Sunday, 25 March 2012

Summer Time

At Last its officially summertime. Lighter nights and spring is in the air! My Little girl has a new quad bike kindly on loan from my Brother in law...Thanks Jon. Here she is "patrolling" my neighbours field?
Well back to the business in hand and that means making some progress with the house. Now to make progress you need materials and the buy materials you need money. When I was thinking about buying a house to renovate I talked to several who were renovating or had renovated houses, and if you listened to what they said then building materials are cheap in France. Indeed one chap I spoke to pro-ported to have paid £20K for his house and renovated it all for another £20K. Now some years down the line in my own renovation I'm not sure A, How big his house was or B, what his Idea of "Fully renovated" was but in my experience, materials in France are every big as expensive as the UK. Some materials are in fact very much more expensive. Any one who has renovated a house will tell you that unless you do your homework and shop around money doesn't go very far; So when I saw a rather special deal in one of the diy stores in the UK is would have been silly not to take advantage. Now the question for the day is: Just now many rolls of insulation do you think you can fit into a Fiat Doblo?

Oh and yes there is also a full underfloor heating kit in there too! I did however get a few funny looks going through customs

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Just Occasionally...

I'm really surprised; in a good way! France is bureaucratic right? Well like most things in France that's not the whole story; It goes a little deeper and is a little more complicated. Forms for example. This week I had occasion to want to venture into the world of French form filling. Now in England if you  get a form then for every page of form there is as least one possibly two of explanation to tell you how to fill it in. In addition to that the government web site usually has additional supporting info. In France; for this particular form, there is the form.... that's it. So you ring up and ask questions, you join the self help forums and you get a little closer. It also has to be said that official phone numbers in France seem to have some sort of persistence check applied to them. The first time you get a very polite but not very useful answer. The second time you ring...they will give you a hint at how you might find the answer. This is where the persistence check kicks in. If you ring a third time you have passed the test then bingo, the magic happens! In this case the man on the phone calmly and very helpfully asked if I would like someone from the prefecture to make an appointment to come round to my house at a time convenient to me to assist in filling in the form! Errrr yes,but...will there be a charge...No.....eeer well yes please. Low and behold the next day an extremely nice and competent person arrives at the allotted time, fills the form in with me, all the lower case i's dotted and the sevens duly crossed in just over an hour. Brilliant. Now as I said before France has a reputation for bureaucracy, but what are the chances of getting that kind of service in the UK. I would suggest zero (about as likely as getting a doctor to come out to your house.....which come to think of it also happens in France).

On this very surprising, occasion.....Vivre La France!