1. Up and at it - what is your morning routine?
My wake-up and get going routine revolves around my two dogs, Izzy and Coco. I’ll take them for a quick walk and then I’ll have a flick through online news before getting stuck into the day ahead.
2. What might you eat in a typical working day for...
Breakfast? I’m a creature of habit and enjoy Rice Krispies with fresh blueberries every week day morning. At the weekend, when I have more time, I might have eggs.
Lunch? On weekdays it’s a sandwich or wrap - always on wholegrain - eaten during a busy work day. At the weekend, a favourite brunch or lunch is poached eggs on sourdough with smashed avocado and chilli jam.
Evening meal? I enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes - always fresh, local produce. Chicken and turkey tend to feature in many of my meals and home-made turkey burgers with salad has been a summer favourite.
3. Is nutrition important to you – do you take health supplements?
Nutrition is very important to me. I tend not to take supplements as I grow my own fruit and vegetables and eat fresh for essential vitamins, minerals and general goodness.
4. Ever been on a diet – if so, how did it go?
I’ve never been on an official diet plan - I believe a healthy diet is eating a wide range of fresh, local produce combined with exercise - and the occasional treat.
5. Weekend treat?
I confess to going overboard with weekend treats… there’s nothing better than nice food and wine after a walk with friends. It’s a great way to catch-up and this way, it’s guilt free.
6. How do you keep physically and mentally fit?
I live in the countryside, so I find getting outdoors keeps me physically and mentally fit. Whether I’m in my garden or involved in more strenuous hiking, running and cycling, I love the endorphins released by outdoor activity.
7. Best tip for everyday fitness?
Little and often. Keep moving every day, no matter how short you are on time. I’m lucky that my role at The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) means I get to spend a lot of time outdoors. At TCV we offer ‘Green Gym’ sessions, which are free outdoor volunteering groups. It’s a brilliant way to practise low impact exercise while at the same time enhancing and protecting local green spaces.
8. Were you a fan of schools sports/PE or do you have a memory from those days that you would rather forget?
I was a total fan of sports and PE at school and played on many teams including hockey and cricket. It’s where I made some of my best friends and fondest memories.
9. Teetotal or tipple?
Tipple – I enjoy nothing more than a glass of Italian red.
10. Stairs or lift?
Stairs - every time.
I relax most when I’m outdoors. It’s a full sensory experience with sights, sounds, smells and textures to relax the body and mind.— Dianne Keys
11. What book are you currently reading?
Wine Making Made Easy [Mary Ellen Ward]. I have a three-year-old Black Hamburg vine in my greenhouse which has a great crop on it, so I’m going to give wine-making a bash.
12. Best Netflix/streaming TV?
I don’t watch a lot of television, but I can totally recommend Bad Sisters and Drops of God on Apple TV.
13. Most surprising thing you learned about yourself over the pandemic?
That I’m very happy in my own company.
14. Any new skills or hobbies?
I recently went on a trip to Dublin and took part in a bodhran workshop. I came away determined to learn, but haven’t yet managed to get busy with my tipper.
15. How do you relax?
I relax most when I’m outdoors. It’s a full sensory experience with sights, sounds, smells and textures to relax the body and mind. When things get hectic at work, I like to pop down to TCV’s tree nursery for an hour, roll up my sleeves and join our volunteers in seed washing, tending to our tree seedlings and planting trees.
16. What are your goals?
To explore new things, both in my professional and personal life. At work, I’m leading our equality, diversity and inclusion goal to connect everyone in our brilliant green space with new volunteering opportunities. It’s opening new doors where I’m learning from people in new cultures and from across the world.
17. What time do you get to bed and do you think you get enough sleep?
I love my sleep and despite getting around eight hours a night, I would take more. My regular week day bedtime is 10 o’clock - slightly later at weekends.
18. Biggest gripe or regret?
I tend to be an optimist, looking forward in life and not dwelling on things I cannot change. However, most of my family are musically talented and it seems to have skipped me. I guess it’s never too late for singing lessons, but I’ll have to provide my wife with earplugs.
19. Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?
My priorities and perspectives have changed with time. I reflect a lot, but tend not to get hung-up on things which used to annoy me. I try to make the most of every day and I am content with the simple things like good company and trying new adventures.
20. Has coronavirus – or any health epiphany or life event - changed your attitude towards your own mortality?
I had Covid for the first time in July which really knocked me off my feet (quiet literally) for weeks. My energy levels, taste and smell haven’t been the same since, but it was a reminder to look after my body and mind and not to take anything for granted.
- To help revive Northern Ireland’s forests, TCV has joined forces with Hughes Insurance to grow a targeted 70,000 trees at its tree nursery at the Ulster Folk Museum. To find out more about the tree nursery or volunteering, visit tcv.org.uk/northernireland/tree-nursery