ticket had been just under 60€ return.

    The Tunnel wanted to charge us £800 for the single journey!

    Needless to say we declined(!) and drove at high speed across the country to Caan to get the only other route that would take us (plus trailer) in time for the wedding.

    Good old Speedferries; thumbs down to the Tunnel!!

    By Blogger MrsJ, at December 07, 2007  

  • Ouch, £800 for a single crossing. Don't blame you for not taking them up on the offer.

    Speedferries were very apologetic and quickly offered me a refund of the flexticket (so basically I have the ticket available to use on another crossing).

    I was a bit worried though that Speedferries information may be out of date and when I arrived at Calais there would be no crossing from there either - fortunately

    Yes, I like Speedferries too.

    By Blogger Geoffrey, at December 09, 2007  

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