Here, day by day we share with you the the 2016 Château Advent Calendar...
Opening the first shutter, and welcoming Winston and Alfred to the Château...
In August we took a drive to the local animal refuge in the nearby medieval village of Mirepoix. We were hoping to find a little, mature, cat friendly dog in need of a home. The story unfolded somewhat like our original property search – where a few years earlier, when we went looking for a small village home in the south of France, imagining up pale blue shutters, we ended with a giant, ruined, historical Château.
That day in the summer of August, we drove home with two large and very anxious dogs in the backseat of the car. It felt right to take them both of them home. They had shared the same cage at the refuge for months.
We knew little about them except that Teddy, the beagle, had been left tied to the refuge gates six months earlier, and Alfred, the German shepherd cross, had been dumped in the mountains, and for nine months hikers had been leaving him scraps of food.
The first few days at the Château went well… until Teddy mysteriously escaped over the fortress walls! For days and days we searched, until eventually the local Mayor came hammering on the front door. He very sternly explained that Teddy had been harassing some rabbits belonging to a lady in the local village. Luckily, the rabbits had been caged. The owner of the rabbits had tied Teddy up in her backyard and refused to let him go until arrangements could be made. The Mayor insisted we take Teddy back to the refuge or he would. Our neighbour also wanted to be compensated for her traumatised rabbits and ruined tomato vines, and demanded that the old oak tree in the Château park across the road from her home had to be cut down!
Sadly, we had to take Teddy back to the refuge. As it turned out, he wasn’t so great with cats either (although we had been told the opposite before we took him home). But it was when we went back to the refuge that we noticed, in the corner of his cage, a black and white terrier cross curled up tightly in his basket. Now in the corner of his old cage was a black and white terrier cross, curled up tightly in a basket. He too had been tied up at the refuge gate, a few days earlier, and since being left abandoned hadn’t eaten or left his bed.
And so, we picked up this sad, little dog with a broken heart and without another thought immediately took him home. He was named Winston.
A home is not a home without a dog… or two!
This year I came across a pair of elegant pastel portraits in a bric-a-brac shop in the city of Carcassonne. Intrigued, I began to do a little bit of research, discovering that the use of readymade crayons was popular during the 18th Century, mainly as they had several advantages over oil paints. For the artist they required fewer sittings, little drying time, and they were more affordable. The colour in these portraits is fresh and brilliant, and having been looked after so carefully, they look more as if they were painted yesterday than hundreds of years ago.
This shutter opens to give you a peak directly into the Salon de Musique. When we purchased the Château this room was fortunately intact, and was one of the only rooms to have a floor and ceiling. On each wall are gold gilded trophies of instruments, from the period dating to King Louis XV. Over the past two years, restoration workshops have been held at the Château, and everyone who has so kindly participated in these has worked hard at cleaning, repairing, and replacing the golden jewels. Next year, this salon will undergo further restoration, grâce à the support and proceeds from this year’s Château Advent Calendar.
In March of this year, the Château welcomed a vintage car rally visit and lunch. Hope you enjoy the short video below…
Château de Gudanes sits upon the knap of a hill in the little village of Château-Verdun. Back in the 13th Century their existed two Châteaux. Now all that remains of the other are a few crumbled dry-stoned walls. Few people live in the local village, about 40 on a good day. There are no shops in the village, only a phone box. I always laugh when I am on the Château’s Facebook site and an advertisement comes up on screen saying – “if you boost your post you can reach 67,000 people in the local village of Chateau-Verdun!”
In January we planted over seventy perfumed climbing roses. This was our first bouquet…
Opening the seventh shutter gives you a peek into what was once an 18th century bedroom, with delicate, pale blue, quilted wallpaper. Much of the original fireplace in this room still survives, and where it hasn’t we have saved the mouldings in hope of reinstalling them in the future.
À la prochaine!