Alex James: When Chef said he loved my cheese...

Rural Notebook

Share
Related Topics

I wanted to go to dinner, not because it's a fabulous house but because I like the guy. It is a fabulous house, though: proper, old-fashioned, country splendour, a stately home with every trimming imaginable. It belongs to another, more magnificent age. Even now, the spectacular wines in the

cellars are passing their sell-bys and the portraits peeling on the walls because in the 21st century, no one could possibly entertain on the scale that the house was conceived on.

The other guests were largely slightly irritating people, people who were there to see the house. A lot of wide-eyed, waddling, fluffy bunny rabbits, they were, who couldn't tell the wine was knackered. "Well, phhhh... Haven't seen much of you in the papers recently," said someone. Someone else said, "Did you know that my father bought your farm and he actually kept the fields that he wanted, the best ones for farming, of course, and then he sold what he didn't want to the person that you bought it from." It was all just ever so slightly catty. It was tiring. "What do you do?" said someone else who already seemed cross with me. "What do you do?" like that. "What?" I took great delight in telling him that I make cheese. He practically snorted with derision and flounced off to find the rock star he had heard was attending.

I'd brought some cheese with me. "Ooh, chef would love to meet you," said my dear host. "He's a real foodie!" The fact that a chef should also be a food lover seemed to him a wonderful piece of luck. In the vast kitchen, similar to the one where I worked when I was 15 in a hotel in Bournemouth, there was an elderly chef. He was holding a small, cling-filmed piece of cheese in a shaky hand. He was taking it home with him. He fixed my eye with some effort, deliberately. "It's the nicest cheese I've ever had," he said.

I swear I've never felt so proud.

A happening place to be

A bread-and-butter January day, everyone "head down, arse up, pedalling hard", and as I ran through the woods, even the animals seemed busy. A woodpecker hammering, exotic tits building a nest, gangs of skinny deer skulking warily, like the teenagers in Chipping Norton. Ah, to be a part of all that whirring industry under comforting, grey skies. More happening than Manhattan in Fashion Week.

The river runs high

I've only seen the well in the back garden higher than this once – the day that Tewkesbury sank. The river is so handsome, strong. I had an overwhelming urge to jump in, earlier; never stronger. In fact that's where I'm going right now. Communion.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Hosting Support Agent

£17100 - £20900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Health & Safety Support Tutor

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Legal Assistant

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Del Tajo la Reina's bull falls during the second  

Spain's torture of bulls has hit a gruesome peak this year – and no thanks to the EU

Mimi Bekhechi
 

Daily catch-up: Julian Assange, the least funny long-running show in the West End

John Rentoul
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests