As the curtains rise on the sprawling 200-acre Oxfordshire farm owned by Blur’s charismatic bassist, Alex James, it becomes vividly apparent that this 54-year-old rocker has fervently embraced a new chapter in his illustrious musical journey.
This pastoral haven stands in stark contrast to his hedonistic days as part of the Blur phenomenon, the iconic Britpop ensemble that reigned supreme in the mid-90s with anthems like “Song 2,” “Girls & Boys,” and “Parklife.”
As reported by Mirror – The late-night revelries have gracefully given way to leisurely morning repasts, where Alex, alongside his beloved family, delights in dishing out “à la carte eggs” – his special blend of eggs infused with a hint of cream and baked to perfection in sizzling butter. The once wild escapades have been replaced with wholesome home workouts and strategic gatherings for the annual Big Feastival, a harmonious blend of Glastonbury vibes and MasterChef finesse.
Accompanied by his brood of five teenagers, offspring of his two-decade union with wife Claire Neate, Alex takes us on a scenic stroll around his 18th-century abode, nestled amid the Oxfordshire landscape. This picturesque estate features sprawling orchards, beehives, verdant woodlands, walled gardens, and an array of friendly creatures.
The farm, a cherished haven that he lovingly refers to as the “love of his life,” has been his abode for nearly two decades. A sanctuary that he and Claire, a former music video producer, acquired during their honeymoon. It was during a juncture when Blur was momentarily veering onto different paths. “Pouring my heart and soul into it ever since,” Alex remarks, describing his commitment to the tranquil oasis that provides respite from the whirlwind of touring.
Alex elaborates on the peculiar allure that draws musicians to rural landscapes, a magnetism stemming from years of living out of a suitcase. These acres offer an opportunity to establish roots, a sentiment echoed by fellow bandmates. He reflects on the serendipity that enveloped him when Blur’s trajectory unexpectedly shifted. The energy and verve of youth propelled him towards an unforeseen mission.
That mission extended beyond the harmonious melodies and basslines. It unfolded as an ambitious undertaking of transforming the sprawling property – a Cotswold-stone residence emanating traditional charm. Amid the verdant expanse, Alex raised the crescendo with a personal music studio, a favorite hub for the entire family, alongside outbuildings embellished with disco balls, serving as venues for jovial gatherings.
However, a surprising twist emerged in Alex’s journey – a transition from gritty rockstar to an esteemed food writer and artisanal cheese-maker, complete with his creation, No 5 Grunge. Amid this culinary odyssey, he introduces his latest creation, a sparkling wine inspired by the spirit of Britpop – a labor of love culminating over five years. This libation debuted in time for The Big Feastival, a splendid trinity of music, food, and family, an event co-crafted by Alex and Claire back in 2011.
As he basks in the glory of the current Blur reunion and their monumental 35-year milestone, Alex ponders on his rockstar identity. The shadow of his family’s anchoring presence looms large, a grounding force that deftly tempers his experiences. “Adults make babies, but also babies make adults,” he muses. His reflections underscore the profound transformation that parenthood brings, especially for an artist who traversed the heady realms of fame and excess.
For Alex, life began in his chef grandad’s kitchen – a fact that primed his palate for a lifelong love affair with food. The audacious decision to acquire the run-down farm might have appeared whimsical, but its evolution into a thriving homestead defies all doubt. Food, he avers, holds the key to bridging generations and kindling universal joy. It’s an alchemical blend of flavors and shared experiences that resonate with every age.
The James clan’s cherished farm isn’t solely reserved for the human inhabitants; it extends warm embrace to chickens, pigs, ducks, and a flock of sheep whose precise numbers have eluded Alex’s count. Amid this vibrant tapestry, musical instruments are interspersed like harmonious notes – an ode to the family’s collective artistic flair. Alex’s proximity to a bass guitar remains constant, a reminder of his rhythmic roots.
As a rare moment unfolds, family members congregate under one roof, a rarity given the tempo of their lives. The reunification coincides with a hiatus in the Blur reunion tour, granting Alex the chance to exhibit his craft beyond cheese-making – wielding the guitar that has brought him fame. This time, the audience isn’t composed solely of adoring fans but comprises his most critical judges – his children.
A sense of harmonious synchrony pervades Alex’s narratives. The tour’s rhythm, calibrated to a measured pace, harmonizes with family dynamics. His eyes light up as he narrates how his teenagers now find genuine delight in his musical performances, offering a bridge between generations that defies the tumultuous teen-parent equation.
This idyllic stage isn’t solely reserved for the James family; it beckons a multitude each year at The Big Feastival, a carnival of music, culinary excellence, and familial togetherness. The 25,000-strong gathering converges on their fertile grounds, celebrating the brilliance of Michelin-star chefs, iconic musicians like Tom Grennan and Blossoms, and of course, the hallmark of the occasion – Alex’s exquisite cheeses.
In this captivating narrative of music and culinary prowess, family remains the linchpin. Alex envisions a future where his festival becomes a cherished tradition, bridging generations and encapsulating the essence of unity. And as the curtains fall on his story, it’s clear that Alex James, the bassist, foodie, and family man, has orchestrated a symphony of life that resonates far beyond the stage.