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Castle Workaway Diaries - Arrival

. 6 min read . Written by Kuba Vitek
Castle Workaway Diaries - Arrival

“Relinquish your attachment to the known, step into the unknown, and you will step into the field of all possibilities.” - Deepak Chopra

..and we  did it! Took us a few months of trying to cut ties with comfort and ego-based fears of discomfort, but finally put ourselves back on the road in search of freedom we didn't find in the money making, mortgage grinding, career chasing hamster wheel of capitalism, no matter how many spiritual awakening workshops we paid for.

This château in Villeneuve-De-Marsan, South of France and the British family who bought it just a few months back already feel more like home and family than anything else we went through this last year since leaving London. This castle is where we live and work for now and it's okay to not know what comes next. These people are already inspiring and lifting us up just a few moments in. Couldn't wish for a better first workaway experience!

Monday 01/02

When Ross came to pick us up in Villeneuve, I felt all of a sudden very self-conscious about the size of our luggages. He had to do two round trips to the castle and back as we wouldn’t fit in his car with all of our possessions. But hey - this is all we’ve got. Yes, there are some boxes in our friends' cellars and no, Nadege, I will not forget you’re taking care of our movie projector whilst we attempt stepping out of the consumerism machinery. Same goes to you Carol with our slow cooker! But ultimately we wanted to make sure all that we might need for the minimum comfort on the road - as road is our home now - is coming with us. For me, the world’s most vocal but also most hopeless Minimalist, this of course means my electric essential oil diffuser and my facial led mask are travelling with me.

The lady of the mansion Emma is a Leo, like me. She climbed Mount Everest and on her wedding attempted to hook her sister up with a prince of Kuwait. Unsuccessfully. Ross, her husband, is also a Leo. He’s a former James Dean of Wales, except imagine horses instead of the chevrolet and a rigorous 4am routine laced with mud, rain, some more mud and grave bodily injuries, instead of cigarettes and booze. He’s got his neck broken - several times, shattered wrists - multiple times, liquified pelvis, obliterated ribs, the works. The last set of injuries happened during a photoshoot, when one of the horses decided to stand on his hind legs and body slam poor Ross, who - regardless of the extensive injuries, still called the ambulance himself. He’s been told to forget about the horses, his whole world, forget about ever holding a pen in his hand again. In the proud burly Welshmen tradition, he totally flipped all the doom and gloom expectations and got himself (with a loving support of his family) back into a working order.

Arthur (guess what - yes, a Leo) is a Victorian gentleman locked in a body of a 7 years old boy (I promised you, you haven’t met a child genius like this, unless you’ve watched Young Sheldon), and Scarlett is a Taurus (already asserting her stubborn ways, but hey - if you're surrounded by Leos, you'll need that unapologetic taurean vigour to survive) 3yo princess ballerina of the Unicorn Kingdom, who LOVES sausages above all, but all things sparkly are close contenders.

There’s another Workawayer here - Vitali from Latvia, who looks like Putin but is actually a human being, not a bile&vodka powered demon. He’s very quiet and introverted, so travelling in between different workaway places for the last six years, doing his job in solitude, just him and his thoughts, works amazingly for him. Vitali usually starts drinking early in the morning, so by the dinner time he actually gets more talkative and legit funny!

If you’d overhear all of us talking this first day at dinner, you’d think we’ve been friends forever. All of this feels suspiciously like by design. Emma is a yoga instructor and a reiki master - same as David. Her love of astrology, witchiness and tarot is clearly designed for me, as well as the fact that out of all the European countries, there’s just one that Ross is bi-weekly travelling to for work - Czech Republic of course, so I’ll be able to help him with a few naughty phrases in my mother tongue.

It's 1st of February 2021. The new life is starting. And on so many levels. We're all sharing a Clicquot Champagne tonight to celebrate David finshing to pay off his student loan today. A damocles sword hanging above his head for so many years, constantly clipping his wings for any major expansion.

Now he's free to fly and the flight started with a feeling of acceptance, support and embrace which already feels much more like home and family than what we've been exposed to in the last eight months in his home town and with his family.

Tuesday 02/02

No hauntings so far (spoiler alert: just you wait). Soul crushing for me, a relief to the rest of our new family. Emma and Ross went through a lot of grief figuring this life-overhaul-move to another country. They’ve seen many chateau properties in France and all of that proved to be a bit too much financially - as for every ‘house viewing’ you need to get the whole family of four over from UK to France, hotels and meals and all of that jazz adding up to some terrifyingly expensive disappointments. They came really close with one beautiful castle close to Toulouse, surrounded by the dense forests but also densely haunted by something dark, to the point that even Ross, who’s a supremely level-headed guy, would see people walking through the rooms during their walkthrough, which were simply not there…

Synchronicities. To me, they’re a sign that some sort of magick is at work. Emma & Ross, like me and David, went through a major (seemingly)against-the-reason life re-design, like the two of us - pushed to do so in the final stages by an eerily similar family trauma. They became the misfits, who were branded as such by the people closest to them, literally bullied onto their chosen path in life by people who were meant to be supportive and expected to be helpful.

Sometimes we can only grow in the act of defiance of those who would like to trim, weed out, train, and distribute pesticides upon our existence, so that it fits with their ‘garden’ project management.

We were left in the castle alone today. Alone to explore. There’s an ancient Armagnac distillery, there are three barns that could be turned into yoga studios, a gîte that’s a semi-detached full blown family house, a Narnia style lantern at the front of the property and ‘as of yet undiscovered’ burial ground with a chapel somewhere in the woods at the back of the property.

There are big goats and a baby goat straight up from a Pixar movie, and peacocks and quails and chickens and two extremely naughty Basset Hounds, house cats and wildcats and ponies and thirteen horses and some unbelievably beautiful antique furniture from local Brocantes (vintage/antique stores where you can pay fifty euros for a beautifully looking piece of €5 worth crap, but mostly it’s the other way around), but also flat screen TV’s and Xbox, that need setting up, and fridges loaded up with meat from a local butcher that absolutely requires some love, so that’s what we’ve done today. Hashtag Castle Life means work hard, and no - I’m sorry - but there’s no ‘play hard’ cause at the end of the day you just collapse, but there definitely is ‘work hard, EAT hard’ sentiment here. No matter where the day takes you, we always meet at the end of the day around the giant dinner table to share some proper hearty meals (we switch up the cooking duties every day) and some proper cheap local wine (you get four litres jugs from the local vendor for about €4) and of course some laughs.

The higher vision be damned, when you operate on this level of discomfort daily, you better be able to laugh hard about it too.