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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As we approach the end of September, I can hardly believe it’s been more than four months since I last wrote a blog!

The year of Covid strangeness meant a summer at home, with very little travelling for Joe and I, however we were truly blessed to catch a month with Beth here in France, and Harry and Armel too in that brief window when lockdown eased – before movement again became more complicated.

How lucky we were to be able to spend some summer chill time all together!
Cluedo in the sun!
Boys playing golf… (girls driving buggies!)
Family and friends!

The Pool – short but so sweet!

So knowing we were all spending summer in Tence, I was desperate to get a pool – they were in extremely short supply we discovered, and so it was that we found ourselves buying a big second hand one (for an amazing price!) So big in fact that we had to hire a digger to flatten a patch of ground for it!!

Digger fun!
Getting rid of every little stone we could!
Dancing that ground flat!!
Time for my morning dip! – (Look at those glorious hay bales)

So we all played and swam and splashed our way through the hot days (and nights) in July… then on 31st July there was a huge storm… and in the morning we woke up to a rather precarious ‘infinity pool’!

The ring was torn to shreds by the hail storm!
So down it came… and we never found a replacement!!

With no pool we often ended up at Lake Devesset at the end of the day…

it’s very special up there!

Or strolled down to the river… literally 5 minutes from the house!

Also pretty special!

And now it’s September, and Arty and I have started back at University, with many restrictions and masks and gel and half classes and online lectures etc. I have a lovely full year ahead of teaching young adults in various establishments, which may well include a fair bit of online teaching. Things are starting to pick up again for 43 Media after a difficult summer of most events being cancelled. We’ve never been afraid of a bit change, and we are currently very excited to be offering live-streaming to companies and events which need to adapt to this changing world and the ways we can share and communicate!

So here’s a quick round up of the last few months – there have been quite a few changes to the house and our lifestyle!

We have chickens!!

We made a rather sudden decision back in May to have chickens – it’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while, and lockdown seemed to bring us closer to the land and all things ‘homesteady’: unexpected dog; growing our own veg; making bread (short-lived…why would I try that when we live in the country of the best bread in the world!) … and now fresh eggs… living the dream!

The studio is ready for business!

Let’s get recording!

The studio is now up and running, with projector and screen and a fantastic sound system – all equipment beautifully organised and stored on the raised shelving up the wood-clad spine wall. The other night we moved the sofa in and had a movie night, watching the amazing Sam Mendes film 1917 in all its glory! What a treat!

We’ve picked up some stunning old lights (originally from an Italian factory!) and Joe has hung them – they look amazing and give such a soft warm light in the evenings.

Studio lights

When the studio was up and running, we started on Arty’s room, which I showed you last blog – it was one of the big advantages of Arty being with us throughout Lockdown – for us and for him. He has so enjoyed having his own space all finished, with beautiful lighting, his chosen decor, and not an inch of bare plasterboard to be seen!


Beth’s room

Beth came home at the end of June, and as she was staying for the whole month of July, we decided to surprise her by decorating her room for her – we do love a deadline!! It was such fun, showing her all the house changes she knew about but hadn’t seen since she was last here at Christmas… then finally getting to her room! Last time she was here, it was full of all sorts of pieces of furniture that shouldn’t have been in there… now it is a peaceful haven of calm!

Joe has made her the most beautifully designed bed (there was an old Ikea sofa bed in there before!) He’s made a drawer unit, and a light feature through the beams (like Arty’s) It’s really lovely in there.

OK let’s do this! (20th june)
Pasting those joints… (20th June)
pasted and undercoated.. (21st June)
Around the window – pasted, undercoated and gaps filled (June 21st)
Constructing the bed
First coat of the soft yellow – (21st June)
from this…
to this… 25th June! (mattress arrived in the morning… Beth in the evening!!)
Beautiful bed!
Hanging space and generous drawers
Cosy reading corner

The Front drive

We’ve finally solved the problem of heavy rain making its way down the path and into the house – it’s been a recurring issue, and we’ve regularly had to go out and get drenched digging trenches to try and re-direct the river of rain before it reaches the house. When we had our dramatic floods last year, we talked to our local landwork guy Jocelyn (who put in our Fosse Septique) about coming to address the problem… what with one thing and another it’s taken a while – but it’s finally been done – and oh my what a difference it’s made!!

Not something we wanted to try ourselves!
They really know what they’re doing! I still find it quite unsettling!
It’s just so deep!!
Proper drainage!
Moisture barrier all the way down
Luckily there were no nasty surprises and they were done in two days!!
What a difference!
Such an elegant entrance now!

The library

For years now, (since we left Bas in 2017) we’ve had most of our books in boxes… heavy boxes which we have moved around as we’ve worked on different parts of the house… and finally they are all out and on the beautiful bookshelves Joe has made – Beth and Arty sorted them all, we have all our fiction alphabetically organised – then all the non-fiction arranged by subject – we’ve bought ourselves a rug and a couple of second hand Chesterfield reading chairs. We’ve created an idyllic corner of the sitting room, a long-held dream realised!

Also Nairobi loves snoozing on the rug!

Emptying the boxes
Everything finds its place
Library corner!
So satisfying to have brought the end of the room to life!
Joe and Nairobi

Big rethink on the layout of the house…

So having pretty much completed our downstairs office, and conference room, Covid summer has prompted a bit of a eureka shift in thinking.

While Harry was here, he had a mountain of exciting and urgent web designing to do in amongst the stolen moments of golf and lake trips and family fun.

As Beth was home too, in her newly decorated room, Harry took over the ‘conference room’ with its sofa bed and little bathroom, and used the office space in the day to work in.

It dawned on us that this completely separate space, with its own entrance and kitchen area would make a perfect holiday rental, with a bit of reorganisation and very little expense. We went and talked to our local Tourist office, who said there is definitely a demand around here, especially for walkers and cyclists and all nature-loving tourists. And thus our latest project was born!

When Harry and Beth had returned to Sweden and the UK respectively, we re-located our office – Joe to his beautiful Studio space, and me to just the other side of the wall from him in my corner under the stairs! I also have a lovely ‘sewing corner’ in our bedroom which I can take my laptop down to for Zoom calls and video classes.

Cosy sewing/Zoom corner

Porte d’entrée revamp

My brilliantly practical cupboards full of all my teaching materials are now in the porte d’entrée. Radiators have been moved (the big one in the porte d’entrée is now in the studio – no mean feat!)

We also took out the toilet we’d put in early on, and the low sink, (with my first attempts at tiling!) which wasn’t working for us. The space where the loo had been will ultimately be an anti-room to the workshop, with a sink and paints, varnishes and brushes etc.

Cupboards full of teaching stuff (and surprisingly well organised!)
Radiator relocations…and the obligatory plumbing
Out with the old loo; loze floor tiles and all!!
And out with the old boot sink!
Just waiting for a quote to get the stable floor levelled now

Once we were all set up workspace-wise, we put our heads to the holiday flat…

I’m saving that story for the next blog… which will be very soon! So many new things to share!

Until then, here’s some veg from our garden!! Thank you so much for reading this marathon blog – promise the next one will be shorter!


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  1. Moir Leslie says:

    Fabulous. Loved catching up and all the pics. xxxMoir

  2. sasha says:

    Wow what an interesting and amazing way to life your lives!
    Such an interesting read, and love the pictures too!!!

  3. Jacqui Ibbotson says:

    Hi Manny, What a great blog – you and Joe are really living the dream! Piers and I will be in Arles 26 – 31 Oct – I wonder if we can hook up somewhere? Lots of love x

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