So then, curries. Do they play a significant role in your life?
“Of course! My dad used to be at sea and a lot of the crew were Bangladeshi. He’d come home with big bags of spices which he’d keep under the stairs. He’d grind them all up when he was making a curry for friends. I really wanted to stay up but my parents said I couldn’t stay up until I could eat curry. I forced myself to eat it even though they were far too hot! Now I absolutely love them.”
So your dad got taught by the masters!
“Very much so! He’s had a lot of work done on the house now but up until recently you’d still get that waft of curry whenever you opened the cupboard under the stairs!”
What’s your favourite then?
“I do love a spicy one, but there’s this one dish our local restaurant does where the lamb is marinated for 24 hours and it’s gorgeous! Curry is such a huge area; I love green Thai curries, I love dansaks, I enjoy the occasional korma and I love all my side dishes. That’s what dad taught me from a very early age. We’d have chick peas with spinach and Bombay potatoes and of course yoghurt, which is essential with any curry!”
Let’s talk gardening now. Got any advice for green fingered debutants?
“What tends to happen this time of year is people go crazy, buy all different type of seeds and it all starts growing at once. Think about what you want to grow. If you’re going for herbs then some spring onions, maybe some basil and coriander. Mint does really well, too. Keep re-sowing things; don’t sow the whole packet, keep planting another line every three weeks or so. You’ll have young fresh produce coming up regularly then.”
I have a problem with slugs. Especially with my coriander…
“They are a pain! If the soil hasn’t been touched for a long time then you’ll have more problems with them. People say gravel works but it really doesn’t. You can try putting your coriander in a container or pot and put a ring of this copper tape you can get. It actually looks quite pretty and it gives the slugs a shock.”
A high security coriander island!
“Yes! It really works too.”
Brilliant. Now then, we read somewhere you were going to be called Daffodil. Is this true?
“It was one of the names, yes! It was either going to Daffodil or Dandelion. I can assure you I wouldn’t have been a gardener if I did get one of those names. Daffodil Dimmock? I don’t think so!”
An actress, maybe? Did you enjoy doing Calendar Girls last year?
“I did! I was terrified. Not the stripping off part, but it was the first stage stuff I’d ever done and I was way out of my comfort zone. I turned up to rehearsals and I was the only non actor. Only proper actors do theatre so I did feel out of my depth but they were all so lovely! I made some great friends during that. Then later in the year I did my first pantomime which was a total ball.”
Do you prefer the stage to the camera?
“There’s an immediate reaction when it’s on stage. I can see why people get hooked on that type of acting but I found the lifestyle was a bit at odds with what I usually do. With gardening you get up nice and early and by the evening it’s all over. With theatre you don’t finish until a lot later and you get up later in the day. I couldn’t switch my body clock, once a gardener…”
Always a gardener. Home growing has become really popular recently. Do lifelong gardeners get cynical about people taking it up as a fad and leaving their gardens to rot after a year or two?
“I only worry that people go in like a bull in a china shop and don’t pace themselves. A lot of people are off work after every spring and Easter bank holiday due to putting their backs out and what have you. You’re best to remember that it’s not really about saving money when you’re gardening; unless you have a lot of time to invest then you won’t be self sufficient. What you can do is grow varieties that you don’t often see the supermarket. And of course, tomatoes picked fresh from the garden are so much tastier!”
Charlie is now the face of Gardening Direct.
Visit www.gardeningdirect.co.uk for more of her advice and tutorials.