Life lessons: Rachel Smalley, TV presenter

Rachel Smalley is TV3's 'Firstline' presenter. Photo / HOS
Rachel Smalley is TV3's 'Firstline' presenter. Photo / HOS

My favourite memory is the first time I ventured outside with my newborn son, Finn. It was a beautiful spring day and we went for a walk at Dulwich Park. He was tiny, the pram was huge and I was possibly the proudest woman in London.

I thought "what the hell am I doing" one night when I was in Khost Province in Afghanistan, reporting on the impact of the war on women. It was pitch black, I was staying on a small American base and the Taliban began firing mortars at the camp. I was bundled into a concrete bunker with 20 American soldiers and we lay there listening to the scream of incoming mortars, and hearing F-16s scrambling up and down the valley.

I don't think I've learned anything positive or negative from television. It's just television. It's just what it is.

If I wasn't in television I'd either be a slightly mad antiques dealer with big hair and crazy glasses or I'd open a native plant nursery. Or perhaps I'd be an economist. Or I'd import linen. Then again, I've always fancied being a librarian, too ...

I like the fact that I'm tall. Height, at times, is useful. And what do I dislike? That would be that crisis of confidence that creeps up on you at the most inopportune of times.

The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy always makes me go "wow". I drove it last month and it knocked my socks off. It's surely one of the most beautiful drives on the planet.

The most difficult years of my life were my 20s. It was a decade punctuated by a confused and directionless jumble of self-doubt and globe-trotting. I had a lot of fun too, but it wasn't until I hit 30 that the fog cleared.

I have an unusual habit. Apparently I twitch my nose from time to time like Samantha off Bewitched. I've never seen this myself obviously, so it needs to be independently verified.

My guilty pleasure is golden rum, a lot of ice, a chuck of lime and a splash of coke. As my friends say, "a little glass of bogan".

The person who always makes me laugh is my 4-year-old son. This week I told him he couldn't have an icecream for lunch. He responded by telling me that he'd had enough of my bad behaviour and if saw anymore of it, I'd be going straight to the Naughty Step.

My hometown of Christchurch is more welcoming than ever before. It's broken but it's rebuilding, and it's still so beautiful.

Rachel Smalley presents Firstline, TV3, weekdays from 6am.

- NZ Herald

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