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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Here we are in mid-March already! I guess it’s a good sign that time passes so quickly these days!

Or maybe it’s just a sign of getting old!

We’ve been working on our home here in Solignac for more than six years now, (we got the keys in January 2017) and living in the house for more than four – what an amazing journey it’s been so far, and what a privilege it is to call this corner of the Auvergne ‘home’!

This blog (as always) is well overdue – lots of progress to report – so I’m going to let the pictures tell the story… here goes !

A bit of digging

In my last blog I shared our exciting news that we had brought the source water down to the water trough in front of the house… well this autumn we laid all the pipes underground, with the help of our local farmer Nicolas and his digger. We also asked him to take out some stubborn tree stumps and dig out and flatten the ground behind the piggery, as this area is destined to be our outside summer kitchen.

We were blessed last year by a long and glorious Autumn – first brief snow wasn’t until the beginning of December.

Let it snow!

Just a few snowy shots – as I said first snow wasn’t until 3rd December – then we had some good serious stuff in Jan and Feb 2023 !!

We’ve decided to keep the Bell Tent and the Pool up for the winter – well ‘wintered’ and the Bell Tent now has a special snow fly sheet to protect it ! So far so good for both !
Definitely a ‘snow day!’
This girl loves the snow !

A little helping hand with pasting and plastering

We made the superb decision last year to have two artisan brothers come and do the joints for our high ceilings. I had tried my hand at doing the taping and pasting and indeed undercoating two of the ceiling bays a few years ago – and the truth was I didn’t have the skill or experience to make it look good. We’d left it on the back burner for a long time while putting our energy elsewhere – but last spring we decided to get a quote – it was very reasonable, and come October they arrived and attacked the ceiling; our big dividing wall and the challenging patchwork of plasterboard up on the mezzanine.

They were absolutely delightful and so so talented – Joe and I are just thrilled with the results – I mean it has totally transformed the whole house, and has proved a massive incentive by moving us forward in such a big way.

During the time they were here we needed to dismantle the stairs to the mezzanine and take out the stairs down to the kitchen too so that the guys had access to the whole big wall – so for a few weeks we had only ladders and towers to get up and down ! Quite a challenge – especially at mealtimes !

I took advantage of the stairs being out to get the jointing of the stairwell stone wall finished: impossible to access when the stairs were in place. I really came to enjoy the stonework as I felt more and more confident, and I have to say I’m very proud of the difference it has made.

After our artisans had gone, I got started caulking, undercoating and painting the ceiling over the kitchen as we could freely move the tower around before the kitchen floor went down.

The ceiling is soft white and the mezzanine a subtle ‘Purbeck Stone’ -(quite a poignant choice as we used to live in the Purbecks!) Very happy with how it’s coming along.

Refurbished stairs to the mezzanine

Joe rebuilt the stairs when it was time to put them back – they look so sleek.

The new kitchen floor goes down

Joe has literally just finished laying the parquet floor in the kitchen. We decided in the end to go for local wood – and the plan is to stain it and then put a tough varnish on it – so it will contrast in colour to the rest of the floorboards. It’s been a mare of a job, as disappointingly many of the planks were warped and had to be bullied into submission – really no fun at all. Very relieved it’s laid. Next job is for me to seal any gaps, then we’ll get it treated as soon as possible to stop it getting damaged by the rest of the kitchen build.

And now to the kitchen itself

Joe has been steadily building the numerous different cabinets for all the different areas of the kitchen, over the last few months. Putting them in place, to check they work well, then moving them out again. There’s obviously a fair bit of above ground plumbing to do before final installation.

Since the plasterers left, and with the plastic sheeting down we’ve been able to get the full sense of the space again, and Joe has re-built the pantry (it’s a different size to before).

He’s also installed and connected some beautiful strategic lighting – under the false beam which supports the cooker hood, and over the sink area.

In other house news…

I have taken over Arty’s bedroom as my study ! Apart from the brief pre-covid spell when we had a study in the space that is now the gite – I’ve had a shifting office space over the last few years – from our bedroom to under the stairs. We had the idea that as Arty is no longer a student and now lives permanently with Cass, his beautiful bedroom could become my beautiful office ! So we checked he was OK with the idea (especially as he had done such an amazing job of decorating his room during lockdown!)

There’s now a sofa bed, so we’ve not lost sleeping space for friends and family. And it is the most wonderful room to work in.

We managed to put the table up for Christmas ! And Joe hung the two beautiful glass lights we bought last year.

Fam stuff

Beth came over to see us just after her Novella Film Festival – (which was a huge success, she’s busy launching the second one now). She caught a little bit of snow – and for the first time since we moved here she was around for choosing and cutting down our Christmas Tree !

Birthday golf for Harry


Adorable… What more can I say !!

Purbeck stone and ancient bricks…

As I’m trying to get this blog uploaded I keep wanting to add the latest kitchen pics – so just before I leave you, here’s where we’re at today –

Thanks for reading !

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