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Escape to the Chateau’s Dick Strawbridge discusses the future
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Dick Strawbridge and Angel Adoree bought Chateau de La Motte Husson back in 2005 for £380,000 after tax. With their dream to turn it into their family home and future business, the couple had to be savvy about their spending. But, in a previous interview with Graham Norton on his Virgin Radio show, the Escape to the Chateau stars revealed the castle actually went up for auction a year before they purchased it – and for a much cheaper price than they paid.
The husband and wife were talking about their latest venture and Graham commented: “In the book, you talk about this being a love story and yes, it’s a love story between the two of you but it’s also their weird relationship people have with old houses, you just… for good or for bad, you’re in love with that Chateau.”
Angel replied: “That was part of the love story, isn’t it? We literally fell in love with The Chateau,” and Dick added: “We saw lots by the way, it wasn’t just love at first sight with the first thing we saw. Angela must of seen thousands of them on the internet.”
“Tens of thousands of them on the internet, hundreds in real life, and this one was so perfectly formed, it was perfect,” Angel said.
“And actually, the Baglioni’s that sold it to us, we believe they were also trying to choose the right owner as it had only ever been in the family of the Baglioni’s and Jack’s grandmother Dorothy who had originally built The Chateau and when he found out we had a little girl called Dorothy, he’s quite an alpha-butch guy and he literally skipped over to us to tell us.
“And it was a moment where we just felt we were meant to have The Chateau – cheesy but we are.”
Graham asked: “What’s it like in France? Here we have Grade I listed, Grade II listed, wherein that protected world is your Chateau.”
“People can make a decision and some historic buildings and you can make a decision to go down that route and in which case you can get tax relief from it but then you have people who take control of what you’re doing,” Dick explained.
“The vast majority of old buildings in France have no protection and nobody worries about them, we saw so many chateau’s which were falling apart because they were left to die and nobody really cared.
“It’s interesting, The Chateau we moved into went up for auction, locally here in France 18 months before we found it and nobody put an offer in for it, and the hammer came down and said ‘nobody would give £100,000 to buy The Chateau the land and everything!’”
“No one was mad enough!” The radio presenter remarked and Angel added: “Well exactly, thanks for clearing that up.”
“We’re British! We have a slightly different attitude,” Dick argued and his wife continued: “We couldn’t believe our luck when we found it even for that little bit more money.
“We don’t have any restrictions on this particular Chateau and if there was, we may not have bought it.”
Graham continued: “It’s hard enough and also, because you love it, you’re going to treat the building with respect. You’re going to do what needs to be done but you’re not doing to suddenly put in PVC windows.”
“I don’t know if you know, but the actual owners put in some PVC windows in the front of it – and their the only windows that work!” Dick laughed. “The rest are all drafty and falling apart. I’m sure when we moved in, the first thing she [Angel] wanted to do was take them out!
“We had holes in the roof, no electricity, no water and Angel said ‘lets get rid of those ugly windows?’ And I said ‘No! They have to stay!’”
“We didn’t actually have the money at the time for the sewage system in place but I was desperate to get rid of those ugly windows,” Angel revealed.
Dick continued: “They’re still there, because we haven’t attacked all the windows because that’s a big job, but literally we would like to go back to the lovely oak windows this place deserves.”
“Again, a lot of windows!” Graham remarked and Dick said there were “over 60”.
The radio host then moved onto Escape to the Chateau and how it inspires others: “The television show, you were having our adventure for us, we we’re sitting on the couch thinking ‘must change the bulb on the landing’, you we’re doing up a Chateau. What are the key bits of advice you would give to anyone considering this madness.”
“Do it!” Dick exclaimed. “The thing is, we can hear excuses and we understand people say ‘It’s alright for them’ because I’m an engineer and Angela does designing and we do thing together.
“But actually doing it is the key thing because where there’s a will there’s a way.
“One of the key things about us, we plan, we’re not bumbling around here hoping the planets will align! We make a plan, we execute it we do these things – but anybody can do it!
“If you don’t know how to do it, you know how to find people to help you do it. This is the 21st century, you only get one crack at this life and it’s so, so important,” he said.
Graham asked: “What amazes me and what I find so inspiring about you two, I find, yes I agree with you Dick, it’s all doable, but it’s just the thing of waking up in the morning and the weight of the task ahead. How did you cope with that or is that just the sort of people you are?”
Angel answered: “You have to take a big job and break it down and do each little bit and achieve that and move on. And you’ve got plan to eat the whole elephant but you can’t eat it all in one go, and I think that’s the key.”
Dick added: “And one of the really, really important things is, we still smile when we turn into our driveway and look out of our window – we are living in a beautiful place and we look out the window and I can see the walled garden with all the things growing in it and I can see trees and birds, we’ve made the decision and I think that’s the huge thing, we enjoy what we’ve got.
“And yes, there’s a thousand jobs I could be doing while I’m sitting here, but we have to enjoy every minute.”
“And behind every fairytale, there is a lot of work,” Angel commented.
“When we’re doing the weddings, we’re doing 20 hour days and it would be three days in a row and everyday we work when they are short days – 12 hour days, it is a lot of work and you have to be prepared to invest your life into it. It’s a lifestyle choice as well.”
Escape to the Chateau can be watched on 4oD, or Dick and Angel’s spin-off, Make Do and Mend is on tonight at 9pm on Channel 4.
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