Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Friday, August 30, 2013

Le Projecteur ne fonctionnent pas

On opposite sides of our Gite are 400 watt halogen floodlights, one on the courtyard side and one above the patio. These floodlights are quite useful, both for unloading the car if we arrive back late at night and for chilling out in the evenings.

Unfortunately the halogen bulbs in these floodlights don't seem to last all that long and I frequently find myself up a ladder when we stay at the Gite, putting in a replacement bulb.

I brought over some spare halogen bulbs from the UK and once again I found on our arrival that both floodlights were not working.

So up the ladder, unscrew the cover and I quickly fixed the courtyard floodlight as the halogen bulb was black and clearly burnt out. Put a new bulb and the light worked perfectly.

Carried the ladder round onto the patio and expected the same operation with the second floodlight - but it wasn't to be.

The existing halogen bulb looked good and as if it were still working, but I swapped it anyway, but still it didn't work.
Wiggled it left, right, forwards, backwards, but still couldn't get it to work. Of course the fact that it was after 9pm at night when I was trying to fix the light did rather make it harder to diagnose the problem!

Next day (in daylight!) back up the ladder and I disassembled the light completely to see if I could find out why the new bulb didn't work.

The picture below shows what I found, one of the screw terminal connector blocks for the cable to the motion detector was black and had completely melted - methinks this might be the source of the problem?

Anyway I decided after a bit of fiddling that replacing the connection wasn't on as there was probably something fatal in the motion detector that had caused the overload and meltdown. I thus unscrewed the motion detector from the floodlight and rewired it so that the light worked without it.

Put it all back together and as the second photo shows, the floodlight looks (and works) as good as it always did.

I've added a note on my to do list to buy a replacement motion detector from eBay when I return back home and I'll fit it on my next trip to Brittany.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pizza time - Le Petit Tonneau

Quick post...

Tonight we popped out for a meal at Le Petit Tonneau (the little barrel) in Rohan which is about 15 minutes drive away from our Gite, on the road to Pontivy, and is immediately beside the Nantes / Brest canal that runs through our part of Brittany.

Le Petit Tonneau is a mainly pizza restaurant with both a takeaway and an eat in restaurant service. We've eaten there a few times and once again it was a great meal, very tasty and filling pizzas and tagliatelle cabonara with wine and soft drinks came to a very reasonable €41 all in.

After the main course we were so stuffed, none of us could even manage a desert - even Banana Split was too much to face! Clearly a good meal!

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What time is the déchetterie open?

Unfortunately the garden doth grow at the Gite and so it was out with the hedge cutters and secateurs to bring the bushes back under control.

One bush in particular in the flower bed behind the swimming pool was really large this year and looked as if it was trying to climb into the pool!
After pruning it back I realised that it wasn't something we had planted and it was in fact a self-seeded sapling, so it had to go. Toby set to it with his axe and an hour or so later the errant bush was gone, as was a fair amount of the flower bed and retaining stone wall as we pulled out some 10 linear feet of roots that had grown through the bark chippings.

By now the sapling, its roots and all the other branch,  flower and shrub cuttings from the garden were making a rather large pile so I decided to take it all to the déchetterie (i.e recycling centre) in nearby La Cheze.

Unfortunately I then remembered that I couldn't remember what days of the week and times the déchetterie was open. Several times in the past I have loaded the car up, driven to the déchetterie, only to find that it wasn't open that day of the week.

Ah, but last time this happened I took a photo of the sign with the opening times on and wrote them down so no such mistakes next time.

But where did I write down the opening times??

10 minutes later I remembered, I had written the déchetterie opening times on a plasterboard wall in the unrennovated half of the Gite - thinking that whilst I might have lost a piece of paper, I couldn't possibly manage to lose a wall!

But quelle surprise, I had managed to lose a wall for when I went to read the times I couldn't find them on the wall.
Turned out that the piece of plasterboard wall in the upstairs corridor that I had written on was one that I'd then taken down to change the wiring behind. Fortunately I still had the plasterboarded sheet ready to be put back up when I had finished the wiring, but it turned out to be near the bottom of the pile of plasterboard sheets so I had to move and lift them all up so I could find the opening times written on the wall!

Success, the déchetterie is open today so I could fill the car up and take all the garden waste away at last.

Phew, what a palaver.

And, note to self, in case I lose the wall again, the La Cheze déchetterie is open every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 9am to 12pm.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

FĂȘte du Pain et des Battages

Weather was a bit variable first thing this morning although it cleared up and was hot and sunny by the later afternoon so we went out from our Gite for the afternoon.

Before I went to Brittany I checked the Points Dechine website that lists many local vide greniers (car boot sales), fêtes and brocantes (antique fairs).

We went to one just the other side of Loudeac, about 20 minutes away, that had a car boot sale and country fair combined. It cost just €3 to enter and we had a great day out, looking at the Breton shire horses, local craft stalls, horse dressage show, hay making, side shows plus the obligatory galette saucisse (buckwheat pancake with sausage filling) for lunch.

Here's a few photos from the day.

(The last picture isn't a medieval torture device, it's a frame to hold a horse whilst it is being shoed. Liz wasn't in favour of it though)

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Friday, August 23, 2013

New fence and gates at last

I have in the past written about undertaking emergency repairs to the wooden gates to our Gite, making new gate panels and 'spare parts', much more extensive repairs and rebuilding of the gates, and once again another episode of repairing the gates .

Actually if truth be told and I had been anything like accurate in writing my blog renovation postings, I'd have had an even more regular stream of posts over the years as each year I visited the Gite there was always some gate panels that had rotted apart, new panels to paint, or panels to be replaced and screwed back into position.

One time I found that one of the wooden supporting posts had almost rotted through at ground level so I had to dig it out, put a Metz post holder in the ground, and then re-hang the gate on the existing post that was fortunately long enough.

But like the Forth Bridge it seemed to be a never-ending maintenance project and I was beginning to suspect that I was replacing parts I had previously replaced a few years earlier!

In February when we were over I noticed that the fence itself was looking decidedly wobbly along the side of the Gite and some of the supporting fence posts were also starting to fail and the photos I took of the Gite unfortunately show the wobbly fence problem all too well.

So it was time to do something about it and frankly I was getting bored with repairing and repainting the gates each time. We asked Geoff if he could provide a quote to replace the fencing along the main road sides of the Gite with something more durable so we agreed a price for 1m high dark green plastic coated metal grillage, supported by concreted metal posts, and in total it needed a 50m length of new fencing to run from the pool past the patio, house, driveway and up to the boundary with the neighbours fence.

Having decided on replacing the fence we then decided to go whole-hog and replace the gates as well so my days of continual repainting would be at an end. There's two entranceways to the Gite so we needed two sets of gates and after researching different options we settled on white Aluminium gates from Leroy Merlin. We chose these because of the 10 year guarantee and that unlike many of the other options such as Wood or Steel they wouldn't need regular repainting or maintenance.

The fence replacement went well for Geoff but getting hold of the gates themselves turned out to be a major episode in its own right. I paid for and Geoff and Shirley ordered the Gates in March but when they went back to collect the gates a few weeks later the Leroy Merlin branch in St Brieuc denied all knowledge of the order and they had to travel to Vannes and start the whole ordering process all over again! Vannes were slightly more helpful but it still took weekly calls to find out what had happened to the order, and another abortive trip for Geoff and Shirley before finally earlier this month the gates arrived in - nearly 5 months after they'd first been ordered and paid for.

We are really delighted with the photos that Geoff sent us of the end result, the gates and fence all look really smart now and we're really looking forward to seeing them ourselves when we arrive at the Gite ourselves next week.

New gates on oak posts with view of the large patio and pool behind
Side view of new gates to the gravelled courtyard
New gates and front view of our holiday home