Changing Scenes: Actress Camilla Arfwedson on her adopted dog, Freddie.

January 18, 2019

Changing Scenes: Actress Camilla Arfwedson on her adopted dog, Freddie.

Actress Camilla Arfwedson, 36, lives in London with her husband, actor and director Jack Hawkins and their Cockerpoo, Freddie Trullo. 

She talked to us about balancing city life with the countryside, wild swimming in Sweden as a child and the positive impact adopting Freddie has had on her mental health.

“I’ve always lived in a city; I lived in Chelsea growing up and then I went to Edinburgh University and now I live in North London".

We live in a flat and I try to encourage Jack to see as much outside the city as we possibly can. I think the older we get the more aware I am of how intense city life is. Anxiety is a lot to do with living in the city and not only our jobs - we’re both actors. You’re on the tube and you’re around so many people and the constant rush of being in the city is slowly making me want to leave more and more, maybe even move out of the city and go and find a house in the countryside.  That’s not very practical work-wise though so it’s something we have to deal with.

We try and get out of the city every two months; Jack and I to go to Rye as much as I can, not only because it gets us out of the city but also to see my parents.  My parents are Swedish, both of them were born and brought up in Stockholm. They moved over to England in the 70s, met in London, married and started a life in the city together. They bought our house in Rye when we were very young.

They had a very outdoorsy life, skiing a lot and they lived right by the archipelago just outside of Stockholm. I’m not particularly outdoorsy but I definitely love going to the seaside and I love wild swimming. When we went to Wales recently we went wild swimming and I’m sure I want to do that more because I did it as a child, going naked swimming in the freezing cold water. I do crave the sea more than the average person, so maybe that’s got a lot to do with being brought up in that atmosphere and I love walking holidays now.

When I was little and we went to Sweden, my parents very much encouraged us, the first thing in the morning, just to throw yourself into the freezing cold sea in this little town in the south west of Sweden. Before your breakfast you’d go down and have a really ice cold swim and it was great for the mood and our mental health. It felt very invigorating and I don’t know if we even knew the benefits of it back then.

Now I feel like I have to do it at least once a year, try and find a cold ocean. I don’t really like swimming in the Mediterranean particularly, I’d rather go somewhere that is really cold with crashing waves because I know the stimulation it can give you, the release. I went to Mexico last year, which was perfect, that was incredible, that kind of water rather than a swimming pool. I’m not really interested in that kind of thing.

We went to Wales and I was surprised how much I loved it. We have Freddie now and I really wanted to take him on a walking holiday and climb mountains and have the best time. It was our first holiday with him so we got a cottage in a forest and just made barbeques and walked up mountains. We found these wild rivers that we went swimming in and Freddie went in with us and that was so special.

I’ve been wanting to have a dog for two years and it got to a point where I went to the park and I was looking at dogs more than I was looking at kids which is a little bit of a sign! It was just that broody feeling, I really wanted a dog and I also wanted a rescue. I got in touch with Battersea Dogs Home and Dogs Trust and also something called Wild At Heart, which rehomes dog from war-torn countries. We went to see a few and we went to Batttersea for a tour and they were really helpful and guided me in the right direction. We couldn’t find anything for about six months and also Jack and I had been travelling quite a lot for work, going to LA and other places and I’d been applying for a green card, so I was thinking, is this practical, is this going to work and ended up just giving up on the idea.

We were being sent pictures of dogs that weren’t quite right for where we lived; they were too big or troubled or didn’t suit our lifestyle particularly. Anyway one day I thought I’m going to give up on this and then was sent photograph of Freddie. I kind of ignored it and thought maybe it’s not right for me with our lifestyle but then I thought, we should just go and meet him.

It was love at first sight, it was ridiculous! We saw him on the Friday and we were meant to be going on a two week holiday to Sicily on the Monday which we had booked months before - and cancelled it. We said no, we’re going to get Freddie. We got him that following Monday, it was amazing.

We chose his name because whenever one of us gets good news we go to Trullo restaurant in Highbury to celebrate - when we ditched our Italian holiday for him we called him Freddie Trullo!

He’s a Cockerpoo, a spaniel and a poodle but we think he’s a little bit of Terrier as well because he’s got quite short legs, which is adorable. He’s very sweet, very quiet, very well behaved, a beautiful little puppy and he’s been an absolute dream. I feel like my heart has doubled in size, I didn’t even know I had room for that. It’s seems so silly saying it because I imagine when you have kids it’s triple, but we love him so much.

I think what’s so nice is that every day I turn my phone off or I leave it at home and I take him for a walk for an hour in the park and I do that twice a day so I don’t have my phone on me for two hours in the day and I do it for a really good reason; I’m going to spend time with my dog. And you’re also spending time with yourself, going round the park, observing other people and other animals and you’re looking at the trees, you’re breathing properly, you’re taking some time out and focusing on something else and that’s really helped my anxiety. I’m making a point of being completely present with him rather than checking Instagram or whatever and also just not caring about those things so much.

I tried therapy for anxiety and I’ve done meditation, I’ve tried yoga. I think any kind of stress I’ve had, I’d probably go running or go to the gym or I’d walk with a podcast but nothing really stuck. Yoga I find quite boring, unless you’ve got the patience for it, then it’s amazing. I have waves of talking myself though any anxiety, everyone has their own way of dealing with it, I don’t know how effective all those things were, but I know that this little guy has definitely helped my anxiety, definitely.

I think, just waking up for a reason…I wake up and he’s in the bed with us, which is the sweetest thing in the world and I notice I’m smiling a lot more than I ever used to smile. I wake up and I smile, he’s just soothed any anxiety. I love looking after him, having something to look after. I think it comes to a point when you want some thing else that’s breathing and heart that’s beating that you’re responsible for. It’s almost preparing me for children, I can imagine what it’s like to be a mum, but with an animal!

Freddie’s Top Five Places to Play in London

1. Epping Forest – “He was so excited with the lake and beaches”

2. Hampsted Heath – “They have a little doggy swimming pool where all the dogs can swim”

3. Highgate Wood – “There is a beautiful forest there, Freddie had the best time running around”

4. Hackney Downs – “Great fun, different terrains, water and rivers.”

5. Clissold Park – “Lots of space to run around and play”.

Follow @freddietrullo on Instagram and see what he gets up to!