Thursday, 11 August 2022

Amazon marketplace - a bad experience (Update)

UPDATE: I got an unexpected phone call from Amazon customer service this lunchtime.  I explained what had happened and I was promised an email from the vendor, to arrive by Wednesday next week.  If I'm not satisfied I'm invited to claim a full refund under the Amazon A-Z guarantee.   This sounds like a company trying to do the best it can in response to a customer complaint.   I will keep you posted.

ORIGINAL POST:
I have just had to pay 11 euro customs duty/tax on a book that cost slightly less that €15, that I bought on Amazon Marketplace.   I'm a bit sore about that.

The thing is, I have been surprised before by duty payable on things I have bought on Amazon, so this time I checked things out, and I thought I had made the right decision.  There was, at the time I ordered, and still is, I believe, no way that I could tell from amazon.fr where exactly the item was shipping from, so I checked the details of the supplier, and V-KING, who were noted as the supplier and shipper, had an address in France.  I made the mistake of imagining that this would mean that the item would ship from France.  Wrong.   And that the TTC (toutes taxes comprises) price quoted included everything I would have to pay.

I got Amazon to phone me.  That aspect of their customer service is good, and I got a call within a few seconds of having requested one.   After a careful explanation, I was promised an email, that, when I got it, explained, in essence, that their website is continually evolving in order to try new things to improve the customer experience, and thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Out of curiosity I went on amazon.co.uk, to see if it has the same problem.   No.   This item is available from different suppliers, and it is clearly stated, for each supplier, where the item will ship from.   I was interested to note that the book as sold by V-KING is claimed to ship from France.   Not when I ordered it, it didn't.

Also, the book on .uk was priced from £6.17   So I'm even more sore.



Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Making weights

This is about keeping a stack of wood dry in Winter.   You stack the wood up in a row, about 4 feet deep and 5 feet high, and as long as you like.   You cover it with a long tarpaulin, and the challenge is to make sure that the tarp stays on the wood and keeps it dry, during whatever storms and rains the weather might throw at it, and however much wood you take away to burn.

The tarp is wider than the stack of wood, so it has skirts that hang down on both sides.   We started by putting rocks on top of the tarp, but unless they are very heavy, the wind has no trouble lifting the skirts and flicking the rocks off.  There is another difficulty, in that when wood is removed from the heap, the tarp no longer fits snugly, so rain gets in unless you continually adjust things to take into account the wood you have removed.

I am trying a new solution, that is tying weights to the edges of the tarp to keep the skirts from lifting up, and to this end, I am making concrete weights.   After trying various techniques I have settled on what I think is an effective method.  For gîte customers, we sometimes buy fruit salad that comes in a plastic pot that is just the right size.   I make two opposite cuts in the sides from top to bottom.   This makes it possible to separate the pot from the concrete once it has set.  I use sticky tape to hold the two sides of the pot together while I fill it with concrete that I mix with water in the pot.  For the handle I bend iron rebar using a plumbing pipe bender, and I push the U-shaped bar into the concrete and let it set.

I use elastic cord and hooks to attach the weight to the tarp.  This gives flexibility in the arrangement of the wood, and the cord can be easily detatched to give access to the wood at any point.   We'll see if this cunning plan survives the Winter.   The Winter that is, apparently, coming.


Friday, 5 August 2022

Red sky at night, shepherds take fright

 Red sunset and red light in the garden, just before last night's thunder storms.



Saturday, 30 July 2022

Rock shifting

A previous owner of our place decided that he wanted a small water reservoir.   These are useful in the summer months, for watering and such.   Unfortunately, he didn't take into account the rocky nature of the terrain, and, after he dug the hole, he tried to retain the water with a thin plastic liner.  It didn't work because it got holes in it, and as a result I now have a useless hole in the ground.

It would appear that he surrounded it with the rocks that he took out of it to make the hole.  They're big and heavy.   I did manage to dispose of one of them by myself, by breaking it up into small pieces, but it took a week and was hard work.

Steph, a neighbour, expressed interest in the rocks, so I told him that he could have any that were too big for me to carry, if he took them away.   He wants them all.  Hooray!   He came the other day along with a massive Manitou, his tractor, and Jean-Phillippe, and between them they got rid of half the rocks.   The other half will be for later in the year.   When they're done, perhaps I can re-establish the pond/pool.





Faust at Linières

We're lucky in that the Chateau de Linières is a 5-minute car drive from our place.   It was bought a few years ago by Julien Ostini, a metteur en scène at Geneva, and his wife, a director there, in search of a change of lifestyle.   With the help of a large number of enthusiastic volunteers, it is turning into a cultural centre, and, amongst other things, they put on an opera every year.   This year it was Faust.

This is no amateur production.   On the night I went, singers included Marc Laho as Faust, Chrystelle Di Marco as Marguerite, and Nicolas Cavallier as Mephistophélès.   For me it was Mephistophélès who stole the show with a charismatic performance somewhat in the style of a swashbuckling Zorro.

The orchestra was no slouch also.

All for €15 the ticket.



Thursday, 21 July 2022

Incident in the Peugeot 308 Hybrid - a review

I find the cruise control useful.   It helps me keep to the speed limits in town, and stops me having to monitor the speedo all the time on motorways.   I use it a lot, particularly since the new 308 hybrid doesn't give a strong sensation of speed. 

I have noted before that I can't seem to turn off the automatic braking system when cruise control is engaged - they seem to come on together even if I have used the option to switch it off.   I should note that this isn't the ABS anti-skid system that we have known and loved for some decades now - it's a system that is intended to slow you down if you get too near the car in front.   Useful on motorways, perhaps, or for drivers asleep at the wheel.


So I'm trolling along in a built-up area, 30kph cruise control on, since that's the speed limit.  There's a line of cars parked to my right.  (I'm driving on the right; I'm in France).    An impatient driver comes up behind and sits a short distance off my rear bumper.  I'm thinking "If I braked hard now, he'd go right in to the back of me".   At this point, the road bears hard left, and the car "sees" the parked cars as now being in front of me instead of to my right, and..... slams on the brakes.   No car should do this.   There was no need, the situation was risky, and no human would have taken that action.

The quick reflexes of the guy behind saved us from a collision, but he isn't happy.  He blasts the horn, overtakes with a squeal of tyres and blasts the horn again.  Can't say I blame him, and he probably thinks I did it on purpose.   Of course any accident would be blamed on him: he was following too close.   But I don't need the hassle.  My car would be off the road during bodywork repairs, there's the hassle of organising that, and the insurance, and, last but not least, I'm having to explain to an angry frog that I didn't brake on purpose and that the car did it when no human would have done.

I went into the Peugeot garage to complain about this "feature".  It's the sort of thing that could, I imagine, be sorted with a simple software fix.  The guy wasn't optimistic.  But I will update this post if I should get such a software change.   In the mean time, I would probably get into terrible trouble if I told you never to buy a car with this feature, so I won't do that.  But I'm beginning to think that had I known about it, I wouldn't have bought this car.

Monday, 11 July 2022

Cantaloup melon seeds

Method one:   Wait until next Spring, buy a packet of melon seeds for about €2.50 for 20

Method two:   Buy a melon.  Extract and dry the seeds in the sun.  Eat the melon.  Save about 300 seeds for next year, all for about €1



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