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Gardian

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About Gardian

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  • Birthday 16/06/1947

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  1. The business of exchanging a UK licence for a French one has been a disaster for the last 18 months. It was centralised to Nantes (from individual departements) in Sept 2017 - I was ‘lucky’, mine was exchanged after a wait of just five months, probably because by chance it must have been one of the first to be dealt with at the new Centre. They currently admit to a delay of seven months, although I’ve heard of worse! They’re now saying that they will return exchange applications unless the UK licence has actually become expired, been lost, or become invalid in some way. This means that UK nationals resident in France who have hitherto prudently applied for an exchange prior to the expiry of their licence, are stymied ! Brexit is being cited as the reason, but this is almost certainly a red herring. As to the question of documentation over here, I have real doubts as to whether the average gendarme is likely to ask for an IDP post end-March, whatever the outcome of the next week or so. A police officer (in any country) will have 4 things that he / she is interested in: A valid driving licence Evidence of insurance, i.e. a green card Roadworthiness of the vehicle (which would amount to tyre state & general ‘condition’) Registration document (V5 or V103) I accept entirely that an IDP is being flagged up as a requirement (and its therefore sensible to get one), but what does it convey that a licence doesn’t? Furthermore, is your average gendarme going to know that it should be a 1949 one as opposed to a 1965 one (or whatever the dates were!) ? The eyes are going to glaze over ..............
  2. You’d imagine that its hardly one of their priorities at the moment !
  3. Loyalty schemes are very popular over here, but most of them are simply used as a marketing exercise. However, our local winery operates one whereby when you clock up €100’s worth (never takes long for us!) you get a ‘free’ bottle. That for me is always a bottle of their excellent CdR which retails at €5.50.
  4. Glad that they’ve been of interest. Just one question for hhvferry. For the 1st picture at Cherbourg, you said that it was the St Patrick just behind the VV. I’m pretty sure that all these relate to the early 80’s when we started holidaying in France as a family. Yet, a book that I have (‘Crossing the Channel’ by Roy Henderson) says that she was sold to Greek owners in 1971. Seems strange.
  5. Given the mention of Viking Venturer and Dragon, I thought that some of you might be interested in some of these old pics. Is the 2nd one Maid of Kent? As with VV, taken at Cherbourg.
  6. Don’t understand the difficulty. I made a booking yesterday, using an ipad, and it was perfectly straightforward. It was no better, but certainly no worse than before.
  7. This report covers a round trip to the UK, both crossings being on the Pont Aven and having a Commodore cabin for the outbound daytime crossing and similarly on the return overnighter. Check-In & Boarding For the outbound, loading was started quite early, perhaps because of the slightly later than normal sailing time of 11.20. Mrs G has a disability and pleasingly we were positioned right alongside a lift, which made exiting the car and unloading her wheelchair perfectly straightforward. However, we had a ‘top box’ on the car (pre-booked and paid for), so we were surprised to be directed up to the deck 4 mezzanine. I really should have queried this, but you know how it is – you tend to do as you’re told! The deckhands were wincing as I got up to the top of the ramp: it was very, very tight, with only a few mms to spare. The return was more of a problem. This time we were correctly placed on the main deck 3, but ended up four car lengths away from the lift and in the middle lane. It was all a bit chaotic, but since it was a relatively quiet crossing, the crew were very patient in holding up other cars for us. One of the guys said “We didn’t know”, to which I replied that the massive sticker on the windscreen might have been a clue! Cabin Accommodation The Commodore cabins really are very pleasant, whether for daytime or overnight use. When it came to the return overnight, we quickly realised how comfortable the beds are, seeming to have thicker mattresses and ‘fluffier’ pillows than in other cabins. hardly surprising really. Despite a somewhat lively sea state, we both slept well, which was important given that we were facing a long daytime drive from St Malo. I was keen to have a close look at the general housekeeping standards given the discussion there has been on here over possible declining standards. Neither in the cabin, nor anywhere else on the ship did I detect any issues whatsoever. Restaurant ‘Le Flora’ It was OK, but for some reason a little bit underwhelming. I somehow feel that the catering team are trying just a bit too hard on ‘fine dining’ presentation (particularly the vegetables) and forgetting about some of the basics. I reckon that there was only one of the four ‘mains’ that we had between us that you could put in to the good+ category. None of the other 3 was poor, but they were all only average. As highlighted by somebody on another thread, the plates were cold. On Board Shopping Undoubtedly there’s more footfall in the Summer months, but I hardly saw anybody making a purchase in either direction. The simple fact of the matter is that there are few, if any bargains. Maybe that’ll change after 29th March! Summary Good crossings both ways, with just a couple of daft hiccups over dealing with our disability needs. I can readily understand that it is a problem for BF crew to ensure that they have correctly understood passenger needs and then managing that during the loading. However, it seems to me that the Loading Officer is the key person in this - he (or she) who acts as the referee to ensure that things go smoothly. The ball was dropped on both occasions for us ................ but it wasn't the end of the world! The ship is (as far as I could see) in good ‘nick’ and 99.9% of passengers will neither see an ugly funnel and associated plumbing, nor frankly care.
  8. Yes, that thought occurred to me too. However, as the OP said, it was a very ‘quiet’ crossing - I reckon no more than 100 cars & maybe 20 lorries. La Flora only did about 20 covers that day. It might just be that there were no dogs in the kennels.
  9. As with the OP Yann Ferries, we were passengers on the 28/1 daytime sailing from St Malo to Portsmouth (I’ll do a trip report for that crossing and the return when I get round to it!) Just one thing to add: when we were just off the IOW, we were being ‘buzzed’ by a helicopter which turned out to be a Coastguard SAR aircraft. I went to the stern on Deck 7 to watch what was actually a training exercise. I had at first thought that it might be a genuine ‘medevac’, but the helicopter did a couple of ‘touch & go’ landings (or close to landings) on the helipad on deck 9 and then flew off. Being so close was interesting to say the least. Is this a frequent occurence?
  10. We were on the Pont’s Wednesday night crossing from Portsmouth to St Malo. I entirely agree with pjb’s observation and mentioned it to the waitress when she cleared away the plates. You don’t want a red hot plate, but this was absurd - the meat (which in my case was excellent) was warm enough, but the mini portions of ‘fancily done’ vegetables were totally cold within minutes of the plate being put in front of me.
  11. From my observations down here, the % of cameras vandalised is probably closer to 100% ! Its quite hard to imagine how something that has been paint-sprayed, JCB’d and then set on fire, could still be functioning ! Having said that, (whether I like it or not, and I don’t) my speed behaviour has been modified to suit the new limit. Most others seem to comply as well. Whether it reduces the death toll remains to be seen.
  12. Although what’s happening down here will be of little interest to most at this time of the year, it seems to have pretty much ‘died a death’. I had to get to Avignon TGV early-ish this morning and was concerned about possible problems. Despite setting off quite early ....... nothing ! There’s the occasional piece in the local rag about how the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ are going to organise themselves in to a national movement, etc, etc. However, the Unions will be less than enthusiastic about any such move - it would obviously dilute their influence. Millsy ....... Rightly or wrongly, I rather feel that Macron & his government decided quite early on to just allow this whole business to burn itself out (no pun intended). It pretty much has, at least down here. Macron said the other day in his address to the French nation (and here, I paraphrase) “You can’t work less and earn more, nor can you pay less tax and expect infrastructure improvements to be maintained and / or continue”. Happy to be corrected on his precise words, but the gist of it was just that.
  13. I can’t help feeling that LHCity’s post a few days ago (which was rather ‘poo-hoohed’ at the time) was more than prophetic and clearly based on some reliable intel. He may not have got the whole story, but perhaps some of the doubters might feel it appropriate to acknowledge his post?
  14. Talking of wine, if you Chris (Fine Whine) wants to know about some more than halfway decent CDR producers down here, just contact me. Several really good places at half (or less) than the silly prices that some Domaines want. But that won’t be a surprise to you. Just finished my final glass of the evening of a local wine which retails at €5.50 down here. Its as good as a Vaucluse CDR at more than 2x the price !
  15. Very best wishes to all from southern France. The beauty of this Forum is that, unlike many, discussions seem to me to always be conducted in a polite and considerate manner. That’s as much to do with a firm, but light hand on the tiller from the moderation team and the commonsense of contributors. So, a smidge of mutual group congratulation wouldn’t go amiss. Perhaps an opportunity to also thank BF management and employees for their interest and continual sense of real customer service. May that be reflected in a commercially successful 2019.
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