French electricity operates on roughly the same voltage as UK (220V) so English appliances
work OK but you will need a 2 pin adapter plug. There are several adapter plugs around
the house, please feel free to use them but make sure you leave them behind. French
electricity operates on a kilowatt availability system (most houses have 6 kilowatts)
and I have the maximum, which is 12 kilowatts. This can cause the trip switch to
activate if lots of high voltage appliances are used at the same time. The immersion
heater for hot water can be put on the timer to go on at night and you may find it
useful to put the washing machine on at a time when you are not using other major
appliances. The main fuse box is in a pine cabinet to the left of the front door
above head height. Inside the cabinet you’ll find a diagram of locations for each
fuse, plus a plastic box of spare fuses and phone books/yellow pages in case of emergency.
There is a separate fuse box for the main barn area to the left of the French windows.
Heating – house is mainly heated by the electric radiators in all rooms, just reset
to HG on your departure. I hope it won’t be too cold on your arrival.
Front door – the Chubb key to open the door should only be inserted part way to operate
the lock. To remove the security board, over the front door, if you want to bother,
lift it by the two handles, with the front door open. There is no need to replace
every day, just when you leave at the end of your stay.
French windows – to lock them, you have to lift the handle up before you turn the
key, and it can be quite stiff.
Shutters – I don’t normally bother to shut the shutters when I leave the house for
the day as the house is quite secluded and therefore secure. Just do so when you
Security light – There are two outside lights, one activated by movement and the
switches for these are the two left hand switches by the front door as you face it.
The immersion heater for hot water is in the main barn underneath the stairs and
needs to be plugged in – it can also be put on a timer to come on at night. The tank
holds 220 litres, which should be enough for most uses, but feel free to over ride
the timer if you wish, but please remember to unplug before you leave. Please note
that the water gets VERY hot so be careful when running baths etc.
Stop cock in cupboard under stairs in main barn, to the rear of immersion heater.
You should normally have no need to touch this, except in an emergency, as it will
be left on. However, as I’m not able to get over to the house much at present you
will probably find I have turned the water off so please check pressure of taps in
kitchen first. I’ve found French tap water to be drinkable without any problems at
all but some people do prefer bottled water.
In the downstairs bathroom to the left of the bath. Top loading, to open lift lid.
To open or close drum the two sides clip one into the other. Set wash type by turning
dial clockwise to appropriate number (I usually just turn it to the blue dot) and
press switch to turn on. I just throw the detergent on top of the wash!
As water outlet is connected to kitchen sink, sometimes, if you forget and empty
a sink load of water down the drain at the same time as the machine is draining,
a damp patch is formed under the washing machine! There is a line stretched across
two trees out the back if you want to hang your washing out. Clothes pegs are under
the sink in the kitchen.
Please feel free to make use of anything you find in the house (e.g. toilet rolls,
firelighters, emergency food supplies, cleaning materials etc) but please replace
before you leave so that the next person to stay at the house does not go without.
Iron– in downstairs bathroom cupboard. Ironing board – in cupboard under stairs in
Vacuum cleaner (in cupboard under stairs?!)
Spare light bulbs (left hand drawer of large oak dresser on back wall of barn)
Torch (to be kept beside front door)
Wellington boots - various sizes kept in the house. Feel free to use them
Games (large selection kept in small oak dresser on left as you go into main barn
Books (Feel free to read any of the books you find around the house but please don’t
Hair dryers (several available, kept in bathrooms – please check to ensure they are
switched to the correct voltage as some are American dual voltage type
Electric blankets - the one on the double bed upstairs is operable from both sides.
Please ensure it’s turned off and unplugged before you leave!
Single blanket on bed in spare bedroom.
Hot water bottles - Several available, kept in bathrooms
Pillows - both feather and foam available
Unless you have elected to provide your own bed linen and towels you will find beds
made up for your arrival. Please strip them before you leave, re-make and leave dirty
linen/towels on floor in downstairs bathroom. Spare bedding is kept in the small
cupboard on the half landing going up to the main bedroom. Spare towels are in the
As the house is not primarily a holiday home you will find, and possibly be frustrated
by, the large amount of personal possessions I have. I do accept that even with the
greatest of care there will from time to time be some damage/breakages. All I ask
is that you let me know.
The stove is electrically operated and should be self explanatory. There is also
a microwave/oven/grill, and for small items I tend to use the oven on this. There
is also a toaster and an electric kettle, juicer, food processor, blender etc.
This should be operated with the door closed at all times and you may find some ventilation
useful if the room or the bedroom above seem stuffy. Logs for the stove are kept
either in the side shed or in the garden - please only use the smaller logs to start
the fire. There should be plentiful supplies of kindling/paper/fire lighters/ matches.
Please just make sure sufficient is left for those who come after you. The handle
to the wood burner door often goes missing so I use the end of the poker to open
it with, or a large bolt (!) it can be a little stiff. Best results can be obtained
by leaving both of the vents and the ashtray at the bottom slightly ajar and wind
direction can affect efficiency. Please, Please do not store anything on top or beside
the stove as I learnt this to my great cost when I burnt the house down three years
ago and I would hate you to do the same. Please leave the inside log store full when
you leave, for the next visitors. Ash can be emptied into the brass bucket beside
I seem not to have yet discovered on what day rubbish collection takes place (I think
Thurs.), so I tend to take my rubbish with me each time I leave the house and deposit
it in one of the many roadside bins! Every village has recycling facilities for newspapers/magazines,
glass and plastic bottles if you wish to make use of these. Just please make sure
you don’t leave any rubbish at the house, in or out of doors – this year I have had
terrible problems with mice and hope it’s now under control!
There is no mains drainage, and a septic tank is installed (apparent by two concrete
lids you’ll see in back garden. There should be no need for you to do anything or
have any cause for concern but please do flush two sachets of eparcyl (in downstairs
bathroom or under kitchen sink) down the toilet before you leave to keep the bugs
working. If possible you should avoid flushing anything other than toilet paper down
There is some French TV reception but this is generally poor as there is no outside
aerial at present. If you wish to try and tune in a better picture please feel free
to have a go. Otherwise there is a large selection of videos to keep you amused.
Stereo/CD/tape player - you may wish to bring you own music to play but there are
some French CDs there.
Please leave the Roberts radio in the main bedroom tuned to radio 4 when you leave
because I’m technologically inept and get withdrawal symptoms if I can’t listen to
The house now has sadly only one cat called Minky. Her food is kept in the cupboard
under the stairs in the main barn. She will survive on dry food but will quite happily
eat most other things if you care to feed her! If she likes you it is likely that
she will bring you ‘presents’ in the night – best to keep bedroom doors closed if
you don’t want the company. Please don’t alter cat flap setting. On departure please
ensure dry food feeder is completely full and also leave one large bowl of water
for her and make sure they are not locked in any cupboards/rooms. I don’t expect
you to take responsibility for my cats but if you feel so inclined in an emergency
the vet is called Monsieur L’Honnen and is situated on the main street in the local
village, St Martin des Besaces (Tel. 02 31 68 71 19), or else ask my neighbours for
help but only as a last resort please. Cats are regularly de-flead and wormed so
this is not something you should worry about.
Chickens and cows – occasionally you may find that my neighbour’s chickens stray
into the garden and can easily be shooed away. Cows should no longer be a problem
but if one does suddenly appear just alert Monsieur Leboutier who lives in the house
immediately across the road, and owns them!
Last year, for the first time, I had terrible problems with mice, none seen, just
the evidence of their nesting and pooing!! Hence the resident cat now. I do hope
you won’t find any evidence of them during your stay but please do be aware that
in cupboards etc. I have placed large containers of rat POISON (pink stuff) down
to try to keep them away, in addition to electronic buzzers in all rooms.
Please don’t let cats get into cupboards, or the library room as they might start
eating the stuff – likewise if you have children with you at all do feel free to
remove any poison as a precaution during your stay but please replace on leaving.
There is a large container of RACAN under the kitchen sink or in the shed at the
end of the house.
PACKING UP HOUSE
- DO NOT lock outside garden shed door – gardener needs access
- Lock French windows
- Empty fridge of perishable items but leave fridge switched on
- Put out lots of water and big bowl of dried food for cat
- Unplug hot water immersion
- Put sachet of Eparcyl down toilet
- Windows and shutters closed and locked
- Set all wall heaters to setting HG
- Turn off lights
- Take any rubbish with you
- Lock front door
- Do not padlock gate, I’ve lost the key!!