A cutting from one of the Sunday colour supplements. Do you still call them colour supplements? I’m sure Mandy does
I creep out of bed at 5.00 every day to do the horses. We have a girl, Hannah, who helps with them, but it’s not fair to ask her to come in as early as that. I give them their morning feed and water, and check that they’re healthy. Jack is a thoroughbred ex-racehorse. I’ve been schooling him for dressage for a few years, and it was very frustrating at first, but he’s coming on nicely now. It’s very rewarding to take a horse who was supposed to be good for nothing and give him a new lease of life. Lurko is a Hungarian warmblood with a lovely temperament, and he’s such a good jumper. I’ve always loved horses. I felt so lucky that we could give our daughter, Vicky, a pony when she wanted one, because I never had one when I was a girl and I felt I’d missed out.
My husband, Graham, usually has a lie in until about 7.00, then we have breakfast together at 7.30. We just have toast and cereal, nothing special, but we like to eat by the big window, looking south over the garden, so we get the sun. We lived in Surrey for a long time, but recently we bought a beautiful old vicarage in Lincolnshire. Next to the house is a tiny church – it doesn’t even have a tower. I grew up a few miles from here, and my brothers still live down that way. Andy has just retired, and Jim still looks after the sheep. I always go to see the lambs in the spring. They’re ever so sweet.
After breakfast, I drive down to the shops for a newspaper and any other bits and pieces we need. Graham works from home during the week, so he starts about 8.00. We’re not desperate for the money, but I think he’d feel a little bit lost without any accounting to do. I don’t work very often these days, unless something interesting comes up, but Time Girls still keeps me busy. I often phone my agent between 9.00 and 10.00 to see if anything needs my attention. She looks after all my Twitter and e-mail and such because I’m hopeless with computers. Vicky works in computing and she’s doing very well. She certainly didn’t get it from me. She’s always very patient with me, but I get so confused. James, our son, seems to have inherited all my talent for the arts. He’s teaching history at Oxford now. It’s so funny to think that his college was where I was murdered in Inspector Morse!
At 10.45, I drag Graham out of his office for a coffee break. I’m sure that if I didn’t he would carry on working all day. At 11.00, he goes back to work, and I take one of the horses out for a hack. The countryside is gorgeous, and not very crowded. This is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but not many people know about it, and it can be difficult to get to. If Graham or I need to go to London, we usually drive to Market Rasen and catch the train there. They also have a lovely little racecourse. From the top of the hill above our house, we can see out to sea and up to Yorkshire. There are always big ships coming and going, and Graham likes to watch them through his binoculars. I’m fascinated by the windmills: tall, elegant structures, and their movement is quite hypnotic. I understand that some people around here don’t like them, but the villages on the coast are very low-lying, and I dread to think what would happen if the sea rose even a few feet.
Once I’ve untacked the horse and had a quick shower, it’s time for me to make our lunch, which will be ready by 1.30, and then Graham gets back to work at 2.00. By this time, Hannah will be busy with the horses – she works very hard – but I like to clean my own boots. I’ve always wished costume designers would let us wear riding boots instead of those awful stiletto things that were impossible to run around in. I like to have a little rest after lunch, then between 3.00 and 4.00, Hannah and I school the horses. Graham always finishes work by 5.00. We eat dinner between 6.00 and 7.00 and then do the washing up together. I often spend the evening chatting to family or friends on the phone. I especially like to catch up with my best friend, Katy, who I’m sure needs no introduction. It was truly heartbreaking to see her suffering for so long, but she carried on and got through it. Now I think she’s as happy as I am, although we like very different things. I don’t usually stay up later than 9.00 as I’m tired and have to get up early. The last thing I do is check on the horses. Graham sits up later and watches telly, or sometimes walks to the pub, but he doesn’t usually wake me when he comes to bed.