Close to where my father lived – le Gers, southern France – there is this small village called Labatut with this magnificent mansion right on the edge of it. Perhaps a hundred people in “village de la campagne” and suddenly this statement of a house. It must really have been “something else”.
At some distance it was still overpowering, but at closer inspection you can see that it is just the shell of what once was. Crumbling walls, crashed ceilings and a roof that is mostly non existent. There’s a small sign stating that it is a) private property and b) closed for the public and c) dangerous to enter anyway. My french is just good enough to understand the “boys with their toys only invitation”: I crept through the vines and remains of the fence and walked around the ground floor. For what was left of it.
Dangerous is an understatement.
To my surprise – I checked that place each and every time I visited my father – suddenly things were happening. There were new signs, the fence was mended and a new roof was installed, albeit a corrugated one right on top of the remains of the old one. Someone was trying to preserve what was left. Or had gone totally bonkers and tried to rebuild the place. Good luck to that endeavor.
A year later some storm had taken away the intermediate roof again and things returned to their normal state.
Another dream gone. And money lost.
I must visit that place once more, if only because it remembers me stronger than anything of my father.