February 2023 – the month of love

The month of love.  Only for the House!!  So now the rewiring and plastering of the stairs and landing have been completed (still wiring in bedrooms and Studio to go) the layers of sealing and painting is the next thing to do. I always start painting like “whoo yes it’s looking so clean” and then second layer in of white its like … how much more then third layer of colour its like I’m going crazy painting the same wall 4 times!!!

The skimming of plaster on the walls in the hallway, landing and dining room has made a massive difference to the feel of the space. The colour I had to choose would have to be right not just when you entered into the hallway but all the way upstairs onto the landing that has dark areas. I chose a Farrow and Ball paint and then fainted when the estimated cost came in…think of the price in UK and basically double it. We are talking a fair few hundreds as the area is so big.  But the Farrow and Ball colours are always so tempting and right.

God save Tollens, the colour mixing shop I found in Bergerac.. my new best friends. They matched the F&B colour for walls and the woodwork and badder boom, badder bing.. that cheque was signed (still a hundred or two but a little more acceptable).

Here is a look at the colour – a soft white with a grey blue hint together with a soft blue grey for the wood panels. 


There are 26 large windows in the Manoir and they all need new curtains. The old curtains are old, moth eaten, unlined and on closer inspection are made of the linen and canvas from the cupboards. 

Curtain and fabric choices fall into 2 catergories here – chintz Paris expensive or cheap and actually pattern wise, limited and not very in keeping with the Manoir.  There is no John Lewis or M&S mid range to choose from. 

I realized the best way is to make my own. Before I left the UK I did a sewing refresher course with Jenny Gale at Needleswift in Lindfield. Good job, as each curtain has to be 3 metres long so for 2 sets of windows per room that’s approximate 14 metres ..yikes.

Anyway I got the main salon and the salle de bain finished this month. Here are a few pictures of them …actually quite chuffed…but 23 more windows to go!


So Alastair, Guy and David (the men that can) have been absolute stars through February and have been building the main layout and walls of the large studio. Now we have to order the main large entrance doors and windows.  We are on the look out for old sinks for the fixtures of the studio – luckily brocantes and vide greniers (like a car boot sales) come up trumps usually.

The picture below shows the main entrance into the studio and walls going up between the amazing beams.  Under floor heating for those colder months will go down next.  It is a very big space – great for life drawing classes or exhibitions.


I attend a french lesson every week and try to be brave and speak french whenever I can. It is so important going forward.

I have to start my business again, which feels hard after having a successful one in Sussex. I was hit hard when I googled my new website www.maisondufort.com and up came a Belgian hotel??  What..? I was on page 8 of Google results. Lindfield Art Studio was so well used and known that I was always on page 1 of Google searches… my pride was hurt.. but actually I have to earn the right again to be on page 1 for art holidays and retreats in France.  I may be asking you guys to share or click on my website in coming months, s’il vous plaît.

Starting again is hard, but it starts with a 5 year business plan which I have to submit in French and prove my worth to the French Government. Here goes…..


A big thank you to those who have already contacted us to enquire about art holidays and staying just as a holiday with no art. Also for the volunteers now booking in to work and play. It is great for us to know so many people would like to join us on the journey. With weather warming up from March again there is a lot to do.

If you think you would like to join us to help, April and May are now available and good times to consider coming over. The outdoor pool will be open and days will be brighter and longer. For more information or to sign up to volunteering,  click HERE.


Gardening! With spring here and thoughts of sitting out drinking rosé in the summer, it is the perfect time to plan the new borders. The mozzies are pretty fierce here in summer so I intend to fill the garden with lavender, rosemary, citronella and all things that will smell fab but keep the mozzies away. Roses and white hydrangas are also planned.

So there is a local nursery run by a guy who looks like an aging Patwick Swayze from Point Break. He’s very cool and speaks little English. We make a great team trying to chose plants, their names in French and how many I want..but he smiles a lot and is quite a character. Monsieur Swayze will be a big help.

Raised herb and flower beds for just in front of the gite windows will be are also being planned.  However first both areas have to be dug out and prepped for new flowers. Here are the two areas I will be preparing and planting this month. I will let you see how it goes next month.

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 bientôt 

Leesa, Alastair & Cersei xxx

3 thoughts on “February 2023 – the month of love”

  1. Following your journey with awe and admiration, you have achieved so much already. It is clear you still pack twice as much in every day as the rest of us. Love the curtains and your salle de bain is fab.
    Enjoy Spring time and keep posting xx

  2. Bonjour a tous! Another great letter, Leesa, with another load of positive vibes. If the business is slow to take off, you could always write a book!
    I haven’t made any fixed plans for summer, so I may decide to include the Lot in whatever I come up with. Watch this space and you have been warned!! Love to everyone xxx🤓

  3. Sounds as though you’re getting along very well. Don’t forget bulb planting can give long lasting pleasure throughout the year.
    Wishing you every success in your adventures! Looks idyllic already!


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