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  • Misa Lavkova Derhy

January 2020 - A Year at the Château

On January 15 2020 we took possession of the keys to our future home, and with suitcases (and Luna) packed in the car, we left the notary and headed in the direction of Guichainville..

Our initial idea of ​​spending 3-4 days a week at the Château, with the rest in Paris turned out to be impractical — after just two weeks we realised that our life was going to be that of a castellan! The first few days were epic, reminding me of my past as an expat woman: everything was new and everything was a challenge: finding my way around the castle and the forest, exploring the cupboards, nooks and crannies (but where are the light switches? how does this oven work ??)

The 10,000 daily steps in the building alone contributed to physical fatigue, knowing that the mental load was already very important: taking ownership of the space, understanding the function of several buildings, many rooms, checking the internet, heating, gas for the kitchen, an unimaginable number of keys, establishing relationships with multiple service providers (plumber, electrician, insurer, roofer, builder, gardener, etc.)

We explored the nearby city of Evreux where we could stock up on food, and also construction materials, where we found the recycling centre, post office, vets, garden center and so on. In short, a completely new life in almost a new country! At least I speak the language! The first weekend (three days after our arrival) we welcomed our first guests, Carmen (our own royal caterer), Guillaume and Gabriel, and Lynne with Andy with their two chihuahuas (Luna was very surprised!!!). We discovered together how a truly royal kitchen works, including a double rotisserie grill!

The “Poultry Festival” on the menu almost didn't see the light of day, or rather the evening… do you remember my description of gas cooking and how everything has to be taken care of? Well there it was, an opportunity to realize that without a gas cylinder, there is no dinner! I'm not going to describe my shock to you that as a good hostess, all stressed out from our first weekend welcoming guests, I had no dinner to put on the table because I couldn't roast anything! Normally I'm the queen of improvisation but at that time my level of creativity and patience was close to zero and my perfectionist side (on certain things only!) was ramped up — luckily Alain discovered a spare cylinder in the cellar and finally we were able to test out the famous grill, which was very impressive indeed.

The following weekend we welcomed a second group of dear friends, Chris and Etienne, Frédérique, Sev and Geraldine. The opening of the bar was so enjoyable that dinner at the Château risked being cancelled in favour of pool ...

Writing this blog and flipping through all these photos, I felt nostalgic for this time of innocence: no-one assumed that, for a long while ahead, it would be the last time we would see each other so carefree and up close! At the end of January, I travelled to the Czech Republic where my parents lived: my mother was hospitalised for a small lump on her neck. The first operation went well and I, along with my children who also came, visited daily.

My dad had been battling cancer for years, and his oncologist warned me that this could be his last year with us.

A mixture of fear and happiness, sorrow and joy had only just begun in January 2020 ...

To be continued...

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