Dick and Angel Strawbridge on their new book Living the Château Dream

Virgin Radio

28 Oct 2021, 10:46

Credit: Two Rivers Media/Chateau Television

Credit: Two Rivers Media/Chateau Television

The duo joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about their new book which, following their Sunday Times bestseller, A Year at the Château, is about the subsequent years of hard graft.

In 2015, Dick and Angel bought a derelict Château in the Loire Valley in France, and became the subject of the hugely popular Channel 4 show Escape To The Château. Their latest book, Living the Château Dream is out today in hardback, ebook and audiobook. When talking about putting the book together, Angel told Gaby Roslin and Ricky Wilson, who are in for Chris: “We loved it. It’s sort of like a bit of a rest, to get to sit down… and, honestly, it’s just been such a joy, because you get to relive everything.”

In the book, Dick and Angel recount the renovations that have taken place, and the true extent of the work that has made the incredible house into a much-loved home.  Dick said: “You get to remember things that we didn’t actually have time to stop and think about. And, you know, when we did our first year, it was run, run, run, and then afterwards, Living The Château Dream is about building. It’s about starting from, having had our wedding, being a bit broke. Full stop, broke. And then trying to start our business over the next years, and I think it’s really important to stop once in a while, and think what you’ve done. We wrote down a list of various things we’d done over the course of those years, and we were exhausted reading it!” 

As well as recalling busy years of hard work on the Château, the new book also offers a look into the family life of the Strawbridges. They take a trip to Northern Ireland, where Dick was raised, where their two children Arthur, aged eight, and seven year old Dorothy, make pancakes with granny. The recipe is included in the book. Dick told Gaby and Ricky: “My mum has made those pancakes forever, and it’s sort of part of the family growing up, and the ritual. [To] have granny standing at the stove making the pancakes is special. All the grandchildren, everybody’s had that, and you have to share it because, you can picture it, and almost salivate a little bit, but when you make it, and you actually take that recipe and make it, you actually have the privilege of a little Northern Irish pancake for your breakfast.”

When talking with Gaby and Ricky about the work they have done on the Château, Angel said: “We’ve got a bit of a strapline, ‘Giving it a go’. But when you break any task down, it doesn't become daunting."

Dick continued: “It’s fair to say there are artisans and skilled people who are so much better at every aspect of it than us. That doesn’t stop you. The thing is, when it comes to starting a job, and having a go at it, you know the pride. Oh right, it was a bit wonky. If you’ve done it, it’s yours.”

Angel then added: “Arthur’s got a bit of a saying now: to celebrate imperfections. Because what we’re trying to teach them is, if you give it a go and it’s not perfect, it doesn’t matter, because as Dick said, you’ve just got this glowing satisfaction that you wouldn’t have if you’d got it done elsewhere.”

With weddings and large-scale events on hold for a second year, the new season of the television series will follow the duo as they tackle the castle's grand exterior. Their biggest project to date, they will restore the roof, outside walls and build a stargazing space in the attic. When Ricky asked if you ever really finish a Château, Dick said: “We are going to have done everything once, at some stage. And doing everything once is a really good starting point. I tried to make the rule that Angel wasn’t allowed to do anything for a second time until everything was done once.”

Angel interjected: “I was a bit naughty, and when Dick would go away, because he was very strict about this rule, so when he would go away to work or do a talk or something, I’d repaint a room!” 

When discussing whether living a Château dream is something that anybody could do. Dick said: “Buying a Chateau is a very silly thing to do. I would not sort of recommend it to everybody, but if you are living in South East England, if you’ve actually got any equity, if you look at the properties and things that we were looking at, most people have the ability to do some part of what we’ve done. If you live inside the M25 and you’ve got your own place, you could probably buy a chateau. Ours was cheaper than a bedsit!” 

Living The Chateau Dream is out today! 

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.