The one lesson I have learned from life: Anna Ryder Richardson says life is a roller coaster

TV presenter and interior designer Anna Ryder Richardson, 54, rose to fame on BBC makeover series Changing Rooms. 

In 2008 she and Colin MacDougall, with whom she has two daughters, Bibi and Dixie, took over Manor House Wildlife Park in Pembrokeshire.

I have a habit of jumping in head-first and making what I believe at the time to be great decisions, but they don’t always turn out that way.

When I bought the zoo in 2008, I thought it would be all about caring for the animals. I focused on it being all about happy times and special moments. Of course, it is all that, but it’s not just that. It’s like becoming a parent; it’s really hard work all day every day.

It wasn’t how I initially thought it was going to be. But it has been a wonderful experience, especially for my daughters, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

It was the same when I got into TV. I wasn’t prepared for it — the long hours, or how I would feel when someone didn’t like my designs on Changing Rooms. Luckily most people did, but on the odd occasion they didn’t I felt horrible.

I realised that life is like one huge roller-coaster ride — and that’s okay. It has its ups and downs and the downs will always pass. You just need to ride them out when times are tough because things will always get better.

I’ve always had a really busy mind. But I’ve learned that I need to live in the moment. I’ve even had a tattoo done on my arm that says: ‘Be here now.’

If I walk into my stables, my horses can sense if I’m distracted. They want to know that I’m present. So I have to really ground myself. I talk myself through where I am and it helps. Mindfulness is very popular now, but for me, with my busy mind, it’s one of the most difficult things.

When Bibi left to study in Mexico a year ago, I felt really sad, but I realised I’m going to be a mother for ever. Now I can focus on me again.

That’s why I’m getting involved in more design work, because I love it and I’m excited by it. I’ve realised that I’m not going to sit and get old all by myself — maybe it’s my time now.

Anna is working with Aldi to promote its Kirkton House range ( 


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