Former England cricketer Freddie Flintoff has quit the champagne lifestyle of Dubai and moved to a luxury pile in Surrey because he was fed up of the sunshine.
While most people would be bowled over by the chance to relax by the pool in almost year round sunshine, the sportsman told ! he didn”t want children Holly, Corey and Rocky to take it for granted.
Keen to get back to the cold muddy British countryside, Freddie and his wife Rachael have upped sticks and moved to a plush Surrey pile.
But Lancashire lad Freddie says his new home is taking just as much of an adjustment as moving to the foreign Arab state.
Freddie, who was talking at the launch of Discovery”s new Alone In The Wild TV show where he roughed it on his own in Botswana for seven nights, said: “Dubai was great for a while. We were there for a couple of years and lived all over in rented places in Jumeriah Beach, on the Palm.
“As if a lad from Preston was living on the Palm with my own swimming pool! It wasn”t bad.
“It was sunny all the time but I really missed England and everything I wanted to do was here.
“Although moving to Surrey is an adjustment in itself. I”m trying to get used to it, but I”ve always lived up North or in cities, so it”s just as strange for me to be living in the country now.
“My wife is from that area so she wanted to move back round there. And it is great for the kids growing up in the countryside.
“As much as it was great for them to be able to play in the pool in Dubai, there is not much else for them to do other than go to the beach, go in the pool and I want more for them than that.
“After I filmed the Discovery programme I”m desperate to take the kids out on a safari and see the animals up close.”
During filming in Botswana”s Okvango Delta Freddie put his life in danger after coming face to face with a pregnant elephant and then pitching his tent close to a watering spot for lions.
But despite being hungry and in extreme danger, Freddie said he couldn”t bring himself to kill any animals to survive. He said: “It was such an amazing experience.
“Before I always thought if I want to go and see some animals I”ll go to the Zoo, but the trip changed my life. I saw elephants, giraffes, zebras, and when I was face to face with the pregnant elephant it just blew me away.
“I”ve been to India and places around the world and seen a lot, but nothing prepared me for that.
“After a few days I started getting into the swing of it and got a bit cocky and moved my tent. Then I was pottering about outside and two lions came to the watering hole.
“It was terrifying, but after 10 minutes became bizarrely funny. I was in my tent on my own and there were two lions out there having a drink.
“The food situation got pretty bad and I had hardly enough food to eat. They say you can kill birds, but no matter how hungry I got I couldn”t do it.
“I was watching these beautiful birds fly by and thought there is no way I could kill you.
“And I knew my children would be watching the show when I got home, I didn”t want them to see me killing animals.”
So what do his children think of Freddie”s new found career
“I want them to be proud of me and I want to do more stuff like this. I”m not interested in all that reality stuff, dancing around and things it”s not me.
“My kids don”t really know me for my cricketing days. They think my job is doing the Morrisons ad and things like the Discovery Channel.
“But I love that I can do stuff like this.
“I”m back working with James Corden again and have been doing some filming with John Bishop yesterday which was ridiculous.
“It”s really good fun. Obviously I love cricket but I love what I”m doing now too and it”s great to be back in England.”
See how Freddie Flintoff fares in Botswana in Alone in the Wild, this Friday at 10pm on Discovery Channel. All new episodes air on Wednesdays at 9pm