Manny's Blog

Sharing our French adventure as we live and work and renovate our forever home in the Haute Loire.

About Me

I’m a mother – of four extraordinary children.

Having children was far and away the most creative thing I’ve ever done. They are the beginning, middle and end of everything I am and do.

Luke, Beth, Arty and Harry In 2009…
And in 2015 -Harry, Luke, Arty and Beth!

I’m a wife – Joe and I met in 1989 and married in 1990


He is my partner in every way:  soul, professional, domestic… we have been each other’s rock through thick and thin, and share everything. We decided we would like four children together on our first date – and on the following Monday, Joe asked me to marry him!  We never take for granted how lucky we are to have each other.

The secret of our success? … huge mutual respect. In my humble opinion it’s the key to all great relationships, and the hardest thing to regain once lost! That and we still fancy each other rotten… that’s just lucky I guess!

I’m a singer – been singing since I was about 11; I’ve sung close harmony with a girl-group; sung R&B with a 7-piece band, and sung jazz and blues with a pianist in the UK. When we travelled as a family, we put together a family band, and played wherever we could – what a privilege to make music with your children, (and have them want to perform with you!). Now we live in France, and I sing jazz and blues whenever the opportunity arises.

I’m an actress– I never wanted to be anything else – I knew I wanted to act as soon as I knew what an actress was. My mum was an actress, my dad’s mum was an actress, there was never any question in my mind that that’s what I’d do.

I studied drama at Bristol university – interestingly, I have only ever needed my degree for the English teaching I now do in French businesses… I knew it would come in handy!

I’ve had a very modest but constant career, interspersed with having children and being a very present mum. Particularly as Joe’s work as a lighting designer often took him away from home while the children were young, I made careful choices about what I was happy to do, and mainly that meant small television roles… minimal disruption for maximum professional satisfaction.

Joe’s frequent travels for work were the main trigger for our decision to take the children out of school in 2007 and spend a year on the road with them in a Leyland Tiger bus we converted ourselves. We called our adventure “welcome to the world”… it was an unforgettable magical and precious time, and led us to our current life here in rural France.

By huge good fortune, we met a French family on our travels, who live in our current home town of Tence. We exchanged email addresses, and months later, we came to visit them. We’d reached a bit of a turning point, and were ready to settle down – we completely fell in love with Tence, and the way the French live in this relatively undiscovered (by Brits!) heart of France. We spent a summer in the campsite here, in our bus; then decided to rent a house and see how things went. That was in 2008, and we’ve never looked back!

The children settled courageously into school, college and lycée, and have excelled. Can’t tell you how proud this makes us – both of them and of our year’s worth of home-schooling on the road!

The Film

So just before Christmas 2008, nicely settled in our little house, our first winter here in Tence, deep in snow…

Joe suggested that we make a film. We set up a small independent film company – 43 pictures and set off on another fantastic family adventure…Find out more here !