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Primed for a life of ambition and achievement, Paul Richardson fled the conventions of his bourgeois upbringing to become a peasant farmer (but with good WiFi) in a rough-and-tumble village on the edge of Europe.
Immersing himself in the rural culture of his remote Spanish community, he learned the traditional arts of animal husbandry and vegetable growing, wine-making and home distilling, and made bread from the rye he sowed on the stone-walled terraces of his twelve-acre farm.
In prose that shimmers with wit and sensuality, the author charts his personal route-map along a road less travelled – from the city back to the land, and from insecurity to fulfilment. Along the way he pays tribute to the influences that have shaped his progress – from The Good Life to Henry David Thoreau, from the 1970s pioneers of self-sufficiency to his farming neighbours in the far-flung region of Extremadura.
In Richardson’s hands off-grid living both becomes an act of rebellion and a form of personal growth. As environmental and social breakdown loom, the story of his interaction with land and nature offers heartening proof that a simpler, better life is possible, if only we can remove ourselves from the ethos in which conspicuous consumption is a duty and success/failure the wheel on which society turns.
‘The learning curve would be steep, but the view from the top would be worth savouring.’
A glorious narrative of one man’s journey towards self-reliance, Hidden Valley is a kind of testament.
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