My Cotswold Life: Tamzin Malleson

PUBLISHED: 01:16 20 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:10 20 February 2013

My Cotswold Life: Tamzin Malleson

My Cotswold Life: Tamzin Malleson

Tamzin Malleson's first acting role was as a Munchkin at Horsley Primary School. Now she's starring on primetime TV and is a professional artist to boot. Oh, and she's also married to actor Keith Allen.

My Cotswold Life: Tamzin Malleson

Tamzin Mallesons first acting role was as a Munchkin at Horsley Primary School. Now shes starring on primetime TV and is a professional artist to boot. Oh, and shes also married to actor Keith Allen. Words by Katie Jarvis, photography by Antony Thompson

The more bodies that pile up in the beautiful villages of Midsomer, the more work there is for actress Tamzin Malleson to do. For shes currently appearing as pathologist Kate Wilding in the hit ITV detective series Midsomer Murders. And when shes not wielding a scalpel, shes wielding a brush.

A professional artist to boot, Tamzin is co-curating and showing work at an exhibition Roots in Stroud Music Centre, opening on November 11. Im so pleased the music centre is finally being rescued, she says. After being empty for some years, its now being renovated by the sculptor and inventor Daniel Chadwick, who will also be taking part in the exhibition. Roots will feature mixed media by local, professional artists, including sculpture, light installation and paintings. Tamzin lives near Stroud with her partner, the actor Keith Allen, and their five-year-old daughter Teddie.

Where do you live and why?

I live down a country lane, turning left at National Trust land, hidden away in a corner overlooking the Brimscombe valley! Its an idyllic setting, very private with beautiful views, but close enough to civilisation not to feel isolated. Weve got three cats, and two pigs Harrison and Fanny which are Kunekunes. Theyre not for the freezer, unlike the Old Spots we used to have. We did keep chickens but the badger got them. Yes badgers do go for chickens when they are desperate.

How long have you lived in the Cotswolds?

I was born in Yeovil but we moved here opposite the Post Office in Chalford when I was six months old. Since then, apart from moving to London for a while, Ive lived in practically every Stroud valley. My first ever acting role was as a Munchkin when I was at Horsley Primary School; and I also went to Archway School in Stroud, which had very strong art and drama departments.

Whats your idea of a perfect weekend in the Cotswolds?

Wed buy doughnuts from Stroud Farmers Market and then come home and read the papers in the hammock or in bed, depending on the weather. My life in general is very busy I make it work by spinning lots of plates (though, occasionally, you will hear the sound of breaking crockery). I try to paint from 10am-2pm while Teddies at school, and also in the evenings.

But, if Im doing Midsomer Murders, that goes out of the window. To be fair, my Midsomer work is ridiculously civilised. Because Im a pathologist, the amount of filming I have to do depends on the number of bodies there are in the episode! Its all filmed around Oxford so I tend to drive there. Im never happier, though, than when Im on the M4, heading home.

If money were no object, where would you live in the Cotswolds?

At Lily and Sams house (Keiths daughter, Lily Allen, who lives in Cranham). Its Disney-idyllic: utterly beautiful and theres no sound of traffic at all. Proper picture-postcard perfect.

Where are you least likely to live in the Cotswolds?

Paganhill. Too many memories of school.

Wheres the best pub in the area?

Its a toss-up between the Prince Albert at Rodborough and the Woolpack in Slad it depends what mood youre in. The Prince Albert is a brilliant local; Lotte and Miles put an incredible amount of energy into creating a community centre and theyre constantly bringing in music and comedy. Whereas the Woolpack is excellent for food, local beer, log fires and late-night jamming sessions.

And the best place to eat?

Thats really hard! It changes all the time when it comes to eating out. But the very best place to eat is always at home because its all vegetables from the garden and our own pig from the freezer: home-grown and home-cooked. Weve got a glut of plums and apples at the moment, and its quite a pressure to pick everything and make something with it. But thats where its great having pigs. Nothings wasted.

Have you a favourite tearoom?

The Kitchen in Minchinhampton: theres none better. Its a family-run caf, with wonderful cakes. And Nick, their son, was one of the brilliant performers at Minchinhampton Country Fayre in September (in Le Navet Bete theatre group).

What would you do for a special occasion?

Id have a party in our paddock. I get very excited about Halloween and November 5th: there has to be a good bonfire and some mulled cider. We make our own but its mainly undrinkable very good for cleaning toilets. The best we did was last year when we managed two brilliant bottles But it was a hell of a lot of work for a litre!

Whats the best thing about the Cotswolds?

The diversity of people; this eclectic mix of different communities that somehow come together and get on with each other.

and the worst?

Weekend homeowners. I dont think Stroud is too bad, although I have heard a lot of the properties in Chalford have been bought up. It makes me sad when I think of the wonderful childhood I spent there.

Which shop could you notlive without?

Gordons in Nailsworth (Nailsworth Ironmongers). Hes brilliant for advice, always with a friendly face though his partner owes me some information about bottling plums. If shes reading this, please call me!

Whats the most underrated thing about the Cotswolds?

Id really like to nominate the Shambles Market in Stroud, which I remember since I was a child. I particularly love the Friday market, when you can get brilliant tea sets and bed linen from the ladies at the end. Ive been known to be a little bit aggressive if I spot a nice teapot. The elbows start going.

What is a person from the Cotswolds called?

A Cotswolder? From the outside, people tend to think of the Cotswolds as being about celebrities, green wellies, weekend cottages and 4x4s. My version is a lot more down-to-earth and a bit alternative and arty as well.

Whats your favourite view inthe Cotswolds?

Coming down Rack Hill in Chalford, where you can look out over the whole of the Golden Valley. It gets its name from the days of wool, when theyd stretch out the cloth along the donkey paths.

Whats your quintessential Cotswolds village and why?

Chalford again. Im not sure Id want to move back its quite crowded; theres a lot of having to reverse down narrow lanes and the parking is terrible. But it was a magical place to grow up. Its very safe because youve got such a close-knit community (fantastic for trick-or-treating), and youve also got the freedom of the fields and the canals to play in and around. We were able to go off and have brilliant adventures.

What would be a three-course Cotswold meal?

Wed start with garden salad. Then maybe some pork chops with a mustard mash; and finish with Keiths apple-and-blackberry pie, like his Welsh granny used to make, with apples from the garden and blackberries from the lane.

Whats your favourite Cotswolds building and why?

The Subscription Rooms in Stroud because theyre a public building; theres always something going on. I used to hang out there on a Friday night in my misspent youth as well as the clock tower on New Years Eve, when youd see how many people you could snog at midnight.

Name three basic elements of the Cotswolds

Art; Music; Stone walls.

What would you never do in the Cotswolds?

Id never walk home from Cheltenham again at three in the morning. Thats going back to when I was 15 and meant to be staying at my friends house: we went to a club in Cheltenham instead! We walked all the way back to Stroud, planning to sleep in the cemetery, but we were picked up by the police, asking, Are you Tamzin Malleson? My parents had phoned them. Actually, I was mainly well behaved as a teenager. I used to sit in Mills Caf (Stroud), talking about political theatre. It was just occasionally that I was led astray.

Starter homes or executive properties?

Its a really difficult subject. What I find hard is the fact that anything built in a village now no matter how big or small is apparently an executive home, simply because of the prices. We need starter homes but they need to be attractive; and we also need to think of the extra traffic and pressure on local schools that all these new houses will generate. There has been a very positive result in Stroud with Cohousing.

What are the four corners of the Cotswolds?

Bisley, Minchinhampton, Randwick and Selsley. Mine is quite a small world but Im happy with those few square miles!

If you lived abroad, what would you take to remind you of the Cotswolds?

I wouldnt say no to living abroad it would be brilliant to go to Spain for three or four months and be able to paint with no distractions. To remind me of the Cotswolds, Id take a pot of homemade blackcurrant jam and the painting I did of our first pigs, Poppy and Spiderpig, who are now in the freezer. It was entitled Pet/Food and I gave it to Keith and Teddie as a memento.

What would you change about the Cotswolds or banish from the area?

Traffic and inconsiderate planners.

Whats the first piece of advice youd give to somebody new to the Cotswolds?

Find your local pub, buy a pint of local ale and just listen in.

And which book should they read?

Anything about the history of the canals and the mills along the Chalford valley. Theres so much money being put into waking all of it up again but we mustnt lose sight of its origins.

Have you a favourite Cotswolds walk?

From Chalford playing fields, up through the strawberry fields, down to Frampton Mansell and back along the canal path.

Which event, or activity, best sums up the Cotswolds?

The SVA Festival (Stroud Valley Artspace Site Festival each June, showcasing the work of local artists). Stroud is an incredibly creative and inspiring community to be part of.

This year, as part of the festival, I opened up a disused shop in the High Street and recreated a parlour where I hung portraits of My Family and Other Animals. For me, painting isnt pleasurable at all: its a constant battle with self-esteem and confidence; a real challenge. Everything else I do is very sociable all about working as a team, interacting, listening and reacting whereas painting is very solitary but, ultimately, very rewarding. Putting my work into an arts festival was terrifying.

If you were invisible for a day, where would you go and what would you do?

Id go to my daughters school and sit at the back of the class: it would be fascinating! Teddie has a habit of retelling stories from home, such as Keith fighting the badger at 3am, naked in the chicken coop.

To whom or what should there be a Cotswolds memorial?

There are many interesting characters around Stroud but theyre all living, so they definitely wouldnt want a memorial. The best memorial we have is the Woolpack, to Laurie Lee.

With whom would you most like to have a cider?

Im currently reading The Hearing Trumpet, a novel by the surrealist Leonora Carrington, who led the most amazing life. When she was very young, she ran off with Max Ernst; but she also spent time in a mental asylum and later went off to live in Mexico. The fact that she was an artist as well as a writer appeals to me. She did the most peculiar things, such as turning up completely naked to dinner parties which, particularly for a woman at that time, must have been so shocking. Id love to sit and hear about her life.

Roots, an exhibition co-curated by Tamzin Malleson and featuring a collective of local artists, will open at Stroud Music Centre in London Road on November 11, entry free.

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