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.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Just when we thought life was beginning to settle down following the nearly disastrous golf incident ( re posts 2nd and 6th May) life took another turn ( more like a somersault) when our daughterMichaela and her boyfriend Darren announced they were going to be married!!!! and, bliss upon bliss, they wanted to get married in France-- and more than that, they wanted the celebrations to take place at our lovely Chateau la Roche Hue!

What a wonderful surprise it was , but we knew it would not be the easiest of occasions to organise for any of us! For a start, all the rest of our family and friends lived in England, and all of Darren's family live in England too! However, that did not dampen the joy of the occasion and we all set to work! Fortunately Michaela was absolutely fluent in French having worked in France for years before she joined the CruiseLines. Darren could not speak french at all , so Michaela did all the formal arranging with the local ' Mairie' ( Town Hall), and with the church. In France there are two wedding ceremonies , the first is the formal ' official' ceremony which takes place at the town hall presided over by the Mayor -- this takes place a few days before the church wedding and is less formal, similar to a register office ceremony in England .The second is the religious ceremony in the Church and is quite formal.

Invitations were sent out , and there were very few refusals ! Darrens' family decided to hire a large bus to transport everybody over in one go. Our family and friends were all going to arrive independantly in their cars. Everybody decided to make a short holiday out if it so it was a good job we had the accomodation for everybody, and what a blessing the apartments included kitchens, so everybody could self-cater during their stay ( phew)! It was early Spring-time so we had no bookings arranged, thank goodness! Outside caterers were arranged for the wedding day and Michaela and I made the fruit wedding cake tiers ourselves because in France they do not use fruit cake for weddings. I had them professionally decorated and mounted. So here are some pictures, they are all snap shot photos I'm afraid......

Michaela and Darren at the official ceremony at the Town hall, the Mayor is wearing the sash, Alex has the video camera.

The happy couple after the ceremony, they said aferwards that it felt strange and that they didn't feel married at that point , not until after the Church wedding.

The wedding day dawned and the caterers arrived early.......

The first thing to be set up was the wedding cake

I thought that they did a great job of decorating it - so pretty!

It was chaos in our bedroom, I was helping Michaela get dressed and she was not happy with her hair, we tried it every which way, then, suddenly she scruffed it all up on top of her head, held in place with a few grips, we put the veil in place, and she was beautiful, I am welling up writing this, but she was a vision. I am limited for photos on this post I am afraid, and I cannot find any taken at the church......

but here is a photo taken of the happy pair on their return from the church...

and the newspaper coverage showed ' their' knowledge of the English language :-)

Then several photocalls...

Four of my grandchildren, with Michaela and Darren

On the back steps of the Chateau, with just a few of our side of the family, another shot was taken with Darren's family and friends.

Then it was inside for ' le Vin d'Honneur ' and the champagne flowed! I smile now looking at my outfit! Talk about Joan Collins' shoulder pads-- however they were the rage at the time- but why did I choose black as the dominant colour????

Not only was the day itself a momentous occasion, it was 4/5 days of fun and partying, because most everybody arrived a day or two before the wedding and stayed a couple of days after, and we had the room for partying, and the pool and the horses, so everybody had such a good time.

Lovely memories!

Friday, May 8, 2009


Last week I posted on my other blog ,about a walk on the wild side in my grounds, watching the demise of my trees. Today I took another walk with Chris on the real wild side at a nearby superb animal park.... is called Parc le Pal and is nestled in 100's of acres of grounds, with over 500 animals, rides, roller coasters, restaurants, cinema, and spectacles with eagles, seals and parrots etc. Truly a fantastic day out for all the family! This is where Chris and I went today and I thought you might like to join us for a while.....

Hello! do come in to my enclosure and meet my friends...

This is Joeph, my best friend, he is quite old and he has a wonky horn!!

OOOOH! But my other one is O.K. !!

" Now listen here, guys & gals, if we huddle together against these rocks they won't spot us!

"Tut! Florrie and Amy are always titivating! They think they are better than us!!

" Now where did Petula go? can't see her anywhere!"

" Coooeee sh's behind you!!"

" Come on Pet, up this hill, show them what you can do!"

" What a fuss! We don't have to do anything to show off, just display our great headgear!!"

" What is wrong with everybody today! They are all complaining! Keep quiet, I am trying to do a job here!"

" They advertised them as 'des. res.' ! Which one is yours? Mine has 2 bedrooms!"

And so the chatter went on...

Chris and I just smiled and strolled hand in hand...what a perfect day

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


So, this is the final chapter of the golf story, the last installment left us awaiting the full dossier following the visit from the ' Golf-course expert' -there must an official title for these people -with anticipation!
The day dawned , the dossier arrived and we waded through it .
It was very detailed , from the complexities of the soil, right down to drawings of a) the 18 hole golf-course with the water holes , b) the clubhouse situated near the 9th hole, and c) the large Hotel nestling just within the woodland. It also noted the catchment areas by population, and current golf courses within a certain radius. Then it talked up the benefits of creating such an establishment in the countryside of the Loire Valley in France. In fact it was genuinely worth the large sum we had paid, so we were well satisfied!

So the next step was to go to the Mairie for the planning permissions! Then the ' French Administration' took over and we spent a long period ( I cannot recall exactly how long but it was at least 2 months) biding our time and looking into local golf courses and the running of them!

Finally -- We got our permissions! WHOOPEE! We were estatic, and thought that we had really arrived! Our dreams had been realised! We would find a buyer and be able to repay the bank and get back to concentrating on our first love, which was running the beautiful chateau La Roche Hue.

How naive we must have been, always looking through rose coloured glasses, we were about to get our first lesson in trying to" run before you can walk"

Our main setback was to discover that just outside of our nearest local town ' Baugé ' a Japonese consortium had already obtained planning permission for an 18 hole Golf-course which was already well under construction! This information was a huge blow as it had not been mentioned by our expert in his dossier. So he had not been as thorough as we had thought. We had relied on him to discover any potential competitors! We went to visit this course and it was in an ideal situation , and was being developed by professionals! This Bauge Golf-Course is still up and running today!

"So where do we go from here?" was our first thought!

We carried on with a search for a buyer for the golfing project-- we advertised in Golfing papers/magazines etc. Several enterprises showed interest but none of them decided to go ahead, mainly because of the other Course. We thought of suing the Pro for our money back on the dossier, but realised it might end up costing us more, so we discarded that idea.
We also approached several golfing celebrities- again nothing and money or ' lack-of ' was getting to be a problem.

Well, at the end of the day, we still had our lovely farm, so, reluctantly we put it back on the market.
Eventually , we sold it to the nephew of the family we had bought it from, ie the original owners of Chateau La Roche Hue. He , the nephew, was a Comte ( an Earl) and (unbelievable, but nevertheless true) he wanted to buy the farm, renovate it and install his mistress and her pet wolf! Yes I did mean WOLF!

So we struck even! We sold the farm for what we paid for it, making no profit, put our dreams on hold and got back to the business we were running, and concentrated on how to make it profitable. So endeth the tale of the GOLF..............

Monday, May 4, 2009



I have been tagged - for the first time by the lovely Susan! this should be fun, my task is to record " SIX UNIMPORTANT THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY "

so here we go ........

1) Laying down in the bath, watching my boobs float to the surface looking perky again!

2) Picking dead skin off of my feet -- disgustingly good!

3) Driving the car with the top down!

4) Setting off in the motorhome -- destination unknown!

5) Memories of hop-picking as a child with my Mum!

6) Waking up next to my man!

Now I have been told I have to choose six new bloggers to tag ! I expect you are all flinching now, so my six lucky people are:-

Cheryl Ann at Desertswest

Jan at Jans'place

Dewlish at A short history of nearly nobody

Lala at My castle in Spain

So that is it for today, good luck to the new taggers.......

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Following the purchase of the farm, it began to be ' golf ' for breakfast, ' golf ' for dinner, and, yes you've guessed it - for tea! We actually never tried playing it but we did a lot of reading and talking about it. Our plan had to work because we had been to the bank for the purchase of the farm! The Manager had thought it was a great idea ( fortunately he was a golfer) and he was looking forward to being our first customer!

The next step was to get a geological survey of the land to be sure that it would be suitable for creating the 18 hole course . This was fairly easy to arrange, but costly, as you can imagine. We waited for the results with baited breath, because if the report returned a negative response, we were left with just a derelict farm on our hands. Fortunately the report came back and was positive on all counts, and the land had water which would be good for arranging a few hazard holes.

Then we had to find an expert who would create the actual course - so we visited a course about 60kms away and met the owner, who was a really obliging gentleman, and he arranged for us to meet with the person who had planned out his course, which was also an 18 hole. He came out to the Chateau the following week and Alex gave him a guided tour of the farm and its land. We thought that the main farmhouse itself would make a good sized clubhouse at the 9th hole, and the expert agreed that it would be good. Alex then left him on his own to wander and get the feel of the land and he agreed to meet us back at he Chateau. Our minds went into a reverie wondering what our ' golf-course' would look like.....

We wished!

When he returned he was full of enthusiasm and asked if we had thought of gaining permission for a large Hotel on the land as well so as to attract golfers from further afield or even abroad . We hadn't considered that, but thought " Why not? In for a penny etc"! All sorts of images flashed through our minds......


So, after a long consultation the golf expert left armed with his figures and we sat back for a few weeks waiting for the final dossier to arrive. We would have to use this dossier to gain planning permissions, and to then find a suitable buyer for the whole package.

to be continued.............