WILD CHILD I was born in London but I was such a handful that my parents, seeking more space, decided to move to Berkshire. We lived in a house next to a farm, down a muddy track, surrounded by fields, so the scene was set for me to become an incorrigible tomboy - something I've never really grown out of. My childhood was spent outdoors and it was heavenly. I'm grateful that I was born before the days of 24-hour television, mobile phones and social media. Instead I made camps, climbed trees, went for bike rides, rode horses and helped look after the animals on our neighbour's farm.

INTO AFRICA I loved reading and writing but I didn't love my time at school. Afterwards, I chose not to go to university and went travelling around South Africa instead. It was the apartheid era and everyone said, "You shouldn't go, you're propping up the apartheid establishment." I thought, "I'm 19, I've got £100 in my pocket, how can I be propping up anything?" I wanted to find out what was going on there for myself. The wonderful thing about being 19 is that you think you're immortal and nothing bad could ever happen, so you feel free to be curious. What I discovered was that the situation was nothing like we had been told - it was much more complex and there were people of all colours and persuasions fighting against this terrible injustice. It was an incredible journey that taught me an enormous amount about how exciting the world is, about humanity, and it also introduced me to some amazing wildlife.

BAD HAIR DAY I got into TV presenting by mistake. After I returned from travelling, I started work as a production assistant on a show called Animal Hospital. I absolutely loved it. After that I was asked to work on the Holiday programme. On my second day, my boss called me into his office and asked if I'd be interested in presenting. I wasn't, but they asked if I would do a screen test. I had to walk along the banks of the River Thames, talking to camera and interviewing people. I had huge 1980s hair and it was a very windy day and it was blowing everywhere. I assumed nothing would come of it but some time later my boss said, "We'd like you to go to France and present a piece on a barge in Normandy. And please do something about your hair."

CAMERAS ROLLING Many people are terrified of presenting live TV but I love the immediacy of it. One of my early jobs was on a daily programme called City Hospital and this gave me experience doing live TV that wasn't in a studio, wasn't scripted and was extremely unpredictable. My first gig for the BBC's Natural History Unit was a live, deep sea programme in the Cayman Islands. We went down in a submarine to film the six-gilled shark. It lives at 300 metres and below and is rarely seen. It finally appeared on our second descent. I knew we wouldn't get another chance, so I leapt into action and recalled everything I'd learned about the six-gilled shark very quickly. I was beside myself with excitement - I'm not very cool on TV, as everyone knows.

A series called Wild in Your Garden followed and that eventually turned into Springwatch. It was quite an eccentric idea. For four evenings a week, over a three-week period, me and two other presenters gave a live, peeping-tom-type view of Britain's wildlife at a really dynamic and exciting time of year - spring, the breeding season. We had tiny cameras hidden in trees and nest boxes and badger setts, so we could follow the animals 24 hours a day. It turned out to be an incredibly gripping natural soap opera: would the little fledgling bird survive? Would its mother escape the neighbour's cat? It became a surprise hit and then a massive phenomenon - at its peak we had four million people watching every night. Viewers became completely wrapped up in it and we, the presenters, were on the edge of our seats along with the audience.

CALL TO PRAYER What I love is to tell stories by immersing myself in a community. In 2009, I presented a series called The Frankincense Trail, in which I travelled from Oman through Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Palestine. It was an extraordinary thing for a non-Muslim woman to do, and it was lucky I went then because you couldn't do it now. The series showed people a completely different perspective - a very human view - of an area which is often either misrepresented, or very narrowly represented, by war and human rights issues. Whilst in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, my guide took me to a rooftop at sunset. There are 26 mosques and when it's time for the call to prayer, the imams all try to outdo each other. As the sun went down, the calls moved across the city, from mosque to mosque, as below us the people hurried through the streets. It was such a beautiful moment that I burst into tears. To this day I quite regularly get messages from people in the Middle East who have seen the clip on YouTube and feel touched that I was so moved.

In 2014, I made a series called Living with Nomads. What I loved was realising how much we have to learn from these traditional communities. We think we're so advanced in the Western world but the Nenets people in Siberia know how to survive at minus 54 degrees Celsius in houses they've built from reindeer skin and larch poles, without central heating. They make their own sledges and clothing, and catch their own food. Compared to them we're completely dependent on technology and hopelessly impractical.

DOWN ON THE FARM In 2007, my husband and I left London and moved to the Wye Valley, in Wales, to live on a four-acre smallholding. We started with a couple of pigs and chickens, and then we added some sheep. A couple of years later, we bought a much larger farm nearby. In partnership with our tenant farmers, and other incredibly talented local people, we run a rural skills school, teaching hedge-laying, sheep shearing, lambing and food production. We've developed innovative sustainable technologies, including biomass boilers to heat the buildings, and we've built the UK's only aquaponics solar greenhouse - a way to produce high-yield crops that's completely sustainable. Our ambition is to become a hub that celebrates all the glories of rural living.

Kate Humble was in Hong Kong to film a three-part series about the Lunar New Year for the BBC.