My haven: TV gardener, Charlie Dimmock, 45, loves nothing more than pottering around the kitchen of her Hampshire home
Charlie says that she”s never happier than when she”s in her kitchen as she loves cooking
1 WHAT’S COOKING
I’m never happier than when I’m in my kitchen – I love cooking, and my books have all the answers. My gran, my dad Terry and my mum Sue were all good cooks, but sadly Mum and Dad split when I was 17. They both remarried, then tragically I lost my mum and stepfather in Thailand in the 2004 tsunami. I’m not as good as Mum was, but I do enjoy it, especially curries. Dad loves them – he was a merchant seaman and used to bring fresh spices home.
2 WATER FEATURE
This is my favourite houseplant. It’s a clivia and it doesn’t change much but occasionally surprises me by flowering with a lovely orange lily-like bloom. I’ve had it for 20 years and it lives in a terracotta pot painted for me by the local old people’s home in 2006, which depicts me as a topless mermaid – a very dodgy-looking one – with a fork and spade in my hands. It’s inscribed ‘Charlie Dimmock – the best water feature around’.
3 BIG BAD DOG
My dog Tarah’s a nine-year-old rescue Newfoundland. She’s lovely, but a bit flighty and would prefer it if I were male. When men visit she’s all over them. She’s obsessed with cars too, and jumps into them if people leave the doors open. The other day, the man who walks her when I’m away took her out and they passed a lady eating lunch in her car. Tarah leapt in, nicked her sandwich and shot out. I love her, but she can be embarrassing.
4 MY AGA SAGA
I grew up with an Aga stove, and would run home from school on cold days, put a towel over the top and lie on it, or sit with my feet against the door. It drove my gran, who babysat a lot, mad. She said I’d get chilblains – but I never did. I’m renovating my house at the moment and a new Aga was a must. It cost 9,000, but it was too big for the space I’d left, which meant a complete kitchen redesign. But I wouldn’t be without it.
5 FURRY FRIENDS
They’re corny, but I love my animated singing-and-dancing toys. There’s a Mexican mouse that sings in French, a mad stomping cow and a Christmas Tigger who bounces about singing Jingle Bells. When my friend Maria comes around with her children they switch them all on and drive us bonkers. I’m a patron of Dreamflight, a charity that sends sick children on holiday, and I’ve been to Florida, with them – which is where I got Tigger.
6 RIGHT CHARLIE
I appeared on Star Portraits with Rolf Harris, a TV show in which three artists painted me and I got to choose which portrait I wanted. One of them made me look absolutely beautiful and elegant. It was a lovely picture but not very me, so I picked this one by Martyn Baldwin. He also gives lectures and later told me he informed his students that I was the worst sitter he’d ever had; apparently, I fidgeted too much.
As told to Richard Webber. Charlie is playing Fairy Organic in Jack And The Beanstalk at The Spa, Bridlington, 14 December-3 January, tel: 01262 678258.