Alex James: No longer any need to emigrate to Provence

Rural Notebook

Share
Related Topics

Top of many people's to do lists when I was growing up was to emigrate: a generation strove to muster the wealth and the bottle to flee these shores forever. Peter Mayle, an ex-ad man crystallised the dreams of mid-life crisis stricken professionals who longed to go on holiday permanently, with his tales of executive Utopia in Provence: swimming pools and extensions, pâté, boules and sunshine – retirement porn, really.

When I was younger I thought I'd end up in France. Sometimes I still dream of spending a couple of years in Sierra Leone, or Laos, taking a complete change of scenery. But a lot has changed here since Peter Mayle's day. Rural Britain is definitely more of a viable dream now than it was, and there is nowhere I'd rather be.

I'm sometimes cornered by people grasping for exactly what it is that I like about living in the country. "My boyfriend has just bought a house in Lechlade." She said. "That's near you. What are the cool pubs? What happens? Where should we go?"

There are no cool pubs. There is nothing going on. I've hardly been out at all this year. I wouldn't recommend the countryside for those who like going out. It's for staying in, really. Still, Easter weekend was a sudden frenzy of socialising: breakfasts lunches and dinners. We went to a neighbour's on Friday. He told me he had been stalking a herd of deer for a couple of hours, had selected his target and lined it up perfectly in the cross hairs with baited breath. He was just about to fire when an out-of-breath jogger came puffing and flailing up the footpath and scattered the lot of them.

He hadn't realised it was me but that's as good a description of what goes on here as anything. Solitary pleasures colliding occasionally.

Chives spring into action

The garden is a coiled spring at this time of year. Every day the picture out of the window changes, more colour, more shapes forming.

Last week I found a huge clutch of eggs. Chives were a nice surprise this weekend, back like old friends in the far corner of the garden. Perfect with the eggs.

My holiday home of canvas

I bought another tent: a bell tent. It is brilliant. No planning permission, no building regs and no builders required. It will be up in the garden from May till September. Seventy quid. Easy to get to as well. That's what I call a holiday home.

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: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: A widow’s tale with an unexpected twist

John Rentoul
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss