Hello, we're Tim and Margreeth Alexander, owners of the Chateau des Lys since 2013.
We run the place together doing pretty much everything that needs to be done and it's our ambition to get it back to its former glory. That process will always be a work in progress but we never tire of tweaking and upgrading things down to the tiniest details in our efforts to improve and restore and all the while we're learning new skills, making new friends and generally having fun, which is after all what life is about.
We have two children- Joe who lives and goes to primary school here in France and Donna who studies at University in Holland where she lives with boyfriend Niels. Both are especially useful when slates need replacing during a thunderstorm and chimneys need sweeping. Donna can justify society's investment in her considerable education by making excellent Mojitos, a wonderful preliminary to becoming a professional champagne taster and Joe supports the entire Danish economy singlehandedly, his ambition is probably to become a lego brick and he knows the Chateau better than we do since he squeezes into all the bits that we no longer can. Hide and seek lasts from March to late June. It's a skill that will serve him well when the Deatheaters and Empire Stormtroopers eventually arrive. That wedding will take some planning, we'll probably charge them double.
Before becoming "Chatelain" and "Chatelaine" (everything sounds much grander in French doesn't it? Oeufs à la coque anyone?.... ) we were based in Holland. Margreeth was a high school English and remedial teacher whilst Tim was a successful musician with the band Fragment who had realised one of his lifetime ambitions when once he tripped over Cesar Rosas from Los Lobos backstage.
We stumbled across the Chateau in 2012 whilst holidaying with friends near Le Crotoy. It lies in easy striking distance of England and Holland. We'd already fallen in love with the Somme Estuary and its environs a few years earlier. We still believe it to be one of the nicest parts of France, though it often gets overlooked being so near to other countries however we'd seen enough of it to have been slightly smitten. Picardy is old. Rough and rural. It has weight. You lose yourself in its endless horizons. There are ancient villages, battle fields that altered nations, water, saltwater, marsh, chalk, fossils, flint, fields, feral fauna, fish and feather and (to resist an f too far) it is in short spectacular and limitless. We still haven't found anywhere quite as beautiful without travelling a very long way.
We had no real plans to change our lives but upon discovering the Chateau des Lys was for sale we decided to throw caution to the winds and go for it. The mechanics and machinations of that process will fill the book that we're one day planning to write whenever we find the time (insert joke here) and we don't expect to be believed, though Channel 4 did turn up to document some of it (m'lud..), an experience that was actually a lot of fun (since you ask, and everybody seems to) the crew they sent being as nice a couple of fellows as you could wish to meet. It's weird being on camera, however fleetingly- in spite of the rocknroll background it takes a bit of getting used to, we're actually quite private people. One goes to bed at night thinking of different similes for ample parking and ways to start a sentence without using "so" or "basically".
So basically when first we arrived everything was pretty rundown and the first few years were spent restoring, rebuilding, cleaning and repairing, all of which we did ourselves while trying to build the business. There are things still to do and plans still unrealised but we've broken the back of it all without getting divorced and we're beginning to see the differences we've made. It's still exciting, slightly out of control and slightly scary but we're having fun and we're still here to tell the tale and we look forward to meeting you.
Thanks for reading
T & M