This week we are featuring Anne. I was delighted when she agreed to be one of our Women of the Week because I have been slightly in awe of her ever since I met her at our yoga class. So read on and you’ll see why… Grace.
Tell us about your family I have been a singleton for a long time now, retired from my role as a Country Wife, and from both my paid occupations. I have a son and a daughter, both of whom I am very proud. Now both are in their fifties and living their own lives their way, not too far distant. My eldest granddaughter has just completed her Masters, travels widely and is very much her own person. My grandsons are still in full time education.
How have you changed since you turned 50?
I have changed a lot. Now I feel freed up to be the person I aspire to be. At last I have the time to attend to my own needs and to pursue those interests which had to take a back seat when I was married, engaged with the more pressing needs of children, lodgers and others to cater for, and, of course, my husband!
What age you feel right now? Sometimes I feel 92, sometimes 3; mostly somewhere in between.
Where do you live? I originate from the Cotswold area, where the greater part of my childhood was spent. Now I’m in the South of England where most of our sunshine is to be found. I feel so fortunate to live in a small comfortable home of my own between the city and the sea. I live amongst warm and friendly, gentle others, where I am very comfortable.
What can’t you live without? Nowadays I cannot live well without maintaining my yoga practice and the aqua-aerobics and Pilates classes I attend two or three times each week. They keep the ageing body up straight and the joints lubricated; the blood flowing around all the systems, feeding both brain and body, therefore enabling quicker mental responses, with the other organs better able to function optimally, too.
These exercise classes also give a structure to my days. My visits to them and to other venues help me to keep the conversation flowing, not only with other like-minded folk I meet at the classes along with our good, well-informed teachers; but also I find that keeping in touch with others generally helps to improve my confidence as, inevitably, I deteriorate as I age.
Do you have a fashion secret? Regardless of the amount of clothes I hoard in my wardrobe I keep going back to anything that is comfortable and no trouble to manage and to wear and which also has the ‘feel good factor’ for me (for whatever reason).
Have you embraced technology? I avoid it as far as possible.
What beauty product do you like best? I rely on natural and organic sun protection. I love the sunshine, especially after the cold winter months, to rejuvenate both mind and body. You will find me basking in the first rays of the sun in Spring, like the Scandinavians, in order to enjoy its warmth and to top up my depleted Vitamin D.
Do you cook? Despite the fact that Mary Berry and I were born within days of each other I have never enjoyed food preparation very much, preferring to become engrossed in activities involving anything which did not necessitate me having to stand around in the kitchen counting the sprouts! (At one stage in my life our funding was very stretched and I had to ensure there was enough food to go round.) I have cooked meals for so many people in the past that now it is a huge pleasure not to have to do so.
What kind of books do you prefer reading? I enjoy well written, well researched and thought-out, mainly believable, novels which intrigue me and, preferably, make me think and widen my own horizons. Books that make me laugh, too.
What do you love to watch on TV? I watch television mainly as a distraction when I am alone in the evenings; mostly documentaries (not sentimental or long drawn out, neither focussing heavily on the presenter nor on any particular weighted agenda the producers are hoping to convey to the viewers). Informative productions or serious discussions are for me, as I have less energy now to join the crowds and participate in the jostle when attending performances and visiting places I once enjoyed.
Do you have a favourite music genre? I listen to Radio 3 a lot. My parents were musical, both singing in the Three Choirs Festival, once conducted by Sir Edward Elgar. My father had a fine tenor voice and my mother accompanied him well on her piano. I remember dropping off to sleep with the sounds of unaccompanied madrigals floating up to us from the group in the room below.
Who do you most admire/aspire to? Anthony Burgess (John Wilson), was my English tutor at Banbury Grammar School. He was my inspiration. He was the person who originally obliged me to think things through. He seemed to catch the imagination of everyone with whom he came in contact and with whom he engaged. He had a brilliant mind and his teaching was quite unorthodox. I was also fortunate enough to have parents who encouraged my sister and me to think for ourselves, to consider, to reflect and to believe in ourselves and our abilities: not common for girls educated in the forties and fifties.
Your top tips for #womenover50
1. Don’t be afraid to be you… but leave some space for the others, too
2. Enjoy living your own life – even if it’s sometimes scary or challenging
3. Take in a variety of exercises, both mental and physical. Keep at it – whatever ‘it’ is for you. Go out rather than stay in – if possible walk or cycle
4. Get sufficient rest/ sleep. Don’t force yourself to stay up when you know you’d rather be in bed. Do read half the night when sleep evades you.
5. Eat a varied, colourful diet …slowly. Ten chews per mouthful. Don’t over-indulge (often). Try fasting (occasionally)
6. Keep good company
7. Read, write, think, reflect, but mainly do and converse.
8. Join in: only be competitive with yourself and then be reasonably sensible about it.
9. Listen, really listen to others’ stories, but go your own way!
10. Try something new every day.
So, what do you think Anne’s age is? Well, this amazing woman is 82.
If you enjoyed reading this WoW article, why not have a look at our very first Woman of the Week article about BackPacking Granny.