How we felt at Christmas 2007 and onward Or 'how to survive Visitors'

(Roger Thomas) #1

To bring you up to speed, we finally took possession of the house in May 2007, decamping from the caravan without even a kitchen, most of the furniture arrived in a large van and we spent several months searching for lost bits but as of now the only loss seems to be the long ladder which would be useful for outside deccies,(we are going native) locally our voisins decorate their gardens instead of inside and I had hoped to put lights on the 30ft Xmas tree outside but unless Collins Removals turn up with it between now and the 25th that won’t happen.

Managed to fit a Kitchen into the Utility room

so that the big Kitchen has become a breakfast/dining/having coffee with friends room which I think the French call an ‘espace de vie’

Winter has arrived at last and we are really getting the benefit of the large wood burner in the living room

this takes great big logs and will boil you at 100 paces if you don’t strangle the thing, soon to be added is a wood fired Cooker in the big Kitchen as soon as the Flue is delivered so we will be toasty all winter through.


The summer was only warm by local standards 32 deg in the afternoon but cooling at night for a good night’s kip and we managed to get the pool installed and filled before the end of the season,

next year we should be able to make more use of it especially if the weather is skorchio!
Mary says I can’t have any more presents this year cause the toy room is full, to be fair I have fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition and am now the proud owner of some serious big boys’ toys chainsaw/ride on mower etc.

We managed to get onto the French version of the NHS without any problems which some Brits have had and have been in the press in the UK, guess its useful having an OAP as a wife!! Registered with a local Doctor who speaks English, no queues, or waiting lists here, but there is a Fee to pay for each visit which deters you somewhat and stops the blockage seen in surgeries in the UK, our chemist is great and has pre ordered Mary’s medication which costs less here than in the UK

Mary’s’ irritants are all associated with differences in flour and fats and we have had some interesting cakes over the past six months, that being said we are eating a lot better and healthier out here, whether that is because we now have time to sit down to a proper meal and we have taken a decision to avoid animal fats if at all possible or because the standard of raw materials is higher here but at an increased cost. we have had to increase our food storage and some unkind people have claimed we are trying to rival Tesco's....cant see what they mean?

Lots of people have visited us from the UK which we expected in the first year and Mum L-T is with us over Christmas and New Year. We hope that they all enjoyed themselves. There were times when we felt like tour operators and so for next year we are only accepting guests who are independent, i.e. they make their own transport arrangements, while they may be in holiday mode we still have an awful lot of work to complete, also its very hard to take people to the same attraction several times a year and still remain enthusiastic about it!!

We have settled in well and cannot foresee any reason to contemplate a return other than for Weddings etc. We are now getting used to being retired that’s to say we no longer have time to fit work into a busy schedule, Have met many interesting people out here, as we are all in the same boat we tend to talk to people in the street if you hear English and once any ice is broken can lead to a long conversation over a coffee in the nearest café.

After a few visitors I wrote this:-

A year later after a deluge of guests we wre feeling a little frayed and we believe anyone moving over here for the first time will understand, for the wannabees be warned and for other peoples guests read, note and inwardly digest:

Chez Roger et Marie
Chambres d’hôte

Situated in the heart of the Périgord - Verte, on the southern edge of the national park “Périgord – Limousin” within a mile of the typical rustic village of Thiviers.
Nearby are the historic towns of Périgueux, Brantôme, Limoges, and the rivers Isle, Dronne and Dordogne. The sea or the Massif Central are only a day trip away as are the wine centres of Bergerac and Bordeaux. A number of guide books and large scale maps are available to help further your enjoyment of this area.
Nearby are facilities for shopping, cinema and theatre, horse riding and a day at the races, golf, fishing and canoing.

We regret that “ Thomas’s Tours” are no longer operating however; A small air conditioned car is included٭ in the modest fee (Ford Fiesta) together with transfers from the two nearest airports (Limoges or Bergerac), for up to four guests, , Other airports would be considered at an additional cost. Regrettably no discount can be considered for those with their own transport.

Continental breakfast, a light lunch, and an evening meal ‘en famille’ are served every day, using locally procured ingredients giving you the best of périgordien cuisine and locally produced wine.
Our cook provides daily master classes in subjects as diverse as Bread, Jams and preserves, using our own fruit, Cake making and périgordien cuisine, using locally reared duck, walnuts and foie grasse. You will be able to help from preparation to presentation and finally sit down to the result in the evening. A visit to one of the local marché is almost obligatory to savour the variety and quality of local produce.
The cook works to the very finest standards but is equally happy to provide nursery food, and any special dietary need should be advised when booking. The cook would be happy to provide picnic food upon reasonable notice in lieu of an appropriate meal

Set in over an acre of pasture with many Oak and Fruit trees. The setting is ideal for life ‘en plein air’.
Guests are welcome to eat the fruit in season but we would be grateful if you only harvest sufficient for your immediate needs.

The accommodation is level throughout, and contains three double bedrooms (one en-suite with walk in shower) each with a double or king-size bed.

A large tiled bathroom with a walk in shower and bath and a separate W. C with hand basin compliment the indulgent feel.

There is a lavish salt water (No nasty chlorine smell) swimming pool 25 ft by 13 ft with roman steps specially suited to all ages and abilities, with a depth varying from 30 inches to over 5 feet. There is a lawned sun lounging area provided with ‘Lafuma’ loungers and a giant parasol.

A large equipped terrace with electric sun canopy and barbecue area overlooks rolling country side. Entry to the 25 ft living room is gained by twin French windows. The comfortable furnishings are complimented by a typical French wood burning stove.

Evening entertainment is not forgotten, there is English Satellite TV and Radio, DVD’s, and VCR, Broadband Internet is also provided. A large library is available including a choice of chick-lit and bodice ripping yarns

A rustic living kitchen with local oak table and chairs for six and a wood burning cooker opens off the living room and leads to the summer kitchen with gas hob and electric fan oven, dishwasher, washing machine, tumble dryer, full size fridge and large freezer..

We are fully booked until the end of 2020.
2021 bookings are being taken.
Tariff٭ Saturday 1600 to Saturday 1000:-

Summer 2021 €2010 per week or part thereof for up to four guests;
Spring and autumn 2021 €1800 per week or part thereof for up to four guests;
Winter 2021 including Christmas and New Year €1100 per couple (two couples accepted) per week or part thereof.

The Small Print

1) The pool is open but not heated throughout the year.
2) Sufficient, good quality, linen, and towels are, of course, changed weekly. Concierge service is only available between 10.00 and 20.00. Service washes are charged at €8.00 wash, dry and fold. Ironing is available at an additional €12.00 per hour or part thereof payable locally. Additional linen and towels are available to rent, prices on application to the concierge. The concierge is only available for routine maintenance of the building and pool, all cleaning; bed making etc. is the responsibility of the client; there is no maid service.
3) ٭Payment due 1 week before the holiday, deposit of 50% on booking, good behaviour’ deposit of €2000 in cash to be deposited with the proprietors before commencing the holiday. Refundable at the end of the holiday less payments for breakages, unnatural wear and tear, and additional cleaning costs. The condition of the accommodation will be inspected on a weekly basis when changing linen etc and if at that time and in the opinion of the proprietor normal care and hygiene standards are not being maintained to the extent that the good behaviour bond is insufficient; the hire will be considered as terminated by the guest’s actions.
4) .No discount for children, no pets. No smoking in the house. No food in the bedrooms.
5) The management reserve the right to refuse entry or to terminate without reimbursement any bookings made by dick heads, Guardian readers and merchant bankers.
6) Car hire assumes full Euro driving license nominated driver(s) over 35 years old with less than 3 points and more than 4 years experience. No smoking in the car.
7) In the event of dispute the law applicable is that determined by the proprietor.

Les règles de la maison.

1) Swimming Pool

A) We take pride in offering a great swimming experience running a low chlorine pool, however this regime requires that personal hygiene is of the highest standard, we therefore insist that children are taught not to use the pool as a standby toilet and that parents insure that babies are protected against ‘accidents’ while using the pool. A paddling pool for infants is available.
B) Pool furniture is designed with a maximum of 18 stone in mind, any heavier and the management are not insured against injury etc caused by the failure of the apparatus.
C) No glass ware within 5 metres of the pool. Broken glass is impossible to clean from the pool without emptying it.
D) All users must shower using soap or other cleanser before entering the pool. This is to insure that cosmetics which stain and body secretions which contaminate the pool are removed.
E) No instant tanning creams on any body entering the pool (see above). Waterproof sunscreen is acceptable.
F) Dress code. Only bona fide swim wear may be used in the pool, cut downs and outside wear are not allowed. Swim wear is not obligatory.
2) Indoors
A) The location of the house dictates that all waste is processed through a septic tank (fosse septique). The toilets and drains to sinks etc are able to accept ‘fosse friendly’ products and toilet paper only. Therefore the use or disposal through the drainage system of all products containing bleach including baby sterilising solutions, cleansing wipes, mouthwashes or anti bacterial products are banned. Such products are designed to kill bacteria (‘germs’) which the fosse septique relies upon to process your waste, similar sanitary products should be disposed of via the dustbin NOT the toilet. To paraphrase only products you’ve swallowed may go down the loo!!!!
B) Please ask for guidance before operating any equipment, the electric canopy may only be used in sunny, calm periods, shutters and windows require a little knowledge to utilise correctly without damage. The window dressings are not designed to be drawn, if you require further privacy please close the shutters.
C) Dirty dishes should be placed within easy reach of the dishwasher. Only wrapped food may be placed in the fridge.

(Roger Thomas) #2

I can understand your problems but luckily I had a head start, we had a septic tank and soakaway in North Devon So when we started the French fosse we put a six month dose into the thing, boxes are available at your local supermarche, and then continued with the packets. Don’t forget your floor cleaners, it is so easy to forget and poor the dirty bucket down the sink.
Yes I also post on ‘Total France’ and the Ardent site ‘Living France’, I found those fora particularly useful while I was planning our move, pre house sale and after 10 years of dreaming, I enjoy reading the contributions made by our illustrious founder but I’m far too poor to pay for the magazine (especially at their scandalous european subscription rate), even the on-line version, also now, I’m too busy Living (in) France.

(Karina Driscoll) #3

Hi Roger,
Thanks for your advice, it has made me think !, our new build is very new, we moved in October 2008. I did not think of antibiotics , mouth wash etc. I do check all my cleaners / sprays, We also have been buying sachets from Tarax and Eparcyl , but now about to check all toilet cleaners !!!. I think you also post on Total France ?, I am too } thanks for the link to your photo’s, I will be putting some of ours on this site this week. I find this network so refreshing and welcoming and hope it grows and grows… It has a lovely feel…

(Roger Thomas) #4

I have assumed that you have a new build or at least 1990’s systems, older ‘arrangements’ can be tempermental or ‘awkward’ as we said in North Devon…Bideford that is, but on second thoughts the second thing I would check is that there were no leaks from the soil pipe and that the water traps were full under the sinks and bath etc. because try as you may sewerage pipes do smell whatever method of treatment may be downline.

(Roger Thomas) #5

Never noticed a nasty nif inside but care of the fosse is wholly dependant upon what you put down it, no number of sachets will overcome the use of bleach, standard toilet cleaners and toilet blocks.
Never put anything down the toilet or sinks that you havn’t eaten. the only exceptions are products labled ‘sauf pour fosse septique’, detergents and dishwasher products do not seem to hurt either. I wasnt joking when I mentioned antibiotics they can kill a fosse.
If I’m teaching my granny to suck eggs excuse me but a fosse depends on bacteria to munch up all the poo which is why you add the sachets, anything designed to kill ‘germs’ will kill that bacteria and thus you are left with a tank full of your manure. I have been using the sachets from Tarax and Eparcyl and toilet cleaner from Clarcyl or Auchan gel w.c detartrant labled ‘respecte les fosses septique’.
You might get a smell from the fosse vent pipe adjacent to the fosse or from the toilet balance pipe(s) which jut through the roof occasionally the toilet balance pipes end inside the house and these should terminate in a one way valve so that air is admitted but no air escapes. the caps usually contain activated charcoal to absorb any smell, but a properly regulated regime should not produce any smell…

(Karina Driscoll) #6

Hi Roger,
My husband Peter has just started our blog !!, we are new to this… . I did wonder re fosse septique, we seem to have a problem after heavy rain !!, an awful smell comes up in one bathroom. We went to some French friends last night for dinner and they have a new build… The smell in the house was not nice !, also our Dutch neighbours have the same problem !!!. We put the sachets down the toilet ect… We also are smelling sewerage outside sometimes , but a friend has sent a link to us about buying a " cap " to fit on the top of the pipe. I will look for the link tomorrow…

(Catharine Higginson) #7

Well we’ve solved the visitor problem (at least for the time being) by buying a property that is so unutterably awful, that no one’s asked to visit. Drastic but effective…

(Roger Thomas) #8

As you can see from what i thought would be a second part to my blog we eventually felt as if we were full time hosts at a health spa and after two years of this we eventually have had to ban all visitors, pictures of the house can be seen on please feel free to comment on them, would be only too pleased to help with advice etc, from operating the pool thro’wood burners to how to keep the fosse septique operating despite a diet of mouthwash and antibiotics consumed by our guests.

(Karina Driscoll) #9

We also did a new build and moved in October 2008… Last summer was a nightmare. We still had not finished the outside of the house ( tiles around pool etc ). I had so many relations and friends, it was non stop ! I quite agree about visitors who do not do a thing , they think you are also on holiday and really treat you like a hotel. I was forever changing beds , washing bathrooms, cooking meals and serving drinks !!! and they said you must love " life in France ", how come you are not by the pool " I never had the chance, they forget we still have a day to day life including work…
I will post some photos tomorrow of our house… Hard work and lots of tears, but was worth it in the end…

(Karina Driscoll) #10

I know the feeling Roger, we are also " Fully Booked " this year !

(Roger Thomas) #11

One of our relations thought we had gone into the business, but you must have/will have the same set of feelings when you spend the whole summer catering to guests who cannot lift a tea cup, and with no more than 3 days between visitations.

(Catharine Higginson) #12

Love it! Shame you’re booked till 2020…