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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He’s leaving home … bye bye….. a portrait of Luke

It’s time –

it comes to every mother in the end – and sure enough at the highly appropriate age of 19 my baby boy now has a flat in St Etienne –


it’s in his own name;  he’ll have his own electricity bills, pay for his own food…



do his own washing…


and things will never quite be the same again!

I’m the eldest of four sisters…

Me with Tara Sasha and Sophie

…and  when I went off excitedly to Bristol University in 1980,  I found out years later that my sister Sasha referred to it as ” the time you broke up the family!” I had no idea that anyone felt my absence so strongly!

Very clever...

Luke’s 19 now – he’s such a wonderful confident easy-going and talented young man. He’s studying English language, literature and civilisation at Jean Monnet University.  After the enormous challenge of getting a science baccalaureate in his second language at lycée, he can now spend a few years with a bit of an academic advantage (seeing as he already has a pretty good grasp of English!). I’m hoping this will free him up to get a little job, play and write a lot of music..

Here's a little song I wrote...

…dance (he is an amazing dancer  – what a surprise that was the first time I saw him on stage)

…and maybe play a bit of sport (alongside his coursework of course!)

Gonna have to introduce the French to cricket!

So having built the bus with us,  taken his GCSEs in the UK, and then hit the road en famille for a year of travelling – helping with the home-schooling and bus maintenance, Luke courageously launched himself into French lycée. He was ready for that too at 17, ready to have a bunch of friends the same age. But to actually acheive his goal and get his Science Bac shows real bottle. Last summer he worked on the “If you ever get to heaven” film shoot, writing the final-concert song. He was also a huge support on the crew: such a solid hard-working and positive energy to have around.

Father and sons - on the set!

So the appartment he’s found is in the centre of town. It’s small (24 square metres), but it has two balconies,  a lovely landlady, and he has a good friend who rents the apartment across the landing.

To maximise the use of space, Joe designed a brilliant free-standing mezzanine bed area.

Watching Luke and Joe build it together the weekend he moved in brought back memory after memory…

Learning how it's done...

Building the bed...

A perfect fit...

and it works a treat!

The family dynamic has changed at home, but you know that’s exciting too.

We all miss him …but he’s in a good place –

Good Luck Baby

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  1. Caroline says:

    Stop making me cry

  2. emma says:

    Thank goodness you have other chicks to looks after, but what an amazing adventure for him You have done such a good job he’s a delight xx

  3. Hillary says:

    Luke! Luc! What a great loft Joe helped build! May it be a fun and exciting time for Luc, building his life on the solid Atkins foundation. Must be bittersweet for the rest of you “left behind” but then again, change is the only constant thing, right? Lovely writing and photos! Love to all. xH

  4. kyle says:

    Excellent work there joe! looks amazing. Good Luck Luc,,, your gonna have a lot of fun 🙂

  5. Melanie Gow says:

    You brought a tear to my eye, what a lovely tribiute to a rite of passage.

    I thought of this ..

    “There isn’t a child who hasn’t gone out into the brave new world who eventually doesn’t return to the old homestead carrying a bundle of dirty clothes.” ~ Art Buchwald

    But mostly I just want to wish Luke all the luck and laughter he wants for himself, and a little more.

    1. mannyatkins says:

      Love that quote – and oh how true! xxx

  6. mannyatkins says:

    Thank you all for your kind words and wishes!! It was a really lovely emotional journey seeking out the old photos for this post! and reading through a few of the travel blogs from our “Welcome to the world” trip! Very cathartic and positive way of adjusting to the new status quo!

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