MY HOME IS A CASTLE--the tale of how and why I became a chatelain , four times .This is my present home. If you are visiting for the first time you may care to read the older posts first.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I shall never forget our first Christmas at Chateau La Roche Hue.

My second eldest daughter was due to come over from England with her family the day before Christmas Eve, and we wanted everything to be perfect for their visit. Our first priority was to buy the biggest Christmas tree we could find so that it wouldn't look lost in our large salon. The ceiling height was not far short of 5 metres, so finding a tree that big was no easy task. The local garden centre managed to come up trumps and delivered the tree, but that was the easy bit-- getting it into position and securing it was tricky! In the end Alex found a large metal hook and he went up a ladder and managed to screw it discreetly into one of the beams-- so he was then able to rope the top of the tree to the hook, hiding the rope under a cloud of tinsel!! HOORAY!
It worked a treat! and this is the finished decorated tree- sorry the picture is not too clear......

By the time the weary travellers arrived all was ready and we felt quite festive as we sat around the crackling log fire, catching up on all the news. My daughter Victoria and her boyfriend were at home as well so we had lots tales to swap. The dogs snoozed away happily and, for once, didn't hog the fire!!

That's Rocky on the left, and Axle curled up on what was their sofa! I KNOW! Yes I did spoil them a bit :)

Christmas Eve Morning arrived , and I was up early as I had to turn out the horses into their field. I looked out of the window and - MAGIC- it had snowed quite thickly in the night! Could you believe that? Perfect for our first Christmas!

Needless to say, we found what trays we could and all trooped out into the snow after Breakfast to enjoy it! The trays were makeshift toboggans and there were some good slopes to cruise down. Alex and my son-in-law went off into the woods with my little old car to chop and stack more logs ready for the fire and we went snowballing. It was not long before the car became stuck in the snow so our fun ended suddenly and we all had to put shoulders to the metal. Why is it that episodes like this which are such a drag at the time are rembered fondly as being a hoot!

Christmas Eve was spent singing carols with the children and grandchildren who were getting really excited about the visit from Father Christmas. They were finally persuaded to go to bed after placing their pillow cases near the fireplace.

In order for Father Christmas to visit a certain amount of presents had to be arranged -if you know what I mean. One of those presents was a Barbie Castle for my young grand -daughter and her Dad thought it would be great if he assembled it then, instead of having to do it in the morning, and she would be able to play with it straight away! That was a good idea, but throwing all the cartons onto the fire after he had assembled Barbie turned out to be BAD idea!!!!

The first sign of a problem was this awful roaring noise-- we all listened and wondered , then Alex suddenly said " OH NO" and rushed out into the garden........ Oh dear- the chimney was on fire, flames were pouring out of the top ; you must bear in mind that this was Xmas Eve and it was nearly midnight, so you can imagine what sort of response we got when we had to phone the fire-brigade! Midnight on Christmas Eve is the time that the french exchange their presents!

We were lucky that night -- they sped to our rescue in true film fashion, but given the height the chimney reached to, they had a difficult job in getting the fire under control, as you can imagine. Bu what a great lot of chaps they were though, they laughed and worked well and had a good tot of whisky before they finally left.

We wearily cleaned and mopped up and , finally exhausted but happy, crawled into bed! Yes, as I said , we will NEVER forget our first Christmas at La Roche Hue!


  1. Goodness gracious! That certainly is a Christmas Eve to remember! Those chimney fires can certainly do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

    The chateau looks very beautiful covered in snow.

  2. That is some Christmas memory! The tree was out of a magazine.
    In spite of the fire and the timing of the fire it sounded like a lovely Christmas.
    Chateau La Roche Hue looks like a gingerbread house with loads of sugar on top!

  3. Well I'm behind here, and I don't want to rush through...tomorrow I'm kid-free and can catch up!!

  4. Oh Delphine!

    What a Christmas to remember! From the beautiful snow that enveloped your fairytale chateau to the frightening chimney fire ... from bliss to panic, you went through a myriad of emotions that holiday!

    How wonderful that you are writing these memories. They will be passed down for generations to come! This is one story that will be a favorite!

  5. It certainly was Susan, I suppose the fire was a calamity waiting to happen, as we hadn't thought of having the chimneys swept! We had the chimney sweep in then right after Christmas.

  6. Hi Anet! It was an unforgetable Christmas for lots of reasons, and the tree was the biggest we had ever had, so really dominated the occasion. The snow , of course, was the icing on the cake, in fact I think it was the only Christmas that it snowed there.

  7. I envy you having children around you Sandy :) I am off to see mine and the grandkids the week before Easter!

  8. You're right Cottage Girl, it is a memory none of us have forgotten, we teased my son-in-law for ages after that, but it did make us wary about having big log fires for the future. Writing this story makes everything so real all over again.

  9. What an absolutely BEAUTIFUL Castle you live in! My second visit here at your blog. Your Christmas tree was stunning also. I wonder if the packaging had something about it that caused the fire. Nice to know it is just a memory and no damage done. I was admiring all of your books also. My husband and I have enough to build a house with. Ha

  10. Thank you for the wonderful story Delphine. I was wondering if spring has come to Chateau La Roche Hue yet? Here in Kansas City, we have small clusters of spring flowers poking up and the trees are beginning to bud. Although I loved the warm and cozy Christmas scene you painted for us, I am so very glad that winter seems to be at end...I said "seems". Here in the mid-western United States winter has a nasty habit of giving us one last shot when we least expect it. :)

    Looking forward to your next post and I hope all is well with you and yours.

  11. I would say .. you would never forget that Christmas....
    Probably drew everyone even closer together ... what a memory...

  12. Welcome back Brenda and thankyou for your comments. Yes, it definitely was the barbie packaging that caused the fire because the huge flames that shot up, caught fire to the old tar around the inside of the chimney - the firemen did well to get it under control - but we laugh about it now!

  13. Hello Matt, I am glad to see Spring here too!Everything is beginning to open up here this week because we have had sunshine every day, yesterday the afternoon temperature here was 21° which is unusual.

  14. Do you know Gwen,the recipient of the Barbie Castle has just started university! My, how time flies

  15. My goodness that was a story to remember and retell.

    Those photographs are wonderful. Love those doggies relaxing.

  16. Welcome Winifred, I think as one goes through life there it is impossible to remember all the events unforunately, however the ones that remain fixed are the special ones.... I loved those dogs and they had a wow of a time with all that space.

  17. Well wow! Sure glad it got out and fixed. I am so enjoying see the photos of inside the chateau and also the snow....I like to wait several days to come here so I have lots to catch up on. I always want more...when I come and read each new post for the day!! ha.

    I'm loving this story.

  18. Thankyou Sandy for your lovely comments it means so much to me to know that my story is of interst in the telling.

  19. What a story - frightening and nightmarish. I hope your granddaughter appreciated her castle!

    I imagine the maintenance of those old chimneys must be a lot of work.

    The photo of the castle Christmas Even morning is just splendid.