Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Brittany Holiday Cottage with private pool

Went out today to the local market at Locmine which is just 7 miles from my Brittany Holiday Cottage to have a look at what live stock was being sold.One chap had a stall that was selling Pheasants, Ducks, Turkeys and Chickens, with the chickens he was selling 2 week old chicks for 3 euros 50 cents plus he also had some Chickens that were 6 months old.

Looking at the benefits im going to go for the 6 month old Chickens which were 8 euros and 60 cents, firstly because they will be stronger, ready to lay eggs and although more expensive, i'll save 5 months of feed cost.

Just need to wait for my daughters holiday on 15th May before going out to buy them and delivery of the coup.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Brittany Holiday Cottage with private pool

The garden within my Brittany holiday cottage is not as large as my previous house in Cambridgeshire but one of my favorite aspects of running a holiday cottage is hearing the comments from my guest on what a great job I've done. I wanted to create a sub tropical garden so that when your soaking up the sun beside the pool it felt absolutely wonderful, with that in mind I've bought many mature plants to create instant impact. At my previous house which had a 2 acre plot, one of my great joys was getting rid of 70 tonnes of tarmac in an area of the grounds, replacing it with 30 tonnes of top soil and creating an orchard. I bought all my trees from Keepers Nursery based in Kent via mail order, one element I really liked was creating an orchard with fruit that you would not find being sold down your local super market, a lot of the trees were old varieties of apple tree.

With that in mind I have planted Apple, Pear and Peach trees within my French garden and im really excited that all the trees have young fruit on this season after being planted last year, so im looking forward to a bumper harvest. Ive also got half a dozen Blue berry bushes, a mature grape vine and a Hazel nut tree that I brought over from the Cambridge house.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Brittany Holiday Cottage with Pool: Car re-registration

One of the funny stories of life at my Brittany holiday cottage with pool involved getting car insurance. I brought my Honda over from the UK and found that it was impossible to obtain insurance from a UK Insurer. I then approached Axa who provided my home insurance and was able to obtain car insurance, with the proviso that my car is re-registered in France.

I asked the chap who sold me the car insurance what time frame i had to get the car re-registered and he joked within the next 12 months, thinking that it was a typical French approach that although it was needed it was not....until one month later i received a letter from Axa asking to provide my french registration documents...I called the sales person from Axa and was told I needed to provide the document within the next 30 days. The sales person from Axa gave me information of how to go about registering my car, the first step was to check if i needed to pay any tax on my car, to make sure it was not a grey import. I was given directions and a map of where to find the office in Lorient a 60 mile round trip.

I then travelled to Lorient and found that the tax office had moved address, spent 2 hours walking around Lorient town center to eventually find the tax office opposite the Axa Lorient office....marvelous.

I then had to get a control technique which is the French equivalent of the English MOT, on the way home I saw a control Technique testing center and booked a test for the following morning.

9 am the following morning I arrive back in Lorient and it was at that point the test center guy asks to see my English MOT document, bearing in mind the reason I had to get the control technique was because in France they do not recognize the English MOT I was flabbergasted that I was asked for the document and was informed that he could not test my car without it...why on earth was I not told I had to bring the test certificate when I booked the test the previous evening.

The next day I found a test center in a local town and had the car tested, I was informed by an ex pat that I would not have to replace my headlights as my car was fitted with the standard adjusters....alas that was something that was also not true, the car failed on the headlights...60 euros for the test.

So back to Lorient where I located a Honda dealer only to find that they could not fit them while I was there so another appointment was made for the following day.

Following day back to Lorient and the headlights are fitted, total cost 800 euro's...ouch

I then book another appointment at the Control Technique center and the car passes. Now armed with the test certificate, the tax certificate plus the UK registration documents I drive back to Lorient to hand over all the documents at the Prefecture based in Lorient which I was told to do from the tax inspector that I first saw. Bearing in mind everything shuts between 12 and 2pm I arrived in Lorient at 4pm only to find that the office shut at 4pm..ahhhhhh

Following day I arrive at the office back in Lorient, hand over the documents only to be told because I lived in Baud I should not be in at the Lorient office but instead should take the documents to the Pontivey frustrating.

The next day I turn up at the Pontivey Office hand over my documents and you guessed it, I was then asked for ID plus prove of my wonder ex pats get frustrated about all the red tape. Thankfully I had my driving licence with me and in the car I had a letter to post which happened to be a utility 340 euro's lighter I'm handed my new French registration document...about time....the final part was to fit a new number plate to the car and id like to announce that was done without any trouble.

I must admit although this process was a nightmare, thankfully every thing else within my new life based in France has gone smoothly and hey there's plenty of red tape back in the UK.

La Forge the Brittany holiday cottage with private pool is available to rent all year.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The process of buying my Brittany Holiday Cottage

After the offer was accepted in October 2005 the process of buying my Brittany holiday Cottage started. I returned to the UK to await news from the Nortaire's office. My English house had already been sold, the money sitting in the bank.

In November I received a call from the guy selling the property that the Nortaire needed to see all parties, I expected that all the documents were needed to sign. After booking a ferry crossing and paying for a hotel the 48 hour trip cost me £500 only to be a waist of time. Rather than signing any paper work the Nortaire just explained the process and said that we should complete by February 2006. Around this time the standard non returnable 10% deposit was paid to the Nortaire.

A mortgage was required to find the final balance for the purchase and Barclays bank France received my application at the start of November.

The French mortgage system is very tight on requirements and being self employed I found it difficult to obtain a mortgage to secure the property, unlike the UK where a self employed person can obtain a mortgage with self certification if a 25% deposit is placed, in France my accounts for the past 3 years were required. The difference was that i could have borrowed 5x the amount in the UK than in France, based on the deposit i put down. Thankfully the amount i needed was obtained through the Bank after a 3 months wait, I could not belive the amount of hoops I had to jump through and how slow the administration took.

February 2006 the Nortaire still could not give a date of when completion would take place, we were being told that the bank had failed to send the correct documentation to the Nortaire, while the bank said that the Nortaire was asking for the original loan deeds which the bank never sends out.

After a few more months finally it was all sorted but i was desperate to move over, the couple selling the property allowed me to move into the property before the completion date, so on 13th April my new life started. It was not until the start of May that the property actually belonged to me, so in retrospect a big gamble had been taken by all parties, it came down to trust. The good news was that the couple selling the property trusted me as I did them.

Since then the couple who sold me the cottages have become good friends and have helped me enormously over the first few years with all the red tape and have made the move alot easier.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Raising Chickens - Smallholding in France

Part of my French dream was to have a few chickens, I thought it would be lovely for children of the guest staying at the holiday cottage to interact with the birds and how nice it would be to collect the eggs each day.

Ive just built the run in a clearing ive created in between the evergreens within the garden and im just waiting for my daughters arrival in May to go purchase the hens. The coup has been bought from ebay and will arrive in May.

I'll leave it to my daughter to give the chickens there names.

I have already planted several fruit trees, its all part of the whole plan of french living.

Brittany Fishing via the Holiday Cottage

Had my first fishing trip of the year on Saturday 25th April. Fished a small estuary just the other side of Lorient. High tide was at 17.40 and I started fishing at 14.oo with 2 rods, 1 set up with a sliding weight and single hook the other with a fixed weight and a 2 hook pre-bought rig.

Used shop bought rag worm as bait and the first 2 cast with the free sliding rig brought 2 Bass within the first 20 min, both only 20 cm long.Then came a third Bass same size on the 2 hook rig, followed by an additional 3 within the next hour on the single hook rig. During that hour I was getting the bites on the 2 hook rig but not hooking the fish, so i decided to change that rod over too a sliding rig also.

By high tide I had caught 9 bass all the same size and a tiny Place all of which were returned, all though all fish were returned I enjoyed the day having to cast both rods out at the same time because bites were coming so fast. If after 15 min a bite was not seen i would recast because the bait had gone.

Once the tide changed all bites stopped. The weather was sunny with just a slight breeze.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Brittany Holiday Cottage with Pool

I rewrote my goals after a car accident reassessing my direction in life knowing that you never know when your number is up and decided to sell up and start a new life in France.

In 2005 I came over on a weeks house hunting mission after spending weeks searching Internet property websites and viewed 6 properties within 5 different regions of France. 5 of the properties had lakes within the grounds as the initial idea was to run a holiday cottage in France and offer on site fishing for guest, but either the lakes were to small, the houses in need of total renovation or the lake to far away from the property.

Its amazing how much is missed off the details on properties, when you have driven over 1500 miles in a week and spent £1600 plus it makes the property search process very frustrating and costly.

I have always been very lucky in the past with buying my homes and on the second day of my property search viewed La Forge - La Vielle Maison in southern Brittany and fell in love with the properties on sight. I have always been attracted to older styled properties, my last house in Cambridgeshire being over 400 years old and this pair of French cottages just oozed character and charm. Basically both were being run as holiday cottages and because it was an up and running business both were totally renovated and it was a 'turn key operation'.

Its always been said that you know as soon as you walk through the door when you find your ideal property and it felt like home as soon as I walked in.

I went on to see the additional properties that were booked for that week and just kept coming back to La Forge - La Vielle Maison and at the end of the week went back to the owners and placed an offer which was accepted.

The previous owners had 2 pairs of holiday cottages that were being let and sold and of the 4 cottages La Forge was the most popular property being let, so I decided to live in la Vielle maison and run La Forge as a Brittany holiday Cottage. I kept the rental prices the same as the previous owners but now offer the propety with a private swimming pool rather than shared giving holiday makers greater value of money.

In March of 2006 I started my new life in France and now love and enjoy a whole new way of living..