Friday, 24 May 2013

Catching Up 6 - What I have been reading recently

Catching Up 5 - Music I've been listening to recently

Catching Up 4 - Daughter's PhD

Daughter was accepted for her Masters / PhD at Oxford some time ago.  Some time later, she received notification that she was getting a "studentship" to cover the cost of this for the prospective four years - amazing news.

The one area where she has not yet heard is from the college she applied for.  This was chosen on the "scientific" grounds that it seemed to have the most active Middle Common Room social life. 

If she does get in their, she should get accommodation for the first two years.  I have a walk past the main accommodation block the other week and it looks very nice.

As I write this, Daughter is in Tanzania working as an English teacher.  Though she is enjoying this, she is thinking of coming back a couple of weeks early as she has loads to do related to college, etc (and is probably a bit "over-travelled" from the past 9 months or so on the road)

This time last year, she was still working at the management consultancy in London and not enjoying it.  So what a change in a year.  Resignation, 3 months in India, getting her PhD place, 3 months in the Far East, her yoga teaching qualification, 2 months in Tanzania.  It has certainly been a dramatic year.

Catching Up 3 - The Vintage French Business

The vintage french brocante business is an idea that we thought could be bolted onto the painting holidays next year.  Spending lots of time in France, and visiting loads of weekend street markets, etc, has suggested that we could regularly buy french collectibles and take them back to the UK for re-sale.  This business doesn't have to make much each year, but it could at least add a sweetener to everything else - it is also quite good fun to do.

So far, we have accumulated around 50 boxes of brocante stuff and are tentatively planning to attend a number of antique and collectibles fairs over the coming months.  We are also planning an ebay shop. 

Then next year, when people are regularly crossing back and forwards to and from France in respect of the painting holidays, etc, we will be able to keep the business stocked up.  If we sold 500 boxes a year at a 50% gross profit, we could make about $15,000 a year.  Not a huge profit, but more than enough to cover quite the annual costs of running the house in France.

Being the son of an antique dealer, I am quite keen on this sort of thing!

Catching Up 2 - The Painting Holiday Business

For the last two months, we have been developing a painting holiday idea to try and enhance the low-season rental stream from our house in France.

Modelled on our old overseas business that we ran in 2008, but without the drag of third-party rental expense, we are planning for this business to be largely run by two friends (one of whom is an art teacher which should help).  Wife and I expect to be quite passive in the day-to-day operation.  It is too hot to sit outside painting for hours in July and August in our area of France, so we are targeting May-June and September-October - exactly the weaker times in our rental plans.

At this stage, the business is being discussed in general terms only.  But we are about to have our first print advert published and are beginning to consider some points of detail.  One of the key lessons from our experiences in 2008 is that the more that is planned in advance, the easier the work is to do.  So lots of thought needed now.

The painting holidays now have their own website

Catching Up 1 - Our House in France

Since we bought the house last November, I have spent about 7 weeks there in total, mainly doing the re-decoration needed in order to enhance the rental part of the property.  This has gone extremely well I think and I am really delighted by how it now looks.  It has been rented for enough weeks to cover the annual running costs, but not enough to eat much into the renovation costs.  But a decent enough start.

The renovation work on the other half has progressed further than I had expected at this time.  The plan has been enhanced compared to the early versions, but at a slightly increased cost.  However, when this is finished, the outcome is going to be extremely good.  We'll be left with a 9-bedroom, 4-bathroom farmhouse, easily split into two as seperate rental properties.  But there is at least 8-10 weeks of work for me over the next winter to see this through to completion.  And a huge amount of thought needed to see it finished properly

The house has its own website

Picture added later - our house it all its summer glory