Jackie Parry – author


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Dutch Barge Renovations Update

Rouge Corsair Winter Renovations

DSC_0492

After a ‘sticky’ start, the renovations are starting to show promise. Here’s what caused the delays:

DSC_0486The new holding tank – made from one of water tanks. Sourcing the right welder was a rather frustrating project. Having to cut the big tank up INSIDE the boat, made the boat filthy. It was too big to get out, so Noel cut it into four pieces, two were the holding tank (including lid), the other two pieces were superfluous. The plumbing parts were purchased on-line and all in French. Other bits-and-pieces from the Brico-marche, eight kilometres away, hauling all purchases by bike.

DSC_0497Noel drilling a hole for the vent.

DSC_0493There’s a hole in my hull!

DSC_0502A neat job – we now know what’s behind all the walls – good insulation and good wiring (now!) – we replaced all the old wiring.

DSC_0505Another hole, this time in the deck, for the new water tanks. These will be situated under the bed.

DSC_0507We’ve been lucky with the weather, Noel chooses the outside-projects in time with the better days.

DSC_0512rAnd cake… we like cake!

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Top Tips for Surviving Boat Renovations

“What’s the very best, top-tip you have for doing boat renovations,” I said to my hard working husband, who is grappling with two loos right now, as I type.

Without hesitation or thought he dished up these wise-words of wisdom:

“Buy a house!”

We are in a mess, cabin full of welding fumes!

We are in a mess, cabin full of welding fumes!

 

And, here’s more…

  • When taking the toilet apart, do not consume a large mug off coffee prior to the deed!
  • Seek good value gear – the renovations will cost you three-times what you originally calculated. You’d better try to make some savings somewhere.
  • Don’t become annoyed when the welding equipment sits on top of the loo all day!
His and hers!

His and hers!

  • Really try not to get irritated when the welding equipment then sits in the shower!
  • Don’t walk in bare feet after the grinder has been used.
  • Spread the dust sheet carefully, that one bit of paint you drop will do it’s best to find the tiny gap! Wear shoes when painting – you’ll find out why!
  • Drink vast quantities of wine or meditate (or both) – after the day’s work is done please!
New holding tank - done!

New holding tank – done!

  • Turn up the Radio.
  • Have a day off – at some point (someone gave me this tip, not sure what it means though!)

… and as with all boat work, double the time you think the work will take, triple that figure, and you’ll be about halfway to a good estimate on the time it will take to do the work! (More great boat/cruising tips here, from boat maintenance to make-up!)

Make time for fun - Noel's birthday!

Make time for fun – Noel’s birthday!

More humorous (house) renovation observations, here.

What are your best (funny) tips? Continue reading


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Top 10 tips for gaining your Carte de Sejour

French Visa & Carte de Sejour Rumours Debunked!

Noel has received his Carte de Sejour. What should have been a relatively easy process did become a bit of a nightmare. We learned a lot – this may help you!

Our Circumstances

I have a European passport, Noel has an Australian passport. I read so much information on this, my head was spinning, examples:

  • If he/she has a European passport then their partner is entitled to stay without a visa.
  • If he/she has a European passport the partner is entitled to stay, with a visa.

Okay, you get the idea, here’s a quick breakdown of the process we went through:

  • We applied for a visa within three months of arriving (as per the rules – IF the partner has a European visa).
  • Australians are entitled to visit France (or anywhere in Europe for three months).
  • We applied in Dijon, as that was our nearest Prefecture.
  • We were asked to stay in the area (we didn’t – read on).
  • We went to the Prefecture (in Dijon) and they searched my European passport for a visa – but eventually worked out that I had a European passport!
  • They presented us with a form and told us to fill it out and mail it back.
  • We filled out the form and mailed it, they mailed it all back, asking for more, we mailed it back, this went on for five months.
  • We could not talk to anyone in the Prefecture, by telephone, personal visit or email, they just kept telling us to mail our documents.
  • They eventually started asking for paperwork that was not listed on the application form, and that we had already sent.
  • By this time we had moved south – they didn’t comment on a new address.
  • We reached the end of our tether and went to Agen Prefecture (now, our nearest).
At the train station at 7 am after a refreshing bike ride in the dark!

At the train station at 7 am after a refreshing bike ride in the dark!

Here’s what happened at Agen:

  • After initial contact via email, we were invited to attend (with no pre-arranged date/appointment), so we took that (emailed) invite with us.
  • We talked to a real live person, (she had enough English and I had enough French (and a dictionary), to get by.
    She gave us a list of five additional bits of paper she wanted and said ‘when you return with those, I will issue your visa.’
  • She fined us 50 Euros for over-staying the three months (despite our process with Dijon) – we would have to pay it on the next visit.
  • Two weeks later we returned to Agen (we had missed our arranged appointment as we were waiting for paperwork – we tried to obtain another appointment by email but received no response, so we just turned up).

On the day we got the visa

We rolled up with all the paperwork requested.

  • They were miffed we didn’t have an appointment, but after we explained that we had tried to arrange one via email (and that we had no car and travelled there by bike and train) – they felt sorry for us and put us in a room.
  • “This is either very good, or very bad!” we said!
  • The interviewer understood we had been trying to obtain the visa since we arrived, and ‘deleted’ the 50 Euro fine!
  • She checked through our paperwork, nodded, made positive comments and GAVE US THE VISA!
  • It is a temporary visa until the card (like a credit card) is processed at another location, they will write to us when they have received the card and we can collect it.
  • We have to collect it within three months, it will be ready in January sometime.

The paperwork
Dijon gave us one form: ‘Premiere Demande ou Renouvellement – ressortissant de l’union europeene – MEMBRE DE FAMILLE -.
Agen gave us another: Carte de Sejour.

Dijon wanted (all copies):

  • Copies of passports.
  • Birth certificate (translated to English – I did this on Google, but they do ask it is done by an official translator).
  • Proof of where you stayed (and why) in France, for first three months.
  • ‘Family’ proof (marriage certificate for us).
  • Proof of funds (bank statements).
  • Health Insurance.
  • 4 x photos (like passport photos).
  • SSAEs
    This was for the applicant – they then asked for health insurance for me also, but at this point we had given up with Dijon.

Agen wanted (they also wanted to view originals and keep a copy)

  • A different form requiring the names of Noel’s parents, DOB and any children.
  • All of the above Dijon requirements, plus Noel’s entire passport photocopied.
  • BUT, they wanted the health insurance and bank statements translated to English too.
  • We have a French bank account, which seemed to help. They wanted to see a minimum of 1,000 Euros in there.
  • By this time I had my European Health card (EHIC), which helped (they wanted to see some kind of insurance for me too).

Rumour/Fact

  • You MUST apply before going to France – Not true – if one of you has a EU passport
  • You will need a medical – Nope
  • You have to leave the country straight away, as we had been here five months! (advice from Australian Embassy) -Nope
  • Fine for over-staying three months – Nope – If you have been trying to gain your visa already and have dated correspondence.
It was a good day - Noel found his beer!

It was a good day – Noel found his very own beer!

Our Advice & Top 10 tips on the French Visa process

  • Do not go to Dijon Prefecture or any large city’s Prefecture.
  • Find a smaller Prefecture, somewhere where you can actually talk to someone.
  • Take the research with a pinch of salt – different websites (that looked official) all had conflicting information.
  • If someone says “this is how you do it” be aware that:
    • everyone’s circumstances are different.
    • each Prefecture is like dealing with a different country, they all have different agendas.
    • nothing is set in stone, it depends who you deal with on the day too!
  • If you need to translate Health Insurance documents, ask your insurer, ours gave us a French translation within
  • twenty-four hours (not google translated either!).
  • Try and arrange a French bank account – this helped! If not, ensure your statements are translated to English.
  • If one of you is a UK citizen, ensure you have your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).
  • Research & learn some questions/answers in French before you go, to make the interview easier.
  • Create a ‘contents’ page at the top of your application, so everything can be found quickly.
  • If you disagree with what is happening (as we did with the initial fine), ask to see someone more senior. We were just lucky, and on our second appointment we were seen by a senior employee, who ‘let us off’ the fine as she deemed it unnecessary in our circumstances.

The visa is FREE, we had to pay for a lot of postage (our application became quite ‘thick’ and heavy).

More help/contacts
Solutions to problems with your EU rights here. This is a great European Visa Resource. They had already told us they would take on our case if we were fined.
Health insurance at a very good price (and they translated our docs into French!).
UK Citizens applying for your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) here.

In Summary
If we had gone to a Prefecture, such as Agen, first, the whole thing would have been done and dusted in two visits, and with little pain.

Renovations update – a picture story…

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This wall is about to come out.

This wall is about to come out.This water tank comes out.This water tank comes out.

Continue reading


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I like stripping

We’re almost naked… well, that’s to say the interior of the boat is almost naked! We’ve taken down nearly all the walls and are now trying to figure out how to put them back.

Cupboard about to be 'stripped'

Cupboard about to be ‘stripped’

Cupboard gone - designing new 'bathroom'

Cupboard gone – designing new ‘bathroom’

We have a few neat ideas that should produce enough space for an island-bed and another full double (with walk-around space on two sides – that’s plenty for guests!).

We will put in another toilet, so the master cabin will have its very own, private, loo. And we’ve even found some wardrobe space and we can leave the main part of the hallway/corridor where it is.

Our 'cabins' are gone!

Our ‘cabins’ are gone!

We had great fun when a copper pipe for the central heating split this week. Remember watching those comedy skits on TV, where the comedian is sliding around the floor, trying to hold back the force of water from a broken pipe, and letting go, so a great geyser of water sprays everywhere? We’ve found that those scenes ARE NOT exaggerated. Our central heating system is under pressure, so the water and greasy/oily anti-foul produced a wonderful fountain up the wall, windows, on the ceiling, carpet…. how lovely.

Noel fixed the pipe and then continued demolishing the boat!

Noel fixed the pipe and then continued demolishing the boat!

All is fixed now – so it’s back to demolishing the walls.

The wheelhouse - once upon a time we could sit here!

The wheelhouse – once upon a time we could sit here!

The second 'cabin'!

The second ‘cabin’!

The construction is magnificent and exhausting - every piece of timber has been held in with excessive nails!

The construction is magnificent and exhausting – every piece of timber has been held in with excessive nails!

These days are gone - for now!

These days are gone – for now!


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$1.99 today! Have your cake and eat it!

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99 cents today!

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