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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La Rentrée – wish this summer could go on forever!


September is upon us… Harry’s been with us for a weekend visit; and for one historic half hour we were all together –


Now Harry’s back in Paris – I’ve just dropped Beth off at the airport heading back to the UK for her second year at UCA. Arty and I started back at lycée today too, so the golden days of the summer holidays have truly come to an end!

First off, can I take this chance to say thank you for your comments and support – it gives us such a boost! We love fellow blogger Osyth’s description of our adventures:

“This is like house renovation on steroids! “

it really made us laugh!

Here’s what we did in August… on caffeine, wine and laughter (no steroids – promise!)

The heavy storms dotted through the summer (which brought water cascading through the house at some points), made the gutters a pressing priority –

It took a bit of trial and error, as we wanted to keep the original galvanised gutter, all 16 metres of it! We painted and mounted barge boards to change the flow direction, and in the end we bought new clips to be sure our work wasn’t rendered pointless by the old clips breaking as we re-mounted the guttering.

Basically, we’ve changed the direction of the flow so that the rainwater now runs away from the house, rather than down towards it’s foundations!

Although we started in blistering sunshine, there was the rumble of distant thunder in the air…. Joe, Arty and I raced against the storm clouds as we sealed, assembled and put the final pieces in place – just before the heavens opened and we had the heaviest rain – which flowed beautifully through our newly positioned gutter and down-pipe!


The old galvanised guttering …


Taking off the old clips…


And attaching the new ones


Blue skies…



…and serious rain!

As soon as the sun came out again we finished the down pipe, and the north side of the house is done for now.

The final chunk of concrete was brought down and evacuated by Arty in the garage/cave – what a victory, and what a sensational room it’s going to be!


This will be our main entrance – glass doors to let the light in, and stairs descending to our shared office.


luminous view from the door… and we also plan three Veluxes in the roof

Our next big mission was to level the main beams between ground and first floor – after much thought, we decided to use the highest one as our starting point, and put planks (on their edge) along each beam, lining up to our reference height.

This involved a lot of beam straddling which luckily Joe and Arty do with ease and grace-



Once all the levelling planks were fixed, checked and double-checked, we laid down the sub-floor of OSB panels. We plan to use the salvaged original floorboards on top of this now-flat base.


We had another blitz of young talent and energy with Beth’s return from the UK (straight from the airport to Solignac and a couple of nights in the tent!) and Cloé and Arty’s friends Lucas and Solene. As always they brought laughter and joy and powered us through getting the sub-floor down. The magical part for us is that the benefits seem to go both ways – they, like us, are constantly learning new skills and conquering old fears (of heights, bats, spiders etc!) Their sense of satisfaction is palpable and their rewards of swimming in the river, and evenings by the fire fill the place with joy!


These teenage wonders also attacked the garden, Arty cutting down trees, and Cloé blazing through stinging nettles –

We’ve cleared around the six beautiful silver-birches at the side of the house, and also the big clump of trees and weeds in front of the house (where in fact the fosse septique is going to go). It has really changed both views dramatically.



“I cut down trees…”


guiding the fall… (away from the neighbours fence!)


Cloé  with the weed-whacker (generously given to us by our lovely Hills!)


It’s amazing how much more open it feels!

Finally, to the bathroom… We knew we had a walled cellar under what will be our bathroom, and we discovered that much of the wooden floor (and more importantly, the beams beneath it) were pretty rotten, so we pulled it all up…and revealed the most extraordinary space:



So now we’ve uncovered it we feel compelled to use it somehow – current thinking is a sunken Moroccan bathroom, with stone steps leading directly into a hand-built sunken bath, and big walk in shower!!

My husband is a genius, and I’m seriously excited about this!


So now the tents are down, and work on the house has to jostle for time with other commitments – we’re heading to the UK in a few weeks for Joe’s mum’s 80th birthday, and I’m off to Faro for a week with my Mum on Saturday… and then there’s the small matter of earning a living!

Joe has shot two weddings this summer – he and Luke shot the video for one here in France, and the following week we had a wonderful whirlwind weekend with dear friends John and Katrin near Huddersfield, where Joe took the most beautiful photos.

The trip gave us a chance to see Jan and Dave (Joe’s parents) in their stunning new apartment in York:


And we also turned a disaster (admittedly very much a first-world disaster) – an overnight delay of our return flight from Manchester to Lyon – into a golden opportunity by grabbing the chance to spend the evening and a very comfortable night with Carrie and John – Joe’s sister and brother-in-law.

All in all – a marathon summer to remember forever… just as I’d hoped!

Thanks for reading this far! More soon – xxx



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  1 comment

  1. mannyatkins says:

    Hi Osyth – please come and see us next time you’re passing through the Haute Loire en route to or from Marcolès! It would be great to share stories!

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