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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First snow and WINDOWS…and a big old hole in the ground! November has been a month of giant leaps for us!

We’ve still got Harry with us, already half way through his twenty hours of driving lessons and he seems to be a natural so fingers crossed he has his test before Christmas!

Meanwhile, having him here has been such a treat! I love the unexpected mixing up of the family dynamic – Arty was only 13 when Harry left home, so living together again has been really lovely … hearing them both laughing together and spending some quality bro-time is delicious!


digger in the garden!

Of course having his strength added into the workforce is also a huge advantage to the build!

The Mezzanine

We had the big delivery of composite beams for the mezzanine, they arrived in a huge truck, delivered from Northern France, on a day when Luke and Joe were filming in Lyon; so Harry and I and two lovely neighbours received, unloaded and transported the 34 beams from the road to the house. Then I dropped Harry at the airport to fly to Sweden for ten days!


A couple of days later, Joe and I put all the beams in place in a day – they went together so perfectly – it was thrilling progress! Then with Arty’s help we floored it all with OSB sub-floor…





Then when Harry came back from Sweden, we started framing out the rooms up there – the bathroom and two bedrooms. They will each have Velux windows in the roof, and big metal-framed windows (made by Joe) facing out into the barn.


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The bathroom… (obviously!)


Arty’s bedroom…



And the other bedroom … Beth’s, or Harry and Armel’s… or Luke and Marie’s… friends from afar…maybe even Joe and I in winter!

It’s such a great space, and when all the Veluxes are in (5 on the South side and the three on the North) it will be filled with light!


And then the huge change this week is that we have windows and our downstairs door. Oh the excitement!

They were all installed in a single day – 13 windows and two doors… and they look beautiful – really true to the original style of the farmhouse:


Windows in the West wall


What a transformation!


Sunshine and snowy field


As you can see, there’s a little snow still on the ground… and that’s the last view of the field looking so serene…

The Fosse Sceptique (sceptic tank)

… because this week we have had the fosse sceptique laid in the ground, along with the enormous drainage system beyond it!  We’re so thrilled to have got this in before the winter weather made it impossible, have to admit to being a little worried that we might have missed the chance when we saw the snow last week! But it all melted away, and this week has been glorious blue skies.



fosse sceptique in place…


Trench to the house…


And the substantially-bigger-than-I-expected drainage beyond


Amazing what one man and a digger can achieve in a few days!

We also asked Jocelyn, our man with the digger, to level the ground in front of the house while he had all the big machinery there, and luckily for us he had time to do it.  It’s quite a shock to see so much freshly dug earth – but just brilliant to get it done so soon… when the Spring comes, we’ll build a retaining wall with the amazing stones which have been dug up, and have a little patch of level, sheltered paradise…



All covered over – can’t wait for it to be all grassy and flowery again!

Barn doors

Last weekend, Harry, Arty, Joe and I hung the magnificent new barn doors Joe had made the week before to keep out the whistling winter winds from the studio. They have been made from some of the old floorboards from the barn – which really warms my heart! (And really warms the studio too!) We are almost completely weatherproof now, and I can’t tell you what a difference it makes!


Old doors… (but finished roof – they came back and completed the job – yay!)


And glorious new doors!


The barn door team!

And the ‘first fix’ begins…

We’ve bought the cables and fixings and Joe’s started to pull wires into submission around the house – today Joe and I jack-hammered our way through from house to office to pass the cables through the big stone wall – it’s when you come to making a hole like this that you remember our farmhouse was really built to last!




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Cheeky smiley face revealed when the earth was dug away from the side of the house!

Thanks for reading!

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  1. janet atkins says:

    Wow, unbelievable, inspirational,brilliant.
    What a family.
    Well done and well done Manny with all the blogs which keep us all involved.
    M and D, J and D. N and G xxxxxxxxxxx

    1. mannyatkins says:

      Thanks Jan – it means so much to have such lovely responses!

  2. Congratulations!! A great read, great photos, and what a talented family not forgetting the hard work of course!!
    Best wishes to you all
    Anita Dakowsli

    1. Osyth says:

      Je vous en prie 🙂

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