Monday, 25 August 2014

Renovation project - Friends come to visit from the UK

Renovation project - Friends come to visit from the UK

After our very busy day yesterday we have our friends arriving this morning I am so excited to see them and can't wait for them to get here, but I am also very nervous about their visit.

We have been talking about them coming over for some time and when we spoke on the phone a couple of weeks ago, I explained that we had very few vacancies and we would need to try to arrange a couple of days when they could stay, but when I skyped my daughter the other day, she was out horse riding with my friend and she shouted over we have booked the ferry!!!

it was a case of oh flipping heck (or words to that effect, the f and g are correct)

I explained that we had no vacancies and neither did the B&B's we would recommend, her response was don't worry about it, we have found a camp site!

I still can’t believe she is going to camp, you have certain friends who you can imagine camping and the you have certain friends who you just couldn't ever imagine camping (you can guess which category my friend falls into)

I have visions of them on the floor in our bedroom after the first night, but we'll see.

They arrive with no problems and I get a text that they are all set up in the tent (my heart sinks every time I think of them in the tent on the camp site)

I call round to pick her up and bring her to the house, her husband has gone straight into holiday mode and is fast asleep.

She loves the house and the area, I'm so pleased as we stay with her for a night every time we go back to the UK and we have sang the praises of our new home, and now she gets to see it and fully understands why we love it so much.

We have a fantastic few days and go out every night, we bump into our new neighbours every night as well, and I am still trying to convince everybody that we don't go out very often and don't know that many people.
Nobody believes us as every where we go we are chatting to more and more, we even go into one bar and meet a couple for the first time and they know us, they read the blog!!!!!!

This is 2 complete random strangers in the middle of a French village, who know us from the blog but also their company has worked with my friends company, how small is this world?

One thing my friend has now realised is that taxis are not the same here as they are in the UK, we are in a restaurant and after consuming much wine, she asks about getting a taxi home, I laugh a little and say its very unlikely but we ask the bar owner and when she finds out the taxi is only to the camp site she can't stop laughing,, there is no chance.

Some things are very different here, and taxis or the lack of them is one example, back in the UK you can get a taxi day or night, but here they are as rare as rocking horse poo!

The week goes so quickly, we have met loads more people, spent the week trying to convince people this is not what life is really like, it's normally much quieter, I somehow don't think people believe us.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Renovation project - The kindness of strangers

Renovation project - The kindness of strangers

Our long day did not stop with the end of the blog yesterday. One of the guests that we had the other week was coming back to view another house, this time not with us and we did not have any vacancies for her either but she still arranged to come for dinner, we really are making some good friends through the B&B and the estate agency.

She calls at the house and it is like welcoming a long lost fried, it's hard to believe we only met her a couple of weeks ago, she heads straight for 'her chair' on the kitchen patio and we share a glass of wine (or 2).

All of our guests are settled in and I go to start dinner, when the door knocks again, it is the return of our new neighbour, this time, terribly upset, they have just turned the shower on to find a big leak and the toilet is not working, there is water coming through the living room ceiling they have traveled so far and are exhausted.

John grabs his plumbing tools and heads down there to sort it out, a couple of hours later he is back, he has stopped the flood but cannot fix the problem, the saniflo toilet is completely knackered.

These people had been paying a management company to oversee their property whilst they were in a different country, it was obvious that nobody had ever been to the house in all the years they had been paying.

They were distraught. I am distraught as there is nothing we can do to help now, we are full, they cannot stay in the house and it is August, the busiest month for B&B's in the town.

I start to ring the other B&B's and find a room for tomorrow, we do have a tent and this looks like it maybe the best option, but I call a friend and see whether there is anyway they can help out for tonight.

After I have explained the situation, my friend insists that they stay the night with her and her husband.

Our new neighbours are amazed by the kindness of strangers, but this is one of the reasons we love here so much, the place really is this friendly and helpful.

I take them to my friends and go back to cook dinner, John is knackered and hungry so we end up going out for dinner, now I really do need that glass of wine, and so begins a week of wine, friends, more wine, food, more wine, visiting and yet more wine!!!!

But I really don't go out very often!!!!!!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Renovation project - A long day in France

Renovation project - A long day in France

Today has been one of those days, you know the type where you just want to curl up in bed and hide from the world or buy a super sized bottle of wine and sit in a corner and drink it, well you have an idea of how I am feeling at the moment.

We have a busy day, we have a full house so there is 4 breakfasts and a whole house clean, I have a house viewing at 12 noon and need to visit another house and a meeting at the RAM (our health provider) at 3pm, plus all of the e-mails and the normal everyday living including our big shop but we can do that after the RAM meeting.

We also found out yesterday that a rumour is spreading that we have opened a swingers B&B!!!!! I'm not sure if it is a mistake from one of our previous posts or if there is some nasty person in the town, especially after the anonymous post the other day!

The breakfasts go smoothly and we make a start on the cleaning, we have the right amount of bedding, but then John sees a mark on one of the quilt covers, no problem we'll just clean it. All good, its ready for when we need to leave and we just have time to hang it out, then our first problem, he drops it on the way to the garden, bugger now we need to re do it all and we're on our way out, not to panic there is enough time.

We get to the house viewing and it goes well, the house is beautiful and has so much potential, the viewers follow us back to Huelgoat to have a look around at a renovation that has been completed, we chat for some time, plus get the washing sorted.

We have had an e-mail from one of the guests to say that they will be arriving at 6, so that gives us loads of time.

The meeting goes well at RAM, and they will be sending John an Attestation until his Carte Vitale arrives. As we are leaving the mobile rings, it is a bad line and it is in French, we get cut off, they ring back, I ask if he is at the B&B and he is, so I say we will get back in 20 mins but this is not going well with the bad line, so I check the number and realise it isn't the B&B, the number had texted earlier to rearrange a viewing, I text and apologise for the bad line, it is only after I have sent the text that I realise the number wasn't exactly the same, bugger, bugger, bugger.

The number calls again, but I can't answer it so text saying that we will be back in 5 mins (as it is definitely the B&B), a guest must of arrived early.

Back at the house, there is nobody there, so I try to call the number and it won't go through.

At this point I want to cry, but I call our French colleague and explain that I have made a major bumble and could he please try to call the number for me.

I'm moaning at John about how I have screwed up again!

My colleague calls back and explains that it was a nice young man trying to deliver a parcel, so I had got it right, even with the bad line, but he is now too far away to come back, he will however come back tomorrow. This is quite exciting as it is our new headlights and we've been waiting for these for weeks!!!!
John also points out that every time I moan that I have screwed up, it turns out that actually I haven't, I think about it and he's right, sometimes I just feel that everything is going wrong, but now that he has pointed it out, he's right, maybe I am just focussing on the difficult bits instead of realising how well I am doing, after all I couldn't speak French a few months ago, and here I am talking and talking phone calls.

We finish the rooms as the door bell rings with 2 guests, we settle them in with a drink and as I walk back into the living room there is woman stood there, I'm thinking I'm sure the new guest wasn't blonde.

She says hi, we spoke earlier, and suddenly I am thinking bugger have I double booked??????

But then I realise this is the person I had spoken to on the blog and telephone a few weeks ago, they are neighbours from Canada.

They are here on holiday and the electric in their house is not working, John goes to the rescue and pops down and sorts it out, the new guests arrive, as does a friend who we are going to have dinner with.

I am now going to enjoy my wine, this day has been far too long!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Renovation Project - Good customer service

Renovation Project - Good customer service

Our house hunter guest has left, with a lot of thinking to do, here's hoping you've found what you were looking for.

Life goes on and we are busy with the B&B, we are now completely full for July and over half full for August, we had never dreamt that we would be so busy. We have even had to turn people away! One such person just arrived at the door and I had to explain that we were full, I directed him to another B&B and this is when we realised we need to have some kind of reciprocal arrangements in place.

I called to one of the other nice B&B's in the town and explained that we were new and small and had sent people to them, we exchanged business cards and now when either of us are full we will recommend to the other, we have this arrangement with another B&B, that is also a restaurant. And man of our guests go there for a meal, if you are in Huelgoat we highly recommend the Mirabelle

I have said before that this is one of the most friendliest places I have ever been too, but this takes the biscuit, I had worried that we would just be in competition, but we are starting to have a good relationship with the B&B's I have been in touch with, these are also B&B's that we have used or know, so are more than happy to recommend them to people.

We also visited the other estate agent last week, when our house viewer did not find what she was looking for, I took her and introduced her to the estate agent, this may seem strange as in effect we are in competition. But we did not have what she wanted, so you have the choice, not help the person who is looking and let them see the estate agent anyway, or call in and introduce them.

It's one of those no brainer moments, and has benefited us, the estate agent was happy to meet the client and has now taken our B&B cards for her clients and will hopefully do the same if she has a client that she cannot find a suitable property for.

We are still new at everything we are doing and finding our way, but what we have said is that we want to have a reputation based on honesty, friendliness and providing a service that benefits our customers, it's how we lived and built our professional reputations in the UK and how we want to continue in France.