My first hour: five high flyers uncover their morning routines

A daily phone call from India, a tough workout at the track, or a journey to the milking parlours? Six people tell Candice Pires what gets them out of bed in the morning

The dairy farmer: Paul Tompkins wakes at 4.30 am. The first thing on his intellect is cows

How have the cows got on overnight? Thats the question that aftermaths me up at 4.30 am every morning. We have 200 kine that we milk and a further 200 young stock, so somethings usually happened.

As soon as I get out of bed, Im at work. We live above our farm in Yorkshire and I dont have time to waste because theres a full day ahead. My clothes are in a pile in the bedroom and I pull them on as quick as I can. I head downstairs and slip on overalls, waterproof, wellies and a hat if its cold. From bed to fully dressed takes me six or seven minutes. To avoid waking my belly, I dont drink or eat.

Every day when I step outside my back door, the farm seems a little bit different. In the summer it is feasible to glorious with the swallows darting in and out of the passageway and over my head. In the winter it can be so crisp and cold that all the cobwebs have frozen.

I rapidly get the milking parlor “re ready for” operation, then I go to the shed, open the door and call: Morning, girls! Milking hour. I love insuring them every morning. Kine really like routine and theyre always ready. If Im only four minutes late, there will be a queue at the barn door. They walk through to the parlour. I know who will come first, so if theres one that Im expecting and she doesnt come, Im already worrying. I have someone help me with the milking, but theres an agreement that we dont actually talk until breakfast.

The kine are milked in groups of 12 and are in there for 10 to 15 minutes. It takes me about three hours to milk all of them and then I do it again in the evening. I do the same thing for every cow, every day which makes them feel safe and secure. For me, the repeating is virtually therapeutic. I cast my intellect to other things that are happening in the day. Theres a lot of hour so its important to not dwell on problems. Once Ive cleaned the equipment, its 8.30 am. The children appear outside the parlour door on their way to school and we say goodbye.

I head to our kitchen with some milk straight from the cows udder to chill it. I set it on my cereal and drink a glass. It savor so much richer than bought milk.

I never wake up and think: I wish today was different. Following the same routine allows me to be efficient.

The chef: Asma Khan wakes up every morning with telephone calls from her mum

Chef
Asma Khan: For that first half hour of the morning, speaking to my mother takes me home. Photograph: Phil Fisk for the Observer

Unless the birds opposing outside my window are particularly loud, Im always woken up by a phone call from my mother. I live in London, but she lives in a small town in Uttar Pradesh and is four and a half hours ahead. Every day she begins by asking: Do I wake you up? I always lie as she would feel bad if she knew she had. I never turn my phone off at night. When half the person or persons you love are so far away, you always keep it on in case someone requires you.

Its never a short bellow so I leave the bedroom so my husband can sleep. She picks up from our conversation the night before, when Id have been preparing for a supper club or catering for a party. She used to work in food so she always wants to know how my event went. Shell give me ideas for how I should have done it better, which is really sweet. I dont cook anything other than what she taught me, which is the Islamic food of India.

For that first half hour of the morning, speaking to my mother takes me home. I hear her telling my father answers to the crossword hes doing. We speak in English, but when we talk about food, there arent enough terms for the flavours and smells and colours, so we switch to Urdu Hindi.

The night before Ill have soaked fenugreek seeds and Ill drink that while we talk. It savours horrible, but Im borderline diabetic and I drink it for my health. My mother tells me: Eat the seeds. I cant believe shes operating my drinking from so far away.

After the bellow, I get my children out of bed. My older son requires a lot of shake, but the younger one is always washed, ready and has his hair combed without any prompting.

I then attain myself a masala chai with leaf tea, fresh ginger and spices. I construct enough for three or four cups during the day. My spouse attains his own green tea. We dont to participate in each others tea-making. I have my first cup with six Rich Tea cookies. I know its too many. But it brings me peace. When I came to this country, I lost so many things, but this ritual is something that stayed the same.

Id be lost without my routine. When I was small, I struggled to wake up and my mother used to bring me masala chai and get into my bed and marriage chats. On the rare occasions I cant speak to her now, I expend the day impression like Ive forgotten something.

The radio presenter: Dotun Adebayo sleeps all morning and bides up all night

Dotun
Dotun Adebayo: I never feel like eating first thing. When I arrive at work at 9pm, thats my breakfast time. Photograph: Sam Barker for the Observer

I wake up in broad daylight to a quiet house. I can usually hear children on the street outside playing and people passing in cars with the music up loud, as if theyd been awake for hours. Which they have. Its like everybody else is a step ahead and I have to catch up. It can be a fairly lonely existence working a night shift. Even when I get in at 5.30 am and my adrenaline is buzzing from work, I tiptoe around as my wife and teenage daughters are asleep.

But working nights as a radio presenter arrives easily to me. I was born in the nighttime and as a teen I couldnt get enough of it. Ive been doing it for 16 years. It was great when my children were small because I could be around in the working day for them.

Unless I have an urgent appointment, I dont set an alarm. I try to let my body do its own thing. So I can get up at 12 pm or 4pm. Often Ill nap again afterward. Being a journalist, when I do emerge, I immediately go online and catch up with the news. I start with the BBC and the wires, then all the newspapers. Reading the news first thing impacts my day. Its always in the back of my intellect and Im thinking about how Im going to engage with it in my display afterward. In my profession, you take your feeling out of it, but now and then its not easy. For example, when Chuck Berry succumbed, that really affected my spirits.

I run a volume publishing company, too, so next I catch up with emails. The route we work now, people expect a reply within minutes. But because Im getting to messages four hours later, I feel I have to do a really fast catch-up on them.

I never feel like eating first thing. When I arrive at work at 9pm, thats my breakfast time. In the day I tend to lay off coffee; I dont want my body are far too used to it so that it can really do its job if Im on a night shift and require a big rush.

When I leave run early in the morning and my colleagues are coming in for the breakfast display, I have a smile on my face and always say to them, I bet you wish you were on the night shift now, dont you? My life may not have what other people call routine, but it works for me.

Dotun Adebayo presents Up All Night on BBC Radio 5 Live on Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 1am

The CEO: Philippa Brown wakes at 6.29 am and works for 30 minutes before get up

Philippa
Philippa Brown: Each morning I have a bath and clean my hair. I take my second cup of tea in with me. Photograph: Sam Barker for the Observer

I reach for my phone at 6.29 am one minute before my alarm goes off. My husband wakes up about the same time and one of us goes and lets out our two Dachshunds and brings the tea back to bed.

Sitting in bed, I spend 30 minutes on emails that came in overnight. As I do this Im thinking about the day ahead and start role-playing some of the meetings Ill be having. Im chief executive of a media bureau and am responsible for 1,700 people, and over 270 clients.

At 7am, I go to wake up the children. We live in a five-storey house in Fulham. Our 16 -year-old daughter is one storey up and Ill take her an apple juice and a cereal bar. Then up another flight is my 13 -year-old son. Hes like me and doesnt eat in the morning.

We constructed a gym in our cellar and got a couple of days a week, Ill jump on the cross-trainer, switch the news on and have my iPhone propped up for any emails that might come in. Its a kind of meditation time for me. Each morning I have a bath and rinse my hair. I fill the bath with Radox and take my second cup of tea in with me. I dont spend long in there.

On days that I have an important lunch or evening event, my hairdresser comes over at 7.30 am to give me a blow-dry. Hes like household. While hes doing my hair, Ill be sending emails to myself. I also have a to-do book which I constantly scribble in to get rid of stuff in my head.

I dont spend long get garmented. I love wrap garments, and pretty much wear the same black tribunal shoes every day. During this time, the kids and my husband will usually have said bye. Then I pick up my briefcase and bag, run down the stairs and out the front door into a cab. I pay for a cab so I can sit in the back and work. I use those 45 minutes to go through the working day with my PA, look over my to-do book, do phone calls and emails and put my make-up on. By the time I get to work, Im ready to go.

The young athlete: Amber Anning wakes up at 6am, feeling a little bit sick if its a race day

Amber
Amber Anning: School mornings have been especially hard during my GCSEs. Photo: Phil Fisk for the Observer

I only became a morning person recently. Ive been aiming to qualify for the sprints in the Commonwealth Youth Games, but I tore my hamstring. So for a couple of months I was get up at 6am to do strength and conditioning educate before school. Rather than hitting the snooze button and determining it impossible to roll out of bed like I usually do, Id get up instantly. I had a goal and didnt want to waste an opportunity to develop and get back to good health.

I wear braces on my teeth and the first thing I always do when I wake up is go to the bathroom and take my retainer off.

During my rehab period, Id then go back to my bedroom and do my exercises on the floor for about 45 minutes mainly core and back run. Listening to music with a strong beat genuinely motivates me. Even though Im 16, I still love High School Musical to work out to.

On weekends when I have a competition , no matter what the event, I wake up feeling a little bit sick. I find it very difficult to control my nerves. I tend to not talk to anyone and just go over the race plan in my head, trying to stay positive, because when I get negative it affects my performance.

School mornings have been especially hard during my GCSEs. On exam days I had to set some of my stretchings on hold so I could do a bit more revise or look at past newspapers before breakfast. My mums drilled it into me that analyzing takes priority over athletics.

I always get ready in the same order. Thankfully I have a school uniform because without it, Id take ages deciding what to wear. Once Im garmented I go downstairs and eat breakfast: schooldays its always Shreddies and Frosties with milk, orange juice, then toast with jam; rivalry days its always porridge with bananas. Then I get my school books ready if I havent already done it the night before, brush my teeth and the school bus picks me up outside our home at 7.30 am.

Now that my quizs are over and my trauma has run, Ive gone back to lying in bed for as long as possible. But if I need to do early mornings again, I know I can.

Amber Anning is racing in the Commonwealth Youth Game in the Bahamas, 19 -2 3 July

The prisoner: Peter Mack from California wakes at 4am and starts his long day with workouts and prayers

prisoner
Peter Mack: The mornings are when I feel safest. When Im writing, I feel free, like Im living outside of the walls

Ever since being in prison, I wake up throughout the night. First at midnight, then 3am and then finally at 4am, Im up for the day. Lying in bed, I do 100 sit-ups to loosen my spine and keep my belly right.

When I get out of bed Ill brush my teeth, clean my face and shave my head. I follow that with another quick workout of 55 side bends, 50 shoulder shrugs, 50 squats and 50 push-ups.

Then I get back on my rack and put on Spotify. I listen to an Islamic call to prayer and do inhaling exercises, prayers and affirmations. During this time, Im envisaging what I want to achieve. I was introduced to Sufism 10 years ago and while I wouldnt say that Im Muslim, I am a believer that through religion, we all speak the same truth.

After prayers, I sit on my bed, I have my phone on my lap with my knees raised up and I write. Ive been incarcerated for 10 years and when I was first sent to prison, I was put in solitary confinement for trafficking narcotics inside. There, I began writing. I wrote on paper and when I got out of The Hole I typed it up on a typewriter and sent it to publishers and got my first book deal.

I write for an hour or two on whatever manuscript Im working on. Im currently writing a volume called Brenda , about a young girl who gets caught up on the street. Were not officially let telephones in prison, but the security squad has been in my cell enough times to know that Im a novelist. I kind of stay out of the style and they allow me to do what I do, so long as I dont cause any trouble. When Ive had telephones taken away from me, Ive used a typewriter.

At 6.30 am they open our cell doorways, and people go to breakfast. Thats when I get out of bed properly. I generally eat in my cell. I order a food package from an outside vendor and they mail it to me. In California prisons, anyone can order food , no matter what their level of custody. I like to have oatmeal with apple, a scoop of creamy peanut butter and sprinkle it with cinnamon. Sometimes Ill ask my cellmate to bring me back a milk and Ill have cereal.

The mornings are when I feel safest. When Im writing, I feel free, like Im living outside of the walls. Im always looking forward to that space of quiet hour. Once Ive finished writing I feel like Ive achieved my morning duty, its like getting the kids off to school.

petermackpresents.com

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