Sunday, 05 April 2020

TV globetrotter who’s at home in Chiltern village

TV globetrotter who’s at home in Chiltern village

BEN FOGLE says his home in Fawley is paradise for him and his family.

The quiet Buckinghamshire village seems a world away from the globetrotting adventures that have made the broadcaster and writer a household name.

Fogle, 46, moved to the village a few months ago with his wife Marina and children Ludo, 10, and Iona, eight, but he had been visiting the area for 15 years.

He was introduced to Fawley by his wife, who is the third generation of her family to live there.

Her grandfather John Henderson Hunt, a GP who co-founded the College of General Practitioners, was Baron Hunt of Fawley.

Fogle has been touring the UK with his show, Tales from the Wilderness, and was set to appear at the Hexagon in Reading next week before the coronavirus outbreak forced him to postpone the remainder of this month’s dates.

In the stage show, the presenter recalls anecdotes about his summit of Everest in 2018 and rowing across the Atlantic Ocean with James Cracknell in 2005 and 2006 as well as swimming with crocodiles, saving elephants and dodging

But he admits that after each adventure has come to an end he looks forward to returning home and, relatively speaking, some sense of normality.

“You’ve caught me between clearing the duck pond and cutting the grass,” he tells me over the phone.

“I have really enjoyed the variety of my life and the eclecticness.

“I think what makes me enjoy life even more is you’re reminded of what you’re missing when you’re away and when you’re back at home you’re thinking about the next adventure.”

Fogle says he only spends about two months of the year in the UK but likes to make them count.

“We formally moved here just in the last few months,” he says. “Although we have a place in London, I was in Fawley more often, which is why we made the decision. It’s my little bit of paradise.

“Marina’s grandfather and father lived here and she’s the third generation living here and I got introduced to Fawley through her and her family. I don’t think I would have found this little beautiful part of the world had it not been for them.”

Fogle had visited Henley on many occasions and has fond memories of the town from childhood.

His mother, the actress Julia Foster, starred in the 1968 film Half a Sixpence, which featured Henley Royal Regatta, and Fogle says he used to watch the film as a child.

He says it is important that his own children have space to run around, adding: “It’s a beautiful, lovely thriving community here. That’s the kind of setting I’d like my children to grow up in.

“For me, the most important thing for my children is that they have exercise, that they are close to nature, that they enjoy the landscape, that they get to know the country they live in and that they love the outdoors more than they do indoors.

“Most weekends we’re camping in the garden of our house — we absolute love it.” The family regularly take part in The Little Welly, an obstacle course for children in Henley which is set to be held for the sixth year in June. Mrs Fogle started last year’s event.

Later this year, his new book, Wild, about how to find happiness in the wilderness, will be published and it is set to be launched at Henley Literary Festival.

A new series of New Lives in the Wild, where the adventurer meets people who have turned their backs on the rat race and set up home in some of the most remote parts of Britain, is also due to be broadcast.

Fogle can reassure his fans that his show will continue once life returns to normality.

He says: “We will let you know through relevant theatres when we plan to reschedule the shows. We are living through unprecedented times and I hope you will all look out for one another.”

He describes the show as the story of his life as told through adventures.

Fogle says: “I like to describe it as an inspiring tale of how I went from failing schoolboy, because I failed all my exams, and how I became more confident through adventures and the wilderness.

“It’s everything from rowing the Atlantic to climbing Everest to swimming with crocodiles.”

The show took a while to write given his varied career but he plans on doing another one next year.

He explains: “There are so many things I could have included. I decided to fill it with key moments.”

But in a career featuring experiences many only dream about, there is one highlight that stands out for him — his first appearance on the BBC reality show Castaway 2000, which followed a group of 36 people marooned on the Scottish island of Taransay for a year, starting on January 1, 2000.

The social experiment was aimed at creating a fully self-sufficient community within a year.

Fogle doesn’t believe the show could be replicated now, saying it was of a time and place at the birth of reality TV.

“No one went on there for fame and fortune,” he says.

“It was such a life-changing experience that it’s certainly one of the highlights for me.

“I’d love to go away with my family to live on a island but I don’t think it’s really conducive to our lifestyle. Maybe an island on the Thames!”

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