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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March/April and now May 2017 – including the best Easter ever!


When Joe takes photos of the beams…


This year we’ve had the most memorable, magical family Easter gathering in Solignac – Easter egg hunt, archery, Ninja (new game…very funny!) and a magnificent roaring bonfire… and a feast of snacks!  Truly special!

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Beth came home from Uni for a fortnight, and our lovely friend Hills has arrived from the USA to spend a few months helping us with the build…and Harry came home for a few days while Armel stayed in Paris and worked on her final papers for her Masters degree.


So for a few sweet days we were all together and we relished every minute of it! A rare and treasured treat for me to be surrounded by family! Beth even managed to get her brothers together to record with her for her You Tube channel (well-worth-a-visit #proudmum) – a witty homage to S Club 7 :

Beth Atkins – ReachScreen Shot 2017-04-25 at 19.32.20





And so to the house… so much to tell! – I left you at the beginning of March with Joe and I working our way across all the first floor beams,  cleaning and de-nailing them.

We then got stuck in to the digging of the trenches to take the evacuation pipes from the bathrooms, kitchen, utility room etc. This involved cutting and digging up large chunks of concrete, and a lot of serious pick-axe and shovel action!

The pipes have to descend at an angle of -2º to make sure everything leaves the building and reaches the fosse septique (septic tank) which will be installed in the garden later.  Until we have properly laid all the pipework and are sure it’s all sealed and perfect… we can’t fill in the huge holes we’ve now made! We hired a digger for a weekend and did some serious digging!! But we’ve done a huge amount by hand…encountering several rocks the size of a small car!




We’ve still got the very last bit to do – and we’ve hit the Easter holidays now so have more bodies on hand to get stuck in! Joe and I have been there at the house every weekend, often joined by Luke and Marie, and Arty and Cloe, whenever they can.


We spent the most lovely evening with our neighbours the other weekend – they are so nice – really welcoming and interesting and full of useful local information.

IMG_1463We were so thrilled, as we are only about six houses in our little hamlet, and to find such delightful people so close just confirmed our gut feeling that Solignac is going to be such a happy place to live!


Hills has jumped straight into sanding our beautiful roof beams – we’ve laid down a temporary floor so that we can work our way right across –IMG_0891.jpg

*That’s as far as I got with the ‘after Easter’ blog… a month has passed without me quite finishing… so here’s what we did in May:

May came and went in a blur!

Joe, Luke and I took a week out of the build to go to Frankfurt and install the stand Joe had built for an exhibition; I translated and hostessed for a week, and then we took it down and brought it all home. I came home to the most wonderful surprise birthday party, with Harry and Armel popping down from Paris too! Felt so so lucky!


We all hit Solignac again mid May…profiting from the numerous May holidays in France to get some extra days work on the house.


Things are buzzing for Joe and Luke at 43Media, and I’ve been teaching full-time at the lycée again, covering the maternity leave of another English teacher – so our working days have been restricted to weekends and fériés (public holidays).

Here’s what we’ve been up to:



We abandoned the sander, which has spent more time not working than sanding… constant repairing, modifying and de-blocking it, finally made us quit while were were still sane, and move on.




We’re disappointed – we thought we’d bought well from a local company in the Ardèche, but it has wasted so much of our precious time – so we had to change plans. It has a five year guarantee, so we’ll get on to them and sort it out – but in the meantime Hills continues to wire brush and air-blast the beams from her lofty tower in preparation for us to hire a more robust machine for a couple of days. The beams which we actually managed to sand look sensational  – we can’t wait to see them all looking so beautiful!

The other big job we have oh-so-nearly finished is the laying of all the evacuation pipes.

We had a little bit more digging to do – then we dry-fitted them all, then glued them… and finally tested them last weekend. A couple of little adjustments and we will make the final test (hopefully) this weekend – so satisfying!

This is massive, as once tried and tested, we can re-instate the floor and move on to the next stage of the build. It will be a real turning point, as we begin to construct instead of demolish!!

So the good news is:  the weather has been glorious – our meadow looks spectacular…


Beth came home from Uni in the UK yesterday…


And in less celebratory news: Arthur had to have his tendons re-attached after a nasty cut of his left index finger last week! He’s been unbelievably brave, and should make a full recovery.



Wish us luck! – have a great weekend, and thank you for reading!


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  1 comment

  1. Karen Alcock says:

    Lovely blog Manny .. so exciting seeing your house take shape xx

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