About this blog
Ask Google to tell you who Nigel Buxton is and you get the following from Wikipedia:
Nigel Edward Buxton is a British travel writer and wine critic, also known for appearing as BaaadDad in the Channel 4 comedy series The Adam and Joe Show, which was written and presented by his son Adam Buxton along with Adam’s friend Joe Cornish.
Which is only partly true.
It is true that I am a writer by trade, and that for almost 30 years before becoming a stooge for Adam and Joe I was paid to write a weekly travel column for the Sunday Telegraph and to edit that paper’s travel pages, but the label ‘wine critic’ is one that must have some of my fellow members of the Circle of Wine Writers choking over their Chardonnay. I was admitted to that strictly professional association on the strength of my book, Walking in Wine Country, and articles that I have from time to time written for Decanter and other magazines; but never as a critic, never anything approaching a qualitative judgment of this or that particular wine. Wine critics are people like Tim Atkin, Michael Broadbent, Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson, Steven Spurrier (alphabetical order!), and a small host of others who can tell a Pinot Noir (red) from a Picpoul-de-Pinet (white) with their eyes shut.
I’m not too keen on the travel particularisation in the Wickipedia entry, either. Travel editor and columnist I may have been, but I have written on many a subject other than travel in my time and like to think that if you commissioned me to write about quantitative easing or the lesser spotted flycatcher I would produce a decent, professional albeit not authoritative piece.
BUT WHY A BLOG?
Because as a writer I want to be read. I no longer have a newspaper column or regular magazine commissions for the exercise of my trade. Books would seem to be the obvious and only alternative; but —the contents notwithstanding—trying to publish a book nowadays by conventional means makes the twelfth labour of Hercules look like a stroll with a poodle in the park, and probably far less rewarding. A few years ago there would have been no practical solution to the problem; today there is the unattractively named, much maligned and much abused device of the blog.
SO THIS IS THE PLAN
As well as new material of various kinds, I want to publish work which I think deserves a second lease of life. To start the ball rolling (which also means to take the first faltering steps in the art and technique of blogging), I am posting a series of extracts from my book, Walking in Wine Country. This was a big illustrated volume, originally published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in 1993 (when it was judged Wine Book of the Year) and was a consequence of more than five years of walking through all the major wine growing regions of France and a few of the minor ones.
I researched the book when —to name only the most obvious of many advantages—I had the resources of an indulgent national newspaper behind me, a widely recognised byline, the indispensable support of the French National Tourist Organisation and the ability in fair weather and over sometimes quite demanding terrain (I give you the High Corbières) to walk all day with a 20-lb pack on my back. It was a rare combination of assets. All the same, the cost in money, time and effort was very considerable, and when I ask myself if full and sufficient return has yet been made I am not content with the answer. Enter the blog.
The popularity of both wine and walking is steadily on the increase. (The phenomenal Jancis Robinson, MW. (Master of Wine) has over 100,000 followers on Twitter!). A whole new generation of potential readers has been born since Walking in Wine Country first appeared. But the topography —the incomparable beauty—of France has not much changed since the walks were made. Some of the vineyards have grown or diminished here and there, wine makers have come and gone, methods of vinification have been modified in keeping with technological developments; but the experiences chronicled in the book are still fundamentally as rewarding as they have almost always been. As for French wines themselves: the great ones are still the greatest in the world whilst in the past few decades the overall quality of the rest has improved almost beyond recognition.
So it is time to sound a new reveille for Walking in Wine Country. I believe that there are thousands of you out there —lovers of France, lovers of wine, walkers or not—who could derive pleasure from what (I immodestly recall) Serena Sutcliffe, MW, head of Sotheby’s International Wine Department, described as “a heavenly book”.
OTHER ITEMS ON THE MENU
Asked, as I have often been asked , where I would most like to live other than in my native England, my unequivocal answer is FRANCE; at a very rough calculation indeed, I must have published more than half a million words about my time there. Ultimately, you, the reader, must be the judge of what I choose to re-present on this site. Walking in Wine Country will furnish many of my selections, but it is not for walking or wine alone that France is so loved by so many people, and although (since I love both almost passionately) those subjects may provide most of my offerings, there will be scores of others arising from more than half a lifetime of travels in that incomparably beautiful country; on foot, on wheels, even on horseback.
There will be an account of the night I once spent in a Japanese Inn. Another will tell the tale of being marooned far up a river in British Columbia in the course of a salmon fishing expedition. Yet others will find me bedding down in a cave in South Africa’s Drakensburg mountains or drinking champagne in a suite at the Mandarin Hotel, overlooking Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. Once, I went hunting with Aborigines in the Northern Territory of Australia, ate barbecued iguana with them and slept with nothing but space between myself and the myriad stars.
Dare I say it?
‘KEEP WATCHING THIS SPACE ‘