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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Here we are in May already – Blue skies and long grass, and the field is full of wild flowers.  I’m back at work again, with fingers strapped but able to drive!

Lots to tell – lots to show… so let’s get started!

Velux marathon!

Having abandoned the first Velux after my finger episode, we returned with zeal during the spring holidays – profiting from two full sunny days with Arty, Luke, Joe and me dedicated to making some holes in the roof and filling them with windows!

Day one – we managed to put the three smaller windows in the two mezzanine bedrooms and the bathroom:


first window frame going in…


Blue skies… smiling at me!


Up on the roof…


First hot sun of the year…Should have worn suncream!


Luke cutting the roof tiles to fit


Nice job!


Not the most regular of roof batons under those straight lines of tiles!


So lucky to have such easy access to the North side of the roof!


Team work


And the second hole appears




Sun’s out…guns out!


Luke and Arty on the roof – Joe and I inside – made for speedy progress!


Window number three…


All three windows in place –



End of a magnificent day’s work


Where’s the after-sun?!

On the second day, we tackled two bigger windows – one on the North side, and one on the South.  The safety needs change quite dramatically on the other side of the house, as of course it’s two storeys high. Arthur was so at ease on the roof by this point, so he took it on, securely harnessed and attached to the beams inside to keep him safe.  A few days later, Arty, Joe and I  put in another couple of big ones on the South side.


Inside access – look at that sunlight streaming in!


Our wonderful versatile tower has been invaluable to us.




That ‘oh-so-comfy’ safety harness!


We got this window in minutes before a storm broke!



Phew! Immediately put to the rain test – no leaks anywhere!



2 to go…

And last bank holiday weekend – we gambled again with threatening dark clouds on the horizon, and Arty, Luke, Joe and I managed to get the last two windows in!!

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Number 8…

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And what the hell… let’s go for the final one!


Yup, that’s nine windows in 4 (non- consecutive) days!

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Massive psychological landmark to reach – the interior is totally transformed – flooded with bright sunshine in the day, and beautiful soft light in the evening or when it’s raining.

The Electrics…

Joe has single-handedly wired up the whole house – hours and hours of intricate installation – we just need to connect it all up now.  Enedis will come and move the electrical entry point in the next few weeks – we had to drill a big hole in the wall, and we were lucky enough to have help from our friend Pierre Yves and his father in law who arrived with a massive drilling machine which effortlessly drilled through the stone!

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Awaiting connection…


The new floorboards arrive –

We have collected our beautiful new floor. To make space to store it all, we first had to clear out the old floorboards which we still want to use for furniture and other projects – boy those things are heavy!



Bring ’em in boys!

We were lucky to have a team of Luke’s friends to help unload our beautiful floorboards:


Trailer number one… (there were 3)


A glimpse of what it will look like when it’s laid.


All done!


Time for a beer and a bit of lunch!

The guys then proceeded to load a trailer full of big heavy stuff for the dump – so appreciated!

The bedhead beam

Our beautiful beam is safely bolted into its resting place – plaster-boarding has begun, electric back-boxes (for plugs and switches) are in place, and we are really getting the feel of how the bedroom space will work.


Complete with light fittings, switches and plug back-boxes – the ladder of course won’t be there… our bed will!




We’re putting up plasterboard all over the place now – and every piece is thrilling as it starts to transform the space into our home!


The big spine wall dividing the living space and studio


Beautifully cut to fit the wall.

I’m tasked with the job of jointing and finishing… I’ve watched a few YouTube videos, and started learning my craft in the pantry, very forgiving as it will mostly all be covered! Flush with the success of my first attempts, I’ve moved on to the big spine wall –

I’m loving it! We shall see how good it looks when it’s finished and painted, but I find the process really satisfying… fair bit to go yet mind!

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It’s so tall! That’s as far as I can reach from a ladder – need to move the tower across for that corner!

Below is the beginnings of the pantry door – reclaimed from an original door in the house – dismantled, adjusted and reassembled in the workshop by Joe – it will have glass panels. The pink box will house an electric cooker, with a microwave above. The freezer will live in the pantry, along with lots of open shelves of food and kitchen stuff – what a treat!


Roof Insulating continues…

We are so nearly finished with the roof insulation; next we need to plasterboard it!



Missed a bit!



Family news – birthdays and driving tests… (and a quick trip to the UK)

Arty had his 18th birthday in April  –  on the actual weekend of his birthday, Arty and Cassandra, Luke and Marie and Joe and I went and tried our hand at an escape game in St Etienne. We tackled their most difficult game, Paranoya – and achieved it with seconds to spare! Only 20% succeed, so we were pretty chuffed! So satisfying – and really good fun!


And last Saturday he celebrated with a bunch of friends in Solignac – BBQ, and a night around the campfire – I really love that he chose to celebrate his birthday at the house!


Setting up the fire pit


Sneaky photo as Joe and I slipped discreetly away!

Sounded like a great night!

I too had a birthday – and had the most lovely day!

Beautiful pressies, including a gorgeous yellow rose from Joe –



In the ground – oh and Mirabelle’s found a tiny bit of shade!

We finished the afternoon with a stroll down to the river (our first this year) – I cannot think of anywhere I’d rather have spent my birthday!


5 minutes from home! Pretty special!


A little plastic cup of rosé


A very happy birthday girl!



So that was Friday May 11th… two days later – this happened:


End of the world as we know it?! MAY 13th!!!


It was bloomin’ freezing – time to get the onesie out again!

It lasted a few days, but normality seems to have returned thank goodness! Really quite unsettling!!

Coming of age

Not only did Arthur have his 18th birthday, he also had his first tattoo! (Christmas pressie from Joe and I)

That’s all four of our children inked now! Who’d have thought it!

It’s a beautiful design, and really well done – he’s thrilled!


on the day – still wrapped!

It’s healed really nicely, and suits him so much:


And the final big news is that Arty passed his driving test…not only past it, but got a test result of 31/31 …. he’s good!

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But before all that birthday fun – I took a whirlwind trip to the UK to have a girlie weekend with my Mum and sisters – we named it ‘The Onesie weekend’ as Mum kitted us all out in one… it was a heavenly few days of laughter and love!


A very special moment with some very special ladies!


Well I think you’re pretty much up to speed now – as always, thank you for joining us on our big adventure – Fingers crossed for a long and glorious summer! Rumour is we’re going to have a heatwave… bring it, on I say!



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  1. Karen Alcock says:

    Just SO amazing seeing this house come together .. xxx

  2. janet atkins says:

    What splendid progress to be seen. As usual Manny, a very interesting blog.
    Lots of hard work but also you all seem to have so much fun.
    Love D & J. M & D xx

  3. sophiekey says:

    So exciting to see it all taking shape and beginning to see the shape of some of the rooms! Great effort guys! X

  4. Osyth says:

    Let there be light! Amazing achievement to have gotten all the windows in. Really this place is just beginning to sing (as though it didn’t already but you know what I mean!) …. I love the tattoo – that first tat is such a milestone and he picked a brilliant image doubtless for his own reasons but it works beautifully. I hope the sun is shining again (we were gobsmacked to see friends reports of snow in May in Cantal) and that the house continues to leap and bound on and that you are all thriving! Toodles from across the pond (yikes!)

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