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About kenw

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    BFE Member
  • Birthday 15/05/1950
  1. By way of a conclusion, or at least a progression, I've just done the survey that came in my email. The final question is "What can we do to improve BF" – so here's my reply. 1 - Price match UK and France websites. (Foot passenger last week >€10 more expensive from .fr 2 - Offer more short breaks to UK from France 3 - Offer foot passenger service from Roscoff to Santander 4 - Provide proper bus connection Portsmouth Int'l Port to city centre (The Hard or P&S rail station) and vice versa 5 - Persuade Twisto to operate Maritime Express bus from Caen Gare SNCF / Gare Routiere in the evenings (arrivals from afternoon departures ex Portsmouth and departures on overnight crossings. Or given low numbers in low season / mid season, arrange minibus service with another operator. I'm sure people would prefer to pay say, €5 or even more rather than €30 or more for taxi. 6 - Provide checked baggage service (as on SNCF / Eurostar) as part of more actively promoted foot passenger service (see also 4 and 5 above). Increasing your passenger numbers in low and mid seasons, and of course improving your green credentials. Any more suggestions? Cheers
  2. French BF Offer Query

    Thanks much for that We had interpreted it as meaning that all passengers should be French nationals AND carry their ID I'm hoping you are right - it sounds likely, but I just wonder why the rule does not simply say that ALL passengers must have ID. Even though the Border guards at Portsmouth are generally friendly, I can't see them letting anyone through with the excuse: "The website didn't say Belgians must have a passport..." Although it would be entertaining to eavesdrop!
  3. As French residents (but for now still UK passport holders) we regularly check BF websites both UK and France. Last night Mrs W spotted an offer on the French site http://www.brittany-ferries.fr/idees-cadeaux-voyage-saint-valentin?utm_source=BP_st_valentin_janv_2018&utm_medium=BP_st_valentin_janv_2018&utm_content=BP_st_valentin_janv_2018&utm_campaign=BP_st_valentin_janv_2018 ... day trip to Portsmouth (night sailings) for €59 return with a cabin both ways Just to make sure there were no hidden extras, no bar on refunds / exchanges etc she checked the conditions and we were horrified to read Formalités obligatoires : Tout passager de nationalité française I can only describe this as racist. And ask why? If it is an attempt to help the UK border guards by refusing to carry people who would not qualify for entry into the UK, surely the current requirement to show passports at check-in does that. Or – since this is a "Valentine" offer - does some dimwit at BF think only French nationals can be romantic? I have spent years campaigning against racists - but never expected to find them at my favourite shipping line! So unless BF withdraws this rule, I must now investigate alternative routes from Caen to the UK. The options appear to be: St Malo (not a convenient train trip) - Channel Islands - Condor Dieppe (ditto) - Newhaven with very inconvenient timings (return arrival 0400hrs) Paris - Eurostar (€157 each way for two seniors) Wait until April then fly to Southend (€257) Unless I can persuade my chum in the yacht charter business to do a training cruise to Ouistreham - but even on a shared-cost basis that would probably be more expensive!! Suggestions?
  4. Daytime sailings in the Med?

    Thanks much for that, hhvferry. We're looking for early season – probably late March or April - before or after Easter, so not too crowded, I hope. By May the Med is too hot for me. But I will certainly take another look at Toulon, although even there overnights seem to predominate. Otherwise we will look at the BF minicruise to Santander.
  5. Dear all This week's quick trip to Portsmouth made me realise how much I miss the mini-cruises which we used to enjoy from the UK to St Malo or Santander (not necessarily BF packages) and the day trips using the company's promo offers on here. So this year we're tempted to head for Roscoff for a quick run to Plymouth But I've also been wondering if there are any daytime sailings in the Med - preferably Marseiile to Corse, but others considered. Daytime both ways or one way daytime or overnight back – with or without a night ashore. (A day at sea gives Mrs W happy memories of her previous career on board Oriana, Canberra and the Princesses) I've been rummaging around the various operators' websites, but so far haven't seen any. [I say ex Marseille simply because it's high on my list of French places to visit – lifted by the TV series on Netflix, if anyone saw that.Think House of Cards transposed to the Mairie - great stuff. But other departures could work, provided they are easily accessible by train] TIA Ken
  6. A new BF experience on Monday morning - Armorique instead of Mont (annuals and ???) My first time on board the fleet's most modern ship. First impressions: a different "look" from MSM and Normandie – but usual high standard of service. Morning sailing, so didn't see cabins, and didn't really explore much beyond the self-service restaurant and the bar. Seeing me juggle walking stick and breakfast tray, the cashier immediately offered to take my food to the table. A very welcome service, that I've had a few times before - one of the advantages of being on a lightly loaded crossing. On the subject of service, my impression – based on mobility assistance and reception, breakfast plus later coffee and a couple of drinks in the bar - is that the crew are all very helpful and cheerful. On several of last year's crossings on board Normandie and the Mont there seemed to be one or two "grumpies" – but no sign of that on Armorique. Smart, cheerful and helpful, even at 08:30. Just what you need on a damp and chilly morning. Speaking of which, I was impressed with what I glimpsed of the aft deck with ample seating – before being driven back inside by a cold gust of rain.
  7. Thanks to TerryDorset and Rileyman. Have now ransacked SuperU, Biocoop and Mono without success. So will admit defeat this time and try to remember to pick up a jar in Waitrose – not Colemans, thanks – if I'm over in the UK in Jan. Or ask a kind person to bring one – for a small liquid fee! Interesting to see the "Britannique" section in the local U – I would love to know how the buyers / merchandisers arrived at their selection of items to include. I noticed that the bottom shelf consisted mostly of baked beans – you can guess what brand. For anyone wanting a last "stock up" of French supermarket goodies before the ferry, I can recommend Super U Caen Beaulieu. Minutes from the N13 Carpiquet – Ms Google knows it well. Much less of an expedition than the Carrefour hypermarché at Mondeville. Thanks for all the hints and tips – have a good Christmas.
  8. Dear all Bought a lovely faux filet from the butcher in Monoprix (it's a concession operated by a local firm who have a good reputation) and he also had some rib bones, so I can do a real beef stock. The côte looked too fatty for me, but this has just the right amount to suggest that it will roast well.. The beef is wrapped in one of those sealed envelope things, so I will probably keep it in that until Sunday morning, then stand in a big lidded pot until early Monday (all in the refrigerator) then give it 4-5 hours to come up to room temp. Gardian - glad you don't think using a supermarket plonk is cheating for the red wine reduction. We've actually found a drinkable AC Bordeaux in a box, which went down well with some local Tomme and wholegrain bread from the farmers' market last night. An easy accompaniment to the final of Masterchef Pro - which featured three incredible young chefs whose food looked and sounded sensational. (Incidentally the finalists spent a day at Mirazur in Menton, a clifftop restaurant yards from the Italian border. We went there for dinner a few years back and can tell you it is wonderful - not at all intimidating, despite the Michelin stars.) Incidentally does anyone know when / where in France to buy horseradish - raifort – either the raw veg or readymade sauce?
  9. Dear all Many thanks – both for the advice on boeuf and related topics. As always, here, informative and entertaining. If I decide to go the steak route, it will be the entrecôte, otherwise either the côte or the faux filet to sear and roast. So far as the red wine reduction is concerned, I'm afraid I will cheat – a supermarket red (which may well be a Côtes du Rhône rather than Bourgogne) and veg or chicken stock, unless the butcher has anything on the bone this afternoon that would make a genuine beef stock. (IMHO beef stock cubes are handy for a pasta sauce or cottage pie – but not for serious cooking). My flavour booster for the cauli purée is to sear it with some diced red pepper before simmering in veg stock rather than plain water; I won't worry if a few little fragments of the pepper end up in the blender with the cauli – by the time they have been blitzed and then pushed through the mouli I can guarantee they won't be lumpy! Still the great cauli taste, but a little extra piquancy. Thanks again, folks Have a peaceful time this Christmas. Ken
  10. Thanks much for that, Chris I looked at the côte de boeuf, but was wary that it might want a long, long cooking. I had a bad experience with a rib a couple of years ago that was far too rare for us after what seemed like all day in the oven. But I think that was only at 190, so this time I will start it at 220 and then after, say, 40min, turn it down if need be. Do you make your own horseradish sauce? Such a great complement to beef. Haven't seen it in our big Biocoop or the other supermarkets with big veg depts – nor in either of the two veg shops in the city centre. But maybe it has been hiding! Ken
  11. Dear all We fancy beef for Christmas dinner here in Caen. Originally planned boeuf en croute, but now think I will go for something that takes less prep time – roast with red wine reduction and roast veg etc. One of the local butchers is selling filet at €46 / kilo. Is there an equally tasty, cheaper option? There are just the two of us, so only need 600g or thereabouts. For a bourguignon I use jarret (shin), which the butcher will sell in one piece without bone. Half the price of filet, but 3+ hours in the oven. Suggestions? (Anyone who mentions turkey will go on the target list for the next UFO visit!) TIA & joyeux noël. Ken
  12. I'm just planning another quick trip to the UK (for a family funeral) and wanted to check the timing of the Maritime Express bus link. BF provides a link to the Twisto timetable http://www.twisto.fr/520-Depliants-horaires.html#garemaritime ... but the timetable runs only up to 17 dec. (Timetables for my local buses in the city, 2 and 11, run until 31 dec) What's happening to the Maritime Express after 17 dec? I'm the local, I should know – but can't see any info on Twisto! I will email the Résau and ask, but meanwhile hoping someone here might know...? Ken
  13. A brocante who tried to take two WW2 shells on board BF at Ouistreham has appeared in court at Caen. He was carrying them in an Ikea bag when searched at the port. https://actu.fr/normandie/ouistreham_14488/un-brocanteur-anglais-tente-dembarquer-sur-ferry-deux-obus-pres-caen_13448008.html Interestingly, as well as being fined, he has also been ordered to pay BF compensation.
  14. Webcam - Portsmouth Harbour Entrance

    Thanks - courtesy flag. Effectively the reverse of flying the local / national flag when you "go foreign". The exception, I'm told is when going in to Barcelona. Not Port Vell, the Olimpico, where flying the Spanish, rather than Catalan flag acts as a signal flag meaning:
  15. Webcam - Portsmouth Harbour Entrance

    Anyone know why the Semaphore Tower is flying the Stars & Stripes?