It is a special day today. A Publication Day. Hotel Paradise, my latest story for the Kindle Single store on Amazon, goes live. Hooray. We are all very excited about it.
As with The Girl in Room Fourteen… Continue reading
It is almost Christmas although I have not yet begun to do very much about it. We are both still hard at work, attempting to complete all our commitments before everyone shuts up shop for two weeks.
There is a… Continue reading
These last few blisteringly hot months have been packed with work. A few journeys undertaken but mostly I have been at my desk at the farm, scribbling away. These are the days when I appreciate how very privileged my life… Continue reading
We are at home and the Olive Farm is gearing up for my mother’s 89th birthday this week. I am going out later this morning to order the cake. We have a young couple from the States staying with us. They are on holiday from Morocco. Deep down in the south and close to the Algerian border is where they are based, working a two-year appointment for the US Peace Corps. Their stories of life in such a remote community are fascinating. Coincidentally, he has the same birthday as my mother so I will be ordering a double cake. One cake shaped like the number 8 lying on its side, I think. Continue reading
Around the world in eighty days… well, perhaps not quite around the world but it certainly feel as though I have not stopped travelling since I last wrote a Newsletter in December.
Where to begin?
Let me start with the US Tour because it has certainly been a highlight of this year so far. I began in Texas and from there flew to LA, on to San Francisco with several neighbouring stops including the Sonoma Wine Valley. From there, I crossed the continent to New York, upstate New York, then to Detroit, to Ohio where I was thrown an unforgettable birthday party, and then last stop Chicago – a city I have never visited before but one that won my heart.
And the good news is that I have received several invitations to return next year spring and to visit other states, other cities that were not on the itinerary this time. So, if you have an event early next year in the States or you would like me to visit your bookshop or garden centre or botanical gardens or even front yard, now is the time to put in the request… Continue reading
It has been a while since I have written a Newsletter and I apologise for that. We have been building a new website and I had no idea how much time or energy this would take. I sincerely hope you will enjoy the results and that, once we have the teething problems dealt with, you will see that it is a more sophisticated tool than the last one. It will include a blog so that I can write to you whenever I feel there is some news rather than waiting for a seasonal letter such as this one.
At the foot of the Home Page are links to both of these, for easy access.
I have added an Acting page for those who remain interested in that aspect of my career and I have created a dedicated page for some of my published travel articles including a few of the Postcards from Provence I write regularly for the excellent France magazine. Each ‘postcard’ is cleverly illustrated by the artist Tim Wesson. Continue reading
I know that for those of you in Britain and Ireland, the weather has been lousy and for many in the United States, there have been floods or fires. So, I hope everyone is safe and well. Here, I almost hate to admit it, the weather is quite magnificent, as is the garden. Because we had intense rain in mid-spring and a very warm spell during the flowering season, nature seems to have stocked up on all that she needs for abundant displays of vibrant blossom and long lazy days. I am listening to the cicadas and turtle doves now, as I write this. Continue reading
And what a spring! Weather patterns everywhere seem a little bizarre, a little extreme, don’t they? Friends tell me that England and Ireland have been experiencing a pre-Easter heat wave and now snow threatens! I have to admit that we have been enjoying well above average temperatures with some days reaching as high as 26/27° Celsius. And this is March!
Because I am a lizard and come alive when the sun shines, I do love these hot sunny days, but there is also a concern. Is this normal or is it a result of climate change? Continue reading
I am writing this letter from Rome, not from the Olive Farm. A visit to Rome just before Christmas is my idea of joy. Fortunately, thanks to the schedule for The Olive Route films, I have been given the perfect opportunity to indulge my pleasure this month.
I arrived two days ago. Once installed at my hotel in a residential district known as Prati, which is equidistant between the Vatican and the Spanish Steps, I set off walking. Like Paris, Rome is a wonderful city to Continue reading
Have we celebrated Bastille Day, the fourteenth of July, already? Yes, indeed. We sat out on the terrace, enjoying a late barbecue watching fireworks shooting into the sky from every Provençal village encircling us. The most spectacular, of course, were those down at the coast in Cannes.
The year seems to be running ahead of me and I cannot quite keep up. Continue reading
My word, spring is everywhere and I hardly feel the year has begun.
Those of you on my Olive Farm Facebook page will know that my feet have barely touched the ground this year. Directly after Christmas, I was in London for the France Show at Earls Court where I met many readers, some of whom have become longstanding friends now. On the Saturday, a lunch was arranged and thirty or so of us went off to celebrate together after my talk and book-signing that day. It was great fun. I am sure that another such event will be organised at some point in the near future so if you want to be included, please join the Facebook page and introduce yourself. Continue reading
The holidays of Christmas and the New Year are almost upon us and I am hardly aware of them. Of course, I know these days of rest and merriment are creeping towards me, bringing with them blizzards, sack-loads of fallen snow, shoppers bustling to and fro, office parties, coloured lights in the streets, but such images are hard for me to picture while I am travelling in southern regions wandering through olive groves. Continue reading
It is dark outside. The world is still asleep. Beyond the windows, a terrestrial silence, above which Jupiter hangs like a brilliant bulb in a black sky. For the present, it is a solitary illumination. It is seven am and not an unreasonable hour to be at my desk, but autumn is upon us, the days are growing shorter, it feels as though it is the middle of the night and I the only being on the planet. Continue reading
Summer is here and I have just arrived back in France after a three-week book tour in Britain and Eire. RETURN TO THE OLIVE FARM has been, as we say in Ireland, launched and I hope that you will be encouraged to rush out to the shops and purchase a copy. The early reviews and feedback are proving to be very positive. I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who attended one or other of my talks and, in certain cases, to those of you who came along twice! The events were made joyous by your presence and enthusiasm. Continue reading
This is a little late and I apologise for that. It has been a long and rather difficult winter for many people. I am aware of that. Down on the farm, the months have been wetter than usual and we experienced two bouts of snow, one fleeting and the second that stayed and settled on the trees. Only now am I able to begin to assess what has been killed off and what is surviving. Our Jacaranda, carried by Michel as hand luggage all the way from Mexico and planted up on the terrace near the Magnolia Grandiflora because they both blossom at the same time of year, looks like a stick skeleton. Continue reading
I have recently returned from a month in Australia and a few days at Tauranga Bay in New Zealand where I was appearing at the bi-annual arts festival there. If you attended either of my Tauranga events, thank you so much for coming. They were terrific and I met so many readers. I felt really high when I flew back out again to Sydney. Continue reading
There are few moments that match the sense of release I feel after my latest book has been delivered and an email comes winging back a few days later from my editor with the message, ‘LOVE it!’ Hooray!
My new book is about living off the fruits of the land and the challenges of sustainable development – respecting Nature’s needs as well as our own. Return to the Olive Farm recounts my experiences back at Appassionata beyond my Mediterranean travels and it will be published in 2010. Continue reading
We have been pruning in our olive groves these last few weeks, pruning back thirty of the big old fellows and every single one of the juniors and these now number over two hundred and forty, I think. It is backbreaking work, but it is also extremely satisfying, particularly if the weather is kind. Earlier this year in
February, Michel and I signed ourselves up for a day’s training in the skills of pruning young olive trees. Fundamentally, it is not that different from the cutting of the older boys except that the youngsters are still forming and the cuts will make a difference to their structure, to the silhouette of the tree. Continue reading
The days leading up to Christmas were not the happiest for me or our olive farm. I had spent November in Africa, visiting the magical rainforests of Madagascar before travelling briefly through Kenya and then on to South Africa.
Before leaving for this trip, which was to keep me away from the farm for almost five weeks, I was keeping a watchful eye on our olive trees, aware that our olives had, yet again, ripened early. We did not spray last summer and I was determined that this winter we would bring in an organic harvest. It was too early to gather them before I left and I calculated that the opening of the harvest season would only marginally precede my return from Africa. So, we decided to leave the fruits on the trees until December and I asked our loyal gardener, Mr Quashia, to make everything ready while I was away – the laying of the nets etc. I was meeting up with Michel in Johannesburg for the very last week of my trip, and the plan was that we would set to work as soon as we were home. Continue reading
I feel that silent shift, the interstices between the changing seasons, when the burning heat of the sun has lessened, before the trees change colour, before leaves begin to drift earthwards, when the grapes and figs are fat and ripe and juicy and the olive harvest lies ahead. On my rambling walks over the land I have been counting the olives. Well, not literally counting, but observing how many are resting on the branches and what percentage has fallen. Why? Because we have not sprayed the trees this year. It has been a hot dry summer – a magical one, but more about that shortly – and the dreaded olive fly has been in evidence, but I put my foot down. We still have plenty of oil left over from last year, so if needs be we could survive until next autumn without harvesting and pressing this November. Continue reading