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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The first month – January 2017…slowly slowly catchy monkey (what does that even mean?)

We’re nearly a month into ‘the build’… and it’s been a month of giant leaps!

Since we signed for the house on 11th Jan, we’ve had a lot of magnificent snow – so we didn’t venture over to Solignac on the first weekend. Instead, we spent it in Bas, dismantling the studio and the workshop which we had constructed in the basement here … quite emotional, there have been many precious and creative moments spent in both!  We will use all the wood and insulation for construction at the farm, and we need to set up our chantier workshop over there too of course.


So many musical moments and parties… a genuine garage band location!

First visit after signing…

Once the roads were safe, Joe and I couldn’t resist heading on over the following weekend – to ‘begin’… we took the chain saw, and hot soup and a lot of warm clothes, and went with the modest mission of cutting down the over-grown pear tree nestled too close to the house by the front door…


Look at that excitement!


The chainsaw took a little bit of starting in the cold… but once it got going there was no stopping us!


Mission accomplished!

We temporarily weather-proofed the downstairs windows with clear plastic, and left it at that for starters… slow and steady, slow and steady…


Narnia snow!

2nd and 3rd trip

The snow continued, and on Thursday 26th we had an appointment at the farm with the electricity company, after a series of lengthy phone calls about whether we could be connected, as the previous owners had never had an account in their name which meant that the house has had no power for at least ten years. Joe and I drove there in two cars, as I had to go on to work afterwards, and he wanted to stay on a bit… however the weather turned to blizzard mode during our drive over. The EDF guys came regardless, and with cheery smiles and no fuss, turned the power on! I turned around and the kitchen light was on! So exciting!


Let there be light!


Can you spot the electricity men in the blizzard?!           (The house with the icicles is our neighbours’, with their nearly-finished garage just waiting for its roof)

With the weather worsening, we didn’t hang about, much as we wanted to, but crept back on white roads, not icy…just so much snow falling so fast.

The following weekend we went over with Luke and Marie taking the access tower, and our old cooker from the bus, and a bunch of tools. We put up our chantier sign and investigated the extent of our electricity.

And we’re off!

So into February – the snow has almost all melted away, and we had a massive weekend! – Arthur, Luke, Joe and I on Saturday; Luke, Marie, Joe and I on Sunday – and we achieved an unbelievable amount of work!

Basically we took out the whole barn floor, storing the beautiful thick planks to be planed and re-used;  and burning the rotten ones in a massive bonfire. We don’t have running water in the house yet, but we do have source water bubbling up through the rocks and flowing through a pipe into our field. So effectively we have crystal clear mountain water in abundance! The weather was idyllic on Saturday – with clear blue skies and sunshine. We cooked rice on our trusty bus cooker, drunk copious cups of tea, and ate outside in our T-shirts!

Saturday in pictures…

And Sunday…

On Sunday we continued, less sunshine but the same spirit. We exchanged Arty (who was playing football) for Luke’s girlfriend Marie, who cleaned our site kitchen until it sparkled! We had a nasty moment where Joe received a blow to the cheekbone with a hammer (poor Luke was wielding it). It’s produced a real shiner, and is still pretty painful – but even that didn’t stop Joe powering on until the work was done! We swept and organised before we left, and were glowing with pride at what we’d achieved in one weekend.

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  1. Lynn Bishop says:

    I will continue to watch in wonder at your boundless energy and achievements. Well done! X

  2. Karen Alcock says:

    Wow so amazing, Manny. The farm must be very high to get that much snow. Is there skiing nearby? How high is it? Look forward to the next instalment xxxx

  3. sophiekey says:

    love the blog. it’s so exhilarating to the start of your big adventure!

    I don’t seem to have javascript on my desktop or phone, so couldn’t see the slideshows… I don’t know if there’s any other format you could covert them to?


    Sophie Key Creative Director Key Productions Office: 0207 523 5352 Mobile: 07710 469 959


  4. Osyth says:

    I spy with my little eye Yssingeaux so I’m guessing you are in that lovely bit between le Puy and either St Etienne or Brioude. Either way it is gorgeous. I live in Cantal though at the moment I am in Grenoble for 6 months so tracking your way as often as possible. Bon courage with your building … it will be utterly worth it!

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