December 2023 – winter round up


So, I have found the house to be a treasure trove of beautiful vintage furniture, linens and crockery. However, there are gaps. The family took a few treasured, or actually expensive, items (an amazing painting from the office – that I was hoping they would over look – fat chance!) and a very old grandfather clock belonging to previous generations. I think it had been in the same spot against the kitchen wall for an age as there was a smoke (big smokers and people still are in France) mark outlining the shape left!

This house really should have a statement clock so we spent November visiting brocantes and vide greniers looking for missing items. By the way the difference between a brocante and vide greniers is at brocantes there can be dealers and it is a little more organised and sometimes prices are higher. Vide-greniers translates as “sell your roof/attic” so you clear out your attic, garage and house and sell all sorts of tat. These are the best because if granny’s house is being cleared you can pick up a bargain for €2. Dealers come from the UK to pick up the bargains and sell them for triple the price. We managed to find a guy with a warehouse of about 200 old grandfather and grandmother clocks and all sorts of furniture. We picked up this little beauty, a floral grandmother clock for €60 – it looks like it’s always had pride of place in the kitchen.

Here are a few more photos of things we had to get for empty spots. A beautiful drape chandelier for the dining room, an ornate clock for a bedroom mantel, bedroom dressing table mirror and delicate side lights for the new bathroom. All under €50. I have also learnt a new skill, upholstery, a must with the old chairs and chaise longue that are old, smelly and falling to pieces. We have lost some furniture to age and woodworm. I attend a weekly course to learn tips and tricks and have completed my first chair, little bit proud of this.

Fabric is mega expensive and sourcing is really difficult here but luckily I had ebayed material like crazy while I was in the UK and bought some over. I have made curtains which is quite a mission as each window needs 7 metres of fabric for the drop. These are the curtains I made in the dinning room. When researching I found a lady selling the red curtains she got from an abbey – they are fully lined, thick and in beautiful condition, €60 – bargain!

The start of the month was great – we decided this year to host a New Years Eve party and, with people staying in the house, we needed another bathroom (one and half showers was not going to cut it). We decided to turn the toilet in the cupboard at the top of the landing in to our second bathroom. This will create a bright space with full shower, extra toilet and vintage sink. We decided to up-cycle old doors found in the barn for a wall and to keep light streaming in we used an old tongue and groove ceiling falling down in the cave for the panelling – gotta save the pennies, the budget is running low!

All on course until a trip to the UK, and generally feeling under the weather, floored me in the second week of December. Oh my, I got back from the UK and went straight to bed for 9 days with fever, nausea and a big old cough. Everything was put on hold. I have not been that ill since the start of Covid back in 2020. Cersei and Alastair also went down with it and by the time we resurfaced it was the week before Christmas – no tree, no decorations and no bathroom!!
We caught up on the all the decorations and desperately tried to complete the bathroom in time for New Years Eve – it didn’t happen but we did get an extra loo ready just in time. Luckily all our friends were understanding and I just got them drunk and fed them well.

Here are some pictures of the new bathroom progression, before and after. Of course it will be finished in the next few days as we are back on it.

We finished 2023 with a great party at the manoir with old and new friends. The manoir looked amazing and festive and the only tricky decision was, do we celebrate UK midnight or France midnight an hour later? We celebrated with the UK – sparklers, firepits in the garden and of course champagne.
My new years resolution is to continue improving my French.

We are proud to announce our bookings will soon be opening. This first year will be at a special price as the manoir is a work in progress but if you would like an art holiday or a friends weekend away with activities to book , wine and food to enjoy in our lovely home then please look at our booking page HERE.

For more information please email us at [email protected] and our fabulous admin lady Nikki will answer all your questions. There is a full breakdown of your art week available too.

After last years successful scheme, we are now open for this years volunteers to book some time with us. Whether you are interested in gardening, decorating, waitressing, housekeeping, cooking or just general duties, there is something for everyone throughout the coming year.
Drop us an email [email protected] if you or a friend would like to join us.

THANK YOU for all your comments on the last blog. We hope you are finding the trials and tribulations of interest.
We would love to hear any questions you may have. Ask away.
With love from France – a bientot
Leesa, Alastair & Cersei xxx

2 thoughts on “December 2023 – winter round up”

  1. It’s enthralling to read about your renovation exploits especially as we love to visit France and enjoy French life and French food. Your enthusiasm for the task is inspiring and I hope to join one of your art holidays but it might have to be next year as we are already booked up for three French breaks and a new grandchild due in the summer. Maybe by the time I finally make it, I might be able to speak a teeny bit of French! x


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