I wonder if any of my readers are familiar with this tv programme on Channel 4? It is a welcome dose of escapism. Can you imagine exchanging a two bedroom home in East London for a dilapidated forty-five room chateau in France’s Pays de la Loire? Sixty odd year old ex-military man Dick did just that with his young red-headed interior decorator love, Angel, twenty years his junior. She has the biggest smile I have ever seen and enthusiasm in tons. They have now turned this crumbling heap costing £280,000 into a smart Wedding and Event Venue and wherever possible, it has been a mammoth DIY job. A great success story as it is now worth more than two million!
You may well ask what has all this to do with my scarf collection. This week, trying to get back to some degree of normal living, I invited three girlfriends to play bridge in my little green oasis of garden. I had two lovely surprises. My Japanese friend Eiko brought me a gift in her late mother’s furoshiki, which pleased me enormously following on from last week’s blog, SEARCHING FOR GENJI. Having unwrapped the box of chocolates, she told me her mother had designed the fabric; the wrapping cloth was then lovingly folded and kept by her for its next task. Maybe this is an idea for my less treasured scarves. Before this, I had been very surprised to receive a gift from another guest Penny which was intended for my birthday last October, then as a Christmas present and finally in celebration of our first meeting in over a year to play a real card game instead of Bridge Base Online.
I had no idea whatsoever what was in the envelope she handed me or indeed within the highly decorated card with only the name THE CHATEAU. You will all have guessed correctly. Yes, indeed, it was a scarf in the same pattern as the front of the card with instructions on how to tie it as a head turban in the way the scarf’s designer Angel wears her own. I have spent a long time trying to accomplish this and have come to the conclusion it needs a much younger face than mine to carry off this fashion. I looked like a very ancient 1968 factory worker from the Made in Dagenham movie. No, my chiffon scarf looks great around my neck and I shall follow Angel’s instructions…..Finish with a red lippy and smile lots. What kind, generous friends I have! Penny and her granddaughter Amber had chosen a real unexpected surprise.
Have I a personal French chateau story for you to end my blog? I received Angel’s scarf on what would have been my late husband’s 90th birthday so my thoughts turned to a shared experience. We had a home in Andorra for many years which meant long drives through France with overnight stops in converted coaching inns, monasteries and the occasional chateau. Such a stop on our way back to England was in Aquitaine north of Bordeaux. This was indeed a grand looking chateau, our room was very elegant and I was anticipating a grand dinner in the beautiful dining room after a drink in the Great Hall. On arrival we had been greeted by the owners who were evidently entertaining friends for drinks. My husband always did his own packing. Imagine my chagrin to find he had no jacket, shirt or tie, only his mountain gear of thick woolly jumpers and anorak. He was adamant he was going into the dining room as he was, and no, we were not driving another kilometre to find a pizza! We found a hidden corner to have our Kir Royale….I had changed into something a bit more glam…..amazing the changes one can ring with a scarf! The owners’ party were having a noisy time. Their tiny dog seemed to have the run of the Great Hall and cocked his leg up one of the marble pillars. They looked on and laughed at the resulting puddle. I didn’t feel so bad about the FairIsle woolly jumper now. We were the first in the dining room, the meal was delicious and later back in the Great Hall, we sat in a less covert spot and laughingly accepted the cognacs sent over from our hosts who were still partying and had not moved seats. Nor had the puddle been cleaned up from the marble floor! (Nevertheless, I supervised my husband’s case on subsequent journeys.)
Turning to the future, I would like to see the wallpapers Angel Adoree, now Strawbridge, has designed and pasted in diamond shapes on one of the walls in their chateau. This is the design of my scarf. Is there anybody in the family thinking of a wedding in a French chateau? I know the very place!
Busy Bee, Scarf Face!
Series 2, Blog 52.