“ Author: Chris Stewart / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 04 June 2009 / Genre: Travel Writing / Publisher: Sort of Books / Title: A Parrot in the Pepper Tree / ISBN 13: 9780956003812 / ISBN 10: 0956003812 / Alternative EAN: 9780953522750 „
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The author, Chris Stewart, used to be the drummer in Genesis (pre-Phil Collins, while they were still a proper band!). Now firmly middle aged, he lives in Las Alpujarras on a mountain farm where he keeps sheep, and also has a parrot in the pepper tree. This is book two of the "lemons" trilogy; his account of the life he leads on the mountain side with his wife and daughter.
The main events in this book are the installation of a radio telephone at his farm house, the acquisition of the parrot (which is actually a Quaker Parakeet, and the pepper tree it sits in isn't actually a true pepper tree, but don't let the truth stand in the way of a good narrative!) and the installation of his "eco folly" - a naturally filtered swimming pool. Throughout the book is the looming shadow of the dam at the end of the valley which threatens to cover his land in silt, or worse, submerse it in water. I won't spoil the plot and say what happens with the dam.
If you've read "Driving over Lemons", you will welcome the return to El Valero (his house) and the way in which he writes about it. The family has settled in now and life at the farm has matured. His sheep are still the scourge of his wife's veg patch, and the local characters are still the same, perhaps with the exception of Domingo who seems to be talented at anything he turns his hand to - his talents step up in this instalment and I found this turn of events really built him up as a character.
I have a large soft spot for the "lemons" trilogy - I've been drawn in to the goings on at El Valero and share the author's ups and downs during his relating of events like the green algae in the swimming pool, the fight against the red tape which wraps itself tightly around the dam saga and the mini "war" he fights against Porca, the parrot. Throughout, he writes with warmth in an agreeable manner, and there is plenty of humour - not gags, just wry observations about his everyday life as a farmer, his neighbours and being a father and husband.
Book two of the "lemons" trilogy is a cracker, if you enjoyed "Driving over lemons" then you'll enjoy this. The full five stars from me.
The sequel to Driving Over Lemons, Chris Stewart's book roams over a variety of topics on a chapter by chapter basis, which reflect his willingness to challenge conventionality. Chris embodies the self confidence that should be a product of his Winchester public school education as he moves from sheep shearing in Sweden, first dalliance with Spain, self deprecating his abilities as a member of the original Genesis, work in Sir Robert Fossett's Circus and his life as an eco warrior. mixed in are his wife, Ana and daughter Chloe. They work hard to enjoy their idyllic existence in Las Alpujarras, battling the weather and the powers of national planning, in their case a subsidiary dam long planned, shelved and remerging to challenge their future. This is a put downable book in the non derogatory sense that there don't seem to be any cliff hangers that will make you read on when you want to go to sleep or simply do something other than read. The chapters flit about and Scandinavian and native Spanish characters come and go, accompanied by short, descriptive passages. There are no villains, just lifestyle threats to be fought against or accepted with an air of fatalism. I bought this book after hearing passages read on Radio 4 and have not read it's predecessor, although I may. I didn't finf the book funny, as some reviewers did, charming, yes, but nothing above a half smile. Conclusion I enjoyed it as a light, non involving read, suitable for holidays or bedtime....and the parrot in the pepper tree? not a parrot but a parakeet, and not a pepper tree, glean what you will from that!
Chris Stewart turns another leaf on his life in southern Spain in this Sort Of sequel to his biography, Driving Over Lemons. It is in fact part sequel - further (mis)adventures of Chris and his family on their remote Andalusian farm.