They say things come along in 3's

Hot on the heals of our ridiculously expensive car service (new gaskets, alternator, fan, xenon headlamp, tyre pressure valves and more...) on our return trip home our washing machine became 'en panne' basically the pump had given up the ghost. We searched the internet for the error message and it was clear that paying 60 euro call out plus a new pump on a machine nearly 10 years old when living in an area of extreme hard water was pointless. So last week we decided to order a new machine.

I searched on the internet Pixmania, Amazon and looked up prices on Boulangere, Darty and But as well as various price comparison sites and found a couple of Bosch lave linge models I liked the look of. The problem was most of the internet prices whilst cheaper than the big stores charged a fortune for delivery or would deliver it to some random warehouse for me to collect - not that easy when you don't own a, van, hatch back or a trailer. Those which would deliver then wanted a small fortune to install the machine & take away the old machine too. The installation whilst simple wasn't my main concern. I didn't want to be stuck with a heavy leaky washing machine in the garage (which whilst large is now getting full of dead christmas trees, spare double beds & furniture & old appliances which might one day be useful?!)

With 3 children under 3 I do approximately 3 loads of washing a day and being without a machine is a real pain. Luckily I have a great neighbour who volunteered to be a laundry for me, popping up each morning to take away my washing and bringing it back freshly laundered. Bless her!

I told her of my dilemma about the cost of delivery and she told me to call Surplus Habitat in Pezenas and ask them. It turns out they can order most appliances from a central warehouse and in the end was able to get the Bosch machine I wanted for roughly uthe same price including delivery & taking away the old machine as it would have been on any of the sites on the internet. I ordered a new machine Bosch Avantixx 7 Ecoperformance A*** and it was delivered within 3 days (whereas most of the sites would charge extra for express delivery less than 8-10 days).

Being somewhat of an internet queen I was surprised that my local little Electromenager store could match the prices of the internet - the reason why though was because their delivery/installation/takeaway price was only 15 euro not the 50-90 euro the big online sites were charging. I am happy, I got my machine quickly and I was able to use a local provider which makes me feel better about the purchase. Sometimes it's not all about price. The service from using a local shop was excellent and I'll definitely use them again.

I'll always check the internet first as I like to compare models, features etc - it's part of my nature to understand the detail. I can't stand going into a big store and getting a sales assistant who knows nothing about the product. For me it's either internet or expert...this time I'm glad I got the expert because the same week my oven started burning everything - and it wasn't because I'd been on the vin rouge... the expert came out that same day the washing machine was delivered and diagnosed the thermostat had broken. He's going to come back and fix it next week.

Finally my beloved Dualit coffee machine gave up the ghost again - damned hard water I think. The expert couldn't help with this one so I'm bringing it back to the UK and returning it to Dualit who will look at it for me - I do hope I can fix it.

I also hope that's the end of the problems - it's been an expensive week but on a positive note my eldest daughter turned 3 on Sunday. That's one 3 to be happy about :)

Lakeland sell a similar type of thing called an Ecoball too and they deliver to France as well

yes I saw it at the Ideal Home Show - it was the amount it would save me in laundry powder that attracted me. I tried it out & couldn't believe it actually does work, but it does. So now I have one in London and one in France. I think they deliver overseas. The woman on the website presents a TV programme in the UK called 'How Clean is your house' I've only ever seen adverts for it & the houses look disgusting & full of grime - she basically goes in with a friend and they blitz the place. Not my cup of tea for TV but she know's how to clean.

Ok - sounds interesting. Did you buy it in France or in the UK? (!STRIKING, the lady on the website...) it's a little plastic egg which you fill with two types of cleaning pellets: The dark coloured tourmaline ceramic pellets weaken the adhesive forces between the dirt and fabric.The white mineral pellets then naturally ionize the oxygen molecules in the water which then penetrate deep into the fabric lifting away the dirt and grime, without fading colours or damaging the fibres.

it lasts up to 720 washes and costs approximately 3 pence per wash. It's Hypoallergenic for sensitive skin, Kinder to the environment – No harsh chemicals Safe for use with fabric softener Safe to use up to and including 60 degrees Celsius Works at 40 deg too. Suitable for white and coloured clothes but be careful to not mix colours and whites or darks and light colours.

I find it works well and it will save me a fortune on laundy liquid. If I would have pre-soaked an item e.g. baby clothing with stain then I still pre-soak and it comes out in the wash as normal. I'm happy with it and I won't go back to using powder/liquid again

Suzanne-what is an EcoEgg?

@ Marty & Peggy - totally agree and wish you could repair things for a reasonable price. Hence bringing my dualit coffee machine back to England to be repaired, its a beautiful piece of engineering and they just don't make them like that anymore - they're all plasticey (is that a word) these days. I really want it fixing.

@ Elizabeth - try buying eau demineralise for your iron - I wouldn't use anything else. Its cheap around 1.50 e for 5litres at the supermarket - avoid the one with lavendar as thats nearly 5e just add your own lavendar essential oil - few drops will do the trick.

@ Shirley/Andrew - it's terrible here near Pezenas - my kettle needs descaling every month or so. I'm a fan of vinegar - does a great job. I don't like to pay for the little tablet things - cost me a fortune. I use an EcoEgg rather than washing powder as that uses Bicarbonate and is much healthier I feel as well as being Eco.

It's a small world! You're more than welcome for the soft water Shirley, we've got so much of it at the moment! ;-)

Now that really is super hard water Elizabeth! Bet you have to change your shower head every 6 months too!

Interesting Andrew - not surprised to see on the chart that 62 also has eau extremement dure. My new super duper steam iron presser only had its container filled 3 times before the warning light came on for descaling!

You said it Shirley, the figures are an overall figure for the département and I can assure you that down on the plain (I used to have a little place in Montagnac near Pézenas) the water is rock hard, there's more calcaire than water! As you say, yours is sourced up there where it's softer, it's probably drawn from schiste bedrock and not the calcaire further to the east, north-east. you're almost in the aveyron where we have some of the softest water in France ;-)

You bring up an interesting point, that is now we buy new instead of repairing. Result, a, small town white ware service shops are going out of business.
b, our land fill has to swollow all the disused appliances.
c, we have in most part lost the art of fixing things, just buy new.
Just an observation, but got me thinking…

I always use local shops for appliances. If/when they need servicing, they supply it, sometimes even lending you a washing machine while they repair yours. Try that with the Internet…

Yes, the lady stacking shelves gave me an odd luck when I asked for it, and waved her hand airily at the huge display of vinegars on the shelf. I don't have any recipes requiring white vinegar (I feel deprived!). I did have a nice find though, in the vinaigrette section - Vinaigre Balsamique & Basilic. It's lovely. Normally I make my own with some mustard, garlic, pepper, etc., but I had visitors and knew I wouldn't have enough time to make it.

ah Sheila you're after vinegre crystal, probably all sold out! but I share your pain - where can I but white wine vinegar for many dressings/recipes - never in my local carrefour so instead I import it from England - now that is daft!

And no, not ventured to the Aveyron yet. At current speeds, that would take me several months. ;)

Funny you should mention this - I was in Carrefour this morning looking for plain white vinaigre - no! I could choose from a bewildering display of vinegars - with cidre, rouge, rosé, etc. But no plain white stuff. However, the one I chose (enleve en fut de chene) is doing a nice job on the kettle as we speak. The tea tastes terrible though!

I buy those huge cheapo bottles of water from Leclerc to use in the coffee machine. Obviously I now drive v slowly and carefully there and back so the trip takes several days.

nice one Celeste, you can also use the sachets you get in every packet of coffee filters ;-)

I thought that under the WEEE Directive, a shop that sells you an applicance has to take away the old one free of charge ?

Take it easy Nola, you don't ever drive in the Aveyron do you...!