An­gel Adoree

Es­cap­ing to the Chateau, but in love with Southend

Essex Life - - INSIDE - WORDS: Denise Mar­shall

Es­cape to the Chateau star An­gel Adoree is cur­rently reap­ing the ben­e­fits of her in­cred­i­ble vi­sion and drive to build an over­seas wed­ding and life­style busi­ness from scratch with hus­band Dick Straw­bridge. Here she tells Es­sex Life about se­ries five of the hit Chan­nel 4 show and how a strong Es­sex work ethic helped her dream so big

Ben­fleet-raised vin­tage en­thu­si­ast, au­thor and en­tre­pre­neur An­gel Adoree is so busy jug­gling her boom­ing wed­ding venue busi­ness with moth­er­hood that she’s moved in her dot­ing par­ents for half the year. But that’s more than okay, be­cause she hap­pens to live in a cas­tle.

An­gel, 40, and hus­band Dick, 60, fell in love with France early in their re­la­tion­ship vow­ing to buy prop­erty there and to raise a fam­ily. Fur­ther re­search re­vealed that they could af­ford much more than a coun­try cot­tage. In fact, if they were pre­pared to put the work in, they could aim big — ‘tur­rets-style’ big. So, they ploughed all their cash into a 19th cen­tury derelict fairy-tale chateau, com­plete with moat.

Ren­o­vat­ing the crum­bling 45-room land­mark was not a ro­man­tic task, but if any­one has the per­son­al­ity to pull this off, it’s An­gel.

Chan­nel 4 have fol­lowed the cou­ple’s in­spi­ra­tional jour­ney at Chateau-de-la-Motte Hus­son over the last four years since they pur­chased the prop­erty in the Pays de la Loire re­gion for £380,000. Be­fore dec­o­rat­ing could com­mence, they had to in­stall elec­tric­ity, heat­ing and source labour to re­vive a sewage sys­tem in just nine months, as their own wed­ding day dead­line of Novem­ber 2015 loomed.

To sup­ple­ment the £20,000 bud­get they had left, Dick nipped off for three months to film a se­ries with Na­tional Geo­graphic and it’s been an in­ti­mate doc­u­men­tary with tem­pers fray­ing. Of­ten it seemed like they’d taken on the im­pos­si­ble – por­ing over an­cient deeds and forced to talk shop 24 hours, but they are no or­di­nary cou­ple.

An­gel is a fas­ci­nat­ing mix of Earth Mother, 1940s style ma­tron and Art Deco de­signer, com­ple­mented by Dick’s many ac­co­lades in­clud­ing for­mer army colonel, Celebrity MasterChef fi­nal­ist, Scrapheap Chal­lenge pre­sen­ter and engi­neer ex­traor­di­naire. View­ers have seen them in­fu­ri­ate, adore and de­light one other, but then you’d have to be in tune to make their life work, as they take the ‘can do at­ti­tude’ to a whole new level.

‘It has been a bit of a sur­prise that the se­ries has been so well re­ceived and very hum­bling,’ smiles An­gel.

‘We started look­ing seven years ago to live in France and when you start look­ing that’s the prob­lem. We’re both worka­holics and had gone to the Car­ca­sonne area, the first hol­i­day both of us had had in about ten years.

‘In a sim­ple gite, one storey high with shut­ters open­ing out on to the at­trac­tive town, we knew we could buy it for £30,000. So we quickly thought, “What are we do­ing with mort­gages and work­ing to pay dif­fer­ent rents? Let’s do it!”

‘I’m a bit of a hy­brid. I’m an Es­sex girl, but a Lon­doner as well. I love the hus­tle and bus­tle, but France was the place we fell in love with. As soon as Dick said it, I was straight on the in­ter­net buy­ing £20mil­lion chateaus in my mind.’

The cou­ple have been to­gether for eight years and mar­ried for two.

‘As he’s 20 years older than me, Dick jokes around say­ing I’ve got less time to hang around,’ laughs An­gel.

Fa­ther to two grown up chil­dren from his first mar­riage, go­ing back to nap­pies and sleep­less nights was un­likely to faze some­one who seizes so much from life.

‘I’m 40, so I was des­per­ately at that right age to want to have chil­dren,’ re­veals An­gel. ‘If I’m hon­est I planned to have one, but Dick is the per­fect fa­ther. We ar­gue all the time, but he’s

‘I love the hus­tle and bus­tle, but France was the place we fell in love with’

a good, good man – my per­fect man.’

Their chil­dren, five-year-old Arthur and four-year-old Dorothy, have adapted seam­lessly. ‘They speak French at school and when they come home they speak English. Arthur thinks he can re­mem­ber our Southend home. He says, “I’m a Lon­doner,” and Dorothy sees so much stuff about Queen El­iz­a­beth around the house. She’s des­per­ate to meet her. They’re set­tled, but still very Bri­tish.’

The chateau’s of­fi­cial web­site de­clares the mantra, ‘The harder you work the luck­ier you get’. These are not empty words.

‘Be­fore we met we both had strong work ethics. My mum and dad are worka­holics, my dad owned Par­adise jew­ellers in Ben­fleet for 20 years and a restau­rant (Flutes). My brother Paul now runs the jew­ellers on Can­vey Is­land. It’s nice to in­stil those val­ues early on be­cause it’s im­por­tant. I think the Es­sex mind­set is more go and get it. Maybe not com­ing from a plethora of wealth can make you a bit more hun­gry for it.’

From her be­gin­nings in Ben­fleet where she’d cy­cle to Leigh on Sea and sit out­side The Peter­boat pub as a teenager, An­gel has achieved in two decades what most wouldn’t come close to in a life­time, and strong fam­ily val­ues ap­pear the be­drock of her am­bi­tion.

A trained ac­coun­tant, she was lured to the cap­i­tal where her fam­ily have roots, run­ning an East End vin­tage stall be­fore launch­ing The Vin­tage Patis­serie in Hack­ney back in 2001.

‘My Grandma was in Da­gen­ham, my Nan is still in Mile End. She’s 95 and been to the chateau count­less times. My dad’s just been home get­ting her hair done fly­ing Rennes to Southend – Lon­don Southend is the nicest air­port ever.’

The cou­ple are for­tu­nate that An­gel’s par­ents, Jenny and Stephen, are re­cently re­tired and free to sup­port them.

‘We have a bit of a gig­gle that they’re here for free hol­i­days, but they’re here more for the wed­ding sea­son to help us. Hav­ing a multi­gen­er­a­tional liv­ing ar­range­ment is quite spe­cial. When I’m older, if Arthur and Dorothy want us around, we’ll feel like we’ve done some­thing right.’

The fact the se­ries still has legs is tes­ta­ment to An­gel and Dick’s un­stop­pable in­no­va­tion way be­yond your typ­i­cal hote­lier. There has also been spin-of show Es­cape to the Chateau DIY.

‘We are work­ing on one of the last suites in the chateau and cli­max­ing with a wed­ding spe­cial. Every­one has loved the glamp­ing busi­ness and our Food Lovers Week­ends are off the scale. We have tens of thou­sands of en­quiries.’

Here guests get to feast on the finest French fayre with Dick in the kitchen whip­ping up his spe­cials, and the chance to go fly fish­ing. One of the most amus­ing el­e­ments of the busi­ness is that the charm­ing life they have cre­ated means peo­ple ac­tu­ally pay for the plea­sure of toil­ing along­side the ever-in­dus­tri­ous Dick on his 12 acres.

‘We charge £150 for peo­ple to come and work on gar­den work days, but it’s not all like that. They get high tea and tours,’ ex­plains An­gel. ‘And they all

‘For ev­ery show that comes out, I’m rid­dled with but­ter­flies’

want to come back. This is all in ad­di­tion to wed­dings. We’re busier than ever.’

The cou­ple are of course also keen to ac­com­mo­date vis­i­tors more at­tuned to kick­ing back with fine wine and lash­ings of brie, a bal­ance they haven’t had a sec­ond to suc­cumb to them­selves.

For in­spir­ing her pas­sion for all things retro, An­gel cred­its her fe­male rel­a­tives, her unique flame red hair styled with a glam­orous for­ties bouf­fant, and knot­ted head­scarves.

‘My mum used to be so glam in the Six­ties. Nan al­ways wore capri pants and pointy glasses. Peo­ple made so much of an ef­fort.’

Curvy with a daz­zling smile, An­gel still has nerves be­ing filmed. ‘Ev­ery show that comes out I’m rid­dled with but­ter­flies,’ she ad­mits. ‘I don’t par­tic­u­larly like see­ing my­self on tele­vi­sion. I’m al­ways think­ing that I could do with los­ing a stone or two. Dick is the to­tal op­po­site, but I’m a girl. I’m to­tally nor­mal,’ she laughs.

And yet the end goal for this savvy pair be­longs back in Es­sex. ‘Southend was a nice place to be by the sea­side with the shops on your doorstep, and the old Vic­to­rian prom­e­nade – I love it there. We en­joyed our­selves for a year and a half while look­ing in France. When I make my mil­lions, I’m go­ing to buy some­thing there. There’s noth­ing like be­ing by the sea.’

Find out more

The new se­ries of Es­cape to the Chateau re­turns to Chan­nel 4 this au­tumn. Or catch up on All 4.For more in­for­ma­tion on stay­ing with An­gel and Dick, visit chateaude­lam­ot­te­hus­

Chateau de la Motte Hus­son

An­gel’s cre­ative flair is a fea­ture of the chateau

Dick and An­gel Straw­bridge

LEFT:Dick and An­gel have been to­gether for eight yearsBE­LOW:With a blank can­vas, An­gel’s de­signs have been able to have full im­pact

Dick and An­gel with Arthur and Dorothy

The chateau has un­der­gone a stun­ning trans­for­ma­tion

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