In the hot seat: Tracey Smith

1. What makes the West Country “home” to you?

I don’t go very far from home if I can help it and prefer to use a bit of modern technology to do my communicating from the comfort of my chair, but if I do head out it’s usually up to London on the train.  There’s a comforting feeling that washes over you as the hills start to roll and the landscape seems to hit every shade of green, red and brown as you look to the horizon; I love coming home.

2. How do you relax?

By turning the computer off, turning the mobile off, sitting down with a good girlfriend and catching up on all the news with a nice glass of warm red.

3. When and where are you happiest?

First thing in the morning, off-season, sitting down at Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast, with sand between my toes, a nice flask of coffee, a good book and the promise of an ice cream when I’m done.

4. What’s your earliest memory?

Being in my nan and granddad’s back yard and being chased by my pesky brother who was holding a huge worm.

5. What makes you laugh?

Visually, Karen Taylor is excellent and I love Armstrong and Miller when they do the wartime airmen sketch with modern day slang- a brilliant concept. Audially, I love a bit of Julian and his friend Sandy.

6. What do you dream of?

Doing my own green build one day and having enough space to keep a few chickens again (ex-batteries of course).

7. What is your greatest fear?

That my eyesight will go one day and I’ll not be able to enjoy my treasured books.

8. Who do you admire, living or dead, and why?

Victoria Wood for standing up and just being her.  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for helping start me on the road to self-sufficiency.  My adopted mum Jen for teaching me so much about simple, green living and humility.

9. What is your worst habit?

Picking my toenails off, then giving them a good sniff… not really…it’s scraping my ear wax out with the end of a pen lid and flicking it at naughty children.

10. What possession could you not live without?

My wind-up radio and my pressure cooker are coming in at joint first place – I cannot possibly choose.

11. What is your greatest frustration?

 That sustainable living lessons are not part of the national curriculum!  I started a government petition for this which received a good response but not enough to effect the change.  Children are the leaders of the future and we must help get them on the right, green path long before they step into adulthood.

12. What is your favourite book?

I’d say Scenes From a Smallholding by the talented Chas Griffin.  It guarantees me a laugh out loud no matter how many times I read it.

13. What is your favourite word?

Gusset and innerds – we’re back to a joint top position thing here – I hope you can accommodate both.

14. What would you chose to eat and drink at your last meal?

Smoked salmon and organic free-range scrambled eggs, piping hot toast and lashings of butter, washed down by a nice cup of fair trade, organic rosy lee.

15 What or who is the love of your life?

My lovely husband Ray of course.

16. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Ray Mears, Carl Honoré, Leonardo DeCaprio and Chris Martin.

17. What law would you introduce if you were in charge?

I’d outlaw factory farmed chickens.

18. What single thing would improve your life?

 If I were to wake up one day and be organised.

19. What is your greatest achievement?

My children.

20. What talent do you wish you had?

Singing!  I delude myself that I can belt out a tune, but I’d be a definite ‘4 no’s’ on X Factor.

21. How would you like to be remembered?

As the girl who inspired people to ‘slow down and green up’, now she’s slowed down and is greening up…


Originally published in West Country Life, 18 October 2008