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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So a couple of weeks ago snow was forecast, and we thought – yeah yeah, it’ll be a light dusting which will be gone in a flash… how wrong we were, and the region was as caught out as we were! This was what greeted us when we arrived at the house on the Tuesday 30th October – Monday was less pretty, before the blue skies turned our little home into a snowy wonderland!

Just breathtakingly beautiful!

Our eventful drive to the house that day involved a fallen tree blocking the road (there were just hundreds of trees down – the heavy snow on the trees in full autumn glory caused so many big branches to break). The local farmers drive around clearing the roads and moving the trees – total heroes!

a mini adventure…

When the farmer returned in his tractor, we followed him to the fallen tree, and he asked Joe if he was happy to control the tractor so that he could cut down the tree (which was across the road and resting on a telephone line!) We did it! Joe was my hero… and the farmer was pretty awesome too! I wish I coud have filmed it, but we were too busy doing the stuff! This is just after he’d chopped the centre out of the fallen tree, and moved it off the road!

We really want a tractor now!

So what’s new at the house?

Oh so much!

We are pulling out all the stops to get in before Christmas. Clearly we will still have a massive amount to do once we’re in, but we are sooo close now to being able to live there. As I said, we were warned about the snow, so in the gloriously sunny weeks before, we raced to get all 16 radiators hung, and connected up to the heating system. This was something we thought might be beyond us, so we tried to find a plumber to come and do the final copper work once they were all in place. Our plumber couldn’t fit us in for another month – so in true Atkins fashion…we did it ourselves! Joe and Arty worked tirelessly and carefully through the whole system, and then the three of us bravely and boldly filled them all, and then connected them to the boiler… and guess what? We’ve only gone and done it!! There were, of course, a few leaks to tighten up and a few hurdles to overcome, but overcome them we did, and we now have a warm house full of lovely warm radiators. I have to say I am unspeakably proud of Joe and Arty, and their tenacity and patience – such an achievement! Where there’s a will…

Even a free standing temporary radiator to keep us warm in the loo!
the two dining room radiators
Getting all the air out of the system.

Sitting room ceiling and bedroom too…

We had an amazing team of Arty’s friends come and tackle the sitting room ceiling – they were just awesome – and look at what they achieved in just one day – thank you Cass, Solene, Ines, Clement and Gaston:

Team management – 
And what a team!
Many hands…
The insulation makes such a difference to the sound …
All done –
Gaston, Ines, Clement, Arty and Cass
Thanks guys!

Bathroom: tiling, grouting, painting and sealing, oh and a couple of funky lino floors!

I’ve been on bathroom duty working hard to finish all the necessary tiling and sealing so that we can get the bathroom up and running… and then we can move in ! 

Just waiting for glass now!
Imaginary cup of tea being passed to Joe!
Bath surround tiled…
So happy with the subway tiles – lucky as there are a fair number of them in the house now!
Grouting in progress…
It’s called Laguna no. 5 and I love it!
Lino (for now…maybe forever!)


Joe has been putting in lights, switches and plug sockets all over the house – they change everything, and really make it feel like a home.

The 4  halogen lights in all their glory – such a great and original design feature from my talented Joe 
A glimpse of our current state of play!

Railings and verrières

What a massive difference the railings and interior windows have made – we ordered all the metal from a local company, and Joe set to work cutting, welding, grinding and fitting the three big windows and the shower screen on the mezzanine. We’ve also put the bars in to their wooden supports – and it feels so nice and safe to walk along now. We’re just waiting for the glass to put in, but you can get a good idea of how it will look:

Arty’s window going in
We needed the tower to access this one!
Bathroom window going in…
The mix of metal and wood is really striking
Happy welder!
Assembling downstairs – we only did this for the shower verrière – the pieces were so heavy we realised the others would have to be built in place!
The mezzanine walkway
The railings in place (before Arty and the team tackled the ceiling below!)

Woodpile…Woodstock…. and Woodstack!

So our fabulous new bolier needs daily feeding to keep us warm. In years to come we will gather, cut, dry and burn our own wood, but this year we ordered 20 stères to get us going – (we soon filled our beautiful new wood store… or ‘Woodstock’ as we call it!) and stacked the rest beside the house under a tarpaulin… when the snow hit, followed by wind and rain, we quickly realised we were not going to able to keep it dry enough to use, so when the sun came out again we moved the overflow pile into the house. When the staircase is built, we plan to have a big stack inside as well as the outside Woodstock – however it won’t end up being quite this size!

The delivery!
Neatly stacked
Woodstock stocked!
And Woodstack stacked!
To give you an idea of scale… Arty’s well over 6 foot!

The first floorboards are going down

Starting in Arty’s room, we hope to have the mezzanine all boarded before we move in – which will be in a few short weeks.

The first floor ones will wait until after we’ve plaster-boarded the rest of the big ceiling, as we’ll need to use the tower for that, and don’t want to be rolling it over our beautiful new floor. They look every bit as good as we hoped, and are a joy to walk on.

Three holes for extra storage behind the bed

Insulating the studio ceiling

We weren’t sure we would have time before moving in, but we managed to complete the insulation of the studio ceiling yesterday. This should make a huge difference to keeping out the draughts – Joe, Luke and Arty have blitzed the job over the last few days. We had to empty out all the furniture and boxes first – no small feat in itself!

How did we ever gather so much stuff!
Speedy work!
Baton, insulate, repeat!
bringing down all the boxes from their lofty storage place
Luke taking down the last few boards

And that’s about it for this month – Pretty sure that we will be in by the next blog post… so watch this space! And as always, thank you so much for reading and sharing our adventure with us! I’ve posted a few little video tours below – Bye for now x

Our bedroom
The current kitchen
The first floor

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  1. Barrie Wells says:

    What an awesome job you guys. You are achieving my dream. We have done all our own Reno’s in our 1980s house in Canada, but it doesn’t come close to what you have achieved from scratch. Turn back the clock twenty years and would love to do what you have done. Thanks for the updates. They make me smile.

    1. Manny says:

      Thanks Barrie – it has proved to be such a rewarding mission of love!

  2. Patricia Paul says:

    My God, what progress! I can’t believe all the things you have achieved. It’s going to be the most amazing home! Fantastic! well done!

    1. Manny says:

      Thanks Mum xxx

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