Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Friday, August 06, 2010

LD woes, "no clear decision on the future of Dover operations"

Quick news-spot, ThisIsKent wrote today of LD Lines putting their two Dover ships up for sale as the company reports "we are indeed suffering, just like our competitors, from a very depressed market with very low volumes and an aggressive policy from Eurotunnel and therefore from other operators".

LD Lines started a Dover/Dieppe service and a Dover/Boulogne service in early and then mid 2009, reported that their service was so popular that LD Lines was buying a second boat for the Dover service and now only a year-and-a-half later the Dieppe service has gone and they're reporting "staff reduction may unfortunately be on the agenda" for the rest of the Dover service.

Hope they don't go the same way as SpeedFerries that went bust in 2008 ...

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Nationwide backtracks on transaction charges in Europe from 1st November

In April 2009 I covered the news that Nationwide had started charging for overseas card transactions, but fortunately had still kept European cash withdrawals and debit card payments as fee free - which I was delighted about as we'd had occasion to use French cash dispensers when we didn't have enough Euro's in our French bank account.

Well I am really upset to learn the news reported on MoneySavingExpert that Nationwide has killed this and will start charging for all overseas transactions from November 1st this year.

Nationwide will introduce a new 2% payment handling "loading" fee for European currency and it will introduce a £1 fee per cash withdrawal.

Currently there is no loading fee and there is no cash withdrawal fee so it's a double whammy if you go and get €100 out of the cash machine.

The society tries to sweeten the deal by providing free European travel insurance if you pay in at least £750 per month, which is a nice-to-have benefit but is only worth £50 to £100 for a typical family. Splash the plastic a lot and you could be worse off.

MSE advises looking at their analysis of cheap credit cards for foreign spending (which includes Nationwide's credit card which isn't going to introduce these fees) and switching to another card provider. Think I'll be taking this advice.


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

2011 is now open for holiday bookings

In previous years I've usually created our Gite holiday booking calendar for the following year in early September when we return from our own summer holidays, but this year I've had to be a little earlier as we've already started getting a few booking requests for 2011.

In early July I wrote about one family arranging to rent our holiday home for August 2011, an amazing 418 days in advance, and since then I've taken another booking for August 2011 and one for July 2011.

We've been forced into deciding our own holiday plans for next summer or else we wouldn't have been able to make a booking ourselves to stay in our own Gite, and as we're going to holiday in Brittany for a week that means we've now booked with vacation rents for about half of July and almost all of August 2011.

And so the message is that if you'd like to come and stay in our corner of France, then let us know soon!

So how are bookings compared to previous years?

Good question, thanks for asking !

Well, in previous years we've taken most of our peak school holiday summer bookings in September, October and November the prior year, so by Christmas we're typically looking for bookings to fill the less busy weeks in May, June and September.

In the second half of 2009 the bookings slowed right down so that by Christmas 2009 we had only taken two bookings for June 2010 (plus our own August break), but the rentals have slowly dripped in in early 2010 to mean that we're now roughly on a par to finish 2010 with a similar occupancy level as in 2009.
So nett-nett is 2010 has been slow but got there in the end.

Having said all that though we do still have availability for late September 2010 and October 2010 as well as Christmas and New Year 2011. Come and stay, you won't be disappointed.

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