We woke up at 5AM to thunder and lightning. No cause for alarm and we settled in bed for a long, lazy morning. What’s not to like about cozying up under the sheets during a storm?
Later in the day, two architects braved the weather to meet us and inspect the property. Thomas showed them around the château and I was perfectly happy just pottering around the lodge. Until I noticed that my flip flopped feet were wet. A bit later, water was squishing around my ankles. Water was streaming down from the garage and ‘buanderie’ into the kitchen onto the living room like a wild river. My first reaction was to just close the kitchen door. Silly girl. My second, to run across the muddy field to the château Jane Austen-style, shouting for Thomas. As the architects drove themselves off to drier surroundings, we cleaned out gutters and Thomas built a dyke (must be his Dutch genes) with cushions and towels to canalize the stream.
Next, we were off to the château’s attic. We already knew the roof needed repairs, but now we could really see that it was leaking and how badly. Whilst I was contemplating whether this was reason enough for a good cry, Thomas was oddly enthusiastic. “This is exactly what we need to demarcate the actual spots where the roof leaks”, he cheered, ‘’much better than just old water stains.” So demarcating we did for the next couple of hours. I must admit I found that a bit eerie, an abandoned castle attic in a storm.
After a makeshift lunch and hot drinks, Thomas thought we’d better also check on the chateau’s ancient cellar. We dream of having a sauna and spa down there one day, we just never figured that the swimming pool would establish itself. Part of the basement was flooded, knee-deep with dirty water. We waded through to discover that water was pouring in through an old pipe. Another canal had to be built! I’ve seen him do this before and it’s amazing to watch: Thomas morphed into a one-man A-Team. Using nothing more than his Leatherman tool, some plastic foil, tape and discarded bamboo garden lights, he directed the water to the drain of the castle’s old kitchen. Problem solved.
November 2014 - In the days after, we learned that a red alert had gone out for the Aveyron region. We were actually very lucky. Just one tree went down on our property and there's some landslide damage to a garden wall.Towns and villages across the region suffered great damage in the storm. Peaceful rivers turned into raging torrents. Thick mud and fallen trees covered roads. Cars were lying upside down while firemen spent days pumping water out of houses. It's sad to realise we are destined to see more and more examples of extreme weather in the years to come.