Shadow image

Q & A

I recently answered the following questions for the Daily Express

Food: Always the same or always game?

I've spent a lifetime honing my skills as an eater and am now staggeringly accomplished. And while I'll tackle anything apart from snails, ketchup and sheep's eyeballs, I particularly adore garlicky scallops in the shell served with big fat chips, as at my favourite restaurant in Cornwall.

Cooking: Experimental or tried & tested?

My husband Jon is the cook in our family – he can rustle up practically anything and makes a mean saltimbocca alla Romana. I love writing about food, though, it's such a sensual subject. My new novel is partly set in Italy and has a fabulously sexy chef in it.

Clothes: M&S or D&G?

I've got both, but more of the former. But I love expensive clothes; it's amazing how they make you feel in control. A recent, potentially difficult trip by train from Antibes, across Paris and back to London with the children and luggage was transformed when I wore my best spotty wrap dress, my new gold cuff and painted toes.

Fashion: victim or setter?

I aim to pass muster really. I find a smart white shirt, skinny jeans and boots get me through most situations. But I love the whole circus of fashion – it's so funny, all those absurd-looking people telling everyone else what to wear. I get enormous comic inspiration for my work from it.

Shopping: ‘til you drop or avoid at all costs?

I love shopping. Particularly shops that sell glamorous, impractical, delightful things such as Jo Malone or Diptyque. I also adore John Lewis and feel nothing bad could ever happen to you there. I even enjoy going to the supermarket because it's such a great opportunity for people-watching and gives me ideas.

Holidays: Beach or piste?

I loathe the whole idea of active or adventure holidays. Life is exhausting enough; when I'm having a break I want to relax with lots of good wine, food and, hopefully, weather. There are places I love and go back to again and again – the south of France, Venice, Cornwall, north west Scotland, Paris. Why go anywhere else?

Approach to Life: Manana or right now?

I've got too much to do to leave it until tomorrow. Right now at the moment it's usually raining anyway;good working weather.

Friends: quantity or quality?

I've known most of my friends for ages, some right back to university and a couple even from school. Oldies but goodies.

Entertainment: Intimate Dinner or Big Bash?

I'm not a big dinner party person unless it's a gathering of close friends. I love big occasions though – weddings, christenings, parties – when I can dress up, drink champagne and generally get very overexcited.

Drink: Beer or Bolli?

How can you even ask! See answer above; I think champagne is one of life's greatest pleasures. Among its many virtues is its ability to make you feel suddenly full of energy, as well as witty, fascinating and thin.

Housekeeping: Aggie & Kim or Wayne & Waynetta?

I spent years in a tiny, scruffy flat where being tidy was the only way to make it look bearable. I'm still tidy now; it makes me feel I have some control over life. Of course it's an uphill struggle with two small children and there are some days when you feel you are just following them around with a sponge or a dustpan and brush. Possibly because you are.

Cars: Boy racer or Sunday driver?

I like driving but, again because of children, we drive a solid family estate rather than anything flash. Possibly that's a good thing – people over forty rarely look as glamorous as they think they do in open-topped sports cars. And those bald middle-aged blokes who roar around in yellow Lotuses are simply pitiful.

Money: Rainy day or live for today?

I was a rainy day person but then I lost loads in Northern Rock and my shares nosedived. But I'm basically pretty responsible and my inner Mr Micawber would never let me live beyond my means. The real answer though is that, while I enjoy luxury, I know there are more important things in life than money.

Property: Urban chic or rural retreat?

I'm fortunate to have both – I kept the small flat in King's Cross where I lived when I was a journalist and my house in Derbyshire has a wonderful garden where I work. I adore city and country equally, although could never write in London now, it's far too fascinating and distracting! I do fantasise, though, about a holiday home on the Riviera.

Décor: minimal or cosy?

White walls are crucial; I love paintings and buy them whenever I can afford to. Art, rather than shoes, is my real shopping vice. Apart from that, lots of bookshelves, sisal floors and enormous, comfortable beds are essential. Oh, and the biggest bathroom possible.

Children: Mary Poppins or Cruella De Vil?

Neither. I have studied both ladies in some considerable depth over many, many viewings, courtesy of the children. The type of mother I aspire to be is, as it happens, another Disney creation; Duchess out of the Aristocats is an ideal mixture of charm, kindness, courage and humour, as well as enormous glamour.

Health: alternative or aspirin?

Aspirin for a headache. Otherwise, I firmly believe garlic is brilliant for health, which probably isn't brilliant for the people round me.

Rubbish: bin it or recycle it?

Recycle; it's incredible the amount we build up over a week. I once had the embarrassing experience of meeting our doctor as I shoved endless empties into the bottle bank.

Fitness: Jane Fonda or Jim Royle?

The pool of the local health club is relatively empty at lunchtime, so I cattle-prod myself there a few times a week. I also do Pilates to help with my writer's back; my instructor's a former ballerina which adds a bit of glam to things.

Technology: gadget man or technophobe?

I used to be a phobe; it took me longer to send a text than it would to write it in copperplate. But I've sharpened up my act and am about to launch my own personal website,, which I see as a sort of cyber cocktail party where at the moment I'm hovering around the door, checking my make-up in the hall mirror and wondering who will turn up.

Enjoyed this? Then check out

My Country Life Diary


Beautiful People Blogsite Questionnaire