Ghosts and Shadows

It is so long since I have written, anything, that I now have many thoughts and things I wish to say. A lot has occupied me during the last couple of years, perhaps working backwards from the strongest impressions may help slowly focus on a purpose.

Today is a good starting point – I wanted a pocket-sized book to read in a waiting room and picked up Ezra Pounds “ABC of Reading” – although I bought it over 50 years ago when I was an aspiring beatnik in the 1950s, I had never read it as it seemed heavy and was not his poetry – I remember buying the book (which was a large percentage of my Saturday jobs 25 shillings) because Kerouac mentioned it in the Dharma Bums (or was it On the Road) and I yearned to find their freedom.

Now, I find every page scintillating and concise, it seems an important book.

Already, the hope if some chronological voyage of my thoughts is lost – I jump to shadows – here I am immersed in the short book In Praise of Shadows, it is beautiful and helps me see images in my head I overlooked, I hope to find them through cameras – this led me to another book, Kusamakura –  so much to read – wonderful.

I have always (certainly since I was 7 years old at least) been influenced by Japanese expression and images – I am discovering fresh passions for many forms again – Butoh, Boro and some films.  the repeating interweaving of ghosts in life is a strong effect – look at Ugetsu monogatari (1953) – it is beautiful – I am tweeting about butoh so look there for links.

My love of photography strengthens and my understanding of ghosts and shadows grows, soon to be flowing onto a glass plate, I hope

Newsletter June 27 2012

A really warm greeting from the Sunny South of France – 44 degrees warm today.

After a few months of hard work on our new Internet project, including patent applications, starting some app developments, websites and business planning – I need a holiday in the South of France (I know just the place).

Just a couple of quick notes in this mail.

==

I had a call from Jacqueline, an assistant producer of the ITV series “May the best House Win” asking for owners in Brittany who would like to be considered for the TV series.

Here is her note to me – contact Jacqueline direct if you are interested …..

We are currently casting for the fifth series of the hugely popular ITV1 daytime show ‘May The Best House Win’. For part of this series we’ll be heading across the channel and filming in France. I am casting for Brittany only.

The series features interesting homes that have been lovingly created by their owners, real passion projects and properties that are distinctive and express their owners personality, whether it’s people who live in interesting conversions, fascinating period properties, or who have filled their home with fascinating objects or artifacts, or decorated in a particular theme. Anything goes – so long as the homeowners really love their home.
In each episode we will feature 4 very different houses in a particular area. We will ask the homeowners to visit each of the other houses and award them marks out of ten. The winning homeowner wins 1000 Euros. It’s a fun show designed to bring together people with different tastes and different properties to discuss and debate their own ideas of what makes a home.
As discussed, we (myself and my Researcher) are coming to  Brittany to film next week. I was keen to see if you or anyone you know might be interested in taking part .
I would be very grateful if you could pass this message and flyer on to any relevant people and ask them to get in touch ideally in the next couple of days if they would like to have a chat.
My direct line is 0044 207 157 4879.
Kind regards
Jacqueline

Jacqueline Paul | Assistant Producer  | ITV plc
0044 (0) 207 157 4879
ITV plc Head Office Tel +44 (0) 20 7157 3000 itv.com

==

Another important issue which I was involved in a few years ago is the short-term rental of apartments in major cities, including Paris and San Francisco.

It is a simple fact that many (if not most) of the vacation and short-term business rentals in many cities are rented illegally. The fan got hit by goodness knows what when http://airbnb.com held a press conference and dinner in a San Francisco apartment last week and found out that the place they were using and renting was illegal – this was pointed put to them by the press at the dining table with them. Even worse, it seem that one of the founders of the company was offering their own place for rent, illegally.

The problem is that most owners and all renters do not know that major cities around the world have statutes which make renting for short duration illegal. In Paris this has been law since the 1970s, but, up ’till now, has been ignored by everyone, including the city council. But not for much longer it seems.

Cities and governments like to get taxes, the Internet makes it easy now for them to trace and calculate all rentals and some hefty tax bills are likely to appear, but my main concern has always been the safety aspect. If a rental is illegal then no insurance company will pay out in the event of a serious incident. This could mean an owner being sued for any accident or loss – worse still the renter and the agency arranging the rental would also then be liable for any losses. In Paris I know there are over 38,000 apartments which are illegally offered for rental – I also know that the city of Paris knows who they are.

==

It’s a red letter day for me, I registered a patent today – it is for “Object Compounding Applied to Information Retrieval from Database or Other Search Related Services” – the last patent I registered (and was awarded) was in 1973, I’ve got a few more up my sleeve at present so hopefully it will not be another 40 years before I register the next one.

This is all for the new partnership for owners and travelers we are building, you can see our outlines at http://wikibnb.org  – it is not just B&B owners, but an open partnership for all owners and all travelers as there are over one billion travelers next year and 5 million private owners, we better issue a lot of shares? Come and join us :)

Hope to see you in the sunny South of France one day soon

best wishes

Tony

Newsletter May 27 2012

When I started this newsletter in 1998, I called our region of Languedoc “The Real South of France” because it is further South than the French Riviera and Côte d’Azur – with a real French lifestyle and we have more sunshine the longest sandy beaches and thousands of years of culture. We really are The Golden Heart of the Real South of France.

Carole and I were one of the first homes in our area to offer Bed and Breakfast and apartment services to travelers though the Internet and one of the first to build a vacation accommodation website – In fact when I started our rentals sites, we were one of the first large listing websites in the world. At that time only VRBO and A1Vacations were slightly bigger than me.

That is all history now, I stopped most Internet work in 2005 due to poor health and concentrated on our own accommodation in Villa Roquette. The Internet moved on very well without me and those other websites all sold for millions of dollars, but we still have sunshine and sandy beaches, my kids have grown up in a happy village surrounded by vineyards and I am now feeling better than I have for many, many years.

So – back to work on some new Internet projects.

But first a commercial for our home at Villa Roquette  – We have some empty spaces this summer and can offer deals  – please look at our site and check availability on our online calendar – http://villaroquette.com – you can reserve and book direct. We are also taking bookings for next Autumn and Winter, if you are thinking of coming to stay for a long period – up to six months over the winter, do let us know very soon, we have had a lot of enquiries at the last minute for four or five months bookings in the summer where we could not help – winter bookings will be the same, odd days and weeks get booked so a long continuous booking may be difficult to arrange – so book now (and we will give you a good deal).

OK – no more commercials in this newsletter.

What I am excited about and want to share with you is our new Internet project – I started this in 2007, but could not  develop it then. Now it is very important and offers some interesting opportunities.

What private owners of Guest Houses, B&Bs, apartments and villas need is a central resource that provides a service and information about other homes,  places and local interest. A sort of social network for travelers, an accommodation Facebook. We created this with our old rental sites focused on France and developed a vibrant community.

But getting thousands of independent B&B owners, villa owners, small hotels and guest houses world-wide to cooperate is difficult, as we are all very busy cleaning pools and fixing all the things around our properties. Apart from our own websites, most of us pay for advertising in other listing sites.

But things have started to get very difficult for many owners. The Internet is becoming mobile and this is changing the way people use the Internet.

When I started, there were a handful of advertising websites – now there are thousands – but many of these are concentrated in a few giant Online Travel Agencies. Advertising is a nightmare for a small owner and as some bigger agencies are charging large commissions and at the same time driving down prices, owners are cutting back on services and getting fewer clients.

So a few of us in many different countries and locations got together to plan and create a new service, owned by us and created by us. Fortunately I had resources, software and experience to share and our new venture is beginning to take shape.

We have made a simple online meeting point at our site at http://wikibnb.org where a growing International group of us are discussing our plans.

This  new service is not only for owners, but is for all travelers everywhere, services and real-estate as well – by creating a self-help co-working enterprise we can give better value to guests and help everyone to find the best services at the best value.

This is a wold-wide project and I would love you to be involved, we need a lot of help, not only for technical development for mobile applications and Internet services, but with languages, local services and to build a network of people creating, sharing and owning this together.

OK I know we all have very little time to spare, but just a word of encouragement is valuable for us, so if you can spare a few minutes to help or just say “hi” – join in, and keep in touch. This really is the beginning of something very important and it will be very big.

Even better – come to Villa Roquette for a holiday and work with me on this new project – all the wine and sunshine is free.