No phone line, because lightning struck. Again! No heating, because the wood burner broke down. Again! A delay in finishing a bathroom because of a construction mistake. Again!
How do I keep going when we’re struggling through a rough patch in the château renovations? Stamina and determination only take you so far, so I look at before and after photos.
When we first got started (three years ago already), the crumbling orangery was engulfed in overgrown weeds and bramble bushes. We found ourselves gazing at the wild ivy; seeing nature reclaiming its rights made us lovingly reflect on our own vulnerability and mortality. It was all hauntingly beautiful and fiercely romantic. Still, with the roof close to collapsing and several window panes broken or missing, wind and rain had free play. Unless we wanted to see this beauty go to ruins we had to act. So we did. We fixed leaks and glazed windows, eased fastenings and closures, cleaned up debris, and brought in skillful roofers and enthusiastic friends. Throughout the years, we resisted the urge to restore gloss to the tarnished walls or give a fresh coat of paint to the rusted iron.
In all its stages of transformation the orangery has been a magnificent centerpiece to the estate. The glass dream space has been the backdrop for lazy breakfasts, the scene of candle-lit dinners, and a place for cementing emotional bonds with friends, old and new. The light is amazing in all seasons, and today, it’s by far my favourite spot for reflective talks, meditation and unplanned daytime naps. It’s the château’s softly beating heart, frayed around the edges, with the play of time reassuringly visible still.