Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dead Famous - holiday book review

On holiday again (hurrah) and once again I’m enjoying the opportunity to relax and read some books.

This time from the bookshelf I’ve enjoyed reading one of Ben Elton’s books, Dead Famous.

With more than a little nod of inspiration to the ‘Big Brother’ phenomenon, ten contestants are locked up in House Arrest where their every action is scrutinised day and night by ‘Peeping Tom’ with thirty cameras and forty microphones and the inevitable confessional box. There’s the usual petty arguments, stupid tasks for the inmates to do, and weekly eviction nominations and public vote.

So far so very much like the TV show.

Things take a dramatic twist though when one of the contestants is gruesomely murdered and despite all the surveillance cameras, no-one can work out "who dunnit". Cue the start of a great murder mystery story with the grumpy detective forced to watch hours and hours of archive footage to try to find out a motive for what happened and trying to piece together the clues. With all the possible suspects locked together inside the Peeping Tom house it should be simples to find a motive and method for the crime. Of course it's not as simple as that, maybe someone from outside wanted to do the murder (but how?) and it seems that in the few short weeks they've been locked together everyone has a motive for wanting their fellow contestants dead.

The story flashes backwards and forwards between the ongoing police investigation and what happened previously in the house and one by one the house inmates are investigated as the finger of suspicion turns on each of them in turn. The story ends (perhaps slightly cornily) with a 'showdown' of the police detective collecting all the suspects together and revealing who didn't do the crime, and then ergo who did do the dirty deed. Although a contrived mechanism of revealing the final clues to the story, Elton does so with unashamed flair and whilst I did manage to work out pretty much who was the guilty party there still a few surprises thrown in that made it an enjoyable read.

Dead Famous is available from Amazon for £7.99 as are lots of other novels by Ben Elton.

Enjoy (or come and stay in our Brittany Gite and you can read my copy that's on the bookshelf) !


Friday, April 08, 2011

Flash bang, oops

Following on from my last blog posting, travelled over to France via DFDS Dover/Dunkerque where I talked about the time and cost difference of taking the longer drive down from Northern France to Brittany.

France Controles Automatiques speed camera warning sign
In fact it didn't cost me anything in autoroute tolls as I took the N roads that run roughly parallel to the autoroute and were of course the original main roads before the autoroute's were built. There's two sections of tolls on the route we take from the Northern ports, one section from Boulogne to Abbeville, and the second from South of Rouen to Caen. The N roads took a little longer but it was a pleasant drive ... right up to the point when I went past a speed camera (Contrôle radar) at mumble mumble slightly too fast, and flash bang and I was caught on candid camera.

Well I don't know whether the camera had any film in it or whether the French highway authorities have arrangements with the UK to pass on details of speeding British cars or not, but it's been a few weeks now and so far I've received nothing in the post so fingers crossed. Having said that though I have nervously opened every letter I've had that has been obviously posted in France, so far two bank statements and a new cheque book which arrived by registered post - so I was doubly worried at the sight of it !

And just so you don't do like me, here's a useful link to locations and maps of speed cameras in France.

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

First crossing with DFDS Seaways

A couple of weeks ago I was over at our Brittany Holiday Gite for some well earned rest from work and had the usual dilemma as to which ferry route to take.

In the end it was the shorter Dover crossing that won out (again) as I was able to buy a return crossing with DFDS (NorfolkLine as was) for just £50 for the return journey.

Yes I know it's a longer drive down from Dunkerque to Brittany than the mid channel (LD Lines to Le Havre) or the western channel routes (Condor Ferries or Brittany Ferries to St Malo), but it's motorway almost all the way and I wasn't in a hurry, and it is an awful lot cheaper even taking into account the extra fuel and tolls incurred.

Anyway, this was the first time I'd travelled over on this route since summer last year when DFDS bought NorfolkLine and rebranded the service as DFDS seaways and it seems that in my absence they'd been busy re-painting and re-signing just about everything.

Other than a few small 'NorfolkLine is now DFDS Seaways' signs there was nothing to see of the former company and the ferry boat looked really smart with its new DFDS livery down the side:

DFDS Dunkerque Seaways

DFDS Seaways logo on side of the ferry

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