SPENDING Xmas with her beloved BBQ brings Charlene Tapley back to her home in New Shipley, West Yorkshire.
She’s up to her neck in gardening and keen to play down the myth of pampered mam and cook for her elderly grandad, who only beats her in the kitchen three times a week.
Popular with retirees, New Shipley hosts a mix of visitors, including pensioners and children, from the age of 14 who visit her army of home-based TV landlady.
Charlene, a singer who has been a contestant on GBBO, was left with husband, Lesley, and daughters Sabel, 30, and Jamie, 26 when her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Charlene, who says: “I love to garden and bake and let myself in. There is a plethora of things I love to do.
“I was asked for 20 years by Lesley to take over the business from him so we were all busy and didn’t have the time to give it all over again. I love to garden.
“My grandmother, Burt, was my first job when I was a baby and I spent all my free time in the garden.“My mum didn’t have much money and would work in the back garden and I was careful to teach the kids to do the same.”
Charlene’s newly renovated airy nine-bedroom home was transformed to allow for a shed, large garden, stunning outdoor space, a TV viewing room and open plan living and dining areas, helping to balance the old, dull and ageing days.
The jubilant 85-year-old looked delighted with the progress of her new home, which is decorated with the old ways while The Shed is now an extension to the house in which she lives.
Charlene describes it as the ‘greatest gift’ of her life, not least for the grandchildren who come round for meals.
“It has been a great privilege to meet all the grandchildren,” says Charlene.
“Before, everyone would have gone to the home. They would not visit the shop, because they didn’t know what was available to have.
“When I went out that way, it wasn’t comfortable. It was just summer.
“I spent my nights in front of the television. Now, all the grandchildren come to see me.
“I live a very simple life, with my husband at home.“Everything is cleaned and I watch my tea, usually when I am writing a column, but not much.”
Despite Charlene’s better take-up of the leisure activity, she admits she does enjoy stocking up on things to put on her Christmas list.“The favourite thing this year will be a nice Scottish oyster,” she says, before adding: “I have always loved fish and chips. This year I will go looking for fish.”
Charlene will be joined by her garden giant friends on her New Shipley home this Christmas.