By Rose McClement
Okay – who of you reading this right now can recall the movie Love Story from way back in 1970? (Oh my word, I feel “timeless” just recalling it. Timeless in this case being a kind word for “old”). It starred Ali McGraw and handsome Ryan O’Neill and was the tearjerker of the decade. At the time, it was meant to be the love story to top all love stories! Just to give you an indication of how bad-ass sad this move was, I was warned beforehand to take my tissues with me to the movie house. But the love story I am about to share with you, actually tops the forgotten 70’s tearjerker. It’s real and authentic.
It was sometime back that I somehow connected with the Château de Gudanes. Exactly how that happened I can’t recall. As I cast my mind back now, I vaguely recall that one of my friends was following their blog and thought it might interest me from an interiors point of view.
Well, it sure did. I was intrigued by the Château and its owners from the first blog article I read and have followed their progress over the last few years. The newsletter updates aren’t that frequent, but when they drop into my inbox I can’t wait to catch up. With each passing newsletter, my intrigue and fascination is deepened, as is my desire to eventually visit this Beauty in French Countryside.
Built in the mid 1700’s, Château de Gudanes, a timeless and forgotten Stately Home in the French Country side, despite being sorely neglected, cast aside, pretty much abandoned and forgotten with the passing of time, still stands proudly in the south of France in the small village of Château-Verdun. It stands on the foothills of lush fertile French country surrounded by mountains and nearby French country villages. In the midst of it neglected state, the Château managed to hold its head up high enough to catch the attention of Australian couple, who were looking to set themselves up in that neck of the woods. What more could Craig and Karina Waters with a very big vision want for? If I recall, it was to create a new country home for their family while sharing it with as a guesthouse with all who wished to do so. The Château it seems called their name. They in their turn hearkened it calls, despite the numerous restoration challenges that they must have known would face them. Were it me, I might have run for the hills! It was to be a mammoth task, something that could only be supported within the context of a brave and determined vision.
Want to hear my fantasy around the call of the Château to its new owners? Here goes – in my mind’s eye they saw its outward, regal, stately and romantic appeal at first – standing there wooing them to its heart. Like any other romantic call, the outward appearance draws one in. Then once inside – they were faced with the harsh realities of the ravaging effects that neglect and “careless-ness” had on its once beautiful interior features! Did that put them off? By all accounts it didn’t. In fact I assume they admitted to the reality of it forgotten state, but looked beyond that to it hidden beauty, a beauty that they could unearth, unpack and once again restore. And that is why they committed to this long term relationship with the Château. What an experience of a lifetime, which they took hold of and made it their own.
That’s my take on their initial and early day encounters with the Château (only because I can’t find the account that I read years ago, which means I am left with the little recall I have). But it works for me. I don’t really want to spoil my own romantic notion of their encounter by spending time trawling their website for the facts. I mean, this is the month of LUV, not facts!
Because ultimately, that is really what Love is all about. We are drawn to each other, attracted to each other by some magical yet inexplicable force (which we can explain if we want to be spoilsports). Then when we step in closer to each other, we are faced with certain realities of neglect and careless-ness. But despite that – we stay with each other, work with each other and then reap the rewards. That’s Love for me. It’s not always romantic, but it’s true.
Now, looking at this latest video that has been produced, something so romantic has once again been given back to the Château by those brave, tenacious, creative, determined and love filled owners, who have loved the Château despite the odds often being stacked against them. Plus they have allowed others to show love to its restoration as well, by including many people into the volunteer work force. It’s a long story indeed and one that you are more than welcome to dip into by jumping over to their website, to trawl through their amazing recorded stories.
I want to salute the owners Craig and Karina Waters for their big vision, determined courage, steadfastness and for all they have achieved thus far. I am equally determined to visit the Château in the not too distant future as a fulfilment of my dream. Either to assist in the restoration for a while as a volunteer or as a guest in their home. I dream of waking up in one of those boudoirs that pulsate with that timeless authenticity that has been restored with so much fastidious love and care. To breath in the fresh country air and to explore the depth of the house as well. But mostly to pop my laptop onto the French antique desk that stands in front of the window with a mountain view that is to die for – to write. TOTAL BLISS!
Next week on the 14th many of us will be celebrating Valentine’s Day with our significant other. While some revel in the idea of a day filled with heart-shaped everything and love ballads, others might find it more than a little repugnant.
Celebrate your Gal Pals!
Whether you are the former or the latter, happily taken or contentedly single, we would like to introduce you to a fresh spin on Valentine’s Day. This year, set aside a day to celebrate the special ladies in your life – your gal pals, BFFs, girlfriends, your squad. Have a Galentine’s Day…
What on earth is Galentine’s Day you might ask? Well, in the words of the unstoppable Leslie Knope (from Parks & Recreation), the woman who created the concept of Galentine’s Day:
“What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home and just kick it breakfast style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus, frittatas!”
Galentine’s Day is an opportunity to express just how much your best friends mean to you and to thank them for their loyal support – all the inside jokes, shoulders to cry on, life advice and glasses of wine.
So how does one celebrate Galentine’s?
Put some genuine thought and effort into the occasion. Do food, do decor, do activities, and definitely do get dolled up! Your gal pals should feel special and pampered!
You can be as corny or as classy as you want. Go full-out with the traditional red hearts and Cupid’s arrows or create an elegant scene with tasteful decorations… or else throw in a little bit of both. Just be sure to glam it up!
Galentine’s Day Nibbles
What is a party without good eats? Little finger foods or canapés are always a good idea. AND don’t forget the sweets – cake is a must – you are celebrating a special day after all.
Another excellent and interactive idea is to have a DIY food station – i.e. make your own pasta, or pizza, or hamburgers. Furthermore what is a good gal pal bash without cocktails?
Galentine’s Day Activities
While it is so easy to while away hours with our besties doing nothing but gabbing, Galentine’s Day should feature some rememberable activity. For instance, have a home spa day – pamper your girls with homemade facials and mani-pedis. Mimosa, please!
A rom com movie night is also a great idea. A big “Christmas bed” in front of the TV is a must – there is nothing as inviting and slothful as a room full of pillows and blankets! Then pop some popcorn and binge-watch all those soppy romantic movies that you can never get your man to watch with you. And the dress code – definitely your most comfy PJs!
Why not class it up with High Tea? Lay a table with delectable treats, a collection of teas, and beautiful feminine decorations. Oh, and don’t forget a hat!
Want to take your Galentine’s Day fun to the next level? Try a craftsy DIY activity like making your own jewellery or having a cupcake decorating challenge. The ladies at Glitter Guide had a card making session and a macramé making lady date.
Galentine’s Day Goodie Bag
Now gift bags, and don’t worry, it does not have to be in league with the Oscars gift bags – no need to break the bank. Just a collection of small, affordable gifts that will make your friends feel loved and appreciated.
Lip gloss, nail polish and a little bit of hand cream is an excellent goodie bag liner. Create a special playlist and burn it to a CD so your gal pals can have their own Galentine’s Day mix to remember the day by. Add a personalised card – it does not necessarily have to be handmade – as long as the message inside comes from the heart. Then, a nice smelling candle or cute coffee mug, and a little something to nibble on – fudge or a delicious chocolate maybe?