'Life's about big learning curves and you've got to kiss a few frogs'
Model, mother and pub landlady... Jodie Kidd's had a varied life. Now 40, she tells Gabrielle Fagan, she's never been happier
She shot to fame at 15 years old,as the super-slim 6ft 2ins teenage model (at one point she weighed just seven-and-a-half stone), but Jodie Kidd's career went on to include competing as a racing driver, polo player and semi-professional golfer.
Now 40, the mother-of-one (she has a seven-year-old son, Indio, from her relationship with Argentinian polo player Andrea Vianini) is celebrating another new era.
After a long break from modelling, Kidd's stepped back into it and is combining TV appearances (she's taken part in The Jump, Celebrity MasterChef and Strictly Come Dancing) with her own skincare brand and running a pub.
She's enjoying welcome domestic bliss too. After some turbulent times - she married entrepreneur Aidan Butler in 2005 but they split 18 months later, and was very briefly married to former military commander and author David Blakeley in 2014 - she's found happiness with Joseph Bates (33), a Royal Marine-turned-creative agency executive.
Down-to-earth and charming, Kidd is feeling good about entering this new decade and life chapter. Here, she talks to us about her new-found contentment, motherhood, and why she has no regrets...
How did you feel about turning 40?
I'm much more content and comfortable in my own skin these days. I don't want to say it's the happiest time of my life because I don't want to jinx it, but it's pretty good. Forty is a nice age because you've grown up a bit and are a bit more secure and happy in your own head.
Growing up takes quite a bit of time. In your 20s, you're just kind of wild and exploring who you are and pushing boundaries. Then, in your 30s, it's about work and other things that happen in life. I'm looking forward to my 40s and hope they'll be amazing.
What does motherhood mean to you?
Everything. Having Indi is the most incredible thing that's ever happened to me and I'm so grateful and love every second. I'd never say no to having more children. Everything kind of makes sense now and it's all about this little person and not about you any more. He's already done a bit of modelling and I'd be quite happy if he did more when he was older. It's an incredible industry, which has made me who I am and opened so many doors for me.
How are you bringing him up?
I was born and bred in the countryside and I wanted that outdoors childhood for him. It's all about walks, growing our own vegetables and just enjoying nature. We've got two dogs, four chickens and he's got a pony and he helps look after them, which I encourage because I think it helps imprint a healthy outlook about responsibility, discipline and caring for others.
I've never had to be strict with him because he's such a kind, loving boy and very happy. The only thing I lay down the law about is electronic devices. He's got an Xbox but he's only allowed to play it at the weekend. I'd much rather he got muddy and raced about having adventures.
With our lifestyle, we're both in and out of wellies and sticking them in the back of the car used to make such a mess, but now we have a brilliant Wellington Boot Bag from Englana. They produce a great range of high-quality British leather goods, which is perfect for a country girl like me.
You've found love the third time around with partner Joseph Bates - will you two marry?
Who knows? My grandmother married three times, so there's hope. We're wonderful as we are, but my previous experiences (of marriage) haven't put me off at all. Life's about big learning curves and you've got to kiss a few frogs, as they say.
I feel very lucky I've found Joe. He's very loving, kind, supportive and has just got a very big heart. He's fitted into everything so well and he's fabulous with Indi. I've also got the most fantastic family and friends. I'm blessed with the people I love.
You're running a pub now - quite a change for an action woman - how did that come about?
Being a runner-up in Celebrity MasterChef in 2014 led to a new career in food - although doing food demos makes me way more nervous than catwalk modelling ever did. Running The Half Moon pub in West Sussex happened because it was about to close down and be redeveloped, so I bought it with a few friends a couple of years ago.
It's hard work but a labour of love and I'm immensely proud of saving it. I'm passionate about supporting local farmers and producers and we use their food for the majority of our dishes. With the fame and modelling, I was quite protected and stayed at home a lot, but what's lovely now is I've got to know the community and become everyone's friend as a landlady.
How do you look after your health?
I put on weight after I had Indi, but after deciding to go back to modelling last year, I lost about a stone-and-a-half. Nowadays, it's more about being strong than skinny.
I think life is all about balance and everything in moderation. I've co-written my first book (Balance Your Life: A 6-week Eating and Exercise Plan For A Calmer, Healthier You by Jodie Kidd and Amelie Khellaf, £16.99, DK). At least twice a year, I follow the plan to reset my body and mind. Eating healthily is vital. I cook all our family meals from scratch, using local food wherever possible. Of course, there's room for an occasional treat of pasta, dessert and a glass of wine.
You've suffered with anxiety in the past - is it still a problem?
It's always going to be there for me, but now I know the warning signs. If I've overdone it and start feeling very tired but don't sleep well, I know that combination will allow the anxiety to creep in, so I take action.
I was about 20 and modelling when I first started having anxiety, but in those days nobody really talked about it, so I thought I was going mad. I'd feel really bad, not sleeping, sweaty palms, a racing pulse and think I was going to have a heart attack, but everyone just looked at me as though I was bonkers, which was very destabilising.
Nowadays, we're all so much more open about the condition. I've realised I absolutely need exercise because it really cleanses my head, so a regular gym workout, a swim, a run, or golf is key and has helped me beyond words. If I'm very stressed, I'll have a detox - a break from technology and alcohol and I'll drink loads of water, have herbal teas, early nights and take relaxing Epsom salt baths. I'm able to tell myself, 'It's okay. This will pass - breathe properly, go for a walk', which will help change my mindset.
What's the scariest thing you've done?
There have been absolutely terrifying moments on the racetrack with crashes, but taking part in Strictly Come Dancing was pretty up there in terror. Having to dance, when you're not a particularly good dancer, in front of 10 million people over 11 weeks was petrifying. But I still do quite a mean foxtrot, so I definitely learned something."
Do you have any regrets in life?
Millions, but I don't dwell on them. Life's all about making mistakes, but you have to try and learn from them, understand what you did wrong and move on. I've been brought up to be a real fighter and I (believe) that you've got to keep going when life tests you.
My mantra is, keep moving forward, keep loving, keep appreciating, keep being kind, and, remember, you never know what's going to happen next.
Jodie Kidd is the ambassador for luxury lifestyle brand Englana. Visit englana.com