Thursday, 19 June 2008

The day we owned a castle [or: 'Castles in the air - but why not?']

TOM’S IMPRESSION OF “CASTELLO ********” [Original photos and names withdrawn as permission for use not given – see last post.]

It was a Friday. What a day! What excitement - for hours and hours. No one was allowed to spoil it. A blanket ban went out on any bad news, depressed behaviour and/or negative thinking.

No barking or whining would be tolerated - either from human (Tom’s day off) or animal - and any occurrence of same would render the culprit liable to banishment from the kingdom. They would be deemed unworthy.

For that day (at least in diggle-daggle flights of fancy), I owned a castle.

Now I hope, dear friend, you know I’m not stupid. Cracking-up, given the circumstances of MS and - apart from Lucy - too much time spent physically alone? Well maybe. You’d be forgiven for thinking that. A little unrealistic sometimes? Too optimistic? Oh yes, definitely, thank God! (They’re good qualities aren’t they?) But stupid? No. I’m pretty sure, not.

No. I “owned” a castle, because I saw one on an Italian Real Estate site (“**** ** *****”.com), costing [quote]: ‘Euro € 0.00 Approx US Dollars $ 0.00’. FREE!

And it was so beautiful (is – it’s still there!) and in my very favourite part of the world – Umbria. Near Gubbio where Tom and I visited once when staying in Rome, because it had become my favourite place in brochures.

Well, what was I bound to think?

No, no, I’m not stupid (remember?!). I know that just because something is wrongly priced doesn’t mean you can have it at that price [though I’m sure the law has changed since I worked in shops, many, many moons ago]. Tom - who, of course, works in retail - was quick, despite my “ban”, to point that out.

But there’s always hope, right? And there are always miracles (oh, there are!).

And, at the very least, there are opportunities. This was what I call a God-given opportunity for day-dream, escapism from the pain and tedium of an MS life (and why I knew I was justified in calling this blog ‘Travels’ with Lucy’). And I grasped it.

This beautiful, fabulous “Castello ********” was built (c. AD 900) for me! I would send them an inquiring email, before making an offer. I needed a plan.

Well, by now, Lucy, and even Tom, were beginning to enjoy the “buzz”. It was a change to see “Mummy” exhilerated. She was even walking without complaining, almost marching. Regal, confident. It was reminiscent of when she launched herself out the door, business-suit on, briefcase in hand to quizz some politician somewhere. In the old days. Pre-forced diagnosis and enforced resignation. There was still life. And determination.

Lucy, of course, hadn’t known that time, but she was happy to see her owners happy. And benefiting – everyone kept giving her Kibble and forgiving her every misdeed. Mummy, especially, kept cheering her on: “Lucy, we own a castle!” “Oh. Lucy, you’ll love running around there with all your friends!” “We might even throw you scraps from the table!” (Something we’d never do in reality!).

And so it went on. It was fun.

And it grew. I got an instant reply to my email: ‘Grazie’. My message was copied and it would be sent to the local (Perugia) estate agents (“*** *** *****”). I worked on the ‘what we would do with it’ plan and decided to forward the details of same on the Monday. If I hadn’t by then been turned down flat.


Is it me? Is it MS? Is it other people wanting to burst your bubble? Or, is it just life, that won’t let these good times (even imagined) go on for any time? I don’t know. Probably the fatigue thing again, or the spasm I wrote about, or household worries; but, anyway, something got in the way and a week or so passed without me going any further with my castle ambition.

Perhaps it was just the recognition that this situation was so far removed from the dream.

However – not to put a good man down – the estate agents did send a brochure, with a note inviting me to visit and view. And, quietly, in a corner did quote a price. No reference to the former real estate site where il castello was absolutely free. Just a price, pure and simple, no fuss, no fanfare or decoration – hardly in keeping with the aristocratic stature of the property – naked and ultra-modern: Euro € 4000,000!

Ha ha! Just over £3000,000 [3 million]. Oh well...

And yet, here I am again (weeks later now), dreaming still. Because, what good, life without it? At the very least, as human beings, we must hope to always be able to imagine. It’s the only way we might change things and, God willing, make life better for someone.

And besides it’s still available, and still – on the first site - beguilingly, free!

So, what would I do with a castle? This castle in particular, because it is the one I have “chosen” and pictured people inhabiting.

Well, let’s face it, it would make a perfect Retreat. But, rather than giving it straight to the Church, what I would love to do first would be to turn it into a Residential Home. For, not only people with MS but anyone physically disabled. If that’s practical.

We’d have to have a lift installed to reach every floor, and special bathrooms with walk-in showers and so on; hoists and what-have-you for those that needed them and perhaps a gym with gentle exercising equipment. Oh, and, of course, a pool - outdoor probably, there’s plenty of room. Next to the al fresco area where we’ll eat outside during the long summer days and share vino in the sunset evenings.

There would be nurses in abundance and lots of assistants (aka “carers”!), at least one for each resident.

And we would have tutors coming in, and an art room, and everyone would be encouraged to make the most of their talents. How could they fail to be inspired when looking down from their hill, all they could see, all around, would be the heaven-sent beauty of the Umbrian countryside? Oh, I think the art-work created here would say it all. What an investment!

Ah, and maybe I forgot to mention it because it’s so obvious to me: my absolute prime task? To renovate that fabulous, little chapel. [Ed.: sadly, the chapel not so obvious in Tom’s picture!]

And find a lovely, local priest to celebrate Mass.

Ho ho, Lucy and I are ready to move in. I know Tom and his friends will help.

All we need now is an altruistic billionaire to share the vision and we’re home.

P.S. If it really isn’t a practical idea for the physically disabled, then I think I would start a Retreat. For anyone in need of some quiet time with God.


Anonymous said...

I found your lovely dream to be quite infectious! I started plotting and planning myself. I quite enjoyed this mostly upbeat entry Virginia, it's nice to share in a happy moment with you. *hugs*

Virginia Phillips said...


thank you for this and all your comments. I really appreciate your friendship (one day I'll reply to your - caught me by surprise after the computer debacle! - fabulous email!). And I love YOUR blog.

Sorry I don't add much here - it's the small font!

Love, and thanks again, Virginia

Anonymous said...

No worries Virginia.
I'll read your new entry later on today when I get a coffee break. I'm just about to wake the sleeping beauty and put up with her morning grumps before I go to work...
Are you are morning person? I don't know where she gets it from. I'm quite annoyingly perky first thing!
Take care,
Love and hugs