Escape to the Chateau DIY – Improvise, Adapt and Overcome !


Escape to the Chateau ! Our journey through France to our new home and life was simply unforgettable.  How many times do you dream of being off of the ferry first ? Well today, 30 years ago we the first car and caravan off, a magical scene of thick virgin white snow greeted us, no one had yet driven onto it.  As we left the ramp of the ferry we just slid, and slid, and slid, it was so scary.  I honestly thought, as did Stuart, that we were going to end up in the water.  In the back Anthony,  Jemma and Victoria stopped talking instantly, not a word was spoken;  I have heard of driving into a slide, but ….. !!  Our journey through France was as treacherous as it was picturesque, everywhere you looked was sparkling like diamonds in the cold rays of the winter sunshine.  Where water had fallen it hung in so many beautiful shards of frozen water, all different lengths, looking like vicious daggers hanging from the surface in mid-air.   For most of the way we drove in the tyre tracks of lorries that had passed by before us.  All was okay, until there was another lorry coming towards us, none of them moved over, it was their road. So we slid to the side of the road passing so many overturned cars and cars in ditches. I sat a little tensely, just praying that would not be our fate too. Our arrival at Limoges was greeted by wet roads, but no snow – goodness, it was such a relief.  We stopped off in Souillac to pick up the keys to our new home, our new adventure, and the start of a  brand new Chapter in our book of life as a young English family in a foreign Country.  We arrived at Lacomte at around 5.45, the big black gates, which I found very imposing,  were locked,  awaiting to be opened by us, the new occupents.  Brand new people leaving their footsteps in time here in Carlucet.  It was February, so we were shortly going to run out of daylight; really not a good time to arrive !!!!!!  We could see through the gates that we had rather a big problem, there was a huge tree across the drive just after the entrance, and guess what ?  We did not happen to have a chainsaw in the back of our car.  After a long day, the children were out of the car and running around the grounds with Sam.  Sam was our dog, a gorgeous Labrador / Alsatian cross who became really well known and loved by our future guests not yet known. He had been so good all day, sitting in the floor well of the car, so bless him he had  hardly any room, come to that,  neither did I.  Stuart went to our neighbours house to see if anyone was at home, luckily Eliane was there.  She got the jist of our problem and called her husband, who was enjoying a drink at the local café with other neighbours after their day of hunting.  As you can imagine we had been the talk of the Village, this young Family, all blonde, moving to Château de Lacomté to build a campsite !  We had done a lot of homework regarding this move, and had had meetings before we moved here, so our plans were not a secret.  Our next door neighbour, so we found out quite a few years later was not too happy.  He had hoped to buy and own Chateau de Lacomte himself one day, it had been his dream.   So for him, I think that we were a bitter / sweet arrival.  Within what seemed only moments all the “Men of the Moment”, young and in their prime of  life arrived in convoy.  Each of them with their chainsaw in the back of their vans and in no time this huge tree was cut and moved to one side. I envisaged all these men swigging back their drinks and jumping into action when our neighbour heard that we were here and had a problem. I remember the feeling well, I felt well out of my comfort zone, them looking at us as much as us looking at them.  Our first connection with people we did not know, and we were now to be neighbours.   Once the tree was gone, they had a quick chat of which we understood nothing as they laughed and gesticulated  and then hey were gone as quickly as they arrived !  Leaving us to a very surreal moment of entering a cold, damp, empty house which was on new home.  We were surprised to find out that we had no water or electrics and it was so cold !!!  Luckily we had towed down our old Monza caravan and had some food in there and some drinks.  A Mother always packs everything she thinks that could possibly be needed.  We had already left our Lunar caraven here back in November on one of our visits, so that also had some supplies in it, luckily !!  You know the items you really need, biscuits and other naughty goodies, so at least the little ones were okay.  I had pre-prepped a meal, but had no way of heating it up and did not like to go to our neighbours to ask for some help.  We just coped.  And we had brought food with us for Sam.  Also in both caravans we had torches that worked, godsend !  As both caravans were full of things from home, we had no option than to sleep in the very cold, damp, dirty, uninviting house, but this was an adventure.  Life is all about coping with unforseen circumstances and that is exactly what we did. We got the caravan mattresses in along with the quilts that were in the caravan and decided that we would all sleep in one room, remaining dressed so that we would not freeze during the night.  Big mistake, Huge, when we awoke the next morning I found my mattress to be soaked, much the same as myself.  Infact everyone was cold and wet.  With 5 people in a room like a fridge, neither Stuart or I had given a thought to condensation.  The walls were dripping, from ceiling to floor.  Oh well, there was absolutely no point in dropping into negative mood mode, this was after all and new adventure, life in the Country.  But god it was so cold, we even opened all the windows to try and warm the house with the very cold February sunshine.  So, that day was a new day and we had a lot to do, we needed electricity, okay new Country and we did not speak French, what on earth were we to do.  Cope of course !  Our neighbour knew where to put the water on for us, which he did on our first day – at least we could go to the toilet and flush the loo.  There is just too much to talk about, hence I need to write “That Book” !  But I will leave you with just one little other thing that caused us a lot of problems, our removal lorry did not arrive at teatime on the 10th as it was supposed to.  Stuart called the company from the pay phone on the morning of the 11th, which just gobbled up money ! By this time it was snowing heavily.  You will never ever  guess what happened next !  Our removal truck was actually on the same crossing as ourselves, but unbeknown to us, it would not start.  They were not happy to pay any costs for someone to look at it, as jump leads did not do the trick.  So it and all our belongings sailed back to the UK.  It was actually arrived almost a week late,   leaving us with no beds, and very little of anything at all !  Goodness me, when we look back, it was an incredible start to what turned out to be a very incredible 30 tyears.   But we coped, we just put it all into the context of an adventure, and only looked at the positives.  Actually the worst thing was, the children from next door came to meet our children and wanted them to come out to play in the snow, every child’s dream adventure – but they had no outdoor clothes and no wellies and I had no way of washing their clothes or getting them dry ! That was tough.  How did we cook our meals, well over the open fire of course in the bar, like the old days !!!!  nd that is how we heated our water too ! For months we improvised, adapted and overcame, infact years ! We really did live the  DIY  life  at the Château !!!!!  Sorry, but there will be no more on our little story here.  Have a great evening everyone, Sheila and Stuart

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