Alex James: The Great Escape

Is royalty moving in next door?
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The Independent Online

It's surprising how these little villages, which I thought were part of my own unique scheme of things, seem to be an unlikely part of other people's lives as well. Foscot is another. It was hardly worth giving the place a name; there are only three houses there. It's nothing. It's nowhere. That's what's nice about it. I go through there only because it's on the way to Westcote and our friend Julia. Westcote is chock-a-block with celebrities and media types, but Foscot is refreshingly agricultural.

The president of EMI Music Publishing drove up from London, on a tour of his protégés' piles. I showed him my digger and some lambs and we whizzed some rocks across the frozen lake. He told me he once had a job near by in a place called Foscot, driving a tractor.

Then the cheese man, Roger, came round. The planners have give the cheese factory the green light - very exciting. A third kind of cheese has been mooted, a really smelly one. Roger's moving his cheese operation up from Devon and he mentioned some place names that sounded familiar. I said: "I'm sure you're very near Damon, you know?" He said Mr Albarn had been buying his cheese for some time. There is no escape from anybody, anywhere.

Sarsden, the magnificent estate this farm was once a part of, has been sold. It went for a cool £25m. Whenever any significant property changes hands around here, the first rumours to fly are usually that the Bamfords, the family behind the JCB empire, have bought it. What's more, it's often true. Not this time. The gossip is that it's been acquired for Prince William. It's always the posh people who tell you these things, not the farmers or the builders. They really couldn't care less. They're just not impressed at all.

It's a beautiful house, Sarsden. The estate was once vast, but over the centuries bits such as our farm have been hacked off and sold. In turn, the farm, which once comprised several dwellings over a thousand acres or so, including a mill house, cottages and a campsite, has been further subdivided.

The campsite has been redeveloped into high class, buy-to-let holiday cabins. The owner tore down a lot of trees and put concrete pads everywhere for these pre-assembled boxes. It's been really annoying me that where there were woods, there is now a lot of concrete. I was having a ramble in that direction and I walked past the first occupied caravan. A very sweet, proud elderly couple were taking delivery of their Jacuzzi, evidently an optional extra. They looked so ordinary and content. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. They are exactly what neighbours should look like.