Monday 15 June 2009

Leave Dulverton alone, Liz Jones

‘We’ve had the most wonderful holiday ever,’ said the woman sitting next to me in the pub with the broadest of grins. I’d got talking to her and her husband a fortnight earlier when they’d just arrived and we’ve bumped into them here, there and everywhere in the interim. ‘We tried out all the places you recommended and we found a few more too,’ she said, making my mouth water as she detailed every fabulous supper, every cool glass of pinot. ‘You are so lucky to have such great places to eat and drink round here. And it’s so beautiful. And the people are so friendly.’
She’s right on all counts. We are. It is. They are.

Dulverton is a small town but it’s packed with good things. We are blessed with great small shops – both of the everyday useful variety (greengrocers, hardware, newsagent, chemist etc) and the totally non-essential but deeply delightful variety. You can buy everything from a saddle to a pair of f***-me heels, an antiquarian book to a fishing rod, a set of Sophie Conran cookware to a sack of dog biscuits.

Woods (as many of you know) is a fabulous bar/restaurant which serves seriously smart food (alongside a robust bar menu). The landlord, Paddy, is a connoisseur of wine and beer – and you can drink any of his vast selection of wines by the glass. It’s been feted in every paper and guide going and is always packed. The Bridge offers superior pub grub – home-made pizzas and pies, steaks and salads – and has to have one of the most gorgeous locations – right next to the river. We have a Thai restaurant which is excellent and slightly further afield are other excellent eateries (the Quarryman’s Rest in nearby Bampton is a favourite and my new best friends seriously rated the Tarr Farm restaurant, just up over the moor). OK, it's not London - you can't get a choice of organic vegan cafes or decide you fancy dim sum on a Sunday morning - but it truly isn't a culinary desert.

It’s a lively community too, a right old mix of ages and interests. And yes, people are friendly, very friendly. We all know that tourists are vital for our town’s wellbeing and they are made hugely welcome – not just for their credit cards but for the buzz they give the town. People work hard, darn hard to make Dulverton work and to keep it as a living breathing town. So I do get cross when I hear people running it down. This has been brewing for a long time and I have been sitting on my hands for months, nay two years, but it’s time to say to Liz Jones, enough already.

Liz Jones, for those who don’t read the Mail on Sunday, writes a weekly column in YOU magazine about her life. In the past this has revolved around her disastrous relationship but, ever since she moved near to Dulverton, her favourite gripe seems to be Exmoor itself.

Nothing is right. It seems we’re all uncouth yokels with hairy legs and armpits, downing our flagons of cider and doddering around, crashing into one another as we’re all so ancient and decrepit. Except, of course, when we toss aside our Zimmer frames on Sundays to hurtle out to blast pheasants from the sky. For pity’s sake, someone tell her nobody shoots pheasants on Sundays – they’re taking a pot at bits of clay. Apparently there’s nowhere decent to eat – all you can get in the ‘wine bars’ and ‘bistros’ are chicken in a basket and rum-babas. I wouldn’t mind if it were true but it isn’t. I wouldn’t even be so cross if it were funny or witty. But it’s all just so clichéd. So stereotypical. So lazy.

If Liz had come to Exmoor with an open mind and open heart, she would have been made hugely welcome. Exmoor loves mavericks and eccentrics and would have smiled, indulged and probably feted her (and she would have found a mass of material for her column). But all she has done is moan and gripe and poke fun at her neighbours and the surrounding area. Why, people wonder, did she come in the first place? A lot of the locals reckon she’s only here to get a good book out of the place. I am prepared to be more charitable. She clearly loves her animals (even if she does think that feeding rats on organic muesli is a good idea) and she probably fell for that age-old idea that things will be better in the country than in the big city. Well, they can be. But you have to make an effort. You have to meet people halfway, if not more. You have to introduce yourself to your neighbours (not turn them away because you’re ‘in the middle of a photo shoot’). You have to pitch up to things. You have to try things you would never normally do in the city. You have to recognise that country living is entirely different. In the city you tend to mix with your own narrow band of people – when I lived in London, it was all media, fashion, arty types. In the country you meet a much broader cross-section and that is its delight.
Above all, you have to adapt. You can’t expect the countryside to change itself for you. It’s not too late (not quite) and Liz, if I can offer just a few bits of advice…..

1. Ditch the BMW and get yourself a good old Suzuki or Subaru.
2. Stop feeding the rats – truly, people are laughing.
3. Try smiling as you come into the pub. Get chatting at the bar.
4. Accept that you won’t stop people shooting or fishing or hunting or farming out here. It just ain’t gonna happen. Live and let live.
5. Please stop calling hooves ‘paws’. Ditto to 2.
6. Learn how to reverse.
7. Stop going on about Prada, Laboutins and so on – not only is it vulgar but it’s pretty offensive to the hoards of people out here who are on minimum wage.
8. Stop winging about your dilapidated farmhouse. It’s gorgeous. Drop-dead gorgeous. Or it was.
9. Stop with the impression that you live right on the moor (now that really IS another country). Ditto the bits about seeing the sea (physically impossible).
10. Start doing your bit for Exmoor – you’re a journalist with a lot of power. Use it kindly and wisely.

The last is really important. The woman in the pub paused over her glass of wine. ‘You know the funny thing?’ she said. ‘We nearly didn’t come at all.’
‘Why not?’ I asked.
‘Well, I read Liz Jones in YOU magazine and she keeps going on about how ghastly the food is, and how barbaric Exmoor is, and it very nearly put me off. It was my husband who insisted we should give it a go, that surely it couldn’t be that bad.’

So, Liz, if you should ever happen to read this – please stop with the running down. It’s one thing to play fast and loose with your own relationships and friendships in print – but when you run the risk of taking away a small country town’s much-needed income for the sake of column inches, it simply isn’t fair or just.


toady said...

Great bit of writing Jane.
Ditto to all meedja and snotty types who come to areas like this and immediately try to change them or run them down.
What a twerp this women is!!

Pipany said...

HURRAH! Well done Jane for tackling this pain-in-the-ass and extremely lazy journalist. She sounds such a ludicrous example of the 80s - all those ghastly types winging their way to the country only to moan endlessly that real life wasn't quite like CL made it seem. Cornwall suffers the same fate endlessly, having all the bad bits pointed out by people who haven't bothered to get off their arses to find the point of it all. Excellent piece and I hope she does get to read it x

Michelloui said...

Well said! Ive never read Liz's articles but I dont like them anyway, now!

Seriously, the kind of writing you describe is crass. I think your reply is wonderfully constructed and I think you should send it to her. Really.

And I want to visit Dulverton now! I'll leave the manolos at home, though ;) (as if!).

Ian Newbold said...

I thought the 'Woods' were going to be where you go in your heels.

I concur with the do stuff outside of your normal thing. I have moved more rural, my choice, and I love it, though I know it is only playing at being in the country, you have to appreciate that people from these parts really have lived the country all their lives.

Milla said...

yo! you go girlfriend - and all that lovely food talk without resorting to the word "snack". Well impressed.
And look at you with your url thing across the top (is this because I came from twitter and you can track that?)
Surprised to learn tho, that horses have hooves, I, too, thought it was paws. Oh, shut up Milla. Not funny, not clever. I've got hayfever, it's gone to my head. Cut me some slack. Look! I'm conducting my own conversation here with you.
(btw, couldn't leave a comment from twitter side, had to go out and come in another way - word verif won't show but is still needed)

Michelloui said...

Ive just recommended this post over on my blog...hope you dont mind!

Exmoorjane said...

Toady: knew you'd get this!

Pipany: Ditto. I suppose it's the price we pay for living in such fabulously gorgeous parts of the country but no, the countryside ISN'T all picnics on the lawn....

Michelloui - yay, DO visit Dulverton. Manolos are dangerous here as the pavements are cobbled, uneven and often downright missing.

SPD: spot on. You have to tread carefully, ease your way in. Recognise that you're the interloper and the one who needs to adjust.

Milla: ah, but you can get a darn nice snack at the new farm shop! Hmm, methinks it's time we had another supper at Woods, no?
btw, NO idea about clever banners or URLs - guess it just happens!

Anonymous said...

Liz who? Glad I don't read her rag. Very well said. Hope I dont have to have anything to do with people like her down there. She's shot herself in the foot trying to be funny and smart. Hope someone throws her a lifeline though. liZ(Zie) not Jones.

Westerwitch/Headmistress said...

Hear hear Jane - the tourist industry should be suing her for single handedly killing it off.

Cait O'Connor said...

Hear, hear! To be honest I don't know how you contained yourself so long Jane.

Chris Stovell said...

Perhaps Ms Jones is trying to put everyone else off because she really loves it there? No?

As for the comments from some (not all - I don't want to stereotype either) visitors of 'What? No Waterstones in Cardigan??'. Or farm noises. 'Aren't sheep/cows/tractors loud?' Hello? Feel free to leave if you don't like it, we do!

Tim Atkinson said...

You still read the 'papers? (Aren't bloggers better?)

Faith said...

Oh well done Jane, this really needed saying. Liz Jones is so incredibly boring - no wonder she can never find a man. She should thank God that she can afford to live in such a beautiful part of the country. I despise women like her.

Local Girl said...

Love it!! Well said Jane :)

I've read several of Liz Jones's 'I hate living in the country' articles and she makes it sound like Colditz. If she doesn't like it, why live there??

Exmoorjane said...

LiZZie: I think there are lifelines aplenty - if she would take them... I for one, hope so.

WW: people are truly worried about her stance. Small shops and restaurants really NEED tourist trade.

Cait: yup, it was tough. Aren't you proud of me!

Chris: Part of me thinks that it's probably a good thing that it won't bring down more good lifers with unrealistic expectations.. But then I just think, why on earth not move to somewhere 'tame' and 'civilised' - country lite, to coin Milla's phrase?

Maggie Christie said...

I found a You in the surgery last week and specifically read Ms Jones' column. What a load of tosh!

Dulverton really is as every bit as fabulous as you say, and I can vouch that Tarr Farm does the finest sandwiches in the world. (I recommend the bacon, brie and cranberry on ciabatta, with a pint of Guinness. Can't beat it.)

Exmoorjane said...

Oh wow, three more while i was typing that last...

The Dotterel: I confess I do read the MoS - but then everyone here does - to find out how awful our lives are! But I take your point - blogs are better!

Faith: part of me feels very sorry for Liz Jones as she is clearly very unhappy. But slagging off her home town isn't the way to make friends or meet blokes (and there ARE a few round here who still have their hair and teeth!)

Liz: Yup, just been sitting in my garden, drinking my coffee and looking out over the town and it is SO gorgeous. Yes, it gets cold and dark and muddy - but that's the countryside!

Exmoorjane said...

Mags: must go to Tarr - haven't been for ages, not since they changed chefs. Mmm, that sandwich is making me feel hungry!

Edward said...

I absolutely agree with everything - and Liz Jones is a total PITA. However, thinking laterally, maybe she runs Exmoor down because she wants to keep the hordes out, rather than attract them in. Of course, if only one could stop people like her the tone would automatically be raised.

Laura - Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? said...

Fantastic, good for you.

Handbags at dawn me thinks?

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

Agree so totally I am nodding and shouting like a mad woman here. I have read her from time to time but have had to stop because she makes me so cross.

rachel said...

Good for you. Some things have to be said.

The only bit I find really scary, as I contemplate a move to a more rural setting, is the notion that everyone reads the Mail on Sunday! Is it ok not to? Will I be laughed at too? Even if I promise not to feed muesli to the rats?

Irish Eyes said...

Bring out dee zider, bring out dee zider, when I gets me zimmer frame, I'll toddle along to Wood's WITHOUT a copy of YOU! Well done XJ, that's the stuff to give her, now, I'm off to shoot the paws off clay pheasants - after I pack me suitcase and head for Dulverton! [Wiiiiiiiish!].

Quilting Cat said...

Well written Jane. Same problem here in Dorset with moneyed people who come to the countryside and then proceed to slag it off. One woman thought clays were real pigeons! I know it is not easy being a single woman in the sticks so join in more, W.I.or go beating with a local shoot (Sept. to end of Jan. Liz) join the choir, just be prepared to learn from your neighbours. There is far more social life down here in Dorset and cheaper too.

Zoë said...

Dulverton is beautiful, Exmoor is beautiful, Somerset is beautiful. I'd happily live there.

Only blot on the landscape is that facile excuse for a journalist that writes so much wet drivel, its not even any good as bog paper.

Great blog and well put,Jane. It is high time the ridiculous creature wound her neck in, shut-up and shipped out. The only trouble with that is some other community will be blighted by her.

Style At Every Age said...

Well said, I couldn't agree more, what she says is purely for column inches, lack of imagination me thinks!

Ivy said...

Great story Jane. I bet this Madame Jones has not realized she is not the 19th century aristocracy lady she clearly wants to be, but a nouveau riche spoiled child with no manners.

arosebyanyothername said...

If ever I needed an excuse not to read the Mail on Sunday (and I don't), Liz Jones sounds like it. I have never read her and don't intend to. I can't stand writers who think it's clever to write with a barbed pen scratching at whoever and whatever they can because it sounds as they they know better.
I hope your spirited defence of what you love and respect shuts her up - if only for a while.

Ivy said...

I actually went to read her lasttwo columns before I felt sick. Maybe she should go back to her pink flat overlooking the lush greenery rather than wishing she could turn back time. Her photograph however told me clearly why she still hasn't found a man.....Devil wears Prada or who is her fashion icon?

blackbird said...

As a city girl always longing for the country- I can only imagine that you bring to the country what's already inside of you. And if there's nothing content, generous or curious inside of you- you'd be happier in the city with enough distractions to keep you from noticing.

I would send a copy of this with its comments to the editors, publisher and maybe some of the top advertisers for the newspaper. Send it to the Tourism board too. Tourism is big business for everyone- country and city alike. It sounds as if she covered anything she had to say of interest in her first one or two columns. Someone must care that she's repetitive and boring.

Letty - A Little Girl With A Curl said...

oh I so agree with you here! I have been "lurking" on your blog for a while (I have you in my links) and always enjoyed a read. But today I am moved to comment!

I so agree with everything you say, especially as husband and I had a wonderful wonderful holiday just outside Dulverton about two years back. We stayed in a farmhouse b and b just outside of Dulverton, which was beautiful. We ate in Dulverton, and we admired the town for the beautiful and varied place it truly is.

Liz Jones should be made to read this, I wonder how you can get this to happen! ;0D

I have been reading her "anorexia angst" in the Daily Mail the past two weeks, and to be honest, I was horrified at her attitude towards food, and the bad example she is setting for young girls with such writing.

So this post, really caught my eye, as a real supporter of the lovely town of Dulverton!

I live in Scotland, but originally came from Somerset.

My blog is a family blog, this is the reason I have it set as private - invite only, nothing more. However, my Dog has a crazy dog blog if you want to see what we look like! And to make sure I am genuine!!

Thanks for many an entertaining read. I found your blog via an article, I think it was in the Saturday Telegraph about a year ago.

my dog blog is

kind regards,
Letty aka Jeannie ;0D


Pondside said...

Someone should send the editors of the magazine a link to this blog.
When a writer goes on and on trashing something I think it must be because she doesn't have another thought, original or otherwise, up her sleeve. Perhaps you're right, and she's lazy - I've never read any of her stuff but I'll bet if I could I wouldn't be bothered.
What does the town council or business owners association think?

Erica Douglas said...

1. Hope they don't sell the saddle and f**k me shoes in the same shop? That's just weird.

2. I moved semi rural from inner city, it's different. People expect you to say hello (at the least) if you don't it's considered rude. It's all about how much you put in, and frankly it sounds like this woman wants her cake and eat it, the beauty of the countryside with the London 'scene'.

I feel a bit sorry for her, sounds like she was searching for a new life down in your neck of the woods and now her attitude has completely alienated her, she'll be back in London by christmas.

Tessa said...

----->standing up and applauding loudly! Well said. In fact, quite beautifully said. I’m not a huge England fan, mainly because I spend so much of my time trying to go home and feeling unutterably sorry for myself and wishing I’d married a Boer farmer instead of the lovely Guy. (God, can you just imagine! I would probably be sitting on a verandah somewhere in the gummadoulous drinking cane spirit out of a stone flagon, a rifle on my lap and my hair in pink curlers.)

But it is lovely and very pretty for the most part and I’m very lucky to be able to explore this pleasant island and experience life in bucolic Hampshire. And with London a quick train ride away, I been able to visit some of the best art galleries and museums in the entire world any time I please. And the theatre and food and shopping…...oh boy!

Exmoor is, without doubt, one of my most favourite places so far. Perhaps it’s because the first time we went there I felt that I’d stepped straight back into some of my most beloved books from childhood. Moorland Mousie, Lorna Doone (both of which were illustrated by Guy’s grandfather – although of course I didn’t know this at the time!), the Water Babies, Madam How and Lady Why, Tarka the Otter… In fact, we walked a portion of the Tarka Trail and I remember seeing a sign in a field which said something along these lines ‘On This Day Three Hundred Years Ago Nothing Whatsoever Happened’ Wonderful!

There is a kind of Enid Blyton-esque sense of adventure and discovery about Exmoor which I loved – and, yes, at every place we chose to have a meal, the food was sublime. To top off the magic of the place, we stayed in a lovely country house hotel with charming hosts and a delicious feel of timelessness.

So pfft to Liz Jones. Silly woman. Silly, sad woman.

Anonymous said...

She so needs a slap.

Well done you!


ArtSparker said...

A short, sharp shock to the system - I hope she sees it. In America, I haven't read her columns, but it sounds as if she is desperate for a particular kind of "material" and has rather low expectations of herself about what to produce. It's a mistake to try to aim low, and more so than ever now, when people are more familiar with -and curious about - those in distant places.

I retain fond memories of the pub grub at the Double Locks near where my sister lives.

Unknown said...

"Above all, you have to adapt" - couldn't agree more and that goes for anyone who moves to a new area/country.
Shouldn't they be hiring you for their next promo camapaign a la Apprentice?
Nice job x
Me thinks she's just lonely.

Sally Townsend said...

Spot on, well done to you for having the oomph to put your feelings down so succulently in print, I'm fed up with woman like Liz Jones whinging about their lot in life whilst prancing around denouncing folk who are desperately trying to claw a living for their families in rural areas.

Exmoorjane said...

Crikey had no idea this would strike such a nerve with so many people. Doesn't anyone like LJ? I'm starting to feel a bit bad!

Edward: I wish it were so, but I fear not....

Laura: yeah but she'd win - hers would be Mulberry (much heavier and bigger buckles to my Debenhams).

EM: love the image - but sorry I've got you all irked when you should be serene after your amazing walk!

Rachel: you can read what you like. Nobody will mind. Just don't feed the rats....

IE: Love it. Wish you were trotting'd love Woods.

QC: yes, you have to get stuck in. Beating is a great way to get fit and have fun (though I'm too lazy) but wouldn't suit LJ as she's anti-shooting and (I think still) vegan.

Zoe: yes it is and I love it so much I just hate people running it down. If it isn't your bag (and I freely accept it wouldn't suit everyone)don't live here. But if you do live here, don't muck it up for the rest of us.

Looking fab: thanks so much for dropping by and commenting.

Ivy: I really don't know - I haven't met her though a lot of my friends have....and many have felt hurt and angered by her attitude.

Rosie: No, don't read - it will only get you worked up!

Blackbird: I think you're totally right. The countryside isn't for everyone, regardless of how much you love animals and the green. Not sure I'd feel comfortable pushing myself onto the paper with this. Not very good at self-publicity!

Letty: wow, thank you so much for coming out of lurkdom to comment! I'm so thrilled you love Dulverton.
Hey, you want to know the supreme irony? The feature you read (I suspect) was in You magazine! Will certainly check out your dog blog - shall let Asbo join me!

Pondside: I don't know about the official bodies but the people who run the shops and pubs get pretty upset about it.

Erica: part of me feels sorry for her too. Maybe once the book is published (and we're REALLY trashed) she will move. I do think she'd be happier there.

Tessa: just LOVE the image of you in your pink curlers! And so glad that you have a corner in your heart for this very green little bit of England.... When I go away from here I feel so homesick - so understand your feelings too...and know how lucky I am to be in the right place.

Not waving: Don't think it's going to happen though, do you? I'd settle for an apology and a bit more effort.....

Art Sparker: Ah, the Double Locks - great position but sadly the food has gone off a bit of late (yup, will freely admit not everywhere is stunning!). Down that way, the Turf is even more fabulous - on a spit of land with estuary one side and river the other - opposite Topsham. If you come back again.....

Tara: I think you're probably right. But quite honestly, I've never known a place where people fall into relationships so quickly and easily (and with men under 80 and with their own teeth) - guess it comes down to attitude.

Exmoorjane said...

Ooops, Sally, that popped in while I was typing.
Yes, people work darn hard out here - often with several jobs to make ends meet. If tourism is affected, so too are jobs. Then people move away and that affects schools, shops, the whole infrastructure.

Liz Williams said...

Came to you via a post on Facebook. This was a great piece. I live in Glastonbury and Exmoor is our 'escape' - my partner and I come down several times a year. Love Dulverton, and when we first came I was very impressed by the food in the area, having had a great cheese souffle in one of the hunter's pubs on the moor (can't remember the name).

We live in the countryside and sure, there's a certain amount of chilled white wine on the lawn and arranging the roses, but also a lot of picking up shit and dealing with small dead animals! It is what it is. I came here from Brighton 4 years ago, so it's not as though I'm used to rural life.

The really unfortunate thing for me is that if I married my partner, my name would be Liz Jones.

From her recent columns this week, she has not just the usual fashionable media neuroses but a full-on mental disorder, manifesting in severe anorexia. I feel sorry for her but I wish she'd make more of a go of her life - and that means interacting with the people with whom you actually live!

I'm the Chair of Glastonbury's Chamber of Commerce, run 3 shops here, and I know how much damage an adverse newspaper article can cause to a small town. I'll tell everyone to go to Dulverton!

Exmoorjane said...

Liz: thank you so much for coming over and commenting. When I was a child my grandparents lived in Castle Cary and my favourite place in the world was Glastonbury, where my aunt lived. Even though it is much changed now I still have a hugely soft spot for it. Yes, I feel hugely sorry for LJ's obvious issues and on a personal level have no grudge against her and wish her well and happy (but just not here!).
I was originally a Williams, btw! Good name.

Calico Kate said...

Golly Jane you've really stirred up the masses here. Haven't read her and definitely won't now. Do think that this should be brought to Editors attention, better that they employ you one thinks, such a well written piece (one among many I know).
Good for you & more power to your elbow.
(send it to your local papers letters page!)

Reasons said...

Good for you! Permission to print this and send it to her. You'd be doing her a favour frankly, wherever she lives in life - this is not nice behaviour.

Liz Williams said...

Jane, you're welcome. I'll be a regular reader of your blog from now on.

Is it worth contacting the Chamber of Commerce in Dulverton if it has one and getting a little campaign started? I'm going to mention this on the radio tonight (we do a radio show on I'm sure LJ doesn't mean any harm, but as a townie who moved to the country, with a lot of farming relatives, I get very tired of people who come to the countryside and expect it to be like Chelsea.

I'm Williams and my partner is Jones. From these highly unusual surnames you may divine that we are of Welsh origins! But I'm originally from Gloucester and have a great love of the West Country.

English Mum said...

Can I confess to STILL buying the Mail, even though I live in Ireland? The funny thing is, the mag comes with the Saturday edition here, but yes, I still buy it, and yes I still read Liz Jones and her weird over-affection to her creatures great and small. But someone dissing a small rural place? I can't and won't allow it. Well done, Jane, for sticking up for a place and for people that you love. I'm 100% behind you.

Mopsa said...

Oh dear, I heard a heapful of stuff about her the other day that made me cringe, even though it was kindly told...if she doesn't like it why doesn't she just bugger off?

Iota said...

Good for you, Jane. Blimey, she should try moving to the Midwest. That would give her something to think about.

The upside is that she isn't encouraging hoards of visitors, who will overrun your beautiful corner of the world.

I still miss The Poltimore Arms.

Actually, I've long wanted to write a column about moving to the city from the country. Lots of in-jokes about how you never see any wellies, how the food is mostly for looking at instead of eating, and how everyone seems obsessed with the labels on clothes instead of the clothes themselves. It would say "my neighbours keep talking about Prar-dar, and I don't know what that is, but I'm too embarrassed to ask".

Expat mum said...

That woman gets on my nerves - really. GOod for you for writing this. I hope she reads it too!

Exmoorjane said...

Kate: big're very kind.

Reasons: be my guest! I'll be wearing dark glasses around town!

Liz: I don't think you can stop someone writing what they wish in a paper - and I hate the idea of curtailing free speech. But I just hope she sees fit to be a bit more honest. HUGE thanks for the mention on radio - yay! My family are all Williams and Lewis (and I married a Jones too!) so yup, fair old bit of Welsh here too methinks.

English Mum: yes,dear, you're allowed! I buy it too!

Mopsa: sounds intriguing. i'm sure she's a really nice person at heart - would be nice to see the evidence.

Iota: LOVELY to see you again - I am horribly lax on catching up and hope all's well with you. Poltimore looked ominously shut last time we went by and tried to get a drink. Do hope not. Shall investigate.

Expatmum: heck, with this lot shouting about it, I reckon she's bound to! Thanks for dropping by...

maddie said...

I am proud to say I know of only two Liz Joneses. One is married to the former chairman of the Tote and lives not far away from me in Dorset and is absolutely delightful. The other used to be a Carry On actress. I swear every time I pick up the Daily Liar and its Sunday sibling. If I had to read this woman's tosh I would be sick, I just know it. At least our national journalists and celebrities from this neck of the woods - Martin Clunes and Hugh FW - empathise with the area and the locals.
Exmoor is fab, Tarr Steps early in the morning is one of my favourite places and I have fond memories of the centre at Withypool where as Somerset school children we used to go for field trips.
I know if this woman lived around here and wrote such tripe, I would stab her tyres with F*** me heels.

Liz Williams said...

Don't think you can stop them (and the whole free speech thing is important) but you can counteract it by setting up a debate and saying No, Look! it's really nice, come and see!

We did read bits out on the radio, and I have told everyone to hie to Exmoor, with Glastonbury en route.

60GoingOn16 said...

Well, I'd have to be absolutely desperate and with no other reading material to hand before I'd bother looking at anything written by Liz Jones. And your post makes me really sad that in a few weeks' time, I'm going to be leaving this extraordinary part of the country (I live just six miles from Dulverton.)

I'll miss Woods, especially, but also the hospice shop and the delis and, oh, all sorts of things, not to mention the plethora of wildlife in the garden. But I'll be living on the very edge of a similar size town to Dulverton, complete with river and with square miles of glorious countryside on the doorstep, so all is not lost. And I'm taking the workhorse Subarau, the joys (and reliability) of which I might never have discovered had I not run away from the big city and settled here 11 years ago.

Anonymous said...

You are too kind about Liz Jones. I have read her column every now and again when I get an occasional copy of the Mail or the Mail on Sunday. usually I like columns of that ilk but Liz Jones come across as a moany, spoilt little bitch who isn't happy with anything. She needs a good slap and I fully expect to read a news item on the BBC news website that says "Exmoor Jane slaps La-Di-Da Liz Jones. Horses applaud Jane's actions, stating they are unhappy their asses have been likened to the snooty columnist"

muddyboots said...

It's about time someone stood up for us 'rustic's',l am so sick to death of incomers and yes journalists who seem to think that we have some sort of deficiency mental or gastronomic or in attire. The countryside does smell, there are slow vehicles on the roads, you have to drive to get to the nearest cinema, theatre, supermarket. You wave at everyone you see, you smile and say hello to people walking, you clean up after your dog and do not leave plastic doggy poo bags hanging on gates. Surely it is not that hard to do and if you really can't walk in your designer shoes, tip toeing around the drying cowpats, then get the hell back to the city. Can we please have more of this Jane?

Exmoorjane said...

Maddie: yes, totally agree that some people manage to slot right in. Funnily enough, you mention Martin Clunes and we have Caroline Quentin living near here and she is lovely - smiles when she bumps into you in Tesco - very friendly and understated.

Liz: thank you so much. Really appreciate the shout.

60: NO! Can't believe you're leaving. We haven't even met yet... MUST remedy that.

Dave: LOL to the horses headline!

Muddy: totally. I blame mags like Country Living which give this idea of a picture postcard countryside where the sun always shines and haymaking is accompanied by pitchforks and picnics. Yes, the countryside IS gritty and gutty (as well as beautiful) and that is part of its (to me) charm. Aaaaghh, don't ask for more - if you wind me up enough I won't stop!!!

Frances said...

Hello Jane,

I've been catching up on my reading today, and love what you have written with wit, keen observation and original thinking.

The Mail does not figure in my Sundays over here in New York. However, I've seen lots of columns over the years by various writers who find it clever to be disdainful. I agree it's lazy, and rather out-dated writing.

From the many prior comments, it looks as if lots of others agree.

Herbalgirl said...

Hi Jane, Hope you stand yet another comment. Do people actually take Liz Jones seriously? I used to find her silly, self-obsessed rants faintly amusing years ago. Sadly, she hasn't moved on, grown up, or evolved one iota and it became boring. I gave her up a long time ago.

Sanj said...

Oh wow, what took you so long. Bloody brilliant darling, just brilliant.
Hope you are feeling better.

Cheryl said...

Dulverton sounds like a wonderful place I would love to visit one day. And, I don't read Liz Jones, but it's too bad she would choose to exploit her neighbors like that. Hasn't she ever heard the expression don't s--t where you eat?
Oh, and thanks for sharing Artsparkler's bog. Her work is charming.

Annette Piper said...

Sounds like a great place - I'd come to visit! Of course I'd have to travel half way across the world first! Sounds like the journo in question has a much higher opinion of herself than the more down to earth people around her that aren't taken in by her materialistic and snobby behaviour!

Saz said...

yes I agree...totally, she drives me up the wall...I read it occassionally and think well bugger off back to urban smogland then ...

as does the now famous wifey (of the north) I find her to be disengneous...ever read her Rant about someone her dissed her on the net..will if you will go looking...she also was pretty scathing of finding her book in a friends loo...I would hav ebeen thankfull and proud...but then I guess the hoipoloi dont think it humane to read in the bog...LOL

I crossed her off my 'follow' list pretty swiftly...and I have never seen her leave a comment anywhere in blogland...

no doubt someone will come to her defense..thats life...

Fat Viky said...

Well I am on my knees doing a muslim type praise kindathing (virtually of course coz I am at work)

I always chaeck out your blog then chicken out of writting in mine. I am not worthy!!!!


This obviously strikes a chord with so many of us - well said, Jane. I do hope LJ reads this. Dulverton sounds a great place - I'm on my way.

DD's Diary said...

Hi Jane, wow, you've hit a nerve - any response from Liz Jones herself? I don't read the MoS (she smirks) but wonder if you'll be in the next column

Anonymous said...

Hmmm....I've read some of what Ms Jones writes and find her entertaining but totally self obsessed...very surprised she has moved to the country. Love your blog and this post - good for you - hate the way city folk move to the country and then complain about the noise/smell/locals! I feel a bit sorrry for Ms Jones - particularly after reading about her eating disorder. She should just relax, enjoy the countryside and eat some carbs!!

Ladybird World Mother said...

Wow!!! Have read your post (fab fab fab) and then every comment, hoping against hope that Liz Jones would comment like the Terry Waite thing!! Brilliant. Aren't townies like that Pains in the Neck. Good on ya, girlfriend.

denise said...

Dulverton sounds like an awesome little town/village and you describe it so lovingly. You did a marvelous job of giving the Dulverton hater, Liz Jones, "what for". You are a delight to read! If I ever get enuf $ for a Great Britain trip (lifelong dream), I'll be sure to look Dulverton up!

Tattieweasle said...

It's scary how much power is wielded by the pen. For some it will be all witty and clever clever for others it is their lives. Do hope she takes note - read a piece by her re her horses and thought that I actually find many more articles via the blogosphere that are far more entertaining, informative and better written - like yours!

Chrissie said...

I love the way you write; you never fail to make me smile. I confess I don't read "You" (even though it falls on the door mat) so had no idea what was being written about Exmoor. It is wild and beautiful and I would love to live in a farmhouse and farm! We have eaten at The Bridge Inn and would second your recommendation, we had a very good meal indeed in a cosy relaxed atmosphere. OOh, and Minehead is not bad either :-)

CAMILLA said...

Dear Jane, wonderful post, as ever brilliant writing.

I have come across that L Jones, not in person I hasten to add, and all I can say is...... why is she still living there if she wants so many changes.

I think you would be great as a columnist, only have to look at huge comments on your post to see why, think editor of that mag should snap you up.!


Iota said...

When Caroline Quentin was in that drama (4 years ago - ish) 'Life begins at 40', I mentioned to several people how much fun I thought she'd be as a next door neighbour. I'm very jealous she is near you. And Martin Clunes too! Fabulous.

A Mum said...

Liz Jones is a pratt.
Simple as that.

PS here via Iota - very glad I came.

Melissa Cole said...

Great stuff, just put a link to it on my site, your fellow beer-nerd hubby alerted me to it.

beauty said...

I came across your blog this afternoon and it really cheered me up. I confess I do read Liz Jones in YOU on Sundays but only because I buy the Sunday Mail. I must say for many years now I have wanted to tell her to get a life but fear of appearing in her column is mortifying - a feeling that is no doubt felt by everyone she writes about - its never good unless you happen to supply face cream or cashmere throws, egyptian cotton bedlinen or designer clothing. The editor of the magazine is clearly a very good friend to keep paying for her morose scribblings. So pay no heed, people of Dulverton. Maybe you could encourage tourism in the area by advertising coach tours of the area in the Sunday Mail, taking in the countryside around her home with perhaps a glimpse of the lady herself. She's hate it no doubt. Shame!

combat_claire said...

Well said Exmoor Jane. I have just got back from a wonderful holiday in Exford and Liz Jones couldn't be further from the truth. The locals were friendly and welcoming, the food perfect if calorific and the pints of Exmoor Gold (no rum babas in sight!) most welcome after a long day with the staghounds.

She should get off her high horse, start integrating and come and meet some of the individuals who make Exmoor so fantastic.

Unknown said...

The fact that Liz Jones writes for the Daily Mail dismisses her being referred to as a journalist. It isn't exactly a real newspaper.
So I'd take her comments with a pinch of salt it's merely red ragging to the people that live real lives in a beautiful part of the world, she's just stirring up readership and blogging PR.
My mother send me a note to let me know what's been going on. We now live in the USA trying desperately to hang to our Exmoor cottage while we're away by renting it out - we'd like to come back and live in it when we come home.
I love your reply but I think she'll be delighted she's caused so much controversy.

Anonymous said...

Brilliantly written post Exmoor Jane; I found your blog after becoming incensed by LJ's somewhat hysterical, self-pitying article about locals pellet-gunning her letter box.

Exmoor is a breathtaking place and Dulverton is truly lovely. I was born in Somerset, and am proud of its wild beauty and wonderful (and frankly rather posh) towns that are scattered around like Dunster, Wiveliscombe, Lynmouth.

In my dreams I sell up in London and hunker down in Allerford forever. Maybe one day. Frankly I am a bit jealous of you Exmoor Jane :-)

I have always marvelled (and shuddered) at LJ's excoriatingly embarrassing confessional 'journalism', but tourists admit worrying about whether to visit Exmoor, things become serious. Tourism is vital to Exmoor and Dulverton and her foolishness saddens me.

Maybe a local councillor or a mayor or someone should have a polite word?

Ella said...

Long time lurker delurking to say how much I loved this and how sad it is that Liz Jones finds it necessary to write what she does. I'm in very rural Wiltshire and can imagine how devastating words like hers can be for small towns.

combat_claire said...

All of you who disagree with Li Jones potrayal of Exmoor should review her book, at the moment it is getting rave reviews other than mine. Redress the balance here:

Kayzee said...

Actually I think Liz Jones is suffering from depression, having come out of a messy marriage and moving by herself to somewhere where she knows no-one. I think she needs a helping hand. I know she is probably hostile and introverted when meeting locals but anyone is when they are depressed. I agree she needs to make an effort to get to know locals, but when suffering from depression this isn't possible. Plus the job she does is from home and isolated too. She needs a group of local women to take her in hand, whether she likes it or not, and show her how to make a good social life in Dulverton and bring her out of her depression.

Unknown said...

Hi All,

I've been following your blog with great interest and would just like to add I've been reading Liz Jones articles and to be honest as some one who lives in Ireland, am hoping this year I'll get over for a holiday to Exmoor. Yes, Liz moans but I do truly belive she loves the place and I agree with your last blogger, it probably stems from depression. As somebody who moved from city to country I can totally relate that it is difficult to settle in and be accepted. Nearly 23 yrs later I'm still accused of being a blow in. ok, shes maddened the locals, but maybe step back, include her in somthing local and give her the chance offer the area something positive.

Exmoorjane said...

Huge huge thanks to everyone who has commented on this. I think you're probably right that LJ suffers depression and god knows I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
I don't think an approach from me would be welcome as Liz has made her feelings about me quite clear in the national press.
However friends have tried to invite her to things and she hasn't replied to them - so sadly I don't think she really wants to be involved with us.

IanG said...

I have read the seemingly endless blogs concerning Liz Jones. My wife and I (wife being a Sydenham and direct relative to the historic Lord of the Manor of Dulverton)are Australian born and bred and in July '10 will embark on our third visit to Dulverton. Can't understand why Liz Jones has trouble assimilating into the Dulverton Community. We have always found things to see and do and have had friendly chats and a couple of ciders with the locals. The food and drinks on offer are as good as anywhere (even Australian wine in the supermarket last visit). Maybe we should have a chat with Liz, over a cool glass of something, and give her some reasons why we travel so far to go back to Dulverton.

Anonymous said...

I have relatives who lived in London for years and they had no trouble fitting in at all in their new village.
Because unlike Jones, they are normal people who don't have an enormous superiority complex and gargantuan sense of entitlement about themselves.

As a Londoner, I detest people like her, as a woman I hate her more.
The majority of us in London are perfectly nice people who are friendly and eager to make new friends.

People like her do nothing to disprove the unjust stereotype that has grown up around us of been rude, snooty, posh snobs who refuse to fit in anywhere and hate the countryside and it's people.
We are NOT all like her, and although she is certainly deserving of everyone's hate, please don't hate us too.

She is without question the most vile woman on the planet.

(See here for evidence of this fact):

Sound like a strong accusation to make based just on her opinions of the countryside she willingly chose to move to?
No, she hates everyone and everything, and that is not an exaggeration.

A quick -but painful- search through her past columns reveals her hatred of all of humanity.

Women, (she once wrote about having her breasts "cut off" because they "didn't look good in jackets", despite the fact that she has been getting so much money all these years for her pseudo-writing that she could easily afford some bespoke if it bothered her that much). She hates men -all kinds of course, children, fashion magazines (oh the irony), women who take their husband's surname after marriage, Christmas (yes, Christmas! Although let's face it that's probably just because everyone in her life has wisely deserted her), the country, the city, the roads, the air, oh and let's not forget...

She took "her own Illy beans and a special pot" with her on a trekking trip for the impoverished local guides to make her daily coffee.

And she wrote about how glad she was that her own mother developed dementia.
Because it meant that her mother could no longer remember Liz' real age and blurt it out to people.

And no, I do not believe that she loves those animals. She only has them because she cannot have real friendships with humans because they know better.
Her animals are always getting sick and some have died. She is hugely in debt and is running an animal sanctuary in all but name, despite the fact that this takes a lot of money to do.

If she cared, she would never have taken them in the first place, as she knows she can't afford them (feeding her army of cats on organic M&S prawns...when the bank manager is knocking at your door? She is an idiot).

She even tried to get her old rescue sheepdog to learn to heard, something they need to be started on from a young age. Needless to say the dog just tore around the field until it caught up with a sheep and started to tear it's wool off.

I urge anyone to check out this forum if they need further proof that I am not exaggerating her crimes in any way:

Thanks for reading all of this (if anyone has), but it needed to be said.

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combat_claire said...

Liz Jones is selling up at last. Good riddance!

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Anonymous said...

Hello Jane, I've only just discovered your blog and have been reading through old posts- just had to say (the Jones topic tends to raise a word from the quietest reader!) I work at Tarr Farm (all food in baskets of course, no awards there... pah) and She came in for lunch last summer. For someone with expensive supposedly refined taste, she didn't choose the fresh seafood or any of the vegetarian options, but ordered (allowed her friend to order while she sat at the table being waited on) ....egg and chips. MMM! See you soon! X

Anonymous said...

As an Exmoor - 2 miles out of Dulverton- resident, I was interested to read your post. Great writing and a lot of what you say is very true. Like most communities, Dulverton is home to many different characters and opinions and of course no-one will find everything to their taste. Liz (rightly in my opinion) finds the hunting and shooting offensive - who in their right mind enjoys killing animals? - but if you look the other way and concentrate on all the great things that go on in Dulverton it really is a lovely place.

I was in town on Boxing day and happened to catch some hilarious posh woman in a cut-glass accent straight from central casting (it's not a class thing hunting, yeh right lol) giving a rousing eve-of-Agincourt style speech to the assembled fox hunters, all set for their traditional Boxing Day hunt and an afternoon of proving their bravery and skills against a ferocious and unlucky fox. Whilst this activity is indeed, deeply offensive (replace "hunting" with "burglary" - another criminal act - in the above and picture a scene with hundreds of thieves and felons crowding outside Woods) I chose to pass by, after noting the sheer vulgarity on display - heavens above people, read a novel! Listen to a symphony! Go for a walk! Life is so full of wonderful things and you opt to spend your day doing this?! - and had a great day with friends and family. The point is, life is so much better if on occasions you just look the other way.

Liz should ignore the crap and appreciate all the wonderful people, events and experiences Dulverton and Exmoor have to offer.

combat_claire said...

A couple of points if I may, Anonymous.

Firstly the reason that the wildlife and indeed the landscapes of Exmoor are quite so wonderful is because for generations they have been managed by design. This design has incorporated hunting and shooting to manage the population of wildlife such as the magnificent red deer. By necessity conservation involves killing otherwise you end up with an unhealthy and inbred population of deer. I am proud to say that I enjoy stag hunting and I have satisfied myself that it is the best method of controlling the deer numbers in such a vast space as Exmoor. Can I suggest you read this called Staghunting Explained:

The Hunting Act is a bizarre piece of legislation that allows exempt hunting to take place within the law so your assumption that anyone out on horses with hounds is breaking the law is completely erroneous. The one thing that is clear is that this act has done nothing to improve animal welfare. It seems rather ironic that you criticise Liz Jones for ill-informed writing whilst doing exactly the same thing yourself in respect of the hunting debate!

Finally if Liz Jones had moved to any other deprived community in some developing nation and criticised its culture and values she would rightly be slammed but too many people seem to see rural Britain as an easy target for stereotyping and fun poking. This must stop.

Sara from Chicago said...

Jane, I read your comments on Ms. Jones and her delusions about country life, but only after I'd read her rather rancid, tunnel vision version of what she expected country life to be like. Oh, dear God! Feeding rats! I live in northeastern Illinois. She'd be thrown into jail for doing that.
Ms. Jones aside, Exmoor is something like the states of Virginia and Wisconsin, and from what you've written about it, should be a place where you can feel at home right away. Some day, I'll come for a prolonged visit.