She found fame as TV’s gardening makeover queen and this spring Charlie will be giving lectures on board Fred. Olsen. She talks to Pam Francis about her favourite places and going naked on stage…
I started travelling when I was about 19 and working at a garden centre. I saved up all year, and when it shut down for two months during the winter, I went off backpacking, staying in hostels in India, Australia and New Zealand where I ended up living for about two years.
For me the joy of cruises is getting off at ports and doing some of the excursions. What I love best is ambling round, exploring. Then the next day you’re off without having to get on a flight.
I’ve been on about 12 cruises, some of them as a passenger and some giving lectures on gardening. My favourite cruises have been travelling round the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, and I’m so looking forward to cruising to the Canaries and Madeira with Fred. Olsen this spring, because I will get a chance to have a nose round the beautiful gardens on shore with all the other keen gardeners on board.
As someone who doesn’t like to dress up, I’m not very good on black tie nights. I have one black dress which does me, and that’s it.
Because of my complexion I have to shade bathe under a parasol. Ideally I always want to be doing something on holiday. Going on walks, sightseeing or swimming and snorkeling.
My favourite Caribbean island is Anguilla where one of my best friends lives. It’s very low key and relaxed, and you can’t help but slow down.People always want to know whether Alan Titchmarsh is as nice as he seems on TV. Well, he is..
As well as gardening, I’ve also branched out into acting. I even did Calendar Girls on stage which was very frightening, but also good fun once I got over the initial nerves because of not being of that ilk and being with all these professional actresses.
I had to bare all – but it’s all very choreographed. So unless something goes drastically wrong, there should be no reason to expose yourself completely. Although there was one stupid time, when it got to the bit where I take my dressing gown off, that I was in such a rush to get on stage, I’d totally forgotten to take to my bra off beforehand. So I had to try and remove it on stage at the same time as the dressing gown, which had the cast in fits of giggles. Needless to say, my part was Celia – the one who is covered by the big buns. I am sure that they didn’t employ me for my acting skills.
Spring is the most full-on time for gardening. Just make sure you are organised but try not to take on too much. I know how tempting it is to overdo the planning, so that you have too much to do come springtime. You need to pace yourself.
My life is very luxurious at the moment.
I still live in the New Forest where I grew up, in a cottage my mum painted pink with red shutters. I am lucky enough not to have to do that much with my time which is very naughty. I just love being at home with my cat Summer, my Newfoundland rescue dog Tarah, and horse Rosie. But I can’t wait for my next cruise.
Charlie will be joining Fred. Olsen’s The Gardens of Madeira & The Canaries cruise aboard Braemar in April 2013. For more information, see fredolsencruises.com or call 01473 742424.