Friday, 26 April 2013

Trips to the UK

I've been doing some thinking and costings on getting back to the UK for our flight from Gatwick to the USA later this Spring and thought I would share this as the obvious is not always the best.

My first thoughts would have been to drive the car and take the Roscoff to Plymouth ferry
 ( around £250 ) then drive to Gatwick and leave the car parked there, however Avril is not the best of sailors and as we needed still to drive for several hours once we were in the UK I looked into driving to Calais and taking the Eurostar to Folkestone  However from here in Brittany this is around a 7 hour drive plus around 25 euros in each direction for tolls plus the cost seems to have gone up a lot since the last time I used it ( around £180 )

I ended up booking a Ryan Air flight from Dinard to Stansted with a coach trip back to Victoria and Gatwick Express train from Victoria to Gatwick.

I won't go through all the costings as it was complicated in that I needed hotel accommodation due to an early flight from Gatwick but allowing for everything, ie: travel costs, petrol, parking etc I saved around £200 by flying which was the easiest and cheapest way.

This is something for others to think.about rather than just assuming that the closest ferry is the best way to go.
I normally pay around £250 return to take the car on an overnight crossing with a cabin and a return during the day without a cabin. In this instance I paid a total of £122 for the flight for both of us including all of Ryan Air's ( hidden! )charges and taxes, as I could hire a car for a week for about £88 I shall be thinking twice in the future before taking the ferry!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Jazz and more Jazz

We are off today to Chateauneuf-du-Faou a town about 40 minutes away from us to for an afternoon of Jazz. There are regular Jazz sessions held at the bar "Tal ar Pont" which overlooks the river there and is a beautiful spot.

You can see the bar in the right hand side of the photo.

Today is the tenth anniversary of Jazz held there and is a full afternoon. Starting off with a "Cochon Grille"
 ( Pig Roast ) at the local hall at 12.30 this goes on to 7pm with two well known local Jazz Groups
" Goodtime Jazz" and the "Ragamuffins" plus guest appearances from others.

I really enjoy listening to The Goodtime Jazz who are a very lively group despite the fact they are what you may describe as being "mature" in age. Here is a You tube footage of them.

Good Time Jazz playing "Operator"

I started this before we went, so this is a carry on after the event so to speak. We got to Chateauneuf du Faou about 12.30  at last we had some decent weather as well. Before the food there was a wine tasting of some Sancerre wines we just had a glass of a very nice white wine but as it was a tasting and the wine was 10 euros a bottle ( not expensive but it is all in proportion ) we just had the one.

 We then moved into the hall where there was jazz being played all afternoon by a variety of groups there were well over 100 people there having the Roast Pork which was lovely, along with a few(ish) glasses of wine we stayed there until 4.30 

when we all moved across to the bar on the other side of the river "Bar Tal ar Pont. The main group of the day "Good Time Jazz" were playing there, the bar was full but the weather was good so we sat outside and listened to some great music along with a few more glasses of wine
 ( no I wasn't driving ) 
We eventually got home at 8 in the evening, all in all a superb way to spend a Sunday Afternoon.

Friday, 12 April 2013

A visit to the dentist

This is something we have both put off for too long, partly because of the language problem but also I have to admit to waiting for the 183 days initial period before the insurance kicks in.

I have to say I any very impressed with the whole service, here in France you don't have to sign up with a particular dentist you just have to make an appointment with any one that suits you.

We went to one in our village as It is close to home, ( I could even walk if I wanted to ) we both called in together to make an appointment and were offered one within 3 or 4 days, something that is practically unknown in the UK I think.

This morning we went for an examination and check up to see what needed to be done, Avril needed one small filling replaced which he did on the spot, I needed 3 or 4, he sorted out the most urgent one straight away and offered me a choice of days during the next week to carry on the treatment.
I am more than impressed.
In addition, both of us agreed afterwards that it was probably the best dental treatment we had ever had I didn't even realise I had had an injection until my gum started going numb. He also took several x rays all of which he processed immediately on the computer in the room and used for reference.

The way the system works over here is you have to show your "Carte Vitale" ( your health card ) and pay for the treatment, approximately 70% of this is refunded to your bank account within 3-4 days and the balance from the Insurance, again direct to your bank a couple of days later.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Tax returns

After thinking I had escaped the clutches of  the Inland Revenue I had a letter from them today telling me I had to put in a return, It took me about 20 minutes to get through on the phone but eventually after answering a series of questions including "Do I earn over £100,000 in the UK" ( I wish! ) they agreed I didn't have to do it.
However the time has nearly come around again where I have to submit French Tax Returns ( just as bad as the UK ones but more bureaucracy )

I will be the first to admit that they are not the easiest things to complete as there are about 8 pages in total and all in French but by searching through a variety of sites on the Internet i was able to pierce together all the information I needed on where to put in the different figures etc and submitted my returns last year which were accepted without question. I seem to be one of the few people I have met doing this as most people seem to go to the bank etc for help but I like to be independent!

This year I have gone one stage further by putting together notes associated with the necessary forms and uploading them to my Living in Brittany web site. Although they are applicable to my own situation ie: on a UK pension with a couple of small private pensions and a limited amount of interest coming in I am sure that this will also apply to a lot of other people and hopefully will be useful to them.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


I know I've mentioned it before but one of the joys of living here in Brittany bordering onto open countryside is the wildlife we get here.

What a lovely sight yesterday morning, we had just finished breakfast and out of the lounge windows at the rear of the house we had 5 deer wandering around our back lawn. A really lovely start to the day. OK I have to accept that they "Prune" my vegetable garden and the roses etc but I think I can live with that just for the joy of seeing them running wild.

Here are some photos taken through my window.