Ever wished you could live in a castle? Ever wanted to bring a ruin back to life?

Me, too. Which is why I loved a show I saw this week on Channel 4’s Grand Designs. In it, a middle-aged architect and his wife sell their ordinary house, buy a 14th-century castle ruin in Yorkshire, and then try to make it into their home.

We are blessed here in Britain with good TV. Lately there’s been Downton Abbey to keep us happy, and three all-new episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs. But my very favorite show of all is this one, and here’s why:

The romance of the ruin is indisputable, and oh, the views! But “ruin” isn’t a euphemism: The place has no roof, the walls are crumbling; trees are growing up inside it. And when one of the largest walls comes crashing down, I thought it was all over.

But I was wrong. The crash is a turning point, and it moves them forward. Step by step they bring the castle back to life.

From this…

…to this! For more stunning photos, click here.

While I watched it, I thought about ruins and wrecks and rebuilding. And about art and beauty and persistence. And the way love carries us through.

It was good inspiration for writing.

What’s inspired you as a writer lately? I’d love to hear about it!

***[19 Jan 2011: ETA a new and even more ruinous original picture of the castle]***