ESCAPING to a romantic French chateau to get married is the stuff dreams are made of.
But maybe not when the so-called castle is dilapidated with no running water, electricity or heating.
Still, this is what Dick Strawbridge, 61, and wife Angel, 42, did five years ago — and with the added pressure of a film crew in tow as their restoration project was filmed for Channel 4’s Escape To The Chateau.
Back on Sundays at 9pm and now in its seventh series, it has shown enigmatic Dick and Angel get married, and transform the £280,000 ramshackle retreat into a luxury wedding venue estimated to be worth £2.5million.
But even more interestingly, this is their family home where they have raised children Arthur, seven, and Dorothy, six — who, Angel reveals, were conceived after she gave Dick a strict deadline.
Here, Angel talks to Fabulous Daily about starting her family, the pressures of renovating a chateau and gives her top tips on doing-up a property.
Angel admits that a year and four months into their relationship she gave Dick, a former lieutenant-colonel in the British Army, a calendar with the words ‘impregnate me by this date’ on.
“It was a little hint,” says Angel,
However, it does not look like any more children are on the cards for the busy couple.
Angel says: “Definitely not. We’ve got one of each. They’re perfect and also, it’s not possible any more — we got that sorted!”
Despite their 19-year age gap, Angel and Dick felt an instant spark when they met through a mutual friend in 2010.
Dick was separated from his first wife, who he has two children with, and retired from the Army.
He had appeared on several television shows, including Coast and Scrapheap Challenge.
Angel was running hospitality business The Vintage Patisserie, for which she sought funding on Dragons’ Den.
'AGE IS A NUMBER'
The couple tied the knot in the renovated 19th Century castle five years ago.
Angel says: “It [the age gap] just didn’t matter. I didn’t think about it really. Dick thought about it at one point, but we got over it five minutes later.
“Age is but a number, and Dick’s always had a really wonderful energy and he’s a doer.
“It was definitely love at first sight. The night we met properly, we consider to be our anniversary.
Argue every day and drink gin at night with a smile
“You know when you’re in love with someone because you just don’t want to leave them at the end of the night.
“He is just so passionate about life. Everything Dick has done in his life, he’s got the most out of it. I just love that about him.”
When the couple bought Chateau de La Motte Husson in Pays de la Loire in 2015 there wasn’t even any sewerage, and the restoration has put pressure on their relationship.
Angel says: “We argue all the time, every day. But you’ve got to be passionate and we are both madly in love so there’s no point getting hung up on silly little details.
"If you asked me what we argued about yesterday, I’d have no idea. Argue every day and drink gin at night with a smile.”
The passion has been kept alive by Dick, an old romantic.
Angel says: “The first gift he ever got me was this feather fascinator which was amazing.
“Then he got me this little package of goodies including this old-fashioned little peg set for hanging up your stockings when you go away.
"It’s the cutest little thing because when I met him I used to wear stockings all the time. Times have definitely changed.”
Lockdown in France has had its challenges for the pair, but Angel says that in many ways, they feel lucky — especially that her parents Jenny and Steve lived with them when Covid-19 hit.
Angel says: “My mum has always been the ‘cafe grandma’, but because we’ve been so hectic she has taken it to a whole new level and cooked for us every day.
“Eventually, if you’re a close family, your parents do become your responsibility and I want to be able to pop over every day to make sure they are OK.
“Mum has the walled garden so she can go and pick vegetables.
“She feels very lucky because she falls into the high-risk category, which means if she was at home in England she would not be able to go out.
“We’re very blessed to have all the space that we do, but our events business just stopped overnight and left us with a lot of anxious brides that we have had to soothe and reassure, even though we still don’t know when things will be back to normal.
“Everyone thinks as soon as you’re on telly, you’re a millionaire. But our wedding business has been our main source of revenue.”
We are going to die here, because it’s our forever home. We’re never selling it
Angel found having months off unexpectedly meant lots of precious time with their children.
She says: “Arthur is a proper gourmand. He loves being in the garden and he loves cooking.
“We call him Bamm Bamm because he is so big and strong, yet you watch him pick a bit of mint and make mint tea or crack an egg, and he is so delicate and soft. He’ll definitely be a chef.”
In fact, both children have picked up their parents’ hosting bug.
Angel says: “From two years old, Dorothy knew how to use the coffee machine.
“And Arthur has already decided on having ‘The Orangery’ as his restaurant when he’s older, with me and Dorothy working as his waitresses.”
While Angel still thinks of Britain as her home in many ways, she says she will never move from the chateau.
She says: “It will never be properly finished but we have lots of working toilets now.
“Now we are saving for the next big jobs, like the chateau roof and the [seven] outbuildings.
“But we are going to die here, because it’s our forever home. We’re never selling it.
“You don’t put this much love and investment into something if you’re planning on not living here, or selling it.”
- Angel’s personalised children’s book Adventures At The Chateau (£24) plus homeware and gifts are available to order from thechateau.tv. The new series of Escape To The Chateau: 9pm. Sundays on Channel 4.
Angel’s renovation tips
Embrace the imperfect: I love the Japanese art of Kintsugi – mending old property by filling the cracks with powdered gold. I’ve always loved things that are a bit old.
Experiment: Don’t be scared to try new tools and strip things back to see their original beauty. Some of our best outcomes have come about by accident.
Start small: Even one simple room can feel overwhelming if you don’t know where to start, so always make a plan and start with something small.
Buy in Britain: If renovating a property abroad, bear in mind that DIY tools and paint can be so much more expensive abroad.
Prioritise the basics: Sort out the less exciting stuff first, such as electrics and plumbing, before planning your veg patch and buying chickens.
Set lots of little deadlines: It will keep your morale up and keep you focused at the same time because renovation can be a long game.
Interview yourself: Ask yourself questions like, how many bathrooms do we need? Where are they going to be? So you really future-proof your project.
GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]
Source: Read Full Article