Alex James: Butchers, bakers and beautiful Burford

Rural Notebook

Share
Related Topics

The sun came out this week, particularly in Burford, right, where a million daisies and dandelions found themselves facing the glare of the super troopers of the international media.

According to Forbes magazine, Burford in Oxfordshire is the sixth best place to live in Europe. We came through there the very first time we visited the Cotswolds, my wife and I, in a beaten-up Porsche she'd borrowed. It was our third date and around this time of year.

I remember laying eyes on the place very clearly. Free-falling into a perfect picture after a right turn off the A40: all mossy slate and honeyed gables running down a hillside to a stream, a sense of butchers, bakers, bric-a-brac and green. I had the feeling that we'd arrived somewhere as the air-cooled engine roared impolitely along the high street, turning heads.

Burford is overwhelmingly somewhere that shouts "Stop!" – until you try to park, that is. Up to that moment, my first glimpse of Burford, I'd thought paradise was only to be found abroad somewhere. For many of my parents' generation, happy ever after meant far away. Everyone wanted to run away to Provence and never come back.

I thought I'd probably end up living in France or Argentina, New York or the South Seas, I hadn't really decided, but in the two minutes it took to travel through Burford and cross the Windrush on the far side, something changed. I hadn't said a word. The engine was so loud it was impossible to talk, but she was smiling and so was I. I think then I knew that I had found the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and the place where I wanted to spend it.

No doubt the people of Burford will be congratulating themselves but of course it's nonsense to compare different parts of the countryside. The countryside, especially the English countryside, is all beautiful beyond words.

Home, sweet home

It's fair to say that Forbes still suggests it would be nicer to live in Tuscany. That was the number one place, for them. They are wrong. I have been there and there is no grass to speak of and they haven't invented any new cheeses for hundreds of years. I mean, great for a holiday, but if there's one thing that can be nicer than being on holiday, it's being at home. An endless holiday, even in heaven, would be hell.

Grass-roots thinking

]

The grass is particularly eye-catching at the moment. It was so inviting this morning, cool and damp, I lay down in it, eye to eye with the dew. There was lots going on down there, newly hatched benign multitudes creeping and flitting. I lay there for some time thinking of England. England, now the summer's here.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul
 

General Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living