New Year, New Me: Life at the Château de Bourneau

New Year, New Me: Life at the Château de Bourneau

Château life can be hectic so this year Erin Choa’s New Year’s resolution is to embrace slow-living

As the old year draws to a close and we welcome in the new, it’s a traditional time to reflect and draw up New Year’s resolutions. Every year I consider the usual options, often on a cold and rainy New Year’s morning, suffering (quite rightly so) from New Year’s Eve overindulgence and shielding myself from the judgement meted out by the château ancestors who peer down from their portraits.

My resolution list is predictable in its lack of creativity: less wine and less cake, do more exercise, be on top of the garden weeding, be more organised, bring back the morning healthy smoothie that no one likes… and each year, I attempt the same path to yoga-bunny enlightenment which lasts for precisely one week before the January blues persuade me that une galette de roi is definitel y a reasonable alternative to a green tea kale shake.

Perhaps the trouble with resolutions is they always feel like a penitence for our human shortcomings, which then make us feel even more inadequate when we inevitably break them and so it made me wonder: why can’t resolutions be something nice, like a January treat in the dark winter days to welcome in the new year, such as rekindling past enjoyments that have been lost to our busy lives instead of making a list of punishments, which we won’t stick out?

The most important lesson I’ve learned from living in rural France is the currency of time and the preciousness of the slow-living culture. Our château-life is extremely busy, juggling wedding and holiday clients and piles of admin with estate maintenance and château restoration (sadly without the previous army of 19th-century servants) so sometimes it feels as if we don’t ever come up for air. Yet winter in France should be a glorious balm, the quietude we crave and the balance to the busy summer, not simply another period to rush through before the main season starts up again.

In a world of quick-fire emails, social media and the possibility of 24-hour constant contact, it is easy to forget that ‘time off ’ with family or doing something you love, is not a guilty procrastination from work. It’s an important and worthy aspect of life that the fast-paced modern world easily tries to efface.

So, this year, my resolutions won’t be ‘give up this’ and ‘don’t eat that’, they will be lovely things to rekindle the art of slow-living enjoyment, which is the natural balance to working hard, even when we love what we do.

I will speak more French, see more family and friends, take time to write more, play the piano, read the books I’ve been looking forward to opening and pick up my paintbrush again and not just to re-do a château bedroom!

And I’ll let you into a secret – taking time off isn’t just lost time to work. Rest and recreation often makes us more efficient and recharges creativity so we’re refreshed and ready to tackle the next job better than before.

If you needed that nudge to restart something positive, make it your resolution this year instead. The unattainable dawn exercise programme with the zero-carb diet can wait!

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London-born hospital doctor Erin Choa is the 6th châtelaine of Château de Bourneau, where she lives with her French fiancé Jean-Baptiste and bossy cat HRH Oscar. Read her regular column in French Property News magazine and follow her as she blogs about their château-life on Instagram @theintrepidchatelaine

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