The last time I saw alpine cheeses maturing, it was high in the Swiss Alps on a sparkling summer day 25 years ago. In the ancient stone building where the cheesemaker spent summers with his wife and young family, huge golden rounds sat quietly maturing on wooden shelves in a cool, gloomy room.

After herding and milking the cows, he made the cheese next door with much-used, wooden equipment.

Life was unhurried, simple, low-tech - a world away from the cloudy flatlands of Kingham, north Oxfordshire, where Roger Crudge has started to make alpine-inspired cheese.

The clothing is different for a start. When we met in the former cow shed that he rents, Mr Crudge was wearing a T-shirt and swimming shorts, a fetching blue net hat and rubber clogs.

His organic milk is bought from Richard Lovet, whose herd of Jersey cows is seven miles away in Great Rollright.

Then he pasteurises the milk before making and storing his cheeses in a series of gleaming white rooms, cooled to the appropriate temperature, with high-tech equipment and plastic moulds.

However, while the places are starkly different, the passion for cheesemaking is the same and the large round Haddon Gold, particularly, reminded me of Swiss cheese. It has a hard but creamy texture and tastes sublime.

Mr Crudge, 55, comes from a generation of local farmers and, until 2000, co-owned a farm in Churchill up the road with a cousin, but he decided to move to Devon and bought a dairy farm there.

Two years later, he caught the cheesemaking bug and, after learning the trade with a friendly local cheesemaker, decided to move back to Oxfordshire last year, because he and wife Karen missed the place.

But what made a farmer want to switch from milking to making cheese?

Decision He first got the idea 15 years ago, when he visited a cheesemaker in Llangloffan, Pembrokeshire, while on holiday.

"From that kernel, the whole idea has come," he said.

However, circumstances were not right for him to start making cheese until he was down in Devon.

A farm nearby made Loddiswell goat's cheese and with the owners' help, the Crudges started making some from their own Swiss cows.

"Eventually, it came to the point where we had to invest money into the dairy, or in the cheesemaking and so we took the decision to go with cheese."

Being a farmer has helped him in his new venture, in two ways.

"It teaches you patience. It gets you prepared for the idea that you're not going to get an instant return. But it also means I understand things like that wonderful French term terroir, that the land and environment determines the end product," he explained.

Although he had all the equipment for cheesemaking, Mr Crudge had to invest around £75,000 in the business, raised from selling the farm in Devon.

He started selling cheese in April. At the moment, the range includes a small curd cheese, the Little Rollright, a harder cheese, Kingham Green, and the Haddon Gold.

Next year, he hopes to persuade a nearby farmer to sell him milk, so he can start making a blue-veined, soft, St Agur-type cheese. He will call it Bledington Blue.

Prices range from £10 per kilo wholesale for the Kingham Green, to £12 per kilo for the Haddon Gold, and Mr Crudge sells mainly to delicatessens in local villages, as well as the cheese shop in Oxford's covered market.

Recently, he set up at East Oxford Farmers' Market and plans to sell to more of these, starting with Chipping Norton. He also hopes to sell to Waitrose next year.

Mr Crudge got to know and love Alpine cheeses because of skiing holidays in Austria and Switzerland. But what does he actually enjoy about cheesemaking?

He said: "It's like mud pies. When you're actually scrunching up those curds and putting them into the moulds, it's glorious. It's really tactile."

So it is reliving his boyhood? "Absolutely, though I don't put worms in," he replied, laughing.

As he had sold his share of the farm in Churchill before to moving to Devon, Mr Crudge rents premises on Church Hill farm, which belongs to Alex James, once the bassist for Britpop band Blur.

Mr Crudge has known the place all his life.

He said: "This was Dick Rose's farm and there were pedigree shorthorn cows here.

"My family all farmed shorthorns, so I knew about this place. They were probably the foremost breeders of shorthorn cows in England back in the 1960s and 70s, so it's a nice feeling of a circle coming here."

What is his relationship with his celebrity landlord?

"There is no relationship except purely and simply as landlord. He's obviously interested, but he's so busy nowadays, I hardly ever see him," he replied.

Mr Crudge reminds me of someone famous himself - the comedian Ricky Gervais. It is the way he talks and his surreal sense of humour.

Except when it comes to cheese. He's very serious about that.

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