Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Waiting for the boat, but do I know where I'm going?

I'm sitting here on the quay side at Dover ferry port, waiting for the ferry to unload before we can drive on.

It was another "rapid" drive down to the port to get here in time - combination of being late because I wanted to see the kids after they finished school and rush hour traffic on the motorway.

Anyway got here with 45 minutes to spare; only to find out that the ferry was delayed by 30 minutes due to fog in the channel. Sigh, I needn't have rushed.

But whilst I am sitting here waiting I've just realised that I haven't got a map of France or Brittany with me. Well I've done the drive down to the Gite about 40 times now so hopefully I won't have a problem and get lost - but just on the off chance that there is a diversion or bad traffic then I really am without a proverbial paddle!
Hey ho, all part of the adventure I guess.

P.S. This is my first ever Blog posting with the Blogger app on ?y new Android Sony Experia phone. I've finally joined the rest of society with a smartphone and have put the trusty Nokia 6310i out to retirement. Mind you, having to charge the phone every day is a chore - the Nokia could last up to a week with care!


Off to France, new swimming pool sand filter coming soon

Car looking extremely full and low on its suspension, ready to go to France
I'm off to our Brittany Gite in a few hours time later this afternoon, driving down to Dover for an evening sailing, then drive through the night from Calais to Brittany, a quick bit of sleep, then 2 days at the Gite before I return back to the UK on Saturday evening.

So why such a short and anti-social trip?

Well two reasons, firstly the Gite's been quite well booked for Spring and early Summer, so this short 3 day gap is the only vacancy I have (other than the week of 9th to 16th June - available at a bargain price of £250 for the week - see our Gite availability calendar for more details), and secondly I do have a lot to take over to the Gite before we go over as a family in July.

The main reason for the visit is to take over and install a new sand filter and pump for the swimming pool. We've been using one of the little Intex pumps up to now, which is OK, but it takes ages to pump through the volume of water in our 15' swimming pool and I wanted something a bit more "beefy" to keep the water crystal clear. We bought a sand filter, pump and multi-port valve about 9 months ago on ebay but haven't had room in the car to take it over until I'm making this special trip. I've also had to buy a load of new pipework and pipework joints to plumb it all in - nearly £200 in total - ouch !

Also taken the opportunity to take over a number of other items from our garage that are destined for the Gite, so as well as the sand filter, pump, pipework, 5 bags of sand (for the filter), the car is crammed with a chest of drawers, a new fridge, tubs of swimming pool chemicals, some new wooden panels for the swing seat, new grills for the BBQ, a new upright hoover, plus loads of little bits and pieces to fill in all the nooks and crannies in the car. The furniture is intended for the second half of our Gite - my ongoing (slow) renovation project - so don't expect to see it in use in the Gite just yet awhile!

Wish me luck with the pump and filter. I'm armed with installation instructions courtesy of Google, but my nightmare scenario is that I'm missing one little widget to complete the job.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Consolidation on the high seas - DFDS and LDLines joint venture

DFDS Ferry and Dover Cliffs

Building on the back of the announcement that DFDS and LDLines were launching a Dover-Calais ferry service earlier this year, the two companies have now announced that they will form a joint company for ferry routes on the English channel and between France and Tunisia.

This new service is expected to come into formal operations on 1st July and will comprise the following ferry routes:
  • Dover-Dunkirk (which is currently operated by DFDS)
  • Dover-Calais (the existing DFDS / LD Lines partnership)
  • Portsmouth-Le Havre (currently an LD Lines service)
  • Newhaven-Dieppe (LD Lines operating under the Transmanche Ferries banner)
  • Marseille-Tunis (LD Lines)
There is further details of the company share ownership, passenger numbers and ferries on the DFDS press announcement.

Not directly related to the joint venture, but I guess a sign of good customer takeup on the Dover/Calais service that started on 17th February, DFDS have announced a second ship for this route.

The new vessel will be known as the 'Deal Seaways'.

And where did the Deal Seaways come from? It's our old friend from Brittany Ferries, Barfleur, that ceased service on the Poole Cherbourg route in 2009, came briefly back into service last year, but has spent most of the intervening years moored up on a river inlet in Caen.

Now showing a sparkly new Blue and White DFDS paint scheme she's back in service at long last now.

Wonder what colour the DFDS/LDLines joint venture boats will be painted? Barfleur could set a record time for the shortest paint-job on a ferry if it's anything other than Blue and White!

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