Novel set in Victorian Birmingham
Chatting with author Carol Drinkwater in the South of France
15th October 2018
We were delighted to have the opportunity recently to catch up with Carol Drinkwater, actress and now author. Sitting on her terrace, in the middle of her 10 acre olive grove, looking down towards the bay of Cannes, you can really see why she was inspired to settle in this beautiful part of the world.
She had spent a long time searching for her “house by the sea” and once she and Michel settled on this particular property, she described the pleasure and pain of tackling the run down, overgrown estate in a series of memoirs set in and around the olive farm. Michel and she had very little money and had known each other for a relatively short time, so the stakes were quite high and with no running water and electricity in the early days, this was a labour of love and determination.
Looking at the serried rows of olive trees one can only guess at the hard work that was involved and, at the time we met, she was anxiously awaiting the olive harvest. Their olive oil is organic and has the coveted AOC label, no pesticides, nothing harmful. It takes 5 years to obtain the sought after organic ticket. France is the only country in Europe that has banned neonicotinoids (the killer of bees)!
She very much feels the seasons are changing and as we sat together on her wonderful terrace, with her three rescue dogs lying in the shade (early October, it was still HOT!); she was anxiously awaiting the harvest of olives, earlier than usual this year. The olive fruit fly, a perennial pest at these higher temperatures, can ruin a harvest. The fly injects the embryo into the fruit and the larva develops and eats the fruit from within and becomes more voracious as the temperatures drop away in October.
There are organic remedies and one she is trying at the moment – which has seen success elsewhere, in Sicily in particular – is to half fill a plastic bottle of water and pop in a sardine! She likes to harvest when the olives are green, they produce a better quality of olive oil. And, we learned, all olives start out green and then they turn through beautiful colours of purple, eventually to black. The variety she grows is Cailletier, the olive of Nice. Her tip is always to buy olive oil from small producers!
We were of course keen to know what she is currently working on, and the title of her new book, out on 16 May 2019, is The House on the Edge of the Cliff. She had delivered the final manuscript on the very morning we met! All she could say about the novel that it has an unnerving undertow….. and is a shift away from her books to date. And it is set in Les Calanques, near Marseille.
Top tips from an insider? She loves the museums and art galleries in the locality. Rosé is the wine of the region, and a particular favourite is the wine from Château Berne. Food? Try La Colombe d’Or. Markets? Go to Antibes and Cannes. And as you are so near to the Franco-Italian border, why not zip across for some Italian goodies and for the “thrill of changing culture and language“. Italy is only an hour or so by car!
“All my life, I have dreamed of acquiring a crumbling, shabby-chic house overlooking the sea. In my mind’s eye, I have pictured a corner of paradise where friends can gather to swim, relax, debate, eat fresh fruits picked directly from the garden and great steaming plates of food served from an al fresco kitchen and dished up on to a candlelit table the length of a railway sleeper…” Check out her books on this link
Do come and join team TripFiction on Social Media: