Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Panda Power brings a touch of French language

Task Panda's - local help for tasks you would like help with
For 8 years now we've been renting out our holiday Gite to anyone that would like a tranquil holiday in our lovely little corner of Brittany. In that time we've had the majority of our guests from the UK, a smaller number from Ireland, and a few from America, Canada, Holland, Sweden and even Australia!

But the one country we've never had any guests from is perhaps the most obvious, i.e. France itself.

Obviously never having had any guests from France I'm not sure of the precise reasons for this, but one thing I have considered in the past that may put potential French guests off is that our holiday rental website is written entirely in English.

So hence on my "wouldn't it be a good idea to do" list for some time is the idea of having a small sub-set of our Gite website pages written in French in order to make the property more accessible to French speakers and residents of France itself.

Unfortunately like many of my well meaning ideas the French site has just never got done. Although I can "get by" in conversational French I don't think the quality of my written French is good enough, and similarly using an automated service like google translate comes up with a passable conversion, but again I don't think it would look professional enough to put on my website.

So the only remaining option is to find someone who can speak good French and good English and ask them to do the translation.

There are plenty of professional companies that will translate anything you like - for a fee - but its the size of the fee that has put me off. Fees vary quite a lot but are typically around the 10 to 15 pence per word mark, so even translating a core subset of our website (which has 20 plus pages) would be a few thousand words to translate ... and a price to match.

And so there the task has sat.

Until last week when I read an article on about taskpandas, a new way to make money from doing odd jobs. The idea of is brilliantly simple, it acts as a marketplace to match people who have a bit of free time and skills that others might want, with people that need tasks doing. So if you need someone to assemble some furniture, to do some dog sitting, to deliver leaflets, to paint a shed, or simply give you a hand with something around the home, then taskpandas can help.

Since you generally need most of the requesters and taskpandas (those that offer their services) to be local to each other the service launch has started off in major UK cities (London, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Edinburgh & Glasgow), although is spreading quickly.

Simply post what you want done, when you want it done by, how much you are prepared to pay, and then wait for panda's to offer (bid) their services to you. You can review prior feedback star ratings and comments (ebay style) from the pandas that bid for your task, and then accept and pay for whoever you like. Payment is taken by paypal and once completed the panda is paid into their paypal account (minus a 15% commission that the website takes for acting as intermediary). According to there are 1,500 registered users and some £50,000 of work has been offered since the site was launched earlier this year, so its growing quickly.

So I thought I would give it a go. Taskpandas offers CRB checks for their more active pandas as a measure of trust, but for what I needed help with this wasn't a deciding factor.

On Monday evening last week I posted my task on taskpandas, asking for a virtual task (i.e. didn't need someone local), with a 'due by' date of mid January as I'm in no immediate hurry:

Translate some web pages from English to French
I would like a fluent French speaker/writer to translate a small number (circa 6) pages from a website from English to French

Tuesday afternoon I received my first bid, the second came in on Wednesday afternoon, and then on Thursday morning I assigned the task to one of my two bidding pandas.

My winning panda has taught French for over 25 years and is a senior A level examiner for two examination boards so I am very very happy with finding the kind of skilled person that I don't think I could have found easily otherwise - and in less than 60 hours from raising the task to agreeing who to do it.

I'll let you know how I get on with the actual translation.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's been a while ...

Yes I know, it's been a while since I last contributed to our Brittany Gite weblog diary. Work and other things have got in the way (again).

So what's new?

Well we continued receiving a few holiday bookings for our Brittany Gite through Autumn, and those that stayed in the Gite in September, October and November seem to have had a good tranquil break and enjoyed the Brittany countryside. I'm always surprised that we don't get more bookings in September and early October when frankly the weather can be just as good as in the peak summer, but of course it's a bit quieter without families taking school holiday breaks.

2013 bookings have started arriving as well and to date we have 3 holiday weeks booked in the cottage Gite for 2013. I was a bit late with uploading the holiday calendar for next year (it wasn't completed until November), by which time we'd already had a few people asking if we were open next year - of course we will be !!

Bookings usually start trickling in from September onwards and then jump up at the start of the new year. Fingers crossed for a good year next year, 2012 looks to have been better than 2011 was.

I was planning to go over to the Gite in December for 2 weeks as my company was offering a winter sabbatical and my application to take a month off was initially accepted, only then later to be rescinded as they decided they needed me too much. Grr. I still plan to go over in March and will use up the remainder of my annual leave when I do so.

Definitely will need to go over to the Gite at some stage as the pile of things to take over in the garage is slowly growing. Every time I come back from the Gite I write out for myself a list of "things I need to do when next over in France" and a second list of "things to take over to France", but then I usually loose the piece of paper, sometimes only finding it again just before I next go out to France, or in extreme situations only finding it some time after I have next returned!

This time though I have got myself more organised. I have found a free task/to-do list planning service,, which has both a website and an iPhone/Android app that automatically syncs your reminder lists. You can share lists and tasks with other people (even those that don't use the Astrid app) so I've used it to create reminders of all the things I need to buy and take to France.

Mega-pleased with myself about my new levels of organisation.