Back in ninetysix I was persuaded, very much against my better judgement, to write a book about our experiences living on a mountain farm in the province of Granada. For the previous twentyfive years I had made a living out of shearing sheep, and my reluctance to write the book was based partly on my perception that sheep shearing was not the most obvious preparation for a career as a writer. However, I am easily manipulated, and over the next three years I got my head down and came up with “Driving Over Lemons”.
I loved the process of writing. It all came from memory, as I hadn’t had the least intention of writing about our experiences, so I had kept no notes. In ninetynine the book was published and, quite unexpectedly, did rather well. To date it has sold the best part of a million copies. Blimey, a million copies… think of that…
Mark Ellingham and Nat Jansz of the Rough Guides – the friends who persuaded me to write – set up their own publishing company, Sort Of, to publish the book. Sort Of was… and probably still is… the smallest publisher in the world. Back then it was just Mark, ‘the Publisher’; Nat, ‘the Editor’; and me, the author. Now things have gone through the roof and we also have Miranda who comes in on Thursday mornings to do the accounts.. that’s how big things have become.
As for “Driving Over Lemons”, well, it tells of Ana (pronounced Anna) and me seeking a life with a little more adventure than was to be found at the time on the edge of a dual carriageway near Gatwick Airport. Adventure took us to Andalucía in the south of Spain, where we found an abandoned farm in the Alpujarras, over the mountains from Granada. We settled in, had a daughter, Chloé, and eked out for ourselves a precarious but interesting living.
Although people have been kind enough to say that the book is ‘charming’, I have tried not to paint too romantic a picture, and have included the heat, the flies and the dust, as well as the setbacks, catastrophes and disappointments that are the inevitable concomitant of any such half witted undertaking.
Driving Over Lemons | A Parrot in the Pepper Tree | The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society | Three Ways to Capsize a Boat