Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spring has arrived in Brittany

A couple of lovely photos taken last week of spring flowers at our Gite.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Child labour still in use at our Gite!

Actually not true, Toby enjoyed making himself useful servicing the fleet of bikes and chopping firewood (from when we had the oak tree pruned 2 years ago) when we were over at the Gite


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The pool is sparkling clean

After all the hard work of installing a sand filter and heavy duty pump last year, I was really pleased to see how sparkling clear and clean the swimming pool was. 

The little pumps you get supplied with the pool are really not up to the job and previous tines I've visited the pool at the end of the season there would usually be algae and cloudy water.

But not any more!

The few leaves that had blown in as a result of the cover coming off were not really much trouble to fish out, but Toby thought it'd be easier if he got into the pool to remove them!!

It is February and despite a bit of sun the pool thermometer was only reading 8 degrees C. I did warn Toby that it would be cold, but of course like all children he thought he'd try it anyway.

Only managed to stay in for about a minute before admitting that Dad was right ...


The Gite is looking good in Brittany

Got to the Gite ok after driving down through France (via Leroy Merlin to buy some electric cable for the renovation project of the second Gite).

Despite spraying weedkiller on the gravel before we left the Gite in August last, I still had my usual job of pulling weeds out for half of the first day after we arrived. If anyone knows of a way of stopping weeds growing in the gravel then I'd be eternally grateful ....


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Forgotten things come in threes

You know the.old saying that "bad things come in threes", well so far this trip to our Gite I'm proving it quite well.....

Forgotten item number 1, realised as we sat in the queue to board the ferry that we'd not brought any headlamp beam adaptors. I usually use a strip of gaffer tape, but had forgotten to pack the roll of tape (unlike the people in the next car in the queue)

Item number 2, remembered as we queued to get off the ferry and was looking at the car in front that we didn't have the magnetic GB sticker with us.
There's plenty of advice for driving in France on our Gite website. Pity I didn't read it before setting off!!

Number 3 took longer to discover. We stopped off for a cup of tea on the way down through France.
Retrieved the cups, milk, thermos of hot water from the car all ok, but the tea bags? Must be in the car somewhere, kept pulling things out, emptying the boot, looking inside bags and boxes, but no sign whatsoever of the errant tea bags.

Rats must have forgotten those as well.

Hopefully no item number 4 ....


Spirit of France manoeuvring in Dover Harbour

We're sitting on board MyFerryLink's "Rodin" waiting to sail to Calais when Spirit of France moved in front of us.
For a £35m vessel it didn't look all that different from the other cross channel ferries,and only appears to be marginally taller than "Pride of Canterbury" in the next berth

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ferry pricing peculiarities

I'm off to our Brittany Holiday Gite next week, a combination of using up my remaining holiday allowance from work and taking the opportunity to go and do some more work. I've an accumulation of things to take over to the Gite since we were last over there in August 2012 and so by going it'll clear up some space in the garage as well.

Some of the ferry companies (notably Brittany Ferries and LD Lines) are running a lesser service with not all routes running and a service not being run every day, and having had a quick look at their sites I didn't find any crossings I fancied.

So it was down to the shorter Dover/Calais or Dover/Dunkerque routes with P&O, DFDS (Norfolk Line as was), and newcomer MyFerryLink who took over the SeaFrance boats in late summer last year.

I wanted to go out early on Saturday morning so I could drive down through France during the day and call in at Leroy Merlin to buy some 2-core 6mm mains cable for the oven in our slowly-being-converted-second-Gite, and then return back on Friday night late so we didn't have to rush out of the Gite and we'd be back home in time for youngest son Jack's birthday party on the Saturday.

P&O's service in February is roughly once an hour, and I quite fancied going out on one of their new massive €360m super-ferries, now named Spirit of Britain and Spirit of France after they were forced to withdraw from cashing in on the Olympic theme with the originally chosen names of Olympic Spirit and Olympic Pride.
P&O wanted £82 for the return crossing (£45 outbound and £37 return), but with a £4 supplement if I used a credit card.

Next up I tried DFDS who are now sharing boats with LD Lines and are sailing again about every hour, but two out of every 3 boats go to Dunkerque rather than Calais. It doesn't makea lot of difference but Dunkerque is a slightly longer crossing and slightly further autoroute drive, so a Calais crossing is preferable.
Unfortunately at the time I wanted to go DFDS were operating only a Dunkerque sailing, and wanted a slightly cheaper £74 for the return journey (£39 out and £35 return) with the option to pay by paypal for no credit card fees.

Last up was MyFerryLink who with only two boats (Rodin and Berlioz) are running the smallest number of crossings, only 5 crossings each way each day between Dover and Calais.
MyFerryLink offered to take me for £69 return (£34 out and £35 return) with no credit card surcharges.

Remember all these crossings were on the same dates and as near as I could get the same time of day, so it shows the value of shopping around.

In the end I decided that the MFL outbound sailing and the DFDS inbound sailing offered the best timings for me and it was with some trepidation I searched for the single journey prices.

Sometimes you find that the return prices are much cheaper than the single prices, especially if the return journey is completed with a certain number of days and I have heard that it can even be cheaper to buy a return and not use the return ticket although I've always been to scared that the ferry company would then surcharge the full single ticket price if I misused the return ticket in this way.

Anyway, it wasn't a problem this time, My Ferry Link's single ticket price to Calais was still £34 with no surcharges so job done, ferry booked.

DFDS however did surprise me. The return journey was coming out at £74 (made up of £39 for the outward leg and £35 for the return leg from France), but when I went to book just a single ticket from Calais to Dover they only wanted £33 to take me one way ! Why it should cost £2 more to sail on the same boat for a return journey instead of a single, I don't know, but I'm happy to have made the saving, and the all-in price came out at a very respectable £67 for the two ferry trips.

How peculiar !

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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

What's the probability? My Gite advert on 4OD

Les Vallees Gite advert on 4OD

I have recently taken out an advert on Holiday for our farmhouse rental near Josselin, and much to my surprise today I saw a banner advert for our Gite!

I was viewing the Channel 4 TV 'catchup' service 4OD, to try to watch an episode of Time Team that my father recommended to me as they were digging in York, which is where I went to University (an awful long time ago).

And there, in the banner advert at the top of the 4OD website was an advert for Holiday Lettings, with links to two of their Brittany properties, including on the right, my own holiday Gite.

I was at first incredibly surprised at the probability of being served an advert for holiday lettings, and then for there to be two featured properties that included my own. After a while I figured that it was probably the cleverness of Google Advertising that had worked out that I have sometimes searched on Google for Brittany holiday Gite's, and that this was thus a good advert to serve to me. However having refreshed the 4OD page several times since I've been shown adverts for Aviva Insurance, Audible spoken word books, Thomson Holidays and now Marc Jacobs fragrances, so I am not convinced it was clever Google after all.

Here's my full browser window, showing the advert in context:

My full browser window showing 4OD and the Brittany Gite advert

Well let's hope the bookings come rolling in !

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