67. Best-Selling Writer and Actress Carol Drinkwater; Life on the Olive Farm, Parisian Uprisings, Lebanese Olive trees and Stanley Kubrick - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 67
May 28 , 2019

67. Best-Selling Writer and Actress Carol Drinkwater; Life on the Olive Farm, Parisian Uprisings, Lebanese Olive trees and Stanley Kubrick

Carol Drinkwater has sold over a million books about her life on an Olive Farm in the South of France. She was the kinky nurse in A Clockwork Orange, James Herriot’s wife Helen in hit TV show All Creatures Great and Small and writes beautifully evocative novels that bring the sights, sounds and smells of France to life in a way that will make you feel you’re sipping rose on a vine-covered terrace overlooking the glistening Mediterranean in the warmth of the summer sun, with a bit of danger thrown in for good measure.


On this episode we cover:


How her books are ‘Enough to make you rush straight to the Eurostar’.

The Olive Farm in the south of France

Their newish house near the Champagne area about an hour outside Paris

‘La France profound’

Her Olive Farm books having sold over one million copies worldwide

The Frenchman in Australia who proposed on their first date

Long distance love affairs

Going to Cannes for the Film Festival

Dreaming about a house by the sea

But finding an olive grove instead

The Italianate ballustraded villa in ruins

Cobwebs, Bugs, beetles and magnolia

Knowing she had come home

Pumping water from a stream (for 33 years!)

“Just knowing’ about the man who proposed and also the house

Dom Perignon with the richest lady in Belgium

Hiding their old Volkswagen at lunch at the Hilton

Every stray dog in the world coming to The Olive Farm

Becoming known as the Queen of Olives

Spending 17 months travelling the Mediterranean

Finding 6000 year old olive trees in Syria and Lebanon

Her acting career

Being Helen Herriot (James Herriot’s wife) in All Creatures Great and Small

Her seminal appearance in A Clockwork Orange

Working with Stanley Kubrick

The shock of having to perform naked

Persuading Kubrick to just go with topless

Watching the film for the first time (in Bromley, with her mum!)

The series of films The Olive Route, filmed around the Mediterranean

Getting a contract with Michael Joseph Books (Penguin) for books:

The Forgotten Summer

The Lost Girl

The House on the Edge of the Cliff set near Marseilles

How location is so important in her books

Having to know the sounds, the smells, the flora, the fauna, the weather, what people eat…

The highest sea cliffs in Europe at “Calanques”

France being sparsely populated compared to the UK

Living in a hamlet with around 14 houses

The cosy winters in the fireplace as big as a room

Their 13th century house with walls as thick as cars

The 17th century priest’s house

The beautiful scenery, food and wine in her books

Her book The Lost Girl based on the Paris attacks and the Bataclan

The traumatic passing of her mother and the words that inspired her to write about the attacks

Walking to all the sites where the attacks had taken place

The shock of France post-attacks

The unexpected death of her mother just after Christmas

Watching every piece of footage from the attacks for research

Feeling her mother’s influence when she wrote

How Paris came together after the attacks

Finding ‘humanity’ the stand out memory from Palestine and other places she visits

The gifts of being invited into other women’s lives and hearing their stories

How humans are fundamentally good and are not born with prejudice

The ‘streets coming to life’ in Ramadan after dark in North Africa

Ordinary Muslims and Jews wanting peace

Her new book – The House on the Edge of the Cliff based in Paris, at the Sorbonne and the famous Paris student uprising of 1968

The 1960s and 1970s being ‘the last great period of optimism’

Bob Dylan, Mamas and Papas, Bob Marley and the great music featured in the book

The picturesque outdoor jazz festival at Juan Les Pins and the song that takes her back to the sunset, the heat, the wash of the sea, light clothing, open-toed shoes, tanned skin, a chilled glass of wine and being in love.