2 | Family Life
4 Make moments they’ll remember
6-7 When love means giving your fiancee the gift of life 8 The best of times – Tara Mills and Pete Snodden on family memories 10-12 Meat matters - luscious lamb and beef dishes from the LMC 14 The 50s are the new 40s! 16-17 Young mum Kirsty struggled for two years after traumatic labour
18 Have your say on the new childcare strategy
28-29 Mind the gap – how one woman’s dream trip went wrong 30-31 ‘Tis the season of mists and mellow weekends away...
20-23 A peek at the latest home interior trends
32-33 Food unwrapped with Centra
24-25 Would you buy alcohol for your teen?
34-35 Get support for your loved ones with Age NI
26-27 Counting the cost of a university education
36 Win a family break at the Hillgrove Hotel!
37-41 Fashion forward for autumn/ winter 2015 42-43 How siblings can be best friends for life 44-45 Playing your cards right might mean getting financial advice. Did you know you have the Power to Switch? 46-48 Books, movies, entertainment… 50-51 Fun gizmos and gadgets Published by Belfast Telegraph 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast, Co. Antrim. BT1 1EB ADVERTISING Jackie Reid, Senior Advertising Manager Belfast Telegraph firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR Fiona Rutherford Realtime Editing & Design NI Ltd email@example.com CONTRIBUTORS Rebecca Petticrew, Paul Connolly, Ciara Lawn, Claire Craig & Claire McAuley DESIGN Robert Armstrong INM Design Studio, Belfast PRINTING INM, Newry
52-53 Safety first behind the wheel. Introducing the award-winning Volvo XC90 54-55 Find the next step in your career with Recruit NI 56-57 Get fit for life! 58 Paula McIntyre cooks with SPAR 59 All things being equine… animal mad families
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Welcome back! This 2nd edition of Family Life, the
Belfast Telegraph’s new magazine, brings you lots more stories of love and life as well as fun, facts and features…
very now and then we hear a story of human sacrifice which stops us in our tracks. Add romantic love into the mix and it’s enough to make the flintiest eye well up. Enter Kevin and Leanne Simpson, who exchanged their wedding vows a week before he saved her life by donating one of his kidneys. Keeping the focus on close family relationships, a young couple share their struggles to adapt after their first child came along and how their second child has brought healing to their family. TV and radio personalities Tara Mills and Pete Snodden give us a glimpse into their family lives, both when growing up and as parents themselves. We have tips on creating quality time with your children as well as features on the impact of sibling relationships - they last from the cradle to the grave after all - while one young writer tells us how despite being opposites in every way, she couldn’t imagine life without her sister. We look at the shifting demographic which has people feeling young well past their 50s and one active 60 year old shares how there’s nothing better to soothe the stress of a busy day running a company than a big hug from her grandchildren. More people than ever are working from home, or launching a business from their living room and we check out the pros and cons for anyone considering that option. In our baby section, we bring you more detail on the new campaign to get women to take folic acid, whether or not they want to start a family – did you know that being overweight or having a medical condition such as diabetes means you need a higher dosage? We also look at the ongoing consultation on Northern Ireland’s new childcare strategy and tell you how to have your say. Parents – do you know how to talk to your teenagers about drink and drugs? What age should you start? Would you buy alcohol for your under 18s? We talk to one mum who is proud to say that she does. Our education pages focus on the upcoming AQE and GL transfer tests and ways to support your child through them. We also look at the pros and cons of going to university. With many graduates struggling to find jobs in their chosen fields, some question whether it was worth getting a degree at all. For anyone still considering their options, it is clear that STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) are the way to go.
Sticking with students, one graduate cautions against heading off on a gap year without taking sensible precautions first after her solo adventures in Malaysia turned sour. Family life tends to happen around the kitchen table and these pages are no different, with lots of foodie goodies from our main sponsor Centra. We also have delicious, warming beef and lamb recipes from the Livestock and Meat Commission while chef Paula McIntyre teams up with SPAR to give us tasty recipes for healthy treats. If you fancy a break from the cooking, why not enter our competition to win a family break at the fabulous 4 star Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan? Consistently voted Ireland’s best hotel for families, it has everything you need for a fun and relaxing autumn break. Check out our fashion pages for men, women and children and the whole family will be looking their best this season while Katherin Farries, personal stylist at Victoria Square, shares her top style tips. We have features on how Recruit NI can help you if you are seeking to return to the job market as well as what to do if you overspent on your credit cards taking the family away this summer. Fitness guru Adam Kelly urges everyone to get fit for life with a few simple exercises while Paul Connolly gives updates on the latest developments in car safety. We also bring you the latest home interior trends, gadgets, best books for adult and young readers and the lowdown on events you don’t want to miss, beginning with Culture Night! See you in December for the Christmas edition of Family Life.
For more information on our Christmas edition of Family Life, please contact Family Life Manager, Jackie Reid on 028 9055 4685, email firstname.lastname@example.org
4 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Whenit comestotime, quality counts
BY REBECCA PETTICREW
odern day parents in Western culture don’t have it easy in many respects. Whilst we may be fortunate enough to live in an age of fabulous medical care, have access to the latest time-saving household gadgets and are repeatedly assured we can have it all, trying to fit work, home and family life into the 24 allotted hours in a day can seem like an impossible task. As the nature of children’s play has changed – fewer children are playing together outdoors, instead spending time indoors, alone, on screens – there’s an increasing amount of pressure on parents to be their children’s playmate as well as parent. In addition, a greater proportion of mothers now work outside the home, reducing the number of hours they are available to their children. So, for many,
Whether at play or relaxing, the Evanses enjoy spending time together in their camper van
Quickand easyways tomake moments thatmatter 1. Eat dinner together
Getting time at the end of a day to sit down together and talk about the ups and downs of the day is a great way to promote togetherness and keep the channels of communication open within a family. Creating the family ‘routine’ of eating together has been shown to provide children with a sense of family identity and security which has a positive effect on their emotional wellbeing.
the results of a new study from Maryland University which states the hours parents spend with their children is not as important as the engagement during that time, will be greeted with a sigh of relief. The study of 1,600 children (aged 3-11) and 778 adolescents (aged 12-17) measured parent-child time in two ways; accessible time (when the parent was physically available to their child) and engaged time (when the parent and child are doing something together). The aim was to determine the effects of each category of time on the subjects’ emotional, behavioural and academic growth, and ultimately on the likelihood of risky behaviour in adolescence.
HIT THE ROAD
So with quality, not quantity in mind, how do we go about creating meaningful time together? It’s a question which was at the heart of one Belfast couple’s decision to buy a VW camper van and hit the road. Robbie and Christina Evans have two daughters, Madeleine (9) and Eleanor (7). They have spent the last year making the most of their free time exploring Northern Ireland, and beyond, from the cosy confines of their camper. Christina explains the decision behind their purchase: “I’ve always felt it’s really important for families to spend time together but we do sometimes find that it’s difficult to carve out time between work, school, homework and after school activities. Even things like eating dinner as a family every night can be tricky as Robbie works shifts, so we’ve always
Christina Evans with her daughters Madeleine and Eleanor worked extra hard to make time together at weekends count. “We all like to spend time outdoors and had spent some great family holidays camping. Both Robbie and I noticed that the girls played together happily and it was far easier for us to get involved in games and fun with them when we were away from all of the pressures of the house – but it wasn’t really practical for us to pack up the tent and car and set up camp every weekend, especially when the weather isn’t great. “We had often looked at campers and fantasised about owning one and it was when we realised we only had a few years before Madeleine became less keen on
weekends away with her parents that we decided to go for it.” It’s a purchase the whole family are still delighting in, the girls as keen as their parents to pack up the camper and head off on an adventure, says Christina. “We use it for day trips which are fun even in bad weather as we have a base where we can be dry and warm for lunch or for a warming cup of coffee. And weekends away when there is no TV or screens to distract us means we spend time together playing cards, or football or on the beach far more then we do when we stay at home. I would recommend it to everyone – it’s a fantastically enjoyable way to spend time with the children.”
3. Create your own family traditions
Whether it’s carving pumpins together for Hallowe’en or watching a christmas movie in your pyjamas on Christmas Eve, creating family traditions or rituals promotes a strong bond within families and gives children a sense of belonging and security.
4. Play their games
X Play a game 2. Read together
Taking some time to read together not only improves a child’s academic ability, it also provides them with a chance to feel close to you without having to have a conversation – which can be particularly useful when there has been conflict. It also allows a child the opportunity to initiate conversation with you, giving them the space to discuss anything which is on their mind.
Allow the child to dictate how and what they want to play. Give them your undivided attention for a specific period of time and you’ll all be recouping the benefit for days. In a world which often seems beyond their control, giving children the opportunity to control their play can work wonders for their self-esteem, frustration tolerance and helps them feel valued and respected within the family.
5. Get outside
Take a walk, head for the park, hit the beach, whatever you do, it’s much easier to focus on simply being together without the distractions of household chores, screens or any of the other detritus of daily life.
Enjoy a good read
6 | Family Life
Whenlove meansgiving someonethe giftoflife...
BY CIARA LAWN
overs often claim: ‘I can’t live without you, I’d do anything for you if it meant we could be together’. But how would these declarations hold up if put to the test? It is not often one finds oneself in the position where they can literally save the life of the person they love but when Leanne McCoubrie’s health began deteriorating several years ago, her then fiance, Kevin Simpson did not hesitate to offer to donate his kidney to save her life. Leanne has suffered from a rare kidney disease, mesangiocapillary glomerulonephritis for most of her life. “I went into hospital with a collapsed lung when I was 5 and they found protein in my water,” she explains. “They sent me for a biopsy and I was diagnosed when I was seven. They tried steroids then but all my hair fell out so they took me off them and brought me back to clinic regularly to check how the disease was progressing. I just muddled through. my school years” Leanne succeeded in living a fairly normal life, under close medical attention, until she had her daughters Justyne and Jessica, both now in their 20s. “The pressures of pregnancy on my kidneys was too much but I wanted children and I was willing to pay the price,” she says. “After my second child was born my weight fell to six and a half stone, I couldn’t eat properly for seven years and the only thing that kept me going was my girls.”
RUSHED TO HOSPITAL
Disaster struck in 1998 when Leanne’s kidneys failed completely. She was rushed into hospital and put on dialysis straight away – a treatment which was to become a way of life for over three years until the line in her neck stopped working. She recalls waiting to be admitted to get the line replaced: “The doctor went to try and find me a bed but came back with the most beautiful words I have ever heard — ‘We have found you a kidney’. “I went through surgery the next day
although I was so nervous I felt like running away. It changed my life completely. I didn’t get and never did get the full of energy feeling that others got but I was free from those awful machines. I had my life back.” Leanne’s first marriage ended shortly after that and she and Kevin met in 2008 through an online dating site. When Family Life met them in their Bangor home, it was easy to see how two such friendly, goodhumoured individuals would quickly bond. She recalls: “It was weird because I hated those sites, but one of my friends said to do it for a laugh because I was always in the house with the kids.”
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Leanne and Kevin on their wedding day, a week before the transplant surgery which was made possible by the live donor scheme, was a no-brainer: “I just thought I’ll put myself forward as she could have been on the waiting list for ages.”
Their romance blossomed and eventually Leanne moved to Derbyshire to be with Kevin who worked as a production supervisor at a pharmaceutical company, the girls opting to stay in Northern Ireland with their dad. Kevin has two daughters as well — Rebecca and Chloe, who have children of their own.
I THOUGHT HE WAS JOKING. YOU DON’T JUST OFFER YOUR KIDNEY TO SOMEONE. I WAS REALLY SHOCKED.
However, in 2010, Leanne’s transplanted kidney began to deteriorate. Leanne decided to set up a Facebook page ‘My transplant journey’ as a way of keeping her family and many friends up to date with what was happening as well as to encourage other people going through similar ordeals. As the transplant deteriorated more the couple moved back to Northern Ireland in 2012. When Leanne’s renal consultant said finding a vein for haemodialysis was not feasible and trying to dialyse through a tube in her stomach would be challenging she was amazed to hear Kevin ask if he could be tested to see if he was a match for a kidney: “I thought he was joking,” laughs Leanne. “You don’t just offer your kidney to someone. I was really shocked.” Kevin, however, says the decision,
Two weeks after extensive tests, including ECGs, X-rays, ultrasound scans, CT scans and blood tests, the results came back with the life-changing news that Kevin was a compatible donor. By then Leanne’s kidney function had dropped to 17%. She posted online: “We have the same compatibility as a brother/ sister or parent/child. Can hardly believe it... Chances of a match were pretty low with not being related.” Plans were made to perform the transplant in January 2014 and Kevin and Leanne decided it was time to get married. “We had wanted to get married but we kept putting it off,” says Leanne. “We were living in England and my family was over here and we couldn’t get them all over there and then when we moved back it was the same for Kevin — his family were in England. Whenever they said my kidney was failing we thought, we’d better do this.” The wedding was arranged for December 10 but in November, a doctor informed them that they could perform the transplant on December 9.
It took them a few minutes to make the decision to go for the earlier transplant date and they succeeded in getting their wedding, at Bangor Castle, moved to December 2. “They were very good and opened the venue specially for us,” said Leanne. With Leanne in very poor health the wedding was a small affair although their choice of song, Ellie Goulding’s How Long Will I Love You, took on added significance given the circumstances.
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Family Life | 7
MyTransplant Journey December 24, 2013
Leanne with her daughters Jessica (left) and Justyne several visits to hospital right through until June and which could potentially have implications for the kidney. Kevin says: “She copes with everything very well. If I had half her problems I would be looking for the highest cliff. But despite everything the kidney is doing well and she copes with everything that’s thrown at her.” Recently Leanne has discovered she has a flair for crafts and has begun creating pebble pictures and beautiful painted stones to keep her occupied while Kevin is at work as well as to deal with the stress of her illness. Kevin put his career on hold in moving to Northern Ireland, taking casual jobs in nursing homes and call centres as he knew that he would need significant time off for the transplant. Now that it has been successful, he is back in his niche working for Almac in Craigavon. He says he does not feel any different as a result of having one less kidney.
The happy couple enjoying life together That evening, they celebrated with dinner at The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn, with Leanne’s daughters. The following Monday, Kevin and Leanne entered the hospital for the transplant procedures. “I’d never had an operation before so I didn’t know what to expect,” says Kevin. “I was surprised that no nerves kicked in or anything, even going down to the operation theatre I was still having a joke.”
Leanne was told by her surgeon that he didn’t expect her new kidney to kick in for a week or so “but as soon as he connected it, it starting working straight away,” she says.
At present, the kidney is functioning properly, and although Leanne is much better than before, she still suffers frequent setbacks. The kidney started to reject after the first week but was saved by a huge dose of steroid through a drip. She had a cancer scare at Christmas due to long-term use of Cell-cept (ant-rejection medication). The steroids and medications cause unpleasant side effects. “It’s a catch-22,” she says. “The anti-rejection drug that can cause cancer has been reduced to miminize any more cancer scares. With any of the drugs, the longer you are on them, the greater your chances are of getting problems.” In November 2014 she ended up in hospital with complications which required
Leanne, on the other hand, has a new found love for kebabs. One of the quirks of organ transplants is that the organs are believed to hold a cell memory. “Before the first transplant, I didn’t like pickled onions but afterwards I got a craving for them.” Kevin says: “When I heard about that I thought this will be great because I love curries and kebabs and spicy things and Leanne didn’t, but sure enough, she has now begun eating kebabs.” “I’d never even tasted a kebab,” laughs Leanne. She also jokes that Kevin’s kidney held some of his OCD as she can’t stand any item out of place in their home any more. Leanne and Kevin talk openly and laugh
LEANNE SIMPSON: And so it is Christmas Eve, I am having my 5th and final dose of steroid through the drip. As the last few drops go through I can’t help but feel quite emotional as I really realise what my family, friends and I have come through the last lot of months. I think of those who haven’t made the journey or who are still struggling waiting for that life changing gift. I am not a religious person who goes to church every week but I have strong faith and beliefs that are very similar. I have so much to be thankful for this Christmas. I have an amazing support network through my family and friends who have pulled me up through the last couple of years when I have been at my lowest. I still talk to people who think once you go onto dialysis or have a transplant that you are cured. This isn’t so, they are only treatment options to extend your life a little more. I am extremely grateful to my wonderful husband who has given me the best Christmas present ever and in return he has got his best Christmas present ever! I am thankful to the renal team in Belfast City Hospital for their skill and compassion in making the transplant a success when at first it was thought it may not take for a while. I am more than thankful to actually still be here to be able to see and talk to my husband, daughters, stepdaughters, family and friends. If I could ask one thing, could you stop and take a breath and look around you, just realise what you actually have. Spend time with those who mean the most to you. Christmas isn’t about presents you buy each other, Christmas is about what gifts you can give each other that cost nothing but yet are priceless to those who receive them. I wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas. Then when things are back to normal go down and join the organ donor register.
about the entire experience and their unbelievable positivity probably played a large part in the success of the transplant. This story contains no empty claims of impassioned love. It was a very real situation that two people found themselves in and through his actions, Kevin proved that he really would do anything if it meant saving Leanne’s life. In brief, as in the words of their wedding song ... “How long will I give to you As long as I live through you However long you say. How long will I love you As long as stars are above you And longer if I may.”
8 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Thebestoftimes Some of our favourite people in the public eye share their memories of special family times…
it to the rest of the family a bit later there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. My other favourite memory was finding my daughter googling ‘how to get freeze powers’ during her obsession with the film Frozen.
Best family holiday
We’re something of a jinx when it comes to family holidays! I’ve had the flu in Edinburgh, seven days of torrential rain in Mallorca and a holiday so hot we couldn’t take the children out of the house when they were tiny. Thankfully this year we had a fantastic time in Malin Head. It was a complete escape and truly magical. Another very special holiday was when my dad took us to Cyprus when he retired from teaching. It was the first family holiday we’d been on in quite a while as my sister, brother and I were all in our 20s and had left home by then. It’s even more precious to me now as my brother is no longer with us. I remember the laughter every day and some of the hilarious expressions my mum coined which we still quote to this day. We’re a very tight-knit family - and I’m very close to my sister Pamela but having that quality time together holds a very special place in my memory.
Overcoming the holiday weather jinx (l-r): Daniel, Danny, Aimee and Tara
BBCpoliticaljournalist TaraMillsliveswith husbandDannyandtheir childrenDanielandAimee
Favourite family memory
This is a hard one – can I choose two? My son has a learning difficulty and one day when he was about four I started to read the book Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers to him for about the hundredth time.
As I spoke he finished one of the sentences I was reading and then went on to read aloud the entire book himself – word perfectly – just from using the pictures as a prompt. We were absolutely flabbergasted and when I got him to repeat
The film list is endless – my children are still quite young and watching movies through their eyes is just wonderful. In terms of books I loved the book Blue Sky July by Nia Wyn – it was a story that struck such a chord with me. I love reading and I’m now reading all the Roald Dahl books with my daughter.
CoolFMpresenterPeteSnoddenliveswithhiswifeJulia anddaughtersIvanaandElayna Favourite family memory
When I was a child my parents had a touring caravan which we took to Portrush, Castlewellan and Tullymore. We ventured further afield as well and went to France and Spain as well over the years. My Dad would have saved up all of his holidays and we went away for up to a month during the summer. I always look upon those holidays with such fond memories. Although they were over twenty years ago, they feel like yesterday.
Best family holiday?
is one of the reasons that I wanted to be a presenter having listened to him as a teenager. I was lucky enough to meet him a few years back at the BBC when I was working on ‘The Friday Show’. He was a guest on the show and I got to chat to him at length. He was a true gent which I was relieved about as he has always been a hero of mine. The book tells his story of how he became the voice of a generation on BBC Radio 1 how he bought Virgin Radio, his involvement at ‘The Big Breakfast’ and his legendary TV show ‘TFI Friday’.
When my eldest daughter Ivana was 2 we took her to Disney World in Florida. A lot of people said ‘she will be too young’. Not a bit! We all had an absolute ball and now aged 4 Ivana still talks about her time at Disney and although she met Micky and Minnie and all the princesses she recalls ‘Tracy the talking Tree’ in the rainforest cafe. We travelled with my brother in law, his wife and Ivana’s cousin Clea. Fun, sun, great food and good times. Elayna my youngest daughter is 10 months and the plan is to take her to Disney when she is 2.
What is your favourite book?
Braving the summer weather: Pete and Julia Snodden with their daughters Ivana and Elayna
Chris Evans ‘It’s not what you think’. Chris Evans is without doubt one of the best broadcasters the UK has produced. He
Chris Evans inspired Pete to become a presenter
10 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Grilled lamb chops with mint and fruity couscous
Go on, let your exotic side out and try this classic with a twist. With Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured lamb chops, this fresh dish is a sure way of wetting your appetite on the barbecue/grill and for dinner parties.
Serves 4 Prep Time 15 mins Cooking Time 35 mins Oven temperature Pre heat a grill
Lamb tikka kebabs with spiced tomatoes and raita
Make the neighbours jealous with the smell of Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured lamb steaks, marinated in natural yoghurt, ginger and tikka powder, wafting over the garden fence. Ready in just ten minutes and so delicious, you wonâ€™t want to share!
Serves 4 Prep Time 10 mins Marinade Time 2 hours Cooking Time 10 mins Pre-heat griddle pan, grill or barbecue INGREDIENTS: n 500g Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured lamb leg steaks, trimmed and cut into chunks n 8 wooden skewers, soaked in cold water for at least 10 minutes n 1 red onion, peeled and cut into chunks n 1 orange pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks For the marinade: n 250g natural yogurt n 2 garlic cloves, crushed n 1/2 inch piece (20g) ginger, peeled and grated n 1/2 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes n 1 teaspoon ground coriander n 2 tablespoons (10g) tikka curry powder n 1 teaspoon turmeric n The juice of 1/2 a lemon
For the raita: n 250g natural yogurt n 1/2 cucumber, cut in half, seeds removed and cut into small dice n Pinch of chilli flakes n 2 teaspoons mint sauce For the spiced tomatoes: n 4 large firm tomatoes, cut in half, deseeded and roughly chopped n 1 fresh chilli, halved, deseeded and finely sliced n 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped n 2 heaped tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander n Salt and pepper
METHOD: n For the lamb kebabs, place the marinade
ingredients into a bowl and mix until well combined. Add the lamb chunks and coat in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours, or preferably overnight. Thread the marinated lamb cubes onto pre-soaked skewers with pieces of red onion and orange pepper. Heat a griddle pan or grill until hot, then add the lamb kebabs and grill for 8-10 minutes, turning regularly, or until browned on all sides and cooked through. For the raita, mix the ingredients together in a bowl. For the spiced tomatoes, mix the ingredients together in a bowl and season with salt and black pepper.
INGREDIENTS: n 8 Farm Quality Assured Lamb chops or Lamb leg steaks n 4 tablespoons of olive oil n 1 clove of garlic, crushed n 2 level teaspoons of shop bought mint sauce n 1 large pinch of chilli flakes n Salt and pepper Ingredients for couscous: n 200g couscous n 250ml chicken stock n 1 tablespoon of olive oil n 1 red onion, halved and finely sliced n 1 clove of garlic, crushed n A small pinch of chilli flakes n 80g dried cranberries n 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (optional)
n n n n
15g of fresh coriander, finely chopped 15g of fresh mint, finely chopped 100g wild rocket leaves Salt and pepper
For the dressing: n 2 tablespoons of honey n 2 tablespoons of light olive oil n 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar n A small pinch of chilli flakes METHOD:
Mix olive oil, mint sauce, garlic and chilli in a shallow bowl. Coat each Lamb chop in the marinade and allow to rest for 10 minutes before grilling the chops for 4-5 minutes on both sides, cover with tinfoil and rest for 2 minutes.Meanwhile, tip the couscous into a bowl with boiling chicken stock. Stir and allow to stand for 10 minutes while you grill the Lamb chops and prepare the remaining salad ingredients.Heat a little oil in a non stick pan and fry the onions until soft and golden, add the garlic, chilli, cranberries and cook for a further 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and tip into a serving bowl along with couscous, pomegranate seeds, chopped coriander, mint and rocket. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the couscous salad and serve with the grilled chops.
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Asian beef salad in filo baskets
Enjoy succulent chunks of Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured sirloin steak, marinated in fresh ginger and honey, and served up in a light filo pastry parcel. Perfect as a starter at a dinner party or served as nibbles at a summer garden party.
Serves 4 Prep Time 15 mins Marinade Time 30 mins Cooking Time 5 mins Oven temperature Pre-heat to 180oC/350oF/ gas mark 4
Crunchy couscous lamb patties with humous
Family Life | 11
BEEFrecipes INGREDIENTS: n 2 large Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured sirloin steaks n A little olive oil For the marinade: n 4 tablespoons soy sauce n Juice of 1 lime n 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger n 1 clove of garlic, crushed n 1 teaspoon honey For the filo baskets: n 2 filo pastry sheets (270g box – you can wrap leftover pastry and freeze it) n 30g butter, melted For the salad: n 6 radishes, finely sliced n 1/2 red chilli, finely sliced n 1/2 cucumber, cut into ribbons n A small handful of coriander leaves, chopped n 1 little gem lettuce, finely shredded
n n n n
METHOD: n Prepare the marinade ingredients in a
shallow bowl. Place the steaks into the marinade, coat well and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. n Lay 2 large sheets of filo pastry onto a work surface. Brush one with melted
It’s amazing what you can create with Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured lean minced lamb. Mixed with a hint of spice and coated with crunchy couscous these little patties are sure to appeal to every palate.
n Print Recipe n Create a shopping list n Share Serves 4 Prep Time 25 mins Cooking Time 20 mins
INGREDIENTS: n 1 shop bought small tub of roasted pepper humous n 4 pitta bread pockets n 500g Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured lean minced lamb for the lamb patties n 1 clove of garlic n 1 1/2 tsp of curry powder n 1 tsp tomato puree n 75g white breadcrumbs n 6 scallions, finely chopped n 1 small handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (10g) n 1 egg n Salt and pepper n Coating for patties n 1 egg for dipping
n 100g couscous, cooked (follow packet instructions) n 1 tsp of chilli powder n For the salad n 1 small bag of baby spinach leaves n 50g radishes, finely sliced n 1 red onion, finely sliced n 1 x 400g tin of chick peas, drained Dressing: n 1 tbsp. of olive oil n Juice of 1/2 a lemon n 1 tsp of honey METHOD:
Mix all of the lamb pattie ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined. Divide the mixture into 12 x 50g balls and flatten out to make patties. Mix the chilli powder into the cooked couscous in a bowl. Lightly mix the egg in another bowl. Dip each lamb pattie in the egg, then into the couscous and coat well, then place onto a baking tray and bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes. While the patties are cooking toast the pitta pockets, mix the salad ingredients together and dress with the olive oil, lemon juice and honey. Arrange the pitta bread and salad onto plates, then top with the warm couscous lamb patties and serve with humous.
butter, place the second sheet of filo on top and smooth to remove any creases. Cut the filo in half horizontally and then make 4 vertical cuts into the pastry. This will give you 8 square pieces. Line each muffin mould with a square of pastry to create a basket shape. Bake the baskets in a hot oven for 10 minutes until golden and crisp. Heat a non-stick frying pan until it is very hot. Add a little oil and sear the steaks for 1 minute on both sides, remove from the pan and place onto an oven tray. Pour the remaining marinade on top of the steaks and cook in a hot oven for 5 minutes for medium rare. Remove the steaks from the oven and rest for 2 minutes before slicing. Mix with the salad ingredients and fill each filo basket before serving.
12 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Asian beef and noodle broth
Spice up your soup with this economical meal that is warm, hearty and full of oriental flavour. For an extra kick add some more chilli – you’ll be bowled over by every tasty spoonful.
Serves 4 Prep Time 20 mins Cooking Time 2-2.5 hours STAGE 1 – INGREDIENTS: n 700g (1 1/2 lb) Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured beef shin n 1.5 litres water n 1 large onion n 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped in half n 45g peeled and chopped fresh ginger n 3 celery sticks, washed and roughly chopped n 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped METHOD:
Place all of the ingredients into a large saucepan, bring to the boil, reduce the temperature and simmer for two hours. Using a large spoon, lift the beef out of the pan and place onto a plate, remove the
Gourmet steak burger with healthy chips
Sick of shop-bought burgers that just don’t cut the mustard? Try this delicious home-prepared recipe, made using Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured lean minced steak. It’s a juicy treat which can be dished up in minutes.
Serves 4 Prep Time 10 mins Cooking Time 25 mins Oven temperature Pre-heat oven to 200oC/400oF/gas mark 6 & pre-heat grill to moderate INGREDIENTS: n 500g Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured lean minced steak n 1 clove garlic, crushed n 1 teaspoon of English mustard n 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce n 1 teaspoon of tomato puree n 1 small egg, lightly beaten For the healthy chips: n 1kg Maris Piper potatoes n Low calorie spray oil To serve: n 4 burger buns, cut in half and lightly toasted
n n n n
4 slices of mozzarella 1 beef tomato, cut into 4 slices 1 red onion, thinly sliced and fried 1 handful of salad leaves
METHOD: n Spray a large baking tray with oil and set into a hot oven.
n Wash the potatoes, leave the skin on
and then cut into chips. Rinse the chips under cold running water to remove any starch before plunging into a large saucepan of boiling water, cook for 2 minutes, and then drain well. Remove the hot tray from the oven and tip the chips onto it (they will sizzle as they hit the hot tray), spray the chips with oil and return the tray to the oven for 20 – 25 minutes until the chips are golden and crisp, turn occasionally. Mix the burger ingredients together and form 4 equal burger patties. Grill under a medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes on each side until thoroughly cooked. Set aside to rest and keep warm while you toast the buns. Place the warm burgers onto a bun, top with mozzarella, tomato, fried onions, salad leaves and then serve with chips.
bone and any fat and using a knife and fork shred the meat into little pieces. Sieve the remaining stock to remove and discard the vegetables. You should be left with about 1 litre of delicious stock.
STAGE 2 – INGREDIENTS: n 1 clove of garlic, crushed n 30g ginger, peeled and grated n 1/2 tsp of shrimp paste n 1 tsp of brown sugar n 1 Thai red chilli, finely chopped n A dash of fish sauce n 4 spring onions n 150g Pak choi or baby spinach leaves n 250g cooked noodles n Shredded beef shin n A few coriander leaves METHOD:
Pour the stock back into the saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and add the garlic, ginger, shrimp paste, sugar, chilli and fish sauce. Then add the spring onions, Pak choi, noodles, cooked shin and coriander and simmer for another few minutes. Ladle into warm bowls and serve.
14 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Arethe50s the new 40s?
hile those of us in our 50s may feel a long way from identifying with pensioners and the elderly, very often what concerns them concerns us as the Sandwich Generation juggles caring for ageing parents, our own children and possibly grandchildren while pursuing our careers. While in bygone years people settled into a job for life, those are few and far between these days and the over 50s are to be found exercising their entrepreneurial muscle along with the best of them. This age group is now starting more new businesses than the 18-29 year old group and is in no rush to reach for the slippers, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (Gem), an international study of startup activity, and reported in the Financial Times. This is a busy time but a hugely satisfying one for a generation who grew up with the Troubles, punk rock and Margaret Thatcher’s version of austerity as well as the baby boomers, now in their 60s. With the latest surveys showing that people believe middle age doesn’t start until 55 and that you aren’t elderly until you’ve hit 70, the over 50s are an increasingly mixed bunch and more likely than most to be enjoying life to the full in 2015. A lot of the general optimism depends on the level of health and financial security, however, a recent BUPA survey found that feeling good occurs more often later in life, with 21% of over 55s saying they have a ‘feel great’ moment every single day. Among the 45 to 54 year olds that drops to 30% having a feel good moment once a week while 28% of 25 to 34 year olds only have a feel good moment once a week. Meanwhile, the US news network Today surveyed 1,500 over 50s and reports that 62%
Hugs from George and Maggie are the perfect way to de-stress after a day’s work
Multi-tasking Rachelloves beingagran
B of respondents in their 50s were satisfied with their lives, compared to 57% of people in their late 40s. People in their 50s were happier with their marriages as well as their relationships with their children and parents. Grown up children were taking less of a toll on finances, meaning 71% were living comfortably or having a little left over after expenses. Finally, 66% said they had more leisure time and a similar number said they had more time with romantic partners and to learn new things.
HOW OLD WOULD YOU BE IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW HOW OLD YOU WERE? Satchel Paige (1906-1982)
angor woman Rachel Surgenor is not your stereotypical gran — but she is fairly typical of a growing sector of women. Rachel, who turned 60 this summer, is busier than she was in her 40s when she was working in a bank and rearing her children Andrew and Paula with her husband Leslie. These days she is owner/director of Dimension Fit Out Ltd, based in Dromore, Co. Down, which specialises in building bespoke exhibition stands, conference backdrops and shopfitting. She is treasurer of Bangor Shared Space, the Courthouse Project. This is a group of local people from all walks of life who are working towards having the now disused Bangor Courthouse transferred over to the people of the town for use as an arts and cultural heritage centre. This complex process required Rachel to take an Advanced Diploma at the Ulster University last year in Sustainable Investment in the Third Sector. She is passionate about Fairtrade and takes every opportunity to promote the cause of our global neighbours. “If you’d asked me a few years ago what I thought I’d be doing when I turned 60 I would probably have said, “Running a Fair Trade stall at Bangor market or more likely, relaxing with my feet up,” says Rachel. Despite being so busy, she spends lots of quality time with her children and grandchildren, George (10) and Maggie (4) Payne. “I remember whenever Paula and her husband Brian were expecting George, one of my friends said, “It’s more enjoyable being a granny than a mum. The fact is you have so many fun times without the stresses of child-rearing. “The unconditional love from your grandchildren is great and you in turn are much more relaxed about their misdemeanours than you might have been with your own kids. “It’s lovely when you arrive in from work and Maggie spontaneously gives you a big hug and George is straight in with “I love you Granny”. Priceless!
16 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Howyoungmumfoundhappiness after two year battle with trauma
Young parents Kirsty Ralston and Sean Russell have been through the worst and the best of times with the arrivals of their children, Ryan and Rebekah, writes Fiona Rutherford
ife couldn’t have been more carefree when Sean (26) and Kirsty (24) met in 2009. He was studying Social Policy and Criminology at the University of Ulster, she was studying Creative Technologies at Magee, when their eyes first met at a house party in Belfast. Sean, who is now the manager of a food outlet in the city, soon made space in his life and his home in the Holy Lands for Kirsty. Testing times arrived in September 2012 when Kirsty had a miscarriage and two months later, she fell pregnant again. The couple felt unprepared for the responsibility and ill-equipped, not least as Kirsty had a history of Fibromyalgia which got worse during the pregnancy. “I was admitted to hospital for five days when I was about 34 weeks pregnant and put on Tramadol and other strong painkillers,” she explains. Her problems were probably exacerbated as, having packed in her degree course, she was working full time as a care worker, part time in a pizzeria and was also taking an access course to get into nursing at Queen’s University. They had moved into their present home in east Belfast, and thought they had a few weeks to prepare for parenthood when at 37 weeks, Kirsty suddenly went into labour. “We were eating a Chinese and watching a film on July 10th when all of a sudden, at 10.30pm, my waters broke and I was straight into strong contractions which were just three minutes apart.”
a bowel motion. Later that day he was taken for an X ray. Kirsty was unprepared for the sight that met her when she next saw him, less than an hour later. “He was in an incubator with all these tubes and a catheter. It all seemed very unreal.” When the X ray results came back, Ryan was transferred to the surgical ward in the Royal Children’s Hospital where he was given ‘wash outs’ to try to get his bowel moving. “On the 13th, the consultant surgeon came round, looked at Ryan and said he needed emergency stoma bag surgery. He was only two days old,” recalls Kirsty.
They laugh now about the fact that Sean had only passed his driving test three days before, had never driven at night and didn’t know how to get from their new home to the hospital. When they arrived, what might have been a straightforward labour quickly became a nightmare for Kirsty who went into shock and began blacking out. Sean found the experience terrifying: “All I remember is a lot of people, a lot of concern on people’s faces and me feeling useless as the baby’s heart rate dropped.” Their little boy, Ryan, was born at 2.30am, a healthy 8lb. Kirsty’s mum Debi, who had turned up with the hospital bag and decided to stay when she saw what was happening, cuddled him until Kirsty came round. When she was presented with their son, three hours after he had been born, she says she felt “zombied”. “I remember I couldn’t stop shivering and saying ‘I feel like I’m going to die’.” A strong advocate of breast feeding, Kirsty had hoped that feeding Ryan would help her snap out of her shock but he vomited up every feed. Thinking that her breastfeeding experience had finished before it had even begun, she suggested
they try formula milk. “He started choking and turned purple. One of the midwives grabbed him by the ankles and held him upside down and smacked his back and then ran out of the room with him shouting
for paediatrics. I heard people running after her and I remember just standing alone in the room,” recalls Kirsty. Ryan was taken to the Special Care Baby Unit as concerns grew at his failure to have
I DIDN’T KNOW THAT FEELING PEOPLE TALKED ABOUT BEFORE, OF FEELING OVERWHELMING LOVE, BUT NOW I FEEL IT FOR BOTH RYAN AND REBEKAH. I FEEL SO BLESSED.
The consultant explained to them that Ryan had a condition called Hirschsprungs Disease but that when he was older they would be able to remove the diseased part of his colon. Sean and Kirsty were relieved to hear that any ill effects of the condition are usually gone by the late teenage years. “Of course we had never heard of it – he had a 1/5000 chance of getting it.” Ryan remained in hospital for five days and although Kirsty had been discharged from the Ulster when he was moved, midwives from the Royal took over her postnatal care. “I thought that was very good,” she said. Once the couple got Ryan home, they went on in a semblance of normality with the support of health visitors, community children’s nurses and Kirsty’s parents David and Debi who called daily. In reality, Sean was terrified of hurting Ryan so avoided holding him and Kirsty had succumbed to a complete numbness. “I remember saying to my mum, there’s something wrong with me. Why am I not crying over everything that has happened?” Kirsty had gone to her GP a number of times about her lack of emotion and when Ryan was six months old, shortly after he’d had successful surgery to reverse the stoma, she was referred to a counselling service provided by a midwife at the Ulster Hospital for mums who have had a traumatic birthing experience. “When I was telling her my experiences it was as if I was talking about things that happened to someone else.” Kirsty became obsessed with maintaining a germ free environment for Ryan – making people sterilise their hands before touching him and scrubbing the house until late in the evening. “I still felt there was a wall between me and him. I was convinced if he got sick he was going to die,” she explains. When Ryan was nine months old, she was referred to the community mental health team at Woodstock Lodge and found that cognitive behavioural therapy offered helped her deal with her obsessive compulsive tendencies and the depression
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Family Life | 17 was perfect and we were looking forward to the baby’s due date of July 25th. “I remember at 37 weeks thinking Ryan was born this week – how am I going to wait three more weeks until full term but in fact she went a full two weeks over. Finally, I was induced and had Rebekah in the home from home ward in the Ulster.” This time round, everything went ‘swimmingly’. “I had a water birth and just a little gas and air.” Needless to say, this labour was an entirely different experience for Sean too and Kirsty was full of praise for his instincts as a birthing partner. “There was such a calm atmosphere this time,” said Sean.
which had now established itself. She remembers his first birthday as being particularly difficult, even though the house was full of visitors and no-one would have known to look at Kirsty that anything was amiss. “It was Ryan’s birthday but it was also the anniversary of such a traumatic time, I didn’t know how to cope.” Everything together was conspiring to drive a wedge between Kirsty and Sean as well and neither of them was happy. She admits when she fell pregnant with Rebekah in November last year she was “devastated”. Nonetheless, at the back of her mind she was conscious that this new arrival had been foretold a few months earlier. As a young woman from a committed Christian family, Kirsty had drawn on her own strong faith during the previous year and persuaded Sean to go along to a meeting at
A happy family at last: Sean and Kirsty with Ryan and Rebekah Photos by Natalia Kon of Sweet Bee Photography a local church where a prophetic American couple were speaking. “We were singled out and the man said he saw us with a little girl who would walk in joy. He said all the happiness that had been stolen from us would be restored when she was born.” Unable to embrace any sense of anticipation or overcome her low mood, Kirsty began seeing the perinatal mental health team in the maternity unit at the Ulster Hospital earlier this year.
“At 14 weeks, the midwife there said she was going to do an early scan for me. When she said it was a girl I remembered the prophecy and suddenly found I could snap out of being unhappy about being pregnant. From then on it was an exciting time. “There were still parts of me that were scared – I was petrified of giving birth again but I kept trying to focus on the fact that a girl was less likely to have what Ryan has. “I had a textbook pregnancy – everything
Bonding between mum and baby was instant: “I love her. I never knew it could feel this nice to have a new baby,” she says gazing at her beautiful little daughter. The fact that Ryan is developing well is a tremendous bonus to the family. No-one seeing the fair haired toddler whizz around the sitting room fighting off nap time would suspect he had ever been anything but 100% healthy. “I think so many women feel that they should automatically bond with their babies but the counsellor told me I would be surprised how many women find they have to wait and that it can take hours or weeks for the bond to grow,” adds Kirsty. “I was always a good mummy to Ryan – the fear just took over, but now I’m so happy and content with them both. I didn’t know that feeling people talked about before, of feeling overwhelming love, but now I feel it for both Ryan and Rebekah. I feel so blessed.”
18 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Rebecca, Alfie and Chris enjoy a day out
✪ A child enjoying a preschool art class
arents and those involved in the childcare sector are encouraged to have their say on what’s best for local families after the Northern Ireland Assembly launched a draft Childcare Strategy which is out for public consultation until November 13, 2015. The Childcare Strategy hopes to build upon the improvements made as a result of the first stage childcare strategy launched in September 2013. This strategy aimed to address the most immediate childcare needs and priorities identified during consultation and research and it focused on increasing the types of childcare provision most in need; building the skills base of the childcare workforce; providing parents with more detailed and userfriendly information; and establishing a partnership approach between government departments and the childcare sector. The 2015 strategy is more long term and encompasses the next decade of reforms on childcare in Northern Ireland. The 2015 draft Childcare Strategy has two main aims — to give all children the best start in life, preparing them for lifelong well-being and achievement and to enable parents, especially mothers, to join the workforce. The ten year strategy includes proposals
to increase the supply of childcare places, from pre-school through school-age, from the present 56,000 to 100,000. Launching the consultation earlier this summer, OFMDFM Junior Minister Michelle McIlveen said: “Many families struggle to pay for the childcare that they and their children need. This draft strategy sets out our plans on how to address this issue and make significant changes for the better. Our strategy also aims to develop local childcare services, create childcare jobs and develop the skills of people working in the childcare sector. Many excellent and diverse childcare services already exist which we plan to build on to create a system that can offer flexibility and choice. Junior Minister Jennifer McCann added: “The provision of quality, affordable childcare services has the potential to deliver significant benefits for our society. It is a catalyst for learning and lifelong motivation, promoting equality, inclusion and social mobility. We also want to help parents who want to work. Work is a path out of disadvantage. We want, through this Strategy, to help as many people as possible take that path. I know childcare is a very important matter for parents, families and providers, and I urge everyone to make their voices heard in this consultation.”
For those starting down the path of choosing childcare and early education, the organisation Early Years provides useful advice. According to Early Years, the key buzzword when looking for childcare is ‘quality’. There are three things that contribute to quality childcare: n A carer who provides your child with care and support and who works with you and your family to make sure that your child grows and learns in the best way possible. n A setting that keeps your child safe and healthy and promotes a sense of well-being. n Activities and a learning environment that are suited to your child’s stage of growth and that help your child develop mentally, physically, socially and emotionally. Guidance is available in a number of free resources. Check out the information booklet for parents ‘Choosing Childcare’ from www. early-years.org/parents/docs/choosing-childcare.pdf or download the free mobile and web app from your app store or www.early-years.org/mobileapp/ which gives details of childcare and early education providers and quality ratings as well as wide ranging advice for parents. For details of how to have your say on the draft childcare strategy, visit www. ofmdfmni.gov.uk/childcare
At present, Northern Ireland comes second only to London in having the most expensive childcare costs in the UK – it can cost a family up to £10,000 a year to provide childcare for one child, writes Ciara Lawn. Rebecca Edwards and her partner Chris Williams work full time while their son, Alfie (22 months) attends a day nursery in Belfast four days a week. “It is very expensive,” says Rebecca. “It’s a large percentage of our income.” In order to pay for childcare, Rebecca and Chris registered for the Salary Sacrifice Childcare Voucher Scheme. This scheme enables parents to give up part of their weekly or monthly salary in order to receive vouchers that pay for registered childcare. The part of one’s salary that is sacrificed is not liable for income tax or National Insurance. Despite the relief that scheme offers, the cost of childcare is high — especially if the family’s time keeping isn’t spot on. Those in a demanding job can find their stress levels rocketing if the traffic is heavy after work. “If you’re ten minutes late, it’s an extra £15,” says Rebecca. “But they have to have people in and the lights on - they have to pay the wages of carers, we understand that.” A registered childminder is often a more economical option, however, for Rebecca and Chris, this particular nursery ticked all the boxes. Rebecca says: “We fell in love with our nursery and we really like the people, so what is more important? Where we are more comfortable or saving £50? “Some people might have to take price into account – we kind of did but we chose to save on other areas.” With regards to the childcare strategy, Rebecca says: “It’s a matter of seeing what they can do without taking away from other areas. I know they are doing more but it won’t affect us until Alfie’s a little bit older. If you want to work when they’re younger, you have to find the balance yourself.”
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Family Life | 19
Womenurgedtotakefolicacid...andto Bestforbaby makesuretheygetthecorrectdosage friendlyhospitals
All women of child bearing age who are sexually active are now being urged to take folic acid supplements, whether they intend to start a family in the near future or not. The organisation Safefood is recommending that sexually active women take the recommended 400micrograms of folic acid a day in an effort to reduce the incidence of babies being born with neural tube defects. Taking the supplement is believed to reduce the chances of a baby being affected by about 70%. People who have a family history of a previous Neural Tube Defect Birth, are obese or who have diabetes or epilepsy or are on certain medications need to contact their GP and have a higher dose prescribed. At present, more than 50% of pregnancies here are unplanned, therefore, by the time a woman finds out she is pregnant, several weeks may have passed where the foetus has not been getting the folic acid it needs to develop into a healthy baby. The neural tube forms between 21 and 28 days after conception, however by 21 days, most women have not even missed a period, and are not taking folic acid, therefore many babies are at risk of being born with serious Neural Tube birth defects such as Anencephaly or Spina Bifida According to Safefood, many women believe that their diets provide them with enough folic acid. This is not the case and a supplement is the only way to ensure that you have received the recommended amount. At the launch of the campaign, Cathy McKillop, Northern Ireland director of SHINE, the charity supporting people with Spina Bifida and hydrocephaus, stated: “The children we work with, and their families, encounter many challenges in their daily life. Our message is very simple: we know that while not all, many of these
cases are avoidable by taking one daily supplement of folic acid at least 3 month before conception. “Whether you’re thinking about having a baby or not, we wholeheartedly encourage women to start taking folic acid every day. It’s such a small thing which can make such a big, life-long difference.” Anyone who would like support from SHINE can email northern. ireland@ shinecharity.org. uk or call Cathy McKillop on 0776 2574 861.
Northern Ireland hospitals are now the most baby friendly in the UK after three more were awarded the prestigious UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) Award. The initiative works with public services to protect, promote and support breastfeeding and to strengthen mother-baby and family relationships. Support for these relationships is important for all babies, not only those who are breastfed. Causeway Hospital, Craigavon Area Hospital and the Ulster Hospital have joined six other maternity units here in achieving the prestigious international accolade. It means that 93% of births in Northern Ireland take place in a UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) BFI hospital – the highest rate of any region of the UK. The scheme is particularly important as breastfeeding rates are lower in Northern Ireland than other parts of the UK. Around 64%
of mothers here start breastfeeding, compared with 83% in England, 74% in Scotland and 71% in Wales. That figure falls to 33% breastfeeding at six weeks and 16% at six months. Janet Calvert, Regional Breastfeeding Lead for the Public Health Agency (PHA), said: “We decided to join forces with UNICEF UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative as part of a strategy to increase breastfeeding rates and to improve care for all mothers throughout Northern Ireland. “Breastfeeding can help protect babies against a wide range of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy as well as asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes in later life. We also know that breastfeeding can reduce the mother’s risk of some cancers.” For more information, advice and breastfeeding support, visit the Public Health Agency’s breastfeeding website at www.breastfedbabies.org
20 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
With autumn upon us, darker hued blues are promising to be the season’s key colour while as far as neutrals go, grey is here to stay. Geometrics, not content with taking over our wardrobes, have invaded home furnishings, bringing added interest to any scheme...
BLUES& grey TOSTAY Blue is in this Autumn and is the perfect contrast to the plummy marsala, Pantone’s colour of the year. Blue cushions are a good place to start if you don’t want to commit to decorating the entire room in blue.
The prevailing neutral colour for this Autumn is still grey. If you feel grey is too dull for walls why not use it as a stand out colour when paired with white.
Shibori is a Japanese tiedying technique dating back to the 18th Century which is going to be big this season. There are curtains, duvets and cushions available in shibori fabric and the patterns that emerge tie in with the geometric shapes that have been popular throughout 2015 home decor.
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Family Life | 21
The 1920s have made a comeback this season, so be on the look out for metallic and mirrored surfaces. Art deco with its geometric shapes and vivid colours could be a really interesting way to liven up a room this Autumn.
Combine clean modern lines with hardwearing solidity with this smart New Haven 9-piece dining set from Harvey Norman.
The most unpromising space can be transformed with a little imagination. Aquaforce created this beautiful bathroom in a familyâ€™s roofspace, complete with ultra modern rad, sink and luxury floor to ceiling tiling.
22 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Enhance the light in a room and add interest to a wall with a mirror like The Forest & Co’s Copper And Gold Sunburst Mirror £175, from: www.notonthehighstreet.com or create a vintage feel with the Marks and Spencer Scallop Frame Mirror, £59
Bring autumn home with some of the new seasonal accessories
Metal magic still rules, especially warmer toned copper and brass. Left: Round copper lantern, Harvey Norman, £49.95
Autumn and Winter are the perfect seasons for candles. They are an ambient light on a dark evening. This Morris & Co. soy candle has a scent of scent of amber, sandalwood, patchouli, incense and vanilla, £27.95, Harvey Norman
Put the ‘fun’ into functional with cleverly designed lighting. Young & Battaglia’s playful ‘Rocking Lamp’, £282, for Mineheart from: www.in-spaces. com is inspired by the childhood memory of a rocking horse. It is ever so slightly silly, but so beautifully minimal that it would make a great feature light in any modern interior.
The Climbing Lamp £98.52, www.kizuco.de from Berlin is made of climbing ropes with a thick inner wire so that it can climb in any direction you wish and the umbrella shade can be rotated. Use it as a floor lamp, winding lamp, high bedside lamp, the only limit is your imagination...
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Family Life | 23
Animal art and nature inspired pieces are perfect for Autumn and Winter. These clocks from Red Candy are a good example of what is available this season. Or take your pick of animal cushions, such as this smart fox from Harvey Norman, £12 Left: Karlsson Woodpecker Clock, £59 Right: Cuku Ruku Cuckoo Clock, £238, both www. redcandy.co.uk
Avoiding clutter is key for a sleek interior, but all houses have ‘hot spots’ where stuff accumulates. This handy seagrass stair storage basket will keep all of the bits and pieces destined for upstairs tidy until they get where they need to go, £14.99, east2eden via: www.amazon.co.uk
Rugs and throws in Autumn colours will give a warm feeling to any room and because they are not permanent fixtures, they can be stored away when you are ready to welcome Spring to your home.
Slouch in style on a giant bean bag. A colourful and comfortable addition to any home, you can even get indoor/outdoor versions to recline al fresco – weather permitting! £129.99, Beanbag Bazaar www.beanbagbazaar.co.uk
24 | Family Life
Iallowmy teenaged daughter todrink becauseI don’twant herdoing itbehind myback
e’re a nation which likes to party and the downside to that is a propensity to misuse alcohol. For parents, the prospect of a teenager getting into trouble or being so drunk they can’t fend for themselves is the cause of many a sleepless night. Some choose to come down hard at the first suspicion of an under 18 year old having had a drink, some bury their heads, some allow some alcohol consumption in the home to try
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
to foster a responsible attitude to alcohol while at the far end of the spectrum are the irresponsible parents like one man who caused a storm on social media this summer when he posted a photo of his toddler drinking a can of beer. According to statistics, 18% of schoolaged pupils who have had a drink say they were given it by their parents. Belfast couple Jane and Stephen are resolutely within that group and believe that their 16 year old daughter is much more sensible around alcohol than many of her peers as a result. Jane told Family Life: “If something is completely taboo at a certain age, it becomes even more enticing to teenagers to try it. Our concern was that teenagers will go behind your back and drink and you don’t have any control over that or any way of protecting them. In our daughter’s case, she’s a very
independent and very confident person and we knew we would have to work with her because if you worked against her she would do the opposite of what you wanted. “I think it’s better to let them try it with you so that they can see that it isn’t as they would say ‘all that’ and it doesn’t have this great mystique. “There is a danger too that if they go out they’ll take so much more than they should because you are not there to limit or monitor their consumption. We try to give them a certain amount of freedom but within boundaries that you can monitor. “Our daughter, because she can have the odd drink, five or six times a year or on special occasions or on holiday, whenever she goes to parties and her friends overindulge, she doesn’t. She’s the one who isn’t doing anything behind our back.” They gave their daughter her first drink
How much is too much when it comes to time online? If you are concerned about the amount of time your child spends slouched over a smart phone or iPad, you’re neither wrong nor alone. A recent survey of 2000 parents across the UK found that a majority were concerned by their children’s internet use as well as the conflict arising from Parents looked for trying to put limits on it. solutions to balance their The study, by Stop Procrastinating, the anxiety and depression. children’s use of the Internet productivity website, found that parents are “This relationship is particularly rather than ban it completely: also concerned by their inability to block negative among those who engage in n 72% said their children should only their children’s access to the internet. high levels of screen use – more than use the Internet for one hour a day. These worries are well-founded with four hours a day. n 52% said they should talk more Public Health England, which advises the “The evidence suggests a ‘dose-reduring family meals and smart devices NHS, publishing a report last year on the sponse’ relationship, where each inshould be banned. effects of internet use on young people’s dividual hour of viewing increases n 56% said they would encourage mental health which should provide all the children’s likelihood of experiencing their children to join a sociable evidence parents need to clamp down on the socio-economic problems, and the risk activity or club. amount of hours spent online. of lower self-esteem.” Public Health England found: “Children who spend While the Stop Procrasinating survey, which more time on computers, watching TV and playing video was carried out in mid-August, specifically asked games tend to experience higher levels of emotional distress, parents about their concerns during the summer holidays, the
two years ago, when she was just under 15 years. “I had everybody up for a barbecue – there was 15 kids at our house and after a while Annie came up and said, “Mummy, people would like a drink”. I got all the kids together into a room and said, “I believe you want a drink. I don’t have a problem with that but I want you all to contact your parents now and ask them can you have a drink. No-one is allowed more than two drinks. If you lie about what your parents say, you won’t be welcome again.” They all got their phones out. “On the rare occasions they have been allowed to drink in our house since that, they have brought their own alcohol with them. I assume that their parents know.” At the time of writing, Annie had just got her GCSE results and wanted to celebrate her success with her friends. Jane said rather than have them going out, she was having six of the fifth formers to her house that evening. “I’ll do food for them and Annie bought three bottles of Koppenburg for £5 however, she won’t drink it all. “Normally on these sort of occasions her dad would buy it for her. That’s just the way we play it – they’re turning 17 and you have to change your approach as their age changes.” She doesn’t believe that giving her daughter alcohol before she turned 15 will lead to her becoming a heavy drinker. “It’s down to personalities whether you are going to be a heavy drinker or abuse alcohol – it’s absolutely nothing to do with whether you drink in the house or not. In our case, we wanted to have more knowledge and more control over what our daughter was doing – monitoring it and trying to get involved with the whole process rather than just saying no, it’s not allowed.” Jane, Stephen and Annie are not the real names of the people involved.
results can safely be assumed to apply to any time when the kids are out of school. Of those parents surveyed: n 68% worried their children use the internet for too long n 52% said their children were less active because used social media instead of playing with friends. n 48% worried their children didn’t seek out sociable activities n 62% said their children’s use of smart devices would cause conflict and stress n 56% said that their children read less over the summer than they did when they were children. They blamed the internet. n 54% thought smart devices were affecting their children’s development and health. n 46% blamed themselves for using smart devices in front of their children. n 43% felt they should encourage more family conversation to balance the affect of the Internet. n 65% said it was too easy to keep their children quiet by distracting them with the internet when they were busy. n 78% thought, however, that their children should access the internet but that it should be controlled or supervised. n 49% said that their children were more likely to be successful if they were proficient at computers and coding. Tim Rollins, Research Director at Stop Procrastinating, said: “Parents may be seeking to avoid conflict by giving in to their children’s demands to use the internet, but the study also shows that when boundaries are set and other sociable activities are encouraged their children’s use of the internet become healthy and balanced.”
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
hile teenagers are generally wonderfully positive, well adjusted people, parents are ever concerned that they will fall prey to the charms of drink of drugs. We might even wonder whether the glass of wine in our own hand is signalling to our children that alcohol is perfectly acceptable. It’s difficult to know when to let teenagers drink as there is no ‘right’ age. Some parents may feel that giving their child a small amount of alcohol in their early teens will give them a responsible attitude to alcohol, but, according to the Public Health Agency, there is no scientific evidence to support this. Research shows that the earlier a child starts drinking the higher the risk of developing serious alcohol-related problems later in life. Davis Turkington, Senior Health and Wellbeing Improvement Officer with the PHA, said that parents’ attitudes and behaviours in relation to alcohol and drugs have a strong influence on their children: “Parents can make the first move and talk frankly about the dangers of binge drinking and encourage their children to have fun with friends without alcohol. “If your child is of the legal drinking age, encourage them to take care if they choose to drink. Staying within the safe drinking limits is important, as excessive drinking can have lasting effects on health, such as damage to the liver, heart, brain and stomach.” Some helpful tips:
Make the first move and bring up the topic of alcohol. Don’t wait until there’s a problem
What parents of older children can do
Research shows that the earlier a child starts drinking the higher the risk of developing serious alcohol-related problems later in life. However, if your child has started drinking, these tips will help them learn to drink safely: n set clear boundaries for your child and be consistent about them n encourage your child to stick to lowerstrength brands and not to drink too quickly n talk to your child about alcohol n try not to overreact if your child drinks against your wishes, or drinks too much n if your child has drunk excessively, explain how you feel and encourage them to talk about why it happened n agree rules on alcohol at parties and be around if your child has a party at home n if your child is going to drink, give them starchy food (like bread or pasta) so they won’t be drinking on an empty stomach n remove temptations at home like your own stock of drink (especially spirits) n make sure your child has a way of getting home safely at night
What parents of younger children can do
The following tips might help your child develop a healthy attitude to alcohol as they grow up: n if your child is curious about alcohol, talk to them about it - tell them about both the negative and social sides of drinking n make sure young children don’t drink alcohol by accident or without your permission - if you have alcohol at home, keep it out of reach n if you drink, set a good example and drink in moderation - it will help your child develop a sensible attitude to alcohol n respect the law regarding young people and alcohol - don’t give alcohol to your child if they are under 18. n make sure the information your child has on alcohol is accurate – for more information visit the Talk to FRANK website www.talktofrank.com More information on alcohol can be found at: Know about alcohol http://www. publichealth.hscni.net/
Family Life | 25 before you decide to talk. Take time to listen to your child. Respect their views if you want their repect. Discuss the risks associated with alcohol. Discuss possible consequences and support them to make the right choices. Think about your own drinking and the influence this can have on their behaviour.
Assume your child doesn’t want to talk. Not talking to your child about alcohol could be interpreted as your approval of them drinking. Assume they already know everything. Interrupt or be judgemental, even if you don’t agree with their opinion.
Davis said: “Misusing drugs which have not been prescribed for you can cause serious damage to your health or even death. You can never be sure what has gone into the drugs, therefore the PHA strongly recommends that you do not take them. Parents can play an important role in helping young people to understand these risks, so they don’t choose to take drugs without realising the harm they could be exposing themselves to. “If someone has taken drugs and is feeling unwell, please seek medical help urgently.” For further information on alcohol limits and where to get help for both alcohol and drug problems see www.knowyourlimits.info. For more handy
tips on talking to your child about drinking get the booklet ‘You, your child and alcohol’, which is available from GP surgeries, pharmacies and the Publications section of the website: www.publichealthagency.org
26 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
hen the A Level results came out in August, a record number of students all over the UK were accepted into university and will be beginning their courses this month. This is an exciting time for new students, many of whom are leaving home for the first time. However, since their introduction in 1998, tuition fees have risen significantly across the UK. They began at £1000 per year, yet now most universities in England and Wales are charging £9000 per year for all students, while universities in Northern Ireland and Scotland charge as much for students from other parts of the UK. Students from Northern Ireland attending university here pay, £3800 per year — still a substantial amount. NUS-USI President Fergal McFerran has called for tuition fees to be scrapped to remove barriers to university, so that education is about achievement, not money. “Going on to undergraduate study should be about an individual’s ability to learn, not their ability to pay. “Tuition fees can be a barrier to participation in higher education in Northern Ireland and I believe that it is to the benefit of our society as a whole as well as to the economy here if we were to move to a fairer system, away from tuition fees.” At present, the Student Loan Company provides students with the cost of their tuition fees as well as a maintenance loan, the amount of which is dependent on their parents’ income and circumstances. If a student is from a lowincome family, they often get a maintenance grant which they do not have to repay. Once a term, a third of a student’s maintenance loan appears in their bank account and it is very easy to forget that this is not free money. This is money provided by the government for rent and some food and they expect you to pay it back with interest once you’re earning over £21,000 per year; along with the money they paid your tuition fees with. While some graduates are alarmed when they see the numbers on their annual student loan statement, repaying the loan needn’t be that daunting.
Life stuck on hold in a post grad Limbo It can be tough trying to get a foothold on the career ladder
hile many graduates progress into their chosen field with barely a pause, for others, getting their career off the ground is a struggle. One such casualty of the battlefield that a competitive jobs market can become is Ciara Lawn (pictured). Her high hopes of a decent
Natalie Magill and Kiera Donnelly were among those celebrating on A level results day at Lagan College last month Picture - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
job on graduating from a Welsh university last year with a BA in English Literature were quickly dashed. She says she was excited about the prospects of a decent wage and a good house, but: “A month passed with me paying half-rent in the house of a friend in Swansea while on the dole and spending every single day applying for jobs. “When the job-searching began, I was applying for decent jobs – because I have a degree. By the end of the month, running out of money fast, the job searching became desperate and I found myself applying to work at anything I was capable of doing. Apparently I was overqualified.” The irony of her situation isn’t lost on her: “I’m £20,000 in debt thanks to completing a degree that leaves me overqualified for most jobs and underqualified for the others. If I wanted to do a Masters, I would have to find the money myself to pay for it.” Whilst Ciara has worked on and off, she says she is feeling worn down by her lack of progress. “It has been over a year now since I graduated; I’ve been moving back and forward between Northern Ireland and Wales, trying to create a life for myself.”
Belfast man Darren Hawkins, who graduated with a BA in Interactive Multi-Media and Design from Jordanstown in 2012 says that repaying his student loan hasn’t been a burden so far. “I only pay £4 a month or something. I don’t even notice it.” Darren adds: “I couldn’t have got into the design job I’m doing without the degree and I use all sorts of different aspects of my training, so it has worked well for me.” For students pondering whether it is worth going to university when many find it difficult to get jobs in their chosen fields, Lorna McAlpine has one word — STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths to you and me. “Both the Northern Ireland Executive’s ‘Programme for Government’ and the Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland, ‘Success through Skills – Transforming Futures’, recognise that the future success of the Northern Ireland economy will require increased numbers of skilled workers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) qualifications,” says Lorna, STEM Business Sub-group coordinator. She points out that in Northern Ireland some employers, who require STEM skills, are already experiencing difficulty recruiting and retaining enough skilled staff while according to the 2015 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills survey: Inspiring growth, businesses repor widespread difficulties in recruiting people with STEM skills at every level, from apprentices (20%) to people with more than five years’ experience of STEM related work (32%). The survey also reports that a degree in a STEM subject gives graduates a clear advantage in the jobs market, with two in five employers (40%) reporting that they prefer STEM qualified graduates. According to Lorna, girls opting for STEM subject have most to gain. “Landmark research by London Economics shows that achieving two or more A levels in STEM subjects adds 7.8% to a man’s earnings, when compared to just gaining GCSE level qualifications, but the returns for women are much higher, with earnings boosted by 33.1%.”
She worked in a clothes shop as a Christmas temp, then in March she got a job supply teaching – this involved getting up at 6am every day and waiting for a phone call telling her if there was work for her that day. There often wasn’t, and the work dwindled to nothing by mid-May. “Having no money makes you obsessed with money and seeing my pay-cheques used to make me cry. I’d look at the pathetic amount and know that none of it could go
into savings. Any I did save was spent in subsequent weeks where I got less work.” Ciara does not agree that her choice of degree was the issue, saying she knows people with degrees in science subjects, none of whom is employed in a job they needed a degree for. “There are hardly any graduate jobs, yet thousands and thousands of graduates,” she says. Ciara is now considering going back to college but here is no doubt the disappointments of the past year have taken a toll on her. “I can’t convey how difficult and frustrating and fruitless the last 15 months have been,” she said. “I’ve often found myself thinking that though I enjoyed doing my degree, and I had an incredible time at university, if I had decided not to go, would I be better off? I would probably have a job and be able to afford to live and enjoy myself. Everyone says “be positive” and perhaps I will get a job, and I will get to where I want to be, and I will pay the government back the thousands they gave me, but for now, it’s difficult to feel as though all the money that was spent in order for me to do my degree is ever going to be worth it.”
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Family Life | 27
Testingtimesfor childrensitting AQEandGL
or the children preparing to take the AQE test or the GL assessment (or in some cases – both) in November and December, the next couple of months can be a very stressful time. These tests were instituted by grammar schools after the transfer test was scrapped. The Association of Quality Education or AQE test, for acceptance to a grammar in the state sector, comprises three separate exams with only the best two results counting. The Post Primary Transfer Consortium’s GL assessment is made up of one English test and one Maths test and is generally favoured by the Catholic sector. These are the first major tests these children have had to prepare for and in their mind there is so much riding on the result that it is important for you as a parent to be able to help them deal with their stress while helping them to prepare for the their test. First, your child needs reassurance that although it is important that they work hard and do their best, the result of this test is no indication of their intelligence
or their worthiness. Not getting the result needed to go to their desired school may be disappointing, but there are many advantages in going to a secondary school and it will have little bearing on their overall future. It is stating the obvious to say that in order for your child to do their best in the exam, they will need to revise and complete practice papers. Of course, many children may be reluctant to do this, which will cause them stress later on when they feel they are unprepared. To encourage them, set targets and reward your child when they achieve their targets. This reward could be money, some sweets or an enjoyable activity such as a trip to the cinema at the end of the week. Figuring out the elements of the course that your child does not know as well and revising it with them is another way to relieve their stress. Many children decide to ignore the things that they find more difficult, only to panic last minute when they realise that there is a possibility it is going to come up in their exam. If you have helped your child overcome a more difficult
area, they will be much more confident and less stressed. Beginning revision sessions by focusing on what your child is good at before moving into the more difficult areas is another good way to build up confidence. Marking your child’s papers with them and going over their mistakes will help them learn, thus building their confidence in themselves and leaving them less stressed. Make sure that your child takes regular study breaks or their ability to concentrate will dwindle and they will just be wasting time. Do not put too much pressure on your child to do well. It will cause them to worry
and will actually hinder them in terms of their confidence in themselves as well as their ability to revise and do their exam. Other ways to relieve a child’s stress is to make sure that they are eating and sleeping well, keeping active and continuing to have a life outside of their exam preparation, after all, whether they are doing the AQE or the GL, it is far from the most important exam they will ever sit. They will have many years to spend being anxious and fretting over exams in the future, therefore, for now, encourage them, keep their spirits high and do not allow this exam to become their life for the next few months.
28 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Mind the Gap… BY CLAIRE McAULEY
hether volunteering with street children in the depths of Sao Paulo or conserving turtles in Guatemala, gap years are as popular as ever. This year over 200,000 UK students will embark on what should be a life-changing experience; with the chance to broaden horizons, learn more about other cultures, develop new skills and ultimately; increase employability. At large, gap years are relatively safe with the most common dangers facing travellers usually quite minor – losing your passport, money, airline tickets or mobile phone. But things can and do go wrong, and with this being the time of year when people begin to plan itineraries, it’s important to know how not to put yourself at risk – something perhaps I didn’t in 2008. I decided after finishing my degree that I wasn’t ready for the real world and wanted to undertake some volunteering. I set my sights on travelling to the island of Borneo; my dream destination – full of exotic flavours, tribes and of course, orangutans. After seeing travel agents and gap year companies charging extortionate prices, I was determined to organise my own adventure. This was probably my first mistake. Currently there is no regulation of the industry, so it can be difficult to know how reputable the company you choose may be and it still remains a burning question of whether the industry should be self-regulated, or whether the government should itself intervene. I sent my CV off to various eco-tourism companies who were endorsed by a gap year website, and after receiving interest, landed in the heart of South-East Asia, to live at an eco-lodge on the Kinabatangan River in Sabah, Malaysia.
Claire loved getting close to the wildlife and taking in the beautiful landscape
On arrival, I couldn’t believe my luck, the lodge, two hours from civilisation, seemed the perfect retreat. Nestled deep along winding mangroves, with lush jungle and the greeting sing-song of exotic birds it felt like I had arrived in paradise. The company itself had won a shedload of accolades for its contribution to sustainable eco tourism, so I felt I was in safe and reliable hands. Staff were mostly from the local tribe, Orang Sungei, which literally translates as river people, and unlike the warnings I received seemed warm and hospitable. They spoke little English, and with the manager of the lodge rarely on-site, I was relieved that they took to me so well. Things however, soon went wrong. My job at the lodge involved improving eco practices, so I contacted the local World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters for advice, and before I knew it, the company’s boss was sending angry emails. He felt I was poking my nose into matters that were none of my concern. Something was up – surely I had done nothing wrong? It wasn’t long before I found
Claire McAuley enjoying her first few days in Malaysia discrepancies about the company’s eco profile. They dumped their waste into the local river and were ultimately creating pollution and the death of many important species. Shocked, I also found them eating vast quantities of endangered turtle eggs, something which is illegal. I got hostile treatment when I reported this to headquarters; the locals were not happy, and to make things worse, the boss didn’t care. I obviously wasn’t going to accomplish anything. Outside working hours I found my time at the lodge more and more difficult. The girls who I shared a room with, became jealous of the few items I had brought. Things started to go missing and I felt isolated and alone. With the absence of a
manager, it felt I had no one to turn to. The men were worse. They were angry when I rejected their advances. They thought all western women were easy, so it was their right, as they saw it, to harass me. It felt like a continuous battle. A day came when a large sum of my money went missing, and this along with my hiking boots, was the last straw. I contacted the boss, which meant a visit from the ‘jungle police’. This did nothing to resolve the problem apart from ostracising me further from the group.
NO LONGER SAFE
After that, they wanted me gone. It was no longer safe for me to be in the jungle. The company’s director commanded I leave and come back to the city. Yet, my adventures didn’t end here. On my way, the company asked me to look after a French guest, whose husband was on his death bed. I felt I had to, even though I had minimal linguistic skills and knew there was little I could do. It was a harrowing experience as after a week in hospital, we watched her husband die. Afterwards, I stayed with the woman to arrange funeral plans and help her return home to France.
It is something I hope not to relive for a very long time. After this, not only was I robbed, but held ‘hostage’ on a bus! The money was pinched in a hostel while I was asleep. The culprit? A stealthy eight-year-old girl, who spent all that I was worth on Kentucky fried chicken. The irony? I’m a vegetarian! The bus affair was less of a militia operation than is probably imagined, but still terrifying. I was the last passenger on the bus when the ticket collector refused to let me out, saying only a kiss would suffice to let me go. Eventually they gave up, and I was able to return safely to my lodgings. I suppose it could have been a lot worse. I survived and made it safely back to Belfast. So many things could have been prevented, if I’d gone about the experience differently – statistics show it’s actually safer to take a gap year than go to university – but it’s just important to get clued up. I still look back on my time in Borneo with albeit sad, but fond memories. Even with my experience I feel gap years open your eyes to different cultures and mentalities, you meet amazing people along the way and see some of the most wonderful sights nature has to offer. It certainly won’t be a trip I’ll forget.
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Family Life | 29
Toptipsforahasslefreegap yearfromgogapyear.com USEFUL WEBSITES www.fco.gov.uk Gapyeartrackers.com Gogapyear.com Ultimategapyear.co.uk www.trailfinders.com www.gapyear.com www.gaoadvice.org www.statravel.co.uk www.need2know.co.uk
Get adequate insurance Make sure you get comprehensive travel and medical insurance before setting-off. Obtain local knowledge Get a good guidebook and carry out a bit of research into your destination before you go, including its laws, customs and language. Register online with the FCO Stay healthy Make a visit to your GP as soon as possible before you depart and find out what jabs you may need.
Look into gap providers If you decide to organise your trip with a gap year company, research it thoroughly before committing. Find out how long they have been operating and how many people they have taken abroad in the past. Itâ€™s a good idea to speak to past gap travellers who have used the company to find out about their experiences. Be alert Be aware of what is going on around you and keep away from situations that make you feel uncomfortable. Keep an eye on your belongings
Check visas and passports Ensure that you have the necessary visas to travel to your destination.
Be careful with alcohol
Take enough money Work out how much money youâ€˜ll need on a daily basis and work to a realistic budget.
Be aware of local perceptions of you and your group
Keep in touch Tell friends and family your plans before you go and keep in regular contact, especially if you change your plans.
Decide what you want to get out of your travels, plan ahead and pack sensibly
30 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Let your cares fall away with a pampering spa session in an hotel
Treat yourself TOAN
he summer holidays might be over but with a wealth of fabulous destinations on our doorstep why not squeeze in a few days away and take advantage of off-peak bargains? Head for the bright lights, bustle and culture of cities such as Belfast, Londonderry and Lisburn or the stunning scenery of the Causeway Coastal Route, the Sperrins, Faughan Valley and Fermanagh Lakelands — autumn offers the perfect time to get up close and personal with our famously breathtaking scenery. If you’re feeling active, take on the challenge of Northern Ireland’s highest peak, Slieve Donard, in the Mourne Mountains; the tough but achievable trek to the top will earn you unparallelled views over County Down, sweeping down to the Irish sea; head for one of the many beaches lining the coast and enjoy swathes of golden sand, dramatic cliffs and small pebbly coves; surf Atlantic rollers in Portrush; or get on your bike and explore the country on two wheels before the winter weather turns a blustery adventure into an extreme sport! For those seeking a little pampering, head for a hotel. Choose a boutique hotel in a vibrant city, or take some time out at a country resort or lodge where you can find spa treatments and fine dining as well as championship golf courses nearby. Slip over the border and stop off at one of the myriad picturesque villages, where thatched cottages, open fires and pints of the black stuff come as standard. Or make your way to Dublin, inarguably one of Europe’s most vibrant cities. Explore Sligo with its Yeats heritage and the Wild Atlantic Way — the world’s longest
defined coastal touring route. Passing through nine counties and three provinces, the route stretches from County Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula to Kinsale, County Cork. The historic port and fishing town of Kinsale is worth a visit in its own right, being the proclaimed gastronomic capital of Ireland. Music lovers will delight in a trip to Galway, famed for its live music scene. From traditional to contemporary, expect to be entertained by skilled musicians playing in a host of venues across the city, seven nights a week. Take an on-the-water break in the Lakelands. Stunning countryside and an abundance of quayside towns like Killaloe and Ballina, make this area perfect for holidaymakers who want to include cruising, walking, cycling, horse riding and an array of other activities. For the ultimate getaway head for one of Ireland’s islands. Take your pick of the
Take in stunning landmarks such as Dunluce Castle
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Take to the water in the Fermanagh lakelands
Wrap up and hit the beach many islands off the north west, south west and west coasts and enjoy a glimpse of an Ireland that has all but disappeared. An abundance of wildlife lives amongst the cliffs, caves and beaches of these secluded places. Often the journeys over water are as much a part of the experience and adventure as the islands themselves. For some you drive across impressive causeways and bridges, or for Dursey Island board a swinging cable car, but for most it is
the island ferries that will bring you to your chosen island escape. From bustling city centres to quiet rural destinations, thereâ€™s culture, fine cuisine, theatre, music, art, shopping, impressive architecture, fabulous views and sandy beaches to be found only a short journey away. And the accommodation options are as limitless as the destinations on offer with something to suit all ages, tastes and budgets.
Family Life | 31
34 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Helping people to love later life A
ge NI is the leading charity for older people in Northern Ireland. We believe that people in later life should have enough money; should be enabled to stay well and feel good; and should have the opportunity to be equal and engaged citizens. Many older people tell us that they are happy, leading fulfilling and independent lives. We celebrate the positive impact they make in our society as workers, volunteers and carers. Too many older people in NI, however, are struggling in later life:
■ 1/3 of older people tell us that they are lonely ■ Over half of older people worry about the cost of gas, oil and electricity
■ 40% of older people are struggling to get by on their income
Age NI helps people in need by providing care, advice and support services – people like Elsie and her mum Nelly, who attends an Age NI day centre. “My Mum really enjoys getting out and about and the Age NI carers are amazing with her,” says Elsie. “They treat her with so much dignity and respect. They see Nelly, not Nelly with dementia. Because of them, I get a little ‘me time’. I rely so much on the respite the day centre gives. It’s a blessing and a relief.”
Visit www.ageni.org to find out more about the charity’s work in Northern Ireland.
Elsie and her mum Nelly are among the thousands of people helped by Age NI
I N e Ag ce Advi ce Servi
ore than 10,000 calls from older people, their carers and families are taken by the Age NI Advice Service every year. Calls are free and our four local advisors provide independent, confidential support on a range of issues including care, health, housing and money. Age really is just a number – and our Advice Service number is there to help older people all over NI to live life to the full. Brenda Kearns, Head of Advice, says: “All too often people don’t know who to turn to for ‘that little bit of help’. Age NI is here to listen and support. Calls to the Advice Service vary from a simple query about benefit entitlement, to more complex issues such as age discrimination and problems with health and social care. “One of the services we offer which helps hundreds of people every year is a simple benefits check. It’s free and confidential. Many people don’t know about the financial support they are entitled to and as a result millions of pounds go unclaimed every year in Northern Ireland. “Last year Age NI advisors identified £1.2 million in unclaimed benefits – we can help even more people this year. One phone call is all it takes to check that you are getting the financial support that you are entitled to. Lift the phone or encourage someone you know who might need our advice to call our freephone number today.” The Age NI Advice Service is available on freephone 0808 808 7575 seven days a week, 8am - 7pm.
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Fast facts about Age NI
n Age NI cares for 1,200 people every week at the charity’s dementia residential home, day centres and domiciliary care service. n The Age NI Advice Service deals with more than 10,000 calls for help every year from people who are concerned about their income, health and housing. n Over 8,000 people use an Age NI Personal Alarm to help them to remain independent at home. Find out more Join us on twitter @age_ni Follow us on facebook.com/ AgeNICharity Visit www.ageni.org and sign up for email updates
Family Life | 35
Time to spare?
“It does my heart good!” That’s why one of our volunteers gives his time to Age NI’s My Life My Way project which helps older people to live well with dementia. Last year, our incredible volunteers donated 46,000 hours to the charity, helping to make later life better for many local older people. “There are lots of opportunities to get involved in our work,” says Age NI Volunteer Coordinator, Stacey Lee. “Whether you’re keen to help us fundraise, engage with older people at our day centres, attend information events or support our dementia project, we’d love to hear from you. We can work with you to find an opportunity that suits your availability and your skillset. Get in touch by calling 9024 5729 or email me email@example.com – I look forward to hearing from you!”
Volunteers make a huge difference to the work of Age NI – find out more at www.ageni.org/volunteer
36 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
It’smajestic,it’smagical, it’sIreland’snumberone familyhotel...again
he ‘Majestically Magical’ four star Hillgrove Hotel, Leisure and Spa is the ultimate Family Holiday venue and was awarded Best Family Hotel in Ireland for the third year in a row in this year’s Families First awards. Proprietors Colm and Audri Herron understand the value and importance of a family Hotel, having learned what is required from their ten year old daughter Scarlett! “We realised how few hotels in Ireland really know how to cater properly for families. Hotels abroad seem to have it down to a fine art, so we decided it was time to provide the best facilities possible for every family looking for a short break or a week away,” said Audri. “We provide exciting tailormade packages and entertainment for families throughout the year.” The Hotel was also awarded Top Wedding Venue in Ulster this year, 2nd Best Spa in Ireland Awards and has many Tripadvisor and Booking.com awards under its belt too. What makes the Hillgrove Hotel so family friendly then? Firstly, the Hotel is situated minutes walk from Monaghan town, set in private grounds away from busy roads. The Hotel lobby is extremely spacious and welcoming, as are the family bedrooms, there are also interconnecting rooms available. There is an outdoor playground on the Hotel grounds, which is suitable for toddlers and children up to 14 years old. The Leisure Club has a Kids Pool, Family Changing Rooms, Swim Suit Dryers, Popcorn Machine, Goodie Vending Machines and Kids Ride-on. The Hillgrove FREE Kids Club runs for 7 hours every day during all school holidays and every Saturday and Sunday throughout the year. The Hotel also has a games room, two play rooms and a bouncy castle on site. In addition to all this, the Hillgrove Hotel provides delicious children’s menus, which
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WIN A WEEKEND AT THE HILLGROVE HOTEL
Family Life has teamed up with the Hillgrove Hotel to offer one family the chance to win a fabulous weekend in this award-winning hotel. The prize includes either 3 nights B&B midweek for 2 adults and 2 children under 12 years in a family room OR 2 nights B&B weekend for 2 adults and 2 children under 12 years in a family room
include many healthy options too. Staff can also organise babysitting for you and the following local activities, (charges apply): Horse-riding, Animal Farm, Pitch & Putt, Cinema, Bowling, Park Walks, Water Slides, Quad Biking, Planetarium and much more. A little bit of information now for Mum and Dad. The Hillgrove has 87 beautifully decorated bedrooms including Deluxe rooms and Suites with Jacuzzis. Their Leisure Club includes a Swimming Pool, Feature Pool, Kids Pool, Jacuzzi, Steam Room, Sauna, Outdoor Hot Tub, Gym and Aerobics Studio. The luxurious Lir Spa & Wellness Centre has 7 Treatment Rooms with over 80 treatments and therapies available. It also has a Mud Rasul, Hydrotherapy Pool, Herbal Sauna, Pedi Spas, Ice Fountain, Experience Showers, Floatation Bed, Relaxation Room and Tanning Rooms. There is also a Hair Salon, Crèche and Coffee Dock in the Leisure Wing. The Hotel’s Vettriano and Dali Restaurants offer excellent cuisine and extensive wine lists, and in addition to this, the lively Knuttel Bistro Bar serves Bistro food all day. The Toulouse-Lautrec Residents’ Lounge is also available to unwind in at any time. The Hillgrove Hotel, Leisure & Spa is ideally located one hour from Belfast and one hour from Dublin. With a wide variety of activities such as Murder Mysteries, Theatre Evenings, Golf, Fishing, Archery, Rally Driving, Paint-balling, Water Sports, Museums, Theatre and Shopping. Special
activity weekends include, Murder Mysteries, Girlie Escapes and much much more. For more information, visit www.hillgrovehotel.com B&B for Family of 2 Adults & 2 Kids U12: 1 night: €115 m/w €220 w/e 2 nights: €225 m/w €305 w/e 3 nights: €299 m/w €395 w/e Additional children €15 per child per night B&B.
To be in with a chance of winning this great prize, simply answer the following question: Name one of the awards the Hillgrove Hotel has won this year. To enter, simply send your answer together with your name, address and daytime telephone number to competitions@ belfasttelegraph.co.uk quoting Family Life Hillgrove Hotel competition in the subject line of your email. Entries close on Wednesday, September 30, 2015. Standard INM T&Cs aply, see www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/terms.
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Family Life | 37
Fashion conscious men need look no further than the ‘70s for their Autumn/ Winter inspiration. Baggy coats and trousers with turn ups, big pockets or patches, sheepskin and polo necks under jumpers are all bang on trend this season. You wouldn’t be rocking a true ‘70s vibe if you didn’t involve shearling. Perfect for winter due to its warmth, throw a sheepskin jacket over jeans and t-shirt and if you look like Del Boy you can rest assured, Bostonian you’ve got Merino Shearling the look Jacket £3,299, nailed... www.orvis.co.uk Green is the colour
AND FORLE LITT . . . S E N O
Cotton Cardigan, £18 and Blue Floral Sleepsuit, £15
Hooded Cable Cardigan, £20
Mini fashionistas will be cosy, comfortable and super cute in these goodies from Jojo Maman Bebe Available from www.jojomamanbebe.co.uk
of the season, from the lightest hues through to deep, rich forest greens, you won’t go wrong in green get-up. When it comes to trousers a high waist is the way to go. Opt for skinny, well-tailored styles as were seen on the Dunhill (pictured left) and Gieves and Hawkes catwalks; or go for loose, ‘20s style, with turn ups. Zoot suits are also going to be a popular choice. When it comes to footwear, go for androgynous or punkinspired to ensure your look is on the money.
Green Slim Chinos £20, Burton Menswear
Brogue Boots, £60, Next
38 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Walk this way...
Bruna Belted Coat, £199, Phase Eight
Gucci showcased geek chic, this time in in one of the season’s colours, red
A line skirt, £30, Next
Seam Detail Silk Dress £139, Jigsaw
South fringed jacket, £160, www.very.co.uk
The ’80s are big - big collars, big belts, big cuffs from Balmain, www.vogue.co.uk
Essentiel Antwerp boots with gold sequin inset, £216, from Peel
Front Clasp Stretch Waist Belt, £6.99, New Look
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
he autumn 2015 fashion season has produced such a plethora of conflicting styles that the old maxim, anything goes, has never been more true. While there are a number of key trends, designers such as Miu Miu’s A/W2015 show contrived to team up clashing colours and patterns so even the least fashion conscious could find themselves on trend. Thankfully, there are a few key looks that will be easily identified in the shops – take our hand and let us guide you...
No! I hear you cry but yes, what was acceptable in the ’80s will be de rigeur among dedicated followers of fashion this autumn and winter. Dig out your old photos of Princess Diana and prepare yourself for power shoulders, big belts and more ruffles than a Shakespearean shirtfront.
On the fringe
Don’t panic if you fell for the ’70s styles that hit the shops earlier this year – that look is here to stay with a shift towards even softer folk shapes. Fringes, suede and patchwork, flares, waistcoats and floaty dresses abound – why not go the whole hog with a poncho? Boots are long and skin-tight.
Family Life | 39
aside, coats are big, bold and warm this autumn/winter, with faux fur and leather vying with thick quilted coats.
LK Geo Coat, £75, www.jdwilliams.co.uk
While it’s true that anything goes, two of the strongest colours coming through for this autumn/winter are orange and red for dresses and coats in particular. Take a friend along when you’re shopping as not everyone can wear orange whereas red has a less draining effect on the skin tone.
Jewellery is over the top this season with huge earrings and necklaces making a comeback and nose studs out in force.
Patterns are still in and are as wild (in the animal sense), swirly or geometric as your frame can take. For those who don’t want to trigger a migraine in onlookers, it’s best to mix a block colour top with patterned bottoms or vice versa.
Clashing colours and patterns with the signature orange from Miu Miu, www.vogue.co.uk
The final surprise popping up on the catwalks is high necklines. The bigger and higher the polo neck the better on long or short knitwear. Ladies – sort out your underwear as an ill-fitting bra is hard to ignore under a polo neck. Steer clear if you are particularly top heavy.
Dayana Geo skirt, £39, www.joythestore.com
Burberry takes the ’70s look to the limit with patches, patterns, fringing and long, tight boots, burberry.com
Soraya, long boots,
Aztec Border Poncho, £29, Accessorize
D.Efect animal print top, £183, and high waisted pencil skirt, £192, from Peel
Back to front shirt, £40, www.yumidirect.co.uk
Definitions Stud High Neck Suedette Dress, £57, Littlewoods
Moschino put the fun into puffa coats - get the look with Nebulus Chamonix Women’s Winter Coat, £99, www.amazon.co.uk
Paula Gerbase shows how high a neckline can go, www.vogue.co.uk
40 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
spend a lot of time reviewing my client’s pre-appointment questionnaires to get a real understanding of what they want to get from the session. Understanding each store’s season looks and fits is also essential.
What can customers expect when they visit you?
Before every appointment, I carefully pre-select items suitable for each client’s body shape, age, budget and the occasion so that there’s nothing left to do when they arrive but have a try on and glass of bubbly in the Personal Styling Suite. It’s the ultimate experience in stress-free shopping.
Where does your style inspiration for your clients come from?
My style inspiration for my clients comes directly from them. I focus on what they feel comfortable wearing and what suits them. If they have a favourite body part, then I offer a style to accentuate it. Sometimes, clients will come in with a celebrity’s style in mind, like Kate Middleton, so my inspiration comes from key fashion pieces and colours that that person has worn.
Typically, what are your client’s first impressions after a styling session?
Some clients come in feeling nervous and a little anxious but soon realise that I am here to support their style needs and encourage them to try a style that they admire but are too nervous to wear. I offer custom styling which is unique to the individual, I don’t generalise style or try to make clients dress in a certain way just because it is on trend. Clients always comment on how confident they feel wearing the items chosen after a fun and relaxed personal styling session.
NAME AND JOB TITLE? KATHERIN FARRIES, PERSONAL STYLIST AT VICTORIA SQUARE
What’s your fashion background?
I have a fashion degree and background in retail, specifically visual merchandising, which has given me invaluable experience in putting together both key looks and classic styles. I have also worked in film and television including Game of Thrones and Dracula Untold, in the wardrobe and costume department using a range a different fabrics to create diverse looks. I love leather so I have to say that Dracula Untold was one of my favourite dramas to style. I have also worked on sci-fi dramas and period dramas, which has definitely perfected my skills in dressing for numerous types of occasions!
What’s your number one styling tip?
Keep it classic and classy. Invest in key pieces that will stand the test of time and pair them up with seasonal items as you move through the year. A mac is a great example of a timeless classic that can be worn from Autumn through to summer. Ted
Baker have some bold coloured macs in this season which are great for spicing up your wardrobe. Hobbs also has a range of macs that vary in lengths and styles which are a more feminine take on the classic design.
What is your key Autumn fashion piece?
The move into the Autumn season is fab because you can do so many looks with simple key items. I would say my must have is a large, patterned scarf. There are stunning ‘70s prints in this season that are bright and bold in colour. What’s great about a large scarf is that it can be worn in lots of different ways; not only can it be looped around your neck for that chic Autumn look, it can also be draped over your shoulders and belted at the waist to give a comfortable yet stylish finish.
What celebrities do you look to for style inspiration?
Like most women, I love the style of the Sex and the City character, Carrie Bradshaw. The frivolous way in which a ‘60s prom skirt was worn with a boy style t-shirt broke many fashion rules but looked great, it just worked. I also have a great appreciation for Cameron Diaz’s casual style. On a day to day basis, I love the way
she styles a killer pair of heels with a pair of jeans and oversized jumper. She looks effortlessly amazing.
How do you prepare for a working day?
In my role, information is key so I
How do people get in touch for personal styling booking?
I am contactable via the Victoria Square website www.victoriasquare.com which lists my direct email and contact telephone number. Whether it is booking or style advice, I am always happy to help.
42 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Fostergoodsibling relationshipsandthey’llreap therewardsinlaterlife
sychologists have found that while sibling bullying can be even more damaging than bullying by peers, there are tremendous benefits to be derived from healthy sibling relationships, especially in adulthood. People who enjoy good relationships with their siblings report higher life satisfaction and lower rates of depression later in life. Also in times of illness and traumatic events, siblings provide emotional, social, and psychological support to each other. Research shows that this support is common regardless of whether they live next to or far away from each other. Author and counsellor Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, writing in Psychology Today, lists three reasons why sibling relationships are very important:
1. Friendships may come and go, but you’re
stuck with your sibling. This relationship is oftentimes one of the longest relationships in a person’s life. 2. Sibling relationships are authentic. Often siblings grow up in the same environment, share the same parents, and share common memories and similar experiences. 3. Our siblings are our family tree. They are a part of who we are and that relationship is a shared history that makes this unique relationship invaluable.
People who enjoy good relationships with their siblings report higher life satisfaction and lower rates of depression later in life
Sharing is caring
Clearly, parents will wish to encourage and promote a healthy sibling relationship.
my I know ter is older s ecause b e loves ms me all her e she giv thes and has old clo ut and buy to go o ones. new d4 , age Lauren
Raychelle Lohmann’s advice is: n Start early. Parents encourage respect among siblings from the get go. Don’t tolerate negative and harmful behaviors in the sibling relationship. n Provide your children with opportunities to share time and activities with you. Be wary of sibling rivalry and try to “nip it in the bud” if you see it beginning to occur. n Avoid showing favouritism. This is probably the most common reason for sibling resentment. Let your children know that you value each and every one of themby making one-on-one time for each child. Set aside some time to spend with your children. This will help them feel special and appreciated. n Set a time for family meetings (weekly, biweekly, or monthly). Get together with all of the family to talk freely about grievances, issues, and celebrations. Give each person a chance to speak about what’s on his/her
plate and then focus on finding solutions to the problems. n Encourage healthy communication between siblings. If they have disagreements allow them to work it out in a healthy way. Teach them how to negotiate and compromise (give and take) and how to look for win-win solutions. You may have to help them establish the rules and guide them at first, but once they are able to do it on their own, stand back. n As children get older, encourage them to maintain a relationship or to do things together. This can become more of a task when they are teens and have independent lives, but a little family time built into each month is a great way to encourage this relationship. “Most parents want nothing more than their children to get along,” adds Lohmann. “Siblings are essential to child development. The benefits of a healthy sibling relationship can last a lifetime. Throughout the years they can become supportive friends. Besides, other than your parents,’ who else knows you better than your brother or sister?”
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Family Life | 43
Mysisterismyopposite and my best friend
Siblings don’t come much more different or much closer than Ciara and Sinead Lawn
hadn’t long woken up when my sister came into my room looking anxious and frantic after a night out: “Ciara, what happened last night? I don’t remember anything. What did I do?” She was panicking. Her voice was cracking and she had thrown her hands up to her head. I proceeded to debrief her about what she clearly feared must have been a very messy and embarrassing night: “You called taxis for nearly everyone at the pub and got them home, then you picked me up off the ground where I was waving my arms in the air singing a song and put me in a taxi. On the way home you had a long discussion with the taxi driver about the state of the economy or something before directing him to our house. “You unlocked the door, brought me inside, made me a cup of tea and a hot water bottle and then tucked me into bed.” She looked at me and said, “Really?” I nodded. She paused to consider what I had told her then matter-of-factly stated: “I don’t remember any of that.” This is typical of my sister. I don’t think she’s ever done a reckless or stupid thing in her life (though she often falls down stairs when she wears high heels). It’s not in her nature. People don’t often believe that we’re related. I’m dark, she’s fair, I can barely dress myself, she’s really girly. We don’t have anything in common - one’s interest is the other’s nightmare (any book or film I recommend is sure to traumatise her). Yet, there are few people I am closer to than her. Perhaps it’s because we couldn’t escape each other. She was born when I was a year old and we spent almost every day together until I was 18. We didn’t fight often but when we did, it was awful. Knowing all of each other’s worst insecurities makes them the point of attack
Sisterly love: Ciara Lawn (left) couldn’t manage without Sinead in any argument. Of course, there is nothing more sickening than the feeling of guilt that immediately follows attacking the hang-ups of someone you care about. I miss the days when a fight consisted of me hitting her on the head with a toy truck because I told her she wouldn’t have to go to school if I cracked her head open. I have lived away from home over the last four years and yet my sister and I are still so close. We’re in constant contact. While living in Wales, I called Sinead every time I had to walk up a big hill (which was often) to distract me from how tiring it was. If she wasn’t free to talk, I moaned so
that she would agree to stay on the phone just until I reached the top of the hill. She is very intuitive, she knows when I’m sad without me telling her and sends me message after message until she gets a response from me. Unlike most other people, she never says the wrong thing. I’m not sure if it’s all sisters or if it’s because we’re so close in age or whether she just has some sort of gift, but her ability to comfort me is unparalleled. When I was younger, I found it strange that the main people my mother seemed to spend time with outside of our home were her sisters.
As I’ve got older, I’ve come to understand why. I’m more likely to want to stay at home and try and coax Sinead into watching a film that she really doesn’t want to watch just to spend time with her rather than actually go out and see other people. Sometimes I wake up to find that I’ve fallen asleep in her bed because we were up late talking the night before. Despite being a year younger than me, she looks after me, she comforts me, she gives me money when I’m broke (because she’s a million times better at functioning as a human being than I am). I’d be mad without her. I like to believe she’d be mad without me too.
44 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
fter the Summer, many of us find ourselves struggling to get our finances back on track, especially those of us that use our credit cards when on holiday abroad. Statistics released by the Post Office state that holidaymakers in the UK spend £6 billion on their credit cards while on holiday; 27% of these holidaymakers use their credit cards to increase their spending money while 18% have not actually checked how much they will be charged for using their card abroad. Within three years, credit card spending has gone up 10%, from 49% in 2012 to 59% in 2015. Safety and ease are the main reasons people give for using their cards. John Willcock, Head of Credit Cards at Post Office Money, said: “There has been a big leap in the number of people using their credit cards abroad, with some seeing it as a safe and easy way to pay. “However, while it is great to indulge in some family fun it is important not to forget that it is still ‘real’ money. “It is essential that anyone planning on using a credit card abroad is fully aware of how much they will be charged.” The last thing anyone wants to see after coming back from a relaxing summer holiday is a minus sign on their bank statement. However, if you do find yourself in debt, Kathy McKenna, Money and Advice Programme Co-ordinator at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Belfast, has some advice: “If you are struggling to cope with credit card debt, seek free independent advice as soon as possible from your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau or another free advice agency.”
Top 10 reasons for using credit card abroad Nights out e.g. drinks, meals etc. 39 per cent
Visiting attractions/ excursions e.g. theme park, museums 37 per cent Duty free 34 per cent Food and drinks at supermarket 33 per cent Hotel 30 per cent When in credit card debt, your options fall into two categories - informal arrangements made directly with your creditor or formal insolvency options for example bankruptcy, an individual voluntary arrangement or a debt relief order. Informal arrangements can include negotiating repayment plans with creditors based on what you can afford and at the creditor’s discretion getting interest and charges stopped. If your circumstances are that you genuinely have nothing left at the end of the month then options may include a token payment arrangement until such times as your circumstances change or you can
even request a write off. “Take your time and research all your options,” says Kathy. “Don’t let worries about defaults or red letters panic you into making a fast decision that you might later regret. Speak to your creditors and ask them for a 30 day breathing space - explain that you are in difficulty and seeking advice.” This advice should point any of those worrying over post-Summer credit card debts in the right direction, however, to prevent the same thing happening next Summer, make sure to set a budget for additional credit card spending while on holiday and try to get a credit card that does not charge for purchases abroad.
Cash withdrawals 29 per cent Clothes/shoes 28 per cent Souvenirs/ gifts 28 per cent Presents for family/ friends 28 per cent Transport/travel e.g. trains 28 per cent
Ifyou’renotsure,seekadvice Advice – definition: guidance or recommendations concerning prudent future action, typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative
Throughout our day to day lives, events, no matter how routine, can necessitate us having to seek advice. The right advice can be the difference between making a prudent judgment or a wrong decision. Happily, there are many sources of advice and professional guidance to turn to. From mortgages, pensions and savings advice, to healthy living, identity security, travel and food safety information, welfare benefits and housing, there are services and organisations out there that could help you. One such body, and perhaps the best known advice organisation, is Citizens Advice. The largest advice charity in Northern Ireland, it works against poverty and offers free information and advice to over 95,000 people per year across its member bureaux. These members deal with over 330,000 issues, including benefits, debt, consumer, employment and housing issues.
It also represents the public at over 3,000 social security appeal tribunals a year. It provides online advice guides too. Advice is available from its 28 offices
across Northern Ireland and from over 110 other outlets. Visit www.citizensadvice. co.uk/ for details. If you have debt or tax concerns, whether
you are an individual or business, the idependent advice network, AdviceNI, may be able to help. It offers free help and advice on tax & benefits issues, debt problems and business debt issues. For details, visit www.adviceni.net. For guidance on anything from registering your child’s birth and claiming child benefit, to booking your car’s MoT, getting advice on education, employment, health and which benefits you may be entitled to, and housing matters, street lighting, support for carers, and much more, the government can help. Check out the official government website for Northern Ireland, www.nidirect.gov.uk. For relationship guidance, between couples, parents and teens and families, Relate Northern Ireland could help. See www.relateni.org These are just a few of the many organisations and service providers — statutory, voluntary and professional — that are there to help. Take a look through the following pages to see which services may be of use to you.
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Family Life | 45
Power to Switch
new service to help people take control of their home energy costs has just been launched. ‘Power to Switch’ (powertoswitch.co.uk) makes it easy to compare energy prices, save money on bills, find the best deal and make your hard-earned money go further. Developed by Aodhan O’Donnell, who previously led the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland, it provides independent and impartial information on energy issues and can help you find a better deal. So whether you are wanting to compare electricity tariffs, gas tariffs or compare the cost to heat your home with gas rather than oil then ‘Power to Switch’ can help. Over the next few months it will include information on oil prices and how householders can save by upgrading their old oil boiler. Speaking about why he developed ‘Power to Switch’ Aodhan O’Donnell commented: “It is difficult for people to compare energy prices, to access information, to understand their options and feel in control of their energy choices. ‘Power to Switch’ seeks to tackle this by helping people compare deals but also much, much more. It provides information on all sorts of energy issues from billing to support for vulnerable
consumers. There is also advice on energy efficiency measures as well as energy grants and other assistance available. “Since we launched just under a month ago ‘Power to Switch’ has helped almost 80 people identify total savings of over £3,700 on their current electricity and gas bill. That’s enough to cover the annual cost of 78 washing machines!” If you have never switched energy supplier or changed tariff there’s a good chance you’re paying more than you need to for your energy. But finding a better deal has never been easier especially if you use ‘Power to Switch’. Switching supplier is easy - you don’t even have to contact your old supplier. There is no interruption at all to your supply, no fee and you have 10 days cooling-off period if you change your mind. Power to Switch aims to give people the power over their home energy costs. There is no big mystery - the energy market is open to competition, there are many suppliers and tariffs to choose from. Many of us shop around for car insurance, travel insurance, broadband and mobile deals the aim of Power to Switch is to make it just as easy to find the best energy deal. Power to Switch is free, independent and impartial and is focused on helping people
Power to Switch helps householders make savings on their energy bills feel more informed about energy issues and help them find the best deal for them. It’s an exciting time for ‘Power to Switch’
so keep in touch through the website at powertoswitch.co.uk or follow us on Facebook and twitter at @powertoswitchni.
46 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
The novels selected for this year’s Man Booker Prize longlist will not disappoint, offering a wide variety of the finest contemporary fiction. Here are a few of the titles competing to be named book of the year... Sleeping on Jupiter Anuradha Roy
Jarmuli: a city of temples, a centre of healing on the edge of the ocean. Nomi, a young girl, is taken from her family and finds herself in an ashram, overseen by a charismatic guru. But Guruji’s charm masks a predatory menace, and the young girl faces danger beyond her understanding.
Lila Marilynne Robinson
Neglected as a toddler, Lila was rescued by Doll. Together they craft a life on the run, living handto-mouth with nothing but their sisterly bond. But despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation,
Twenty years later, Nomi returns to Jarmuli with a documentary film crew. All has changed in a town that she no longer knows, as tourists and market traders bustle, banter and chase their dreams amidst the temples of her youth. Seeking the truth about what happened to her and her family, Nomi finds herself chasing shadows in a town that has reinvented itself. But when she returns to the ashram that haunts her dreams, she discovers some scars cannot be washed away.
their shared life is laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to harmonise the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship, and to forget the shame of her past, until a chance meeting, and an unlikely attachment, changes everything. Revisiting the characters and setting of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Home, Lila is a story about a girl living on the fringes of society in fear, awe and wonder.
Did You Ever Have a Family Bill Clegg
Lit by the clarity of understanding that true sadness brings, Did You Ever Have a Family is a story that reveals humanity at its worst and best, through loss and love, fracture and forgiveness. At the book’s heart is the idea of family – the ones we are born with and the ones we create – and the desire, in the face of everything, to go on living. On the morning of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s house goes up in flames, destroying her entire family – her
The Green Road Anne Enright
The Green Road is a story of fracture and family, selfishness and compassion – a book about the gaps in the human heart and how we learn to fill them. The children of Rosaleen Madigan leave the west of Ireland for lives they never could have imagined in Dublin, New York and various third-world towns. In her early
present, her past and her future. The novel is a gathering of voices, and each testimony has a new revelation about what led to the catastrophe – Luke’s alienated mother Lydia, the watchful motel owners, their cleaner Cissy, the teenage pothead who lives nearby – everyone touched by the tragedy finds themselves caught in the undertow, as their secret histories finally come to light.
old age their difficult, wonderful mother announces that she’s decided to sell the house and divide the proceeds. Her adult children come back for a last Christmas, with the feeling that their childhoods are being erased, their personal history bought and sold.
For a full list of all 13 titles on the longlist, vist: www.themanbookerprize.com
Choosing the right book for a child can be difficult. Fortunately BookTrust have done the work for you, compiling their top 100 best books for young readers... 0-5 Gorilla by Anthony Browne
Hannah’s favourite animals in the whole world are gorillas; she reads about them, watches programmes about them, and draws pictures of them. But all she really wants to do is see a gorilla in real life. Hannah’s dad is always too busy to take her to the zoo, so on her birthday, Hannah decides to ask for a gorilla of her own. This fantastical picture book from 2009-2011 Children’s Laureate and Hans Christian Andersen Award winner Anthony Browne is a warm and sensitive story. With its beautiful, slightly surreal illustrations, it is a magical story to treasure and share again and again.
6-8 The BFG by Roald Dahl Illustrated by Quentin Blake
The BFG stands for Big Friendly Giant, who unexpectedly spirits a little girl named Sophie out of bed, and into the land of the child-eating giants. With Sophie in his top pocket, the BFG sets off to rid the world of the big, gruesome giants who guzzle up ‘human beans’ – the Bloodbottler, the Fleshlumpeater and all their rotsome friends. Full of outrageous humour and plenty of jokes about bodily functions that children will love, this warm-hearted stories is one of Roald Dahl’s many much-loved tales that continue to be cherished by readers of all ages.
9-11 Skellig by David Almond
When a move to a new house coincides with his baby sister’s illness, Michael’s world seems suddenly lonely and uncertain. Then, exploring a ramshackle garage with new-found friend Mina, he finds something magical. A strange creature - part owl, part angel, a being who needs Michael’s help if he is to survive. With Mina’s help, Michael nourishes Skellig back to health. The creature is ill-mannered, with questionable personal hygiene, but persevering in their kindness towards him, Michael and Mina find a bond forms betwen them that will change their lives forever.
12-14 The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman Illustrated by Chris Riddell
After his family are killed, Bod is brought up in a graveyard by ghosts – an array of century-spanning characters who care for him, impart wisdom and even teach body-fading skills. But Bod sometimes goes beyond the graveyard into the world of the living – and here his life is under threat from the sinister man Jack, who has pursued him since he was a baby. Bestselling author Neil Gaiman offers up a wonderful story of life, death and coming-of-age in this book, which won the Booktrust Teenage Prize. The fabulously original story is full of humour and surprise.
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Family Life | 47
The Intern (12A) October, 2, 2015
Spectre (12A), October 26
Anne Hathaway joins forces with Robert De Nero in this comedy directed by Nancy Meyers (of What Women Want and Something’s Gotta Give). 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin.
The Martian (PG-13), September 30
Daniel Craig returns as Bond for the fourth time in this, the 24th Bond film. A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organisation. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (15), October 23
Get ready to run the gamut of emotions during Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated sci-fi flick, starring Matt Damon. During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.
The Ghost Dimension, follows a new family, The Fleeges – father Ryan (Chris J. Murray), mother Emily (Brit Shaw) and their young daughter Leila (Ivy George) - Who move into a house and discover a video camera and a box of tapes in the garage. When they look through the camera’s lens, they begin to see the paranormal activity happening around them – including the re-emergence of young Kristi and Katie.
TakeyourpickoftheflicksattheOdysseyCinema Pan (PG), October 16
The Good Dinosaur (U), November 27
J.M Barrie’s classic novel is given a new twist as Peter Pan’s origins are explored. The spellbinding film tells the story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny – to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan. With an impressive cast, including Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Burke, Rooney Mara and Cara Delevingne, there’s sure to be something to entertain moviegoers of all ages.
Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” asks the question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? In this epic journey into the world of dinosaurs, an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. While travelling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of.
Hotel Transylvania 2 (PG), October 16)
The Peanuts Movie (U), November 6
The Drac pack is back for an all-new monster comedy adventure in Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 2! Everything seems to be changing for the better at Hotel Transylvania... Dracula’s rigid monster-only hotel policy has finally relaxed, opening up its doors to human guests. But behind closed coffins, Drac is worried that his adorable half-human, halfvampire grandson, Dennis, isn’t showing signs of being a vampire. So while Mavis is busy visiting her human in-laws with Johnny – and in for a major cultural shock of her own – “Vampa” Drac enlists his friends Frank, Murray, Wayne and Griffin to put Dennis through a “monster-in-training” boot camp.
Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the beloved “Peanuts” gang make their big-screen debut, like they’ve never been seen before, in state of the art 3D animation. Charlie Brown, the world’s most beloved underdog, embarks upon an epic and heroic quest, while his best pal, the lovable beagle Snoopy, takes to the skies to pursue his arch-nemesis, the Red Baron. From the imagination of Charles M. Schulz and the creators of the Ice Age films, The Peanuts Movie will prove that every underdog has his day.
48 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
The biggest evening in Belfast’s Cultural Calendar returns to transform the spaces and places of the city centre and beyond today, September 18. The schedule for Culture Night Belfast – which is returning for its seventh year – promises a packed programme of over 250 events, including: tasters, tours, talks, trails, demonstrations, activities, gigs, recitals, screenings, interventions, altercations and interactions. Free events kick off at 1pm with the citywide Belfast Salutes the Sun – organised by Flow Yoga Studios. Yoga teachers from all studios and centres from Belfast and beyond will lead everyone in this simple and awesome iconic yoga sequence. Events then spread throughout the day (with over 60 events happening this year before 4pm) and across the historic Cathedral Quarter and beyond, welcoming locals and visitors for an unforgettable afternoon and evening of exploration and adventure. Of the hundreds of events taking place
Tuck into Tesco Taste Festival Date: Friday, September 18 - Sunday, September 20, Custom House Square, Belfast
on Culture Night, a few highlights include The Big Fat Gay Wedding, organised by Amnesty International, which takes place on the front steps of The Merchant Hotel; The Campervan of Dreams – a place of imagination and a creative space for people to find acceptance and courage to
The Beat Carnival’s Urban Ballet, a huge choreographed parade which will leaves Custom house Square at 7.30pm, to the massive sound of Beat’s 100 drummers and 100-strong street choir and carnival band
The Great Symphonies: Saint-Saëns’ Organ
Now in its seventh year Tesco Taste Festival is expected to draw 20,000 visitors over the weekend. As well as 60+ local exhibitors, many of whom are launching new products, the Festival boasts lots of delicious free-to-sample food and drink plus entertainment, a petting zoo and a climbing wall. Much loved local favourites Mr Tayto and Mr Morelli will be in attendance and U105fm will be hosting an afternoon show from the event on Friday afternoon. A number of well known local chefs will also be doing cookery demonstrations in conjunction with Food NI. Taste Festival will stay open until 8pm on Friday 18th in order to be part of Belfast’s Culture Night. For updates keep checking http://www. facebook.com/tastenorthernireland.
Lindsay Skinner, Thompson Family Teas, Alan McKeown, Doherty & Gray, Gerarda O’Connor, Tesco, and Thomas Gilpin, Gilfresh Produce
Chief Conductor Rafael Payare Date: Friday, September 25, 2015, 7.45pm Ulster Hall, Belfast Tickets: £10 - £27
speak their dreams; Hit The North with Becks brings high quality street art from the finest street artists into the public consciousness like never before; the Slow Bike Race along Academy Street promises high tension and snail-like speeds as cyclists race to be last across the finish line is the winner; for one night only, Lumen, an immersive audio-visual light installation, will bring derelict space to life with its large-scale projection mapping show, complemented by a kaleidoscopic array of lights. The original and the best is back! The Big Culture Night Drum Circle will be going out with a bang in Royal Avenue. Hosted by The Gathering Drum, it gets bigger every year. How big can we make it this year? Get there early or you’ll be watching instead of playing!
The Night offers bands a shop window
To find out more about the CNB programme or get involved, go to www.culturenightbelfast.com or visit @CultureNightBel or the Culture Night Belfast Facebook Page.
The Big Culture Night Drum Circle
Also check out...
Fight on for Annie Purple Gala Ball, Europa Hotel, Saturday, October 17, 7pm
Get your glad rags on and support local pancreatic cancer charities by heading down to the Purple Gala Ball, organised by Grainne O’Neill in memory of her mother Annie. Hosted by U105’s Frank Mitchell, events will kick off with a drinks reception followed by a night of entertainment, including music from Backbeat.
Handbag Positive by Donna O’Connor, Waterfront Hall, October 16 - 30
Don’t miss Handbag Positive, the new and hilariously funny play by Donna O’Connor co-writer of A Night With George. Starring Alexandra Ford (Give My Head Peace) and Christina Nelson (Mistletoe and Crime). Attracta and Nora were the best of friends when they were teenagers. They shared everything from their Bay City Roller trousers to boyfriends. They drift apart as people do until fate reunites them in their middle age. In a local A&E they find themselves back in their teenage years, exchanging stories as well as insults. For tickets and more information visit: www.waterfront.co.uk
Tickets are £55 per person/£550 per table of 10. For more information or to book tickets contact Grainne on: 07754566157 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
BabyDay, Venues across Belfast, Sunday, September 27
Ulster Orchestra Chief Conductor Rafael Payare serves up a cordon bleu menu of fine French classics, celebrating the ‘King’ of instruments. Colm Carey, a soloist in demand around the world as much as in his role as Belfast City Organist, joins the Orchestra for this sparkling programme. The evening will reach its climax in the glorious, spine-tingling final movement of Saint-Saëns’ mighty Organ Symphony – one of the world’s best-loved classics and a piece that simply has to be experienced live. Free pre-concert talk at 7pm with Chief Conductor Rafael Payare.
A celebration of the written word through poetry, prose, journalism, comedy, song writing and more. Catch broadcaster James Naughtie, actors Stephen Rea and Dan Gordon, authors Bernard McLaverty, Colin Bateman, Glenn Patterson, Kevin Barry, Kathleen McMahon and Conor Brady, children’s author Derek Landy, poets David Park and Gerald Dawe, and many many more.
Replay Theatre Company are bringing the world’s first BabyDay to Belfast. BabyDay will be an extraordinary day that will capture the imagination of the whole city. With art in the streets, music in the air and families everywhere, there’ll be a real festival feel and Belfast will be one big bundle of joy! BabyDay is more than a fun day out. It’s about hope. It’s about the future. It’s about the family that Belfast could be – it’s the most important play-date in your diary.
For the full Ulster Orchestra programme please visit: www.ulsterorchestra.com
For further details contact North Down Museum, (028) 9127 1200, aspectsfestival.com
Visit www.belfastbabyday.com for more information
Aspects Irish Literature Festival, Bangor, various locations, Wednesday, September 23- Sunday, September 27
50 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Gadgets and gizmos If you like your household implements to brighten your day, take a look at these quirky items...
There’s definitely something lurking in there – it’s the Nessie Soup Ladle, designed by Ototo, £14.95, www.luckies.co.uk
Make a trip to the bathroom a stylish event with Renova’s black toilet paper 6 rolls for £7.10, www.madeindesign.co.uk
For a modern twist on the traditional cuckoo clock, the Bird Watching Cuckoo Clock will make a quirky and fun addition to any interior, £380, www.redcandy.co.uk
Create a party atmosphere at every bottle opening with this Giant Champagne Cork Cooler, £50, www.wineware.co.uk
Make watering your plants a design feature with Bonnie and Bell‘s Rainy Pots, £9.50 each, www.notonthehighstreet.com
There’s ‘eggstra’ encouragement to add some soldiers to your boiled egg when using the Arthur Egg Cup and Spoon, £10, www.luckies.co.uk
Smile! You’re on camera... thankfully, despite looking like the real thing, it’s just a Pola Roll Toilet Paper Holder, £16, www.redcandy.co.uk
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Family Life | 51 Your guest may be unaware but your cat will be entertained by this Cat Play House – Tank, £19, www.redcandy.co.uk
An omnipresent feature in every stylish kitchen is the Alessi Juicy Salif Citrus Squeezer by Philippe Starck, £40, www.alessi.com
Nature lovers everywhere can bring the outdoors indoors with the Forest Stump Pouf, £169.99, www.wayfair.co.uk Make the most of any barbecue-worthy autumn days and sure your steak is cooked just to your liking with the Barbecue Stamp – a branding iron for meat to indicate how well it has been cooked, £19.95, www.luckies.co.uk
Chill out with some homemade ice lollies from your own personal ice cream van, making any flavour combinations you fancy, £15, www.suck.uk.com
52 | Family Life
BY PAUL CONNOLLY
ars and driving can be a complicated affair, yet your family is precious to you so you can’t afford to cut corners when it comes to safety. Modern cars are full of safety aids but you should be aware how to use and deploy them properly to make sure your motoring environment is fit for purpose. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best things you should know:
Euro NCAP and new car safety
Euro NCAP is a bit of a mouthful to say and remember, but it’s very important. The EU authorities are determined to standardise safety across the hundreds of millions of vehicles – and billions and billions of journeys – in the EU. Since 1987, the European New Car Assessment Programme has saved countless thousands of lives. In fact safety ratings are now an important sales plus point, thanks to companies like Volvo and Mercedes blazing a trail. The Euro NCAP tests have now moved away from simply protecting passengers in a car; they’re now about preventing crashes and minimising injuries (including to pedestrians or people in other vehicles). So apart from the crash test dummies videos you see in the media, Euro NCAP has also been responsible for softer bonnets, traction control systems and banning rigid ‘bull bars’ that distort vehicles in a crash. Tests include front impact into an offset deformable barrier, a side impact test, a side impact pole test and tests with pedestrian head and leg forms. A key move was the introduction of a separate star rating for child protection around 10 years ago. The latest standards are even tougher than before: basically look for a car that scores 4 or the maximum 5. Full details on www.euroncap.com
ESC: Electronic Stability Control
You may never have heard of ESC but it could save your child’s life. It’s been compulsory in new cars since November 2011, so basically expect all 2012 cars to have it. ESC is an active safety system that’s fitted to cars. Active safety systems are devices that work to prevent a car accident happening – as opposed to passive safety systems like seatbelts and airbags. It’s thought that ESC reduces the risk of skidding by up to 80% and with skidding established as the cause of at least 40% of all fatal road accidents in EU countries, its widespread use can have a major impact. If you’re buying an older car it’s a real safety plus if it has ESC.
ABS: Anti Lock Brakes
Anti-Lock Braking was first designed
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Keepyour familysafe on the road
for trains in the early 1900s. Bosch was the first company in the world to begin manufacturing ABS for cars in serious production in 1978. Since then the company has produced millions of ABS units fitted to cars worldwide. With an anti-lock braking system (now mostly known as an Automatic Braking System), computerised sensors at each wheel monitor deceleration when the brake is applied. The sensor will detect any wheel lockup and trigger the hydraulic system to automatically pump the brakes up to 15 times per second (known as ‘cadence braking’ - not to be confused with pumping the brakes, which can cause wheel lockup). It’s standard on almost all recent cars, but do check.
Airbags: Life and limb-savers
Airbags on their own aren’t miracle workers. The smaller 40-litre `Eurobags` that most cars use here must work in conjunction with seatbelts if they are to be really effective. As the deployment of airbags has become
compulsory on new cars, manufacturers now fit a whole range airbags to protect the driver and passengers. As well as passenger airbags there are now side-impact airbags,
curtain airbags and even knee airbags to reduce damage to occupants’ legs. Typically, an airbag will be fully inflated within 30 milliseconds (0.03 secs) after the point of impact with a threshold decelerator inbuilt to thwart accidental deployment. There’s an explosion no louder than the sound of a paper bag being burst which propels the nylon bag towards your face with so little force it’s like being hit with a pillow There are few recorded instances of airbags going off accidentally. Parents must also ensure that rear-facing child safety seats are not placed in the front, should the car be fitted with a passenger side airbag.
Child Seats: The law and ISOFIX
Children under thirteen years of age must of course be appropriately restrained using a child restraint if less than 1.35 metres tall. Children over this height must wear the adult seat belts at all times. Child restraint manufacturers have continued to improve the quality and functionality of their products as well as their longevity. In the early days of child restraints, parents continually had to buy a new seat as their child out-grew its current seat. These days, most designs cater for the growing child and as a consequence reduced the need to purchase anew so often. The industry-leading standard is ISOFIX, which defines attachment points for child safety seats in passenger cars. It has also been called the “Universal Child Safety Seat System” or UCSSS. Essentially, defines standard attachment points to be manufactured into cars, enabling compliant child safety seats to be quickly and safely secured. What this means is that the cars are anchored and not secured with seat belts. Much safer.
Driver assists: The new growth area
So-called Driver Assists are making a massive difference in driver and passenger safety. All those strangely-named automatic gadgets that take control of your car if they sense an accident is imminent or happening. For example, lane departure warnings, collision warnings, automatic braking, Hill Start Assist to stop you rolling backwards, pedestrian detection assists which will apply the brakes if it senses a pedestrian in your path. The list is endless and the more you have the safer your car will be. Manufacturers like Volvo have poured millions of pounds into developing them, and for good reason. There is a never-ending stream of innovation now, including assists like Ford’s that allow you to programme your car so your teenage son can’t drive over 50mph. Telematic (‘black box’) devices also make people drive more safely.
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Family Life | 53
Giveyourfamilyfirstclasscomfort, combinedwithworld-classsafety Introducing the award-winning car of the year – the Volvo XC90
crystal gearshift lever and ventilated front seats inspired by the human form with massage functions and four-way electric lumbar support. Every tiny detail in the Volvo XC90 is designed to make driving simpler, more enjoyable, and less stressful. This award-winning SUV truly combines style, substance and safety. Discover the All-New Volvo XC90 at your local Volvo dealer.
tylish, spacious and packed full of safety features, the XC90 is an exceptional family car that ticks a lot of boxes. So if you’re looking for a family car that looks great, is fun to drive and also meets your growing family needs, then the Volvo XC90 won’t disappoint. Voted 2015, Auto Express Car Of The Year, this seven seater SUV is Volvo’s most exclusive car to date. Not only does it turn heads from the outside, it’s equally impressive inside. With its clean, crisp, minimalist design, top-notch materials and flawless quality, its cabin feels luxurious, and it’s packed with stunning hi-tech features.
Big on safety
As befitting of a Volvo, the XC90 won’t let you down when it comes to protecting your loved ones. Volvo believes the XC90 is the safest of its type on the market. It’s packed with the latest safety technology, including two brand new safety features – such as Auto Brakes at Intersection, and Run Off Road Protection. To prevent accidents at busy junctions, the former is able to brake
Book a test drive at:
The award-winning Volvo XC90 the car automatically if the driver attempts to pull out in front of oncoming traffic – particularly useful at blind junctions, where edging out into the road might be dangerous. The second feature, Run Off-Road Protection, comes into its own on bumpy journeys. When this happens, the seat belts automatically tighten to hold occupants more firmly in place, and a special energy absorbing material between the seat and the seat frame weakens the forces that may travel through a driver’s spine when the vehicle is subjected to a hard landing. Beyond these two pioneering systems, the XC90 is loaded with many more features to make this one of the safest ways to travel. Lets just say, this family car is BIG on safety.
Big on luxury
It’s good to drive, too, in a relaxing and unflustered way. Volvo delivers the best in comfort and refinement, and it benefits
The spacious interior includes a built in booster for young passengers
from well weighted steering, composed handling and spacious interior. This stylish, spacious seven seater delivers all-round. Every element works in harmony, made from the finest materials – like soft leather, and grainy wood. With unique details like a
SMW Belfast Volvo Business Centre 028 9068 6000 www.volvocarsbelfast.co.uk Greers of Antrim & Coleraine 028 9446 0066 www.volvocarsantrim.co.uk
54 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Take the NEXTSTEP W
hether you are returning to full or part time work following a career break, changing direction in your profession or simply re-addressing your work and home-life balance, RecruitNI is the perfect Recruitment Website to find the job that is right for you with over thousands of positions right across the region. RecruitNI covers all industry sectors and offers a wide range of full and part-time jobs from office services to supervisory and management roles, roles in catering and construction, charities to call centres, telesales to telecoms there really is something for everyone. It so easy to apply direct to hundreds of local employers recruiting and help you take the next step in your career. A great feature on RecruitNI is that you can also upload your CV and set up a quick email alert for positions or companies that might be of interest to you. This takes the hassle out of having to keep looking on site as the job information is sent direct to you. Its so simple and more importantly it works! Here, Claire Craig interviews some recent users who have done just that...
Rowan Bateson, 31 BANGOR
As parents to a one year old son Rowan and partner Steph faced a decision earlier this year that many families will be familiar with. With Steph’s maternity leave coming to an end and Rowan working fulltime they found themselves weighing up their options regarding her return to work and the impending childcare costs. “We really didn’t want to leave Jack into a crèche when he was still so young,”
Rowan Bateson with his son Jack
Steph, Jack and Rowan Bateson at their Bangor home explained Rowan. “Plus with the amount it would cost it didn’t seem to make much sense as we would basically have been paying out one of our wages on the fees.” The couple decided it was more economically viable and made better sense if Steph returned to her role in a bank while Rowan stayed at home with Jack during the day. Rowan said: “Up until that point I had been balancing work in a restaurant and off-licence with casual work in a mechanics. Steph has a great job in the bank and is studying for a degree in Sociology, plus she had been so amazing at looking after Jack during her maternity leave, that it only seemed fair that her career took priority for a while.” Thanks to the flexibility of his employers Rowan has been able to arrange it so that he stays home with Jack during the day and then works evening shifts in the restaurant and off-licence.
the degree but options include working as an early years’ advisor, day care manager or continuing on to do her PGCE and teach. Three years ago none of these roles could even have been considered and Louise has no hesitation in encouraging other people who are considering retraining to go for it. She said: “There are a few sacrifices I’ve had to make but when I look at it on the bigger scale it’s a much better balance – the boys are happier and I’m happier. “Once you get your mind into it you can do it. It’s never too late to change your mind and go for something that you believe in.”
Louise Cassidy, 38 DUNGANNON
After more than 20 years working in retail Louise Cassidy was ready for a career change. With a demanding job as a store manager and two young children at home she was struggling to find a work/life balance and no longer felt a sense of job satisfaction. Louise explained: “I’d been in my job as a store manager of a clothes shop for 11 years and that meant working nearly every weekend, many evenings and all of the holidays. “When my eldest son was two and a half he said to me, ‘Mummy I’m so sad when you’re not here’. That really struck a chord and got me to thinking about the future.” Two years ago, after much researching online and looking at various jobs, Louise made the decision to return to education and study for a diploma in childcare at South West College, Dungannon. From that she secured work in a play group looking after three and four year olds. With her own sons now aged five and three Louise is set to continue her training and embark on a degree in Early Childhood Studies with Stranmillis College.
“It took a lot of adjustment for both Steph and myself,” said Rowan. “It’s tiring and it’s not ideal but Jack’s welfare is our top priority and I think now we seem to have found a good balance.” When Jack is a little older and Steph is finished her studying the couple plan to readdress the situation and in the meantime Rowan is continuing to keep a close eye on the job market. “At the minute I’ve probably got the best of both worlds and the three of us really make the most of our weekends together but when Jack starts nursery I’d like to get back to a more 9-5 job so that I’ll then be there for him and Steph in the evenings,” he said. “I’m always looking online to see what jobs are out there for my skillset and have also been looking into the possiblity of gaining a new qualification so that I’m in a better position to apply for them when the time is right.”
Louise Cassidy with her sons Shea and Finn Choosing to retrain in something completely new wasn’t an easy decision to make but Louise hasn’t looked back and is glad she made the transition. “It took a lot of soul searching and after being accustomed to doing something for so long it was quite nerve-wracking but I had to think of the bigger picture and take a leap
of faith,” she said. Louise has opted to do the course on a part-time basis which means she will be able to continue with her role in the play group, bringing in an income and still have plenty of time for family life. At this stage Louise is undecided what job she would like following completion of
Louise with her husband Joe
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Family Life | 55
Kerrie Convie, 41 ARMAGH
Kerrie had a successful career working as a sales and marketing manager but after the birth of her third child felt she needed to take some time out to concentrate on her family. During her nine year hiatus, in which she also had another baby, Kerrie had a couple of part-time roles and spent some time working on a freelance basis for different community and support groups, but it wasn’t until late last year, with all her children now at school, that she began to think about making a return to full-time employment. Kerrie said: “Although I was raising a family I never really stopped working but with my two oldest children going into secondary school I had started to feel the time was right to get back into the structure of permanent employment.” Taking part in the SEEK programme, run by Mid Ulster District Council, gave Kerrie a renewed confidence in her skills and ability and with assurance from friends and family she began searching for jobs online. “I received good feedback from a few of the jobs I’d done and that helped me realise I hadn’t lost my skills. Sales doesn’t change but marketing evolves so much that I was quite nervous I would be out of touch. It took for me to start believing in myself again and then I could see that all the elements were still the same.”
Kerrie Convie with her youngest son Aaron and dog Misty From her online job search Kerrie came across a post from Linwoods advertising for an International Sales Executive. “The closing date was the next day so I filled it out there and then,” said Kerrie. “It was the first job I had applied for so I was quite surprised when I got an interview and even more surprised to then get the job.” Kerrie’s job means she looks after four countries and travels regularly but has
found the transition back to full-time employment easier than she thought. “The kids have adjusted very well and we have a great support network of family and friends. I was at the stage where I wanted to do something for myself and I’m really enjoying the challenge and love being back at work. “It’s honestly like riding a bike, you just have to believe in yourself.”
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Howtostayfitfor life W
Family Life | 57
ith researchers at Queen’s University Adam says. “When I was playing rugby it was all 18th century. “A Russian brought it to America and it claiming that sitting for long about strength and lifting heavy things but went mainstream from there,” he explained. “The kettle periods of time is just as there wasn’t really any focus on the mid bells gives you fat burning, toning, strengthening and Queen’s dangerous to your health as section. If you have a good core, you have conditioning.” researchers have smoking, the pressure is on to get moving. good strength everywhere.” “Kettle bells benefit older people too because you work already shown that Most of us are spending 80% of our time Adam says the kettle bell, which is a your bones as well so they will reproduce good bone tissue. mothers who sit more during pregnancy are likely on our posteriors, increasing our risk of weight with a handle which you swing, “Women who have had children, their core does get hit to have heavier babies, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even is an extremely versatile and useful piece by the whole process of pregnancy. With kettle bells the while men who spend early death, according to Dr Mark Tully, of equipment for anyone over 16 years. core is working the whole time.” more time sitting at work from the UKCRC Centre of Excellence for “Every single muscle group that you He also rates the deceptively easy looking exercise have poorer kidney Public Health at Queen’s University, who is would use in the gym you can use planking as an extremely effective discipline. “Planks are function. leading the NI contingent of an international for kettle bells.” brilliant for improving core strength.” project which will spend four years developing He recommends that anyone You start by getting into a press up position. innovative ways to tackle sedentary behaviour and taking up these exercises should start Bend your elbows and rest your weight ono increase physical activity in older people. with a class so that they can get the correct your forearms. Your body should form a The Australian Sax He suggests people can be more active at work by using technique from the start. straight line from shoulders to ankles. Institute’s 45 and Up treadmill and height adjustable desks, which allow users to A basic kettle bell swing would involve Engage your core by sucking your belly Study found that people alternate between standing and sitting. starting with the bell between your legs button into your spine. who sat more than 11 hours Many of us have already taken on board the official and swinging it up to chin height. It doesn’t sound taxing but Adam a day had a 40% higher risk advice to incorporate 30 minutes of exercise a day into our While to the onlooker it might seem says: “When I first started planking I was of dying in the next three routines by walking to school or work, cycling and taking as if the arms are doing the work, in fact shaking after about 10 seconds. If you did years than people who sat the stairs rather than a lift. All of that counts towards the swing comes from the legs and the a 30 second plank you would feel it. You less than four hours a day staving off life limiting conditions but to feel really fit and gluteals and is a hip-driven movement. can take weight off by going to the knees healthy you need to put a little more effort in. Adam said Kettle bells, far from being but you must have the hips and shoulders in Personal trainer Adam Kelly, of Silverback a passing fad, originated in Russia in the a straight line.” Fitness, is an advocate of functional training, Like the experts at Queen’s he says: “Our bodies which conditions the whole body rather than were never made to spend eight hours a day in an office. focussing on one set of muscles at a time. He People who sit in an office all day get back pain and all recommends using kettle bells or practising sorts of problems - planking is great for them. planking as the two optimum ways to get into You can work your way out of those peak condition and stay there, no matter what problems by doing these exercises.” your age. “The big buzzword in the fitness industry For further details check out Silverback over the past decade has been ‘core’,” Fitness Carrickfergus on Facebook.
58 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
It’s time to veg out!
A healthy choice, these tasty recipes make a fantastic meal for the family
ealthy eating plans tend to be stowed away along with the shorts and flip-flops as soon as the weather starts to turn; But SPAR’s Ambassador Chef Paula McIntyre is here to make sure you and your family stay on track! Driven by a passion for good local produce and seasonality, both Paula and SPAR have equipped you with these delicious, super easy and affordable recipes you can easily follow in your home. Get some help in the kitchen by watching Paula’s online recipe tutorials at www.spar-ni.co.uk/enjoylocal
SPAR’s ambassador Chef Paula McIntyre
Vegetable Cottage Pie with Beans
Serves: 6 Prep time: 20 mins Cook time: 40 mins
Filling: n 2 carrots n 1 leek n 2 onions n 2 tablespoons vegetable oil n 2 sticks celery n 1 x 400g can cannellini beans n 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes n 2 tablespoons tomato puree n 2 tablespoons brown sauce n Fresh ground black pepper n 2 vegetable stock cubes Potato Top: n 750g potatoes n 25g butter n 2 tablespoons cream n 75g cheddar cheese Method: For the filling… 1. Peel and slice two onions, two carrots, one leek and two sticks of celery.
2. Grate the cheese. Drain the cannellini
beans and make up 250mls of vegetable stock with two cubes. 3. Cook the onions, carrots and leeks in the oil until soft and golden – cover with a lid and place on medium heat. Stir occasionally. 4. Add the two tablespoons of tomato puree and mix all the ingredients. Cook for 2 minutes then add the stock, tomatoes and brown sauce. Simmer until the mixture is thick – about half an hour. Mix in the beans and pour into a baking dish.
For the potato top… 1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. 2. Boil the potatoes. When soft, drain and
place over a low heat to dry out. Mash and add the butter, cream and 50g of the cheese. 3. Spoon the potatoes over the top of the vegetable mixture and scatter over the remaining grated cheese. 4. Bake in the oven until golden and bubbling – about 25 minutes.
Vegetable Biryani Serves: 4 Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 10 mins Ingredients: n 25g root ginger, finely chopped or grated n 2 cloves garlic, minced n 1 onion, peeled and chopped n 1 tablespoon cooking oil n 2 teaspoons curry paste n 1 tablespoon tomato puree n 350g Cooked rice n small cauliflower, cooked plus some cooked leaves n 200ml vegetable stock, made with one cube n 6 Potatoes, cooked and cut into 3 n 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved n 4 Scallions, chopped n 100ml Natural yoghurt n 50g chopped roasted peanuts
Method: 1. In a large frying pan, fry the ginger,
2. 3. 4. 5.
garlic and onion in the cooking oil until soft. Add the curry paste and tomato puree and cook for 30 seconds. Add the rice, cauliflower and potato and cook to coat the vegetables. Add the stock and tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are hot. Add half the scallions and cook for 30 seconds. Serve in bowls, topped with a drizzle of the yoghurt, the remaining chopped scallions and a scattering of the peanuts.
Cooking times may vary. Cupboard essentials such as seasoning, may be required to complete recipes in addition to ingredients listed.
60 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
ou could be forgiven for thinking Mark and Lesley McMullan are horsey people. Their daughter Mya began riding ponies almost before she could teeter on her own little tootsies and Lesley’s family’s racehorse Carsonstown Boy had his finest moment when he came in second at Cheltenham this year. But that would be underestimating the scope of this animal loving family. Lesley, her sister and her mum Olive Monaghan between them own Dre, the Rotweiller, George the Husky, Truffles and Rinty the Westies, the four horses Tara, Lilly, Dandy and Jet and last but not necessarily least, Daisy, Puss-puss and Stray, the cats. All 11 are semi-permanent fixtures at Olive and husband Jim’s Ardglass home. Lesley admits Mark, who works in construction, wasn’t animal mad at first but is pleased to say: “He’s getting that way.” The three of them go riding almost every evening after work. “I got into horses when I was six or seven,” explains Lesley, and like any youngster, she also had a favourite pet. “We had a golden lab called Scooby.” It seems that the old adage like mother, like daughter is applicable in this family. “Mya started riding ponies when she was
Mya goes over a jump
Mark, Lesley and Mya McMullan just three. She loves it, really enjoys it,” says Lesley, adding that the fondness extends to all sorts of creatures in Mya’s case too. “She says she wants to be a dog trainer when she
Myparrotis moredangerous thanoursnakes, spiderorpraying mantis-Ali
BY CIARA LAWN
hen it comes to pets, most people go for the standard cat or dog; Ali Jamil (22), however, got his first snake
when he was 12. “We got snakes because they were so different at the time,” he says. “It was kind of like the feeling you get when you went to the zoo, you got a heightened sense of observing animals, now when I’m at home,
grows up.” The family is expecting another addition this Christmas when Mya gets a little brother or sister.
What will they do if this one doesn’t share their love of pets? “Oh it will, no child dislikes animals when they are brought up around them,” says Lesley. Fingers crossed!
it’s kind of like I’m at a zoo.” The first snake Ali brought back to his Ballinamallard, Co. Fermanagh, home, was a corn snake which he says is a great beginner snake: “They’re easy to take care of, they’ll never bite and I just thought if I’m going to get one, I’ll get one that’s easy to handle.” After a number of years, he got a Hog Island dwarf boa constrictor, followed by a jungle python that is currently seven feet long and is likely to grow to nine feet. When discussing the cons of having a snake for a pet, Ali explains: “It’ll never cuddle up to you, they’ve no emotion, they’ll never get attached to you. They’re not like a normal pet, I really think they see you as a tree, they just climb you but it’s not like they even take you in.” However, in terms of the pros, they are not expensive to keep, they rarely need feeding and they are very easy to take care of. Despite this, however, many people are afraid of snakes, and Ali puts this down to Hollywood. “There’s a lot of negative perception with them, like in the movie, Anaconda. I come from an Indian background of people who lived in forest land and we grew up with this culture in our house where animals were a really positive thing,” he explains. “Seeing that movie, we just didn’t get why it would
exaggerate so much. You’re being told a lie in a movie to make an animal look bad, it just makes you think why? “It made them seem like vicious creatures and they’re not. I had the boa when he was maybe 5-6 inches and to watch him grow to 5 feet, how could I ever be scared of something like that?” Snakes are not the only unusual animals to reside in the Jamil household. “My brother brought home a tarantula one day and I was annoyed at this, so he just put him on me. I realised it’s literally nothing, it doesn’t want to harm me. I have a pet parrot and he’ll do more harm to me in one given day than the snakes have done in a decade of having them. The tarantula’s never done anything either. These animals are so different and that’s where the fear comes in - but the actual animal itself isn’t going to do you any harm. It’s all our perception really.” He also kept praying mantises as pets. “They really gave me the creeps initially, then I handled them and realised they’re just like the rest of them,” says Ali. “They’re actually beautiful creatures because they’re so fragile that if you hold one too hard, you can take its leg off. It made me realise that we are the biggest danger, not these animals that people are afraid of.”
18 September 2015 | Belfast Telegraph
Lesleyâ€™s familyâ€™s racehorse Carsonstown Boy in the blue and yellow, came in second at Cheltenham this year
Ali Jamil with his corn snake, Reno
62 | Family Life
Belfast Telegraph | 18 September 2015
Makeway forthehome business revolution A
ccording to data released by the University of Greenwich, small businesses are leading a revolution that is keeping the country strong through these tough economic times. The UK’s growing army of home-based business owners now contribute more than £300bn to the UK economy each year. According to a new report by entrepreneur organisation Enterprise Nation and Direct Line for Business, some 64% of home entrepreneurs are female. However, just three in 10 have children under 10, suggesting that women are not solely starting companies at home in order to work flexibly to cope with family commitments. Most of the ‘homepreneurs’ surveyed said that they started their business from home as a way to monetise their favourite hobby. The majority also said that they had spotted a gap in the market, or that their previous job was insecure or unsatisfying. Bangor woman Pauline Carson launched the Little Bake Shop some three years ago and is constantly in demand. “I felt I needed a different challenge but one that would allow me to put my kids first. “Working from home means I can decide my working hours so I can go to all the sports days and nativities, be there when kids get home from school and not rely on others for childcare. “The most difficult part is having to work late into the night when the kids have gone to bed, and finding time to get out of the house and socialise! It can be quite lonely at times,” added Pauline. The Home Business Report analysed data from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to assess the true impact of UK home businesses on the economy – it found that there are currently 2.9m business owners running kitchen table businesses. This represents 50% of small businesses in the UK. According to data from the University of Greenwich (2013), 55% of entrepreneurs have a university degree and 20% of entrepreneurs have started their businesses before the age of 24.
Some people find it hard to cope with the isolation of working at home great friendships are forged in the office, let’s face it, there can be annoying dorks just waiting to make your life miserable as soon as you arrive. Working from home means you don’t have to put up with annoying/ rude/demanding/crude or malodorous colleagues.
Tickle your ears. Working from home means you can listen to whatever type of music you like and play it as loud as you like. There’s no-one to impose country music or Michael Bolton’s greatest hits on your tender lobes.
The biggest downfall to working from home can be the long, dreary, solitary hours. Depending on your type of work, it can be hard to perform well without people around you.
Working from home can slash childcare costs
orking from home can seem like the best deal ever for a parent – you get to do the school run, you save a fortune in childcare costs and you can be your own boss, in effect. There are smaller pros – and cons – that come to light when you start down the home working route.
Not only do you not have to worry about what to wear, you can opt out of getting dressed at all and spend the day in your dressing gown if you like. However, many people find that getting dressed is vital to get you in the right frame of mind. The beauty of it is, the choice is yours!
No commute! Forget about wasting at least an hour a day travelling to and from work. Simply roll out of bed, get the kids out to school and settle yourself down with a mug of coffee while your PC cranks into gear. Instead of the working day going from 8-6, it literally lasts from 9-5.
Break up your day. Instead of having to stay in the office or go out for lunch, you can spend your lunch break on a hobby, walking the dog, or getting a head start on the housework.
Choose your friends. No-one gets to choose the people they spend their working day with and while many
Powered up. While you’re saving on fuel and childcare costs, your electricity bill is going the wrong direction, thanks to your home now being inhabited round the clock.
Kids’ TV! Schoolkids need to unwind after a day’s labour at school and the chances are that will mean the TV going on within your earshot. Nothing can match the squeaky mewlings of My Little Pony or the grating raspings of Hacker for off the scale annoyance. Be warned.
Interruptions. You’re in the middle of an important call and there’s a small person tugging on your sleeve and going “Mum, can I have…” It’s vital to lay down clear groundrules from the start or the system won’t work.
The cold. Winter days can find you longing for a comfy heated office as you shiver under several layers of clothing, a fleece and blanket. You don’t want to have the heating on all the time and lighting a fire would be too indulgent… or would it?