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Thirty thousand bottles of wine and a pig called Helga by Todd Alexander


A laugh a minute

Todd Alexander delivers a laugh out loud, blow by blow account of meeting the man of his dreams and moving with him to the country to become gentleman farmers.


Todd has a dream: he will emulate his heroine Maggie Beer. Jeff just wants to buy cushions – so many cushions - more cushions than anyone can imagine, let alone use. Todd has more than a passing penchant for buying cookbooks; he also wants to run the sort of B&B he would actually like to stay in.


We are all guilty of dreaming that we can extend our holidays into our everyday life. Becoming more like Maggie Beer is an aspiration most of us can relate to. And few of us would dispute the sentiment that we could surely do better after staying in very sub-standard accommodation and paying through the nose for it.


“The felt carpets were filthy, their flowers faded and frayed. The thin fibro walls were beige… the beds were rock hard; the sheets were see-through and smelt like weeks-old scourers that have sat in the kitchen sink…,” Alexander writes.


I’ll stop right there, because chances are your skin is already crawling. Todd Alexander has a way with words, and throughout this charming, self-effacing book his larger than life personality shines through abundantly.


I love that he’s out there loud and proud in that way that many gay men have of being pee your pants funny; and I adore the build-up throughout the book of the sense that this must surely end badly for everyone.


Todd Alexander is an accomplished author. He’s been writing for more than 20 years and his first book was published in 2006. This was followed by numerous others including runaway best seller How to Buy and Sell on eBay.com.au


The connection to eBay may surprise but ultimately also explain why, despite their naivety and distinct lack of qualifications to become gentleman farmers; Todd and Jeff have made an unqualified success of it.


Todd was at the pinnacle of his corporate career working for eBay when he made the decision to scale back his professional working life to spend more time developing the lifestyle block in the Hunter Valley.


Jeff, meanwhile, was a builder, and the pair had already established a successful track record of renovating city properties before they embarked on the greatest makeover of their relationship.


The result: Block Eight, now has an enviable reputation for both accommodation, and the quality of the wines and olive oil produced by the couple.


The story of how they did it is sure to induce belly laughs.


Reviewer: Peta Stavelli

Simon and Schuster Australia, $37.99.


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