We were so excited this week to interview actress, model, TV presenter and garden designer Kate Durr this week. Kate is married to actor Jason Durr, known for his role as PC Mike Bradley in Heartbeat. They live in the Cotswolds with their three children, Blossom, Felix and Velvet.
You‘ve recently retrained as a professional garden designer after studying at the renowed Cotswold Gardening School. Tell us a bit about this, and what are your green fingers are up to at the moment?
I’m just about to graduate from the Cotswold Gardening School with a diploma in professional garden design after an intensive year of study. I managed to squeeze in designing and building my first ever show garden at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival in May, and managed to scoop a gold medal and best in show, which has made for an exciting start to my new horticultural career.
You began your career as a model, which soon led to work in broadcasting. What’s been your favourite career highlight to-date and why?
I modelled for over twenty years and had a fantastic time travelling and working with some amazing photographers. I will never forget working with the legendary Barry Lategan who discovered Twiggy, and a fashion shoot at Ayres Rock in Australia was an amazing experience. I have been equally fortunate in my presenting career; filming a report for ITV’s Guinness World Records, forty miles into the Arctic Circle in temperatures around -30 degrees was quite something.
You‘re married to Jason Durr, best known for his role as PC Mike Bradley in the ITV series Heartbeat. Where did the two of you meet?
We met in Mallorca. Jason had a break in his filming schedule and was enjoying a week of sun, and I happening to be shooting a TV show on the island. A fellow guest on the programme was actress Tricia Penrose who starred alongside Jason in Heartbeat. Tricia called Jason and we all had dinner. Eleven years later we are still married and have three children. And it’s all Tricia’s fault.
You and Jason both experienced fertility problems before successfully using an American egg donor to have your twins. What was this experience like, and what advice would you give to couples experiencing difficulty conceiving?
We conceived our eldest daughter Blossom naturally, but we experienced problem conceiving again. After initially trying IVF in London, when we moved to Los Angeles where Jason was filming, we tried IVF once more to no avail. It was in LA our fertility consultant suggested using an egg donor, which was a remarkable experience. Using our donor’s eggs and Jason’s sperm, the resulting embryos were transferred to me and I was then able to carry our twins and deliver them in July 2009. We are in regular touch with our egg donor and she is part of the twins’ lives, having met them a number of times. We are very keen on an open and honest approach so there are no secrets from our children, and they learn that families can be created in many very special ways.
You spent three years living in Los Angeles with your family, relocating back to the UK before the birth of your twins. How does family life in LA compare to the UK? Is there anything you particularly miss about the States?
I miss our friends, the sunshine and the sushi! But I found it very hard living in such an urban environment. I began to long for verdant English countryside, dry stone walls and herds of cows. When I was pregnant with our twins we decided to come home and give our children a more simple, gentler childhood in the Cotswolds.
Share with us your favourite family recipe.
We all eat together in the evenings and we are big fans of Lamb Keema made with Garam Masala, masses of fresh coriander and copious amounts of zingy lime juice. Nigella’s recipe is the one I use most often.
Where are your favourite family friendly places to go in the Cotswolds, for fun, food and a bit of culture?
We love Bowood House and Gardens with their fantastic outdoor adventure playground. They have a giant pirate ship to scramble on, endless aerial walkways and of course, the death slide, which is frankly terrifying unless you are a fearless ten year old. Blossom, our eldest, just loves it, but the twins Felix and Velvet are steeling themselves for when they hit six in July to throw themselves down!
We are massive fans of the Potting Shed pub in Crudwell, Wiltshire, their food is delicious, locally sourced and super-inventive. The pub and its garden are beautifully shabby-chic.We are fortunate enough to live close to a number of great theatres so we regularly catch shows at the Theatre Royal in Bath, or the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon. Jason has performed at both and we are keen that the children experience the magic of live theatre, especially pantomimes at Christmas.
What’s the one baby product you couldn’t have lived without?
Undoubtably a Potette Travel Potty with nifty disposable liners. Invaluable when potty training and very handy if mummy is caught short on the M4. (That’s probably way too much information!)
What’s in the pipeline for you next?
I’m already in discussion with a corporate sponsor about building a Chelsea Show Garden next year, which is terrifying but exhilarating all at once. After my success at Malvern I have a number of garden design clients waiting for me to start on their projects after I graduate, which is thrilling. I can’t wait to start creating beautiful outdoor spaces for people.
How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
A tenacious, green-fingered perfectionist who never lets fear stand in her way of having a crack at anything life offers.