Monday, 29 November 2010

First snow flakes in Brittany

The weatherman had been promising us some snow for a few days and indeed we had our first snow flakes last Saturday morning in Brittany.

They didn't last very long though. It was all gone within a few hours!!

I didn't even have time to take photos... Next time!

Flights to East Midlands cancelled last night - 28th November 2010

The flight from Dinard in Brittany to East Midlands was canceled at the last minute last night due to the bad weather...
I wish they gave us a bit more notice so we could have got organised...

We took our family members to the airport, Ryanair staff didn't mention anything to us about taking off or landing problems...

We had to go back to Dinard airport to get our visitors and they are enjoying 2 more days in France with us. Lets' hope the flight from Nantes will be on time and will reach its destination tomorrow...

Bad frost in Brittany!

Until now it has been mild in Brittany...

This morning though, the thermometer was showing -7 degrees outside...

The garden was beautiful. It was all white! Our poor little chickens looked a bit cold...

Dinan port in the snow

I am sharing 2 photos with you. This is Dinan port in Brittany. I took them this morning when it was -7 degrees...

Boats were covered with snow. It was sunny but so cold!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Visit from the post lady

I have just had a visit from our post lady. Each year, in France, around the end of November, postmen and postladies visit their customers to sell them calendars. It is their Christmas bonus.
Each person gives whatever they think it is fair.

The calendars have all sorts of useful information: maps of the local towns, recipes, etc. As we are near the coast, we also get a list of the tides for the year 2011.

We get to choose our calendar - I had 12 different ones to choose from! They all have different pictures on the cover.

I will be expecting the visit from our local firemen, they also visit us to sell calendars!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Home-made coconut milk

I saw this advert on French TV the other day and I thought it was interesting…

Coconut milk is quite expensive so this recipe might be useful…

Mix 80 g of desiccated coconut with 1 litre of water.

Leave this mix over night with a top on.

The day after, bring it to the boil a couple of minutes, leave it to cool down and keep in the fridge for 2 hours.

The mix should separate. The ‘milk’ you want is the liquid at the bottom.

The thick layer on the top is very rich. I guess you can use it in cakes.

I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but I will.

Do let me know how you get on if you try it.

If you can't be bothered making some, you should be able to find coconut milk fairly easy in French supermarkets. They usually have an area with foreign food. You will find some coconut milk there amongst other Chinese, Indian, English products.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Another tax to pay

Sarkozy promised us to abolish the Taxe Professionnelle this year but to my surprise another tax arrived this morning: Cotisation foncière des entreprises. It is basically the same tax, with a different name!!

It has to be paid by 15th December 2010.

It is for people who are self-employed in France.

Dinan in a chaos this week!

The centre of Dinan is having some major road works done this week. Avoid the centre this week if you can!
Cars were queuing from the post office to the market square this morning... a bit unusual for Dinan...

If you have to visit Dinan, park in the underground car park. When you come from Lanvallay, go over the viaduct and turn right at the top of the hill before the bent. The car park is well sign posted.

You could get stuck for ages otherwise!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Last day for the taxe d'habitation!

Today is the last day to pay the taxe d'habitation!
Anyone who is late paying this tax will get charged 10% extra from tomorrow.
You can still pay online until tonight or rush to the Trésor Public and pay there directly.

Check this link here to see how to pay the taxe d'habitation online .

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

CD, DVD, games exchange in Evran

I have just picked up a leaflet from our local shop.
Evran is organising an unusual event on Sunday 21st November 2010 from 10 am to 6pm at the Salles Coudray and Bouhours.

It is called a "Vide-biblio". 'vide' means "to empty" and "biblio" is short for "bibliothèque" (library).

It is like a car-boot sale, but only books, CDs, DVDs, VHS (do people still use them?!!), video games, board games and post cards.

If you wish to have a stall, just go there and pay €1 on the day. There is no need to book in advance.

Tea, coffee and cakes will be served. I guess they will also cook some Galette-saucisse (a Toulouse sausage wrapped in a galette (buckwheat pancake). A typical Breton 'sandwish'. It is nice with a bit of mustard.

I will visit the Vide-biblio as I am looking for some DVDs for our gite.

Free entrance.

Basket weaving classes in Brittany

The basket weaving classes have started already last week. We shall be back tonight. I can't wait to see our "basket weaving friends" again!

Anyone keen to join, here are the details:

The classes are every Wednesday evening from 8 to 10pm in St Domineuc in Brittany.
St Domineuc is about 15 min from Evran, South West of Dinan.

You will find us in the room along the canal. It sounds a bit vague but St Domineuc is a small village! If you find the canal, we will find us!

Anyone can join, beginners or advanced. They are not proper lessons, it is very informal. We all work at our own pace and there are 4 experimented men who are there to help if/when needed.

Just bring a sharp knife with you and a cloth to put on your knee. I use a leg from an old jeans!

It is only €12 for 6 months.

The last class is at the end of March and the party - oh yes a party !- is the first Wednesday in April.

They supply us with willow but you can bring your own.

Joining a club or an association is a great way to meet people and to improve your French. You will learn a few new words for example:

willow = osier,
basket = panier.

See you there!

Monday, 8 November 2010

How to convert foot, yards, miles to km

Although I lived in the Channel Islands for 8 years, I still can't work out yards, foot, miles!!

1 inch (pouce) = 2,54 centimètres

1 foot (pied) = 30,48 centimètres

1 yard (verge) = 0,9144 mètre

1 mile = 1,6093 km

1 km = 0,6214 mile

1 nautical mile (mille marin) = 1,852 km

Contrôle Technique

The contrôle technique (CT) on French vehicles is valid for 2 years. You must take your car to a recognised technical centre. You will find near you in the French Yellow Pages.

You often see them next to a supermarket so you can shop while the Control Technique is being done!

The test lasts about one hour. They check the tyres, lights, emissions, brakes and the bodywork.

If your vehicle passes, you will get a sticker on your windscreen indicating the month and year of the next test.

If your car fails, you must visit a garage and have some repairs done. You will have to visit the Technical centre again. It is called a 'contre visite'.

Some centres don't charge for the second visit. Check first if they say 'contre visite gratuite' !

The reasons for failing can be: the lights are not working, the emissions are too high, the tyres need replacing...

The contrôle technique costs about 50 euros.

The centre may keep your details and write to you in 2 years time to remind you it is time for another test! I am glad they wrote to me last week as I completely forgot about it!

How to convert pounds into kilos

I am always looking for this info when I follow an English recipe.... Especially when I make chutneys!

I hope this will be helpful to you too...

1 ounce (once) = 28,3495 grams

1 pound (livre) = 0,4536 kg

Friday, 5 November 2010

Turning the water off!

If you own a holiday home in France, you might not be aware that you have to turn the water off at the main when you leave.

In case of any water damage, you wouldn't be covered by your insurance company.

Some insurance companies advise you to turn the water off if you leave your house 3 or 4 days even if it is your main residence. Double-check your contract or contact your insurance company. Each company is different.

I've had to deal with several claims due to water damage for my clients and it is never good news when the repairs cost about €10,000 and the insurance company only covers 50%....

If you have a holiday home in France, do remember to drain the pipes in the winter before your departure.

Water leak after the water meter

Water leaks in France... who is responsible?

If the leak is after the water meter, it is your responsibility to fix it. Contact a plumber if you are unable to repair the leak yourself. The water company won't compensate you for any damages nor for a huge consumption of water.

If the leak is before the meter, contact the water company straight away (see details on your last water bill). They have a breakdown service so you can contact them 24/7.

Do take photos of any damages.

I have had to deal with several claims due to water damages for my clients so I know the photos are very useful!!

What is a Prime à la Casse ?

The Prime à la Casse is a contribution you receive in France towards the cost of a new car when you scrap your old vehicle (10 years old+). It was introduced to encourage people to buy new cars despite the economic crisis.

This contribution has gone down from €1,000 to €500.

It will disappear completely on December 31 2010.

So if you own an old car and wish to buy a new one in France, hurry up before the end of the year!

All Saints' Day - 1st November

The 1st November is a bank holiday in France. It is All Saints' Day (La Toussaint). This year it fell on a Monday during the school holidays.

Like most bank holidays in France, La Toussaint is a family day. People meet up for lunch and think of their relatives who have passed away. They go to the cemetery with plants and flowers and transform the sad graves into colorful ones.

Chrysanthemums can be seen everywhere in flower shops, garden centres, supermarkets and markets.

If you live in France and are invited for dinner, it is best not bring your French hosts a Chrysanthemums!

The next French bank holiday is next week on 11st November (Armistice Day). The last one before Christmas.

How to pay less income tax in France

If you pay income tax in France, you have several ways to reduce the tax.

One being giving money to charity.

The minimum amount you have to give is €20.
You will get 66% tax relief so it actually costs you €6.88. You get €13.12 tax relief.

Please note you have to pay by cheque.

Our main charity in France is the Téléthon which will take place on 3rd and 4th December 2010. Same weekend each year!

I have raffle tickets to sell through my club, so if you live around Dinan and you are feeling generous, please contact me. I will be pleased to sell you some tickets! The prizes are not exciting like a cruise, or a car, but smaller gifts given by local shops.

They are €1/ticket.

Plant exchange in St Thual tomorrow!

There is another plant exchange tomorrow in St Thual. St Thual is about 10 min South of Evran, near Bécherel. About 25 min from Dinan in Brittany.

My friend from the basket weaving class organises it every year. If you fancy joining us, feel free. You can start taking plants from 10 am.

I will be there for 11 am. I have to dig my plants first!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Great weather ahead…

Getting up at 8 am and realizing it is 15 degrees outside was a great feeling this morning (Thursday 4th November 2010).

After 20 degrees yesterday afternoon, I am expecting the same weather today!

I have some catching up to do in the garden...