I had no idea: People would be so curious but every day people say: "Can we see inside the castle?" We were only building it for ourselves originally but we’ve decided to do bed and breakfast in the rooms upstairs. I desperately wanted: A working drawbridge but it was impossible with health and safety regulations so we’ll have a decorative one instead. We have looked overseas and they’re all the same there now, too.
I couldn’t bear: To take the Christmas tree down. It was so lovely. So I filled it with flowers and left it there. If my mother could see the castle: She would be overjoyed and never believe it to be possible.
My love of castles: Began with fairy stories in my childhood. But I’ve always been drawn to history. When I did my OE in Kent, England, I spent my Sundays off roaming stately manors and historic gardens and old castles.
THIS PAGE King and queen of the castle, Neil and Dot Smith. OPPOSITE (from top) The upstairs guest lounge is fitted with a gas fire, flanked by an old stuffed wallaby. At the front entrance, the mirror was replastered and repaired after the Christchurch earthquakes; the curved ceiling idea came from a chateau in France: “Everywhere I go I steal an idea.”