'I've stripped off loads of times on camera ... I don't know why we haven't done Nude Watch yet'
Springwatch presenter Kate Humble's known for her love of nature and travelling. She tells Gabrielle Fagan about loving ageing, stripping off, staying fit and why she'll never change a nappy
Television presenter and writer Kate Humble (48) is known for her roles on wildlife shows such as Springwatch and Lambing Live, and has travelled the world for a host of travel documentaries.
She runs a farm in the Wye Valley, Wales with her husband, TV producer and director, Ludo Graham (56), and their three dogs. Away from her public image what are the things that make her tick?
She loves being on the move. "I've always been a very restless individual and wanted to be a nomad when I was a child. I love what travel and movement and new places and experiences does for my psyche, and it's essential to me so that I'm liveable with. Luckily, my husband understands that.
"In my 20-year TV career I've been to some wonderful, far-flung places. I love getting away from it all, and we live in the back of beyond, but every so often Ludo and I have need for a quick fix of city life and we go on long weekends walking around our favourite cities - Amsterdam, Paris and Barcelona."
As she approaches a half century of life, does she worry about getting older?
She says: "I'm heading to the milestone 50, but I'm enjoying ageing. A new confidence has crept up on me in the last few years and I'm so much more comfortable in my skin. I love that I don't get so screwed up about what people think about me or my appearance anymore.
"I'm comfortable revealing my opinions, and declaring what I do and don't like. It's a relief not to worry about trying to be cool, which I did when I was younger."
For women, in particular, ageing can bring new concerns about appearance. Kate, however, is remarkably upbeat about any signs of ageing.
"I look in the mirror every morning and more wrinkles seem to pop up every day. Recently I've wondered whether I should have surgery because you start asking yourself, 'Is anybody going to want to watch this face?' But I know so many people, dear, dear friends, who've had terrible health problems through no fault of their own, so I just tell myself, 'You've got to nearly 50 and stayed healthy, fit and pretty happy, so you're the luckiest woman alive. If your eyes are sagging a bit and your boobs are basically nearer your stomach than your throat - just live with it. Get on with it!'
"I also feel able to say now, this is how I am, take me or leave me. In the past, magazines used to offer to have me on their covers - presumably I'm too haggard to be asked now! - and they'd always offer me a makeover. I would be so embarrassed and stutter a polite, 'How nice'. Now I'd just actually declare, 'I don't want a makeover thank you very much, I'm really happy the way I am.'
"Luckily for me, the type of TV work I do isn't based on my being glamorous, and people aren't watching me. They're watching the animals or looking at the places I'm visiting, and I'm a mere conduit of information."
Kate is astonishingly frank and comfortable about stripping off, both on camera and in private: "I don't know why British people are so obsessed with nudity in a weird, unhealthy way. We've all got bodies and we've all got wobbly bits. I've stripped off loads of times on camera when there are good reasons for it. I did it recently to go wild swimming, and have no qualms about it. I don't know why we haven't done Nude Watch yet!
"I'm actually not a nudist, but sometimes I feel compelled to take my clothes off and have a nudie dance - not for anyone else, I do it on my own. It's my way of connecting with nature. We have a little shack in France by a lake and I hardly ever wear clothes when we're there, and I swim naked."
She is something of a fitness fanatic, partly because of the physical demands of her job, but also because she treasures her health.
"I'm probably fitter than I've ever been. Weekly muscle strength training sessions with a personal trainer, which I started in January, have transformed me. I do two hours of weights, core building, repetitions of pull-ups and lunges.
"I cherish my good health because my job's very physical and I need to stay fit for it. If I haven't run 10 kilometres with my dogs and clocked up 20,000 steps in a day, I feel I've been pretty inactive.
"I eat fresh home-cooked food, lots of fruit and vegetables and don't drink much alcohol. I have intermittent insomnia, not helped by travelling to different time zones and working funny hours, but these days I don't stress about it. I just read a book or go for a run with the dogs in the early hours."
Like many women in the public eye she is constantly asked about why she never had children. Again she is frank in her response: "I'm just one of nature's freaks, or whatever people think I am, in that I just never wanted kids, never had a biological clock ticking away, never had a maternal gene, never wanted to hold somebody's baby, and certainly never wanted to change a nappy. I knew from the age of 14 motherhood wasn't for me.
"My husband and I are freelancers and live a sort of insecure, hand-to-mouth financial existence and we both travel a lot and that wouldn't have been the right way of life for children anyway, in my view.
"I've got hundreds of godchildren, whom I adore. I write the children a letter and say I'm totally honoured, but unqualified for the role, but I'll talk to them when they're 16 and that I know stuff about their parents, so when they're really annoying them, they can come to me and I'll dish the dirt!"
Kate and husband Ludo have been a couple for almost three decades and she regards their relationship as the bedrock of her life.
"Ludo and I have been together since I was 20, and the contented, more self-assured way I feel now is probably 80% down to the fact that I've had such a stable and fulfilling relationship. We've grown up together. My travelling means we're apart a lot, but the absences keep it fresh and romantic because we both have our own lives and there's always stuff to talk about. He's enormously helpful and supportive, and I see us as two individual pillars supporting the same house."
What does she regard as the most important virtues in life?
"Honesty is really important - equally important is being decent and kind and polite to people, and holding on to your personal integrity, which is priceless."
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