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TV’S A FAIRYNGEL ON -TALE HER CHAT JOAN EAU LOVIN NA LU G LOC MLE AB FA AL DESIGY IS B CA NER’S YOUR GO-TO PES GADG GIFTS ET GU AND GO IN IDE SEAS TO THE F ON ES FEEL LOOKING TIVE ING G REATAND

Countdown

Christmas to


4 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

CONTENTS

30

‘Tis the season to sparkle in the latest party-wear

42

Accessories that will have you shining bright

43

6-7

7

Make memories with special days away this winter

8

Imagine ‘that’ dinner differently...

10

Protect & nourish: How to care for your skin this winter

22 Fantastic44-45 family fun with a break on the Wild Atlantic Way

14-15

46-47

Winter style wrapped up... our pick of cosy and cute fashion

Get in shape for Yuletide... and beyond

16

48

18-19

50

20-21

52

Have yourself a fragrant little Christmas with our pick of scents for men and women

Sun’s gone... coats on! Great looking gear for guys

Your guide to the go-to gadgets topping wishlists this year

Meet Sara Hall, the designer behind the high end Sands & Hall label

Choice reads to tuck into after dinner

Feeling fabulous... Davina Gordon gets a hair and beauty make-over

54

22

New screen releases worth watching out for ... and our festive faves

Go large on luxury for a warm, welcoming and stylish home

24

Smarten up... there’s more to the latest mod cons than meets the eye

28-29

TV vintage stylist Angel Adoree is living the dream in a French fairy-tale castle

26

Gifts for the green-fingered gardener in your life

54 56-57

30

The magic of Mangalore... business trip turned into life-long commitment with surprise proposal

Get ready to go crackers over Christmas decorations

58-60

32-40

The Countdown to Christmas gift guide brings you everything from the bizarre to the beautiful!

Your guide to going out this season, from festivals to fairs, pantos to plays

62 34

Stormy reminder that winter is on its way. A few simple steps will keep everyone cosy indoors

PUBLISHED BY Belfast Telegraph, Belfast Telegraph House, Clarendon Dock, 33 Clarendon Road, Belfast, BT1 38G ADVERTISING Jackie Reid – Senior Advertising Manager Tel: 028 9055 4685 ✸ j.reid@belfasttelegraph.co.uk EDITOR Fiona Rutherford Realtime Editing & Design NI Ltd ✸ f.rutherford@redni.co.uk CONTRIBUTORS Davina Gordon, Maureen Coleman, Maeve Richardson, Ruaidhri McCarney, Matt Gault DESIGN Susan McClean & Helen Wright, INM Design Studio, Belfast PRINTING INM, Newry

44 sleeps to go! The countdown is on...

The early stages of the festive season are not unlike the end of it. We approach it with a similar mindset to the way we view the arrival of the new year – full of hope, expectation and a determination that this will be the best one ever. The one vital element to having Christmas wishes (and new year resolutions) come true is planning. With only six weeks and one or two paydays to go, it’s time to consign the halloween pumpkin to the compost heap and focus the mind on the festivities to come. One woman who has no problem organising a fairy-tale Christmas is Angel Adoree. She and husband Dick Strawbridge have been delighting TV viewers with their painstaking refurb of an old castle in Escape to the Chateau. A devotee of 1950s style, Angel’s powerful work ethic has seen her tackle the restoration of the five-storey pile with energy and vision. She talks to Countdown about her drive to be successful, loved for who she is and staying healthy so that she can continue being the best wife and mum she can be. Another woman mixing business with family life and winning is fashion designer Sara Hall, whose capes and coats featured in Vogue recently. She was over the moon to get a message from the Ab Fab Joanna Lumley recently, saying she is virtually

sleeping in her Sands & Hall cape, she loves it so much. Sara’s coats and capes are just one fashion feature in this year’s Countdown to Christmas. We also take a look at the high street offerings for every day wear and glam evenings out. Getting your make-up right is key to stepping out with confidence during this party season... and so are fundamentals like taking care of your skin which needs protecting against the winter elements, and getting in shape, not just for Christmas but for staying healthy all year round. We like George Clooney’s mantra for losing weight - eat less and move more! Let that be your motivation for energetic chores like stashing away the summer furniture and getting your home ready for winter. We have tips for keeping the cold out and getting your home looking its best. Aside from lashings of luxury velvet and faux fur, a new addition to many homes is smart tech. From robotic cleaners to fridges that double as the family hub, we check out the latest gadgets. All that aside, Christmas is about quality time with loved ones so plan for days out and nights away. If you love to shower people with gifts at Christmas, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll find plenty of inspiration with gift ideas for all ages and tastes!


6 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

‘TISTHESEASONTO

Sparkle

If you haven’t got round to sorting your party outfit, don’t fret as help is here. We’ve scoured the high street’s best seasonal offerings and handpicked the most flattering dresses, sexiest heels, prettiest bags, stunning accessories and luxurious outerwear. From sequins to faux fur, feathers and bows, we’ve got you covered.

Star by Julien McDonald, £45, Debenhams

Belt, £65, Topshop Mood Choker, £14, Debenhams

Butterfly by Matthew Williamson, £10, Debenhams

DIVINE

Jon Richard Earring, £18, Debenhams

Skinny Belt, £24,Topshop

Purple Shimmer Earrings, £4, George

Details

Multicoloured Striped Sequin Dress, £85, Miss Selfridge

Velvet Dress, £55, M&S

THE

Dress Black Feathered Peep Toe Boots, £49, Miss Selfridge

Bow Heel, £49.50, M&S

Silver Heel, £45, M&S

Clara Court, £149, Hobbs

THEKILLER

Heel

Sequin Heel, £39, Faith

Black Bow Heel, £35, Dorothy Perkins


Countdown to Christmas | 7

10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

Pink Stole, £19.50, M&S

Glitter Jump Suit, £78, Next Two-tone brown faux fur scarf £65 Biba, House of Fraser

SULTRY

Cream Faux Fur Stole, £8, George

Stoles Silver Plisse High Neck Dress, £42, Miss Selfridge

Autograph Dress, £89, M&S Leigh Neck Wrap, £45, Hobbs London Clutch, £55, Dune

Black Clutch, £45, Faith

CLEVER

Clutches Velvet Clutch, £22, Next

Lulu Guinness Clutch, £155, House of Fraser

Lilac Feathered Bag, £29, Miss Selfridge

Glitter Clutch, £26, Next

Neck Warmer, £75, Topshop

Fia Fur Faux Stole, £35, Monsoon


8 | Countdown to Christmas

Earmuffs, £15, Accessorize

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

Black Stole, £19.50, M&S

Autograph Dress, £79, Bag, £45, Shoe £29.50, Earring Set, £12.50, all Marks & Spencer

Hampton Fluffy Check Scarf, £20, Accessorize

Pearl Drop Earrings, £12, V by Very Black Leather Embellished Wide Belt, £14.99, New Look

Belt, £18, Topshop

Autograph Clutch, £89, M&S

Pink Bag, £27.50, M&S

Mondrian Statement Earrings, £18, Oliver Bonas

Twist Knot Belt, £49, Jigsaw Crystal Draped Chandelier Earring, £12, Lipsy

Rough Diamond ✸

Silver Bobble Hat, £20, Debenhams

3-Pack Earrings Set, £15, V by Very

Gloves, £18, Debenhams

Accessories can make or break an outfit and this season they take centre stage. If you love to stand out from the crowd, arm yourself with bold, beautiful bags, dazzling jewellery, tough, waist cinching leather belts and soft, plush stoles. In fact, make your accessories the star of the show by wearing clothing that is muted and tonal. For bags and shoes, it’s everything from knit inlays to velvet, ribbons and lace in luxurious jewel tones.

Texture is key, just imagine getting lost in a haberdashery and let your imagination run wild. Silk headscarves were seen on the runways so embrace your inner Grace Kelly and don with a nude duster coat and chic courts. There’s a big Seventies revival happening so think corduroy, A-line skirts and leather in everything from chocolate brown to matt, coloured leathers. This season is feminine with an exotic, tough and fearless edge. Go wild.

Red Clutch, £69, J by Jasper Conran

Bow Belt, £18, V by Very

Love Box Clutch, £45, M&S

Belt, £10, Debenhams

Vivian Velvet Red Clutch, £35, Monsoon

Gold and Silver Long Earrings, £6.99, New Look


10 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

The change of season wreaks havoc on our skin and as autumn unfurls its russet tendrils, we face the double whammy of repairing the damage from sun-drenched holidays as well as preparing for the harsh, colder weather ahead. Many of us will ditch lightweight foundation and tinted moisturiser in favour of foundation that offers more coverage and protection from the elements. But, heavier make-up means you need to pay extra attention to removing it. The new obsession with micellar cleansing waters shows no signs of slowing down and for good reason.They’re made up of gentle microscopic oil molecules called micelles suspended in soft water that attach to make-up and dirt. The difference with micellar waters is that they dissolve the bad stuff while preserving the rest of your skin – so no harsh stripping of natural oils. Ekia’s Organic Eau Micellaire Eclat is fab as it gently removes even the most stubborn of eye make-up too.

Organic Eau Micellaire Eclat, £18.99, Ekia

Baume Regard All in One Eyecare, £34.29, Ekia

If you prefer a cream cleanser, Nu Skin Creamy Cleansing Lotion nourishes and rejuvenates while keeping even the driest, most sensitive skin soft and hydrated. If your skin is looking a little dull, Kiehl’s Rare Earth Cleanser is wonderful for removing impurities and adding radiance.

Protectandnourish yourskinthiswinter

Eyes right

Our eyes go through a lot as the season changes; it’s bad enough staring at a screen all day only for your peepers to have to deal with central heating, aircon and harsh weather conditions. Liz Earle’s Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion is the perfect antidote. It contains eyebright, witch hazel, aloe vera and cornflower to cool and soothe the delicate eye area. If you’ve been winging it all summer with whatever moisturiser is in your bathroom cabinet, now’s the time to invest in a quality cream to protect your skin from the elements. For a quick boost, try Kiehl’s Cilantro and Orange Extract Pollutant Defending Masque, perfect if you live and work in the city.

Night care

Nighttime is the best time to moisturise as your skin is in a reparative state and is not being exposed to the environmental stressors that age the skin. Elemis Peptide4 Night Recovery CreamOil is an indulgent combination of the hydration of a moisturising cream with the protection of an oil. Skin follows natural circadian rhythms which boost repair and

renewal at night. Espa’s Overnight Hydration Therapy is a luxurious overnight treatment mask packed with heavenly lavender to aid a restful night’s sleep, and their latest launch, the Tri-Active Advanced Night Booster, can be added to your regular day or night cream to give your skin some added TLC. If you want more bang for your buck, why not try Espa’s Tri-Active Advanced Night Booster, a serum, essence and treatment oil all in one.

Overnight Hydration Therapy, £35, ESPA

Creamy Cleansing Lotion, £19, Nu Skin Rare Earth Cleanser, £18, Kiehl’s

Cilantro and Orange Extract Pollutant Defending Masque, £29, Kiehl’s

Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion, £15, Liz Earle

Peptide4 Night Recovery Cream-Oil, £49, Elemis

Tumeric & Cranberry Seed Energising Radiance Masque, £29, Kiehl’s

Tri-Active Advanced Night Booster, £42, ESPA


10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

A DV E RT I S I N G F E AT U R E

Countdown to Christmas | 11

THE ‘Clinical’ APPROACHTOBEAUTY

Microblading training and Semi Permanent Make-up training Are you finding it difficult to know which Semi Permanent and Microblading course would be most suited to you? Do you know the difference between microblading and digital semi permanent makeup? Permanent make-up, semi permanent makeup, micro pigmentation or microblading are all terms used for a treatment that places pigment into the upper layers of skin using needles to create a shadow of colour. Done well this can create tiny hair strokes or a powdered make-up look that will enhance your existing eyebrows or give shape and definition to sparse brows. So…

What is Microblading? Microblading is a hand tool method that is not powered by a digital machine. The technician uses a hand held blade (in the form of needles) to open the skin and implant pigment into the selected and agreed shape. This then gives fullness and shape. Microblading doesn’t suit all skin types but can create a fine, fluffy hair stroke that will need 2-3 treatments and lasts 6-12 months before needing a maintenance treatment to keep fresh. For a therapist or technician that wishes to offer a form of micro pigmentation, this is a cost effective way of getting into semi permanent make-up. There are lower set up fees, and no machine outlays. What is Semi Permanent Make-up? SPMU uses a digital machine where the needle speed is driven by electricity and can be adjusted and controlled dependant on the area to be treated and the technician’s preferred speed. All skins can be treated. This treatment can last 1-5 years. By choosing SPMU using a digital machine, you can advance your skills, add to your training and grow your business. Using a digital semi permanent make-up machine, you can develop your business and skills into scalp pigmentation, medical tattooing for breast reconstruction, cosmetic tattoo correction and removal procedures and scar relaxation.

How long has the trainer been practising and what is their reputation? It’s always a good idea to read testimonials and Google or FB the training school you will be working with. It’ll give you a good feel for their ethics, quality of work and feedback from past students.

Are they genuinely passionate about your success? This can be tricky to gauge but a good way of knowing will be to ask to speak to your trainer. If they’re willing to chat with you, you’ll get a good feel for their personality, caring qualities and love of people and their profession!

Who can become a Semi Permanent Makeup artist? For those interested in training and offering this as a treatment, no previous experience is required. This makes it all the more important to find a training facility that is experienced in all aspects of the treatment and will allow you to re-visit after your classroom training for refreshers, shadowing or assisting live clinics. We have various locations for both Semi Permanent Make-up and microblading. If you are thinking of training to be able to offer this treatment at your clinic OR you are considering having this treatment, it is worth doing your research before investing your cash!

Tips on choosing a training school …

Is the school accredited to any governing body? If not, will you be able to gain insurance? A reputable training school will have written accredited courses themselves and liaise closely with insurers to help their students so ask your school to supply their accreditors or tell you what qualifications you will acquire. Who is going to train or mentor you? Will it be the same person throughout, particularly if you are on a vocational course. You should be assigned a trainer or your school will let you know if you will have more than one mentor for the duration of your course dates. You should be able to chat with the trainer prior to booking so that you are clear on their objectives.

Do their trainers still treat? What are their treatments like? A lot of trainers don’t treat! We insist that our trainers also treat patients during their week, purely to keep abreast of the latest techniques, up-to-date with any new treatments and stay familiar with the changes in pigment ingredients. Are they insured to train? Ask to see their insurance certificate. Supervising your work on models during class time is essential as a training school. What is the likely class size? You really want no more than a couple of students in a class to ensure your get good 1:1 time with your tutor and quality learning. How much time is dedicated to what? Ask for a schedule of teaching. Any reputable school will be happy to share this.

How long will the course run? You should be made aware how many days are required to fulfil the course and how many models and case studies you need. Your assessment may also be scheduled in advance.

What’s the price of the course – does this include kit? Machine? VAT? Assessment? So often we speak to people who have been shopping around on price only to find that the low price they were promised suddenly has add-ons! Don’t be fooled by clever pricing where kits, machines, assessments and even VAT is put on as an extra. Will your supplier have stock? Your training will possibly include a kit of needles, pigments and machines. Some training schools also sell these consumables. Ensure the school is a good supplier who keeps adequate stocks otherwise you could be waiting weeks or months when the needles you require for your treatment are out of stock! What happens if something goes wrong? Can they offer you support? Can you reach them after hours if you needed help? As a new student there will be a time when you will need the support of your school to help you with a problem. Are they going to be around to help you out or are they off home at 5pm.

Are the premises fit for purpose? Are they licensed? These treatments require a clinical environment for hygiene and the safety of your client. The premises should be licensed with the local authority’s Environmental Health after a visit from the EH Officer.

Have you been offered a refresher day if you need a confidence boost? Some schools may feel the end of the course is the end of your learning! Not for us! We offer shadowing days, refresher days and included in your course: an Earn & Learn Day, all designed to reinforce the knowledge you’ve gained by giving you an opportunity to work with ‘real’ clients in a live clinic! Our students just love these days as it reassures them and boosts their confidence!

Will you have plenty of supervised practical and who supplies the models? A great school will deliver the theory and basics and will allow a lot of time to put the theory into practice. They may also supply your models.

For further information, call 0333 7777689, Facebook The Clinical Academy, email info@ theclinicalacademy.com. We’re open 8am– 8pm Monday-Thursday, 8am-5pm Friday and 9am-5pm Saturday. Speak to you soon!


12 | Countdown to Christmas

Star-struck

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017 Smokey Eyes with IsaDora

FESTIVEMAKE-UP

Christmas is just around the corner and if you’re feeling the need to update your look but simply can’t find the time to mess around with glitter, contouring and highlighting, why not cheat your way to the ultimate party make-up with these little miracles? All the glam and none of the fuss in just five short steps...

First off, it’s all about that base. and enhances eyelashes with Cassia Clarins Everlasting Compact is flower wax added for instant volume a high-performance foundation and intense colour. And better yet, with with an ultra-fine, silky-soft, wet and regular application, the Volume Boost dry texture which guarantees flawless complex promises to increase the make-up for up to 15 hours non-stop, volume of your lashes, having them Gelato Collection Gel Gel Shine Everlasting lasting power that will come in handy appear fuller after four weeks of use. Blush in Berry Rush, Airbrush Concealer, Lacquer Compact, £30.50, for all those after work drinks during the Nothing says Christmas like £28, Elizabeth Arden £20, Clinique Patent Clarins festive season. a classic red pout, the easiest Poppy, Super With winter threatening to dull tired way to add instant glamour in £7.99, Volume skin, Clinique’s Airbrush Concealer is mere seconds! Elizabeth Arden Max Mascara, a light reflecting make-up must-have. Plump-Up Lip Liner instantly Factor £21.50, High Impact Curling Not only does it hide shadows but it also plumps, defines and contours Clarins Mascara, 20, Clinique illuminates and perfects your complexion with a smooth, creamy gel and eye area, perfect for banishing Snow Ball formula. Next, add a slick Lipliner Pencil in Roseberry, those winter blues. Lipstick in of moisturising colour with £17.50, Clarins Why not add a healthy blush with Rouge En Snow, Elizabeth Arden Gelato Elizabeth Arden Gelato Collection Gel £16.50, MAC Lipstick. Or why not try Plump Up Blush. This gel formula promises to MAC Snow Ball Lipstick Lip Liner make you look like you’ve just come in from the – the packaging alone screams in Fire Here Comes Joy Gelato Lipstick snow, but blends to a more subtle finish if you Christmas, and it promises to light Red, £17, Face Powder Eye Colour in Red Door only want a gentle glow. up the night in cool frost and high- Elizabeth in Rose Gold, WonderBar Smokey Crush, £22, Blush Prodige in Golden Clarins Supra Volume Mascara intensifies chrome shine tones. Arden £24.50, MAC Eyes, £27.95, IsaDora Elizabeth Arden Pink, £27, Clarins


Countdown to Christmas | 13

10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

Lip Archive, £60, Charlotte Tilbury

Wake Up and Make-Up, £5.99, Technic

Volume, Volume, Volume, £21.50, Clarins

READY,SET,PARTY! One of the best things about Christmas is the amazing selection of totally gorgeous palettes and make-up sets available. If you’re wondering what to buy a cosmetic crazy friend, or fancy treating yourself, here are some of the cutest, coolest sets around.

Instant Eye Palette, £60, Charlotte Tilbury Colour Collection Case, £15.99, Technic

Beauty Express Colour Clutch, £230 or £30 when you spend £30 on selected products at Boots, Elizabeth Arden

Precious Lip Collection, £20, Clarins

Colour Beauty clutch, £12.50, elf

Rose Gold Beauty Set, £20.50, elf

Festive Treats Eye & Lips, £10, Clarins


14 | Countdown to Christmas

Gold Belted Top, £35, River Island

High Shine Parka, £58, Next

Winter Wrappedup

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

Hat, £12, Next

Faux Fur Hat, £45, cuckooland.com

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, so our winter picks are so delightful. From cosy boots, snuggly coats and cute woolly hats to a sprinkle of sparkle, if you’re dashing straight from the office to a festive soiree, we have your winter must-haves sorted. Dark Grey Faux Fur Coat, £59.99, New Look

Pink Hat, £16, River Island

Ruffle Top, £22, Next

Burgundy Embellished Blouse, £32.99, New Look

Mustard High Neck Blouse, £27.99, New Look

Odity Fit and Flare Midi Coat, £195, Oliver Bonas Biba Leopard Print Faux Fur Coat, £199, House of Fraser Side Stripe Trouser, £38, Oasis

Hot Pink Fur Coat, £79, Miss Selfridge

Embroidered Mini Skirt, £40, Oasis

Leather Skirt, £160, Next Lilley Women’s Brown Fur Lined Ankle Boot, £24.99, Shoe Zone

Metallic Lace Kimono, £29, M&Co

Glitter Pencil Skirt, £29, M&Co Heeled Hiker, £29.50, M&S

Black Boot, £69, M&S

Gold Jacket, £95, River Island Faith Boot, £99, Debenhams


Countdown to Christmas | 15

10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

Green Faux Fur Coat, £75, River Island Military Jacket, £50, V by Very

Biba Jacket, £99, House of Fraser

Studio by Preen, £45, Debenhams Yellow Faux Fur Trimmed Coat, £75, River Island

Shay Dress, £65, River Island

All Over Stud Chelsea, £16, Primark

J by Jasper Conran Coat, £140, Debenhams

Biba Printed tailored trousers, £69, House of Fraser

Studio by Preen, £120, Debenhams

Boxy Sequin Jacket GBP £90, Wallis

Nine by Savannah Miller, £40, Debenhams


16 | Countdown to Christmas

BY RUAIDHRIMCCARNEY

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

SUN’SGONE,COATSON

The Starks are always right in the end, ‘Winter is coming’... and with it comes the time to pack away your shorts, sandals and short-sleeved shirts. In their place come heavier knits, bigger coats and shoes fit to face the elements. So that you’re not spending Christmas in hospital recovering from hypothermia, the most important bit of winter clothing you’re going to want to pick up is a coat. A weatherproof rain jacket is great to have as a shell from the elements and should be high on your list of wardrobe priorities for the season ahead. Scandinavian brands like Rains, Stutterheim and Norse Projects set the standard with sharp, minimalist silhouettes. Bomber jackets have established themselves as a near mandatory staple in every man’s wardrobe in recent years and they aren’t going anywhere just yet. Look for a simple design with a focus on premium fabrics like wool or moleskin for a versatile top layer suitable for the weather. For a timeless coat that feels as good as it looks, you can’t go wrong with a wool overcoat. Keep your colours simple (think grey, navy or camel) for a coat that will go with your smartest and most casual outfits, or alternatively grab something with a check pattern if you want something more eye-catching.

Wool MA-1 Bomber Jacket, £149, MKI

Gable Wool Overcoat, £325, Reis

Smart overcoat, £80, River Island

Faux Shearling Bomber Jacket, £85, Topman

Moleskin Bomber Jacket, £395, Private White

Chelsea boots, £105, Aldo Vianello

Jacket, £160, Elka Blåvand

Perth Chelsea Boots, £119, KG Kurt Geiger

Camroon Chelsea Boots, £150, Ted Baker

Stockholm raincoat, £180, Stutterheim

Checked Coat, £159, Zara

RIGHT FOOT FORWARD

Stan Smith Gore-Tex, £100, Adidas Originals

Don’t make the same mistake so many of us make every winter by wearing your favourite shoes to death. Rather, pick up something that will make it to spring and beyond. If you’re looking for something smart you can wear to both the office and Christmas parties, grab a pair of Chelsea boots. Their slim-cut and minimalist style work with suits during the working week and make for an effortlessly cool look with more casual clothing afterwards. For something more comfortable and casual to wear while you finish your last minute Christmas shopping, big sneaker brands have you covered with their winter-ready trainers. Make sure to look for thicker soles with decent tread on them so you don’t end up spotting yourself on You’ve Been Framed when the pavements get icy.

Gel Lyte III, £105, Asics

Air Max 97, £140, Nike


18 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

Sara Hall is the striking, statuesque firebrand behind Sands & Hall, a high-end boutique selling vintage inspired, individual and stylish tweed capes. The entrepreneur initially started designing and producing capes for children in 2014, but later launched Sands & Hall. Now two years old, the company has been described as innovative, directional and unique on social media. Sara had a lightbulb moment when she was on maternity leave with her eldest daughter Arianna. “I’d bought her a cape from an upmarket, vintage kids’ shop and she had outgrown it so I decided to make one. Things went from there.” It’s exceptional going for a woman who has no previous experience working in the fashion industry. She has of course, had a life-long love affair with statement pieces that catch the eye, especially coats. With Sands & Hall, Sara wanted to offer luxury, versatility and timeless elegance to customers with capes and coats made from the finest quality wools, including tweed and cashmere. She also wanted to reinvent classic looks. The graceful and measured mum of two from Newry says: “I have always been a big fan of coats; some girls love shoes where my wardrobe was always bursting with coats.” Chanel and Diane Von Furstenburg are her sources of sartorial inspiration. While Sara didn’t undertake any formal training, she admits throwing herself in at the deep end learning as much as she could, as quickly as possible. “It’s the best way to learn. I know what I’m doing now,” she smiles assuredly. Recently, Sara’s stunning Autumn/winter 2017 collection featured in fashion bible

Sara makes her Hallmark BY DAVINAGORDON

Vogue, an achievement she’s described as her proudest moment to date. However, another amazing moment came when Sara received a personal message from actress, author and activist Joanna Lumley. She loved her “fabulous” cape so much that she will be wearing it when she

stars in her new film, Finding Your Feet. with the iconic supermodel. “I can just “Tweed is one of my favourite maimagine her funked up twist on an terials, and when it is tailored into a outfit mixing well with Sands & Sands & Hall cape it becomes an inHall’s twist on tweed.” dispensable garment, for town and She’s frank about the reality country, and I am virtually sleeping of running a young, flourishing in mine, I love it so much.” business with raising two young Surprisingly, Sara didn’t dream daughters alongside her online of a career in high fashion. marketing husband David. “I honestly didn’t. I studied Me“It’s very hard work, not dia and Philosophy as a Degree easy in the slightest, I have a and from there went through one-year-old and a five-yeara graduate programme which old and we have just adopted a brought me to PR and Adverpup too so life is really hectic, tising. but I do love every minute.” “My career up until four years Ruby Blush She admits that she feels ago was predominantly in Commucape guilty about not spending enough nications and Marketing. The last time with her youngest, Evelynne. thing I would have thought is that I would “As a working mum, I have the usual guilt have ended up on this path.” over not spending enough time with my It hasn’t quite sunk in that her highly little one during the day while I work or covetable capes have been recognised am away on business trips but I try by the touchstone of high fashion to remind myself that my girls that is Vogue. will hopefully be very proud of “In that same month we their Mummy’s achievements were featured in Red Magazine in the future.” and Marie Claire so I haven’t Sara isn’t sure yet if her digested it all just yet. two adorable angelic-faced “To reach that pinnacle girls will follow in their fashwith your second collection is ionable mummy’s footsteps. a dream come true, but it also “We will have to see what puts a lot of pressure on me the future brings. My eldest for the next one.” Arianna is already tying my Still, she admits it has put clothes together to make even more fire in her belly Stone biker outfits. Evelynne is a little to make the brand even too young to know what bigger and better. is going on but both will Her favourite items from her AW17 follow whatever paths are right for them.” collection can change depending on the Stress is an occupational hazard when it occasion but at the moment, Sara loves the comes to running your own business. Sara tweed biker jacket. “The finish, the fit and uses exercise to cope. overall look is just so different to anything “I haven’t been terribly good lately as else out there.” I’ve just returned from London and Paris The enterprising businesswoman is conon business trips and the food is so hard to stantly setting herself goals. “I have always resist. But now I am back to work on the loved Kate Moss’s style and personality so it 2018/19 collection so have been able to get would be a total dream come true to get one back into routine and squeeze in as many of my pieces on her.” workouts as I can. It’s the best way for my With one dream checked off her list, body to deal with stress and to sleep at achieving that one seems entirely doanight.” ble. She’d also love to do a collaboration Sara also eats a healthy diet to boost her


10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

brain and body. “I hardly ever eat meat. the UK and Ireland but also over the world. I love cooking and cook everything from “I want the brand to keep growing and scratch. I absolutely love potatoes in all expanding but also to continue to deliver an their forms,” she laughs, “I’m so Irish.” exceptional product.” Despite her success, Sara is very real Sara shares some exciting plans for about the hard work that goes into the run-up to Christmas. “There’ll be her business. “I’m up every day some fantastic scarves and lovely from 6am until God knows when. soft furnishings for the home.” Fashion is hard. It’s cut throat. To those who’ve had a lightbulb You need to develop a thick skin, moment and are maybe considharden up and not be affected by ering starting out on their own, negative things. Sara says: “You have to really “At the start, I would get believe in yourself otherwise it upset if someone said anything won’t work. Get as much advice negative. Now, when I doubt as you can from anyone else myself, I look at the facts. in your field and follow your Sands & Hall has a huge followdream. ing. Some of my customers have Pink Harper cape “A couple of years ago I was 9-10 pieces. Business has made me stronger, spending my mornings trying to convince 100%. It has made me realise I have a lot of the local press to put an article in the paper drive. I believe in myself and I have a very about my business, now we are in national supportive network around me. I’m also press and titles like Vogue and Marie Claire. cautious about who I let into my world and “There will be bad days, likely quite a who I don’t. I seem to have a good radar on few, but doing something every day that people which helps.” you absolutely love is worth every bad day.” Sara starts her day with family time in In the words of Walt Disney: “If you can bed before making a green juice. “It kick dream it, you can do it.” Sara is living proof starts my body. Then it’s school time prep of that. and breakfast for the little ones.” The best thing about being her own boss is doing something she enjoys. “There is no ✸ Can’t live without… better feeling when it comes to work.” My husband, my kids, my family and close friends The fear of failing is a constant monster ✸ Favourite drink: on her shoulder. Green juice or red wine - depends what time of “With your own business it isn’t someone the day! else that fails, it’s you, so I do have that on ✸ Crisps or chocolate: my mind quite a bit.” Crisps with a couple of squares of dark chocolate The entrepreneur’s aspirations are for ✸ Fantasy dinner guests: Sands & Hall to be known not only well in Kate Moss and Joanna Lumley

QUICK FIRE ROUND:

Countdown to Christmas | 19


20 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

Be Fabulous thisfestiveseason BY DAVINAGORDON

‘T

Davina before her make-over

is the season to look and feel gorgeous and that’s certainly how I felt after being transformed by the award-winning creative director of Paul Meekin Hair. Paul has over 35 years in the industry and is now an ambassador for Revlon in the UK and Ireland. His extensive client list includes celebrities such as Joss Stone, Geraldine Hughes and Adrian Dunbar, models and

loyal locals. Paul also runs an academy aimed at those who are new to the industry or those wanting to retrain after taking time out. He was a natural choice when I needed my thick, curly, coarse hair tamed into glorious, glossy titian tresses. When colouring my hair, I usually opt for a shade to complement my own reddish brown tones rather than go for a radical change. I’m pale so I can’t go too light or too dark. Paul always knows exactly

what to do, so in winter I go a rich mahogany and in summer, a golden brown with face flattering blond highlights. Sadly, I suffer from a very reactive scalp so in a bid to avoid adding stress, I opted for a fruit acid organic hair colour that sits on the surface of the hair and coats the cuticle. Paul says it is “just like a mask which quenches thirsty hair”. The colour lasts up to 12 shampoos although you can extend the life of your colour by using Revlon Nutricolour Conditioner at home. The other obvious benefits are no chemicals, ammonia or peroxide. After a leisurely perusal of magazines while waiting for the gorgeous, fresh smelling colour to take, it was vigorously washed out using Revlon’s Be Fabulous range. Before drying, Paul applied Style Masters Double or Nothing Lissaver, a spray designed to protect the hair from heat damage while helping to condition, and Style Masters Iron Guard, a protective straightening balm which helps tame wavy hair without adding weight. For drying, Paul used the GHD’s Aura Professional Hair Dryer. Its innovative Cool-Wall technology keeps the outer casing and nozzle cool to touch, meaning you can style much closer to the root for impressive volume. The amazing Aura also delivers a smooth, shiny finish. Paul says: “It smoothes the hair with warm air in the centre of the nozzle while the outside of the nozzle seals the cuticle with cold air. It’s simply the best dryer for long, curly, frizzy hair to get a smooth blow dry.”

Paul’s TOP TIPS for beautiful, healthy hair ✱ If you have a dry, itchy scalp, use Intragen scalp soothing range. “It’s the most gentle and effective range I’ve used in over 40 years of hairdressing.” ✱ If you have coarse, curly hair, avoid using drying products like mousse with alcohol. Use creams and light serums to smooth the hair. ✱ If you have fine, limp hair, avoid heavy creamy shampoo and conditioner. Use leave-in spray volumizing conditioner. ✱ To protect your hair from harsh weather, use a leave-in conditioner to suit your hair type. ✱ For shiny hair, use a light shine spray such as Stylemasters Glamourama. ✱ Paul’s number one tip is to use a luxury hair mask once a week for your hair type and leave it in for 15 minutes. “Hair is like skin and it needs moisture even if you’ve greasy hair.”

STARSTYLE

Style Masters Hairspray Photo Finisher, £6.95. Revlon

Take the lead from Hollywood A-listers Christina Hendricks and Emma Stone and wear your super shiny locks loose, or channel effortless chic like Amy Adams. Who knew ponytails could be so cute? If you’re lucky enough to have naturally sleek, shiny hair, you don’t need to make as much effort as your curly haired sisters. Just be sure to use volumizing products for some va va voom and use a larger curling iron so curls fall loose around your face. If you’ve only got ten minutes, fear not. Just pull your lustrous locks into a low ponytail, wrapping a skinny section of hair around the hairband to conceal it. If your hair is a mass of unruly curls and time is of the essence, scrape into a high ponytail and pin sections of the hair piece by piece around the top of your head until you have your desired shape. If you have short hair, but want add a little pizzazz, slick your hair back into a low ponytail and twist into a chic chignon. Can’t decide whether to wear your hair up or down? Do both! Create big waves and then clip some strands back with a sparkly statement clasp. Speaking of sparkle, don’t hold back. Furnish your crowning glory with a treasure trove of glittery things from the high street. Here are a few of our favourites...

Aura Hair Dryer, £145, Revlon

Mood Hair Accessory, £16, Debenhams

Velvet Bow Black Clip, £9.50, Oliver Bonas

Dazzling Big Bow Clip, £8, Monsoon

Style Masters Smooth Iron Guard, £10, Revlon

Be Fabulous Hair Recovery Damaged Hair Cream Keratin Conditioner, £13, Revlon Style Masters Shine Spray Glamourama, £5.75, Revlon

Open Moon Hair Clip, £2, Accessorize

Embellished Hair Slides, £2.99, New Look

Be Fabulous Hair Style Masters Double Recovery Damaged Hair or Nothing Lissaver, Cream Keratin Shampoo, £10, Revlon £13, Revlon

Be Fabulous Hair Recovery Damaged Hair Ends Repair Serum, £13, Revlon


Countdown to Christmas | 21

10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph It’s definitely on my Christmas wish list. Once dried, Paul tonged sections of my hair before pinning up to set. In the studio, Paul worked his magic on my beautiful bouncy locks to give me a Grace Kelly-esque ‘do’. To complete my glossy old Hollywood glam look, Paul applied Style Masters Shine Spray Glamourama and Style Masters Hairspray Photo Finisher. MAKE-UP Over to the all important make-up. Sophie used NYX Photogenic Concealer to hide any imperfections before applying a mix of MAC Studio Fix and Maybelline Dream Matte foundation. I really wanted my blue eyes to pop, so she used coppery shades from Morphe palette 350 on my upper and lower lids. Sophie finished my eyes with a slick of black liquid liner winged to create a feline look and lashings of Rimmel’s Lash Accelerator Endless Mascara. She pencilled my lips to enhance my cupid’s bow and give me a fuller pout before applying GOSH velvet touch lipstick in Lambada. I was thrilled with my hair. My colour was vibrant, my hair was bouncy and glossy, something which sadly I can’t achieve myself. I loved my make-up, my skin was luminous and I loved how Sophie enhanced my eye colour and the red lipstick (my favourite) finished the look so well. Perfect for partying this Christmas. If you’re colouring your mane this winter, opt for rich chestnuts, fiery copper reds and if you have summer Ombre, tone down to rich caramels. Paul says: “Key looks are the long, bouncy blow dry with extra curl and lift for nights out. Party hair will have extensions popped in for volume and the odd braid for texture.”

Davina after her make-over

CREDITS

Hair by Paul @ Paul Meekin Hair Make-up by Sophie @ Paul Meekin Hair www.partnersbelfast.co.uk Photography by Nina Montgomery www.ninamontgomery.com


22 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

GOLARGE

on luxury for winter

Whether your colour scheme is neutral greys, winter whites or bursting with greenery and colour, this is the time to layer on the luxury with faux fur, velvet and chunky or super-soft knits. Throws, cushions and rugs are the way to go if you aren’t sure how to make your bright, summery interior look a little cosier. Sheepskin isn’t restricted to floor rugs this year - drape it over a hard chair for comfort and style. There are some gorgeous rugs with pom-pom fringing in the shops – perfect whether you want a feminine or Seventies boho feel.

SEASONAL HUES

Add depth to your scheme with tartan patterns, Scandi trees or the stag motif in shades that fit with your colour scheme. Reds are always great for Christmas while this season’s blush pink works well with that other staple – greenery. All hues of blue are on trend and particularly darker, wintry shades.

Tamaskan Wolf Sheepskin faux fur rug, £109, www.houseology.com

Jasper Conran dinner service for Wedgwood, various stockists

Silver reindeer cushion, £26, Debenhams

Biba Albany table light, £195, House of Fraser

Faux fur pillow, £5, Primark

HOT AND COLD

Metallics add luxury and sheen, whether glittering silver or warm copper, gold or brass. Make the most of them by giving them pride of place. Metallic plant pots are a gorgeous foil to your flowers and greenery which can be as dark and rustic as you like. Add extra twigs for a Scandi winter scheme.

GLOW FOR IT

Lights are a Christmas essential and there is barely a surface that doesn’t benefit from the addition of a string of fairy lights. Put them in the garden, around mirrors, along bookshelves, beneath kitchen cupboards and up the stairs. Go big on table lamps and avoid overhead ceiling lights unless you can dim them. Stock up on candles and if you have a tealight burner, get your essential oils out to spread the rich aromas of Christmas through the house. You can’t go wrong with cinnamon, pine and orange, or try frankincense and lemon for extra spice.

PERFECT HOST

Don’t get caught out when it comes to entertaining. Make sure you have glasses, serving plates and crockery that will have you relaxed and enjoying the company of family and friends, rather than cringing with embarrassment. If you are cooking Christmas dinner, make sure you have enough of everything – it’s the one day of the year when every scrap of cutlery and piece of china is likely to be pressed into service. It’s a great excuse for investing in a new dinner service. Now is the time to check the condition of your table cloth and runner, coasters and napkins in case you need to get replacements.

Biba Pineapple candle holder, small £25, large £30, House of Fraser Cream knitted pom-pom throw, £60, Debenhams

Gold ombre glasses, £6 pair, George at Asda

Ornate beaded placemat, £12.50, M&S Nordic trees throw, £45, Harvey Norman

Faux fur grey throw, £12, Primark

Brushed tartan check throw, £15, Harvey Norman

Accessories 12pc Pavilon Vinyl Mats and Coaster By Denby, £20, range of stockists

OUTSIDE IN

Don’t forget the approach to your house. Make sure the garden is tidy and the front porch is swept and clean before putting your wreath up. Keep the hallway clutter free and make sure you have doormats and runners which will keep your hallway looking its festive best.

Emma Bridgewater Christmas Joy Cake Plate, £59.95, range of stockists

Mambo gold table lamp and cream shade, £100, Harvey Norman

Luxury velvet and rich blue shades are livened up with a splash of colour with the Carolina multicoloured Cushion, £30, Harvey Norman


24 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

Smarten up your home

It’s only a few decades ago that the ultimate in home style was a built-in wardrobe and an electric shower. Now Panasonic have designed a washing machine that dries and folds your clothes for you and you can turn your shower on with a voice command. The 21st century connected home takes ‘mod cons’ to new heights, giving you control over your heating, lighting and appliances when you’re indoors or off shopping. Move about the house without missing a beat of your favourite music with a multiroom entertainment system and forget about untidy wires ruining the clean lines of your living

space with the latest wireless devices. You can start small, using the Internet of Things (IoT) to control your lights and heating, or go the whole hog and have everything from opening the blinds to feeding the dog done with a few words or push of a button. If you have a few different smart devices, avoid having to use lots of different apps on your smartphone or tablet to operate them by getting a hub – PC magazine recommends the Wink Hub 2 as “the most reliable, widely supported hub” it has tested. If you don’t want to spend a couple

LG 43UJ630V 43 inch 4K Ultra HD HDR Smart LED TV (2017 Model) by LG Electronics, approx. £445

of hundred quid on a hub, make sure that the machine you are buying is compatible with the control system you have opted for, whether that’s Apple’s HomeKit, Google’s Home, Samsung’s SmartThings, or Amazon’s Echo. With the tech changing rapidly, you can expect ever more exciting machines to come on the market and for everything to become more affordable – the first mobile phone, a chunky Motorola, cost £3000 when it was launched in the mid ‘80s. Here are just a few of the current top sellers to get you started...

 Smart TV Your choice may depend on whether you want an ultra crisp image for movie nights, incredible surround sound or an epic gaming machine. Look out for HDR or Ultra HD 4K models if you want to make sure your set can keep pace with new developments. LG’s OLED C7 series is rated the best by TechRadar and its 43 inch model is Amazon’s best seller and dubbed ‘a masterpiece for the masses’. You could spend thousands on the latest set but this one appears to tick all the tech boxes with crystal clear detail, superb surround sound, Freeview and streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Video included. No need for that fire stick.  Smart assistants Battle lines have been drawn between the Google Home, Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod – basically these are both speaker systems and your personal AI servant, there to answer your questions on everything from the best route to work to quiz answers. You can also use them to control the smart devices in your home and of course, choose what you want to listen to. The Amazon Echo was first out and is packed with features although its Alexa assistant seems to struggle with regional accents. Google Home appears to do better at voice recognition but doesn’t have quite as many features yet as the Echo - you can shop from Amazon with a voice command with the Echo. Both are about £100. Smaller, cheaper versions are

making waves – the Echo Dot only costs £50 and the Google Home Mini is due out any day and comes in at under £40. According to Business Insider, once you’ve used any of these smart assistants, you won’t want to be without them again. The Apple HomePod is new and hasn’t been as widely tested and reviewed but appears to be underwhelming and more expensive than its more established rivals. However, TechRadar Amazon Echo, says for music lovers, approx. £100 it outperforms the current top speaker system, the Sonos Play.

Google Home approx. £130


Countdown to Christmas | 25

10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

finger – and allows the kids to doodle. You can also have your favourite TV programme or music playing while you work. With all that going on, spending time in the kitchen will be a treat!

BOSCH HBG6764S6B Electric Smart Oven - Stainless Steel, approx. £920  Smart ovens Forget about cakes with soggy bottoms or burning the turkey this Christmas, the smart oven takes the pressure off the cook to get everything right and even better, it is easy to use. The Bosch Stainless Steel Oven’s PerfectBake and PerfectRoast featues ensure perfect cooking results every time, while the DishAssist setting automatically sets the optimal type of heat, temperature and time for a wide range of dishes. The TFT touchscreen control features full text and images, and as it’s compatible with Home Connect, you can turn it on from your phone if you’re stuck in traffic.  Smart Fridge Freezer A smart fridge basically allows you to manage the temperature control and stops ice building up in the freezer, however, as most high spec fridges have functions that prevent those problems arising, you probably wouldn’t really need a smart fridge unless you wanted something that will actually make a difference to your life. For big spenders, www.expertreview. co.uk rates the Samsung Family Hub the best money can buy for smart homes and having checked it out, it has shot to the top of our Christmas wishlist. With three internal cameras you can check your smoked salmon stocks while standing in the supermarket, by launching the app on your phone. There’s a touchscreen on the door which offers access to recipes – including by Michelin star chefs – online shopping and family calendar syncing. You can post up memos and photos and there’s even a feature that Samsung Family Hub allows you to RB38M7998S4/EU, write notes approx. £2,000 with your

 Smart Kettles There appears to be nothing to compete with the Sage by Heston Blumenthal Smart Kettle, especially if you drink a lot of green tea or oolong as it has temperature settings for a range of drinks. It holds 1.7l, is cordless, has a rapid boil element and a keep warm function.

Tefal ActiFry Plus, approx. £130 Dyson 360 Eye Robot Vacuum, approx. £800 See www.smartvacuums.co.uk for detailed reviews, however, for households with a lot of pet hair, the Dyson 360 Eye Robot Vacuum is the best. At the budget end of robotics, smartvacuums.com rates the iRoboVac XD the best under £200.

Sage Smart Kettle by Heston Blumenthal, approx. £100  Smart smoke detector They aren’t sexy but smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are essential for a safe home. A smart device like the market leading Nest Protect includes both a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, it gives a voice warning before sounding the alarm and will send an alert to your phone if a situation arises that you need to be aware of. You can also turn off the alarm from your phone – much handier than frantically flapping a tea towel in the air. Furthermore, if you have a Nest Thermostat, should the levels of deadly carbon monoxide rise due to a problem with your heating system, it will tell the thermostat to turn the heating off.

Nest Protect, approx. £100  Smart vacuum cleaner Don’t get too excited... the smart robotic cleaners haven’t yet evolved to the stage where their suction is powerful enough to relegate your old vacuum cleaner to the skip. However, they are proving their worth in that they can get into hard to reach places and can work away without any help from you. You can programme them to work while you’re out and they will return to their charging station iRoboVac XD, once they’re done. approx. £130

 Smart fryer There are smart deep fat fryers out there, with the Sage by Heston Blumenthal and the Breville the front runners, however, it’s ‘smarter’ to airfry your chips these health-conscious days so we looked about to see which newcomers are giving the awesome Tefal ActiFry a run for its money. According to www.healthfryers.com, the Tefal ActiFry Plus 1.2kg remains king for mid budget. They rate the Breville Halo Plus Health Fryer VDF105 the best budget option - it also comes with a roasting rack, allowing you to grill foods such as bacon, fish or chicken.

Breville Halo Plus Health Fryer VDF105, approx. £80 As for that Panasonic wonder washing machine? Sadly that was just a prototype, unveiled at the IFA electronics fair in Berlin. Carry on folding...


26 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

GIFTSFORGARDENERS Fans of BBC Gardeners’ World will love the sound of the series’ magazine dropping through the door every month. A six month subscription costs £21.40, a 25% discount. The next six issues stick at that price and subscribers also receive a gift and access to special deals, see www. gardenersworld.com/ subscribe/

Secateur and Knife Pouch Set, £10, shop. nationaltrust.org.uk

Cascade wooden garden planter, £79.86, Homebase

Bionic Women’s ReliefGrip Gardening Gloves, recommended by Which? Gardening Magazine, have silicone finger tips which provide more durability, protection and dexterity. The anatomical pad system provides more gripping Maintain a garden beautifully with power, meaning fewer calluses these stylish secateurs from Orla and blisters, £29.99 (pair), www. Kiely. The solid wooden handles bionic-glove.co.uk are embossed with the iconic stem symbol, and the stainless steel blades are kept securely together with a safety catch when not in use. The tool stores neatly away in its own coated canvas pouch with snap-shut popper and canvas belt loop at the back, £25, www. wildandwolf.com

Save their knees! Your greenfingered friend can work in comfort with this beautiful padded garden kneeler from V&A. It comes complete with a useful handle for carrying the pad and hanging it up when the day’s work is done, £32, www.wildandwolf.com

Galvanised steel barometer, £36, shop. nationaltrust.org.uk National Trust toolbag seat, perfect for rest breaks, £25, shop.nationaltrust.org.uk

The ideal gift for a bird watcher, the Bird Feeder Gift Box contains the essentials to help you feed your birds. It includes three seed blends - Boxwild Blend, Songbird Blend and All Season’s Blend with a bird feeder along with a fruit feeder and a seed scoop. A 50p donation from every box sold goes to wildlife charities. Select a date to send the box to the recipient at the checkout and the price include postages and packing, £28, www.boxwild.com Solar filigree table light, £3.49, Homebase


28 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

Angel and Dick

The playroom

BYDAVINAGORDON

Every little girl dreams of living in a castle with fairy-tale turrets and little Angel Adoree was no different. The feisty copper-maned, vintage-clad entrepreneur has been renovating Chateau de la Motte Husson, a 19th-century chateau located in the Pays de la Loire, France, with her regally mustached husband Dick Strawbridge for the past two and a half years. The grand endeavour is the subject of Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau. The enchanting family home is set within 12 acres of breathtaking parkland, the castle features a majestic moat, an Art Deco Orangery, walled garden, outbuildings and stables and of course, the chateau which boasts five floors. Angel pinches herself every day. The astute businesswoman and chartered accountant appeared on BBC2’s Dragons’ Den in 2010, winning the backing of Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis for her business, the Vintage Patisserie, a glamorous hospitality company and best-selling Vintage Tea Party series. Following her endearing appearance, Angel grew her business substantially and the Vintage Tea Party series has sold all over the world. While she had an impressive client list for her Vintage Patisserie experience including Paul Smith, Kim Jones and

Angel’s

French Fairytale

Liberty’s, it was her effervescent personality which sealed her fate, led her to her husband, and ultimately, her fairytale home. “The harder you work, the luckier you get. I still do the lottery.” She met inventor, TV presenter and Northern Irishman Dick after their agent set them up – “Very media darlin’,” she jokes. A match made in heaven then? Well, almost. “We are polar opposites in many areas, however we share the same values in our relationship – a work-hard and live life ethos, and that’s what makes us work.” The industrious mother of two describes herself as “passionate, loving” and, she giggles, “bloody-minded“. It’s a good thing Dick likes to do the washing up. Their relationship is, in Angel’s words, caring and passionate, although she’s also very passionate about being right. Her husband may disagree, but she usually gets her own way.

Despite their resplendent environs, Angel never dreamed of leaving London. However, when she and Dick started a family, they wanted space so they could make their home support them financially. “A castle didn’t seem like a bad idea,” she laughs. The couple married in 2015 in their family home. The majestic castle certainly has the wow factor, even though it’s classified as a small one. “It’s very homely, yet grand in the necessary places, I pinch myself every day.” With over fifty rooms, how do they divvy out the cleaning? “We have two lovely ladies that work part-time and they do some of the cleaning when we have events. I do some and Dick likes to wash-up after dinner. We all get involved. There is a lot to clean, especially as Arthur and Dorothy are full time mess-makers!”

It’s undoubtedly a dizzying and daunting task renovating Chateau de la Motte Husson, who is the most organised of the power couple? “We are both organised and love planning which helps. Dick takes care of the infrastructure of the house like the utilities (electric, water, heating – he designed everything and installed most) which was and is a huge job. He also still makes time to get in the garden. I deal mainly with the organisation of events, weddings, our website, press, and the ongoing creative design of the house. “We’re basically flat-out working all the time, but in different areas. It works though.” It’s no surprise that Dick is the pragmatist and Angel is the idealist. She procured a clapped out, greasy Citroen, once used to

The harder you work, the luckier you get. I still do the lottery


Countdown to Christmas | 29

10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

The exterior of the chateau

The drawing room

The couple with their mobile bar (above); Angel demonstrates flower power peddle toys and snacks around the beaches of northern France, and transformed it into a swanky mobile bar, complete with a working fridge. Striking a balance between raising two young children, renovating a castle, and running your businesses can’t be easy. Angel says: “Like anything, you make it work. My mum and dad are living here too which has given us incredible support. The children are now at school a few times a week but when they’re at home, they love to be involved in everything. Three-yearold Dorothy loves making everyone coffee, she chooses a china tea cup, and asks the guests if they want sugar, while Arthur, who’s four, entertains them with his dinosaur collection. “If we make what we are doing fun for the kids we can get a lot done. We actually throw a lot of time into the house and the business – it’s new so it’s necessary for us to invest the hours. Balance will come… that’s what motivates us.” Angel and Dick are about a third of the way through the renovation. “We haven’t got our teeth stuck into the outbuildings yet.” Her favourite room in the castle is their family suite. “It was a long time coming.” Business is booming. The couple are fully booked for 2018 for vintage weddings and 2019 is starting to fill up too. “It’s not a bad place to be,” she grins. “We

will be adding some courses and interesting dining experiences at the Chateau for 2018 too. We are extremely humbled by the amount of support we have received.” Angel starts each day being woken by the children (far too early) and then coffee. “After the school run, it’s straight into work.” Her favourite time of day is dinner time “when we are all together“. She may not get a lot of time to relax, but when she does she loves “sitting on our steps outside with a port“. Angel is a fashion fanatic and adores threads from a bygone era. Her favourite items of vintage clothing are her kimonos: “I have different favourites every month.” She is often seen with her glossy copper tresses teased into victory rolls, voluminous black lashes and cherry lips, but if she could only wear one item of make-up, what would it be? “Lipstick without a doubt. Cherry red.” She’s a voracious meat eater, “I love meat, is that too general?” and, not surprisingly, her tipple of choice is gin. Speaking of the silver screen icons she loves to emulate, Angel says: “Talk Golden Era to me… Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis, Marilyn, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, Ginger Rogers… there were so many amazing woman to admire, I could go on forever. They are sources of inspiration for me. “I can’t talk for all woman, but as I

am a woman, I’ve always wanted to be successful, loved for who I am, and to stay healthy so I can be the best wife and mum for as long as possible. I don’t want people around me who drain my energy.” However, she’s also keen to point out that her family and friends inspire her every day in life. “It’s about living life even when there are hurdles. Dick and my family are my biggest supporters – always.” If you’re thinking of booking an elegant soiree at Chateau de la Motte Husson, Angel and Dick promise an “effortless and wondrous” event. It’s impossible for Angel to pick a favourite out of the many, special events that they have hosted. “Every wedding has been memorable for different reasons. “I guess we create a bubble here and when we do weddings, every guest is in that bubble. It’s personal, we know the needs of our guests. I think we are relaxed yet attentive.” I wonder what Angel would prepare for me if I ever came around for tea: “I’d make you a good old cup of British tea with some patisseries from the local bakers. If you mean tea in the old fashioned sense, well, I’d find out what you fancied. Pork from our pigs, salad from the garden, cheese from down the road with quince jam from our trees; this is why we moved to France.”

Angel’s mantra is: “Live life and no regrets,“ and one she’s stolen from Dick’s mum: “If it’s meant for you it won’t pass you by. “I believe life is what you make it. I know people that have everything, but are not happy. Dick and I are very happy and content. We aspire to be the best we can be which is sometimes hard as we push ourselves all the time, but actually the rewards make up for everything.” The Strawbridges will be celebrating Christmas at the castle with their family. “We’ll be eating turkey and relaxing. It’s not a celebration without food and drink, music and laughter.”

QUICK FIRE!

✸ Cake or biscuits: Cake ✸ Tea or coffee: Tea ✸ Dress or skirt: Dress ✸ Heels or flats: Flat – five years ago it would have been heels! ✸ Cat or dog: Cat Visit: www.chateaudelamottehusson.com Watch Escape to the Chateau on All4/ catchup: www.channel4.com/programmes/escape-tothe-chateau


30 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

BRINGINGTHAT festive feeling home Silver snowflake £4.99, TKMaxx

Bauble wreath £25, Next

✸ Pack of 6 Connoisseur crackers, £30, M&S Alphabet rose gold decoration £5, www.oliverbonas. com

Glitter star, £7.99, TKMaxxx

Navy faux fur bauble £2.99, TKMaxx

Some enthusiasts are already casting a colourful glow over the streets with their fairy lights and Santas clambouring up chimneys but for the rest of us, the next few weeks are key to getting our homes ready to look their festive best. Start Yule with a good tidy as any clutter will detract from those tasteful seasonal adornments. Once you have the house in order, it’s time to release the decorations from their summer hibernation, and start shopping for the new additions you need to create that perfect Christmas atmosphere...

BRANCH OUT

Whether you like to invest in a live Christmas tree every year or have used the same faux tree for years, help it look its best by giving it enough space to shine. Expect to pay over £25 for your choice. Christmas tree farms and country estates grow a variety of trees for sale to the public, including pines, firs and Norway spruce. Avoid taking home a tree that’s too big for your space or too small to make an impact by measuring your ceiling height before you go tree shopping. Take hold of a branch and run your hand towards you to check that it’s fresh enough - keep walking if most of the needles come away easily. See Greenmount Christmas

3 FOR 2

Light up garland £52, Laura Ashley

Trapped Mistletoe Glass Bauble,£4, M&S

Trees’ website (www. greenmountchristmastrees. co.uk) for an excellent guide to your arboreal options, in terms of shape, size, colour and aroma.

FAKE IT

Alphabet stocking, £15, M&S

Artificial trees come in an incredible array of shapes, sizes and colours and while some are unabashedly fake, others are deceptively realistic. They are great if you don’t want to go to the expense of buying a fresh tree every year and can’t cope with pine needles clogging up the vaccuum cleaner, but they do lack the magic of a living tree, not to mention that atmospheric aroma. There’s a model for every budget, from several hundred pounds and down. Top end trees can be an investment to be handed down through the generations for your own personal slice of tradition.

GETTING PERSONAL

Personalised tree decorations make great gifts and can chart family milestones such as a new baby or serve as a reminder of loved ones overseas or someone who has passed away. Check out www. gettingpersonal.co.uk for an idea of what’s on offer.

White Glass Bauble Red Scandi, £3, M&S

Plum Floral Wreath, £29.50, M&S Tall beaded angel, £15, M&S

Silver Hope, Wish, Believe Decorations, £19.99 ea, Argos

Snow and acorn tree, £250, Debenhams

Christmas Creatives

The Creative Peninsula Christmas Craft Fayre is taking place in Ards Arts Centre, Conway Square Newtownards on Friday and Saturday, December 1–2, from 10am – 5pm. An array of craft makers and artists from the Ards area will be giving the public the opportunity to purchase a range of unique, local, handcrafted products. The festive Fayre, now in its fifth year, is organised by Ards Crafts, the Craft Development Service of Ards and North Down Borough Council. Join over 30 craft makers and artists in the galleries of Newtownards’ Town Hall. Relax, enjoy complimentary mulled wine and shop for that inspirational gift. Free gift wrapping available. Admission is free. On Friday talented harpist Ruth Corry will be performing between 12–1pm and on Saturday Regent House School’s String Octet will perform from 3-4pm

with a wide repertoire including Christmas favourites to get you into the festive spirit. Stilt walkers ‘Valentine Winterbottom’ and ‘the Snow Queen’ will be there from 11.30am-1.30pm. Alison Speers, from Ards Crafts, said: “This year the quality and diversity of the products on offer is even higher than before. We at Ards Crafts are extremely proud that we are able to coordinate this event and to promote and support the local talent in a way their efforts deserve.” Further information on the event: www. visitardsandnorthdown.com, T: 028 9182 6846. Continue christmas shopping at ‘the best kept secret’ in Ards: Ards Crafts, Craft and Design Centre, 31 Regent Street, Newtownards, where you will find similar local quality craft and the centre’s annual ’Hand-made for Christmas’ Showcase, on December 2–23. Ards Crafts is open all year round, Monday–Saturday, 9.15am to 5pm.

Handcrafted decoration by Victoria Bentham


32 | Countdown to Christmas

gift

GUIDE

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

TRICYCLE MADE FOR TWO

For an off the scale gift, you can’t beat a repurposed full size Tuk Tuk Bicycle designed by Smithers of Stamford. The Tuk Tuk is a three-wheel bicycle taxi from Vietnam during the French colonial period after a failed attempt to introduce rickshaws. A double seat (for Vietnamese – an average foreigner would find riding with a companion a bit of a squeeze!), is supported by the two front wheels, with the driver sitting behind. Great for promoting a business, £1,700 www.smithersofstamford.com

BALCONY BARBIE

MR MEN MR HAPPY COIN PURSE

No garden? Make the most of apartment living with this barbecue that simply hooks onto a balcony rail. This silver charcoal barbecue includes a grill and a warming plate, for cooking anything from burgers and sausages to bacon the morning after! Dimensions: 58cm x 19cm x 14.5cm, £39.95, Prezzybox.com

A fashionable take on the classic brand. Depicted from the range of characters from Roger Hargreaves’ loved story books, this Mr Men & Little Miss Mr Happy Coin Purse is sure to make a statement, £10, www.wildandwolf.com

STAY SMOOTH

SNAP HAPPY!

Take better photos with your phone with the 3 in 1 Universal Clip Camera Lens. It includes a wide angle lens, perfect for shooting landscapes and big groups; a fish eye lens which acts like a wide angle but adds a curved effect and the macro lens for extremely close up shots, showing the incredible detailing of your subject. The lenses attach easily and don’t require any apps. The peg styled clip means it will fit most smartphones and tablets, £9.95, www.red5.co.uk

Stuck for ideas for Christmas gifts? We’ve scoured the shelves, both real and virtual, to help you find that something special or something small ... from the bizarre to the beautiful!

The Brighton Beard Company is a safe bet if you’re looking for beard oils that his face will thank you for. The ‘Groombridge’ beard oil gift set features three oils; Mandarin, Juniper & Cedarwood, Ylang Ylang & Sandalwood and Black Pepper and Grapefruit. Only the best ingredients are used to nourish facial hair and the skin beneath - it’s even great for stubble. Noted for stopping the dreaded beard itch, whilst promoting new growth, £19.95, www.brightonbeardcompany.co.uk

NEVER ENOUGH MAKE-UP

Bright, bold and colourful, keep all your make up in one place with this Happy Jackson ‘I Have Enough Make Up’ glossy finish bag, £10, www.wildandwolf.com

CLEAN APPEAL

KEYS, CHECK. PURSE, CHECK

NOT TO BE SNIFFED AT

British designer Jessica Russell Flint’s motto is ‘Can you see beyond the end of your nose?’ You won’t miss her Bird Man Hanky, an organic cotton handkerchief in a mini gift box, 30x30cm, £12.50, www. jessicarussellflint.co.uk

Flashback to ‘80s electro with this Tatty Devine Piano Keys purse. Instantly recognisable to those in the know, this monochrome, leather Purse is inspired by the Keyboard Necklace by Tatty Devine. Cool and kitsch, the zip around purse features five internal compartments, including one zipped, four internal pockets, eight card spaces and gold-effect zip detail with Tatty Devine plectrum, £27, www.wildandwolf.com

LOVE BIRDS

Keep that iPad safe and snug in this Love Birds case with luxury velvet interior, £32, Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and various UK stockists or at www.jessicarussellfint.co.uk

BEST FOOT FORWARD

This handsome Glentory long metal shoe horn with antler handle is an unusual but stylish gift.The antlers provide the perfect handle for squeezing on even the tightest of shoes and its length means minimal bending. Made from smooth, highly polished nickel plated aluminium, it makes a lovely decorative accessory for the hallway or bedroom, £24, www. artisanti.com

This STANLEY Wash Kit Roll features three zipped storage compartments in varied sizes and a metal hanger. The tan leather buckle closure on the front of the roll can be unattached for usability. Perfect for use as a wash roll, travel bag, tool pouch or dopp kit, it’s the ideal size for storing your essentials for any excursion. The hard wearing 18oz canvas kit features a two-tone design with the famous logo embroidered onto the front, £45, www.wildandwolf.com

GO LONG

A short scarf is a style fail for tall or broad people. Give them this stupendously long and super soft navy blue pinstriped luxury scarf made from fine merino wool. A great way to stay cosy, for city and countryfolk alike. Size: 220cm x 30cm 100% Fine Merino Wool, £39, www.tollymcrae. co.uk


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ZIPPY IDEA

Zip up your sound and keep it on lock down with these funky new Zip Earphones. Keeping earphone wires from getting tangled in your bag, and saving you the hassle of having to untangle them. The fully working zip makes these earphones on trend, and their quality sound means all your favourite music will sound amazing! £12.99 Prezzybox.com

BESTIE BOOK

Tell your best friend how much you love them with this cute book! It’s jam packed full of fun phrases and quotes to best describe your relationship, £6.99, www.GettingPersonal.co.uk

MASSAGING MASK

For someone who suffers from headaches or tired eyes, the Eyezone eye Massager could be the perfect gift. Combining massage therapy, pinhole therapy and magnetic therapy in one clever little massager, it has twice been voted the Daily Mail Gadget of the Week, £14.99, www.prezzybox.com

gift

GUIDE

SOUNDS OUTSIDE

PICTURE THIS!

Trying to find the perfect gift for someone who loves to build gadgets? The Konstruktor camera kit allows them to build their own functioning 35mm SLR. Using the screws and easy click formula the Konstructor only takes around two hours to complete. It has a fully interchangeable lens system, multiple exposure capability and a tripod thread for long exposures. Suitable for ages 14 and above, £29.99, www.prezzybox.com

Never be without music, this outdoor bluetooth speaker has got you covered for all occasions, garden parties, the beach or even camping... take it anywhere £45, www.kikkerlandeu.com

SHINE ON

Polish up your act with the Gentlemen’s Hardware Shoe Shine Kit, £18, www.wildandwolf.com

HANDS AND TALES

CRAZY FOR CASHMERE

Begin the day with a fresh start with this Waxed Canvas Wash Bag from Gentlemen’s Hardware. The zipped, grey canvas design has plenty of space for everyday grooming essentials, and features brown leather-effect logo detail, £25, www.wildandwolf.com

THROW SOME LIGHT ON IT

Taha’a Blue & Gunmetal Wash Bag comes in two handy sizes, ideal for either weekends away or longer trips where you need plenty of space. The large version will even fit your ghds. These luxury, fully lined wash bags are available in copper, gold, silver and gunmetal, have a block bottom to allow them to stand up and a white waterproof lining, £35, www.penelopehope.com

Never get lost again with this robust and smart gold-coloured torch from the Gentlemen’s Hardware collection. An essential indoor or outdoor accessory given a stylish twist, this torch is ideal for camping or the home. Gentlemen’s Hardware products have been crafted for the rigours of today’s modern life with a vintage aesthetic, £18, www.wildandwolf.com

ON THE CASE

For someone who can never keep track of their headphones, this Happy Jackson Earphone Case, Tidy Tunes, makes a great stocking filler. Headphones not included, £10, www.wildandwolf.com

SILK AND SLEEP

A mix of 20 Folklore Emery Boards featuring Owl, Bear, Rabbit, Bird and Fox, £3, www.wildandwolf.com

GENTLEMEN THIS WAY

GO FORTH IN STYLE

HANDS UP

They’ll love this Ted Baker manicure set with thistle case and rose gold tools, £45, www.wildandwolf.com

The Magic Garden Silk Sleep Mask has super soft wadding, pompom trim and the softest silk on both sides for the best sleep ever. Comes in a beautiful gift box, £34, www.jessicarussellflint.co.uk

This sumptuously soft scarf, in a dusky winter green, is double wide and extra long. Made from a luxurious mix of fine merino wool (90%) and cashmere (10%), it is so soft it seems to melt around the neck. Suitable for men and women, it measures 220cm x 50cm, £54, www. tollymcrae.co.uk

GADGET FIX

A smart gadget, this stainless steel Ted Baker 10 in 1 outdoor multi-tool in cadet blue includes a screwdriver, penknife, pliers, saw, can opener, corkscrew, bottle opener and other tools. Embossed with Ted Baker and ‘Survival Of the Fittest’ on the blue wood grain effect handles. Complete with leather-effect storage pouch with popper closure. Box size: 165 x 125 x 42mm, £34.95, www. annabeljames.co.uk


34 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

ROYAL AWESOMENESS

PARK UP

Brighten up her day with this Happy Jackson Queen Of Awesomeness glossy finish card holder. It has two handy compartments, including a clear panel for showing ID. Bright pink with a contrast yellow closure and a black and white striped interior, it is definitely the stylish way to carry your ID, travel and debit cards. A perfect gift for anyone with royal aspirations, £9, www.wildandwolf.com

gift

Be the leader of the pack with Smithers of Stamford’s vintage bicycle bar stools. Featuring a tan leather gazelle saddle and an original pedal footrest, the battered rustic steel leg framework, a Federal tyre and even the occasional bike chain create an eye catching vintage bar stool that guarantees to take your interior style up a gear. Yellow Jersey and puncture repair kit not included! £360, www.smithersofstamford. com

GUIDE

KEEPING TRACK

Garmin’s making running easier with the new Forerunner 30 – a simpleto-use GPS running watch with wrist-based heart rate. Comes in a range of colours, £129.99, range of stockists

POWER AHEAD WITH A UNICORN!

BUSY BEE

The Contemporary Home’s Heart Shaped Bee Tape Measure is pocketsized and a lovely little gift for a crafter or a busy bee who’s always doing things around the house, £7, www.tch.net

There is no denying the mystical powers of the mighty unicorn and these powers even expand into battery power. Pop this Unicorn Powerbank in your pocket or bag and when you need to boost the battery on your smartphone - let this 2000mAh battery work its magic. Includes micro USB cable, £14.99, www.totally-funky.co.uk

COOL GIFT

This Ted Baker glass screw top water bottle, features an embossed bow pattern and the word ‘HydraTed’ printed on the pink silicone sleeve. 360ml, £19.95, www.annabeljames.co.uk

OFF THE WALL

Butterflies Wall Stickers adhere to any non-porous surface. The fabric is matt with slight woven texture and looks flat on the wall. The stickers can be repositioned over 100 times. Simply peel off the backing sheet and place. Size 21cm x 30cm, approx A4 (all 13 butterflies together on a sheet of backing paper). Larger Watercolour Butterflies with more butterflies are also available, from £12, www.micromkt.co.uk

CALL FOR COLOUR

Don’t settle for the same case as everyone else, not when you can design one that expresses your own unique and creative style with this Paint Your Own Phone Case kit, £10, www.kikkerlandeu.com

HOT HUGS

Aroma Home’s Hot Hugs Hottie Orangutan will keep little ones warm and cosy all night. Hot Hugs hotties have a removable microwavable tummy insert that is warmed in the microwave to give a long lasting warmth to help aid a perfect nights sleep. The tummy insert is also gently scented with lavender, which is released when warmed, and helps aid a restful nights sleep. Beautifully packaging they make ideal gifts and theres lots of adorable and fun characters to choose from, £19.99, range of stockists or uk.aromahome.com

CHRISTMAS BIB

caption here, £00, www. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

NATIVITY NESTING DOLLS Retro Russian dolls, £19.95, www. littlebabycompany.com

TIDY TIME EASIER

Play and Go Diamond Grey Toy Storage Bag, £28.50, www. minimaison.co.uk

ALL AT SEA

A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea is a gorgeously illustrated hardback collection of rhymes, songs and poems from O’Brien Press. Sarah Webb collected the stories and Steve McCarthy added the artistic magic, £14.99, range of stockists

SPECIAL TIMES

Disney Milestone Cards, £14.99, www.GettingPersonal.co.uk

COOL CARRY CASES

Sass & Belle Set of 3 Nordic Grey Star Suitcases, £20, www.minimaison.co.uk


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10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

TWICE AS USEFUL

They’ll stride out in style with this walking stick umbrella, £40, www.kikkerlandeu.com

gift

GUIDE PICK BEES

Serve your favourite olives alongside these silver-plated olive picks with their beautiful bee design. A great gift for a foodie, £31.95, www.annabeljames.co.uk

SHE BELIEVED!

A beautiful soft background highlights the script print of ‘She believed she could, so she did’ by Print Loveli. Printed on fine art 300gsm smooth card stock ready for framing, £12, www. andsotoshop.com

FLOOD LIGHTS

Choose from five different light shows with this floating disco ball – the Underwater light show, £11.95, Prezzybox at www.tesco.com

MAT WITH A MESSAGE

Create a personalised fun and unique doormat, perfect for any home, and proudly show off what your home runs on - be it gin, love or even prosecco, £26.99, www.GettingPersonal.co.uk

HOT-FOOTIN’

Cosyback Intelex Tawny Brown microwavable cozy plush heatable slippers. Put them in the microwave for toasty tootsies on the chilliest of days, £19.95, www.tesco.com

MAKES SCENTS

The Aroma Home lavander microwaveable hot body wrap is filled with natural flax and lavender seeds, to create a therapeutic wrap that can be used hot or cold, £9.99, range of stockists and uk.aromahome.com

THEY’LL BE BEAMING

It would take a hard-hearted person not to love these Unicorn String Lights, £8.95, www.tesco. com and other stockists

SWEET DREAMS

For anyone who struggles to get over, the Sound Asleep Imusic Pillow makes sleeping fun. Listen to your favourite relaxing songs from deep within your pillow rather than uncomfortable headphones. As only you can hear your personal sounds, your partner can sleep in peace. People who experience tinnitus can use the sound pillow to create a background noise, which can help them fall asleep while some insomniacs can benefit from the soft sounds of music or relaxation tracks, £14.99, www.prezzybox.com

STAY FRESH

Part of LSA’s stylish Tatra collection, this Black by Design handmade glass dome on square ash base is perfect for displaying cakes, pastries or cheeses. Height 27cm, Width 28.5cm, £100, www.black-by-design.co.uk

TRAD STYLE

Tradition is part of the appeal of this beautifully made linen and leather apron from lifestyle brand Finch and Crane. It has an adjustable soft leather neck strap, two deep pockets and generous tie length. Measures: 90cm (height), 95cm (width). Care: machine washable 40C, remove leather strap before washing, £50, finchandcrane.com

PEN WITH A MESSAGE

This quirky Axe Pen And Tree Notepad was a winner of the 2014 China Design Challenge and is a reminder that the more paper we use, the more trees are cut down. It includes a 30 page notepad and ballpoint pen with black ink, £10, www.kikkerlandeu. com


36 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

gift

GUIDE

ROCK ON

MUG’S GAME

This popular cream Gentlemen’s Hardware enamel mug will handle the knocks of travels and bears the motto ‘The Adventure Begins’. Simple yet stylish design with a compass detail on the base. Ideal for camping, festivals or adventures closer to home. Not suitable for microwave use, £10, www.wildandwolf.com

The Fresh ‘n’ Rebel Rockbox Cube Fabriq Wireless Speaker is a design classic, now in ruby red. Rockbox Fabriq Edition is a series of wireless speakers made for design lovers as much as for music lovers, with understated Dutch design and excellent sound. It uses Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to all your devices and its long-lasting battery gives up to eight hours of non-stop music on a single charge. It’s small enough to fit in a pocket for when you move from room to room or go out with friends. Micro-USB charging cable and 3.5 mm audio cable included. Size: 59 x 59 x 59 mm, £25, www.printerandtailor.com

SAY IT WITH CHOCOLATES

Choose your own message and present them with a giant tin of personalised Christmas chocolates from the Biscuiteers, £65, www.biscuiteers.com

IN THE BAG

The Cavendish Rugby Ball leather wash bag helps rugby fans transport all their toiletry essentials in style, £19.99, www.GettingPersonal.co.uk

SNAG FREE

Be well groomed on land or at sea with these clever fish-shaped nail clippers, £5, www. kikkerlandeu.com

GONE FISHING

Catch a sip on the go with this Cream Flask from the Hook, Line & Sinker collection. With a durable faux-leather sleeve complete with distinctive fly fishing print, the travel flask is stylish yet practical. The stainless steel barrel keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold, £20, www.wildandwolf.com

SLIM PICKINGS

Say goodbye to the frustration of never being able to find a plectrum with the Pickmaster Plectrum Punch. This ingenious piece of kit allows you to make a perfect plectrum out of anything plastic - credit cards, gift cards, blister packs, carton lids etc. It works in exactly the same way as a standard hole punch, £16.99, www.prezzybox.com

SHOW TIME!

WOOD WORKS

Ballyclare crafter Alan Cheetham makes wooden plates, swords, wands or tankards featuring everything from the family dog to your favourite blockbuster. Follow Alan Cheetham on Facebook to see the range of designs available.

Download and watch movies on a smartphone in comfort with the Smartphone projector. This black and white box has a retro feel and is made from strong cardboard for easy construction (Superglue needed) and has an 8 x magnifying lens at the front. Simply press play, pop a smart phone in the back of the projector on the firm grip pad, plug your speakers in and the movie is projected onto a wall, £15.99, www.prezzybox.com

BOOM TIDES

For a cracking small, portable Bluetooth speaker which can cope with being submerged underwater, look no further than the UE Wonderboom, £84.99, range of stockists

BOOTS OFF

GROOT FUN!

Tweens and teens are into Pop! figures with their outsized heads. Choose from hundreds, including Groot, from Guardians of the Galaxy, £9.99, range of stockists

Ensure wellies and boots can be removed with ease after long walks with the Farringdon Boot Jack. Crafted in steel with a matt lacquer seal it’s inspired by stag beetle style boot jacks, with a simplified twist. Industrial in style but thoroughly practical it can sit alongside your welly rack or in the back of the car. An essential item for country dwellers, £15, www. gardentrading.co.uk

ROLL UP!

AIR PROFESSIONAL HAIRDRYER £99, GHD

Add a refined touch to your home with this canvas tool roll from renowned brand STANLEY. The wrapped design features a leather strap to close, as well as a large pouch pocket, and six smaller pockets for screwdrivers and other tools, £22, www.wildandwolf.com


38 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

gift

GUIDE

FOR GIN BUNNIES

WARMER FOR LONGER

No more sipping from neglected mugs of tepid coffee or lukewarm tea with this Hot Cookie USB powered cup warmer. This clever little pad sits under your cup or mug, plugs into any USB port, and gently keeps your drink at a hot (but not too hot) 50°C. £9.99, www.totally-funky.co.uk

This Gin Bunny mug can be personalised with a name along with the cute bunny holding a barbell with gin bottles as weights, £9.99, www.GettingPersonal.co.uk

BRIGHT IDEA

Bright Idea is a USB laptop light without a switch, a lampshade, legs, or fuss – just a bulb on an articulating gooseneck arm, which lights up when connected to a laptop. The elegant design is both simple and charming and provides just the right amount of light to avoid squinting or eye-strain, but not so much as to create glare. Bright Idea can be powered from any standard USB computer port, £9.99, www.totally-funky.co.uk

FIDGET SPINNER

CASH STASH

BRING THE RAINBOWS IN

This solar powered RainbowMaker Heart uses a genuine Swarovski crystal which rotates and refracts sunlight to create a swirl of rainbows, £33.75, www.kikkerlandeu.com

This clever capsule has a special cash clip inside to wrap an emergency note around so you are never caught short. It will take up hardly any room on your key-ring, but is sturdily made from dark chrome plated aircraft grade aluminium with a waterproof neoprene ‘O’ ring. Makes a perfect stocking filler, especially if you put cash in it, £5.99, www.prezzybox.com

For all the pen clickers, table tappers, knuckle crackers or hair twirlers, the Fidget Spinner is an addictive handheld gadget. Everyone you normally annoy will welcome the silence this fidget toy brings. Made to be the perfect fit for your hand, all you need to do is hold the centre with your thumb and forefinger and spin, £3.99, www.prezzybox.com

STELLAR STAINBUSTER

Star Wars Silcone Coasters in the styles of R2-D2, Stormtrooper, Boba Fett and Darth Vader will save you from the dreaded coffee stain rings of doom. Durable and easy to clean, they are £9.95 www.red5.co.uk

RIDE ON

Cyclists will appreciate this Orange 2 In 1 Bike Bell & Light, £15, and Mini Bike Pump, small enough to fit in a pocket, £30, both www.kikkerlandeu.com Get back “on your bike” with this kit that includes: tyre levers, multi-function bike tool, rubber solution, bone wrench, metal rasp, patches and instructions. Presented in a vintage-style tin, £14.95, www.annabeljames. co.uk The Cateye Velo Wireless Cycle Computer is a 6 feature, 7 function super gadget. It’s a fantastic motivation tool which does all the working out for you so you maintain full attention on hitting the next target to achieve your cycling fitness goals. Amazing for measuring general health, performance and stamina for serious cyclists, £25, Halfords

A LIGHT THAT POPS

GIFT OF ROSES

Who wouldn’t love this Nomination Angel Wings Rose Gold Open Bangle, £59, www.argento.com

Bottle Light is an ingenious device that’s shaped like a wine cork with a super bright LED light inside. Simply pop it in an empty wine bottle for an instant mood light for a dinner party, barbecue or evening soiree. Simply twist to turn the LED light on or off. Bottle Light can be recharged over and over again via USB, and each charge lasts up to three hours. Each Bottle Light measures 5cm from top to bottom and approx 2.2cm in diameter, £7.99, www.totally-funky.co.uk

PUPPET FUN

This set of five soft vinyl finger puppets (four hooves and a unicorn head) takes your humdrum human hand and transforms it into a unicorn! The magic comes pre-installed so you’re ready to go. Suitable for ages 3+, £8.99, www.totally-funky.co.uk


Countdown to Christmas | 39

10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

LUGGAGE IN THE BALANCE

These Colourworks digital luggage scales are so easy to use. Simply attach the clip to your luggage and then lift for the measurement. With an easy to read display and included battery, these luggage scales allow you to weigh up to 40kg (or 88lbs!), £6.99, www. kitchencraft.co.uk.

TWO PRONGED APPROACH...

gift

This Kitchen Craft electronic deluxe thermometer fork tests the inner cooking temperatures of meat and poultry to ensure they are cooked to perfection. The easy to read digital display tests for rare, medium rare, medium, and well done cooking types, whilst also being a comfortable, easy to use carving fork. Includes a convenient hanging hook, £14.99, www.kitchencraft.co.uk

P UMPED UP

This sexy pair of pumps props up your phone so you can pay proper attention. Great for Skyping and talking hands free. The super stylish way to view videos, movies and more on your phone. Because everything looks better in heels, including your iPhone! Pumped Up is 100% pure silicone. Packaged in a clear gift box, £6.99, www. totally-funky.co.uk

GUIDE FELINE FINE

Keep your workspace tidy with this cat-shaped magnet – a fun gift for a feline fanatic, £8.99, www.GettingPersonal.co.uk

THINK INK

Capture the charm of simpler times with this traditional dip pen, complete with a bottle of black ink. Mediæval pens were typically feather quills with a notch cut in the shaft to create a nib; however a metal nib has been added to this quill for durability. The perfect gift for someone who wants to try calligraphy, £14.59, www.penheaven.co.uk

SOUNDS SUPER

CUTTING EDGE

Colourworks Pizza Cutters come in an array of striking colours and feature a rotating stainless steel blade for easy slicing. Each pizza cutter has a soft touch, comfort grip handle for better control, £3.99, www.kitchencraft.co.uk

GHOST WRITING

CHOP CHOP!

Flex both sides of this Colourworks folding chopping board to create a nice channel that easily allows you to transfer food to pans directly from your chopping board, £8.99, www.kitchencraft.co.uk

Welcome to the future with this Laser Keyboard and Powerbank. Simply connect to a USB port or switch your device’s Bluetooth on, connect to the laser keyboard, place on a flat surface and watch the red laser, keys appear! Useful for typing an email on the commute. The keyboard is in the style of the QWERTY keyboard with 400 characters available, £72.99, www.prezzybox.com

007 AM

DRY IN STYLE

This practical grey Sophie Allport Chicken roller towel looks great on an Aga, range or cooker rail. Velcro fastening, 100% cotton, 29.4cm x 45.5cm, £12, www.sophieallport.com

Missing the alarm and oversleeping is more 00-lame than 007, but with the Secret Agent Alarm Clock they’ll never be late again. This ultra cool alarm clock lives under your pillow and vibrates to wake the sleeper. Fire the ‘gun’ at the wall to reveal the time in bright red LED lights – a unique gift for gadget geeks and spy film fans. Requires 2 x AAA batteries (not included), £15.99, www. prezzybox.com

For a special gift for a music lover, Sony’s wireless Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones are compatible with all smartphones and come with a remote and volume control. Recommended by What Hifi magazine, £329.99 from a range of stockists


40 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

gift

GUIDE

GLOW GIRL

A hand-picked selection of Emma Hardie’s most popular winter skincare products, encased in a festive gold gift box that will dazzle under the tree. Protect the skin from the elements with Brilliance Facial Oil, Age Support Treatment Cream, Moringa Cleansing Balm and Protect & Prime SPF30. Lift & Glow Skin Essentials, £55, Emma Hardie

SCENTSATIONAL

This elegant bamboo diffuser and collection of essential oils includes relaxing lavender, balancing geranium, cleansing eucalyptus and energising rosemary. These carefully chosen, 100% pure essential oils are perfect for peace of mind. Aromatherapy Diffuser & Essential Oils Collection, £85, Neal’s Yard

SUMPTUOUS SLUMBER

WONDERFUL WAVES

With a tapered barrel and patented tri-zone technology, this GHD curl wand will help you create natural looking curls and deep waves that last. Supplied with an exclusive Nocturne Collection heat resistant mat, the GHD Curve Creative curling wand is a glamour must-have. Curve Creative Wand with Heat Resistant Mat, £120, GHD

RELAX AND UNWIND

This 100% natural, sensory hand-poured candle contains a blend of Sandalwood, Frankincense, Cedarwood and Neroli essential oils blended with powerful botanical natural actives. Approx 30 hours burn time, made with Natural Soy Wax. Blend Collective Unwind Candle, £23.95, www. absolute-aromas.com

A gentle lullaby for the senses, the restorative concentrate and body butter are created with a calming blend of ylang ylang, patchouli and cypress essential oils. The pillow mist has relaxing botanicals to help you curl up peacefully and wake up beautiful. Beauty Sleep Bedtime Collection, £58, Neal’s Yard

SLEEP SOUND

This unique formulation, containing Organic Lavender, is designed to help with sleep problems. Spray onto sheets, pillows and around the room when ready to retire. Organic Pillow Spray, £9.95, Nutri Derma

PICK ME UP

The empowering scent is formulated with a scientific blend of 19 pure essential oils to surround you with positive energy and motivation. Keep it on your desk for an instant boost of strength and confidence whenever life catches up on you, or perfect for on the go. Life Elixers Fortitude Perfume Oil, £28, Elemis

BYE BYE DRY

Contains a blend of Lavender and Cypress oils from France, Citron Oil from Italy, Patchouli Oil from Indonesia, Sandalwood Oil from Australia and coffee oil, enhanced by natural ingredients that cleanse, condition and calm dry skin. Lavender & Espresso Calming Body Cream, £28, Crabtree & Evelyn

LITERARY LUXURIES

This rustic soap is handmade and has a distinctive, pleasant scent. Appealing to both ladies and gents, the soap was inspired by literary icon Oscar Wilde. Goats’ milk and vegetarian versions available. Tobacco Soap with Elderflower notes, £5, Wicked Wick of Stamford, available at etsy

SKIN SAVIOURS

A collection of much-loved ESPA skincare for the face and body to create the ultimate spa experience. Includes the award-winning ProSerum and Soothing Body Oil. The Heroes Collection, £120, ESPA

Gift Inspiration at

WARDENS

Find the perfect gift at Wardens of Newtownards this Christmas. From bakers to stylish home makers, you will find inspiration throughout the store for everyone on your list. Beautiful jewellery from Newbridge and Joma, new china ranges from Ellen DeGeneres and Zara Miller, new Winnie the Pooh toys from Orange Tree and cookery gifts from leading brands including Le Creuset and KitchenAid are all sure to delight. To add a personal touch, Wardens have a wide range of prints and pictures that can be personalised to your specification, as well as selected items of Belleek Giftware and Tipperary crystal available for individual engraving. With free gift wrapping and highly experienced staff to advise, let Wardens take the hassle out of Christmas this year.

BATHE IN BLISS

YOU SMOOTHIE

This deeply moisturising lotion is infused with pure, organic oils. Strengthen the microflora of your skin with prebiotics so that it can defend itself and leave your skin soft, pampered and gently fragranced. Organic Pre Biotic Hand Lotion Wash Oil, £15 ea, Pairfum

Olverum is a unique and highly concentrated, therapeutic bath oil which contains 10 pure essential oils. It is also a great way to ease aching or sore muscles and is the perfect soothing antidote to a cold or flu - all with a gorgeously aromatic unisex scent. Bath Oil, 250ml, £53, Olverum


42 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

Make memories Belfast Christmas Market is an annual feature in the grounds of City Hall © Northern Ireland Tourist Board

T

he Christmas season is well and truly bearing down upon us now and while on a superficial level it can be all about parties and presents, scratch the surface and beneath it’s all about love. Christmas is set apart from the rest of the year for its emphasis on sharing, showing appreciation for loved ones and taking time out to get closer to family... and that holds true whether it is a sacred time for you or simply a festival to brighten the dark days of winter. Make it special this year by planning for lots of quality time with your family and friends...

Romantic retreat

Book a couple of nights in an hotel and escape the pre-Christmas frenzy for a romantic weekend. Pick somewhere scenic, like the Fermanagh Lakelands or the Causeway Coast, the Antrim Glens or the Mournes. Have a special time, soaking up the scenery on long walks, relaxing in the hotel spa and chatting over an unhurried meal. Take in some of the local entertainment or take a tour of some of the more notable local sites... don’t forget to ask the locals to recommend somewhere great for lunch on your way home.

Family funtimes

Book a few days away with the kids, before,

during or after the Christmas holidays. There’s so much to see and do at this time of the year. Do your research and choose a destination that goes the extra mile with its Christmas offer to children, such as Lullymore Heritage Park, in Co. Kildare, Clandeboye Estate, Bangor, Mount Stewart outside Newtownards, Tayto Park, Co. Meath, Castle Archdale in Co. Fermanagh, Airfield Estate, Dublin or Todd’s Leap, Co. Tyrone. They are among many places which are transformed into magical winter wonderlands where the children can do all sorts of activities and hang out with Santa and Mrs Claus. Stay in an hotel where the children can play games in the pool or go self-catering and let them make s’mores, toasting the marshmallows over an open fire before putting them between chocolate coated crackers.

Extend the invitation

Christmas is about family time so why not book in a few days away with your extended family? It’s a wonderful time of year for strengthening bonds between cousins and aunts and uncles who might not otherwise get to spend much time together. For families in which the grandparents are no longer alive, it’s a special opportunity to cement the ties... and have a lot of laughs about old memories while making new ones! Pick somewhere which will appeal to the older teens in the party as well, with a cinema and shops. Build in a trip to a bowling alley or bring your own gear for games like rounders outside or indoor board games and cards for evenings or wet days. Staying in an hotel removes the pressure to find enough beds for everyone as well as clearing up the inevitable mess and the adults can enjoy long chats over dinner while the younger ones take over the games room.

Romantic walks on the beach

Great for friends

Walk in the Woods

It can be hard to get away with friends during the peak summer time so why not schedule in a winter break? Go en masse with kids in tow or make it a girls’ or boys’ weekend away. Head for the city for festive entertainment and the chance to do your Christmas shopping in peace. Have a wan-


Countdown to Christmas | 43

10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

thisChristmas

Imagine a relaxing Christmas dinner

Cousins get to catch up

Dinnerwithadifference

der through craft stalls, around a Christmas market and warm up over mulled wine and mince pies in a cafe. Or treat yourselves to a pampering break at a wonderful luxury hotel with a top quality spa or a golf weekend by a stunning links course on the coast or lush parkland in the countryside. Take as much time as you need

Roasting marshmallows on the fire

to catch up with long walks along the beach or through a beautiful forest. The craic will be great over dinner and drinks late into the night in a local pub or by a roaring fire. By the time you leave, you’ll have one of your new year’s resolutions already made - let’s do this again next year!

The way individual families celebrate Christmas Day is often based around long cherished traditions but if St Stephen’s Day has you empathising with the first martyr, perhaps now is the time to introduce a new way of marking the occasion with your family? Just imagine, for a minute, not needing to order the turkey, or stock up on enough food and drink to keep a small country supplied... You wouldn’t have to stand into the early hours of Christmas eve peeling and prepping veg. You could put on your make-up on Christmas morning and fix your hair, safe in the knowledge that it won’t be undone in minutes by a steaming hot kitchen. Picture the night of December 25

relaxing in beautiful surroundings rather than standing up to your elbows in washing up liquid, dealing with all the stuff that won’t fit in the dishwasher. Sound appealing? That could be you if you opted to dine out this Christmas day! Let the professionals take the strain of all that shopping, prepping and cooking while you relax and enjoy your presents. As for the expense of going away over the festive season or having Christmas dinner out? A quick totting up of the amount you spend on putting out a three or four course Christmas dinner, complete with trimmings, could prove surprising – and there’s no doubt that food tastes better when you haven’t cooked it yourself. Imagine doing things differently this Christmas....


44 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

Enjoyfantasticfamilyfunwith thesegreatwinterbreaksonthe

Wild Atlantic Way

I

Cycle through Derrygimlagh, Co Galway

t may be the time of year to wrap coast), the Southern Peninsulas (the Cork up and keep warm, but as winter and Kerry coasts) and the Haven Coast approaches it’s also a perfect period (from Bantry via Skibbereen to Kinsale). to get out and enjoy all the Great Outdoors has to offer. And the Wild NORTHERN HEADLANDS Atlantic Way truly has an abundance of Voted one of the most beautiful of its type places to see and things to do that will in the world, Fanad Head Lighthouse in thrill the entire family. Co Donegal leaves a lasting impression. No matter how young or old, there’s It’s sited in an area of breath-taking beauty great pleasure to be had in exploring the and you’ll really feel close to nature here: region’s varied and distinct landscape, whales, porpoises and dolphins are plentiwhether you’re taking a sightseeing boat ful in the Atlantic at this northerly point. off the Donegal coast, learning about cable Its family-friendly visitor centre offers a pioneer Marconi’s links with Connetreasure of information for this wild and mara or braving the country’s scenic part of Donegal. longest rope bridge. The Taking to the waters is an beauty of the area especially great way to doesn’t just lie in get a sense of our most the magnificent northerly county and features, but the that’s certainly the fantastic sense of case on Donegal well-being that is Waterbus. You get fostered here. to tour Donegal Moments Bay on a 160-seat where you take cruiser enjoying stock of what’s the glorious vista truly important of the Blue Stack and you just let go Mountains and and enjoy yourself. Captain Raymond Ross of Kenmare Bay getting closed to the That’s when you fully Sea Safari County Kerry, famed seal colony on appreciate the sheer photo Valerie O’Sullivan the aptly named Seal openness of the area and Island. The nearby Donegal its ability to transform how Castle, now fully restored, nevyou feel and renew the spirit and er fails to captivate. mind. Read on – and be inspired to take a SURF COAST short break along the Wild Atlantic Way The country’s rich agricultural heritage is this winter. The routes is divided into six evident throughout the Wild Atlantic Way zones which include the Northern Headand visitors to Yeats County can enjoy one lands (Donegal), the Surf Coast (from Don- of the great farming traditions - the sight egal to Erris), the Bay Coast (from Achill of sheepdogs rounding up a herd of sheep. Island to Galway Bay), the Cliff Coast (from Atlantic Sheepdogs at Grange, Co Sligo, Galway through Clare to the north Kerry doesn’t just offer demonstrations but


Countdown to Christmas | 45

10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph The Skywalk Rope, Kells Bay House, Co Kerry

Slide at Westport House and Pirate Adventure Centre, Co Mayo

Zorbing and ziplining at Westport House

shows how these smart canine creatures are trained too. Belleek Forest Park on the shores of the River Moy in north Mayo is a 200acre sanctuary that will make you feel as though you’re a long way from the hectic pace of every day life. There are 10 kilometres of pathway that are accessible to all the family. It’s the perfect place to relax and recharge the batteries and the kids will love being in this magical place.

BAY COAST

Westport House has long been a draw for visitors to the western coast of Co Mayo and its beautiful estate is perfect for long, tranquil strolls. Kids love it here too thanks to its Pirate Adventure Park - they can burn off all that excess energy and learn about the legend of the pirate queen, Grace O’Malley The Derrigimlagh Looped Walk in the heart of Connemara is not just about breath-taking natural beauty. You’ll learn about the extensive Marconi cable operation that was based here in the early 20th century and it was also the place where aviators Alcock and Brown landed after the first ever trans-Atlantic flight. The pathways are buggy friendly.

CLIFF COAST

The Burren has had a magnetic draw for centuries and the Aillwee Cave complex is a wondrous subterranean place that appeals to young and old. But kids won’t just learn about stalactites here: the adjoining Bird of Prey Centre allows them to get up close and personal with falcons, hawks and owls and to learn about the ancient pursuit of falconry. The distinct karst landscape of the Burren makes it an intriguing place to explore on foot and the region is also home to some fascinating cottage industries, including Hazel Mountain Chocolates. Children will love this mini version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory as they

discover just how confectionery is made and, of course, get to sample some of the chocolates too.

SOUTHERN PENINSULAS

Green fingered aficionados hardly need an introduction to Wells House and Gardens, one of innumerable attractions along the Ring of Kerry. But it’s great for kids too, not least because it boasts the country’s longest rope bridge. It’s 112 feet long and 36 feet high, so not for the faint of heart. Recently opened, it’s proving a big hit with children of all ages. The picture-perfect Kenmare Bay is best explored by boat and the family friendly Seafari Cruises is just the ticket. This comfortable vessel, which ensures you’ll be protected from the elements, travels out to one of the largest seal colonies in the country. You may get to see Kathleen, a stunning seal with a red coat. You’ll learn all about selkies - seals that were once human, according to local legend.

HAVEN COAST

Who among us hasn’t been seduced by model railways? Children of all ages are bound to enjoy the experience of West Cork Model Railway Village - a place where everyone gets to feel like Gulliver for the day thanks to the miniature al fresco village you can walk around. There’s a road train, too, which drives through Clonakilty. Everyone knows the story of the Titanic but just three years later, in 1915, another magnificent ocean liner was lost at sea. The Lusitania was torpedoed by German submarines leading to huge loss in life. Its story is told at the Lusitania Museum and Old Head Signal Tower an the Old Head of Kinsale, one of the great peninsulas of the Wild Atlantic Way. For more winter wonders see, www.wildatlanticway.com

West Cork Model Railway


46 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

Get in shape for

CHRISTMAS The countdown is on to the festive season and tempting as it is to use the extra layers as an excuse to tear into the mince pies and Ferrero Rocher resist and you’ll be much more confident dipping a toe into the party scene in the next few weeks.

Some discipline now and you can approach the new year – a mere seven weeks away – with smug satisfaction instead of guilt-ridden shame. While year-round party animals never lose sight of how they are going to squeeze into the latest bodycon creation, for a sizeable proportion of the population, the festive season is peak period for being whisked into a social whirl. Nutritionists advise that a healthy rate of weight loss is up to 2lb per week so shedding an unwelcome stone is easily achievable. Imagine, dropping one dress size could be the best Christmas present you’ve given yourself in years! Here are our top tips for getting into tiptop condition...

is why so many crash diets are followed by weight gain. Simply cutting down on fatty or sugary snacks and reducing your portion sizes will get the ball rolling.

Identify your weakspots

Bad habits may have caused your weight to creep up over a long period of time, so simply smashing those can set you on course to achieve the figure you want. Perhaps you reward yourself for a long day’s work with a supper of cakes, biscuits or crisps? Maybe that glass of wine or beer at the end of the day starts you snacking or maybe your mindset is one of trying to be good and then falling into the cycle of gorging and guilt when you fall off the wagon? Experts say one of the keys to suc-

Don’t crash diet

It’s so tempting but you only lose water and lean muscle rather than fat at first. Even worse, once the fat starts going, the sudden drop in levels of the hormone leptin can put your body into starvation mode. It will naturally respond by slowing the metabolism, increasing hunger and breaking down muscle for energy. As if that wasn’t demoralising enough, the body then tries not only to regain the fat you have lost, but also a bit extra in case, as it thinks, you run out of food again. This

I just ate less and moved more


Countdown to Christmas | 47

10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

cessful weight loss is to allow yourself the odd ‘cheat’ meal. Beating yourself up for a moment of weakness is a sure way to suffer repeat fails. For some people, food fills a vacuum created by negative emotions or plain old boredom. If you do find yourself digging into a tub of Phish Food ice-cream at bedtime, own it and move on. Every day is a new opportunity to start over.

Take the long view

Nutritionists say it’s much better to adopt a healthy lifestyle which will help you lose weight and keep it off. And while slimming down might be your prime motivator, achieving better health will be a welcome by-product. Many of us are so sedentary that even incorporating more movement into our day will help us shape up. If you are aged 19-64, you can slash your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes by up to 50% by doing at least half an hours’ moderate exercise – such as fast walking or cycling – five days a week as well as strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles.

Makes sense

There are lots of ways to go about meeting

your slimline goal but the most obvious – and sensible approach – is the George Clooney method. Having had to gain weight for his role in The Descendants, he was quick to lose it after filming finished. Asked what his secret was, he replied, laconically, “I just ate less and moved more.” His wife, Amal, is reported to have taken to a diet of fish and vegetables as well as a rigorous exercise regime to get back in shape after the birth of their twins, however, it’s as likely that she hasn’t had much time to eat or sleep. Well done to Amal though for refusing to go down the route of some sleep-deprived mums and getting by on chocolate biscuits.

Set targets

Being realistic about what you want to achieve and the timeframe to do it in is key to succeeding in feeling fab through the festive season and more importantly, through the ensuing months. The latest research vindicates slimming clubs – they are great for helping you stay motivated and there is all the emotional support you need for the tough times. Set workout goals that suit your fitness level to begin with; dedicating time for

George and Amal Clooney at a premiere last February. Their twins, Ella and Alexander were born this summer Photo, Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images exercise in your weekly routine will ensure you stay on track.

Get moving

There are lots of ways to get in shape, depending on your lifestyle and personal preferences. The easiest is probably to build more walking into your day to day

routine, and opting to take the stairs rather than the lift in work. Activity trackers have their fans and detractors but they can be very effective at prompting you to meet a healthy quota of steps every day. Some even link up with life insurance companies to give you rewards, like a free Starbucks coffee, if you meet the weekly target. Get along to a gym... You don’t necessarily need to sign up. Many council run leisure centres offer a free trial week so that you can sample lots of different exercises and choose one you like. If you do sign up for a gym, a personal trainer can tailor make a workout to suit you. Join a class... Choose from a gentle water based aerobics class to martial arts, kettlebells, Pilates, steps, weights, boxercise or any of the other options out there. Best foot forward... Join a dance class and you’ll have great fun and get fit without even noticing. There’s lots to choose from... ballroom, salsa, zumba, jiving, Irish, Scottish or belly dancing! Couch to 5K programme... To find one near you, visit activeni.org. Eat less, move more and before you know it, you’ll be shimmying into the new year, looking and feeling great!

Eat yourself healthy A diet works best if it’s going to lead to a healthy lifestyle long term...

WARM UP

STRETCHES

JUMPINGJACK

WHO GUIDELINES

SQUATS PRESS UP

ARMRAISE STEP UP

✱ eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day ✱ base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohhydrates – choosing wholegrain versions where possible ✱ have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) - choosing lower fat and lower sugar options ✱ eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins - including two portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily ✱ choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts ✱ drink 6-8 cups / glasses of fluid a day.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends: “Adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity.” That sounds daunting but it’s easier than you’d think when it’s broken down into bite-sized chunks. The moderate exercise amounts to just a half hour walk on five days a week. Walking the dog and going to a dance will have you hitting the mark. For the vigorous activity, you want to get your heart rate over 120 beats per minute. Try doing 10 repetitions each of these exercises for a basic all round work-out.


Prada L’Homme EDT, £68.50, Prada @ The Fragrance Shop

48 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017 Le Male EDT, £48.50, Jean Paul Gaultier @ The Fragrance Shop

Viva La Juicy Glace EDP, £50, Juicy Couture

Bamboo EDP, £63, Gucci @ The Fragrance Shop

Guilty Pour Homme EDT, £37.50, Gucci @ The Fragrance Shop

Eau des Jardins, £34, Clarins

Angel Muse EDP, £45, Mugler

Red Door EDT, £26, Elizabeth Arden

Note de Yuzu, 50ml, £90, Maison Kitsune + Heeley

Olim Eau de Parfum, £165, Cire Trudon

Lady Million EDP, £43.50, Paco Rabanne @ The Fragrance Shop

Just Pink EDP, £12, Next

Aesop Eau de Parfum, 50ml, £83, Hwyl

HAVE YOURSELF A fragrant Christmas Perfume is easily one of the most popular items to give loved ones at Christmas, but it can also be one of the most difficult gifts to get right. Most people will have scents that they are naturally drawn to – and equally are repelled by. That said, it’s a fairly safe bet to go down the musky route if buying for a man. Look out for vetiver, leather and sandalwood and you can’t go far wrong. For the woman in your life, it’s usually safe to opt for floral and citrusy smells. Look for ingredients such as orange blossom and rose. Of course, there is a grey area, not all women like floral scents, nor men like musky. With that in mind, here’s our pick of gorgeous scents for both sexes, and for all budgets. If you’re the sort to spritz before you buy, it’s worth noting that you should spray on the top of arms rather than wrists and clear your nose between testing by sniffing your skin or shirt. Happy Sniffmas!

Man of Today EDT, £79, Hugo Boss Classic EDT, £16, David Beckham @ The Fragrance Shop

Wanted EDT, £43, Azzaro

Only The Brave EDT, £57.50, Diesel @ The Fragrance Shop

Eau Dynamisante Spray, £90, Clarins

Collezione Nero EDT, £15, M&S

Heritage Gift Set EDT, £73, John Varvatos


50 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

YOURGUIDETOTHELATESTGO-TOGADGETS BY MATTGAULT

It’s that time again. Halloween is over, which means our attention instantly turns to Christmas. It seems that every year sees vast technological advancements and, unless you’re really tuned-in to the industry, it can easily pass you by. But the festive period represents the perfect opportunity to spoil a loved one by spending some of that hard-earned cash on a fancy new gadget. We’ve trawled through the hundreds of releases this year to spotlight some of the most exciting you didn’t know you needed.

 Amazon Echo Dot, £49.99 A smaller version of Amazon’s immensely popular ‘smart speaker,’ the Echo Dot is an enchanting little companion that does everything from playing music off Spotify to giving you the weather forecast for the week. It’s a hands-free, voice-controlled device that’s small and sleek enough to slip into any nook or cranny in your house. What’s not to love? In an era of ultra-advanced digital assistants, this little firecracker really stands out, at a very modest price, too.

 Xbox One X, £449.99 Welcome to the future of gaming. Officially the most powerful games console ever constructed, the surround sound bass is so intense, you might think your ceiling is about to cave in when you turn it on. Get past that, though, and you’ll marvel at the sheer power and innovation on display here. You’ll need a 4K TV to enjoy the full ex-

perience but, should you have one in your possession, the Xbox One X will satisfy your every gaming need. It’s more than four times faster than the Xbox One and, with titles such as Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Rise of the Tomb Raider to sink your teeth into, gaming this Christmas is going to be clearer, crisper and more immersive than ever.

 Fizzics Waytap, £123.25 Let’s face it: canned and bottled beer just doesn’t stack up to the refreshing texture of a freshly poured pint from a tap. The Fizzics Waytap takes the tastes of your favourite beers and makes them even more refreshing. The Waytap converts the beer’s natural carbonation into densely compacted bubbles, unlocking that unrivalled fresh-from-the-tap taste. Whether it’s an ale, stout, lager or an IPA, the battery-powered pressuring system enhances the flavour of standard bottled or canned beer and is the perfect gift idea for the pint aficionado in your life.


Countdown to Christmas | 51

10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

 SAMSUNG Gear S3 Classic,

£349.99

 INSTAX mini 9 Instant Camera, £69.99  Roku Streaming Stick, £39.99 Streaming has grown from being a hipster alternative to watching television to being the real deal. In an increasingly saturated streaming device market, the Roku Streaming Stick is a wondrously compact and effective option. Plugging right into a HDMI port, connecting the device to your TV opens up a world of entertainment channels, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Spotify and YouTube. And there’s an app. Of course there is. You’re able to control your entertainment from your smartphone with a free app and, with a fluid and remarkably simple interface, streaming just got a whole lot simpler, even for the most intense technophobe.

 Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger, £20

Smartphones are so good and so advanced these days, but they can’t bear our insatiable appetite for staring at them. The downside to being addictive and hyper-functional is that battery issues are unavoidable. Enter the rise of portable chargers. Barely the size of a deck of cards, the Anker PowerCore 10000 is one of the smallest, lightest and most efficient devices of this nature currently available. With high-speed charging, this delightful little bit of tech is the answer to your battery-sapping ways. And at just £20, it’s an absolute steal.

 Audio-Technica ATH-ANC33IS, £50

Getting a quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones on a budget can be a torturous process, but these buds from Audio Technica are your best bet. Featuring 90% noise reduction, they are a fantastic option, combining a sleek design with quality sound to give you a thoroughly luxurious listening experience.

This retro style camera lets you print out instant snaps, including of yourself, thanks to its selfie mirror and close-up lens. It uses Instax mini film, great for weddings or parties, and comes with 10 shots included.

 Nintendo Switch, £279.99 Super Mario Odyssey, £41.99 Fifa 18, £45.99

Nintendo Switch is proving a popular kid on the gaming block. This adaptable little games console not only connects to your TV but you can also use it as a handheld console using its 6.2-inch screen. Add a whole new level to gaming with HD rumble, Joy-Con controller’s haptic feedback. So realistic that you can shake your controller and it will feel like there’s ice cubes moving around inside a glass! Can be used with multiple Joy-Con controllers so everyone can join in. New releases for Switch this Christmas include Super Mario Odyssey and the ubiquitous Fifa 18.

Smart watches are getting smarter and better looking by the day - take this Samsung Gear S3 Classic. Not only does it look stylish, with its traditional watch display, it’s packed with features... You can use it for hands free calls and simply turn the bezel to open apps, search emails and adjust controls. With 4 GB of internal memory for storing music, you won’t need to keep your phone with you to stream songs to a Bluetooth headset. It has built in GPS and activity tracking, which includes a heart rate monitor.


52 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

CHOICEREADS

Looking for a great buy for a bookworm or for a captivating holiday read to snuggle down with? Maeve Richardson picks through the new releases to help you get started...

ing cops and robbers story with heart and soul about a father and son taking on the villainous Mr Big – and winning! Walliams is a masterful story teller and this richesto-rags story will have kids (and parents) howling with laughter.

 Uncommon Type: Some Stories by

Tom Hanks, £13.99 (hardback)

This beautifully written collection of 17 short stories shows the two-time Oscar-winner to be as skilled an author as he is an actor. His first foray into fiction includes tales of a woman adjusting to life in a new neighbourhood after a painful divorce, a surfer who stumbles across his father’s secret life, and a second-rate actor, who gets in over their head when they are plunged into sudden stardom and a whirlwind press junket. Whether you are a fan of the man himself or not, this collection of short stories is an enjoyable read, and perfect for those who do not have the time, attention span, or inclination to take on a hefty novel.

East Asia. It’s enough to send Amy – along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers – teetering over the edge. The Break is a story about the choices we make and how those choices help to make us.

nine counties of Ulster, from myths and mysteries to modern day complexities. The photographs demonstrate the amazing diversity of this small patch of land, from the awesome geology of the Giant’s Causeway to the waves that break on the soft sands of the Atlantic seaboard, from the murals of Belfast to the churches of Armagh and the ancient remains of Navan Fort, from the Fermanagh and Cavan lakelands to the Glens of Antrim and the Mourne Mountains.

 Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook:

Family Favourites with Perfect Results Every Time, £30 (Hardback)

This updated edition of Mary’s million-selling cookbook was rated No. 1 IndyBest Celebrity Cookbook for 2017. With over 650 recipes, each accompanied by beautiful photography to inspire your cooking, it covers soups, poultry, game, pies, desserts, cakes, and vegetarian favourites. Perfect for everyday cooks and Mary Berry fans alike.

 Home for Christmas by Alice Tay-

lor, £17.99 (hardback)  Only Fools and Stories by David

Jason, £13.99 (hardback)

The actor’s follow up autobiography tells us about the many other lives he has lived through his characters. From Del Boy to Granville, Pop Larkin to Frost, he takes us behind the scenes of these classic series and to explore the best loved acts of his career. In this heart-warming and witty read, David Jason reveals how these characters changed his life.

 The Break by Marian Keyes,

£14.99 (Hardback)

One of the best writers of women’s fiction around, Irish writer Marian Keyes is at her funny, poignant, wise and engaging best in this latest release. Amy’s husband Hugh has run away to ‘find himself ’ in South

This much loved Irish author looks back over her past Christmases and prepares for this year’s celebrations. With all the warmth of a winter fire, Alice takes us through the exciting preparation for Christmas from getting the perfect tree to baking those very crucial puddings and pies. Alice also give us a intimate insight into her Christmas Eve and Christmas Day rituals and talks us through her favourite Christmas recipes. She tells how the Christmas foods were made when she was a child, using the bastable and the range, and how she prepares them now.

 Ireland’s Beautiful North by

Dominic Kearney & Carsten Krieger, £11.99

A great coffee table adornment or a gift for an ex-pat relative, Ireland’s Beautiful North captures the beauty and many facets of the

 Stand by Me by Judi Curtin,

£10.99

Shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year (Senior) 2017, Stand By Me follows time travelling buddies Meg and Beth whom we first met in Time After Time. Curtin, often compared to Jacqueline Wilson, has won legions of young fans with her pacy and emotionally engaging stories. In Stand By Me, Molly and Beth discover that something happened long ago that was making their favourite uncle Graham sad. Since the girls know of a mysterious door that can take them back in time, trying to put things right for him is a no brainer!

 Bad Dad by David Walliams, illustrations by Tony Ross, £6.49 (Hardback)

Bad Dad is a fast and furious, heart-warm-

Available to pre-order

Get a start on the New Year resolutions with The Fat-Loss Plan: 100 Quick and Easy Recipes with Workouts by Joe Wicks, £8.49. It’s due out on December 26 and features 100 brand-new delicious recipes and speedy, effective workout. Prices from Waterstones.com


54 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

WORTHWATCHINGOUTFOR...

Maeve Richardson scans the new releases for cinema and home viewing as well as the movie classics no Christmas should be without...

Despicable Me 3

If you enjoyed the first two installments, then this is sure to make you giggle. Our villainturned-hero Gru decides to give up his life of crime and travel to Freedonia to meet his long-lost twin brother for the first time. The reunited brothers soon find themselves on a mission to take down the elusive Balthazar Bratt, a former Eighties child star who is seeking revenge against the world that tossed him aside.

Star Wars: Episode VIII

The Last Jedi looks to be the highlight of new releases this Christmas but you’ll have to trek to the cinema to see it. Guaranteed to draw audiences from every generation, this installment follows Rey as she develops her newly discovered abilities under the tutelage of Luke Skywalker, who is disturbed by the sheer strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to go into battle with the First Order.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

A year has passed since the events of the first film, and our streetsmart hero Eggsy (Taron Egerton) finds himself forced to save the world once again. After an attack on the Kingsmen headquarters, Eggsy joins forces with an American spy organisation known as Statesmen to take on the bad guys and save the day. Hollywood stars Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry join the original cast for this big-budget sequel.

It’s a Wonderful Life

If you’d rather just embrace the nostalgia of Christmas classics, then look no further. It’s a Wonderful Life is a classic for a reason, and encompasses the best elements of Christmas in a story of love, loss and redemption. George Bailey (James Stewart) wishes he had never been born, but when his wish comes true, he starts to realise how many lives he has changed for the better.

Elf

Will Ferrell stars as Buddy, who as a toddler was accidentally brought to the North Pole and raised as an elf. As an adult, he begins to notice he doesn’t quite fit in (literally) with the others in Santa’s workshop, and he learns the truth of his origin. Determined to find his real family, he travels to New York city (in full elf uniform) where he tries to win over his cynical businessman father with boundless enthusiasm and Christmas cheer, with predictably chaotic results.

Better Watch Out

The Man Who Invented Christmas

Looking for something more traditionally festive? The Man Who Invented Christmas tells the story of how Charles Dickens used real-life inspiration and a vivid imagination, to bring Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and other classic characters to life in A Christmas Carol, and charts how his work changed the festive season into the celebration it is known today.

This horror comedy follows Ashley as she travels to the suburban home of the Lerner family to babysit their 12-year-old son Luke at Christmas. However, she soon finds herself in a fight for survival when intruders enter the household. Desperate to protect her young charge, she is forced to rely on her instincts, but it’s not long before she realises that the true threat is far more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

NEW CINEMA RELEASES ✱ Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi ✱ The Man Who Invented Christmas

NEW DVD RELEASES ✱ Despicable Me 3 ✱ Better Watch Out ✱ Kingsman: The Golden Circle

If you can’t face the thoughts of leaving the house, the latest dvd releases include Despicable Me 3, Better Watch Out and Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

CLASSIC CHRISTMAS MOVIES ✱ Scrooged ✱ It’s a Wonderful Life ✱ Elf

Scrooged

Richard Donner’s reimagining of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, follows highflying TV exec Frank Cross (Bill Murray), who has lost the love of his life due to his cold ambition and selfish nature. A series of ghosts force him to begrudgingly re-evaluate his life choices and give him the chance to see the error of his ways.


56 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

Mangalore

TheMagicofMangalore I Christmas is a special time for romance and especially for anyone getting engaged. And while more couples than ever are choosing exotic locations to pop the question, when Maeve Richardson and her boyfriend Scott Longmate had the opportunity to go to India, she had no idea of the surprise that awaited her...

’ve never been particularly adventurous, and while I’ve visited places such as Amsterdam, Portugal and San Diego, I’d never been anywhere as exotic and otherworldly as India. My family’s initial reaction was pure envy, quickly followed by several requests to smuggle back an elephant, but it wasn’t long before the mundane task of organising flights, holiday visas and vaccinations hit home. Scott had been to India several times before, so it was great to go alongside a seasoned traveller who seemed to know what he was doing. Our route was rather convoluted, and involved travelling from Belfast to Heathrow with a six-hour stop-off in Mumbai, before we continued on to our destination Mangalore, an Arabian Sea port further down the coast from Goa. It was at Mumbai airport that I got my first taste of what lay ahead. The first thing that hits you is the heat, a dense layer of warmth that blankets you from head to toe. The second is the smell – exotic spices and sunshine combine and seep into your clothes so you take the fragrance with

you. While in Ireland, it’s common to see pigeons or maybe seagulls battling it out for supremacy, Mumbai (or as the locals still call it, Bombay) seems to be overrun by warring crows that are none too shy about landing on your table and helping themselves to lunch.

EASY DOES IT

Arriving in Mangalore, the volume of traffic is initially overwhelming, and as you travel into the city, you can observe people still painting road markings with cars, scooters and tuk-tuks, little motorised rickshaws, whizzing by them. The roundabouts appear to be optional, as are the road markings but I am assured that the smoothly finished roads are a far cry from the teeth-rattling standard of just three years ago. It soon becomes apparent that despite the seeming chaos, and the fact that there are a lot of road deaths in India, there’s not the all out carnage you might expect from this ‘system’ and I suspect this has to do with the culture. People go at their own pace and are very aware of what is going on around them. You don’t see people rushing, racing or stressing – on or off the

road – and the lack of interest in following anything as rigid as the rules of the road is offset by self awareness and common sense. It’s a crazy system that shouldn’t work, yet somehow it does, allowing entire families to balance on a single moped while they casually cruise through the narrow gaps of the bustling traffic.

DINING OUT

This ‘come what may’ attitude pervades the city, and even the staff of our plush five star hotel perform their duties expertly but with a relaxed air that conveys zero effort and implies that we have all the time in the world. Meals can last for many courses across several hours and are a communal affair; dishes are shared by all at the table so that every meal is a veritable feast of flavours and regional delicacies. Mangalore is known for its incredible seafood but there’s plenty on offer for meat-lovers too. As a big fan of both, I was surprised to find that the vegetarian dishes were soon becoming my favourite. Saag paneer became one of my staples, a classic Indian dish of cooked spinach studded with cubes of fried paneer cheese with an incredible velvety texture. Western influences can be seen in the


10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

Countdown to Christmas | 57 Someshwar Beach

This photo was taken at the moment Scott was asking Maeve to marry him

Sri Krishna Matha temple

Sandy beaches stretch for miles, with spectacular shells of all shapes and sizes littered throughout form of vast shopping malls and fast-food chains, but the streets are still lined with stalls selling fresh flowers to bring to Mangalore’s numerous Hindu temples.

A WHOLE NEW WORLD

Venturing further from the city, all signs of the west disappear as you enter the untamed beauty of the coast. Sandy beaches stretch for miles, with spectacular shells of all shapes and sizes littered throughout. Friends insisted we drive out to visit a sacred rock known as Rudra Shile on Someshwar Beach to watch the sunset. Not being the overly romantic types, we eventually let ourselves be convinced. The steps leading down to the rock were steep and a colourful array of boats were beached beside it. The rock was unexpectedly crowded, but as soon as we inched ourselves to the edge, everyone and everything else seemed to fall away, the noise vanished

and it felt like we had the whole world to ourselves. It was there he asked me to marry him, and after making sure he didn’t have sunstroke, I said yes. In the back of my mind I worried that Scott had just got caught up in the romance of the moment and let it sweep him away but he later confessed he had been looking at rings for months online, and frantically clearing his internet history to stop the ads popping up and giving the game away. That night we rang our families to tell them the big news. Scott spoke to my father to ask for his blessing, poor oul dad became very emotional and even shed a manly tear or two. Everyone was thrilled for us and buzzing with anticipation.

HOMECOMING

The trip home two days later was a blur of excitement. We had hoped to find a ring in India before we left, but our time was limited and we didn’t want to rush it. The return flight played out like a scene from a movie, with flight staff hearing our news and presenting us with complimentary champagne. We eventually arrived back in Belfast and rather than catch up on sleep, starting planning our route to go ring shopping. I found my ring in the very first place we went – which was rather appropriately next door to an Indian restaurant named Mumbai. India has so much to offer and I barely got a glimpse. We speak often about returning. The culture, places and people opened my eyes, heart and mind. It’s the place where our future became clear to us, our paths intertwined, and as he held my hand on that magical rock, I knew I never wanted him to let go.


58 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

Your guidetothe

Festive Season From winter wonderlands to a quirky circus, from festivals of music to Christmas fairs, Northern Ireland’s social diary looks set to be jam-packed in the run up to the festive season. Maureen Coleman finds out what’s on.

F

The Georgian Festival in Armagh

rom now until December 31, a host of events and activities will be taking place in towns and cities across Northern Ireland, whether it’s family fun, theatre, live music, comedy or Christmas craft fairs you’re interested in. Music fans of all genres are in for a treat over the coming few months with some of the biggest names in rock and pop staging preChristmas shows while festive choral and classical concerts will be held at numerous venues.

✸ Tomorrow night (November 11) sees the culmination of the Sound of Belfast festival, co-ordinated by the Oh Yeah Music Centre. Following a programme of live gigs, talks and conferences, the festival will wrap with the Northern Ireland Music Prize at the Mandela Hall, when local rock guitarist Vivian Campbell will be presented with the Oh Yeah Legend Award. ✸ Then later in the month, the live music action will move to the Causeway Coast, when the Atlantic Sessions get underway. From November 16 – 19, over 60 of Northern Ireland’s finest musicians

nominee and double Ivor Novello award winner Iain Archer, Ryan Vail, Malojian, VerseChorusVerse, Gerry Norman and Larks. For further information log onto atlanticsessions.com. ✸ Back in Belfast, the SSE Arena will play host to a range of top musical acts. Pop band Steps will play a double header at the venue on November 12 and 14, while Las Vegas indie four-piece The Killers will make a welcome return to the arena on November 17. Comeback kid James Arthur will then take to the stage on November

Steps have reunited for an Arena tour

Iain Archer (left) won an Ivor Novellow Award for the James Bay hit Hold Back the River. Catch him at the Atrantic Sessions will perform live in coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, music venues and bars across the four days. Visitors will have an opportunity to see high profile artists in an intimate setting, with the stunning Atlantic as a backdrop.

Each artist will play their own music for one hour and this will form a music trail across the resorts of Portstewart, Portrush and Portballintrae. Among the artists taking part in the four-day event will be Derry band PORTS, Grammy


Countdown to Christmas | 59

10 November 2017 | Belfast Telegraph The Coronas

captivate the audience with his recreations of Scrooge, Marley and many more. ✸ Cinema-goers will have plenty to choose from too. From November 17 to 26, the Foyle Film Festival, renowned for attracting high profile names such as Cillian Murphy, Sam Shepherd, Kenneth Branagh and Danny Boyle, will take place in Derry, celebrating independent films, acclaimed feature length movies, documentaries and short films. And Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without the screening of everyone’s festive favourite It’s A Wonderful Life at the QFT in Belfast. The Frank Capra classic starring James Stewart as despairing business man George Bailey runs from December 8 to 23. Don’t forget to pack your tissues.

20 while it’s the turn of Queen and Adam Lambert on November 26. Dutch violinist and conductor Andre Rieu will then bring his Christmas show to the SSE Arena on December 10. ✸ At the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, the Ulster Orchestra’s 2017/2018 season continues with a number of shows, including Sibelius’s Violin Concerto on December 1 and the Snowman Family Concert on December 2. ✸ Lined up to play the Ulster Hall over the coming weeks are music icon Nelly (November 22), Paul Brady (November 23), Wolf Alice on November 27, the legendary rocker Robert Plant on December 2 and The Coronas (December 21). Divine Comedy will also play the Ulster Hall on December 7, preceded by a gig at the Millennium Forum in Derry on December 6. And Co Derry songbird Cara Dillon takes her Christmas show on the road with gigs at the Marketplace Theatre, Armagh, on December 14, Millennum Forum, Derry on December 16 and the Ulster Hall, Belfast on December 17. ✸ For fans of classical or easy listening, crooner Aled Jones will be playing the Ulster Hall on November 30, while Russell Watson will be at the Waterfront Hall on December 6. On December 1, to round off their 25th anniversary, Open Arts will hold a special evening of festive songs with their Community Choir by Candlelight event while on December 12, The Priests will be providing some seasonal cheer at the Everglades Hotel in Derry. ✸ The Elvis Spectacular show, starring 2012 European Elvis champion Ciaran Houlihan, will appear in a number of venues including Mellon Country Inn, Omagh, on November 10, the Thunderdome, Glengormley, on November 24 and December 9 at Shorts Social Club. ✸ Lovers of good food and wine will also have a few treats in store with the BBC Good Food Show, featuring Michel Roux and Nadiya Hussain, cooking live at the Waterfront Hall from November 10 to 12 and the 18th Belfast Beer & Cider Festival at the Ulster Hall from November 16 to 18, featuring over 100 real ales and ciders from local and UK breweries. And of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without the Continental Market at the City Hall, which will open on November 18 – coinciding with the Belfast Christmas Lights Switch On and run right up until December 23. Find an exciting selection of hand-painted pottery, food, festive arts and

crafts from across Europe and beyond. From November 11 to 19, the second Causeway Coast and Glens Restaurant Week gets underway. This nine-day culinary celebration will showcase the vibrant restaurant scene across the entire Causeway Coast and Glens area. With a growing reputation for food experiences, enjoy themed nights, food tours and taster menus, using the very best of fresh local and seasonal produce, complemented by fine wines and artisan ales. From Limavady to Ballycastle, from Ballintoy to Bushmills, and from Portrush to Portballintrae; there is a restaurant ready to welcome you and offer you a memorable dining experience. To find out more check out www.visitcausewaycoastandglens.com/ restaurantweek ✸ If it’s entertainment of a quirky kind you’re after, those wonderful, wacky folks down at Tumble Circus are back again. Following on from the success of the 2016 event, this festive season promises to delight and amaze Belfast audiences with the launch of the thrilling Winter Circus shows in Writers Square, Belfast. The Tumble Circus troop will treat families to a stunning display of modern, high skilled acts, including acrobats, aerialists and jugglers. The shows will run between December 8 and 27 and the good news is there’s a fully heated Tumble Circus big top tent. ✸ But before the circus rolls into town, the ever-popular Lady Boys of Bangkok will be back in Belfast from November 4 to 18. The country’s number one touring cabaret show returns with its lavish new production, Who Runs The World, combining the seductiveness of Hollywood and the stylish glitz of Las Vegas. Don a party dress and paint those pouts and enjoy one of the best girls’ nights out. ✸ If literary interests are more your thing, the CS Lewis Festival will run from November 18 to 22, celebrating the great works of the east Belfast-born writer. The Festival will mark his legacy through themes of storytelling, imagination and spirituality with events including talks, lectures and tours, exhibitions, workshops, theatre, poetry and spoken word events and film screenings. ✸ Meanwhile, on December 14, the Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas Tale will be brought to life at the Seamus Heaney HomePlace, Bellaghy. Olivier Awardwinning actor, Guy Masterson, star of many solo works such as Under Milk Wood and Animal Farm, will enthrall and

✸ Keeping with the movie theme, Dreamworks Animation In Concert on November 28 will be a special one night only event, featuring music and iconic movie moments from films such as Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon and many more. The concert, at the SSE Arena, features favourite moments from DreamWorks Animation’s most beloved films with music performed by The RTE Orchestra. ✸ Armagh’s much loved Georgian Festival returns on November 23 to mark the beginning of the festive season. The festival includes the Georgian Banquet, when guests can travel through time to Georgian Armagh, where an evening like no others awaits you at the Archbishop’s Palace. Festive market stalls hosted by traders in traditional costume will offer high quality gifts and local produced food and drink. And the Children’s Christmas Market will also return as well as horse and carriage rides, live music, talks and tours. ✸ The festive period is not complete without a visit to the beautiful National Trust’s The Argory for its Christmas Fair, on December 2 and 3. The fair features a number of craft, food and drink stalls, as well as traditional festive entertainment. And for the children, the Argory’s Magical Kingdom is a perfect day out, including an enchanting train journey and some festive singing. ✸ For lovers of sports, Carl Frampton will face Mexico’s Horacio Garcia in a 10 round Featherweight contest on his highlyanticipated Belfast homecoming at the SSE Arena on Saturday, November 18. On the same bill, Jamie Conlan will be challenging Filipino Jerwin Ancajas for the IBF World Super-Flyweight belt.

Carl Frampton will be in action at the SSE Arena

✸ Then on December 1 and 2, history will be made when college basketball will be played outside of the US for the first time, at Belfast’s SSE Arena. The two-day tournament will feature Holy Cross v Manhattan College and La Salle University v Towson University, followed by consolation and championship play on the second day. ✸ There’ll be plenty of carol concerts taking place too across Northern Ireland, but a stand-out event is the Carol Ship on Strangford Lough, on December 1–2, featuring twinkly lights, carols and a great setting on Strangford Lough. The Strangford Ferry will be decorated with Christmas lights and choirs and musicians will perform on each sailing. There will also be Christmas markets in Portaferry and Strangford and children’s entertainment in both villages. ✸ Theatre wise, you’ll be spoiled for choice with a wide range of comedy capers, musicals and dramas going on in venues all over Northern Ireland. At the Lyric Theatre, prepare to be dazzled by the timeless tale of Beauty and The Beast, set to an enchanting score. Running from December 6 to January 7, this is a magical story for audiences of all ages. ✸ Keeping with the magical theme, the Millenium Forum in Derry will play host to a wondrous story of a giant beanstalk, magic beans and a goose that lays golden eggs. Oh yes, it’s panto time again (oh no, it’s not!) as Jack and the Beanstalk gets underway on December 1 and runs until December 31. Telling the story of peasant boy Jack and his attempts to please his impoverished mother and win the hand of Princess Jill, Jack and the Beanstalk remains one of the best-loved pantomimes of all time.

It’s Panto season! Oh yes it is!

✸ It’s also panto time at the SSE Arena, Belfast where the audience will be transported to Old Peking to meet old widow Twanky and her poor son Aladdin in Northern Ireland’s newest and biggest Christmas show, The Spectacular Aladdin. Starring Welsh singer Rhydian, the panto will run for a number of shows throughout December. ✸ And at the Grand Opera House in Belfast, the inimitable May McFettridge is back in this year’s festive extravaganza Peter Pan. This unmissable show, which runs from December 2 to January 14 – is sure to be a highlight of the Christmas calendar, featuring a wealth of comedy, stunning sets and costumes and some spectacular. Sit back and enjoy. *To find out more about events coming up over the festive season, log onto www.discovernorthernireland.com.


60 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

Unique nights out and gift ideas with the

Ulster Orchestra

Fancy trying something different this festive season? Stuck for a unique gift for someone special? The Ulster Orchestra has the solution...

I love Christmas!, the new Festive series of concerts at Belfast Waterfront, offers something for everyone. The unmissable Snowman family concert on December 2, which features the Orchestra playing to this big-screen version along with the

popular family sing-a-long section, has become a family tradition for many. And this year, there are special pre-concert appearances by Peppa Pig and Olaf as well as face-painting and balloon modelling so make sure you get there early.

Enjoy a traditional Christmas with Handel’s Messiah, one of the bestloved choral masterpieces ever written. Beautifully performed by four established soloists and the Belfast Philharmonic Choir at the Waterfront Hall on December 8.

Thursday, December 21, offers a new, exciting seasonal spectacular, The Magic of Christmas. Featuring acclaimed West End star Anna-Jane Casey and all your Christmas favourites including Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and O Holy Night, this will certainly get you in the festive mood! And for something to look forward to once the Christmas tree is packed away, why not waltz into the New Year with a glittering tribute to Vienna and Strauss on January 5–6.

And that’s not all! Why not treat yourself or someone else to one of the Orchestra’s exciting Pops concerts in 2018. Enjoy the ultimate Burns Night celebration on January 27 with the Orchestra, traditional music favourites Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain along with dancing, singing, pipes and poetry. Fans of West End and Broadway musicals will love this wonderful tribute by the Orchestra and West End stars on February 17 and ABBA fans won’t want to miss a unique night dedicated to this legendary group featuring star singers from Capitol Voices, an optional 1970s themed after show disco and champagne reception, plus the Orchestra dressed in full-on ‘70s attire! What’s not to love? Head to www. ulsterorchestra.org.uk or contact 028 9033 4455 to book your tickets now.

HASTINGSHOTELSHASTHEPERFECTCHRISTMASWRAPPEDUP

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s the season for giving approaches and thoughts of stressful shopping trips spring to mind, the Hastings Hotels Group will help take the strain out of your Christmas shopping with a wide choice of fabulous Gift Cards and Vouchers available, which will solve all your Christmas present worries in no time at all! The versatile new gift cards can be used towards granting Christmas wishes all year round in any of the six luxurious hotels in Northern Ireland’s leading hotel group. The Gift Cards are redeemable at any one of the six hotels, in the two magnificent spas, in any of the restaurants and the new Grand Central Hotel which is opening summer 2018. A Gift Card from Hastings Hotels is the ideal gift for family and friends this Christmas, so they can choose the perfect present for themselves, be it a special night out, a luxury weekend, an afternoon tea, a spa treatment or even a round of drinks at the bar! Every budget is catered for, with cards available from £10 to much, much more! During the month of November, Hastings has a very special offer to get your Christmas shopping off to a great start. For every £100 of Gift Cards you buy during before the end of November, you will receive a £10 card for yourself to spend in any of the hotels. So what are you waiting for? To purchase Hastings Gift Cards visit www. hastingshotels.com or contact Head Office on 028 9047 1066.


62 | Countdown to Christmas

Belfast Telegraph | 10 November 2017

Stormy reminder that winter’s on its way

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hanks to that stormy twosome Ophelia and Brian, householders have had a timely reminder of the need to get their homes in shape if they want to stay warm and cosy this winter. That means repairing or replacing anything that leaks or is loose and dealing with draughts. Simple steps can cut down on chill winds whistling through the house – fill in gaps or holes, put draught excluders along the bottoms of doors and pull your curtains shut as soon as the sun goes down and you should see a difference. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a professional draught-proofing job could cost between £85 and £275 for materials and professional installation for your whole house. DIY draught-proofing can be much cheaper. Draught-proofing windows and doors could save you around £20 a year and can make your home a more comfortable place to live. While draught-proofing keeps cold air out, you can also keep the warm air in by installing or improving on your insulation. Experts estimate that we waste 35% of heat generated by letting it escape through the walls while a further 25% can be lost

through the roof, 25% from windows and doors and 15% through the floor. Ideally, you’ll want both your roofspace and cavity walls insulated but if your budget doesn’t stretch to both, getting the roofspace done is less expensive. There are lots of schemes and grants to help people get this essential in order and it will reduce your heating bill significantly. Insulating your hot water pipes is a quick and easy way to save energy and prevents pipes bursting in a prolonged cold snap. Pipe insulation is an easy DIY install – you can buy foam insulation tubes online or from a DIY store and slip them over your pipes. The Energy Saving Trust reckons that for a typical house, materials cost around £20, and you’ll save around

£5 a year on your energy bills, as well as reducing the likelihood of expensive repair bills from burst pipes. Modern boilers are more efficient than older models. If your boiler is more than 10 years old it will be far less efficient than a newer model; consider replacing it with a more efficient condensing boiler – fuel bill savings could be between £150 and £185. Have a look at The Energy Saving Trust website www.energysavingtrust.org.uk or phone its partner charity Bryson Energy on 0800 1422 865 for up to date advice on grants and support, as well as boiler replacement schemes. Householders on a low income in Northern Ireland can also get help with draught-proofing or replacing windows which are below standard, through the

Affordable Warmth Scheme.

For further information call 0300 200 7874 or visit www.nidirect.gov.uk.

FACTFILE

Research carried out for the Energy Saving Trust found that 42% of NI householders avoid switching on the heating during the colder spells because of worries about energy bills. The survey, for Energy Saving Week, found that 65% put on a warm jumper indoors, and 42% snuggle under a blanket. Only 15% have already draught-proofed their home for winter and only 7% intend to draught-proof. Only 29% bleed radiators to prevent cold spots. 1/3 of people have not had their heating system serviced in the last year.

GRANTAWARDEDULTIMATECONSUMER ENDORSEMENTFOROILBOILERRANGE

Leading heating technology manufacturer, Grant Engineering, has been awarded a Which? Best Buy 2017 accolade for its entire range of 63 Grant Vortex condensing oil fired boilers. In its recently published 2017 boiler review results, the UK’s largest independent consumer body, announced Grant as the only manufacturer to receive an Oil Boiler Which? Best Buy this year for its range of awardwinning Vortex condensing oil fired boilers – resulting in an impressive 63 Which? Best Buys for the brand! Grant Founder, Stephen Grant (pictured) commented: “Receiving this accolade from one of the UK’s leading consumer organisations is a fantastic achievement and is certainly a testament to our range of Vortex condensing oil boilers which are not only efficient, reliable and convenient, but also user and installer friendly. Furthermore, to be the only manufacturer to receive this recognition speaks volumes about the high quality of our products and our place at the forefront of the boiler market in both Ireland and the UK.” The Grant Vortex Boiler range offers variety and versatility with its extensive assortment of models and is designed to fully meet the needs of both homeowners and installers alike. With its impressive efficiency ratings the Vortex range can help homeowners reduce their annual fuel bills. Meanwhile, the

tailored range gives installers the great flexibility and choice required to assist customers with their home heating needs. For almost 40 years Grant has been spearheading innovative home heating solutions across the UK and Ireland with its dedication to produce high-quality, efficient and reliable heating products. This is further reinforced with the latest recognition from Which? combined with the Energy and Utilities Alliance statistics which announced Grant oil boilers as the number one selling model in 2016. “To have achieved this award for home heating appliances in one of Europe’s largest markets gives great pride to everyone involved in Grant,” added Stephen Grant. For more details please visit www.grant.eu


Countdown To Christmas 2017  
Countdown To Christmas 2017  
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