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.

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.

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.

Oh, dear

I am feeling a tad aggravated that this blog is turning into something that I never intended it to be, I shall give myself a good shake and attempt to be more slick and professional… any day now, I promise.

Right. That is the weekend caught up with.

Today we packed the van and struck the tent. The tent is now firmly wedged ‘twixt the rear doors and the bed. I am not sure how Mr Snail is going to cope with that in the night. 

We are now back to the early configuration of the van, with four 18 litre storage boxes stacked on the driver’s side passenger seat. The bathroom is housing the laundry, the electric heater, the rubbish bucket and anything else that needs nailing down when we move.  My kitchen setup is now returned to two collapsible plastic crates.

In short, we are ready to move.

The pitch is paid for until Friday but there is nothing stopping us from moving off early, so we may leave on Wednesday or Thursday and spend some time in the Galloway Forest. I need to buy carrots for Spike.

Today was a brilliantly sunny and warm day again but the glass is set for rain from tomorrow afternoon and so we took Nell for what may be our last walk up to the top of the site. I took the camera and tried to take some mood shots, to remember the look and feel of this particularly beautiful site. I have not yet had chance to review the shots but will post them soon, if they are worth it.

After supper, Mr Snail began to arrange our onward trip and was disappointed to find that he was unable to book the ferry that we wished to take to Arran on Saturday. He rang CalMac and was able to secure an earlier sailing… at 7am! I am not looking forward to that early start. He has also booked us in at Lochranza for two nights.

We will leave Arran by the other ferry and cross to Kintyre. From there things are a little fuzzy but we shall work our way up the West of Scotland, aiming to be in Poolewe in time for their Tuesday market in two weeks’ time. I am hoping that the Rhododendrons and Azaleas at Inverewe will be in full swing when we get there,

From Inverewe we plan to spend another week or so in travelling back to Thurso and the homeward ferry.

When is Easter? Will we clash with the rush?

I am never going to catch up!

Things have been a little lax around here since we came home. I caught a cold at Glenmore and have been lethargic ever since. Resting on my laurels, I believed that I had plenty of time to write up the Aberdeen trip before we set off for home. Of course it has become something of a tradition that something crops up when I least expect it and this week was true to form, when we received a phone call asking if we could go and meet family at a Farm Shop/Restaurant down in North Yorkshire this weekend.

It isn’t far – the route could be as short as 120 miles, depending on which way we choose to go but of course we are speed-restricted and the driver needs breaks so we think setting off from here to be down there for 10:00 am would be a little too much for all concerned. That being so, we hatched a plan to drive down the day before and to stop overnight somewhere handy.

We picked on a pubstop on the A66, just two minutes drive from Sunday’s destination. Yes, it will be noisy overnight but we have earplugs at the ready. Actually, the Fox Hall Inn is not so much a pub these days and is more a Fish and Chip Restaurant – so there goes my vow to be good and to not eat any more F&C for a while…

So, that was two days out of my internally-planned schedule for going-home preparation. What had felt easily comfortable previously was beginning to feel pressing. Then Mr Snail proposed leaving on Friday and going as far as Metal Bridge…

Hey, ho. 

Galvanised into action, the tent is now looking fairly orderly inside and The Heap is reduced in size to something that looks as though a plain old Moho will do, rather than a proper TARDIS.

Yes, I admit there are four large cardboard boxes awaiting posting home… but it was the only way that I could see to cope with it all.  All are sealed and labelled and we will take them to the Post Office on our way out to Metal  Bridge tomorrow.  I do have a slight unease that has yet to be addressed. Can you still take Parcelforce-sized packages to Post Offices for dispatch?

I do hope so.

This is how things are shaping  up:

  • Friday : to Metal Bridge via Dalbeattie Post Office
  • Saturday : amble down to the Fox Hall Inn at East Layton
  • Sunday : breakfast date at  Mainsgill Farm then drive home
  • Monday : intercept the Gousto order, then panic about the fact that we have to leave Kippford on Friday at latest

Despite his having contracted my cold, Mr Snail has been busy this week with organisational matters, partly for our homeward trip but also largely for France later this year. The van insurance is renewed and cover for France has been verified. Our mobile Wi-fi solution is also upgraded for roaming in the EU.  (I am sure there has been more but I think I may not have been paying full attention between explosive bouts of sneezing.) Today he investigated what we laughingly refer to as our boot space and pulled everything out to see what was what. Then he put it all back again after agreeing with me that it will all be easier once the parcels have gone.  Thereafter he addressed himself to the filling and emptying of Vincent’s tanks ready for this weekend’s trip.

I will do my best to finish notes on the Aberdeen trip this very evening but please do not hold me to it – life has a habit of getting in the way!

I have Jacket Potatoes in the Remoska and they are smelling rather wonderful right now. We are going to have them “fully loaded”, which feels very naughty indeed.