“You have the most amazing scenery,” he enthuses. “We filmed at an outward bound centre, it was lovely.”
It turns out that Erkan spent a lot of his childhood outdoors, albeit in much sunnier climes. “My father’s from Cyprus,” he explains, “so I spent most of my holidays going back there to see Uncles and Aunts. They are all farmers and I have great memories of rural life with my cousins on tractors, amongst chickens and goats. I’m not so keen going back now,” he admits. “I find the village a bit boring but it has inspired me to want to grow my own fruit and veg at home in London.”
“The only time I’ve really had green fingers is when my Mum caught me picking my nose,” he laughs. “Although I don’t have much experience of growing my own, I do have lots of experience of picking my own…..food, that is.” He is still laughing.
“In Cyprus, we just used to go and pick our food straight from the fields. We had grapes, melons, olives, it was like a help yourself buffet and all fresh.”
“My absolute favourite is the Cactus Fruit (Prickly Pear); it’s hard to pick but tastes so good.”
“I do remember having something strange growing in my garden in London,” he suddenly recalls. “I didn’t know what it was but Dad identified it as a melon – it must have grown from a pip that we spat out. It looked good but tasted awful,” he chuckles.
“I do grow my own herbs now,” he tells me. “We use a lot of mint in Turkish food and I grow my own, as well as thyme and rosemary. I’d like to have my own vine one day, not so much for the grapes but so I can use the leaves to wrap meat. I love cooking. I use a lot of onion and garlic so will try to grow those too.”
Erkan is also keen to ensure his garden is a place he can relax. “I went to Chelsea Flower Show this year,” he shares. “And I must admit I don’t like a lot of the designs, they’re too fussy. I believe your garden should be your garden and to be honest as long as you’ve got somewhere to sit and relax and just enjoy it that’s all you need.”