“Driving Over Lemons”, by Chris Stewart
Chris Stewart is, among many other things, an eternal optimist, an itinerant sheep shearer and, believe it or not, the original Genesis drummer. Having travelled the world, learnt to sail, to fly and to enjoy life to the full, he takes one look at the Alpujarras, in the province of Granada, and decides that’s where he wants to be. He moves with his wife Ana to a mountain farm near Órgiva and misadventures gleefully unfold as Chris comes to terms with the terrain, the lifestyle and, of course, the locals, who possess all the rugged, homespun charm you’d expect.
He discovers that the owner has no intention of leaving and meets their neighbours, an engaging mix of peasant farmers and shepherds, New Age travellers and ex-pats. He soon discovers all the hidden foibles of his bargain purchase, and spends the following year, which is rendered here in detail, installing the little luxuries of life like, say, water.Then their daughter Chloe is born, linking them irrevocably to their new life.
The hero of the piece, though, is the farm itself – a patch of mountain studded with olive, almond and lemon groves, sited on the wrong side of a river, with no access road or electricity
However, just when you’re worrying that all this might degenerate into a rose-tinted “Englishman finds nature” idyll, Chris’s wife enters the fray. Nonsense-free, straight-talking and relentlessly unsentimental, Ana should be a required resource for all travel writers. Ana gets bored with the fake machismo of pig-killing, Ana sees through the selfless “help” of the natives, Ana calls a peasant a peasant. With her on board, Stewart has the perfect counterbalance to his declared optimism, and Driving Over Lemons becomes a loving but clear-sighted encomium, economically and wittily written, to a wonderful part of the world.
You can buy the book hee: Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia (The Lemons Trilogy)
Unfortunately I have to admit here, that while you may have found many fine articles written by yours truly in these pages, Chris and Mark, both Stewarts but of no relation.