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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And so it begins…

I have a plan…

I want to take my family to the USA on a road trip next summer to promote our film If you ever get to heaven which we made last year.

For those who know us, this will come as no surprise, and for those who don’t … see “About Me” for a little bit of back story.

I’ve decided that I’ll blog this latest adventure; to chronicle the transformation of this very embryonic pipe-dream to gloriously tight and organised road trip.

I am totally open to suggestions and invitations, so please share this blog with anyone you know who might be interested in getting involved.


The Plan

This idea has been brewing for a few months now, and my philosophy on these things stems from the very first gig I ever did with “Girls and the Great Xar” in 1986. Emma Freud, Jaquie Coghlan and I teamed up with a brilliant alternative magician “The Great Xar” and started putting a few close-harmony songs together. After a couple of rehearsals, Emma said – I’ve booked us a gig on 24h October… so we put together a show, and went on to gig for years, playing the Assembly Rooms at the Edinbrough Fringe Festival; performing on Wogan; playing West End benefit concerts. We could easily have spent two years meeting and singing together waiting ‘til we were ready to perform and never have got on stage!

Joe and I have built this – “book it; tell everyone; and the rest will follow”  philosophy into everything we do.  In 2005 we sold our house, and we declared that we would travel around the world in a bus – leaving in July 2007 (just after Luke’s GCSEs)  … then we bought a bus, transformed it into a home for the six of us, took our HGV licences, and set off… in July 2007!

In 2008 we decided we would shoot a film. In the summer of 2009, we shot If you ever get to heaven, entirely on location in France and Spain – meeting every deadline we set ourselves.

Meeting improbable deadlines has become one of our specialities


What I’m saying is… this trip will happen…

As I write this, we are pretty stony-broke after a lean year (who hasn’t had a lean year?!) and every spare penny we’ve put into the film. So the real challenge ahead of me, is to find a way of funding this trip with whatever we can offer.

As I see it, this means involving as many people as I can interest in the project – I’d like to see if we can’t generate a documentary – and obviously offer media and advertising exposure to anyone who likes the sound of what we’re doing.

I shall focus my film festival attention on all US July and August festivals and hope we get accepted to a few. But whether or not this trip involves screening at festivals, we shall offer ourselves to any independent cinema on our route – (and our route will be clarified by any invitations  to screen) we will offer Q&A sessions,  hold private “house-screenings”  – hey maybe we’ll even play a few concerts!

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the last few years it’s that nothing happens if you don’t make it start – but make it start – drive it, and the heaven’s open!

The “Throw me a rope US Road Trip”, I’ve just thought of that title as I write – does it work? It comes from a line in the film –

“If you ever get to heaven…throw me a rope…” so beautifully delivered by Saul Jephcott, as Geoffrey that you’re going to have to go now and watch the trailer to hear it… (it’s virtually the last line)

Anyway, the “Throw me a rope US Road Trip” will evolve into whatever it is destined to be in direct relation to who gets involved, and the route similarly will become clear when we discover who would like a visit!

So that’s where I am – you join me at the beginning. Who knows where this will take us!

Welcome onboard!

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  1. Melanie Gow says:

    I love the blog, the look, the whole amazing-family feel, I know you all and love you so much I am certain so many people will.

    I love how you have made sense of the peaks in your attitude to life and tethered it to a value and strongly held beliefs.

    It’s very you, it’s generous, kind, gutsy, positive and ‘of you’

    What a wonderful project and I am cheering you all the way, there is a quote by Tennessee Williams that seems appropriate for an American road trip, especially this one “Make voyages! Attempt them, there’s nothing else.”

    love always


  2. LaDawn says:

    Will certainly do send this out to all my friends and see what we can pull together.

    PS I’m American although living in the UK I’ve still got a fair few American friends and family who I am sure can help out.

  3. hillarah says:

    brava, manny! the whole site is a wonderful reflection of YOU! and since i do know you (and the amazing family you have created), i know that the “throw me a rope US road trip” WILL HAPPEN and i will be seeing you stateside next summer … can’t wait to get my arms around you again!

    like mel above, i must add another quote … one i’ve loved for years and one — i feel — expresses several of your quintessential qualities:

    “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
    ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    to me, you are bold, genius, powerful and magical. go for it!

    whatever i can do to help, i am in. i am here. always.


  4. mannyatkins says:

    Thank you all for your support and inspiration – I feel we’re on to something. ..the last 24 hours lead me to think all sorts of good connections are happening, spreading wider than our personal story… I love it when good energy spreads!

  5. tara says:

    Well I never! Another little adventure! Full of admiration – no doubt you will make it happen! What an extraordinary cycle of events… and who knows where they will lead.

    Love you tons,

    T XXXX

  6. Swirly says:

    Have you heard of It is a great site to raise money for projects like this!

  7. mannyatkins says:

    Ooh what a good idea – thank you! I do know Kickstarter, and receive their newsletters… never thought of using it myself…duh – I’m on it!

  8. hi manny, i found you through hilary sloss’s blog, which is also a new find for me. What a remarkable and wonderful journey you and your family are on. i think you’ll find just what you need to make this happen now that you have decided on it and are actively looking for help to do it. I commend you and wish you all the best. What an awesome plan! lenna

    1. mannyatkins says:

      Hi Lenna, thank you for your supportive words – I’m totally blown away by the first response to my new blog – I feel like I’ve found a whole new circle of friends… it’s very exciting! As we found when we were travelling as a family – it was always about the people we met… and already this latest adventure is proving the same, even before we’ve hit the road!

  9. Carmen says:

    Hey Manny,

    Great new blog and I love hearing that you may be coming to the U.S.!

    Like Swirly, I’ve seen Kickstarter used by other film makers so you might try that.

    Also, Christine Gilbert of has recently put together a film – you might ask her.

    In addition, you might want to join (it’s free) our new NuNomad Tribe community, where you can meet Christine and other nomadic travelers, post an ad for your project or start a group discussion about it.


  10. mannyatkins says:

    Thanks Carmen,
    Have joined the new NuNomad Tribe – looks a really user-friendly and useful site – good luck with it! I shall be posting and asking questions! Also very keen to set up a Kickstarter project, I just want to be a bit clearer on how this is all going to work. Won’t take me long! Also you have to have an American bank account to proceed, so I need to address that!. Hope we might get a chance to see you next summer, If you’re around?

  11. Sasha (Little sis) says:

    Love you love you love you! Reach for the moon and if you never get there, maybe you’ll end up amongst the stars… in Hollywood or Poole!

  12. mannyatkins says:

    Re-reading now, and the year has gone very differently!
    Still want to take the gang on a US road trip… one day…but life has headed in a different direction. Focussed now on finding distribution for “If you ever get to heaven”… and securing family finances. “The plan” was what got me writing this blog… and for that I’m truly grateful – it’s been a hugely rewarding reflection of my life and my family and my hopes and dreams – thank you so much to all who read, and have been supportive! I’m afraid there’s no stopping me now!

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