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!