Siobhan Daniels was shortlisted in the Advantages of Age Awards 2023 in the Non-Fiction with Pro-Ageing Message category for her book Retirement Rebel. Here she lets know about her big adventure.
Following a 30-year career as a reporter, producer and presenter for the BBC, I retired, bought a motorhome and embarked on a solo trip around Great Britain.
This adventure turned out to be a journey of self-discovery which I chronicled in my book Retirement Rebel. I am now a passionate advocate of rewriting the retirement “script” and I write and speak about tackling ageism.
I raised her daughter Samantha, now 35, single-handedly at the same time as working as a presenter, reporter and producer across BBC Radio and TV for 30 years.
It was when I hit my mid-fifties that things changed, as many women of this age can relate to. Two of my siblings died from cancer aged 53, Ifelt undermined and overlooked at work and I was struggling with the menopause.
Feeling overwhelmed and broken I made a decision that I was not going to see out my life feeling trapped, voiceless and powerless. I decided to take early retirement at 60 and become a spirited, unapologetic RETIREMENT REBEL. I wanted to be the mistress of my own destiny and define my own purpose in life.
Part of which was to challenge bullying and ageism in the workplace. My mission was simple: to show others that you don’t have to accept the cards that society is dealing you. Instead, you can rewrite your own script and ignore the pressure to grow old quietly. You can find your way of living your best life.
With the financial security of a BBC Pension and an old nursing pension, I headed off in September 2019 to explore Great Britain, not knowing how things would unfold but feeling that somewhere along the line I would find my happiness. Decluttering my life enabled me to hopefully show that it is possible to live a far less materialistic life and still be happy. Sometimes the crazy ideas are the best ideas.
My motorhome, which I named “Dora the Explora” had everything I needed, shower toilet, kitchen area with, oven, grill, microwave and fridge and it had the all-important heating.
Over the last four years I have weathered storms, endured a pandemic, climbed peaks in Scotland, swum in icy seas and rivers and met the most amazing people along the way.
The turning point for me came about six months into my motorhome life, standing on the edge of Loch Morlich in Scotland late at night, in the dark and pouring my heart out. I cried and shouted out loud – having imaginary conversations with people I had lost, and those I felt had wronged me. I sobbed for ages, then felt an overwhelming sense of peace. It was then I decided that I would leave my anger and hurt behind and move forward. I vowed that I would do all I could to help other women so they never felt as broken and lost as I had felt in my fifties.
Following my adventures, which include trips to The Outer Hebrides, Ireland and more recently France, I have become the woman that I always felt that I should have been. Strong and independent. I no longer feel unworthy, not good enough or afraid. I am enough.
i am intent on helping other women who are struggling with similar feelings, find in their own lives.
I want to stop young women fearing getting old and help older women not to lose themselves, but to find a way to have their adventures, no matter how big or how small, to find a way of living their best lives and ageing positively.
You do not have to be as mad as me and turn one’s life on its head. You may just want to make a small lifestyle change, such as going for walks in the countryside more often, or taking up a hobby that you always wanted to do. But find that thing that makes you feel alive.
By publishing my first book at 63, I am also showing that you are not too old and it is not too late to fulfil your dreams. I genuinely believe that age is just a number.
When you RETIRE you REFIRE!
Siobhan’s Report from Orkney.
My latest adventure is spending five weeks in Orkney. I bought a one way ticket and my plan is to have no plan and to go with the flow. That way I can live in the moment and be spontaneous. Something for years I was not able to do because had responsibilities as a single working mother and life got in the way.
I took the Pentland ferry from Gills Bay, in the far north of Scotland, over to St Margaret’s Hope. Straight away I faced a fear when I realised I had to reverse my six m motorhome onto the ferry. Thankfully with support and guidance from the crew I achieved this.
I spent the hour and ten minute crossing, standing on deck, hoping, without success, to spot an Orca in that stretch of water. From the moment I arrived on Orkney my senses were overwhelmed by its beauty. It is steeped in history.
First port of call was the very ornate Italian Chapel. Built by Italian prisoners of war from two Nissan huts bolted together. They had been brought in to help build the Churchill barriers to protect the Scapa flow in WW11.
Over the next few days, I was blessed with wonderful blue skies and winter sunshine as she visited Skara Brae, the best preserved neolithic site in Western Europe. And the ring of Brogdar, which is a massive stone circle. It is one of the most spectacular prehistoric monuments in the British Isles.
All around are burial grounds and sites to visit that reveal the dense history of these islands. I even have an invite to join one of my social media followers on the Island of Stronsay for bonfire night celebrations. Who knows where my journey will take me next. One thing for sure is I will take you along too.
Siobhan documents her life on Instagram: shuvonshuvoff and on her blog:shuvonshuvoff.blogspot.com
Her book is called Retirement Rebel.