Poste Restante

When we contacted our solicitor to advise him that we have a property sale in the offing, we told him that we are going to France, possibly before the sale completes. He took this news in his stride and indicated that we could do most of our signing before we go and then deal by  post with anything that arises later.

Of course we shall be travelling and we will not have a postal address.

I had a hazy idea about what to do but I think Mr Snail was a little more concerned. I glibly shrugged my shoulders and said we could just use a Poste Restante address. 

Did I really know what that meant – perhaps not but my vague notions turned out to be good enough. I had said that I believed that Poste Restante, being a French term, was probably something more readily achieved in France than here at home. It proved to be so.

Briefly, your mail is addressed to your name, with “Poste Restante” on the second line of the address, followed by the postal address of the Post Office where you intend to collect your mail. A small charge is levied, of course. Mail is held for  a limited time.

Not all services use the term Poste Restante (the USA calls their service General Delivery, for example) this and other details vary by country but Wikipedia has a useful reference list.

Post Restante in France

In France there is no requirement to do any setup, unlike here in the UK.

The service is offered by Le Poste and is available at any Post Office.

The name on the envelope should match the name on whatever form of ID one is using to collect the mail – typically a passport when travelling abroad. The collection charge in France is €0.85 per letter, more for a package.  In France mail is kept  for 15 days before returning to sender.

That should do us nicely, I think.

 

Further preparations

Vincent has his new fog lights fitted and working and the top bumper cover and number plate have been replaced. He is looking very smart indeed. His GB plate has also arrived.

Mr Snail’s thoughts are turning to the MOT, due in August but which we shall probably have done earlier –  in good time to address any issues before going to France. He believes that new shock absorbers will be required and is considering getting on and fitting them pre-test.

I have been busy pruning my wardrobe down to a volume that I hope will squish into Vincent’s nook and crannies.

No passports yet.

The Traveller’s Compendium

Just a note about a new Post Category “Compendium” and a Page to go with it.

 Some new posts regarding useful information for travellers will be categorised as  “Compendium” and those posts will (if I remember) be indexed on  a Page named The Traveller’s Compendium of Useful Stuff.

I am not sure how I dare to assert myself regarding blog organisation when I am so very far behind. I will catch up though. I promise.

Preparing for departure

It might seem like early days yet but we don’t want to be unprepared when the time comes. The passport applications are in the post. Today our EHIC cards arrived.

Mr Snail has been working through the intricacies of what is and is not Law regarding motor vehicles in France. His checklist is looking good – we have Triangle, Fluorescent Jackets, First Aid Kit etc. 

There is much misinformation regarding what is required to travel abroad. For instance, many people will say that a First Aid Kit is a requirement but apparently it is not. As for the Breathalysers… well, we have ordered a set as they appear to be a sensible idea. We still need a GB sticker as we lack Euro-style number plates and we need a bulb set for Vincent. It is not a legal requirement to carry one, as is often suggested, however it is a legal requirement to instantly change a faulty bulb for a good one.

The Awning has finally been tested. It works, though is dirty, tatty in places and doesn’t not fit back in properly after being wound out. It will no doubt do us though as we are not really awning-type people.

The biggest news that we have to report at this stage is that we appear to have buyers for our house. Our pan to go away to France for six months and then to return and prepare the house and put it on the market in the spring of next year is now in need of updating.

We are unsure at this point whether we will fully embrace the full-time lifestyle or if we will buy a new, smaller, house. We are keeping one eye on the property market and have some likely candidates here on the island, in Aberdeenshire and down in the Southern Uplands. At the same time, we are researching the French property market too.

Of course the fact that we might be selling the house means that our departure date is now in question. That is not a problem as the Shuttle tickets can easily be changed. Everything is very much up in the air and all the cards are currently face down. Only time will tell what is what,

Still to do: Nell’s immunisation boosters, Vincent’s MOT, all the things that have not yet been thought of, and French lessons.

A little change here, a tiny tweak there…

You may recall that when we were  down south over the winter there was a slight argument with a large boulder, resulting in damage to  that part of Vincent that I never knew how to name. Well, it turns out that it is called a bumper cover.

We  bought some materials at a B&Q somewhere and eventually a repair was effected after we got home, having driven many miles with the thing held together with waterproof tape.

Unfortunately another wee accident recently not only ripped the original repair apart but did further damage. When research showed that the ugly plastic thing on the front actually hid a perfectly nice chrome bumper beneath, Mr Snail did the only sensible thing and discarded the offending material.

That was just one of the many tasks that he has been engaged in. I doubt that I can remember them all and no doubt he should probably write up this stuff himself in order to have an accurate record but here goes, I’ll do my best:

  • bumper cover removed
  • chrome bumper polished
  • trim from above the bumper removed, rejuvenated and awaiting replacing
  • new rear camera fitted, to work with GPS
  • old radio removed and  
  • new radio fitted
  • new runners fitted to galley drawers
  • replaced broken cupholder with new one
  • issue with table leg resolved
  • bathroom doorknob fixed so it no longer falls off every five minutes
  • replaced broken sink drain
  • waterpump adjusted
  • passenger seat behind driver removed and
  • replaced with a cupboard unit sourced from our bathroom
  • reversing light replaced
  • replaced fiddly wee doorknobs wii’ summat to grab hold of
  • repaired ceiling fan
  • replaced dodgy outdoor locker handle
  • released sticking gas valve
  • repaired leaky air suspension
  • single power socket in glazed top cabinet aboved wardrobe replaced by a double. Cupboard now designated for electronics storage and safe recharging station.
  • moved thermostat to accommodate new cupboard unit
  • removed superfluous seatbelt mountings

The latest job is an attempt to resolve the radio interference caused by installing the solar panel. The manufacturers say that the issue is to do with the connecting cables and suggest shielding them with aluminium foil.

Tasks remaining:

  • Fit new front fog lights, when they arrive
  • Replace ducts on Eberspächer when they are delivered
  • Fit magnetic locks to drawers as required
  • Fit new wipers – awaiting vendor’s reply as they sent a mismatched pair.
  • ?

The bathroom cupboard is providing a no-cost proof of concept. If things do not work out we can simply junk it on the way south. If it works well we may replace it with something a little more attractive and possibly with slightly more volume.

The van’s MOT is due in August but that is a little close to Le Depart so we will probably take Vincent over to Kirkwall a little earlier than necessary and will be booking that in fairly soon now.

Two door cupboard has one dividing shelf inside and a drawer above

So far I am liking the change with the seat out and cupboard in. We have not gained a great deal of space as the storage below the seat has gone and we can no longer access our bottle store in the seat arm. There is however some additional storage space and all of it is more accessible than the previous arrangement. The van feels more spacious too, with more room for manoeuvre on entering the habitation door.

Not exactly sure yet on how we will use the storage but current ideas include housing our toiletries in the top drawer now that they are displaced from what is now the charging cupboard. We may need to fit a few bottles of wine in the bottom… but mainly I think we shall have a shelf each for our clothes, freeing up the rear clockers for some kitchen items, spare bedding and a pair of camp chairs.

There are no excuses

Will I ever get this blog up to date? I doubt it.  There is much to tell and events keep overtaking me.

Let us begin with today, as there is Big News, then I shall backtrack and introduce some recent events in pots to come over the next few days.

Today we exchanged our Tesco vouchers for Shuttle ticket vouchers, which we then immediately spent on our crossing tickets. We now have a booking in September to cross to France, with a return journey booked at the end of March next year.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent in filling in passport forms. We have found somebody to both take our photos and sign them for us and this we will do early next week.

Next up: a post about Vincent and some of the work that has been carried out since we last came home.