In his own words, Dave Myers, 62, reveals why his 50s were fantastic and how a loving but challenging childhood made him who he is today
My wife Liliana is the greatest love of my life.
I met her in 2005 while we were filming The Hairy Bikers in Romania.
It was love – or rather lust – at first sight. Not on her part probably!
She was the manager of our hotel.
As Lil showed us our rooms she was very serious, I said, ‘Cor! She’s gorgeous!’ But Si thought she was scary.
Lil and I were pen pals and love developed from there.
She’s a strong woman and she’s tough with me. If I’m in a mood, she’ll tell me.
She’s smart and looks after our finances.
She’s supportive of my career, she’s happy to get a posh frock on and come with me to events, but she has her own interests too – she’s a tailor and dressmaker.
We married in 2011. That’s it now, I’m sorted with her.
For many years my biggest regret in life was the fact I hadn’t had children.
But when I married Lil I had this ready-made family with two stepchildren and it brought me such joy.
Her son, Serge, was 17 at the time I got together with Lil, not an easy age for him to take on a stepfather, but there were never any bad feelings between us. And Iza [Izabel] was just 11.
Now they’re 30 and 24 and have both got lives and partners of their own.
You have to take your chances in life.
Don’t be shy about putting yourself forward for things.
I’ve had my fair share of tragedies and I’ve lost people close to me, so I know the importance of grabbing the good things when they come along.
I wasn’t particularly talented at school, but I worked hard and applied to Goldsmiths to study art and I managed to get in.
Then I applied to the BBC to be a trainee make-up artist and worked there for 23 years.
I sound ungrateful, but it wasn’t for me.
I worked long hours six days a week. I should have made a break sooner.
My ex-wife gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever had.
If you apologise you should mean it, but only do it once.
If you keep on saying sorry it devalues your apology.
So ever since then I say it, mean it, and move on.
I am a natural-born worrier.
I wish I could tell my younger self not to worry so much.
When I was eight I had alopecia and lost all my hair.
I was so worried about what people thought of me, and what I looked like bald.
Which is ironic, as I later made my name as a Hairy Biker.
There’s a difference between being aware and worrying, and the latter achieves nothing.
As an adult, I went to a Buddhist Monastery in Cumbria and a monk told me worry was only in my head.
I am much happier now than when I was young.
My 50s were fantastic!
That’s when I got married, I travelled the world with my best friend, I made some money and started to really enjoy my life.
Back-street kids have the best playground.
We didn’t have a garden, but growing up in a red brick terrace house all I had to do was open the back gate and there were my friends.
I was a confident child, I loved performing and had loads of friends.
That changed when I lost my hair.
The doctors put it down to Mum being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, but my dad was a strong man and made sure I had a lovely childhood anyway.
He took me on the back of his motorbike and we’d go fishing.
I’m still friends with the people I grew up with.
We go around the same pubs we went to in our youth.
We used to talk about our work, these days we talk about our retirements.
Si and me are best mates as well as work partners.
We take ourselves off for a weekend once a year to hang out, eat and chat.
Last year it was Sweden, before that it was Amsterdam.
We are so lucky to have all these shared experiences and get to split the money.
We’ve had some tough times, like when Si had an aneurysm in 2014, but we’ve stuck by each other.
We like a beer together, but I try not to drink much on ‘school nights’, because it’s not professional to be hungover on TV, and it feels bloody awful!
Food has been the biggest influence on my life.
As my mum was in a wheelchair, from a young age Dad would give me money and I’d do the weekly shop.
Now food is my career as well as my passion, and a large part of my weekend is spent thinking about food, shopping for it, or cooking it.
My idea of heaven is cooking for a dinner party.
My stepchildren prefer some of their mum’s dishes like sarmale, a Romanian dish where cabbage is stuffed with rice and meat and little smoked sausages.
Si and made a recipe for it, but the kids won’t touch my version!
My Secret Snapshot
You never know what is around the corner in life.
I look at this picture and remember feeling so happy at that time.
I’m about six or seven here, so it was in the days before my beloved mum, Margaret, got Multiple Sclerosis.
I was a late baby; she had me at 41, and my dad Jim was 55 when I was born.
I was the best thing that had ever happened to them and I was so well-loved.
Here, we are on Biggar Bank in Walney, which is the island off Barrow-in-Furness, where I’m from.
You can see in the bag there’s a flask and little plastic cup. Mum would have filled it with tea.
There is something spectacularly awful about Thermos tea, and yet I still have a soft spot for it.
She would also have packed me a tomato sandwich for my treat, made from white bread, tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper. Delicious!
My dad would eat butter and sugar sandwiches, can you believe? It sounds terrible now.
We went to the beach a lot in the summer, catching the bus across the bridge.
We’d play, then come home in time for Mum to make Dad’s supper.
Before MS struck, Mum was so active and fun, she’d been a crane driver in the war. She doted on me.
Those were the best of times.
But a year or so after this picture was taken she was in a wheelchair and it became the worst of times.
I never take anything for granted any more.
– The Hairy Biker’s Chocolate Challenge continues next Wednesday at 10pm on Channel 5
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