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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(May 9th) I’m writing from a top floor room in a cosy Parisian Hotel – the windows open, curtains billowing in the warm breeze, and the soothing sounds of the city evoking distant memories of city-dwelling many moons ago! Curfew still in place from 7pm, so hardly any sounds of folks on the street, but traffic still flowing, the occasional horn, barking dog, screech and siren. A take-away Lebanese meal eaten in our room – delicious!

Top right window!
A mini – adventure!

Joe and I are shooting a video masterclass with a business guru in the morning… things are really picking up on the work front for 43 Media as we seem to be creeping back to normality. And as my teaching term is winding up, I’m making careful decisions about how much teaching I take on in September. The goal is to free up more time to work with Joe, whilst keeping on a few of the more lucrative and satisfying posts I have. With the extra income from the gîte, plus the extra time needed running it, it’s a time of re-balancing and it feels very right, and exciting. We love working together, and have lots of plans and projects on the horizon.

La Source

So last time I wrote we had just opened our gîte – La Source. We now have our website, and our Facebook and Instagram accounts all up and running… and apart from a few cancellations for the April confinement, we have had an amazing time. So many lovely, respectful, charming guests (obviously all French this year)! We really have been so lucky, and hope it continues like this.

In honour of our lovely gite, we’ve cleared its namesake – our precious fresh water source in the field. We hope, very soon, to bring the source water down to the stone water trough in front of the house. I love the idea of having the sound of running water in the garden.

The source is so deep I discovered as I dropped a stone in it the other day!

Getting out the stumps..
A bit of fatherly advice !
Heave! (Hee hee – we pulled it out with the Toyota!)
Icy.. fresh .. and surprisingly deep water!
The evening light through the cleared trees

Outside the gite

We’ve started to develop the little outside area and bought a lovely wrought iron table chairs and bench – I just need to make some comfy cushions for them.

We’ve put a raffia fence in place and planted some bamboo plants.

There’s a new Barbecue, which has already been put to use –

Hoping the bamboo will flourish along the fince!

And we’ve just finally bought and planted a bit of summer colour – it’s been so chilly for so long (after a brief sunny spell at Easter ). We seem to have finally got out of icy nights… but it really hasn’t warmed up properly yet! We’ve burned more wood this year than any other year we’ve been here! Those blue skies of Source clearing were April 5th… two days later it looked like this:

7th April…
12th April…
16th April…

So finally we seem to be heading towards some sunnier days – it’s been long and tough and wet and cold this year. We’re so lucky to have the a lovely warm and spacious house, and gon’t take it for granted… but oh how ready we are to start living outside now!

House progress

We’ve finally had the porte d’entrée floor done! We stil have to seal it and probably paint it we’re thinking as the finish isn’t quite as even as we’d hoped!

It was quite an operation as we had to empty the whole space, and take the staircase out! The work itself only took a couple of days, but obviously we couldn’t walk on it for a few days after that, it was pouring with rain everyday, and Joe and I slept up in Beth’s room for the week – carrying Nairobi over the studio floor to protect it, after she’d been out in the rain !

Luke, Joe and I finally managed to re-install the staircase, and move all the stuff we’d stored in Joe’s workshop back into the porte d’entrée. This was urgently needed as we move straight on to a set-build for a tv shoot for Channel 4 in Provence after this Paris job is finished!

We took advantage of a rare day of sunshine to really sort out all the stuff we’d stored in the container, which had rendered it useless as we couldn’t access anything in there! It was so satisfying… everything came out and then was either sent to the dump or repacked logically. It so took me back to our year in the bus. Living in such a small space with the six of us meant that we regularly got everything out and sorted out what was going into storage in the roomy luggage compartment, and what was coming into the living space. How I loved that simple year on the road with only the essentials and no possibility of gathering ‘stuff’!

Talking of our big road trip, we’ve been having a really wonderful nostalgic time remembering that extraordinary year for our family. Digging out the old hard drives with photos, videos and diaries etc. The reason for this is a massive and exciting piece of family news – which most people reading this will probably know about already, but I couldn’t possibly not include it in this blog…

Bethany May – Honey

Beth has released her first EP ! It is absolutely sensational – 5 gorgeous songs, written, recorded and mixed by Beth… then mastered by our good friend Jim Letts. Her song “We Tamed a Tiger” is about our year on the bus – our Leyland Tiger, and what it meant to her. Needless to say it had me proper-sobbing when I first heard it, and then I just couldn’t stop playing it, I mean I know she’s our daughter and all that, but this is really something special. The lyrics and the melodies roll around your head for days after listening. Reflecting back on that special time in 2007/8 has been fun for all of us ! Laughing at how travelling seemed to mean we abandoned fashion ! Re-reading my diaries (we all wrote them daily) took me back to all the details I’d forgotten. Take a look at this lovely Tik Tok Beth made to promote the EP… happy days indeed!

A little vehicle exchange

We’ve sold our little utility van and bought me a car ! We have our big Toyota for the heavy stuff; the big loads; tree moving in the field; driving through the snow etc. And basically we use it for 43 Media work because we want the comfort for long trips and the size for transporting kit. So the ‘company’ van was what I drove to teach or go shopping, or go to meetings in. I decided the time had come to have my own car, something small and economical to run… and fun!! So we bought a Peugeot 207 cabriolet – hard-top (for the winter!) convertible !

I could not be more thrilled!

Now we just need some sunny days to get that roof down and tangle my hair!

Summer plans

We are a few weeks away from the birth of Luke and Marie’s baby…. I cannot begin to express how excited I’m feeling about becoming a grandmother. They’ve had a tricky time as their flat sprang a rather spectacular leak (water pouring through the light fitting) in the heavy rain last week – so they’ve moved out completely as it looked like the ceiling was probably going to collapse… (in what was to be the baby’s room!) Their stuff is currently in the studio here, and they’ve moved back in to Marie’s parents’ house. But in brighter news Luke has just landed a super new job – working from home! What perfect timing, just as he becomes a dad! *Update…They have also found a great house which they can move into in a few weeks!!

Obviously with the cautious creeping out of Covid restrictions our plans are pretty much France based. However if it’s possible we are really hoping to get back to the UK in July for my sister Sophie’s 50th birthday bash in Cornwall. It would be a chance to get to see Bethy and Jacob and Harry and Armel too if they can travel from Sweden… oh it feels like so long since we saw them and had a big family hug!

Baby alert…

So Luke and Marie are currently at the hospital as I write and post this… It’s June 3rd 2021… it’s 12 minutes after midnight, and the phone is pinging as the messages and updates pop in to the family chat. Joe and I are in Provence, installing the kitchen for the tv show (with Nairobi !). We’ll be racing back as soon as possible to meet our precious soon-to-be-born first grandchild! The next blog will be full of baby talk and probably not much else!!

Thank you for reading… I’m signing off now… this is such an exciting night! Not much sleep for the Atkins tonight I’m guessing!

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