Paul Doulton, my grandfather, is one of the most remarkable people I have ever met. He not only continues to pursue the sports he loves, but he and his partner together have built a sustainable development, La Querencia, in the mountains of Mexico. I can describe La Querencia best as what I imagine the Garden of Eden would look like. Coming up to his 80th birthday, I had the chance to interview him about sailing, tennis, rowing and La Querencia.
How long have you been doing all of these sports?
I have been sailing for 70 years, playing tennis and rowing for 65 years. And before that I used to run everyday.
Out of those sports, do you have a favourite?
Well, the one which I hope to continue doing for the rest of my life is rowing because it is such a complete sport and the environment is beautiful.
Has rowing enhanced your appreciation for nature?
I have always had a great appreciation of nature, but rowing is where it is at its maximum expression. But of course, when you’re rowing, it’s amazing because you can just clear out all the garbage in your head, or things you might be dreaming about, or problems you’re worrying about, you sort them out on the lake.
So, is rowing almost a meditative exercise for you?
(Laughing) No, meditation would be an inappropriate expression in my case.
Have you ever rowed, sailed or played tennis competitively?
Sailing yes, rowing a couple of times but we no longer complete. It’s more just for pleasure but I used to take part in the senior category of international rowing competitions.
How often do you row?
I row three times a week; Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Sailing less now, just a few times a year, but when I sailed before, I used to get out every weekend. But I still play tennis at least twice a week. All of it is around the weekend.
What made you want to start rowing?
We live next to a lake and I used to row at school. A friend of mine lent me a boat and I just thought, I’ve got to get back into this! So it is partly because of the geography but there is also no better sport for keeping fit. It is as much for fitness as anything else.
I’ve just come back this morning after rowing for 70 minutes and am about to go and play tennis with an old friend.
Do you think this sporty-life style has changed the way you think about health and fitness?
Both, but I have always been an outdoor person and this is the way I can channel my energy. Ants in my pants, got to do something about it!
How important is the social element to your choice of sports?
That is not my motivation however there is that side which is also very enjoyable. But most of the rowing I do I’m in a single, although there is quite a good rowing community
Do you have any top tips for anyone starting out rowing? Advice? Words of wisdom?
With rowing, it’s great for fitness and it’s something you can do all of your life. I mean, here I am approaching 80 and I’m still getting out there on the lake.
And you also have an interest in sustainability?
Yes La Querencia; our motivation is that it’s a life project to sustainability.
Was there a catalyst for La Querencia?
It was because my partner was looking for a piece of land, I wasn’t but when I saw it, I thought let’s do this together. And we thought together we would be able to do something about sustainability.
Do you think you’ve done this to create a legacy for future generations?
Yes, that’s exactly it, that’s very well expressed.
What are the uses for La Querencia?
We grow all our own organic fruit and vegetables all year round and it’s a great social meeting point. We have yoga classes and there have been adventure holidays for children here and we have company retreats as well. The whole purpose of La Querencia is to create an environment were we can build a community of like-minded people, people committed to improving the environment.
By Siena Barry-Taylor