Sunday, 29 June 2014

Renovation Project - Artists Market, Brittany

Renovation Project - Artists Market, Brittany

Well we are both feeling much better now and we are getting bookings which is great news, we have still not received our Google postcard, which is a pain and I have contacted our web site designer to ask him to chase this up, the Google postcard is essential for any new business as this is what makes your business show up on Google maps.

My French is getting better by the day and having to answer the telephone in French certainly helps, it still freaks me out a little bit, but I am managing, I think this is called the immersion method of learning, personally I think it is called, the tough crap, just get on with it method of learning but it seems to be working!

I have also looked at other advertising sites, we have now joined one called France Again, this was so simple though I did have one slight problem but I e-mailed the company and some one contacted me immediately on the instant chat and talked me through what I had to do, it turned out to be me rather than a problem! But we are live and we have a featured ad, it is so exciting to see our B&B on these sites, lets hope the bookings come flooding in!

The sun is still shining which is amazing last year we went away and missed most of the summer, but this year looks like it will be a good one and today there is an artists market by the lake. Huelgoat really is a beautiful area and I just love meandering through the local markets.

I think we really have made the right decision with the B&B and fingers crossed we will be successful, we have even had our first review on Trip Advisor!

Huelgoat artists marketHuelgoat artists market

Huelgoat artists market

Huelgoat B&B rooms still available for July 2014

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Renovation project - I've found a lump!

Renovation project - I've found a lump!

To day is not a good day, I didn't say earlier in the blog, but when we registered with the doctor I needed to see one, I had found a lump, this is not the first time so I was aware of the process in the UK.

It is slightly different in France, in the UK the GP will make an appointment for you to have a scan and biopsy, in France the GP checks you and luckily she wasn’t too concerned but still felt that I needed a mammogram and scan to be sure. Yet I still had an appointment more quickly than the emergency appointment that I had in the UK!

I was given the telephone number for the hospital and a medical centre that just specialises in scans and x-rays. A friend booked my appointment and it is today. Today is also the day that John has the last of his dental treatment, I do feel sorry for him as every time he is not well I have to go one better with illness, how can he complain about a visit to the dentist when I am waiting to see if I am to be given a death sentence?????

Sitting in the waiting room is the most surreal experience ever, we sit and chat and joke, yet in a matter of minutes our whole lives could change beyond recognition. I am called in for the mammogram and go back to the waiting room, when I am called in again, I am told that the mammogram is not very clear so I have a full scan, the doctor is so nice and his English is great, this is one of the most scary parts of moving to another country with a different language, what will you do if you suddenly become very ill? How would you cope?

Well so far for us it has been great, all the professionals have a great level of English but if this is not the case, you will soon find friends that can speak French, and who are kind enough to help you out, never let this concern put you off doing something like this.

Anyway back to the results, the lump (well 2 of them now, the scan found another) are not a problem, they are cysts (this sounds gross but I couldn't be happier).

I now wait for my scans, you actually take this with you and keep them, I now need to make an appointment with a gynaecologist to discuss another issue, he will also have a look at these scans. There is no waiting for a referral, it is simply a case of ringing to make an appointment.

We pay at the counter only 92 Euros, which we will be able to claim back as soon as the carte vitale arrives.
Poor John, we can now give him lots of sympathy, he has ad another tooth taken out and looks and feels dreadful, OK John you can take the day off, I might even look after you for a while.

But days like this make you realise just how short life can be and make you realise you should grab every opportunity with both hands and not put things off for a date in the future, that future may not be as long as you hope it will be.

And in the famous words of NIKE, just go for it!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Renovation project - The front door won't open!

Renovation project - The front door won't open!

We have some more guests coming this evening, it's a French couple who have a house they are renovating nearby, this couple found us on Airbnb, we have recently started to advertise with this company and this is our first booking, am I excited? Yes, am I a little bit nervous? No I am bloody terrified but, we're ready and everything is in place.

John is busy getting the garden ready and doing some more work, which means he has a tip run to do, I don't think we will ever stop the tip runs.

All goes well and he comes back at 3pm, the guests can arrive after 4pm, so plenty of time, I hear John trying to get in so I go to open the door I shout through to tell him he's locked it, he shouts at the same time asking why I have locked it.

Bugger the door lock has slipped and jammed, we have guests coming and we can't open the front door, this will not look good!

John climbs in through the living room window (I have visions of our guests having to do the same, can I put some spin on this to say that it is a novelty of the B&B? No but believe me I did consider it!)

John sets too with his tools and the lock is not playing fair, he eventually strips it down and the mechanism is knackered, this is the 2nd lock we have bought for the front door, we consider what to do with it and in the end agree that we don't need it (there is a latch key as well) so John removes it completely and just replaces the handle.

As it turns out this was a much better idea, because the guests will have the latch key, but may forget to lock the door, now there is no way to forget to lock the door, so in a way, this was the best thing that could've happened (not for my nerves but, overall)

The guests arrive and I get to practice my french, most of our conversations are in french, I think I could get to really enjoy this!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Renovation Project - We're back online again!

Renovation Project - We're back online again!

Many apologies, we have been so busy over the last few weeks the blog has been a little bit neglected, we did think once the house was finished we would have loads of time to ourselves but to be honest we now seem to be working as much as ever!

I don't know where to begin with what we have been up to, but I'll have a go.

The first big thing was the dentist, not a nice experience but better than we are used too, e.g. I survived it and didn’t need hospital treatment (always a bonus).

The dentist we have found is in a big town only 10 km away and the dentist speaks fantastic English, I have to explain about my reaction to adrenaline, and to be honest he seemed a little bit excited, he has heard of this allergy, but in 9 years has never met anybody with it. I have to remind him on every visit and he has said he will order some different anaesthetic just for me.

John has to have 3 visits in total and 3 teeth removed, he has had a problem for the last year and the x-rays have said it was a back tooth on either side of his jaw, the dentist thought it was too much to do in one visit, so it was split over 3 visits.

Our carte vitale has still not arrived, and the dentist said to wait until the next visit before paying to give it chance to arrive. I cannot believe how much business is done on trust here!

We have also registered with the doctor, John had about a million blood tests (because of his age!) the health care in France seems to be more focussed on prevention than cure.

We are also up and running with the estate agency now and have started to go out and about viewing properties and doing the write ups, I am really enjoying this aspect, what other job gives you the opportunity to talk to people, write and have a look around loads of houses? I think I have just found my dream job (not that I am nosy or anything).

I am also looking at all different ways to advertise the B&B. But that is another story for tomorrow, so it's good to be back and if you are looking for a holiday make sure you click on the link below.

Because this week John is going to have to start working on the rest of the house, we are finished and open but there is still our floor that I want to change and our utility, a new roof on one of the out buildings, a new garden and …..........

The list goes on, so John you have had a break now get to it!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Renovation project - Huelgoat forest

Renovation project - Huelgoat forest

I have been so busy working, I thought I needed a break so went for a walk in the sunshine through the forest, no words are required!

Huelgoat Forest France, Huelgoat B&B

Huelgoat Forest France, Huelgoat B&B

Huelgoat Forest France, Huelgoat B&B

Huelgoat Forest France, Huelgoat B&B

Huelgoat Forest France, Huelgoat B&B

Huelgoat Forest France, Huelgoat B&BHuelgoat Forest France, Huelgoat B&B

Huelgoat Forest France, Huelgoat B&BHuelgoat Forest France, Huelgoat B&B

Huelgoat Forest France, Huelgoat B&B

If you want to come and see it for yourself just click on this link Huelgoat B&B

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Renovation project - French car boots and seaside sunsets

Renovation project - French car boots and seaside sunsets

We have had a great few days, we have even got another booking from Airbnb, so exciting times ahead. But for now we are due a night off, there is no point living this life if you don't get to go out and enjoy it once in a while.

We are heading over to Andy and Gerda's for dinner, not only are they nice people, they are willing to feed us (in my books anybody who is willing to feed us are A OK!)

Gerda is also sorting out some pictures for the B&B, we have so many beautiful photographs that it seems a shame to put paintings on the wall, so Gerda has agreed to enlarge some of the best that we have (and very nicely agreed to do some of hers!)

we drive over and it is a really nice evening, one photo is ready, but there is a problem with the ink, so we will have to wait until next week to get the next ones.

We have a great dinner and then Gerda asks if we would like to visit the local beach, this place is amazing, it is so beautiful and you can just imagine sitting here for lunch, or cycling down for the day. We explore a little bit and this is when we all realise that my short legs (every body else is really tall) are not that much use, the sea has covered bits of the beach and its a case of jumping over, great with long legs, not so great when you are as short as me!

But I manage, I do not fall in, we also go up to have a look at a house that overlooks the beach, this would make the most amazing home, but there was a fire and there's not much left, but given half a chance, I think we may have found our next project!

Kerfissien beach, brittany, Huelgoat B&B

Kerfissien Beach, brittany, Huelgoat B&BKerfissien Beach, brittany, Huelgoat B&B

The night goes far too quickly and it's time for bed, we are sleeping in a room with the eaves of the house either side of the bed, this is where I'm now glad I'm short! During the night John gets up to go to the toilet and, yes, he stands up, I have no idea how the bang from his head didn't wake the neighbours, luckily the red wine he had drank numbed the pain.

The following day there is a car boot sale in La Fouillee so we head over there, car boots are very different here, I know I have said that before, but they are. There are the usual amounts of tat but there are also some amazing antiques, John spends some time looking at really old newspapers and I think these would make amazing pictures for the landing, we just have to make sure that we don't buy any that could be considered offensive, we find one and my favourite page is mainly adverts. But they will look good.

Le feuillee, Brittany, car boot sale, Huelgoat B&BLe feuillee, Brittany, car boot sale, Huelgoat B&B

Le feuillee, Brittany, car boot sale, Huelgoat B&B

old newspaper pictures, Huelgoat B&B

The rest of the day is spent doing absolutely bugger all, what a great weekend

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

B&B for sale in Huelgoat, Brittany, France

B&B for sale in Huelgoat, Brittany, France

You have all enjoyed reading about our journey renovating our house into a B&B, but how would you like to do it yourself?

As you will be aware we have started to work with Leggetts immobilier and would like to show you one of the properties, it is a B&B in Huelgoat. It has not been operating for a while but the property is still ready to move into and for you to put your mark on it.

Imagine leaving your 9-5 job in the UK or America or where ever you happen to be in the world, no more traffic jams, no more being told what to do, no more rat race, instead you can live in a small market town in Brittany, 45 minutes from a selection of beaches, 45 mins from Roscoff ferry port.

Strolling down the road on a sunny day to buy your fresh baked croissants and specialist patisserie's, sitting by the lake with a coffee or a glass of wine, imagine watching the sunset whilst eating fresh food at one of the many restaurants.

Your family visiting and knowing you have enough room for all of them! Learning a new language and chatting to your friendly Breton neighbours or mixing with the rich variety of ex pats, thhere are people from all over the world living in Huelgoat.

Maybe you are realising just how much further the equity in your current property can go in France, but not ready to fully retire or realising you will have to work another 10 years before you can even consider retiring.

Can you see yourself yet?


Well if you can and you want to buy a business in one of the most beautiful parts of France then get in touch, we can't guarantee you will earn a fortune, but how often have you watched the TV programmes or read our blog and thought, I want to do that?

Well now is your chance

Contact me for more details - price 179,995 euro's (use the rate calculator on the side bar, to see how much that would be in your currency)

Finistere B&B Leggetts immobilierFinistere B&B Leggetts immobilier

Finistere B&B Leggetts immobilierFinistere B&B Leggetts immobilier

Huelgoat B&B Jenny and John in FranceHuelgoat B&B Jenny and John in France

Huelgoat B&B Jenny and John in FranceHuelgoat B&B Jenny and John in France
Huelgoat B&B Jenny and John in France

Huelgoat B&B Jenny and John in France

Monday, 9 June 2014

Renovation Project - Advertising for a B&B

Renovation Project - Advertising for a B&B

We have now been officially open for a week and have only had one paying guest, I am getting worried, John tries to placate me by saying there is nothing to worry about, we've had bookings and the website has only been live for a week, how can people book if they don't know we're here, I suppose he has a point, but I am one of those people, I expect everything to be done yesterday and as such I truly did expect us to be full as soon as we opened!

Which now means I have to spend most of my time on marketing the B&B, I have looked at so many different sites for advertising and many cost so much money.

We don't want to spend a fortune as this cannot be claimed back as expenses, if you go the Auto Entrepreneur route in France as we have done, you cannot claim any expense,s so if we spend a thousand Euro’s on advertising, that is money we still have to pay tax on without any tax break!

We are on Trip advisor, but to have a full business listing costs a lot and we don't feel we would benefit from paying for any extra, if you have any feelings on this please let us know your thoughts!

We look at Brittany Ferries but, this appears to be beneficial for those with letting a full property. And it is impossible to contact them on the telephone as they only have an 0871 telephone numbers

We have also found airbnb, this one looks great and only charges 3% on each booking, we sign up with airbnb (and I now expect the bookings to come rolling in, 10 minute later we still haven't had a booking and I'm gutted (patience was never a strong point).

So I head for social media and set up another facebook page, how I am ever going to remember all my facebook pages I don't know.

I have also considered, but this is a 15% charge per booking. I have lots of advice from one particular B&B and I am so grateful to them for all their help, their B&B also looks amazing (it is in a totally different area to us so if you are visiting South Vendee have a look at their website, if they can be this helpful to strangers, I can only assume that they give a fantastic service to their guests).

 Maison des Amis

We are still waiting to be registered with Google and to receive our Google postcard (I sound very knowledgeable now, I'm not, our website designer has told us about this and registered us, this will mean we show up on Google maps and Google searches)

Well I had better get back to my advertising, and if anybody reading this post has any idea's we would really appreciate you letting us know in the comments below

Huelgoat B&B - Jenny and John in France

Huelgoat B&B - Jenny and John in France

Rooms available now

Huelgoat B&B

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Renovation project - We Have our first guest at Huelgoat B&B

Renovation project - We Have our first guest at Huelgoat B&B

Today is one of the most exciting and terrifying days all in one go I was sat at the table writing the blog, and noticed a young man looking at our sign in the window, so I smiled at him and he replied by asking if we were open, yes of course we are I replied back thinking he was just a friendly neighbour, then it struck me, he was looking for somewhere to stay.

I rush to the door and welcome him in French and explain that we have vacancies for tonight, the conversation is a little difficult and then he asks if I speak English, could this get any better.

He comes in and has a look at the room, and is really happy with it.


He is a really intersting guy and we spend some time chatting with him, where he says that he thought my French was a special version for guests, as it's not really French, but not obvious that I am English, it's that bloody sat nav accent that I have!

It feels very weird knowing that there is a stranger in your house, but once you get used to it, it's not as strange as you'd think it maybe.

He leaves the following lunchtime, we are supposed to have an 11 am check out but we get chatting again.

He leaves us our first review, and it's great, we now just need a few more of these.

Take a look at our B&B website - rooms available now

Huelgoat B&B

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Cheap decking

Renovation project - Making a new bedroom

We are currently still using the main bedroom to sleep in as we are not exactly run off our feet, but we have noticed more tourists recently, so it is time to get the top floor ready for us, it can be used if we need too, but at the moment everything that is not for the B&B (and every supply for the B&B) is currently rammed in there.

It's time to get the room ready, I wanted to have built in wardrobes all along the wall but John has suggested that he builds a wardrobe similar to the one in the main front bedroom and adds a desk and some shelves.

Personally I don't see how this can work, John doesn't like my idea of all built in wardrobes as he wants to keep the eaves on show.

He draws me a picture of what his idea will look like, but I still don't see it.

We need to get another door to match the ones in the house and this means a trip to Quimper, this also means that we can get the matching door furniture as this is where we bought it all from.

We arrive at the right shop but they only have left hand doors available. In France be very careful buying doors as they come complete with door frames and locks and are made to fit right hand opening or left hand openings, it is difficult if not impossible to change them over.

We get the door and the handles and then think about anther problem we have, the doors all come with locks but we found out that the locks are all the same, so one key will open any of the internal doors, I am really not happy about this, so we have a look at the locks whilst we are there, some of them cost over a hundred Euro’s, this is way too much money. We do find some cheaper locks but again the same key fits all of the locks!

We then spot some yale type locks in a medium price range, it will mean that John will have to change the whole locking mechanism on the door, but it is worth it to be totally secure.

The wood we wanted is very expensive in this shop so we head over to Brico Depot and buy all of the wood we need.

Whilst we are there I spot some garden decking on special offer, it is 2 metre 400 lengths of tanalised decking at only 2 Euro’s a length, we don't need it at the moment, but how can we not buy it at that price?

John still wants to have a patio in the garden overlooking the view of the church and forest, we can't go home with out it.

We pile as much as the car will carry on the roof rack, this Volvo really is as good as any van!

It's too late to start when we get home so the next day John sets too on building our bedroom, it doesn't take very long to get it all in place and now I can see what he meant, yes it does look good

Monday, 2 June 2014

Renovation project - Gardening in Rural Brittany

Renovation project - Gardening in Rural Brittany

OK the paper chasing is out of the way, for the time being!

Its time to get back to work, the B&B is finished, but there will always be things that need to be done, such as the garden. At the moment it looks pretty where we have made the flower patch and the patio and the slate steps, but it is by no means finished.

John is going to complete the slate steps so that they go into the garden, this means digging out a huge amount of soil and removing the old concrete post.

We still have some of the old oak joists that were in the barn roof and these will be used as sleepers on the steps.

It is fantastic that we have been able to recycle so much of the house and put everything to good use.

The ground is dug, the sleepers are added and the slate is broken, we now have an enormous pile of soil, but waste not want not, we add more to the flower bed and some around the bottom of the apple tree.

During this I am weeding the new flower patch and our herb garden, I still can't believe that people do this for fun, I have most definitely been born with out my family gardening gene! In fact I have just found out that I really dislike gardening, why oh why did I insist on a flower patch?????

But enough of me moaning (well for the minute because looking at how fast the weeds grow I think this may become a recurrent theme!)

Next we use all of the old stones to build borders and plant some more flowers, the old apple tree looks so much better and it seems to be growing more happily since we started looking after it, maybe Prince Charles had a point and I should start talking to the plants, I wonder if it works with weeds? If I shout at them and be nasty will they stop growing??????

By the end of the day we have most of it finished, our only problem now is that Edith and Amelie (the sheep) have gone on holiday, no I don't mean they have gone to Devon!!!!! they have gone to another field for a few week to give our grass time to grow, and boy is it starting to grow!

The big dilemma is do we leave it for the sheep or do we cut it so it looks nice (which also means some more gardening) Bugger, lets just have a glass of wine on the patio whilst we think about it.

Huelgoat B&B garden - Huelgoat Brittany franceHuelgoat B&B garden - Huelgoat Brittany france

Huelgoat B&B garden - Huelgoat Brittany france

Huelgoat B&B garden - Huelgoat Brittany france

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Renovation project - Registering a business in France

Renovation project - Registering a business in France

I received a letter from the Greffe, this had my registration documents in it for the agent commercial, I know it is asking me for something, I am just not quite sure what, I ask my friend to help (the one who has been amazing and helped me throughout this process) and apparently I have missed a bit, I also have to state which assurance I will be using (this is the health bit).

Now this is the upsetting bit, I am finally registered at CPAM and my carte vitale is on its way as we speak, I now have to go and change it, CPAM is for those who work for an employer or have moved from the UK using a S1 form or are retired, so all the headache I have had to get my carte vitale has been in vain and I have to go and change it.

We did get a break yesterday, somebody sent me a link to SOS Anglo, this is an organisation that will complete forms and many other bits and pieces for you in France. We e-mailed them and they completed the auto entrepreneur forms for John it took me 20 minutes to send the info and scans of his documents and 2 hours later everything arrived for only 19 Euro’s, I so wish we had known about this company before!

But back to the original forms and another trip to the CPAM office, this time I really study before I go, as they are no longer allowed to speak any English, I know what I need to say (I have also written it down just to be on the safe side).

We arrive and speak to an official who looks at my forms (I have taken a copy of everything with me) I explain that I need to change from CPAM to Ram, Simples!!!!!!

No it's not, we are at the wrong office, we need to go to the tax office, no problem I know where this is, but that's the wrong office, we actually have to go to the Pépinière d'Entreprises (chambre of commerce, I didn't even know that they had one of these).

We're given the directions and we head over, I ask if we can speak to somebody and we wait a few minutes, My French is really improving now!

The woman is very helpful and she goes through my forms, all I have to do is cross a couple of boxes and send it back with a cheque, What I didn't mention is that this process has a time limit, if my forms were not received, correctly completed the whole process would be stepped and I would have to start again!

At this point I ask her where we register the B&B to make sure that the tax d'habitation is correct and it is at this office, hurray something simple, unfortunately we have not brought all of Johns docuuments with us, so we make an appointment for tomorrow.

Tomorrow arrives and we go in with everything, I start with my usual sentence, biggest tip ever, is to always try your French first, it gets you so much further, another tip is to learn the sentence:

I am sorry but my spoken French is not very good is it possible for you to speak slowly for me!

This is like my mantra in France, but people do speak slowly and quite often you will find people will also speak some English because you have made the effort.

Anyways, the woman actually speaks perfect English, but I ask if I can continue in French and she says that is perfect (I've just made a new friend!)

She starts to complete forms on the computer and after about half an hour, she explains that she is registering John as an auto entrepreneur, I explain that we have already done that, and we only want to make sure that the B&B is registered for tax purposes, she stops at this point and apologises she thought we had wanted her to register John, and explains that she can do all of that for us, free of charge and have it fully completed there and then!

So to summarise:

  1. I have spent 4 weeks with the help of friends to get my registration (I also needed a bit extra with the Greffe)
  2. John has spent 19 Euro’s and somebody else’s time getting registered
  3. The Pépinière d'Entreprises will do it all for you, correctly and instantly for free!!!!!!!

But on the plus side, at the time of writing this, I have not had anything sent back to be corrected and hopefully we are both registered, via the scenic route, but registered!

Top tips

  1. If sending any post to an official department ALWAYS send it recorded delivery
  2. If ever going to any official department always take your ID and photocopies (passport, birth certificate, proof of address, social security number if you have it and marriage certificate if you are married)
  3. Read this post so you don't have to do what we did!