Friday, 30 October 2009

Villa Fernando, Quinta da Balaia, Albufeira, Portugal

Just added today, great for your 2010 holidat in Portugal.

•Sleeps up to 6
•3 bedrooms
•2 bathrooms
•Washing machine
•Room fans
•Private pool
•Shared pool
•Beach nearby
•Bars nearby
•Restaurants nearby
•Close to airport

This private and modern villa is located in a private secluded cul de sac in the superb holiday park of Quinta da Balaia which comprises some 200 villas, an Hotel and low level apartments. Set in 35,000 square metres of tropical gardens. The beach of Santa Eulalia and the town at Oura is within walking distance, other beaches and the village Quinta da Balaia village itself has all you would need. Your villa has a private pool and there is also a communal pool if you are feeling sociable. There is an excellent International restaurant on site and a mini market. There are 8 tennis courts for lessons or for hire and two are floodlit for evening games. There are children’s games and competitions and you can play squash. There is also a grass football pitch. of Olhos D’Agua are also accessible.

Local info aboutAlbufeira: It is is classified as a city and including all of its suburbs sprawls some 30 kilometres along the coast and some 10 kilometres inland. There is a good bus service, a train station and colourful land trains which do a full circuit of the city. There are very few high rise buildings and its very spread out with tree lined streets and nice gardens. The beaches vary between large golden bays and small rocky coves which are fun to explore and of course every beach has a lovely restaurant serving fresh fish and seafood. There are all kinds of restaurants, fun bars, sports bars, discos and nightclubs. The shopping is very good and there’s a Gypsy market every Tuesday. Activities include all kinds of watersports, tennis, spas and golf.

More Info: Here Make sure you remember for your 2010 holiday

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Pre-existing conditions Travel insurance for over 50s launched

This story came to us on Friday 23rd October on a news alert and has come from the Insurance Daily site.

Over 50s insurer has enhanced its offering with the creation of a new service aimed at improving the options of those with pre-existing medical conditions.

The firm has launched a comprehensive new product which covers a large number of minor pre-existing conditions free of charge.’s medical screening programme will also offer those with illnesses including diabetes, heart problems and cancer.

The firm also aims to offer competitive pricing, with coverage from just £14 for a couple spending a week in Europe to £35 for global travel.

For single trips those up to 85 are eligible, annual multi-trippers can be up to 81 and up to 76 is the age limit for for long-stay.

Chief Executive Ryan Howsam has described the firm’s mission as providing the over 50s with the best possible insurance at the lowest cost.

Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions can have great difficulty acquiring the insurance coverage they require, but it seems to be a concern that is being addressed by more insurers recently.

Last month broker Heath Lambert and First Senior Group formed a partnership specifically to provide those with such conditions with coverage, and a similar deal occurred between Heath Lambert and the British Polio Fellowship.

Staysure advertise their “Over 50’s Travel Insurance" and “Holiday Home Insurance” at the two jml insurance websites and jml Property Services acts as introducers.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

End of the line for Motorail

24th October 2009: There was a report in one of the Saturday newspapers today saying that the Rail Europe’s French Motorail service was to cease.

This was a great way for the motorist who wanted to take their car to France without driving long distances and clocking up a lot of mileage. You simply took the car ferry or Channel Tunnel to Calais and the car went on the train and you stayed in the passenger compartment of the train and it travelled through the night.

A message on the website says "The French Motorail service from Calais to the South of France will sadly not be running in Summer 2010. The impact of the current economic climate and significant increases in train running costs, partly due to unfavourable exchange rates, means the service would not be financially viable"

All is not lost, as you can still drive to Paris where the AutoTrain – put your car on the train service operates from.According to the website "Cars are taken overnight on train carriers, while you follow on, either during the day or night, on a separate train and collect your car when you get to your destination"

They still go to the south of France to thes following destinations.Avignon, Bordeaux, Brive, Fréjus/St Raphaël, Lyon, Marseille, Narbonne, Nice, Toulon and Toulouse.

What is most intersting is the fact that they don't appear to have an online booking system and prefer you to telephone and there is a £8 booking fee.

Train companies have had to move with times and I recall way back in the early 1970s taking a "Motorail" train from Fishguard in west Wales to Paddington, London. It was a hot summer's Sunday afternoon and after taking the car ferry from to Rosslare, Ireland this was meant to be an easy journey. The service was run by British Rail and because it was a Sunday there was no buffet car and a lot of maintenance work on the track. It seemed to take hours and would probably have been a lot faster to drive along the M4 motorway instead.

People will generally find it is cheaper to fly and hire a car these days, however as the newspaper article said, you can't bring a car load of cheap wine back from France by plane!

Maybe the solution is to fly and rent a car and take a day trip to France to stock up up on the cheaper drink, especially if you live in the south of England.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Visiting Ikea Dublin a few months after it opened

Left: The new Ikea Store in Dublin( Photo - jml Property Services)
I have had the opportunity of going to the Ikea, Dublin today. It was opened in late July this year and is the first store in the Republic of Ireland and the second in the country. The Belfast store was opened in December 2007 and immediately attracted customers from throughout Ireland.

In March 2008 they started to accept euros for purchases due to the numbers of shoppers coming from the Republic.

I have not been there, but have been to Wembley Park store in North London on numerous occasions over the years and have also visited the Croydon, Bristol and Toulon (in France) stores.

The Ikea store in Dublin is no different, no signage in Irish /Gaelic like other foreign retailers coming into the country like Tesco or Homebase, but well laid out. A Wednesday late morning in October was a good time to go there. I wouldn’t have wanted to go at a weekend or later in the day. There were plenty of available car parking spaces and my only concern was the volume of the background music was so loud that it was not actually in the background and if I had been wanting to concentrate on some serious purchases would have put me off.

One thing that I had never seen in the London, Bristol or Toulon stores was people going round with large shopping trolleys in the showroom area. I can see the benefit of it for shoppers, they can pick up items en-route and naturally that is good for Ikea. I would imagine it could slow up traffic a great deal in really busy times.

When I came to pay, I was able to us my credit card without additional admin fee as you get in the Wembley, London store. Maybe when they are more settled in and so is the Irish economy again, they might bright bring in this extra fee earner. I hope they don’t as it would be a great shame.

The restaurant appears very good value and the positioning of the hot dogs, ice creams near the checkout is most tempting, again with great value prices.

There has been a lot of talk in the Irish press about the comparison of prices between the Belfast and Dublin operations. It must be difficult to try and match prices as they can do for example in Edinburgh and London as one store is governed by much lower VAT and the other. The euro € is still very strong against sterling £ so with two stores in the country at lease customers don’t have to spend so much on petrol.

Apparently the Dublin store has taken a lot more time to get off the ground than in other countries with the M50 motorway having to be widened first and it has opened when there is recession on. Knowing their market, they should not be to affected by that and maybe in the not too distant future they will be a store being developed in the Cork area.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Accommodation for up to 21 people in one Vilamoura luxury property

Julie has just emailed us from the Algarve in Portugal to say she has discovered this stunning property that is available for holiday lets in 2010.

It is also available for the remainder of 2009 as well. It is located at Vilamoura and can accommodate up to 21 people in 2 one bedroom apartments, 2 two bedroom apartments and 5 studio apartments. So you don't have to be a big family to go there, but is ideal for either individuals or a group of friends all wanting to take their holidays together.

There is an enormous pool with sundecks and a very sociable large BBQ area. You are also close to the beach and if you play golf there are 5 championship golf courses within 5 minutes drive, also Tennis Centre with 14 hard clay floodlit courts and indoor health centre, Browns Health Centre with body treatments, Gym, Sauna, Turkish Baths, indoor and outdoor heated Swimming Pools, Tennis, Squash and much more. Lawn Bowling Club, Airstrip and much more.

This superb property is in a great location for Faro airport. Want to find out more? Well click here and go to the Quinta do Monte page. Julie tells us that July and August are the peak months and early bookinmg requests are recommended

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Nice port makeover begins - The Riviera Times Online

WiFi before you fly - The Riviera Times Online

WiFi before you fly - The Riviera Times Online

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Attacked on the Marseille-Ventimiglia train - The Riviera Times Online

Attacked on the Marseille-Ventimiglia train - The Riviera Times Online

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Italy Magazine closing in print form

Goodbye Italy magazine in print

We have been advertising and in Italy Magazine since November 2004 and have just received Issue No 80 November 2009. It was not good news to read Editor Peter Shaw’s welcome on page 5 that announced that the November edition would be the last “print edition”.

During the past year the magazine certainly looked a lot thinner and the final edition only goes to some 60 pages. It must be very difficult trying to find topics to fill the pages, although there has always been a great mix on culture, food, places to visit and of course high quality photos.

The magazine was launched by Poundbury Publishing in 2002 and Italy Magazine soon became established as the number one magazine for Italy lovers. There logo has the words “the No 1 magazine for lovers all things Italian.

However it is not all bad news, we are now in the Internet age and according to information they have provided to the advertisers is “Italy Magazine has moved firmly into the 21st century with the decision to stop its print edition and concentrate only on its very successful website. Today, reaches more than 1.5 million users across the world, bringing Italian news, travel, food, property and culture to a lively community of Italophiles. It also has a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.” Peter Shaw the editor is to remain as an adviser and we wish them well with the product.

Although so many publications can now be read on line (and certain UK daily papers are considering charging for this) there is nothing like picking up a magazine, getting the aroma of the print and flicking through the magazine (or newspaper) that you can actually touch.

There of course might be other publications that come into the local newsagent featuring Italy. France appears to be the country that is covered the most with at least four publications available and there are two for Spain I am aware of.

Portugal is not covered and you wonder how long the French magazines can continue for in the present climate, particularly when three of them are owned by the same company.

The Internet is the future, but you also need publications in print.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Sending a cheque from one Euro zone country to another is frustrating and very expensive…don’t bother.

The Euro has been in existence for over ten years now in many member countries and if you try and send a cheque drawn on a bank from member country and bank it in another be prepared for a long delay and very high costs.

I needed to transfer some funds from Ireland to France and posted a cheque drawn on an Irish Building Society to my bank in Juan-Les-Pins, France. I posted this by signed for delivery as I wanted to ensure it arrived there ok A few days after sending the cheque I went online and there was no credit. My first reaction was that they had not received it.

The bank my wife and I use are not the best at communicating and a couple of months earlier they had written to say that one of our new bank cards was waiting for collection at the local branch. We wrote to them twice requesting it be posted as we are not resident in France and so rather difficult to collect and the third copy went with the cheque we wanted banking. Whenever we are in the area, you can find that they are not always open, it could be a Monday and because they work Saturday mornings they close on a Monday, or arriving just when they close for a long lunch hour on the remaining days of the week that they actually open on.

When I had posted this cheque, I had also enclosed yet a third copy of the letter requesting the card be posted. As I was concerned that the cheque had gone missing, I contacted the Irish Building Society who immediately posted out a replacement cheque to a relative who could bank it at the local branch. I t was lodged on the 3rd September. We were also in France at that time and decided to call into the branch to see if they had the bank card, yes they had it was in a desk drawer in an addressed envelope waiting to be posted, I have no idea how long it had been there, but had we not gone in, would probably still be there now. When we got back home from France, in our post was a second bank card that someone had decided to post!

On the 25th September the funds were finally credited to our account, three weeks after they had been put in and being charged over €94.59 for processing the cheque. I contacted a major French bank that has a department specialising for English speaking clients. They told me that “The currency has no bearing on a foreign cheque. This is an International or Foreign cheque and therefore follows International procedures. It can take 4-6 weeks on occasions. Cheques get sent back to their bank of origin and it then depends on that banks procedures, security checks etc. before they send the funds back, then the funds are cleared.”

Well so much for having one currency for several countries when it comes to trying paying in a cheque from another member county within the Euro zone. Unfortunately the Irish Building Society can only make payments by cheque, which is a somewhat old fashioned method as we approach 2010. They use a clearing bank for their payments, however with the way technology is these days should really have a more advanced system.

If you have had similar problems please leave a comment.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Villefranche-sur-Mer on Cover of October Riviera Reporter

The October - November 09 edition of the English languaguage magazine for the French Riviera "The Riviera Reporter" arrived today.

On the cover is a fantastic view of Villefranche-su-Mer the picturesque village a very short distance east of Nice. The view is taken from the Alps above and at a time when the sun is going down and the lights coming on along the narrow strip of road between the sea and those restaurants overlooking the sea.

Our picture on the left taken in 2005 illustrates the sea, road and some of the restaurants. It is a village that really has not changed at all since I first visited it way back in the very early 197o's. Every Sunday there is a "Flea market" that attracts many visitors. It has a very shetered beach and in January you can see people lying on the beach in swimming costumes sunbathing and others walking along the road behind in fur coats. What a contrast.

It is a popular location for cruise liners to spend a few hours or a day or so in the bay over overlooking Villefranche and Cap Ferat.

The Riviera Reporter has been running for over 20 years now and although other English language publications have moved in on the scene, most of them have folded away and the Reporter is still there six times a year.

There is more information about the Riviera Reporter here at