Caroline Quintin-Woman&home

I didn't believe in love at first sight until I saw Sam 14 years ago. We were on set for Men Behaving Badly and he was the new runner. Four days later, he asked me out in front of Martin Clunes and Neil Morrissey, which was incredibly brave. Things moved quickly after our first date. I trusted my instincts, and he has remained exactly as he came across on the first date. We got on so well, and laughed about the same things. That was it. I was pregnant with Emily within a year.

We've swapped roles in the sense that Sam stays at home and runs the house, but it has never been a conscious decision; it's just the way it works for us. It's the same with our age difference. I'm 52 and Sam is 40, but that has always been completely irrelevant. Some days I wake up and don't know which bed I'm in. I've been working on so many different projects all over the country. But wherever I am, my mind is always on home and I'll be talking to Sam and the kids on the phone. When I'm home I'm just happier, more at peace and more settled. It's fine being away, but it's not really living.

We moved to Devon from Suffolk eight years ago. My sister had moved to Taunton and we missed her so much we followed her down. It has worked out really well. We live on a farm and we've never been happier, living in the country and pootling about. We keep chickens, turkeys and pigs, and I grow veg - it's perfect.

I encourage Emily and William to question the status quo. When William told me a boy in his year was being a bit put upon by some other boys, I asked him what he felt he should do. He said, "Maybe I should say something," and I said, "Maybe you should." The next day he told the boys to stop being horrible. I was immensely proud.

Last year Sam and I had three nights in Barcelona, and it was marvellous. We walked around holding hands, had a bottle of wine at lunchtime then went back to the hotel room and had a siesta. It was a treat to be alone with Sam for a few days.

I've always refused to buy into the idea that I should look a certain way. People say I don't conform to the idea of what an actress should look like, but I am what I am and that's fine. Sam and I exercise together, but I don't love it in the same way he does. We do circuit training and boxing in the gym. Sam is faster, fitter and stronger than me, but he is injured at the moment so I'm giving him a run for his money. And I can still do the splits! I did it on camera recently and the director said, "You're not actually doing that, are you?" He couldn't believe it.

Caroline is presenting a new series of

Restoration Home

this month on BBC Two, and starring in new TV drama series


on ITV2 in October.

This is an edited version of Caroline's interview. To read the full article, pick up the September issue of woman&home, out now.