At home with Nadine Reid after upping sticks for the country life in Donegal

Nadine Reid is making a cup of tea mid Zoom and telling us about her local Minister who shared a video she had posted on his own social media welcoming her to her new home of Ramelton, County Donegal. “It’s been a wonderful experience… like aww how lovely is that!” she says with a smile.

You’ll know Nadine from your tellies where she has wowed us as both a reporter for Virgin Media’s 6 O’clock Show and previously on Irish entertainment show Xposé through which she first burst on to our screens. Since the days of the glitz and the glamour of her non-stop city life, a lot has changed. The Birmingham raised Nadine, made Ireland her home the last few years but always with the intention of travelling the country and getting to know our beautiful island even better. And yet, with work commitments and life commitments it just never happened as she had planned.

The dawn of the pandemic, as it did for for so many people, gave Nadine the time to pause and assess what it is she really wants for this, her next chapter. And with that, in January 2021 she made the huge decision to move to beautiful County Donegal. VIP caught up with her on Zoom to chat about the place she now calls home, finding herself saying good morning to cows, the loves, losses and grievances that this year has dealt us all, finding healing in the countryside and planning for what’s next…

nadine reid
Pic: Paul Doherty for VIP Magazine

Nadine, Great to see you. You have quite literally upped sticks for the sticks. Tell us about your decision to move to Donegal?
Like a lot of people, I have found that it’s been a long year, hasn’t it? There have been so many ups and downs and we have had this time to reflect. For me, one of my first notions when I moved to Ireland a few years ago was to actually explore Ireland. My plan was never to move to Dublin and stay in Dublin, that was never my goal at all. But with how work opportunities evolved, my plans to explore never happened. Kerry, Galway, The Midlands, all of these places I meant to visit… and I just never did.

And yet it always played on your mind?
Yes. I think with the lockdown, everything just kind of paused and I thought “Well if you’re going to do something, you may as well do it now.” I was like I can’t allow the pandemic to pause my life, it’s already taken so many lives. So, I was like ok, “Decide what it is that you love. Remind yourself what you are passionate about and get back on with your journey.”

What drew you to embrace country living and make it your home?
It’s not that I don’t love city life, I have been a city girl for four decades but what I will say is that it is kind of that thing of… the mind never forgets. My grandma had a countryside house in Jamaica, my family is from a parish there called Clarendon and it is very rural. So, every year I would visit from when I was a baby and my mom said that each time I would just arrive and throw off the shoes and run around the garden, chasing the chickens with my grandma. I have always had that love for the country life.

Why Donegal?
The 6 O’clock Show sent me to do a presenting job last year and one of the places I went to was Sliabh Liag in Donegal. And I just was blown away, I was just like “This is incredible. This is epic!”. And that whole experience reminded me that, we can choose to live different lives. There are alternative routes. Honestly in that moment I just fell in love with Donegal.

nadine reid
Pic: Paul Doherty for VIP Magazine

How did you find the house you are now living in?
I found it on New Year’s Day of this year. But you know…when you look at a property online, it can be quite hard to tell but I just had this feeling immediately of, “That’s my house.” I think when I chose it, I didn’t realise how beautiful the view was. I can see the sea, the mountains, the fields, I can see the beach across the way. It is gorgeous. I’m renting for now, but I would love to buy. Buying is the goal.

Donegal people are renowned for being very welcoming?
Absolutely. I have had lots of lovely experiences. There’s a guy that has an award-winning fish and chip place. And you know when you first move in somewhere and you’ve still to unpack the pots and pans? That was me, and there is no Just Eat [laughs] you can forget about that. So, I was thinking, “Ok I need to get something to eat.” I was recommended this guy Johnny’s Ranch Food Truck. And so I went, and I said, “Hiya John” and he said “Hi Nadine” [laughs] They all know I’m here you see, everyone knows there’s a new girl in town. A blow-in from Dublin/Birmingham. So, I bought fish and chips once and it was so good that I posted something on my social media. The next day there arrived flowers and Prosecco welcoming me to the area from Johnny and his family. I was like, “What is this?” That is just one example. People have been lovely.

And you must feel a lift just being in such a beautiful place?
Oh, it is a healing county. I don’t even know if that’s a real thing but the first time I went to Sliabh Liag I said, “God, anyone who is depressed or experiencing trauma or having a tough time just needs to come here.” So yeah, it is as though I am healing here. It’s weird I didn’t think I had a lot to heal but the longer I am here I just feel stronger in my mind and my body.

Of course. And we are sure it is helping with the loss of your darling friend Minnie who you lived with in Dublin for the past two years as part of an elder home share?
Yes, for me that time with Minnie was really special because it gave me a time to pause again. I am only 43, I am still very young, but I have been through a lot in those 43 years. I have had my own pains; I have had my own break-ups. I haven’t legally been married, but I feel as though I have been married and divorced three times, so it has taken me time to digest those experiences.

I lost my father when I was young, and my grandparents, and different friends. So, all of these things that I went through, relationships, and work and school and all of it… I feel like I was just healing from that. My time with Minnie felt like this really special time to pause and go back to a very simple life. I think she was great for teaching me to live in the present.

nadine reid
Pic: Paul Doherty for VIP Magazine

You had a wonderful friendship?
Minnie was my bestie. Every morning I would come down the stairs. I’d say, “Morning Minnie, have you got your hearing aid in?” And she would always smile and go “Morning Nadine… I’ll just put me hearing aid in.” [laughs] And every night I would say “Goodnight Moonbeam, sleep well.” She used to dance in theatre, and she was one of the Moonbeams thence the name. She would always reply with, “Please god.” So, you just get into this routine, and she really was fantastic. And her family welcomed me in, they really did, they have been so good to me.

We love that. The ripple effect of human connection. Do you think being where you have helped you in dealing with the loss of her?
Definitely. I think reconnecting with nature is wonderful. I can immediately feel a zen, a calmness by just being in this house. I look out the bedroom window, I see the water, I see the mountains. So that’s calmed me already. I can see the moon as I am lying in bed. I have never had that before and it’s absolutely gorgeous.

I am reading the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and it says that every day you should write three pages of what’s on your mind before you start the day, so I am writing, and it has really helped to cleanse my mind so that I can start afresh each day.

Have you developed a new morning ritual?
Yes, every day now I bring my cup of tea out to the garden. I write my morning pages. I say hello to the cows [laughs]. Being here just makes everything a bit easier. It makes dealing with things a bit easier. You take deeper breaths. You inhale and exhale deeper and that’s I think what I have been doing. And Minnie would be happy with that.

And speaking of happy moments. You had a pretty huge moment last year appearing on a Littlewoods Ireland television advert as one of their ambassadors?
Yes, that was a really happy moment, and I am really grateful. I enjoy spreading the love and I really enjoyed the feedback on that to say that I had helped people. I forget that with all the variants of representation across the world, for people to see a black woman, a bigger woman of my size, and someone in her 40s, it was pretty good, and I am grateful to Littlewoods for having me to be a part of that.

nadine reid
Pic: Paul Doherty for VIP Magazine

Your personal style is so vibrant. Has your love colour always been part of who you are?
Yes. I think I have inherited that from my family. Growing up the pictures on the wall in my Mums house were of African women or Jamaican women with bright coloured headwraps on, or scarves or holding beautiful colourful things. So, there would always be real, punchy vibrant colours in the house. I remember going to Jamaican weddings and it’s a big deal. You’re talking head to toe coordinated colour. If you’re wearing pink, you’re wearing all the shades of pink [laughs]; from your hat to your fan.

I get inspiration from people. I have a local bestie here in Donegal, Taryn, and she calls herself “The most colourful woman in Ireland” so every time I see her, she is wearing amazing colour and she has awakened that in me once more. I am going “God yeah I love colour.” So, I am definitely reconnecting with the things that I enjoy the most here. I love the idea of expressing yourself through what you wear.

Do you think this quieter year has given you time to get to know you?
Definitely. I am settling into myself more. And into understanding my body and my health more. So, it’s not like a journey of transformation. It’s more of a plant your feet on the ground and step further into who you are. I enjoy being outside. I enjoy animals. I am feeling very nurturing, and I think I would be a great dog mom. Maybe a dog with a kind of curly afro hair so we could do matching hairstyles!

Could you ever see yourself going back to your former hectic city life?
Oh yes, I suppose I feel now I have a better balance, but I still love it too. As much as I love Donegal and the calmness…I will always have this energy that is drawn to the big city buzz. Hopefully when things are better with the pandemic, I can combine the different worlds. But I love the idea of coming home to the calm. Living in the calm and visiting the wild craziness. [laughs].

nadine reid
Pic: Paul Doherty for VIP Magazine

It was a health shock too that has spurred you to keep reassessing your life?
Yes. I had booked with my doctor to get the Cervical Check. And when I got there, the nurse couldn’t find my cervix, she said it seemed to be tilted or moved to one side. And it turns out I have some benign fibroids. So, I am still digesting this news, but I think it is important to talk about. 70 per cent of women get fibroids and we don’t bloody talk about it. If I had known I had them I would have had them shrunk or removed but unfortunately, now that mine are so big they could have a potential impact on my fertility. That makes me really sad. Luckily there are a few options, but I am in the process of meeting a consultant to find out what is the best option for me.

We are very sorry to hear that Nadine. We all wish you the best with this.
Thank you. I guess now I am in a position where I need to get these fibroids taken out of me or shrunk, and my next goal is to have a child. Because of my age group, a lot of western doctors are saying, “Oh it’s very hard to have a baby over 40.” My doctors have recommended IVF, but I feel just give me a minute. I haven’t even been trying at the moment, so my goal is starting this journey and deciding… “Do I want a sperm donor; do I call an ex-boyfriend?”. These are the decisions I need to make.

We think you’re very brave to talk so openly about this.
Well, the thing is, maybe this won’t work out exactly as I have dreamed but I have to try. Minnie lived to 95 years old so that shows me that I am not even halfway. I think statistics can put a lot of fear in us. I am trying to be quite holistic and saying, “if this is for me it will happen, and I’ll be a Momma” and if it doesn’t well maybe foster care. I am hoping to keep this conversation going and I do plan to document my journey from fibroids to baby. I hope in doing so I can help others.

We love this, Nadine. We have no doubt many women will resonate with your story.
I hope so. As women we can choose the lives we want. We can do what we want. I could still meet a fabulous guy. I hope that I will and hopefully he will have a really hot Donegal accent [laughs] that would be the dream scenario. But what if I don’t meet him until I’m 50? D’you know what I mean. So, I really think I can do this myself. Women have done harder things.

nadine reid
Pic: Paul Doherty for VIP Magazine

Interview: Elle Gordon
Photographer: Paul Doherty
Styling: Megan Fox
Creative Assistant: Taryn de Vere

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