Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Broken "contact us" form now fixed

Writing to us
On our Gite website we have a contact us rental enquiry form that potential guests can use to enquire about availability, prices, etc.

Unfortunately unbeknownst to me some time in the last few weeks when I'd been re-publishing the website after adding some recent bookings, some gremlins had crept into the system and broke the booking enquiry form.

This mean that if you tried to submit a booking enquiry you got back the ever-helpful message:

Internal Server Error

Could not execute script "/websites/123reg/LinuxPackage06/gi/te/in/"

suPHP 0.7.1

Good error message, eh?

Fortunately some very kind people who were trying to make a booking enquiry and received this error decided to call me to enquire about availability, and in the course of the conversation told me of the problem they'd had in using the website.

Fixing the problem took me only a few minutes because I realised that the CGI script that is used to transmit the booking enquiry to me needs to be "executable" and by FTPing to my website hosting provider I could see that it wasn't.
A non-executable script means that the web server couldn't run the script, and you get a really horrible error message if you try (as above).

FileZilla FTP allows you to change the permissions of any file quite easily so I set it to executable* and job done, everything worked perfectly and booking enquiries were coming through again.

In fact not only were booking enquiries coming through again but so was the trickle of spam messages I get from the website as well. It seems that whenever Spammers come across any submittable form on a website they can't resist filling it with rubbish, I guess on the hope that I will click on one of the links and earn them some money.

Within a few hours of fixing the contact us form I started getting spam booking enquiry messages again and I guess I should have realised beforehand that I wasn't getting any spam enquiries and that there was a problem with the form.

* If you are inclined and want to learn more about Unix/Linux file permissions then there are loads of resources out there on the internet. e.g. how linux file permissions work.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Goodbye August, hello again Easter and July

A quick update on 2012 bookings for our holiday Gite in France ...

August 2012 is now completely fully booked and we've only got availability from September 1st onwards. Unfortunately for two completely different sets of cancellation reasons we've now got availability at Easter 2012 (from 31st March through to 28th April) and in the July summer period (up to 21st July).

For full details of all booked and currently vacant holiday dates see the calendar on our Gite website as we've still got a small number of weeks of availability in May and June as well.

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Saturday, February 04, 2012

DFDS and LDLines launch the new Dover/Calais Service

DFDS Seaways
Following right on from the Blog news of Sea France's demise and DFDS's announcement of a new Dover/Calais route I just received an email today from DFDS Seaways announcing that the new Dover Calais service that they're running in conjunction with LD Lines will start operation on 17th February this year.

Right now there's scant information on either DFDS or LD Lines's website, just a brief announcement of the new Dover/Calais route, and a "special launch offer" link that's broken and takes you you a page that doesn't exist !

It looks like the new route has been hurriedly added to the DFDS website because there's no details of the journey time, what boats are being used, or anything about Calais at all. The LD Lines website has a single link to the new route but that takes you over to the DFDS website so no more news there either.

The email I received from DFDS did however have details of the launch offer:

Book by 14 February, using offer code DC12, for travel on the Dover-Calais route between 17 February and 13 December 2012 for just £29 each way during low season dates, or for £39 each way during peak season† dates.
You can even make a free amendment to your booking before 30 June 2012.

I personally quite like DFDS, the boats are very clean and modern and the crossing prices are extremely competitive. It's only the slightly longer 2 hour crossing to Dunkerque and subsequent half hour additional drive back towards Brittany that have been slight negatives. With the Calais route both of these concerns will go away so P&O will be into another price war I wouldn't be surprised.

Postscript update 6th February
A few additional updates as more news is now appearing on the DFDS website including a Press release and the Sailing schedule. DFDS have announced that the service will initially be operated by LD Lines' Norman Spirit (which used to run on LD Lines' Dover/Boulogne service before it was canned in 2010), and a second boat will come into service once they've secured it.
The service will run 5 times a day in each direction and is scheduled to take an hour and a half to cross. Checkin 45 minutes before the sailing time and Pets are allowed.

So all in all a very similar service to P&O. Only a little bit cheaper.

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Thursday, February 02, 2012

Travel updates for Aer Arran and Sea France

Aer Arran announced yesterday that they're starting two new Aer Lingus Regional routes including a Shannon to Rennes service that will operate throughout the summer months, complementing the existing summer service from Cork to Rennes and Dublin to Rennes.

Rennes is the capital of Brittany and the airport is about an hour's drive from our Brittany holiday home so this new service should hopefully give our Irish holiday guests a few more options to stay with us.

Aer Arran ought to update the European route map on their website though as they've rather mistakenly portrayed Rennes as being just a short distance to the South West of Paris. In reality Rennes is about 150 miles away and is much more to the West of Paris than it is to the South. Rennes looks to have transplanted Orleans on the map, much to the surprise of both cities I'm sure!

Rennes is nowhere near Brittany according to Aer Arran's map!

I took the opportunity to update the Brittany ferry and flight choices travel page of our website with the new Aer Arran service; also removing Aer Lingus from the page as they've now stopped their Irish flights into La Rochelle and Lorient as they're now instead acting as flight subcontractors for Aer Arran on their services into France.

Also removed from our website was Sea France who went into liquidation on the 9th January 2012. As the SeaFrance website rather sadly says:

Urgent information

On 09th of January 2012, the Commercial Court in Paris informed us of their decision to liquidate SeaFrance. From now on we are prohibited to continue trading.

Customers who have a valid reservation which has not yet been used will be refunded in full as soon as possible.
Customers who have a reservation which has been used one way will be transferred on arrival at the port to another company for the return journey

DFDS Seaways have announced on their website an intention to start a new Dover-Calais ferry service in conjunction with LD Lines - effectively taking over some of the Sea France assets - but other than the news release on the 10th January of their intent, there's been nothing more since (and there's no announcements at all on the LD Lines website).

Watch this space as they say!

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