As the first signs of spring appear, Erin Choa begins the task of awakening Château de Bourneau from its slumber…
The arrival of the primroses heralds the start of the busy spring activities at Château de Bourneau, when we begin the gargantuan task of bringing the château, and its estate, out of its winter hibernation. The lawns need mowing, the four swimming pools need cleaning, filtering and scrubbing. The endless cycle of weeding, pruning and planting begins, and we prepare to start the big annual jobs; bringing the 240m2 wedding marquee out from storage to air it, cleaning and pitching it ready for the summer wedding and events season.
We power wash metres of carpet matting and lay them, nailing them into the groundsheet before we unravel and heave the sails of canvas across its two masts. It takes us six hours to pitch the marquee and we leave it up for the whole season, ready to set a twinkle with fairylights and the flicker of candles on crystal, and fill with flowers, music and sparkling laughter. We clean 150 chairs, bar furniture and tables, and set up the wiring and infrastructure that enables us to open our doors for such special occasions.
We also tackle the ‘good weather jobs’ that take us onto roofs of our holiday cottages, clearing the gutters of leaves, replacing slipped tiles and painting windows and shutters. The Château Spring Clean begins too, removing hundreds of years of collected dust that softly falls from time to slip across forgotten places. We throw open the windows and air some 55 rooms and scrub staircases, windowsills and even walls to rid them of their winter mildew and dust.
The task list is endless and circular, with the inevitable cycle of restore, repair and maintain, and some days it feels as if we’ll never be ready in time for the arrival of our first guests. Somehow we manage it, energised by the shout of birdsong and pouring sunshine that turns our days from pewter grey to golden and filled with the vibrancy of the changing season.
Along with the arduous tasks, the returning swallows, arcing across the deep blue skies, and the bright, happy yellow of primroses and daffodils, bring us such cheer as we can finally embrace the outdoors. Bluebells perfume our woods, their sweet heady scent on the breeze proclaiming the green and burgeoning life.
It may be a very busy time for us, as a team of two, and on some days we are breathless with an aching exhaustion, but the beauty of the awakening world in the heart of the glorious French countryside is a just reward for all the hard work. We look forward to this time of activity each year, ready to cast of our winter weariness and throw ourselves headlong into the momentum of one of the most beautiful times of the year in France.
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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