The TV presenter on childhood memories of Wales and growing produce in her garden
TV presenter Alex Jones
I grew up in Carmarthenshire and we were surrounded by beautiful spots. The Gower Peninsula and Pembrokeshire coast were a stone’s throw away, and we’d pass the hours in Rhossili Bay, which has often been voted one of the UK’S best beaches. Our family holidays were spent at the seaside in Tenby, which was just
down the coast. When you’re a child, all you want is a beach to run around on like a lunatic, and we did plenty of that. I loved having barbecues by the sea, too. There’s a lot to be said for a staycation – the only problem is that the weather doesn’t always play ball!
We also had a caravanette – I can remember making cups of tea in lots of different locations! We were quite an outdoorsy family – I’d really like to replicate that with my son, Ted. Although I live in London now, I go back to Wales as often as I can. I miss the people and the scenery when I’m away, but we make the most of it when
we’re back – my husband, Charlie, goes fishing and we’ll go on long walks together as a family. Sometimes, we visit Ogmore-by-sea in the Vale of Glamorgan – it’s
stunning. You can walk along the sand, through the dunes and up to the Merthyr Mawr National Nature Reserve. When city life gets too much, it’s great to jump in the car, drive over the Severn Bridge and soon be somewhere completely different. It was a privilege to be made a member of the Gorsedd of the Bards, which is an association made up of poets, writers, musicians and artists who have made a contribution to Welsh culture. It’s very rare that such a small country still has its own language and a strong sense of tradition and heritage. At school, we were taught to recite, sing and dance, and, for a shy child like me, it nurtured something that might not have developed otherwise. Taking part in the TV series Hell on High Seas really was hellish. We sailed across the Irish Sea at four o’clock in the morning, with waves crashing over our heads for hours on end – it was so rough, we had to be secured to the side of the boat at one point! Although it was horrendous beyond all comprehension, we raised a lot of money for Sport Relief, which was absolutely fantastic! We have a beautiful garden in London, but it’s a bit smaller than I’d like. Charlie and I love a trip to the garden centre. I’m very into lilacs at the moment, and Charlie enjoys growing fruit and vegetables – tomatoes, strawberries and potatoes are my favourites. We had such a glut of cucumbers last year that I had to beg him to stop growing them! Charlie used to be a professional chef, so we’re very into using seasonal
produce. There’s a lot of pleasure to be gained from cooking with ingredients that are in season. In summer, I can’t get enough of artichokes, asparagus and cherries. Environmental issues affect us all. Like most people, we loved watching the latest series of Blue Planet, but it’s heartbreaking to see pollution, litter and plastic in our oceans. I think becoming a parent has made me a lot more aware of what we’re doing and what we’re leaving behind for future generations.
Winging It! by Alex Jones is published by Lagom at £14.99.
I love barbecues by the sea – there’s a lot to be said for a staycation
Alex grew up near Rhossili Bay (left) and spent many holidays in Tenby (below)