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Gracie Dyer | graciedyer

Penny Smith: 5 things I can't live without

Aug 16th 2015 at 10:00 PM

1 Carrots

When I was growing up my mum used to grow most of our vegetables herself but not many actually made it to the dinner table because I was permanently grazing in the garden. I am still absolutely obsessed with veggies.

If I go around to a friend’s house for dinner and they present me with a plate of pasta, I’ve been known to forage around for some veg to brighten things up.

There isn’t a vegetable I don’t like and I just love seeing that vista of colour on my plate.

But if I had to choose, my all-time favourite is probably the carrot.

Whenever I go on a long car journey I always take a bag of carrots with me to snack on and I generally get through the lot.

My friends laugh at my “travel carrots” but they always keep me going and are certainly a more nutritious alternative to coffee and cake.

2 My Parker pen

When I passed the 11-plus, my father gave me a lovely burgundy Parker pen with a gold nib which I still treasure.

It writes beautifully and getting that fountain pen was, for me, the beginning of a long love affair with luxury stationery.

Penny Smith at Costa Book of the Year awards

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While emails are functional, I still much prefer to send friends and family letters and cards.

I am on an endless quest to buy the most exquisite stationery I can find because nothing pleases me more than a new notebook or a set of watermarked paper.

3 Lined walking trousers

I absolutely love hiking but there is nothing worse than getting cold and wet when you’re out trekking.

For that reason it is very important to wear the right clothes.

I spent years looking for the perfect hiking trousers and now I’ve finally found them.

As I cut all the labels out of my clothes I can’t even remember where I bought them but they are so toasty and always stay dry.

On a recent walking trip in the Peak District I couldn’t believe how wonderfully warm they kept me.

They are the most treasured item in my wardrobe.

4 Rubber gloves

As a self-confessed neat freak I am not afraid to admit that I absolutely love cleaning.

I am terrifyingly tidy and simply cannot relax or think straight if my home isn’t spotless.

I probably spend about three hours a week scrubbing and polishing and I always like to wear rubber gloves to get the work done.

When my nieces and nephews come to visit they always joke that they’re afraid I’ll tidy them away into a cupboard.

The irony is that when I’m travelling I am quite chaotic and I have no qualms about making a mess.

I often go away with my good friend and fellow presenter Mariella Frostrup and she always finds the transformation hilarious.

I think it must just be my slummy alter ego coming out to play.

5 Theatre

Every year my mum used to take me to the ballet for my birthday.

As I was one of four children it was a real treat and I absolutely loved it.

I have adored live performance ever since and I am now an avid theatregoer.

My tastes are pretty eclectic as I enjoy just about anything from musicals to Shakespeare.

Yet by far the best thing I have seen recently is the interactive production You Me Bum Bum Train which I found to be breathtakingly brilliant.

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