They have the castle all to themselves, but there’s a twist


(CNN) — Laura Jamieson and Michael Smith fell in love whereas working in an 800-year-old castle. But they by no means anticipated to stay at their place of employment.

But that is precisely what they have been doing since March 25, when, as a results of the coronavirus, they packed up their belongings and moved into Ashford Castle, a five-star-hotel on the northern shore of Lough Corrib in County Mayo, Ireland.

“Who else can say they spent lockdown in a castle?” says Smith, 28, the property actions supervisor.

Temporary digs

In the actual world, the couple, who’ve been relationship for a 12 months and a half, stay in a flat in Cross, a tiny village about 5 kilometers from the castle.

Laura Jamieson and Michael Smith, staff at Ashford Castle (and in addition a couple), by no means anticipated to transfer into the stately digs.

Courtesy of Ashford Castle

Nothing ready them for transferring into the former nation property of the Guinness household, with a 32-seat cinema, two connoisseur eating rooms, a spa, wine-tasting tunnels and 83 visitor rooms.

It was remodeled into a luxurious resort in 1939; previous visitors have included US presidents and celebrities equivalent to Barbra Streisand and Brad Pitt. Pierce Brosnan, who shot an episode of the TV collection “Remington Steele” at Ashford, returned to marry Keely Shaye Smith right here in 2001.

Both Smith and Jamieson, who’s answerable for visitor companies, had been stunned — and thrilled — when normal supervisor Niall Rochford requested them if they may contemplate transferring in for a spell. They suspect it is as a result of they complement one another as a crew.

“She does everything so well on the inside and I have a lot of experience on the outside and on the grounds, so it was almost perfect yin and yang,” says Smith. “We balance each other. So I have to believe that’s one of the reasons they asked.”

Having enjoyable but?

Was it scary at first being the sole occupants of a place so massive? Slightly.

During the day, some of the hotel's staff comes by to perform various job functions, but the couple is largely alone.

During the day, a few of the resort’s workers comes by to carry out numerous job features, but the couple is essentially alone.

Courtesy of Ashford Castle

For starters, there was the Dessert Fiasco.

“We’ve got a five-star kitchen, but between the two of us we’re a two-star chef,” says Smith, who grew up in Perthshire, Scotland. “Both of us have a sweet tooth so we tried banana bread. That was a disaster. When you set off a smoke alarm in the house, it’s just in the kitchen. But when you set it off in a hotel the whole place goes off.”

The castle, which dates back to 1228, is an enormous space for just two people.

The castle, which dates again to 1228, is a gigantic area for simply two individuals.

Courtesy of Ashford Castle

Then there was the Ghost of Ashford Past — or at the very least, the one of their heads.

“The castle dates back to 1228, and we’re staying in the Victorian wing,” says Jamieson, who has been at Ashford for 5 years. “You have all these paintings of the owners through the ages. You almost feel like you’re in somebody’s house and they’re watching you.”

Her boyfriend has been amusing himself by leaping out in entrance of her “to make sure she’s on her toes.”

“It’s worn thin pretty quickly,” Smith admits.

A day in the lifetime of castle residing

A typical day finds them awake by 8 a.m., once they stroll round the 350 acres of gardens and personal woodlands after which head into the native for a espresso. It’s a common eight-hour workday, replete with Zoom conferences and greeting colleagues who have come to the castle for a few hours. They would possibly cease by the stables or the falconry college to see the hawks and owls.

A typical day finds Jamieson and Smith awake by 8 a.m. They will proceed to work a full eight-hour day.

A typical day finds Jamieson and Smith awake by 8 a.m. They will proceed to work a full eight-hour day.

Courtesy of Ashford Castle

Then the enjoyable actually begins.

As a part of their further caretaking obligations, they need to vacuum flooring, mud the Waterford crystal chandeliers, and run showers in every of the visitor rooms. The true calorie burn comes from the 160 bogs they flush day by day — simply to preserve all the things in working order.

“It’s been good exercise for us,” says Smith, who estimates that they log between 25,000 and 30,000 steps on a median day, which might final till 7 or Eight p.m.

To keep the castle in good working order, Smith and Jamieson run all of the showers and flush all of the toilets (160 in total) each day.

To preserve the castle in good working order, Smith and Jamieson run all of the showers and flush all of the bogs (160 in complete) every day.

Courtesy of Ashford Castle

Once a week, they maintain date night time in the 32-seat cinema, which “looks like something out of the 1920s,” says Jamieson.

They herald sweet, popcorn, some wine and fake they’re at a cinema, reasonably than in their very own personal movie show. The first movie they watched was John Ford’s “The Quiet Man,” starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, which was filmed at Ashford.

They’ve additionally loved “Game of Thrones” and “The Greatest Showman” — “things that are worthy of being on the big screen,” says Smith.

Date night often takes place in the empty cinema.

Date night time usually takes place in the empty cinema.

Courtesy of Ashford Castle

The couple met three years in the past, when Smith first began working at the resort. Jamieson was working in several departments, carrying a totally different uniform in every, and he or she quickly caught Smith’s eye — though he was confused whether or not she was one particular person or a set of sisters. “But I managed to narrow it down,” he says, and at last labored up the nerve to ask her out.

The couple has decamped into a luxurious state room in the unique wing of the castle (circa 1228), with antiques, tapestries, Connemara marble, Murano glass chandeliers, an vintage grandfather clock, 15-foot ceilings and sumptuous views of the lake.

Snapping pics with a Polaroid has been a fun post-work activity for the young couple.

Snapping pics with a Polaroid has been a enjoyable post-work exercise for the younger couple.

Courtesy Laura Jamieson and Michael Smith

Before transferring in they purchased a Polaroid digital camera to doc their expertise. “We have been creating a memory book for ourselves,” says Jamieson. “This isn’t real life. It makes us look fancier than we are.”

The hardest half, they are saying, has been not having the ability to see their family and friends in particular person. But they FaceTime with them, often from a totally different a part of the property for a digital tour.

Laura Jamieson and Michael Smith fell in love while working in an 800-year-old castle. But they never expected to live at their place of employment.

Michael Smith is from Scotland and Laura Jamieson is Surrey in England, but they fell in love throughout the Irish Sea.

Courtesy of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection

Imminent ‘eviction’

The Castle is scheduled to reopen on July 2. Right now, they’re not sure once they’ll be evicted. “We’re avoiding asking the question,” says Jamieson.

Although the castle is set to reopen on July 2, the couple is not sure when they'll be asked to leave.

Although the castle is ready to reopen on July 2, the couple shouldn’t be certain once they’ll be requested to go away.

Courtesy of Ashford Castle

Beyond the novelty of taking part in Eloise, they’ve discovered a lot about themselves as individuals and as a couple. “We are a relatively young couple and it’s been the craziest experience,” says Smith. “I’m not saying this is a Disney story. I’m sure there are time she wants me to go to the other side or send me to the dungeon. But we haven’t had any fights or got sick of each other.

But, he adds, “she might change her thoughts any time quickly.”



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