WHAT'S ON

Todd Alexander to talk at Dungog Library on April 16

Dungog Library's author talk series continues

Author Todd Alexander spoke to a rapt audience at Dungog Library in 2019 and is set to return on April 16 for what promises to be an evening of some well-needed laughter.

"Todd's talk was hugely entertaining, he had us all in stitches," said Dungog Librarian Amanda Field.

"We can't wait to hear the next instalment."

Mr Alexander said a lot of the laughs come at the expense of his partner, Jeff.

"I love talking to a live audience and I'm very grateful we can do that again now especially as Dungog was one of my favourite events during the last tour," he said.

"Of course everyone needs a fall guy and for me that's the long-suffering Jeff who's learnt to take it all in his stride."

The road to publishing

With a busy and successful corporate life, Todd Alexander suddenly grew restless.

"My partner and I went on a holiday to the Barossa and fell in love with the relaxed pace of life there," he said.

"We stayed in a crappy B&B and thought to ourselves, we could do better than this."

A few years later they bought Block Eight, a run-down vineyard set on 100 acres off the prestigious Sweetwater Road just north of Pokolbin.

"We had no intention of being farmers but when we tried a Brokenwood wine made from our grapes we thought it would be a shame to bulldoze the whole vineyard," Mr Alexander said.

"My partner Jeff turned to me and I just knew we were about to become farmers.

Alexander said he had no idea his life would take him from a renovated terrace in Annandale to life on a farm with grapes, olives, rescued farm animals and over 100 acres to mow.

"Our courtyard in Annandale was three by three metres", he said.

"And most of the pot plants in it were dead."

He wrote the bestselling Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga about their experiences and the book was shortlisted for a number of industry awards.

"We couldn't believe that our little adventure appealed to so many people," he said.

"It also brought a lot of laughter into peoples' lives - these two "cityots" who thought they knew what they were doing.

"In the city the hardest work I ever did was typing and the only power tool I ever used was a cake mixer... to say we were in for a shock would be a bit of an understatement."

Country Life in a COVID world

Alexander's first memoir was very much a fish out of water tale, the highs and lows of city people who find themselves on the land with no knowledge or skills. Now he returns with his latest memoir, You've Got To Be Kidding.

A lot of city people - particularly during COVID lockdowns - have looked at life in the country as an idyll," he says. 'And while we have lots of fresh air and open spaces, I also wanted to let people know life on the land comes with a unique set of challenges."

The book covers the couple dealing with bushfires, drought, snakes, rapidly changing business demands, sick rescued animals, the unstoppable breeding of peafowl and the odd unreasonable customer (like the guest who demanded thirty six towels for a two night stay).

Alexander relays his experiences with an ever-present sense of humour.

"When it all gets too much, we find ourselves looking for the funny side of things," Alexander said.

"Particularly in these dark times, because without laughter and each other, we really don't have much at all."

To make a booking for Todd's Dungog event at the Doug Walters Pavilion at 5pm on Friday, April 16 call Dungog Library on 4992 1819.