Fancy a new life abroad?
This time of year leaving the house early in the morning surrounded by a heavy frost and temperatures that have dropped below freezing for the first time this Autumn reminds me of a phase I went through starting about 10 years ago of reading books about giving up life in England and setting up home in warmer and sunnier climes.
I started with the classic which first enamoured Brits with the idea – A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, which was hugely popular when televised in the UK back in 1992, long before rise of ‘doing up houses abroad’ programmes on TV. But I quickly moved on to a number of other series.
My favourite was by Chris Stewart set in Andalusia, a series which starts with Driving Over Lemons and is followed by A Parrot in a Pepper Tree and The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society. I then discovered Peter Kerr and his series on Life in Mallorca, beginning with Snowball Oranges, which is followed by Mañana, Mañana, Viva Mallorca, and A Basketful of Snowflakes. Reading all of these coincided with holidays to Mallorca, Ibiza and mainland Spain.
I also very much enjoyed tales of living on an Italian hillside by Annie Hawes. These start with Extra Virgin, and are followed by Ripe for the Picking and Journey to the South. Finally, Carol Drinkwater writes about life in France in The Olive Farm, The Olive Season and The Olive Harvest.
It’s not only the warmth that rises from the pages that made all these appeal to me, but good story-telling of relationships under strain as over-ambitious projects are taken on, triumphing through adversity and trying to live in an integrated way with the locals. These are all easy enjoyment and they confirmed to me that I wasn’t cut out to set up an olive farm, deal with bureaucracy in a foreign language and leave my friends behind me, but that I was much more up for reading about others’ attempts to do so.
If you need warming up this Autumn, I’d recommend any of these.