20 Million Dollar Gift
Waking up in a chateau is an unforgettable experience, I'm one of the happy few who have experienced the majesty of this "20 million dollar gift". I woke up just after sunrise; the sun billowed in through the window with the musky smell of my surroundings mixed with the fresh crisp air of the morning. It was hard getting out of bed. I felt as if I were in a sleeping bag while camping and I just woke up. The cold was behind my eyes and my nose a little runny with the fresh dew of the morning. Sitting up in bed I pulled the duvet around me. I looked outside, it was beautiful. I followed the light spilling into my room and onto the floor.
There were hundreds of them, everywhere! I have never seen so many in one place at one time. Chuckling to myself I thought, ‘I must be veerryy lucky, I wonder how many wishes I get for this’, while they were converging on the ground crawling up the walls and drapes. Hopping quickly out of bed I made for the shower and turned the hot water to max. There were lady bugs everywhere on the shower floor. I saved as many as I could, but there was no point. The view out of the shower window was beautiful (this was in one of the towers if you remember), though I didn’t enjoy a long shower as the water quickly reached my ankles with ladybugs practicing laps.
I met with Arlene and we headed down to meet Susan, Rod & Charlize-Joelle for breakfast in the main-floor dinning hall. The hall was beautiful with a dark wood table and other antiquities. I always love looking at the ceilings of old structures, how the wood meets the crosses for support. I sat down next to Charlize-Joelle who was still in her animal suit pajamas with an extra jacket on. Thierry was stoking the fire as this seemed to be the only source of warmth in the place. Charlize-Joelle, Arlene, and I took turns between standing in front of the fire to warm our buns then sitting back down to eat the warm mini viennoiseries. Charlize-Joelle’s favorite is by far the chocolate croissant; I think she ate a good 7-8 a day! LOL!
Douglas the wedding officiant, or celebrant as he calls himself, was present and cheerfully helping out with breakfast here and there. Douglas is a very friendly man, full of life and excitement. His face is well weathered with age and his eyes always look inquisitive. If I remember correctly he mentioned that he is a Duke of some sort in England, very old-school like Susy. He told us that he often comes out to officiate some weddings at the chateau, but his favorite place to be is out in the gardens. Ask him the name of a plant and he’ll tell you.
Susy Stayne came in half way through breakfast with her giant fur parka and furry ankle boots, the kind of thing you’d expect to see in Nunavut. She greeted us all cheerfully and with charm as she played with her long blond hair.
“Sorry I didn’t come earlier, I just got off the phone with my Willy” she said as her face lit up. We all asked about this infamous Willy because she seemed to act like a school girl when talking about him.
Susy told us the tale of Willy, her husband, or toy-boy as she likes to call him. His full name, which I found out much later, is William Scott-Dohan and is about 20 years younger than Susy. He was currently away on business overseas she told us. Susan Rafter asked if he would be arriving in time for hers and Rod’s vow renewal.
“It would be wonderful if he could be here” Susan mentioned while politely taking a slice of cheese.
“I don’t think he’ll be able to make it dear, he’s doing business all over the world; he really wishes he could; he so wanted to meet you! I told him that we have such a good connection you and I. I told Willy how special you are and all about your story, I asked him if he could make it and please do because it would be so wonderful to have him here.” She continued to flower things for a while longer. Looking back I understand why she ‘flowered’ this up, I wouldn’t want to admit it either; but that’s jumping ahead and will be in a later blog post from when I was working at the chateau in July of 2016.
If you want to jump ahead (or back since I started writing that first) to when I started working at the chateau follow this link: http://www.photoart.ca/chateau-diaries/day-0-travel
Buying A Chateau
The conversation switched to history about the chateau as well as how the chateau was first acquired. Rod being in an educational profession has a keen curiosity and asks some interesting questions.
According to Susy, she bought the chateau for her ‘Willy’, (she always said it in an endearing and innocent accent). She told us the story how he had seen the chateau and wanted it. They arrived to look at it and it was quite dilapidated at the time, the owners were quite old and French incapable of looking after it. They lived only on the main floor she said, and that there was junk everywhere.
“I told my Willy; ‘no!’ it’s just not in good condition and costs too much money.” She told us that William had remembered this chateau, almost as if from a past life; as if he grew up there. After seeing the chateau, he went away on a business trip. She never did go into detail about what he really does for business. While he was gone she returned to the owners of the chateau and bought a little gift for her Willy.
I thought to myself "Damn, I’m 27 now, are there any 47 year old women out there reading this who would like to buy me a 20 million dollar gift? I would be most appreciative!" (Of course, much later and out of curiosity I took a look at the cost of a number of chateaux from the same period, they're about 4-5 million tops; still sounded extravagant though).
Just a few moments later Janice stepped inside the dining room to see if we were ready to go…