Return of the Native - Dorset magazines New Columnist Adam Lee Potter
PUBLISHED: 14:31 28 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:11 20 February 2013
Adam Lee Potter left his London tabloid journalist life behind to return to his Dorset roots, where appropriate footwear helps to create the right impression at the school gate
Moving house is, famously, the most stressful experience after divorce and bereavement. Having just moved, either or both could still easily happen.
Moving to a seaside village in Dorset does at least take away some of the stress. It is hard to feel quite so murderous or oppressed when listening to the babble of wood pigeons and water in lieu of tooting traffic - and the school run is now a joy. A five-minute amble past hills and horses has replaced our half-hour thrash through the Rotherhithe Tunnel and Canary Wharfs grim one-way system.
Instead of spending weekends battling herds of pasty Londoners in Borough Market, all seemingly desperate to hunt down the latest obscure, must-have Icelandic tuber or Korean fugu cheek, we bask in the pleasure of simpler fare: a pasty at The Square and Compass, a chug of Blue Vinny at the Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival or a victorious, raw scallop off Chapmans Pool.
Such little idylls only make it all the more baffling that it has taken me 20 years to return, home at last. Born in Poole, I grew up in Wareham and went to school in Blandford before escaping to the mixed delights of Fleet Street.
To be fair, they were far from dull years. I have walked to the North Pole, been hospitalised by a paedophile's dog and come second in the Iron Stomach eating competition: I downed a lung, an eyeball and a sheep's stomach before choking on a pig's ear. I have been shot at in the Middle East and beaten up in Belfast. I've bribed my way into a Balinese jail and put a fake bomb on a plane at Heathrow.
I've interviewed Dannii Minogue in a bikini - her, not me - Bernard Manning in his underpants and John Fowles on his deathbed. I have been punched in the face by Ian Botham, made Marco Pierre White cry and fallen madly in love with Kirstie Allsopp. Worse, I've seen Paul Daniels naked. Ultimately, having interviewed pretty much every living soap star at least twice which is, naturally, two times too many - Ive had my fill.
My resignation met with a universal response from colleagues: envy tinged with London arrogance. Gosh, youre brave. They all said. What they meant, of course, was youre going to be skint.
Its not brave to raise your child beside trees and sea or to walk out of a job that fails to fulfil you.
Im not skint either. Work is here, waiting to be found. Our broadband is faster than before. And I can work anywhere. The capital has no monopoly on grafters. Our new Dorset neighbours are both tenacious and busy: a managing director on one side, an electrician on the other.
There is, in fact, more variety to be found in our village than in our old Thames-side apartment block, which was stuffed with city types. Here, we have a helicopter pilot, a businesswoman and even a former News of the World hack.
Masterchef judge John Torode, oddly, gave me the penultimate push. Why would anyone, he asked me, baffled, after our jovial interview, do something they didnt enjoy?
Then, when a dear friend landed a job on Brownsea Island, complete with a beach house and sailing boat, I realised I had finally run out of excuses.
My daughter pitched in for good measure. Visiting friends in Coldharbour, she went in for the kill: Daddy, I want to live here. Forever!
She has adapted to life in Dorset with barely a second glance, relishing her sprawling garden, a swing hanging from the apple tree, new friends, a puppy on the way. What more could a five-year-old possibly want?
The move has not, however, proved quite as seamless for me. I clearly need to relearn some tenets of country life. There are lessons even at the school gate. Dads in pink Crocs might have been tolerated at a London primary but not in DT3. I might as well have worn a welders mask with a parsnip strapped on top.
This is, for us, a fresh start, not an escape. As my grandad always said, It doesnt matter what time you get up as long as you get up wakened. And, boy, am I feeling bouncy.