Open… later?

The new roof vent is proving to be difficult to install. The previous fan framework inside the trailer (what the previous fan screwed into) was incompatible with the new, more standard passive vent I’m installing. Unfortunately, the way it was built meant I had to dismantle even more than I had anticipated.

So I’m still without a new vent, and I now just have a hole in my roof, without a framework. I also have to leave town for a couple of days for some personal business, so nothing is going to get done until Tuesday at the earliest. Hopefully my “protect the hold from the rain” solution works, or the trailer is going to get another solid cleaning. At least it’s only water.

Darnit Jim, I’m a crêpier, not a carpenter!

Winter quarters approved!

I’m pleased to announce that winter quarters for Bistro Breizh have been arranged. I’ll again be at Living Forest Oceanside Campground & RV Park! A fantastic place, great people, lovely views, and easily accessible.

living_forest_campground_googleBarring any further mishaps, and I’m not going to predict any such thing at this point, we’ll be there starting Wednesday, 7 September.

Bistro Breizh will initially be there from Wednesday to Sunday, but we’ll be canvassing the neighbours to determine what times would be best. At first glance it will either be 08h00 to 14h00 (maybe 15h00), or 11h00 to 17h00 during weekdays, and I’ll probably do 10h00 to 18h00 on weekends. To start, anyway.

These times and dates all subject to change, and will also be interrupted by any events or functions I attend during the winter. Check here for more news about that.

So yay for winter! Hopefully I can make up all the lost time from this spring and summer? Here’s hoping! Now to get the coffee maker working!

Nice view

Well, it might have ended in me finding a new problem, but Piper’s Lagoon was definitely one of the nicest locations I’ve set up.

Here’s the view from my “office” which, barring the cars, is pretty cool:

View from inside the Bistro Breizh trailer from the back of the parking lot at Piper's Lagoon.
My Office, Piper’s Lagoon

I particularly like this detail of the trailer that was brought out by the wonderful light:

Trailer detail, Piper's Lagoon
Trailer detail, Piper’s Lagoon

And Piper’s Lagoon also provided one of my favourite pictures. I just simply like this one. Reminds me of some parts of Bretagne:

Crêperie in the wilds of Piper's Lagoon
Crêperie in the wilds of Piper’s Lagoon

Closed due to leaky roof

Sunday at Piper’s Lagoon was a good time. Great weather, fantastic view, and a whole bunch of new people enjoying my crêpes and galettes.

Unfortunately, the sudden and very unexpected shower revealed that my roof is leaking rather badly. So I’m going to take care of that immediately, and I’ll be back when I’ve resolved the issue. So Merle Logan Field is cancelled, and I’ll not be booking anything new until I’ve fixed it. Permanently.

So we’re, yet again, closed due to technical difficulties. I’m considering changing the name to the “YoYo Crêperie” at this stage.

Schedule for 21-23 August

So Bistro Breizh will be at Piper’s Lagoon on SUNDAY, 21 August. (booked)

pipers-lagoonWe’ll then be at Merle Logan Field on Monday and Tuesday, 22 and 23 August. (also booked). It’s tucked away behind the tennis courts at Beban Park. The entrance is off Dorman Road, across form Wilfert. Hopefully I can quickly print off some flyers to distribute to the businesses in the local industrial park to let them know I’m there, AND enough people are interested in a lunch option. Alternatively, it might be a very quiet couple of days.

merle-logan-field

I’m planning for us to be at Maffeo Sutton from Wed, 24 August for a few days, but this is NOT booked yet, and will depend on getting access to the site.

Quiet day today, back in business Sunday or Tuesday

It was a quiet day today at the Bowen Park East parking lot. Very quiet. Will be booking other areas in the near future, depending on whether or not the city can book me in inside the “3 business day” limit they set.

If they can, I’ll be open SUNDAY, 21 Aug.

If they cannot, I’ll be open TUESDAY, 23 Aug.

Check here for details of WHERE I’ll be on those days, as I’ve given the city a couple of options depending on whether I can get keys to locked gates on Saturday.

Closed Wednesday, 17 Aug

Well, seems the new cooler isn’t cool enough. So we’ll be closing Wednesday to deal with the issue. Or rather, we’ll have the company that sold it to us and the manufacturer deal with the issue while we fix problems that are our fault.

Hopefully open again on Thursday 18 Aug at Bowen Park, next to the volleyball court. Had a great afternoon there today, so let’s go for a repeat!

Opening late Tuesday, 16 Aug

So we’ll be opening late today. No idea when.

It’s all down to Murphy’s Law. If something can go wrong, it will. If a number of somethings can go wrong, they all will. If a number of somethings can go wrong in any order, they’ll go wrong in the order that causes the most delays.

I will open today, darnit. But it won’t be at 11:00 as I initially thought I would.

Internet Access: Part 1 – Define the problem.

Another technical post, this time as I try to determine how to get internet access at Bistro Breizh. In this post, I’m just trying to define what the problem actually is. In future posts, I’ll detail how I solved the problem.

Goal

Having internet access from the trailer this will allow me to use the least expensive credit and debit card processing options that allow use of chip-and-pin, maybe even NFC (a.k.a. “tap”).  At the moment I’ll probably be using Helcim as a credit card processor, as I’ve heard good things about them and they apparently don’t rip off us little guys. They also put their prices out front, without requiring that you talk to a high-pressure salesperson as other outfits do. That said, I’m still looking around.

Requirements

I’ve solved 2 of the 4 issues facing me:

  1. an internal WIFI network in the trailer. This is easily done, with any variety of products.
  2. access to an internet hotspot like Shaw Open or a campground WIFI. If none are available, be able to turn my cell phone into an internet hotspot. Also easily done from a single specific device.
  3. some way to connect the internal WIFI network to the selected internet hotspot. Need to be able to do it without fiddling with settings all the time. At most I should have to set things up one per location. At each one I’d just select the appropriate hotspot, enter the appropriate passwords, and never have to worry about how to set up at that location again.
  4. drive a WIFI signal through the metal cage that is the trailer, then make that signal go much further than is normal for a “standard” WIFI setup. This will probably require the use of an outdoor WIFI antennae of some kind.

internet access diagram

Murkiness ahead

This is where it gets a bit murky. Technically what I really need is “wan over WIFI”. But products marketed as “extenders” seem to do this as well. There are even several products that claim to do it all for you, but when you look at the details they’re either being misleading, or just outright lying. Or they’re way overpriced! I saw one for US$6500, whereas I know I can do the whole setup for CDN$300 or less, probably even under $100 and some extra time.

Some products come with “wan over WIFI” built in, but they seem to start at fairly high prices. An alternative would be to get a cheaper WIFI router, then “upgrade” it using DD-WRT or Open-WRT, open source firmware that allows router hardware to do much more than what was originally intended by those who made them.

The (DD / Open)-WRT trick depends on the fact that manufacturers will deliberately hobble perfectly good hardware in order to get people to pay more for extra features that already exist in the basic models, but can’t be accessed by the software provided. DD-WRT and Open-WRT give full access to all the hardware features of any model they work on. The trick is to purchase a model they work on.

But that’s only part of the problem. I also need to solve the whole “the trailer is a metal shell” issue. This will probably require some form of external antennae. I found a couple of products that are “outdoor range extenders”, but if you look closely they aren’t meant to hook into a local WIFI network, they only actually work if you hook them up to a SINGLE computer. Which defeats the whole purpose.

So I’m currently sorting through the murkiness and marketing mud and trying to determine how to solve all my requirements.

More later!

Re-opening Tuesday 16 Aug

OK, it’s a risk, but I’ve decided to set a deadline and I’ll be re-opening Tuesday, 16 August.

Location: Bowen Park East Parking Lot, beside the beach volleyball courts, off Wall Street.
Dates:  Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, the 16, 17 and 18th of August.
Time: 11:00 to later, as I’ll be seeing if the Nanaimo Ultimate players, amongst others, are interested in fairly healthy Breton folk cuisine.

Menu: basic menu. We’ll have various favourites including galettes saucisse, spinach and goat cheese, or ham and “Swiss” (ok, Emmental style, to be pedantic, which I am), and might even be able to put together our specials such as sausage and échalotes (shallots) sautéed in white wine. Maybe. No guarantees.

Future dates and locations undecided. Let me know if you have a favourite park. Check the Nanaimo Food Truck page for list of parks. I’ll be missing VIEX this year because I unfortunately really can’t guarantee that everything will be working by the 18th. I’ve been invited to a couple other events in September and November that I’d very much like to attend, and it looks good for me setting up as the Living Forest Campground “winter café” starting in September.