Former Royal reporter Jennie Bond on the fear – and joy – of stepping outside your comfort zone as you reach retirement age

Jennie Bond

Recently I’ve had a bit more time to myself, so I’ve started relearning the piano, which I had given up when I was about 17. It’s utterly absorbing and mentally challenging and I love it.

It’s good for the brain, and I think that’s vital as you get older. You have to challenge yourself to take on those ambitions and step outside your comfort zone, whether that’s by doing an art course or learning a new language.


I did that not long ago when I filmed a series about living on a barge. It was terrifying driving that huge, great boat down the canals which, I can tell you, aren’t straight! But it was challenging and enormous fun, too.

Taking part in competitive cooking on TV was also scary, and I was a disaster, but it was liberating – as was being in the jungle in I’m a Celebrity...

Panel shows that test your knowledge are also absolutely terrifying – I can so easily get brain freeze – but at the end of them you think: ‘I did it!’

Getting older gives you freedom – to go travelling and to reconnect with old friends. I regard myself now as the master of my own destiny.

I firmly believe in keeping fit. I do exercises to two tracks of music every morning to stay flexible, and I stand on one leg, maybe when cleaning my teeth or boiling the kettle, to maintain my balance. Keeping both mentally and physically active is really important.

Ready for something different?

Few things are more exciting and invigorating than trying something completely new. A new hobby, a new destination or maybe just a new recipe. All that really matters is staying curious and open to possibilities. If there’s a secret to living life well, it’s this.

Our communities are full of opportunities to meet new people, learn new skills and develop new interests. And always eager for new partners in crime.

Many of our communities have bistro-restaurants – ideal for when you don’t feel like cooking or want to catch up with friends.

There are also often guest suites available, too. So, if making up the spare bed feels like a chore, you can simply book the suite for your guests instead.