'Driving over Lemons,' the adventures of Chris Stewart in southern Spain, will hit the small screen
With more than 2 million copies sold, the hilarious experiences of the former Genesis drummer trying to survive in the Alpujarras have inspired readers around…
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Before becoming a writer and farmer, Chris Stewart (born in Faygate, Sussex, The United Kingdom in 1951) was mainly known for being the drummer of Genesis between 1967 and 1968 — before Phil Collins. But his life took a turn when in 1988 he decided to move with his wife Ana to a ranch in Las Alpujarras, a mountainous region of Andalusia in southern Spain.
The move to what should have been a warmer and sunnier place than gray England was more complicated than he imagined: the farm, surrounded by olive, almond and lemon trees, was in a remote location, lacked water and electricity, and the neighbors were a bit strange. Needless to say there were plenty of ups and downs. These adventures are the ones he recounts in his amusing book, Driving over Lemons, which eventually spawned a trilogy (The Parrot in the Pepper Tree and The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society).
With more than 2 million copies sold, the comical adventures of the former British musician trying to survive in Las Alpujarras have caught the attention of the English production company Seven Seas Films, which has acquired the rights to produce a television series.
"The story intrigued us from the start, there are many of us who have ever dreamed of starting a new life in a place with a sunnier climate, and his tales of the reality of doing this offer a brilliant story, full of humor, misunderstandings, inspiration, challenges and gratitude. All this in the beautiful landscape of Andalusia," Dan Sefton, the series' screenwriter, told The Olive Press.
Stewart, 71, describes himself as an "optimist," although to become a happy rancher in southern Spain he had to overcome the culture shock of being raised in a wealthy English family in the late 1950s that prioritized their children's education, even if it cost their uprooting. At the age of eight, Stewart cried and saw his mother cry for leaving him in a boarding school that "emanated a foul smell of boiled cabbage hour after hour mixed with that of the permanent floor polish," he explained in an interview with eldiario.es.
As a child, his protruding ears and delicate appearance made him the target of bullying on several occasions, but he learned to defend himself with humor. Humor, according to this Spanish-adopted Briton, is "a good way to reach out to people, as a weapon to deal with even the most serious things."
In a conference at the University of Ciudad Real, in the interior of Spain, the former Genesis drummer admitted that the writing of his books has allowed him to address more serious topics, such as nature and ecology, the importance of not losing the roots of the Earth, and the love for simple things that fill him with "a very deep pleasure." In this regard, he lamented that the pleasures of rural life are becoming less and less appreciated and regrets that many inland regions of Spain are becoming depopulated.
"Every day I am more aware of the simple beauty of nature" in a very inexpensive environment and one in which "we work hard but it makes us happy pruning trees, planting, caring for plants and watching livestock eat," Stewart added.