Tuesday, 30 December 2008

A Nearly White Christmas

What a difference a day makes, one day earlier and we would have had a white Christmas. It was still pretty nice to wake up to some snow on boxing day though, the grandchildren had a great time building a snowman and having a snowball fight with their parents.

We had already seen a bit of snow because we had gone to the Pyrenees for a little bit of skiing on Christmas eve and had a really nice day out at Bonascres above Ax les Thermes, despite the fact that all the websites I could find said it was closed when in fact all the slopes and lifts were open and they were enjoying a brilliant start to the season.

Christmas day saw the commencement of a typical English Christmas with the intention to cook a goose according to Jamie's instructions and a turkey cooked to Nigella's instructions, except all that soaking in the water with all sorts of herbs and things, couldn't be doing with all that.

Oh and we made up our own stuffing as well and it was all delicious, so who needs celebrity chefs anyway.

Fraser (son in law) and I did our own thing with the birds and the ladies sorted out all the veg. But the potatoes cooked in goose fat were out of this world, so that was a good tip and there was plenty available in no time at all once the goose hit the oven.

The stuffing was made with a pork mince base which was added to fried onions which were cooked until golden in olive oil. Once the mince was nicely fried and cooked through a sweet apple was diced and added for good measure, then a generous dash of Chardonnay and lashings of sage, thyme and rosemary were thrown in. It was all mixed with white bread broken into fine powdery crumbs, a few walnuts broken up into quite small pieces and a raw egg to hold it all together. We left it to cool then overnight for the next days cooking marathon.

Some of the stuffing was pushed into the bottom of the turkey (but not to fill it completely) and the rest was cooked in it's own dish so that the top was brown and crispy. Both versions were really good and this could well become our traditional family stuffing for the future (all because we forgot the celery we usually use for stuffing) and especially now that I have recorded it here for reference.

Talking of family stuffing, by the time we had finished eating we were well and truly stuffed and all that was left to do was sit in front of the TV having loaded the fire with logs and try and stay awake through the film I got for Christmas appropriately named 'Run Fat Boy Run' which I have to say was very funny, well the bits I saw of it, you know what I mean, a few ports a roaring fire and a full belly, not the best combo for alertness.

So having consumed about a weeks worth of food in one day we made plans for a skiing trip to Mont D'Olme and a day of fitness, but that's another story which, with luck, I can share with you soon.

Here is our family Christmas dinner, for anyone who is interested:
  • One goose cooked a la Fraser
  • One turkey cooked a la Brian
  • Roast potatoes cooked in goose fat
  • Parsnips cooked in goose fat and drizzled with honey
  • Carrots sweated in a pan with butter and garlic
  • Pigs in their jackets courtesy of the Naafi with English pork sausages and streaky bacon
  • Pork and apple stuffing
  • Sprouts steamed to soften (love em or hate em, I love em)

  • Christmas pudding and cream

The album from boxing day can be found at Boxing Day Photos

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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Christmas Message & New family Members

Merry Christmas to one and all, family, friends and visitors to our gite in France, some of whom have become friends.

We have had a very eventful first year in France and in September we officially became French residents and I now pay my tax and national insurance to the French government Yay!! I'm so happy about that.

We had a very busy season in the gite with lots of people to stay right up until mid October and have already let 9 weeks for next season with high hopes that the rest of the weeks will go after Christmas which is the busy time for people looking for holidays.

Next year the rules change in France and there is going to be the introduction of a new working condition for entrepreneurs. What that actually means is that you will be able to register a business as a self employed person and only pay tax on your earnings, whereas at the moment you are supposed to register your business and pay tax on assumed earnings whether you actually earn any money or not - CRAZEEEEY .

Ang and I are really looking forward to the change because it will give us both the opportunity to start legitimate businesses. I am going to advertise as a web designer and Angela will look for work as a seamstress, something that she has great talent for. So watch this space.

On a personal level we have also had a very interesting year, Angela discovered around about September time that she has another elder sister, who is happily married and has been living in Bermuda for the last 20 years. They have just retired and are now looking into living in Australia or perhaps New Zealand where they have children and grandchildren, so it is a very exciting time for them and their family with new babies also due at any time now.

We were very lucky to all be able to meet up in the UK where we were all attending a family wedding and Angela got to meet her new sister and her husband before they disappeared off to Australia. It was a very successful meeting and we are very happy to welcome Janice and her family into our family and now hope to make up for lost time. It was definitely a shock to everyone to find there was a new sister and emotions ran very high initially but I think now everyone has met and the shock has subsided that this is a very positive event in all our lives.

So a special Merry Christmas and Happy new year to all our new family who are all going to be together in Australia.

We also had a new addition to the family in the form of little Scarlett who was born on the 27th May to her proud parents in Gloucester in the UK, a little Bobby Dazzler with a lovely disposition and a happy smile for everyone.

That is it for my Christmas blog and message I hope that everyone who reads this has the opportunity for a nice Christmas and have no troubles in their lives that cannot be resolved.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Tis the season to be merry and to cut wood

Christmas is just around the corner and life in France is full of anticipation because a fair proportion of the family are heading our way to share the festivities. So it won't be long before the house is all messed up with stuff strewn everywhere and the kids running riot.

This is what my wife calls 7th heaven and she just can't wait. I enjoy it as well but I still like my quite moments, so my escape from the mayhem is to get out into the garden sort out a few bits and pieces cut a few logs up and stick them on the woodpile.

Funny thing is though I know as soon as I do that, all the grandchildren will decide to join in, they all love to get involved and if last year is anything to go by, it won't take long before we have to get a work party organized with wood being loaded into the wheelbarrow and transported to the wood store, truth is I actually really enjoy that.

There will of course have to be some stern health and safety warnings given out as this year I have had to invest in a new chain saw which, is a bit of a beast, having finally killed off my little 14" McCulloch through overwork logging large trees and lots of them.

So here's the story, I'll try not to bore you with it too much, we decided it was time to get sorted out with a saw that was capable of supporting the amount of work it would need to do for Life in the France Lane. After much research and seeking of opinion we knew exactly which model we wanted and set about finding the cheapest supplier.

Well the internet was out because there was no guarantee of delivery before Christmas and with half the family arriving for the Yule Tide celebrations we couldn't all be sitting around in the cold with no firewood, the name Ebeneezer Scrooge springs to mind.

So we short listed 3 local suppliers and set off to check them out, we had a great start Saturday afternoon and the first shop we went to was shut, well it is France.

Off we went to the 2nd one (Melix)and they were having some sort of promotion, the place was full of people all drinking wine and eating snacks and what were they all examining, you guessed it chainsaws.

Just our luck, the 2 French speaking salesmen were fully engaged with their audience and the little Brits (me and the wife, or should I say my wife and I) at the back were not getting a look in. We did manage to ascertain however that the chainsaw we wanted was on display at twice the price we wanted to pay, something in the order of 700 euros, ouch!!!

At this point we decided to retreat and head off to our 3rd venue, the local Bricomarche, however in my wisdom I decided that we would be better going to a much larger Bricomarche on the outskirts of Carcassonne which was only a 30 minute drive away and would in my opinion be bound to cost less. So off we went only to find when we got there that they didn't actually sell chainsaws, oh good, this left us little option but to turn around and go back to out local shop.

The maths isn't hard about an hour after the decision to save a bit of money we were back on the outskirts of Castelnaudary with no chainsaw and to put you in the picture,from when we 'popped' out to pick up a chainsaw about 2 1/2 hours had passed and we hadn't actually achieved anything. On a positive note however we did spot some Christmas trees for sale at a very reasonable price in the local garden center next to the Canal du Midi (world heritage site you know)and managed to squeeze one big enough to keep the wife happy into the car.

So now I am driving into the middle of Castelnaudary with a Christmas tree sticking in my left ear and the wife, who has now had to move into the back of the car having given up her seat to the Christmas tree giving me the wisdom of her advice in my right ear.

We finally got to our local Bricomarche only to find that the saws there were actually more expensive than the saws in the 2nd venue (Melix). So guess where we were going next, I think the French call it deja vu.

We got back to Melix about 2 hours after our original visit and the mayhem there had calmed a little, for our part we had down scaled our expectations and selected a model which was a little closer to our target price, now all we had to do was attract the attention of a salesman.

With best French at the ready we entered into negotiations and immediately went for a 100 euro reduction on the price based on a voucher we had found in the chainsaw brochure for the model we wanted. It was at this point that the salesman pointed at a sign above my head which showed that the price they were asking already included the 100 euros off, which I understood, but before I could reply I heard 'un moment' and the salesman disappeared.

He quickly re-appeared with a very nice lady who spoke perfect English, who actually turned out to be his wife and was in fact English but had lived in France for 22 years so was fluent in both languages (I am so jealous of that).

Anyway I am dragging this out a bit, but with a few well pointed questions it was quickly established just how many and what size trees I needed to cut and how woefully inadequate my choice of machine was.

Isn't it really bad when what someone is telling you is making complete sense and you know he is right but you really don't want to spend that much money.

I tried one more futile attempt to get the cheaper machine and mentioned that the expensive one was a little more than I wanted to spend, didn't get me anywhere, I think the response I got was something along the lines of 'then perhaps I should have bought a property with less trees which were smaller' and then I could have managed with a smaller saw, I sort of got his drift and had to finally concede.

Before I knew it I had agreed to pay twice as much as I wanted to and the new saw appeared from the stock room ready to take to the check out, he did however give me a 100 euros off the asking price and we had really enjoyed our chat with his English speaking wife who could not have been more helpful plus we could at last go home. It had only been 4 hours ago that we had left the house in search of our best deal for the chainsaw, firm in our opinion we would not be swayed into paying more than we wanted to or buying a saw we weren't fully conversant with in terms of specification.

The good news is I used the new saw today and it started first time, it did not seize up and I cut a huge pile of wood as big as a house (alright I'm exaggerating) in about 1/2 and hour or so, I think I have to admit it was game set and match to our French salesman.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Renovating a room or two

It's a good job I'm not a juggler because if I was I would have been sacked by now, not been so good keeping all the balls in the air recently.

The juggling is renovating the house, internet marketing, doing the garden, cutting wood for the winter and various other tasks that I have going on.

In other words I keep doing a bit of everything and finishing nothing (or so it seems) and have to admit I am particularly drawn to sitting on the computer which always seems to take priority especially versus hard physical labour, don't understand why exactly, that's just the way it is.

Anyway I knew I had to start work on getting a new kitchen installed in our living area for when the gite is rented out and that the computer would have to take 2nd spot for a while.

That holiday season seems a bit away at the moment but time goes so fast that you can be sure it will be on us again and the kitchen won't be done if we don't get on with it, just like last summer where the only place we could wash up was in the cave (cellar) and that's a pretty long trek when you are carrying a big basket full of pots and crockery, just couldn't put the wife through that again so it has to be done.

Well this old house is made of stern stuff and I found that just getting the pipework through for the new sink involved drilling 3 holes through about 18" of solid concrete, not so bad for the 15mm (0.6") pipes but proved a bit of a battle for the 52mm (2") waste pipe. After spinning around on the end of the drill a few times and about 8 attempts over 5 hours I finally got my holes done, Yay!!!.

Anyway to cut a long story short, I managed to focus long enough to get all the pipework in place and connect up the sink which now sits proudly on it's unit waiting to be finished off, no change there then.

In order to finish locating the new kitchen units we needed to decide what to do with a doorway that had to be closed off and form part of the wall that sits behind the new units. After a brief discussion it was clear that the best way to do this would be to fill in the hole with block work and then plaster it.

Sounds easy enough and the first stage of doing the block work went relatively smoothly and yes I was pleased with my handiwork, how hard could plastering be???

I am not a builder so as I said I was quite chuffed with the block work and set about the task of plastering over the new blocks it must be said, on a bit of a high.

Not wanting to mess up I decided to plaster the bottom half of the doorway first to see how this French plaster was mixed and applied. The first batch went on like a dream, slapped it on smoothed it out and seemed to have plenty of time to get the finish right.

All the bad press I had heard about this plaster was dismissed, it's a doddle I thought, that was until I mixed the 2nd batch which set as I carried it up the steps to where I was working. So nothing for it, I went back down the steps and chiseled the now rock hard plaster out of my bucket with not a trowel full applied, cleaned everything up and mixed another batch.

Now bear in mind all I am doing is a 6'6" x 3' doorway 1/2 of which I completed on my first go, it should have been easy. Anyway the 3rd batch lasted about 2 minutes longer than the 2nd batch which was just long enough for me to get it on the wall but not to smooth it out, what a disaster.

It was at this point I enlisted the help of my wife, all instructions were read again, kitchen weighing scales and measuring jugs were brought into play to ensure the correct proportions were being mixed and according to the law I should have had 30 minutes to apply and smooth out the plaster. I am not sure how many batches we ended up mixing or how many bucket fulls
of the solid lumps that ensued I had to chisel out, but I do know that at the end of this exercise I was a broken man.

We are still attacking the plastered doorway on a daily basis filling, scraping and sanding to try and get a decent finish, well we were going to tile over that bit anyway, honest!!

So be warned you budding builders out there, French plaster sets like concrete in anything from 1 to 10 minutes and no amount of additional water or powder is going to stop it, unless you know better, in which case can you tell me please because I am desperate to figure out how a French plasterer can do a complete wall.

Well you can imagine the stress this little exercise caused me so when the wife said 'shall we go for a nice long walk instead of working today, it is Sunday after all', I jumped at it and off we set. It's amazing as you walk along through gorgeous countryside looking at what nature has to offer how things can be put in perspective and what seems a monumental problem pales into insignificance.

That's when I took the picture above and realized that this was god's handy work, that he had put those clouds in the sky and it was then I thought 'he didn't get those too smooth either, so what am I worried about'.

Hope you enjoyed this little story, I know I didn't and I am certainly not claiming to be an expert now, this is one skill set I am happy to leave to the professionals the next time a little bit of plastering needs to be done.

The following sign was spotted on a plumber's truck, I think it could be put on a builders truck as well.

On a Plumber's truck:
'We repair what your husband fixed.'

Friday, 28 November 2008

Skiing in Zell am See, Austria

Here is my long awaited and latest hub page, lucky for me it is about one of my favorite pass times.

Climbing to the top of a mountain, pushing yourself off and careering out of control to the bottom, otherwise known as intermediate level skiing.

I have never quite managed to break anything while skiing, despite my best efforts, but boy I have come close.

Take a look I think you might enjoy this one.

Skiing in Zell am See, Austria

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Why I have been missing for a few weeks

If you have been wondering where I have been for the last few weeks (probably not but I can pretend) I'm going to tell you.

We just had our last visitors at the gite leave around the 18th October 08 after a very enjoyable 3 week stay with us, really nice people that we made friends with during their stay, but straight after that we were off to the UK.

We had to stop at a couple of places because we were on route to Scotland for a big wedding at Comlongdon Castle (in the picture) and let me tell you from the South of France that is a long way.

We stopped just north of Paris on the first night in one of those really cheap motorway hotels, what luxury, had a McDonalds and went to bed, this credit crunch is just great isn't it.

Got copied by email on these words of wisdom as well which I have just got to share with you.

If you had purchased £1000 of Northern Rock shares one year ago it would now be worth £4.95, with HBOS, earlier this week your £1000 would have been worth £16.50, £1000 invested in XL Leisure would now be worth less than £5, but if you bought £1000 worth of Tennents Lager one year ago, drank it all, then took the empty cans to an aluminium re-cycling plant, you would get £214. So based on the above statistics the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and re-cycle.

Well I thought it was funny, and I actually hope it's true as well.

Anyway back to the trip, took some great pictures which I am going to edit and post on the web, I'll let you know when but I'll put a few in here as a little taster. Like this one for instance: -

This was the sun setting just before we got to Paris on our first day of the trip, we were in a really plain flat stretch of road (N20) and then I just noticed that the sun set was really good and with a few wind turbines and electricity pylons I couldn't resist, this was taken from a moving car so not as good as I would have liked but hey! we were in a hurry that McDonald's was waiting.

After Paris we set off for Suffolk and a little village called Ixworth to stay with friends, leaving Paris we passed through Senlis, that's a nice place, and headed for Dunkerque for the ferry, I got a return ticket for 44 pounds through my website pretty good deal really.

The sun was shining and it was a lovely day, the picture above is just to prove it. We got to Dunkerque and the sun was shining and we said to one another, rather naively it has to be said, it's probably going to be nice in England as well.

We got half way across the channel and the sea turned rough the clouds came over and it started to rain, what we didn't know was this was going to set the scene right up to and through the wedding day.

Anyway I'll fast forward a bit, we stayed for our night in Ixworth, nice house, and the next morning we set off for Kirk Deighton in North Yorkshire where we stayed with our in laws for a couple of nights and went to a British pub for the first time in the best part of a year.

Then it was off to Comlongdon Castle and the wedding, we had to drive across country along the A66, the wind was howling and all the high sided lorries were being sent back to the A1 for fear of being blown over, what a cheery day for a wedding.

We finally got to the castle, thank god for Sat Navs, that's all I can say, it was chucking down but do you know what it was still a brilliant day, all the photos had to be taken indoors but the whole day was fabulous, all the family arriving (some new additions as well, but thats another story) the bubbly started to flow and it all ended up with a hooley, a firework display and some late night drinking in the bar, not like our family at all really.

Obviously this is a private deal so no photos on the web unless I get told I can and except for the ones that have no people in them, like the one of the rain outside.

The big firework display that was planned looked like it might have to be called off but then, almost as if it was to order, the rain stopped, the call went out for everyone to go outside and the fireworks began. I had put my camera away by now as I didn't want to leave it somewhere by accident (in an alcoholic daze is what I really mean), so didn't get any shots, you are just going to have to take my word for it when I say it was pretty darn spectacular.

Well that is only half way through week one so I am going to have to fast forward the rest so you don't all fall asleep on me.

After the wedding day we headed south again, first to Carlisle where we stayed with friends for a night at Cumwhinton, then back to Yorkshire for another night and a family get together for the old uns.

After that it was across to Warrington for a visit to see our little grandaughter, spending the day and night before going even further south to the Forest of Dean to stay with family again and our 8th different bed in as many days.

We stayed in the Forest for the best part of a week visiting sisters daughters and sons in and around Gloucestershire, actually got to see my youngest grandchild for the first time and what a little Bobby dazzler she is.

We had one final night in the UK at my brothers in Bexley Heath and then it was bye bye Grande Bretagne and we were off to Germany for a week with our daughter, we stayed there long enough to celebrate the wife's birthday and got to go to a really good bonfire night and firework display at Rheindahlen, the week went really quickly and before we knew it we were heading back to France where we had the most amazing drive down the A75 and to the Millau viaduct, watch this space for another hubpage.

So you can see we have not exactly been twiddling our thumbs and I did manage to post a hubpage during the trip and stay on top of most of my email, albeit some people really should make their wireless networks secure if you know what I mean.

It's good job we took some of that really good (but cheap) French red wine back with us as well because there are some thirsty people out there.

Oh and the final bed count was 12 in 3 weeks, not too shabby really.

Well that's it for now, back to work with lots of house renovation stuff to get on with.

Try and make the next one an update on the SEO stuff I promised a while ago, its taking a while but it will be good when I get there.

Friday, 7 November 2008

A day out in Corbieres

At last a new blog posting, I have been a bit light on blogging recently as I have been on my European tour back to the UK via everywhere and have had limited access to a decent broadband set up.

But I have managed to write a new hub which has a little bit of Tour de France, a little bit of History and a lot about wine tasting routes and venues in the South of France. so have a look and see what you think.

A day out in Corbieres

Friday, 17 October 2008

A Day Out in Toulouse City - The Cite d'Espace

Sorry guys nearly forgot to blog our day out in Toulouse, but still better late than never eh!!.

It was a really nice day out, we did it on a budget so took our sarnies to Place Wilson and found a bench in the sun.

A little French lady sat down next to me because she wanted a bit of sun as well and the next thing you know we are having a conversation in French in between bites of my ham and tomato roll and salted crisps.

It turned out that she knew our little village and the next village along, she lived in Toulouse and wanted to know how we earned our money in France. All done without a single word of English, things are looking up, I might be able to claim I have schoolboy French soon.

Anyway she pointed us towards the Victor Hugo food market (after I asked her where it was of course, she wasn't trying to get rid of me) and went on her way. We were left with a warm fuzzy feeling that we had integrated a little bit into French society, well from little acorns mighty oaks do grow as they say.

Enjoy your day out in Toulouse, its a great place to visit for real as well.

A Day Out in Toulouse City - The Cite d'Espace

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

A Day out in the Minervois

Here we go then, the latest offering posted from Squidoo for the wine tasting, history loving admirers of beautiful scenery.

Another day out in the South of France which you can do virtually or even better get on a plane and come and see the real deal.

Go take a look at it and don't forget to 'Share it' if you like it with all your mates, there are share icons to make it really easy to do, just click on your favorite and share away.

A Day out in the Minervois

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

A Day out in Carcassonne

A Day out in Carcassonne is my latest in the series of day out recommendations for touring around in the South of France.

Gives you a little bit of info about the places you will visit and a nice little day trip option for anyone visiting the region where we live and run our business.

Be great if you get to enjoy the suggested routes and if you actually manage to do one let me know how you got on, I would be really interested to hear.

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Sunday, 14 September 2008

Fancy a fantastic day out in the South of France

Fancy a fantastic day out in the South of France

this was the first in a series of lenses I did for recommending a nice way to spend a day in the South of France, the title sort of gives it away a bit.

We actually did this route after we spent a night in Ceret which is close to Collioure a Catalan port on the Mediterranean coast where Picasso used to paint. I didn't see him around so I guess he must have been busy.

It's my favorite day out so far (even though we cheated and did an overnight stop), but we have loads more planned and intend to do a hub recording each one so that you can all share in the excitement, bet you can't wait.

Anyway if you are coming down this way its definitely worth a look, and if you aren't some of the photos are pretty cool.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Where have you been

Check out my lens

I have been a bit busy sorting out the 4 th in the series of destination France lenses on Squidoo, but if you are interested you can take a look at the latest in the series by clicking on the banner above.

That's not all I have been doing though, I have been busy working out how to put RSS feeds into my websites, how to get lots of reciprocal links and SEO generally. All takes time you know.

Been finding out some pretty cool stuff as well, I guess I am getting close to the time where I am going to have to put all this information together and share it with y'all (that's Texan, I know it's rubbish, won't do it again, promise)

Can't do that just yet though because I need to make sure everything I am doing works, for example if you use java script for your RSS feed the search engines ignore it, apparently it has to be done with php code to be any good for SEO.

Anyway I am going to test it all on my main website French Holidays Aude and my wifes new website Curtains and Cushions i.e. by putting all this good stuff into practice and getting right up there in Google.

Well I guess there are a few people out there who will know what I am talking about, and that is only one subject of many.

Must be doing something right though because if you type 'moving to france squidoo' I am right up there at number one, just need to be able to do that without the squidoo part of the search term. Its the same deal for buying a house in France.

Oh the other thing I need to share is that I am now an affiliate for the British Heart Foundation and as a result I am morally obliged to push you towards making a donation. You can do that by clicking on the banner below

or visiting my lens at

Check out my lens

Well I guess you have had enough of me for now, so I will get on with something else, go check out those links instead and make yourself feel better by giving a donation to charity.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Another Charitable Excursion

Its Sunday again so rather than the normal internet marketing campaign I have produced another charitable lens on Squidoo.

You may have seen my lens for CLIC Sargent last week aimed at raising funds for my favorite charity.

Well this week I have done another one for the British Heart Foundation which will hopefully make lots of money and get people thinking about just how many of us have known people who have suffered a heart attack.

I personally have seen my father killed by a heart attack and had a serious fright when one of our other close relatives also suffered a sudden and unexpected heart attack recently. He very thankfully survived, had some very modern and up to date surgery and is feeling better than he has for a long time.

Thats the thing about your heart, a slow deterioration can suddenly turn into a very serious life threatening situation, but thanks to the research and development of new treatments sponsored by the likes of the BHF once discovered the whole situation can be turned around.

Why don't you have a look at the lens and see what you think, you may even fancy putting a pound or two in their direction to help with all the good work they do.

Anyway I will be back to the internet marketing trail again very soon so watch this space.

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Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Blatant Marketing Blog

If you have been following my blogs you will know that I left a job in technology , actually I was a technology manager working for an American oil and gas exploration company, but then I moved to France to set up a gite business with my wife .

So you could say that it has been a bit of a change of lifestyle to say the least.

Now I will be honest with you, there is not an awful lot of money to be made running a gite, the season is relatively short where the money is good and there is a natural ceiling to the earnings you can generate, hence the need for a blatant marketing blog campaign. Well I am not a politician and thought the truth might be quite refreshing.

So bottom line and what I want to get to is that we need to operate some other businesses and find additional ways of earning some money while we are living here in France. Not that I am knocking the gite business, we have had a brilliant first season as you can see on the quotes page for FRENCH HOLIDAYS AUDE , take a look to see what people who have stayed said about us.

Oh by the way, that was blatant marketing blog number 1

So now I would like to announce the arrival of my wifes brand new website, pushed out onto the world wide web this weekend, you can find it at CURTAINS AND CUSHIONS and it is a mix of a company catalog for her day to day business plus a shop window for my affiliate marketing business. Well I did say this was going to be a blatant marketing blog so what did you expect and oh yeah, that was number 2.

So having plugged the wifes new website lets move on to the other things I would like to talk about in other words my next blatant marketing blog, number 3.

I have done a series of lenses on Squidoo that explain exactly how to go about moving to France, there are 3 in the series so far and the lastest is called BUYING A HOUSE and is all about the legal proceedings associated with making a house purchase in France, I can almost hear you yawning from here, but I have to say the lenses are receiving pretty good reviews from seasoned Squidoor's and my first 2 have received 5 star ratings with the 3rd only finished yesterday so still out to court, obviously of most interest to people who would like to move to France but others may also find them mildly interesting.

So why I hear you asking are you doing these lenses, well the answer is that it is all part of my marketing strategy.

The theory is (and its a good one) that if you put useful information on the internet that people want access to, then eventually you will start to generate traffic to the information i.e. people will visit your website to find the information and likely share its existence with their friends and associates.

Now if as well as the information on the website you put links to relevant products and services associated with that information then there is a good chance that 1 0r 2 people will make a purchase or use your sponsored links to go and look at other relevant information or products. Notice the presence of the words useful and relevant associated with the information and or products because this really is the key to generating and keeping traffic on your website.

By the way if you are interested in affiliate marketing why don't you join up and see how you do, just click on the banner below and apply to join. All you need is a website (blog page even), some traffic (I guess someone reads your stuff) and a good reason why merchants would make you an affiliate, oh and I just gave you 2 but I am sure you can come up with your own.

Wow blatant marketing blog number 4 just slipped straight in there without taking a breath.

Anyway I am going to stop telling you all my secrets now and go to BLATANT MARKETING BLOG number 5 which is SELL, SELL, SELL or even better BUY, BUY, BUY

This requires me to make an assumption and my assumption is that everybody likes a bargain. So number 5 is that I am going to share with you some of the huge discounts I have been made privy to via the Affiliate Window. I am not going to mess about with a few pence here and there I am going for your 25%, 50%, 60% or 80% off deals that really mean something to your pocket.

So are you ready for a good browse, think of it as window shopping when you suddenly see a real bargain and its oh so hard to resist. Well don't resist go for it, because you don't know when you will get the next chance.

Hope you didn't miss out but the end of the month is here and I had to remove the August offers, when I get a chance I will take a look at the latest offers and do an update. Wouldn't want you guys to miss a good opportunity.

These great multiple award winning all-in-one sleeping solutions, ideal for summer sleepovers, camping or holidays, are now discounted by up to 33%. They feature some of our strongest children’s character brands including Thomas the Tank Engine, In the Night Garden, Disney Cars and many more…

We are offering our customers 50% off all our Egyptian Cotton Bedding range.

Happy shopping and that is it for the blatant marketing blog for the moment, but keep em peeled if I see more offers like this again you can be sure I will be doing an update, so bookmark this page and if you don't buy this time lets see if we can find a real deal that does meet with your approval.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Doing my bit for charity

It's Saturday today so I have decided rather than working just for myself trying to get people to buy into my affiliate marketing promotions, which lets face it is what I normally do, I have decided to write whats called a lens for charity on Squidoo.

Squidoo is very similar to blogger in that you can produce mini websites for free and earn money through Adsense, Amazon or by putting your affiliate links onto the site.

With Squidoo they give you the option of putting all proceeds from a particular blog towards a charity of choice. I really liked that especially since I moved to France and could no longer make contributions from my corporate salary to my favorite charities, well I still do but its very modest and not as much as I would like to give.

Anyway the reason I like to give to this particular charity CLIC Sargent is because we once had first hand experience of what it is like to have a serious illness in the family with one of our grandchildren. I can assure you there is nothing worse than seeing a child seriously ill, well not in my opinion anyway.

You can see my lens at Raising Funds for CLIC Sargent
so take a look and see what I have said and see if you fancy making a purchase for charity or even better make a direct donation, especially a regular payment. You can be sure of one thing any donation will be put to good use and will help people when they really need it.

That said on Monday I will be back on the internet marketing trail and will be working on the next post for buying a house in France, this is going to be the legal process that you have to get through. Hopefully it will be interesting and helpful reading.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Booking Heaven

Just a very quick note today, Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest. Well I was resting then I got a phonecall from someone who said they would like to book the gite So I said OK when would you like to come and the answer was August 2009. So here we are in our first season already taking bookings for 2009.

Got to say it is quite nice to get a booking for next year already and makes you think must be doing something right. Still I am not getting too cocky it was for August and we all know that is the easiest month to get rented out. What we really need to see are bookings for April, May and June so early days at the moment.

Anyway on another subject, I think it is about time I wrote something that might be useful for someone to read, rather than the inane babbling I have done so far. So it is watch this space, next week I should finish and take live my wifes website for soft furnishings and then I should have a bit of time to give some information on how we moved to France

  • how did we choose the area we live in
  • how did we find our house
  • what you do when you find a house
  • the move over
  • registering the business
  • registering the car
  • etc. etc.
You never know if someone out there is looking to do the same thing they might just benefit from knowing how we did it. So keep watching and I will try and put some info together soon.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Changeover Day

Today is changeover day and we have a group of 8 people arriving after 4.00p.m, so this morning I have cleaned the pool cleared all the filters and tested the water. I have also swept the leaves from the front patio, hoovered right through the gite and then mopped all the floors.

Now I ask you, is that the life of a chief executive, I think not but my wife said when I make some decent money on the internet that I will be able to employ someone to do those jobs for me. So I snuck off wrote this and worked out how to put a Google adsense on my blog. From little acorns mighty oaks do grow, or thats the theory anyway.

I was pretty impressed to find I had some people visit our gite website from the bloggers website as well so someone must be reading this.

Anyway better go and finish my cleaning, I guess the executive life will have to wait for a little while longer, for the moment anyway.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Life in France

This is my first blog, so you will have to bear with me while I get to grips with what it's all about.

This time last year I was a technology manager working in the UK for an American company. Earlier this year my wife and I made the move to live in the south of France. We now run a gite and are about two thirds of the way through our bookings for our first season. Couldn't have gone much better really we were pretty much fully booked by the end of February and so far everyone who has been to stay have absolutely loved the place. Just as well really as right now it is our only means of income so quite a big gamble all in all.

If you want to look at our place you will need to go to www.french-holidays-aude.com

So what's next, we are both working hard trying to learn the language so that we can integrate better into our new country, we also have to be getting on with finding new ways to make a crust or two. My wife is a very good seamstress and should be able to find work producing soft furnishings probably for the English community over here.

Myself, its a different story, I have to find a way to use my technical background in a way that can be used here in France, not so easy when you are not a fluent French speaker. I am really getting into website design and have signed up to google adsense and affliliate marketing. Only time will tell if they can be made successful enough to provide an income, although I have to say in between maintaining our 300 year old house, looking after the facilities for the giters and trying to renovate our part of the accommodation I am really enjoying putting my websites together and trying to optimise them for higher traffic and making them potential income providers.

If anyone out there has got some good tips for me on how to optimise my internet marketing techniques, I would be very pleased to hear from them.

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