Manny's Blog

Sharing our French adventure as we live and work and renovate our forever home in the Haute Loire.
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Quite a cliffhanger I left you dangling on in June… the night of our darling, beautiful grandson Oscar’s birth. Sorry about that! As always I thought I’d be back to my blog sooner… but as always, it’s taken longer than expected to get back here!

Oscar is now six months old (nearly seven months!)- he is an absolutely dreamy baby (of course), mellow and content, constantly smiling and a credit to his magnificent parents Luke and Marie, who are making such good choices and decisions.

Being a grandmother is pure delight!

So much has happened since my last blog, it’s hard to know where to start, so I’ll just work my way through everything and hopefully bring you fully up to speed with where we’re at this snowy December 2021 !

Luke and Marie have moved

A few weeks after Oscar’s birth, Luke and Marie moved in to their lovely new house. Luke’s job is going brilliantly well, and working from home is proving to be every bit as fantastic as he’d hoped (not always a given, let’s be honest). Marie is just a few days from opening her Montessori creche – a massive achievement with a new baby! Her school commissioned Joe to design and make all the exquisite wooden furniture: little chairs and tables; bookshelves and special learning equipment. It looks absolutely beautiful! Little Oscar will be at the creche with Marie when it opens, so they really have thought this through!!

43 Media goes from strength to strength

We’ve had a really busy summer, with a Media training course for the Alan Ducasse cookery school in Paris;

Interviews and masterclasses shot for SAP, also in Paris;

a spectacular food shoot here at the studio for an organic food company –

and the biggest most exciting job of the summer – Michel Roux’s French Country Cooking for Discovery Plus. This turned out to be the most amazing job for us – Joe built the set for the kitchen, and was asked to stay for the whole three week shoot to help with electricity issues – Joe, Luke and I then had a wonderful few days shooting drone footage for the entire series – We were incredibly proud of our contribution to the programme. I’ve just spent the last few weeks working on the wonderful new website Harry has designed for us – please check it out – and find out the full story behind the Michel Roux job.

Outside work on the house

This summer, we took on the hefty challenge of re-doing the whole exterior top of the house, where it meets the roof. We have long been aware that there were big gaps in the wall at the top of the house, where obviously huge amounts of heat escape in the winter. So we have boxed in and insulated every inch of it! We’re really hoping we’ll feel the benefits this winter!

Surprise visit

Like so many families all over the world we have missed so many moments of being all together – the kind of moments we used to take for granted before Covid. This summer we had the most amazing and beautiful surprise…Harry and Beth both secretly planned to arrive in Solignac on the same day – All the siblings were in on the surprise, with elaborate fake Instagram post etc to make sure Joe and I thought they were in Sweden and the UK respectively… meanwhile Luke went to pick them up from the airport, collecting Arty on the way, and the six of us were reunited in a gloriously loud and emotional fiesta!

We didn’t have even the tiniest inkling that they were coming – it was quite a moment!

We spent a few precious weeks together – the summer never really arrived in the Haute Loire, but we took advantage of the sun when ever it did appear, and spent a couple of days a little further south in search of some real heat!

A sisters reunion in Girona

My three sisters and I made a decision after Mum died in Feb 2019 that we would try to organise an annual holiday for the 4 of us in the sun… we went to Portugal the first September after she died and boy did we need it! 2020 was of course impossible to meet up, but this year we spent a week together in Spain, in a villa just outside Girona. It was the most wonderful and precious few days of true connection – so important to do – especially with me living in another country. The four of us ‘speak’ on Messenger pretty much every day, but it’s easy to forget how totally different it is to actually be physically together. I feel so blessed to have such creative, witty and phenomenal women in my life – we will try and have our annual reunion in the late summer sun for as many years as possible.

Wood store and carport

We took advantage of the most beautiful Autumn I think I’ve ever seen in Solignac with its blue skies and magnificent colours to spend as much time outside as we could. The sunshine was so welcome after the summer that never really got started !

The project was to build a big wood store – again we really wanted to get this done before winter, so that we could order wood and keep it dry to see us through the long cold months – and as you can see, not only did we complete the wood store, but Joe had the brilliant idea of making a carport using the container as the back wall. We then clad the container in the same wood we’d used for the back of the wood store (which are the slivers off the logs before they are planked, so incredibly cheap to buy by the bundle). All in all it was a really successful and fun project – and now that we are well into snowy season, not having to clear the snow off the car is a massive boon!

Almost a Full House for Christmas

I managed a fleeting weekend to see Beth just before Christmas – I’m so glad we slipped it in just before the Omicron Covid varient had such an impact here in Europe – changing so many people’s travel plans. Luckily Harry and Armel were able to get here from Sweden. So Christmas in Solignac was a glorious one with only Beth and Jacob missing from the full fam! Luckily they had decided in advance to spend Christmas in the UK, and had a lovely cosy time together like last year.

And so let’s raise a glass to 2022…

I’m finally posting this on New Year’s Eve 2021 – I wish you all a healthy, happy and peaceful New Year –

Here’s Beth’s beautiful End of Year video to see us into 2022…

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