The Yorkshire woman who sold her possessions and bought a motorhome
- Credit: Siobhan Daniels
Siobhan Daniels is a retirement rebel - she sold her home and belongings to buy a motorhome and set off on a UK road trip.
She tells us how the journey's going...
In my fifties I became increasingly disillusioned with how we were all living. So many of us were working long hours to earn money to buy STUFF that we did not really need and because we worked long hours it left little quality time to spend with family and friends.
It seemed to me that we were getting it very wrong. At the same time, I was struggling with the menopause. I felt marginalised at work as an older woman. With this in mind, when I hit 60, I decided to retire, after 30 years working at the BBC in Radio and TV, as a presenter, reporter and producer. I decided it was time for me to embark on a motorhome adventure, travelling Great Britain to champion positive ageing. I wanted to challenge ageist stereotypes of what society seems to envisage older people doing once they retire.
I was scared and excited at the same time as I put my plan into action. Firstly, I got rid of my flat and most of my worldly possessions, which was heart wrenching at times. I wanted to show that you could be happy living with far fewer belongings. I then searched for a motorhome that I knew I would be happy living in. I chose a Autotrail Tribute two berth, for nearly £40,000. It had all the mod cons like toilet, shower, cooker, microwave, fridge freezer and central heating that ran off gas and electric. I named her ‘Dora the Explora’
Looking back now I cannot believe how I faced my fears as I remember feeling extremely nervous. I had a few trial runs at camping places to get used to how to set up, connect the gas and electric, filling the water tank and emptying the loo etc.
Then came the time to kickstart my Great Britain trip and what better place to do that than Yorkshire with two of my best friends, whom I met when I trained to be a nurse at St James’s in Leeds in the 70s.
I was born in Leeds and the first couple of decades of my life were spent in and around Yorkshire. I went to Notre Dame Grammar school in the city, before nursing in various hospitals in Yorkshire for nine years. My daughter Samantha was born in Leeds in the late 80s. During my pregnancy I taught myself to type and passed my typing exams, which resulted in me getting a part time job as a receptionist at BBC Radio Leeds. This enabled me to apply for the BBC Trainee reporter scheme, along with 7,500 other people and I got one of the 26 places. I worked at Radio Leeds, Radio Sheffield and Radio Humberside, where I presented my own radio programme for a while. The lure of working in TV then took me to Look North in Leeds and then on to BBC South East Today Television in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, where I stayed for twenty years.
But once a Yorkshire lass always a Yorkshire lass and that was why I wanted my van life adventure to start there.
We stayed at Pool Bank farm just on the outskirts of Otley which has the most fabulous views of Wharfdale. We enjoyed so many walks in the Dales and it was great to be surrounded by friendly Yorkshire people and I do say I do get a sense of belonging when I am in the county. I was able to live in the moment and enjoy my surroundings. My plan was ‘to have no plan’ and to ‘go with the flow’. This really is what I have been doing for the last two years, despite surviving awful storms, the worst rainfall since records of rainfall began and being stuck in a field for nearly five months on my own in Norfolk during the second lockdown. Thankfully during the hard times, I have connected with thousands of people on social media and realised the importance of women supporting women. Many of them ask me if I get lonely or afraid in my motorhome and truthfully the answer is no.
During my travels around Great Britain I have written for several national magazines and newspapers as part of my retirement rebellion and pro age campaign. I have given inspirational talks to people, including some of the Women’s Institute groups, about my adventures, to try and change the ageist landscape that still exists when you hit midlife and beyond.
Now over two years since I started, I find myself once again back in Yorkshire reflecting on what I have achieved. I revisited my childhood home in Roundhay and walked around the lakes in Roundhay Park, reliving in my mind all my childhood memories. Yes, there have been some difficult times both mentally and physically on my motorhome madness trip but as I look out again over the beautiful Yorkshire countryside, I feel a great sense of achievement. Although it has taken me until my 60s, I feel I have become the woman that I always should have been. I realise just how resilient and capable I am. I do not want any woman to go through what I went through getting older in the workplace. I hope my adventures inspire women both young and old to age positively and to say yes more to adventures. I am currently volunteering on a farm, then off to house sit for someone in the new year. I hope to put the finishing touches to my book ‘AGELESS, FEARLESS, WOMEN; You can do it too.’ I don’t know how long I will carry on with my trip but one thing I do know is that I am actually happier than I have ever been.