How we met: Julia Bradbury & Amanda Owen - 'We've both scaled the heights of celebrity' - Profiles - People - The Independent

How we met: Julia Bradbury & Amanda Owen - 'We've both scaled the heights of celebrity'

 

Julia Bradbury, 43

After starting her career as GMTV's LA correspondent, Bradbury has fronted shows including 'Watchdog', 'Coast to Coast' and 'Countryfile'. She lives in London with her partner and young son

I was in the Yorkshire Dales filming Coast to Coast for the BBC in 2009 when we got stuck on an epic part of the walk, the Nine Standards Rigg. Amanda's farm was nearby, and forms part of the coast-to-coast route; we'd planned to make our way there afterwards to film a segment, but we were up to our shins in bog. Fortunately, as she was expecting us, Amanda's husband Clive came to look for us on his quad bike and saved us, shuttling me and the crew to the farm a few miles away.

And there was Amanda, ready with hot tea and home-made scones, which helped us get ourselves together again. The next day, we went back to this ramshackle farm, with all these kids running around, holding pieces of inappropriate farm equipment. I had a wonderful time with her and we clicked on and off camera. At the time she only had five children – she now has seven – but even then I was impressed by her ability to handle them, run a farm, be a shepherdess and bake scones: she was a superwoman but also so lovely.

I live in London, she lives on a remote farm in Yorkshire, so obviously that made it difficult to see a lot of one another, but we regularly wrote to each other, and discovered we have strangely parallel lives: we're both working, we're both strong women in our own way and we're both used to juggling so many things in our lives: while she's up at the crack of dawn for sheep, I have to get up early for filming.

When I became pregnant with Zephyr [born in 2011], Amanda was a great source of reassurance. At her stage, after baby seven, Amanda is beyond relaxed with the process. I'm still amazed when we talk about how many she'd like to have: she wants 10! Who in their right mind comes up with that number? I can't imagine coping with the mayhem, so I have so much admiration for her patience and skills as a mother.

She's so beautiful, charismatic and tall that you can't miss Amanda. When she came to stay with me in London two year ago, she accompanied me to a film premiere. This guy came up to us and he was so mesmerised, he wanted to know if she was single. She laughed, saying, "I'm pregnant with my seventh child!"

I'm bolshier than she is and less easy-going and happy to accept my lot: having seven children and living where she does, you've got to compromise, as everything is difficult: even getting the kids to school is a challenge.

With Amanda, I have unconditional friendship: she doesn't judge me. She'll read stuff about me in the papers, ask what's going on and give her take on it. I trust her because of how she lives: she works on a farm dedicated to self-sufficiency and her ethos is that you don't need much to survive. She's content to live within her means and I love that about her.

Amanda Owen, 39

After working as a shepherdess, cow-milker and alpaca shearer, Owen now runs a 1,000-sheep farm, Ravenseat, in the Yorkshire Dales with her husband Clive and their seven children

The Wainwright Coast to Coast walk cuts right through our farm, and the lovely Julia was doing the walk herself for TV in the most atrocious weather ever, in September 2009.

She was going to appear at our farm for tea-time, with the crew filming her having a cream tea and a chat with me. But it got to tea-time and there was no sign of her. So my husband got on his quad to find them. He spotted Julia and her crew about two miles away; they were sat in the heather, one of the crew having twisted their ankle – and my husband came to the rescue, taking them back one by one on his bike, Julia first, clinging on for dear life.

She came in looking tired, covered in mud. When she took her hat off, she had hat-head, and I thought, "You're the same as me – you're normal." I commiserated with her on how evil walking across this heavy moor and boggy part of the walk is, and she sat among the chaos of all my children and terriers. She seemed down-to-earth, friendly and genuinely interested.

Within a week or so, she was back in touch, as she wanted to write a magazine column about getting stuck and being rescued by Clive, who was delighted. After that, we constantly talked, emailed and messaged one another.

The lives we lead are so different in many ways. I'll say, "I can't face tomorrow as I've got so much to do: sheep to chase and equipment to fix." Then she'll reply and say, "I feel the same: I've got to get up so early to film." But there are similarities: we've both scaled the heights of celebrity. I'd tell her about appearing in the local paper with our champion heifer, Julia would tell me about winning an award, too, for a programme she did about bears.

I was on my fifth child when she got pregnant with her first, so we ended up talking a lot about pregnancies and children. The main difference with me while I was pregnant is that I didn't have to go out to face [the paparazzi] each morning. I could just wander about the farm in a green smock and wellies.

When I went to stay with her – the first time I'd been to London – everyone back home was convinced I'd never be seen again; I'd get mugged at least. But I had a wonderful time and got a glimpse of how chaotic her life is. Although when you have to wear wellies most of the day, it does take a bit of prep before you go walking about in stilettos!

I noticed a big difference in what we keep at home, food-wise, too: what I consider normality is having two large sacks of potatoes, a whole dairy and enough food to survive for six months in case we get cut off. I looked in her fridge: there was a pint of milk. I panicked!

'The Yorkshire Shepherdess', by Amanda Owen (£16.99, Sidgwick & Jackson), is out on 10 April

Julia Bradbury's hair and make-up by Fabio Gomes at SLR , using Bumble&Bumble and YSLbeauté slreps.com

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