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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Yup the snow came – it’s pretty cool!

Back in Lockdown…

And here we are again, back in Lockdown – in fact for me and Joe there aren’t many changes – I’m just doing almost all my lessons online now (I don’t miss driving to and from St Etienne every day especially with the snow we’ve had recently – but it’s tough on the students doing all their lessons at a distance!). Arty is home with us doing all his Uni classes online too, so we are back to the lockdown three!

The 43 Media Studio

We’ve spent a lot of time bringing the studio to its maximum potential – and oh how wonderfully well it’s working – it’s kitted out now with a green screen; and there’s a big white cyclorama at the back to shoot against. We recently put together a short promo video to demonstrate our newest offering – Multi-camera live streaming ! We’ve already got bookings coming in starting at the end of this month, and we hope it will prove a real asset – both for us and for local businesses.

Setting up a live-stream session
Double doors to the studio now, with acoustic foam
Through the windows on the mezzanine bridge – down into the studio
New 43 logo on the doors

The Apartment – Welcome to

‘La Source’

The work on the flat was speeding along, until lockdown slightly took the wind out of our sails – knowing it’ll be a little longer before we can invite guests to stay in our cosy and unique holiday apartment – but nevertheless we’ve made massive progress since we first decided to re-purpose the space, only a few months ago!

Let me talk you through it –

We built a dividing wall to create a corridor space, and to avoid having to walk through the master bedroom to get to the bathroom if more than two people were staying.

The new dividing wall between bedroom and corridor
A custom made clothes hanging space
Pasted , sanded and painted

This has actually created a really satisfying layout, but meant some electrical changes, moving light-switches and plug sockets etc. The corridor is spacious and will be great for bags and coats and shoes.

Lovely wide corridor – the black open door leads to the porte d’entrée so would obviously be closed and locked when guests are staying

The whole thinking of the flat was to spend as little as possible, using the materials that we already have, but also to create a really unique space with a hand built kitchen and bed, tailor-made for the space. Joe’s carpentry skills are so amazing – he just constantly wows me with his creativity and originality and I love the kitchen we’ve created, and the beautiful bed with it’s majestic headboard and integral bedside tables.

So we have an open plan living area, going straight out to the private garden area (which will have a little BBQ and garden furniture) .

A new staircase built and painted to create a private access to the flat

The kitchen is at one end and the sofabed is at the other and there’s a dining table and chairs in the middle. Here’s an idea of how it came together:

And the kitchen build begins –
Meanwhile, I tiled the floor
This is quite ingenious – the shelves come out, there are two secret doors behind them and the gas bottle is discreetly hidden in the corner!
More tiling… and a coat of black floor paint
Open shelves and a wooden border to tie the two different tiles together.
Look at that glorious work top! We’ve put an epoxy coat on it and I’ve varnished all the cupboards, shelves, window ledges and drawers… 5 times!
And here is our finished kitchen! So proud!
Hopefully we’ve thought of everything!
Sofa-bed at the other end of the living space

Then in the big bedroom…

The single bed/sofa – where Joe’s desk used to be! The bedroom is such a good size!
This is the beautiful bed designed and built by Joe –
And the duvet, pillows and covers have arrived! – just waiting to be slept in !
This is the latest addition to the kitchen diner – a beautiful food storage unit
It works so beautifully tying in the kitchen with the living area
Sliding door to the corridor

We’ve had some of Joe’s photos, all taken locally, printed on canvas to put on the walls … they’ll be available to order and buy for guests who fall in love with them!

I love this one of our barn before we started renovating.
Welcome to ‘La Source’

So that’s ‘La Source’ – really nearly ready to welcome guests.

If you or someone you know would like to be our first guests (free of charge) for a trial weekend, to just let us know that we’ve got everything right – please contact us.

We are really looking forward to sharing the magic of Solignac !

The Kitchen floor

The other big change in the house has been the kitchen floor – we’ve finally had the joints done by Coco, the local mason who created the doorway for the flat entrance from a window a few years ago. We decided it was a job which left no room for trial and error as it meant filling the spaces with cement… and with our bedroom beneath, we didn’t want to risk trying to resolve any mistakes! So we asked Coco, a true artisan, to do it for us. He also plastered around the windows in the kitchen, studio and the Porte d’entrée. He did a great job, and we are so happy with the result. It feels like a really big step – we can now get on with the plastering of the ceiling… and then get going on the kitchen… one of the final big jobs to tackle…. (along with the main staircase). Joe and I are getting very excited about moving into that phase. All in good time though… we’re not quite there yet!

So here’s the kitchen floor:

First half completed
And after… what a difference under foot!
It feels momentous – and so lovely to finally be able to walk on the kitchen floor in bare feet
The window surround plastered
love the way the slate meets the wood –
The view from above!

Start Small

During the first lockdown we decided to make a short film to keep our creative juices flowing. All the family were involved – some from a distance of course. It all started when Joe spotted a short film competition set up by Nespresso. The theme was “Virtuous Circles” – the film had to be shot vertically (that was a new challenge!). We had group chats to nail down the script, working with the restrictions that this extraordinary year has presented to us… and we were really pleased with the way it turned out. We got shortlisted too which was really a buzz!

This is ‘Start Small’:

So that’s about it for now I think – thank you so much for reading this far… Christmas blog on it’s way of course.. that’s why I really wanted to get this one out before the tree and decorations go up!

So take care, stay safe, and I’ll be back before Christmas I promise!

Lockdown love
And finally – here’s Nairobi enjoying early morning snow!
Goodnight from our winter wonderland!

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  1. David & Janet Atkins says:

    WOW what a really tremendous achievement you

    have created. Really wish we could both see it in reality

    and be there with you.

    really well done Joe and Manny. xx

    1. Manny says:

      Thank you Jan and Dave !
      Huge hugs to you both xxxx

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