Like us, you may have fallen head over heels in love with Dick Strawbridge and Angel Adoree and their breathtaking chateau on Channel 4's Escape to the Chateau.
The series followed the husband and wife as they relocated with their two young children from their two-bedroom flat in Essex to their majestic 45-bedroom French castle in France's Pays de la Loire – which they painstakingly restored to its former 19th-century glory.
The pair are now back on our TV screens with a brand new spin-off show, Escape to the Chateau: DIY, in which they help new couples looking to buy their own chateau and rebuild it from scratch.
Dick, and Angel – who hold weddings and other festivities at their beautiful Chateau-de-la-Motte Husson – gave Miescisko some advice and tips for those considering a similar life change, and reveal the essential rules to maintaining a chateau.
Planning is key
The couple spent about four years part-time planning before their eventual move, which often included 24 hour sessions of driving to the Channel Tunnel and seeing three or four chateaus and then driving back.
'The first thing we would recommend is to plan – there's obviously this romantic side to such a project but you have look at the bills that are going come with it,' Dick said.
'I don't think they covered in detail how much planning we did because if you don’t think about it properly, something will turn around and bite you in the bum.
'We knew about all the rooms, we knew about termites, we knew about heating....'
Angel added: 'You have to know what you want – I know that sounds silly but you have to have that vision in your mind so that when you're looking, you're a bit more focused.'
Welcome volunteers to help
Angel informed us about , an international hospitality service that allows members to one another to organise homestays and cultural exchange.
'The volunteers do around four hours of work a day, and we accommodate and feed them,' Angel explained.
'And we have people that we use all the time, like Steve our builder and plasterer – we're generating the rest by keeping Steve in business, and we are doing more work and we're creating work,' Dick added.
'People like to volunteer to work in gardens, and people can come along for a work day here. A lot of stately homes do this as well,' he continued. 'It allows people to come along and spend the day looking around the place. And it's a way for people to see what we're doing.'
The pair offer spring, summer and autumn working days available to book on .
'There's lots of people with big hearts and who know the work that goes into this and it's been lovely,' Angel added.
Know what you want to do with the chateau
Renovating a building of that magnitude is obviously expensive and time consuming, and unless you have a bottomless pit of money, Dick and Angel advise having a business venture (or two) planned for your chateau.
'There were sisters on our new series who were given a chateau from their family, and I just don't think you get the same pleasure as other people can get who've invested in it,' Dick recalled.
'Another couple were so busy with a B&B but they weren't making enough money – so you have to think of ideas to generate funds.
'Before we came to France we had an interest in hospitality [Angel is the founder of hospitality company ], so you have to decide what you want to be, and what to do with a chateau – otherwise it can be a nightmare,' he warned.
'We knew that we had to have a wedding in our wedding season, which is purely for heating bills for the winter, so that we can put the heating on.'
Understand that the French have a different pulse
'You have to be realistic with timelines and realise that the French have a very different pulse, and you cannot go into it thinking you are doing a flip of a property in London,' Dick explained.
'Shops aren't open on a Sunday, you can't go to a DIY shop in your lunch break during the week. People don't actually have the same urgency or the timescale.'
DIY shops in France are much more expensive than UK ones
Another handy pointer is that DIY equipment is much cheaper to buy in the UK.
'DIY shops here are four or five times the cost of what you pay in the UK,' Angel said. 'It can benefit you going back to the UK, and also – it's a bit like , and they deliver quicker from the UK than you can get anything in France!'
And anyone can do DIY. Really
Plastering maybe be specialist, but anyone can knock down a wall, and probably enjoy it too...
'This is why Steve is in our life, because I will never do plastering – it's an art form, but when it comes down to knocking down a wall, I don’t know anyone who can't do that...'
Angel admitted: 'I would never have done it ordinarily – but Dick encouraged me. If you’ve got a supportive partner you can do anything. I mean, Dick’s been designing tiles!'
Immerse yourself in the community
'We've really made an effort in the community, especially because we have children and we've been planning children's parties and I think we're being very loving and giving in the community,' Angel enthused.
'And also we became friends with our local mayor, who married us at the chateau, and that is part of your success in your village because your local mayor has so much power!'
Angel also commented that she probably sees her friends more since her move to France than she did when they were neighbours in south London.
'My friends said to me, "I know you're not on my doorstep anymore but I think I see you more than my friends in south London".
'And it is true – we're not that far away and the location for us, this part of France is perfect – its infrastructure to get back to the UK is incredible. And that's why we chose it.'
And no, there's no such thing as too much space
'I need an extension!' Angel laughed. 'We have two or three rooms that are full of children's toys, books, old clothes, stuff like that, which we would have crammed in our attic – we need a couple more rooms!'
'We need an apartment for our chateau!' Dick joked.
Escape to the Chateau: DIY continues on Mondays at 4pm on Channel 4.