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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A portrait of Beth – daughter, songwriter, photographer

Last Saturday was such a beautiful day … Beth and I decided to go for a walk with our cameras.

I’d love to say that this was something that often happens, but I have to confess that it tends to take a guest or two to actually get us out into our stunning surrounding countryside.

The Haute Loire - who wouldn't live here if they could?

So this was a rare treat.  We drove out to La Chapelette –

The little Chapel...La Chapalette

it’s en route to Yssingeaux and Le Puy en Velay... I’ve driven past literally hundreds of times (always admiring from the car window), but never actually stopped to investigate.

We parked up, climbed up…

and peeped through the keyhole of the tiny chapel perched precariously on top of a clump of rocks…

Through the keyhole...exquisite!

Then we found an old Roman tunnel which cuts under the road …

The entrance to the spooky tunnel...

and the exit...

and then runs along but beneath the arches of a big and beautiful bridge.

Each arch offered a different framing...

It was late afternoon (almost missed the moment!), and the light on the Autumn leaves was in all honesty – thrilling.

We walked, we talked, we laughed, we took photos…Beth taught me some of her photographic secrets.

Macro lens joy!

I found a four-leaf clover… it’s a knack I have!

bit scrappy - but four leaves none-the-less!

and then another even more perfect.

that's better!

It’s very easy in a big family, to forget to grab one-to one time when the opportunity arises. There is always company, always bustle, laughter and sharing in our house… music playing, jobs being done. Then you find a little moment with one or other child and you must seize it; with Luke I had a long run of English lessons (it’s what I do here in France), that coincided with his journeys to and from Lycée where he boarded during the week. It was so precious to connect a little before hitting the full-on family weekend. With Harry he has a 5/6 weekly orthodondist trip to St Etienne, and it’s our special time together, a moment to share thoughts, music, a Subway sandwich! At the moment, I’m reading to Arty every night – we’ve just finished Roald Dahl’s Matilda. He can easily read to himself, and he does – and reads aloud to me, and I read to him. I love that he chooses to read (and listen) for pleasure… since all his writing and school reading is in French now, I’m anxious for him to keep his passion for written English alive… but more than that, I love the quality time together at the end of the day.

When they were younger; I was careful to always give a proper individual bedtime moment to everyone – just as my Mum used to do for us – a chance to share a worry or a new love, or just to connect one-to one.  Now I’m often in bed before the children… (bedtime discipline has never been my strong point…   and still I ‘m worthy of love ! (please click!))

So Saturday was a particular treat to share such simple pleasures with my girl;  my extraordinary, complex, beautiful and talented Beth.


I once read in a parenting book that you shouldn’t tell your children that you are proud of them, as it implies a superiority and I guess offers the possibility that you might one day be disappointed in them.

To me, to tell a child that they have disappointed you is one of the most damaging long-term hurts you can burden them with.

I guess we should say… “you should be so proud of yourself…

I still find it a hard habit to break… because I feel so proud of her! .. and she could never disappoint me!

She’s one awesome little lady.

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  1. hillarah says:

    omg manny! your beautiful photography. your magnificent surroundings. your touching words. and, of course, your lovely daughter. thank you for this. you should be very, very proud of yourself! xh
    ps – LOVE the keyhole photo!

  2. mannyatkins says:

    Thanks so much Hills, Loved your Shutter Sister guest spot – I commented too! Miss you!

  3. emma says:

    She is a credit to you, in all the madness its hard to take those moments (and i’ve only got one!) what a gorgeous day out. Looking forward to more blog entries, and yes we would move tomorrow! XX

    1. mannyatkins says:

      Em, you are welcome any time!

  4. sophiekey says:

    Lovely blog. So moving. You are a fantastic Mum – always have been, always will be!
    See you soooooon.
    Love Mum xxxxx

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