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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Our short break at the end of our first season , mid september, was drawing close ( thank goodness) and we set about tying up all loose ends before we set off!

Isabelle ( our girl groom) was happy to work shorter hours during the Winter which was essential as there were six horses to exercise, groom and muck out! I mucked out with her nearly every day, and I actually enjoyed it and found it quite theraputic, especially laying down all that sweet smelling hay . Trouble with horses though, the first thing they do when they enter a clean stable is to ' mark their territory ' , and then roll, thus scattering the hay everywhere!!!!


Victoria, my daughter was going to be in charge of the telephone ( for future bookings), her boyfriend would be in charge of the pool and grounds, and Archie our faithful friend would look after the general running of the Chateau and odd jobs. All three would keep an eye on Mum. Jacqueline , our cleaner would return to just a couple of hours a day during the Winter as all the apartments were closed down for the season end.

So with bags packed into our car we headed off to the south of France , one of our favourite destinations. We had nothing booked, just decided to go B&B or small hotels. Our longer holiday, planned for late October would be in the Camping Car.

I remember the weather being very warm and gentle down at Narbonne Plage which is where
we decided to bed down in a little hotel overlooking the beach.

Alex relaxing in the hotel-- dig those crazy tracksuit bottoms!

We used to go camping there many times when the children were young, so the visit was quite nostalgic; As usual it took quite a few days to finally unwind, and we spent those days re-visiting old haunts including the "ABBAYE DE FONTFROIDE" which was beautiful....

...... as you see!

Time passed quickly and we were anxious to get back home again to see if everybody had coped well without any problems; Little did we know that we were to experience a problem which was about to shape our future lives together.

We packed our bags and set off on the long drive up the motorway heading towards Bordeaux and then the Loire Valley. We always took it in turns to drive, at least, my joking husband always said that he did 60% and I did 40% ! I was at the wheel whilst Alex was fast asleep beside me when we approached one of the large ' peages' - toll booths. I nudged Alex awake to find the necessary payment as we always do; I knew something major was wrong when he did not respond in his normal manner! He stared at me as if I were a stranger and did not know where he was or what we were doing! At first I thought he was joking or had been having a bad dream, but I soon realised it was real. He began to wander off in his mind and I knew I had to get home as quickly as possible! I cannot begin to describe the terror I /we , were both feeling . Alex had no memory of where had been or what we had been doing, he was unsure of everything.

I think the car must have grown wings for that journey which must have taken at least another three hours! Alex began to settle down and come out of it but was still not himself. I didn't know the name for it but I guessed he must have had some form of mini stroke. As soon as we got home I immediately telephone our old English doctor who talked to both me first, then Alex over the phone and diagnosed a ' TRANSIENT ISCHAEMIC ATTACK ' which, in effect is a mini stroke or advanced warning of a stroke. He suggested we go to a french doctor, which Alex refused to do initially, then agreed finally to start taking aspirin immediately on a daily basis. I was shocked because he had seemed so well, as you can see from his photo! He was a heavy smoker though and would not give them up.

I telephoned the girls back in England and we were all reeling with the news and after some badgering Alex agreed to enrol with a french doctor and have some tests. He laughed it off but I knew that deep down he was really shaken.

What a holiday that turned out to be.


  1. Delphine, Men can be so stubborn about seeing Doctors! Was the fact that the Doctors were French a big part of the problem? It is so frustrating.

    I loved the post about the Agatha Christie weekend. (It always seems to be the Vicar)

  2. delphine, my relative just experienced a TIA a month ago and found that she could no longer read the paper and her words were jumbled. her cause was this idiot family doc put her on too high a dosage of vitamin D...she is fine now but had a bad scare. she now takes an aspirin a day. thanks for that post!

  3. How frightening for both of you! Alex looked so healthy.
    You never know, do you Delphine, when those dark clouds will come. ---

    You had just started a successful enterprise. Things aren't suppose to happen that way.

  4. Cori, At that time we hadn't been in France all that long, and Alex's french wasn't fluent, also he hadn't yet much confidence in the french medical system. Also I think he was worried about what they would tell him.

  5. Kritter Keeper, I am amazed that too much vitamin D can cause a TIA. Aspirin as an interim is good, but I expect she has to go to regular blood tests if she takes one aspirin per day?

  6. Cottage Girl, thankyou for those comments, yes it was very frightening, but the most scary thing was that he never gave up smoking!

  7. Delphine, thanks for stopping by my blog. Yours looks beautiful. Love the pictures and the stories. So sorry to hear about your scare with Alex. You can't mess around TIA's! When my mother was in her 40's she had a mini-stroke. First thing she did after was stop smoking. Hope Alex is doing better...

  8. Welcome to my blog Jam, ( love your name) --the story I am telling happened about 18 years ago. Sadly Alex passed away in 2001.

  9. Delphine, I can't imagine how frightened you must have been! And isn't it just like a man to balk at going to a doctor! Well, that holiday was one for the books, eh? ((hugs))

  10. It certainly was one never to forget Susan. Never knew what TIA's were until then!

  11. That must have been such a frightening time for you. Having to drive all that way by yourself. Smoking is such an awful thing and yet people still keep on doing it.

  12. Oh I just choked up when I read "He wandered off in his mind . . " - oh. Even now, I can't see to type. We are fragile beings, in spite of our depths, our loves, the systems we set up around us.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  13. wow, been catching up with everything and this must have been a scare! ...I have enjoyed getting caught up to date. take care.