GNI MAG ISSUE 59 - Christmas 2023

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GNIMAG your local homocultural magazine



winter we dding guide




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2024 TOUR selling fast

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(14:30 sat 4 may matinee) (19:30 sat 4 may evening)


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WORLD TOUR 2023/24







Credits Daniel May Operations Director Pauline Fitzpatrick Sales Executive Tony Day Design Thanks to... Cian Ducrot / Jake Quickenden / Rebecca Furguson / John Von Ahlen / Baby Queen / Jordan Oosterhof / Jason Caceres /Connor Mills / Xand / Gavyn Andrews / Megane Herrick / Danny Malone / Gary Campion / Martin Kearney / Gourmet Boys / Ellise Richards / Martin Murray / Robin Elliott / Jamie Booth / Shane Gallagher / Paul at AHO Wellness / Ciara & Beccy / Lee & Loan / The Rainbow Project / Action For Children / Project Publicity / Lyric Theatre / GOH / RAW PR / Chuff Media / Halestorm PR / Joe Brown / AC Marriott / Kingfisher Country Estate / Breda Lodge / Gnostic / Antrim & Newtownabbey Council / Paul Smith PR and anyone else who supplied editorial.


GNI MAG is published by: Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd. 13 Union Street Belfast, BT1 2JF



All submissions to GNI MAG are made on the basis of permission to publish the submission in GNI MAG and it’s licensed editions worldwide. In the case of picture selection, the editors decision is final. Any materials sent is at the owners risk and although every care is taken neither Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd or it’s agents shall be liable for loss or damage. We take great care to make sure all elements of GNI MAG are accurate. However we accept no liability for misprints that appear in this magazine. You should seek professional advice prior to following any advice offered in this publication. Any opinions expressed are those of the writers and not those of GNI MAG or Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd. Romeo & Julian Publications Ltd 2023

So what has been going on in Daniel’s world? First off Halloween was meh, I didn’t buy a costume or attend my friends Catherine and Aarons annual party due to commitments - though I did dress up for a few hours while at the parentals, next year I’ll be back to going all out! Work aside I have been so busy with rehearsals and shows, last weekend I was an Elf in Victoria Square and I had a solo show in The Dunadry Hotel - It was an afternoon at the Musicals, this was organised by Harbinson Mulholland to raise funds and awareness for their 6 chosen charities - it was such a fun afternoon. Next up is Panto, 45 shows of Jack and the Beanstalk in The Courtyard Theatre - I am yet to learn my lines or songs so the next few days are going to be intense. This will consume most of my December, my next day off is 20th Dec though I have an extended holiday to look forward to after it - on 5th January i’m back off to South Africia.

An introduction from our editor...

Other news I had my first stint as a parent. It was the most amazing experience ever, 3 year old Annie, who was a whirlwind, was with me for 9 days. We had a great time. This was a great introduction for me and has made me aware of my capabilities - I loved all the little things, reading books, singing songs, and her big smile in the morning. It has made me even more eager to have a little one full time. Roll on next year, plan is to do one long term placement before moving to the last stage. I’m also looking forward to Christmas, getting the tree & decorations up, spending time with family/friends and eating my bodyweight in chocolate lol Rite, enough about me - Let’s move on to this Issue and what’s filled within the pages ___ We have added 32 pages, bringing you a bumper edition in time for Christmas.


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28 Pages are dedicated to Weddings, we have a Xmas section and a ream of interviews, features and columns. Check this out for an interview list, we have Cian Ducrut, Jake Quickenden, Rebecca Ferguson , Jordan Oosterhof, Jason Cacres, John Von Ahlen and Baby Queen on board Megane Herrick was on xmas detail for this issue, her features focus on Surviving your Christmas Party and Christmas on a Budget. In this section we also have pieces on AC Marriott, Christmas Movies and an 8 page fashion spread from Joe Brown This issues ‘Real Life’ story is by Paul from Aho Wellness - what a story I was captivated while reading it. Our Try section is packed with recommendations, Gary shares his Hot Hits & Celeb Bits, The Gourmet Boys tell us of 7 Festive Foodie Stocking Fillers Brunch Venues. I reviewed not 1, or 2 but 3 establishments for this edition - Gnostic, Breda Lodge and the Kingfisher Country Estate. Martin Murray is moving from Sport on to Books, Ellise shares fitness tips, Martin Kearney talks about ‘Santa Claus: The Movie’ and Gavyn takes us on a trip to Switzerland Throw into the mix 2 Big Day features with Lee & Lee and Becky & Ciara and this issue is really packed to the brim with content. Thanks to our Columnists who share what’s been going on with them, our advertisers for their continued support and most importantly you, our readers. Enjoy Reading xx Daniel May Editor and Director

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In April I disclosed a dream project I had, life happened, and I put the idea back on the shelf, I felt for this kind of project I wasn’t as

intelligent as needed and that it would take self-belief to front and a willingness to ask for help, and this circle of frustration stopped me for a long time. For anyone who has read my previous columns you can tell it’s been a weird phase of life for me. So, when I went to my partner on October 22nd and blurted out the plan and how I couldn’t not at least try anymore, we got to work.

Queer Assembly is a catalogued printed expression of queer Northern Irish artists. A hardback book filled with amazing works from talented artists expressing themselves and their queerness. No rules just a blank canvas in which to represent themselves completely. First, the difficult bit for me, asking artists if they’d want to submit. I’ve been lucky to connect with so many artists from different mediums but the idea of asking someone to be a part of something I’m part fronting was terrifying, usually much happier in the background, yet the uptake was incredible, even with the tight deadline of a week. (Yes, at this point the aim was to have the book produced and sent before Christmas, this is the end of October, the book isn’t started yet). While me and my partner were starting to become actual admin wizards, more so him being amazing and me trying to keep up (did you know that Hotmail has folders?!) I settled into a designing the look of the book, building a brand identity, and creating the Kickstarter. The project progressing and artists submitting their work, I was speechless, it fully cemented why this project is important. Northern Ireland is so lucky to have such a rich tapestry of skilled and accomplished artists. You see it from our city murals to sculptures, from our body art to the feeling captured forever in a picture. Monday October 30th, we launched Queer Assembly. For the project (100 books to be produced and sent) it would cost approx. £1600-1700 with Kickstarter fees of £300, our first goal was £2000, and as I’m typing this, a week later, were currently not only funded but already raised £2130. We were shocked, we obviously believed in the project and the artist’s work, but we had no idea how many people would connect with the project. People saying how much the project meant to them due to anxiety of in person events, how GNI MAG [10]

something spanning the width of the whole of Northern Ireland was needed, tattoo artists expression of their own queerness allowing them to reach out and feel comfortable in being tattooed by these artists, how people didn’t realise how many people belonged to the queer arts community and they’ve already made connections they cherish just some of the reasons. Yet this doesn’t mean we now rest; our biggest goal is to create a yearly publication where we continue to highlight and support all queer artists across Northern Ireland. We plan on using additional Kickstarter funding to create in-person launch events in 2024 where we exhibit the artist’s work, using these events to reimburse the artists financially while creating spaces for the artists themselves to sell their works. We’re also donating 25% of profits made in the first year to The Rainbow Project, as I’ve talked about before it was counselling I had received from The Rainbow Project that helped me process sexual violence I had experienced in my teens, they helped me get out of a hole I felt I couldn’t myself, and gave me a lifeline last year when I really needed it and the idea I can use this platform to give a little back to what I can never repay means a lot. I don’t know what Queer Assembly looks like when this issue is released, to be honest were following our morals, the support of the community, the want to do our best to make a new and exciting opportunities for the queer Northern Irish arts community and I guess if I were to give a Christmas style message for those reading to take into the new year it would be this. Take a dream, doesn’t matter what it is, don’t let life beat it out of you, rely on your strengths and those around you and go achieve something that you can be proud of. Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.

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Interview By: Gary Campion

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Hi Cian thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your album and tour. You’ve had quite a year between releasing a number-one album, flash mob performances, singing with orchestras choirs touring, with Ed Sheeran and even opening for The Killers here in Belfast. If you had to, just pick one moment to frame in your memory forever, out of the past year, what would it be and why? I think it would probably be the first few minutes or hours I spent hanging out with Ed Sheeran. Just because it was so surreal to be in that position and it’s things like that still to this day that don’t feel real. I mean that entire tour with him was just an unbelievable experience. I think that moment, those first few like minutes where I was like, this is Ed Sheeran sitting in my dressing room talking to me. This guy that I have just idolised and worshipped and been such a fan of my entire life basically inspired my entire career. I think that moment or at the moment I found out I had a UK number one album when I was on the plane and it touched down in Cornwall for the Boardmasters Festival. I had never felt that sort of emotion and pride of anything before really. So I think yeah maybe those two moments were two moments where I’m just like this is not actually happening. You’ve touched briefly there on some of your inspirations, obviously, being partly from Ed Sheeran. You’ve been very open about your childhood and the abusive childhood you had at the hands of your father and how that inspired your music and the victory album, do you feel that writing producing and playing that album has kind of been your therapy? I think so in many ways because getting the stories in there is so important, it feels so nice to write about it and to kind of remove that barrier and that stigma between myself and like fans or audience you know but also because it just feels really special to be able to see the fans connect with my music, with my stories that are so personal. I feel like I am telling them “You don’t feel alone, you know.” You’re performing for all these people and you see people singing the song back to you and you’re like, I guess you guys must relate to this in some way and whatever way that is it makes you feel really connected and that makes you feel sort of less alone in your story and what you’ve gone through. I think that’s the purpose of music for the fans and also for the artists, but we just get to connect and it’s a really special thing and it’s definitely extremely therapeutic. Expanding on the answer you gave there what advice would you give to anybody going through going or

having gone through similar experiences, you have in your childhood? I think the most important is therapy and doing a lot of that, just to make sure it affects you as little as possible in a negative way. Surround yourself with people who love you like family members or good friends and do things that you love and that you enjoy and know when to take time out if and when you need it. Don’t be afraid if you feel like you can’t go to school for a day or something just because you need the space or you’ve been to therapy and you’re struggling, it’s important to take that time and to just recover properly. Then to try to have some escapes, things that you love to do that help you escape and think about something else. And you know, music is always extremely helpful but I think most importantly don’t let it define you, you know? Don’t let it overtake your personality or who you are, allow yourself to be whoever you want to be and don’t allow yourself to be defined by things. You want to be defined by and become whoever you want to be, you know, and I think that’s what I want to do inspire with this album, is like no matter what year you’re going through or have been through, you can still be Whatever person it is you want and whatever your dreams are you can achieve them! Reader question from Tony, “ Now that you’ve become well-known and famous within the music industry and your story is out there has your father tried to make contact and if he did how do you think you would react? He’s never tried to make any contact, not that I know of anyway. I haven’t received any attempt of contact from him, if he has I don’t know he’s tried. I don’t how I’d react, to be honest, no idea. I guess it’s obviously going to get to him eventually, you know with more and more people knowing my story and stuff but I tend to pretty much keep his identity unknown and I don’t know how he’ll react if he finds out, but I guess that’s not really something I have to think or worry about, you know. I don’t wish to ever speak of his name, I never wish like harm on him or anything, you know, that’s not who I am, maybe he’s learnt to live with it, I don’t know, I mean, I can’t speak for him. Another reader question this time from Cathal who wants to know what is the key secret to happiness? I think it’s doing more of what you love doing, more things that you love and you enjoy like I truly believe that that’s it. Spending time with your friends and I think it’s important to actually question what makes me happy or what gives you endorphins or that you feel you enjoy doing. I remember a time in my life GNI MAG [13]


when I was like not feeling so good, I was in boarding school and I was struggling a little bit and those things were all going on in my life. I remember just kind of feeling down and I didn’t know why I was feeling down and I remember my brain just immediately jumped to the conclusion that I wasn’t doing any of things I loved anymore. I had stopped skateboarding which is like my favourite thing in the world to do. I stopped making music and writing music, which was my other favourite thing in the world to do. I was obviously gonna be feeling miserable, I’m not doing anything that I love, and I’m not spending time with my friends properly. I’d say for me, that the key to happiness, if there is a secret key to happiness, or at least to beginning to open up that world, it’s to do what you love and the things that make you happy. Otherwise, you’re not gonna be happy, you know. Don’t sit in a job that you’re miserably or don’t spend your days doing nothing sitting in watching TV or whatever, find the things that you actually like. That you enjoy and put the effort into doing them. Here at GNI we’re loving your tour video diaries on your socials and we were wondering just how much control and input you have into your socials or now that you’re famous, do you have someone doing all your editing and everything for you? Everything that goes on socials is going through me, either posted by me or posted for me, but it will always be something that I’ve created to post or whatever is being said. I would say it’s like 98% me you know and anything really personal is always me, anything like that like the victory diaries and then like all that kind of stuff, you know. I have my best friend who’s my videographer and editor. So we do all that stuff like hand in hand, and he takes care of, obviously filming most stuff and editing it. I always review it all you know, it’s kind of just like fun things that we do together. So yeah, I would say that primarily most of the content and most of what you see is done by me and then sometimes it’s a mirrored across the social media platforms by other other teams and stuff. If I post a story or one thing here they might repost the same thing for me across other socials so that I don’t have to do it myself across other things because I just wouldn’t think about doing that. The majority of the stuff is mine and personal and you know, if something was posted like without me knowing GNI MAG [14]

like I would get very annoyed you know. As someone who’s worked in the management side of the entertainment industry myself. I’m always curious when I’m doing interviews about people’s riders and their pre and post show rituals. So f irstly, what is your rider? Berries, granola, oat milk, coconut yoghurt crackers, lentil crisps, bananas, fruit, and ginger shots, sparkling water, non-alcoholic gin and tonic with elderflower tonic water, tomato juice, a lot of healthy snacks, very healthy snacks basically. And in terms of your pre and posture rituals, do you have any? I know you joked on your socials that you like to go for a 10k run before the show but are there actually any pre and \ or post show rituals that you have that you must do for every show? I like to get a run in during the day if I can but I wouldn’t say that’s like a ritual. That just helps me feel good in the day and while I’m touring because it can be quite like can be quite tough on the body and stuff. I don’t really have any rituals that I know of / realise, I think building up like that as a pre-show rituals often just make you more anxious than anything and I know from like just being with Ed and stuff he doesn’t have any and he just like rocks out on stage from wherever or whatever he’s doing, that was something that I really loved. I’m not a nervous person, so I basically don’t want to create an environment where I could become nervous, or anything. I’m just doing whatever to be honest, just chilling out the dressing room hanging out friends family, like whoever’s there. Like the band we’re just doing whatever listening to some jazz and some music messing around playing around. Post show I tend to have a bowl of granola, just because I’m often kind of hungry but it’s like too late to have dinner and there’s usually some nice granola there so that’s like usually what I’ll do. I love a good bowl of granola but most of the time it’s a cup of granola because we usually don’t have any bowls. I am not sure if you’re aware but there have been comparisons to your music and sound to likes of Dermot Kennedy and James Arthur. What are your thoughts on those comparisons? And what would you say to the people that are making those comparisons?

I don’t have any sort of thoughts on that, I mean, I think both of those artists are crazy and have amazing voices, amazing songs, so happy days, you know. I’ll take those comparisons any day, really? I don’t, I don’t mind at all and I think people like to make comparisons to sort of understand something. I think people kind of need to like relate something to something else to understand what it is. I mean I’m totally cool with comparisons whether they be positive or negative way. I don’t mind the honesty and I think like you know, to be compared to two other really great singer-songwriters and artists who’ve got amazing voices and amazing songs is something I definitely won’t complain about. A reader question from Courtney. You’ve been writing producing and playing your own music. What is your creative process and what can you not do without during that process? I think a piano is something that I always really need, I love writing at the piano, especially at the moment. It’s just something that I get drawn to writing at the piano and so I think that’s something that I really need during that process. Then obviously recording equipment is very important when I have it. If I can have it just to be available, to do it instantly, to get demos recorded down and stuff, but then the process is always different, you know. I could be writing in the back of a bus or in a van, or a while I’m making a sandwich or in a studio or on a scooter flying across London. Like, it’s just always different where, where and when I’m writing. But are you a lyrics man f irst or melody f irst? It’s always different. I think, you know, it’s like Iit’s kind of a mixture. I think of a lyric which will often kick off the start of a song usually but it changes all the time. It’s in the vibe, the piano and the the sort of instrumentation, like the mood first and that’ll often trigger a lyric or a melody or I’ll have lyrics already saved up that I want to use or something that I want to sing about and then that’ll kind of just come out. I just kind of get into a flow state and just like improvise basically and then if it’s a good improv, then I’ll turn it into a song. And like I’ll spend a lot of time then trying to get the lyrics, right, and go on deeper into that. A readers question from James. How many instruments do you play? And what are they?


You can expect a great time. You can expect a lot of energy, a lot of talking, hopefully, some laughing, some crying. Yes, it’s gonna be a really elevated show. We’ve been working really hard to make it as good as possible for the fans and for the audience. The venues are really, really awesome to be performing in because they’re big, but they still have a sense of intimacy, it’s just gonna be Cian Ducrot at my finest, you know. One last question and we have f ive random Irish related quick f ire questions. What’s next after the

And is there an instrument you cannot play but would love to learn? I guess I play quite a lot of instruments. I wouldn’t say I play them all very well but like through my life, I’ve played piano, guitar, base drums, saxophone and flute. I’ve been on percussion, keyboards, ukulele just about and then a few other things that I could, you know, wrangle my way around like a clarinet or something, but I wouldn’t say that I play it very well. An instrument that I’ve never played that I’d love to learn to play, I wish I could play like violin or something, properly! I played violin when I was a kid for like a few weeks or months, but I was like four years old, and that’s something I wish I could play like a string instrument, that would be just so cool. A reader question from Rachel. What has been your biggest splurge since hitting the big time? And what is the best freebie you have been given? Probably my car or my London apartment. Those are probably the two biggest splurges, just because I love cars and I love driving, that was always my absolute dream. What did you go for? I drive a Porsche, that was kind of something that was always like a dream of mine as a kid because my stepdad saved up his entire life to buy himself a Porsche. And I remember that was a huge, huge deal for him and it’s sort of like a collector’s item that he has. He took me out and it once or twice and I just remember feeling like this is the best thing ever and from then all I ever wanted was to have my own. The other

biggest splurge would be the London apartment that I live in, not necessarily willingly but like I live in London and rent is extremely expensive, so you kind of don’t really have a choice. Home is really important to me, it’s somewhere that I don’t spend a lot of time at but, when I do it needs to really be somewhere that I love and that I feel comfortable, especially because I’ve got to live there, but London isn’t necessarily my home. You know my home, my family are not there and stuff. I’ve definitely had splurges that cost way less. What is it? I have bought Gucci shoes and never wore them once, you buy so many stupid things and you’re like, why am I buying this? What do I do with this now? I use my car every day, so I’m cool with that splurge. And what was the best freebie you’ve been given? Best freebie I’ve been given hmmm, I haven’t thought about that one. In this business you’re constantly getting freebies to share and I think actually the best freebie probably ever been given is this gonna be a super nerdy one but, it’s probably like my in-ear monitors that I use on stage because they’re very expensive like crazy expensive. So like getting those as a freebie was the best thing ever especially as I got them quite early on in my career and I was so stoked. I’m just trying to think of things that I’ve gotten recently…..I got suitcases and I love a good suitcase because obviously, I travel pretty much every day. I’m really looking forward to going to one of your sold-out shows at the Ulster Hall in Belfast. What can fans expect from the show?

tour and f inishing the promo for the album and singles? Is there another album in the works or is that on the back burner until you’re f inished, all of this promo and touring? I’m writing again but, sort of on my own at the moment, just when I can, when I have time, I definitely want to put some more music out there as soon as I can. I just love putting music out, I’m chasing, you know, more songs that I love. I’m just constantly trying to write better songs. There’s gonna definitely be a second album at some point soon, it’s just not ready yet but there are plenty more tunes to come. Now for your f ive Irish quickf ire questions….. Favourite flavour of Tayto? Original cheese and onion everytime! Potato bread or soda bread? Oh, soda bread, brown bread is what we call it down home, pretty sure. Whiskey or Guinness? Whisky!

Boyzone or Westlife? Boyzone! GAA or rugby? (Very topical at the time of the interview) Rugby. Probably rugby. —-------------------------Cian Decrut Album Victory is available from all the usual outlets and streaming services. He plays 3Olympia Theatre Dublin on 5th & 6th December 2023 and The Ulster Hall Belfast on 7th & 8th December 2023. He has just released St Annes Park, Dublin 7th June 2024 and Musgrave Park, Cork 28th June 2024. Tickets are available from all usual official outlets.

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ROUGH SEAS AHEAD? The Rainbow Project is well known throughout Northern Ireland for the services we provide to the LGBTQIA+ community. Across our sexual health advice and testing; to our mental health support; hate crime and BAME advocacy; and co-cultural counselling, we work hard to mitigate the impacts discrimination and inequality has on all our lives. But while we work to mitigate the impact of discrimination, our bigger, and arguably more challenging job is to eliminate the need for that mitigation in the first place. As LGBTQIA+ people we don’t suffer poorer mental health outcomes because we are gay, its because of homophobia. We aren’t socially isolated where we live because we are bi, its because of biphobia. We don’t face rising instances of hate crime and violence because we are trans, it’s because of transphobia. The most important thing we as an LGBTQIA+ organisation can do is to work for full social and legal equality for LGBTQIA+ people, to ensure the much-needed and in demand services we provide now, aren’t needed in the future. I think it’s fair to say on LGBTQIA+ equality we’ve never been ahead of the game here in Northern Ireland. We were the last part of the UK to partially decriminalise same-sex activity in 1982, and the last part again to introduce same-sex marriage in 2020. When it comes to making progress on LGBTQIA+ issues very little of it has come from Stormont. That has to change. The inclusion of a sexual orientation question in the census for the first time in 2021 has confirmed something we already knew. Its confirmed there are people like us in every part of Northern Ireland, from Enniskillen to Ballycastle, Newry to Derry. We are neighbours, family members, parents, pupils, CEOs and MLAs. We are here, and where we once always had to follow we now have the opportunity to not always be last, but to lead. As we once again see more protestors at our pride events; inclusive RSE in our schools branded as ‘deviant’; drag story time and family events blockaded; and our LGBTQIA+ organisations facing levels of abuse and threat not seen since the 80s, we need to not just ask for better from our politicians, we must demand it. At a time when one of the direct consequences of the increase in anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment has been a significant rise in the reporting of hate crime, progress on improved

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LGBTQIA+ inclusive hate crime laws have stalled at Stormont. At a time when the increasingly fork-tongued narrative is of LGBTQIA+ people as the perpetrators of conversion therapy rather than its victims and survivors, we are making slower progress than needed on comprehensively banning so called conversion therapy across these islands. At a time when increasingly hostile anti-trans narratives, which by the way look almost identical to the anti-gay narratives of the 70s & 80s, are being shipped across the Irish Sea in the red lane, all the lessons of progressive gender recognition laws in multiple jurisdictions including our nearest neighbour to the south, have not been learned. The next few weeks and months are a critical time for LGBTQIA+ people across Northern Ireland. As an organisation we are making the case for inclusive RSE in Schools against an increasingly vocal opposition where facts mean very little. We’re making the case for improved hate crime laws that ensure that all parts of our community are protected. We are making the case for the implementation of the LGBTQIA+ strategy which has languished on the shelves in Stormont for too long; and we are making the case for a comprehensive ban on so called conversion therapy, without loopholes that would render it useless. We do all these things with our partners in NI like HEReNI and Cara-Friend, and our partners across UK and Ireland like LGBT Ireland and Stonewall. As we seek progress in a challenging environment it’s important that everyone who believes in progress for LGBTQIA+ people work together. As we fight for full social and legal equality across Northern Ireland we need you too. There may be rough seas ahead, but only if we work together can we make progress together.




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It’s safe to say you have been a busy boy between getting married to Sophie, having your gorgeous son Leo, ITV presenting, and now starring in the Full Monty UK theatre tour. What do you do to unwind with such a busy schedule? Yeah life is so hectic! But all in a good way, I’ve been training for a big fight for the past ten months so have been putting all of my extra time into training, getting fit, learning new disciplines and generally sharpening up, so fitness is my way to unwind, even though its not exactly chill. At the time of this interview, you are preparing for your big MMA Stage to Cage f ight. What have you been doing to train and prepare for this and what do you reckon your chances are? I won! Knocked Paul out in 1 minute 16 seconds, actually mad that we have both been training for 10 months and it was all over so fast. But I absolutely loved it. Paul is a great guy and we had a great friendship despite being opponents. I’ve been either fitness or MMA training up to 4hrs a day! We love following you, Sophie, Freddie and Leo on Instagram and watching all the madness that you all get up to, have you any advice for any budding influencers now you have hit the 1 million mark? Mine is a funny story as I had a big wave of hugely popular reality shows back in the day, so obviously that propelled things for me. But I think the key to intresting content is just to be yourself. If you are having a laugh, sharing your real life and up for being seen as you are, you’ll always do well and keep your followers keen to see more. You do love a good ice bath along with a good old deep and meaningful thought while in your smalls (we’re not complaining lol!). If there is one piece of advice you could go back and give your younger self what would it be? I think I would tell younger Jake to care a bit less what people think. Its really hard when you have so many people commenting on things and giving their opinion on your life, but you just have to do what makes you happy and GNI MAG [18]

screw what everyone else thinks. Is there any part of your career so far that you regret doing and why?

the kids and Soph. Leo is at the perfect age for Christmas when he is super excited and Fred is just the best bigger brother, so wherever we will be it will be amazing.

I don’t believe in regrets, I think every stage is part of your journey and I would do everything all over again in a heartbeat.

Can we look forward to a Jake Quickenden Calendar this year or do we need to start a petition lol?

Is there anything in your career you have turned down that you wish you said yes to now and why the change of heart?

No plans yet! But feel free to start one!

I’ve pretty much always grabbed everything with both hands so I can’t really think of anything that I’ve turned down! I love to work! The Full Monty Tour, give us the rundown on the show, your character and what we can expect when we go to see the show and what’s on the cards after the tour f inishes? The show is unreal. I know I am biased but everything from the staging to the cast is just beyond. My character is so incredible as he is the most relaxed and open out of all the lads, but has this much more vulnerable side too. He paves the way for the other cast members to open up and be who they truly are, so its an honour to play the part. You’ve been to Belfast many times, is there a particular thing you like to do or place you like to visit while you are here ? And also is it a flying visit or will be get much free time? To be fair I am obsessed with the Titanic so I’ll be keen to go and check out the museum. I don’t do masses on my downtime apart from go to the gym and grab food with my castmates, I don’t really go out anymore so I keep myself to myself a bit!

This interview will be in the Christmas edition of the magazine, what are your plans for Christmas and how excited are you for the magic of Santa with Freddie and Leo? We don’t have them set in stone yet but we have lots of little trips planned as we have a break from the show, I’ve been on the road a lot so I can’t wait to spend tons of time with

In the way the Queen and now the King record a Christmas Day message, if you were asked to stand in for him what would your Christmas Day message be? I would say, we’ve survived another year and lets all be grateful for every moment, every day and every blessing – people focus way to much on the negatives in life. If it happens to be another 6 years by the time we chat again how to you see your life? I mean, I am all about presenting, acting and fighting just now, so hopefully I’ll be leading This Morning, acting in British movies and an MMA champion! New year is all about resolutions - are you planning on giving up anything or achieving something? I gave up alcohol this year, and sweet foods / junk foods – so I don’t really think there is much left!


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REBECCA Ferguson Interview By: Gary Campion

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REBECCA FERGUSON “IN THE END, I JUST THOUGHT THERE WAS ONLY FIGHT OR FLIGHT LEFT AND I JUST CHOSE TO FIGHT. I GOT TIRED OF HOLDING PEOPLE’S SECRETS, REALLY TIRED OF HAVING THE WEIGHT OF ALL THE SECRETS THAT I WAS HOLDING.” BY GARY CAMPION Firstly, thanks for taking the time to chat with me this morning. How are you doing today? I’m doing good, just getting on with things. The baby had me up early and I’ve had a few interviews this morning, I’ve got a bit of mummy tiredness but all’s good. 13 years since X Factor and 12 years since your debut album. Did you think back then you would garner the success you have now? What was the big plan when you thought, right I’m gonna enter X factor?

To be honest there was no plan when I entered it, I didn’t think I’d even get through. I was just happy that I got through to the show, then when I was on the show I wanted to get to the final three because I knew then I’d have some kind of career. It tends to be the final 3 that do okay generally and somehow make some type of living, so I always wanted to get to the end. I was lucky that I did, I always said back then whenever anyone asked me about being successful, “I’m not quite there yet, give it 10 years and I’m still around in 10 years I’d class that as a success.” I’m just grateful really that I’ve managed to hold a career this long and all that. I did step away a little bit but my fans have been loyal and stuck with me. I just feel really grateful that I’ve managed to have any type of career, really. You’ve discussed your sort of difficult start in life and becoming a young mum and your determination for a better life for you and your children, you became a legal secretary to be a better role model to your kids. What do your kids think of you now that you’re this successful international recording artist? I think I think they are proud of me, but it’s kind of like another world. At home, I’m just mum, I can’t describe it, we have such an everyday home life that like, it’s more like mum where’s my this is, where’s my that and like. They don’t tell me really they’re proud but then they write it in like Mother’s Day\ Birthday \ Christmas Cards to me. I’ve been very blessed they are good children; they’ve travelled the world of me on tour and that’s a lot of fun. They still have an everyday life in that mummy goes to work if I’ve got like a TV appearance, what I’ve got a show to do. I’ll say I’m off to wherever and I’ll be back later, and the reply can be Mum can you bring in those favourite jellies that I like on the way back or that ice cream I like. Sometimes I’ll say I’ll not be back until after 12 o’clock at night and I get but can you stop off at the garage and get me some Maltesers, please? That’s my life, it keeps me grounded. You’ve duetted and recorded with some huge names from the industry. Christina Aguilera on the X Factor, Nile Rogers, Lionel, Richie and even Paul McCartney which I’m extremely jealous of. Over the years who has been the greatest experience to record with? Is there anyone you’ve not recorded yet or recorded with yet that you would love to and why? We’ll put this out to them, obviously to try to make it happen. Oh my god, I literally adore Cher, she’s one of the reasons why I sing and it’s funny when you say some of those names and the penny drops and you get the, “Oh my god I sung with them” feeling. Working with every artist is a different thing, each one of them they have got a different unique thing that makes them the superstars they are. In terms of just general warmth and just GNI MAG [22]

the most gorgeous, beautiful person, Lionel Richie he’s just so warm, lovely and humble like just unbelievable. In terms of me just being fascinated by the way the brain works musically would be Nile Rodgers because just listening to how he makes music and what inspires him to make music, I found that amazing to watch in this studio. Then he got Andrea Bocelli, I had never heard anything like it listening to the voice next to me, it’s like 10 times anything that you can even hear on the record in person his voice is so powerful. Christine Aguilera is the same….her voice it’s just when it comes out it’s just the weirdest thing because it’s incredible like, what the hell has just come out your mouth? With all of them,

they’ve all got something special, it was really good getting to work with them all. To record with any of the greats! I’m really into all the old great old school, singers and performers but unfortunately, a lot of them aren’t alive anymore. I’d actually maybe just do something a bit abstract, maybe with someone in rock music, I’ve always loved listening to and watching the Kings of Leon. I’d like to challenge myself, work with people who aren’t the same genre of music, really, and just see what we would come up with. I know you touched on this briefly when I asked about who you’d love to record with and there have been a lot of comparisons over the years between you and the late great Billie Holiday and you even recorded an entire album of interpretations of her songs. What is it about Billie Holiday that inspires you? With Billie Holiday, she had a terrible life and she was very honest about why she was singing, she was singing to get by. She was like, I’ve got this voice and I need to pay the bills to live. I think with Billie when you’re there singing her songs, it’s the emotion, really. You can feel the pain in her voice really and that’s what I found when I was singing Billie’s songs, it’s how she connects to the song. What I think about when I think about Billy is the pain that she went through and all the suffering and how she translated that through song and that ability to convey emotion. I find it sad that she didn’t get a happy ending, I’d love her to have found some peace but it didn’t appear like she did. It’s no secret you were treated terribly by certain people within the industry and you’ve been very vocal and fought such a good fight for you, and other artists despite everything that was being thrown at you. Where did that strength come from? You know what I think when you’ve been treated terribly for so long and you’ve lived in fear for so long you finally, just get to a point where you’re like, well I’m already afraid, I’m already feeling awful I may as well speak out because I am not going to feel worse in this journey. In the end, I just thought there was only fight or flight left and I just chose to fight. I got tired of holding people’s secrets, really tired of having the weight of all the secrets that I was holding. I did feel like when I gave evidence to the DCMS Committee last month and I gave all the names, I gave all I had to give like email evidence, I submitted them with crime reference numbers and things like that, once I had done that it was the biggest weight just lifted off me. I felt so free and I just found peace because I finally faced my fear. You’ve been behind the Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority (CIISA) How is everything going with that and what is the big aim with it all?

INTERVIEW REBECCA FERGUSON It’s going well, a lot of people have really hard on it. They’ve asked me to be a director for it and I think I probably will because before CIISA we had nothing like that. Creative industries like Music, modelling, gaming and musical theatre actually never had anyone we could go to when we felt things were wrong or when we were being treated badly. It’s good that we’ve got a place now that we can go to, it’s not perfect yet because everything takes time, we’ve got to iron out the kinks, it’s gonna take a few years for it to bed in and for us to learn what works what doesn’t work. But at least there’s something now and at least there’s consequences to bad behaviour \ management. They’ll not just be able to go around bullying etc. and getting away with things that have been going on in the industry for so so long. I’m just happy that I kicked it all off and that it happened and right now it’s going to at least keep a couple of people safe and I hope it keeps everyone safe eventually but it definitely needed it to happen. I think it’s such a phenomenal thing to have as part of your legacy, to be honest, you kind of kicked that all into action. Now that you are part of the cause and effect for future artists, what advice would you give to budding singer-songwriters trying to break into the industry today? My advice would be, as artists we just want to sing all the time every day in our lives. But I would say take at least one day in the week to just study the business, to really know the business inside and out, read up on everything in terms of your royalties, on legal and even work out what everybody’s role is because when you do enter the industry you don’t want to be in unsure about anything. You want to know everything so that you’re well informed and you’re able to make informed decisions at that, just really get to know what it’s all about. Heaven part two, You’ve said it’ll be your last album before you retire from the music industry. Two questions from that, does that mean no tour for the fans and what does retirement look like for Rebecca Ferguson? There will definitely be a tour and I will still perform. It just means that I’m not on the hamster wheel anymore and it’s basically me choosing a life with music that is on my terms where I’m not feeling like I’m having to live up to anything, or anyone’s view of me. I could still make music and upload it to Spotify or iTunes or whatever but I’m doing it on my teams. So really, it’s about me finding a better relationship with music. This is the first album I’ve ever released independently, I’ve learnt a lot but now that I’ve learnt a lot, I kind of know what it is I need to do realising the only person that needs to run the ship is me. In the past I just had all these people involved probably too many, I think now that I’ve released this album and it all depends on me I know I can do it on my own obviously, I’ve got the help of my husband who works in PR, and I’m sure that helps. I’ve got to have fun with it all, but ultimately I just think it’s about my fans and their relationship with my music that works for me, the old way I was made music just wasn’t for me. I’ve been lucky enough to get to listen to the entire album your song, “I Have a Dream” is so full of positive messages and encouragement. When I listened to it I can just hear you performing it live backed up by a full gospel choir. What inspired the song because it’s just beautiful? I Have a Dream is inspired by the fact there’s a lot going on in the world and it’s very really sad, there’s a lot of division and a lot of people because of ideology or whatever it is are unable to accept people for who they are. I Have a Dream is about saying we were all human, ultimately humanity wins, like we’re all not that dissimilar. We all want to be loved, we all want to be accepted. We all want to be able to live a nice peaceful life. We’ve all got fears and hopes and, and that’s basically what I have a dream is about. It’s a kind of a call to say, come on, with all the same, really, deep down amongst all our differences. We’re all just human. I have a dream is about unity, really and coming together. And remember what we’re all about really? And ultimately, it’s as it says in my first album “nothings real but love,” isn’t it? Especially now with everything going on in the world, I think we really need it, like come on like don’t kill each other you know. “Found my voice” in my opinion as you giving the world a vocal master class and showing what you can really do. Again paired with absolutely beautiful lyrics, I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been such a fan over the years, is your

ability to put those lyrics together. Can you tell the readers a bit about “Found my voice?” To be honest, it’s it’s pretty much about the title. It’s about just not caring really and just being totally free speaking. It probably came as a surprise to some people as well, because they’ve had this perception of me and I just finally, just started to express what I feel really openly, whether it be politically or views on the music industry, or whatever it is. It’s just about saying, no, this is me and this is my opinion, and you don’t have to like him, that’s perfectly fine, but I’m gonna express it. The song is about me not no longer suppressing or feeling like I need to fit in or feel like I need to fall in line with anything and just being free to express myself. This is going to be in our Christmas edition what does Rebecca Ferguson do over the festive period, what are your plans? We love Christmas in our house. I like to let Mariah Carey lead and I follow very shortly after, I’ll wait until she puts her tree up, and then I put the tree up. I feel like if Mariah’s done it, then I can follow because she tends to lead everyone with the tree and everything. I love Christmas and I love getting the tree up early and people are like, “Rebecca it’s only just been bonfire night” and my response is I don’t care. The tree is up, I get the Christmas villages out, and I am a bit obsessed if I’m honest with all the decorations and stuff, they just brighten my day. There’ll be loads of decorations, I tend to do a big dinner and have a big party on boxing day. So yeah, there’s lots of lots of celebrations in my house.

Do you have a Christmas message for our readers and your fans? Just to have a beautiful time, to try and forgive, to try and love and try not to get distracted by the craziness that’s going on in the world and enjoy some time with your family, friends and those you love. You can pre-order your copy of Heaven Part II album on CD and Vinyl via www. or if you are outside the UK it is also available on Amazon. It will also be available on all the usual streaming platforms. GNI MAG [23]

Meet the Writer Tara Lynne O’Neill

The buzz of the audience, the lights going out and then boom! You are welcomed into another world. Letting your imagination run riot.

Introducing this year’s Lyric production of Hansel & Gretel, where the skilled adaptation comes from the talented Tara Lynne O’Neill, recognized by many as Ma Mary from the award-winning hit comedy Derry Girls.

As an actress for 33 years, that’s what I have been allowed to do. I now hope to continue letting my imagination soar, only this time with a pen and paper.

Join us as we catch up with Tara Lynne to uncover her inspiration behind reimagining this beloved tale.

What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?

What was your inspiration for the piece? My inspiration for this version of Hansel & Gretel was The Grimm brothers themselves. The original writers of the classic tale. Their life was one of twists and turns. One of riches to rags and ultimately back to riches. A tale of survival. It’s a message I believe we all need to remember. That nothing is forever. That our story is still unwritten. That circumstances can change and that dreams can come true.

My favourite thing about Christmas is simply Togetherness. Being around people. Family, friends. Sharing traditions and of course who doesn’t love pressies. TARA LYNNE O’NEILL WRITER

What should audiences expect from the show? Audiences should expect a new sweet TWIST on a classic tale. Christmas laughs, funny characters, popping music. A hoot What is it like writing a Christmas show? Writing a Christmas show is a huge responsibility. For most people a Christmas show is their first introduction to theatre. Be they 5 or 75. It can switch them on to the joy of theatre or switch them off. It was my first experience of theatre and it lit a flame in me that burns to this day.

Hansel & Gretel will run from the 24 Nov - 06 Jan on the Lyric Main Stage. With tickets starting from £12.50 and available to book now on Follow the Lyric on social media @LyricBelfast


Can I Foster? Our foster families are made up of wonderful people – people just like you – who give children the love, care and stability they desperately need. Unfortunately, there are still many myths around fostering that continue to discourage people who have the desired skills to foster from even applying. If you have thought of fostering but weren’t sure if your application would be considered because of your lifestyle or circumstances, please read on as we bust some major myths… Can I foster if I am gay? Yes, of course. We welcome potential foster carers from all backgrounds. You can be single, in a civil partnership, married or living with a partner. We know that there are all kinds of ways to be a family. Can I foster if I live alone? A quarter of our foster carers live by themselves. Your support network is really important though, so we’ll chat to you about family, friends and neighbours. We offer lots of help, too. This includes a dedicated fostering social worker, 24/7 phone support, and peer support groups. Can I foster if my children are at home? Lots of our foster carers have children at home. During the assessment, we’ll talk about how you’ll meet the needs of your own children and a foster child. Every child needs space so a separate GNI MAG [26]

bedroom is a must. If your own children are very young, we might ask you to wait a while before we start the assessment. Can I foster if I don’t have children? Absolutely. We’ll talk to you about your experiences with children, your skills and qualities. The most important thing is your ability to meet a child’s needs. Can I foster if I rent my home? It doesn’t matter if you own or rent your home. But – if you are renting – you’ll need to get your landlord’s permission. We’ll also need to do some home safety checks. You’ll need to let your landlord know these. Some of our foster carers get housing benefit. It’s worth checking if fostering will affect your benefits. Can I foster if I work? You’ll need to be around to settle a young person in and go along to meetings and training. But many of our foster carers go back to work after being approved. So long as someone is always there for the young person, it’s possible. We’ll talk about how this might work – and your support network – during the assessment. Can I foster if I am retired? Absolutely. To foster you need to be over 21, however we don’t have an upper age limit for our foster

carers. We’ll chat to you about your general health, but so long as you can meet the needs of the children living with you, there’s no reason why we can’t consider your application based on your age. Can I foster if I have pets? Yes! Pets can often be very therapeutic for our children and young people, helping them to settle into their new home. Helping to look after pets can also help them to develop life skills such as caring for others. Can I foster? To foster with us you’ll need a spare bedroom. You’ll also need to be over 21 and have space in your heart and time in your life to prioritise a young person’s needs. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch with our friendly fostering team who will be happy to answer any questions you may have. If you would like to know more about fostering, follow us on Facebook @AFCNIfostercare, call 028 9046 0500, email or visit fostering



“I wrote the song after a tense visit with a friend in Berlin,” out singer John von Ahlen explains of “Goodbye Berlin”, his new single with the electronic pop band Parralox. “It got to the point where I literally had to get the hell out of Berlin as quickly as a I could. I mean, I just didn’t want to be there.” The synthpop-retrowave track is about running away from a lover. It is darker and more introspective than the band’s recent release, “Tears of Faith,” however, like its predecessor, “Goodbye Berlin” is based on real life. Some of the lyrics are taken directly from text messages von Ahlen sent to friends at the time, including the song’s opening line: I spent three days walking in the rain. “I escaped to London a few days later where I wrote the song in a day,” he recalls. Johanna Gervin, who sings the lead vocals on ‘Goodbye Berlin’, scored the opportunity by being at the right place at the right time. “A few days after writing the song in London, I was in Manchester for a gig,” John von Ahlen continues. “Johanna lives in Manchester, so I asked her to record the vocals. She nailed it with a sound that exudes that sense of isolation and detachment I felt in Berlin.” “I was actually pregnant when we recorded the song and boy oh boy, I didn’t realize how out of breath I would get carrying my daughter,” Gervin laughs. “It did, however, give John the vocal quality he was after.” The music video was filmed late at night in Manchester, UK and depicts von Ahlen and Gervin, dressed in black, walking alone in the city center. He chose locations that looked moody and bleak, in order to fit the sentiment of the song. “I’ve been directing music videos for over two decades, and it can be jarring when you have to step into the role of director with people you are close with, as I am with Johanna,” von Ahlen says. “Luckily, Johanna’s a real trooper, a professional who takes direction and never complains, even when it’s two in the morning and freezing cold, like how it was on the shoot for Goodbye Berlin!” “Goodbye Berlin” is the second single release from Parralox’s Genesis album. Parralox launched in 2007 when, on a whim, John von Ahlen collaborated with vocalist Rowena “Roxy” Martin for a track he had written, “I Fell in Love with a Drum Machine”. The song became a hit and led to the duo recording their first album together, Electricity. Now in its fifteenth year, the band has experienced several shake-ups. It currently features John von Ahlen as the band’s lead vocalist and female vocalists Johanna Gervin, Jane Badler, and Louise Love. Ian Burden (formerly of The Human League) rounds out the band in the role of guest Bass Guitarist. “I hope fans enjoy our new sound,” John von Ahlen continues. “It’s been a while since we released original material, and it’s really so awesome to get this out there.” Visit

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Born Arabella Latham in 1997 this South African London-based singer is professionally as Baby Queen. Born and raised in Durban, South Africa, she moved to London at 18 to pursue a career in music.

a creative collaborator who believed in her message, King Ed, they still work on everything together today. They made the songs that would put Baby Queen on the map, she was signed to Polydor in 2020.

Her earliest influences are the artists she grew up listening to, such as Fleetwood Mac and the Beatles. A childhood spent seeking refuge in the songs of Taylor Swift. Growing up in Durban, South Africa, Taylor’s music was a refuge from the conservative community around Baby Queen. It was her mother who suggested she try playing guitar and piano, enlightening her to a life in which she could not only listen to music but make it, subsequent lo-fi demos were recorded and sent to local radio stations. She was so dogged and relentless that, when she asked to move to London and stay with her aunt and uncle, her parents accepted.

As a musician she’s entered a new era, having spent the best part of the 2020s taking over London’s anarchic pop scene, she’s leaning into that feral mood to make new art. At the same time, she’s discovering the more grounded and introspective side of herself too, leading to the creation of some of the purest, excellent and affecting music of her life so far.

She has lived in boats on Regents Canal, gotten messy at raucous house parties, and spent a lot of time looking out into the city with a sense of sharp-edged cynicism. For much of her teenage years and early twenties, she used all of this to write alternative pop songs that transformed her into her genre’s reigning star; a fiery totem for a generation falling out of love with social media, the pressures of adhering to an “ideal” body image, and adult responsibilities.

Enter Quarter Life Crisis, Baby Queen’s debut album, It’s inspired by her mid-20s; that messy time spent, she says, “halfway between having your shit together and not having your shit together.” On its 12 tracks, the pop star asks herself the hard questions and gives us her honest answers. On the album, she continues to paint her sonic pictures with a winking, singular combination: production slathered in sunny optimism while delivering the most despondent lyrics imaginable. It’s become her brand, the push-and-pull between bright-eyed adolescence and the angst and exhaustion of contemporary existence. The album’s cover art reflects it, with hand-scrawled drawings of rocket ships

She joined rock bands and made herself a mainstay presence in all the right music circles when she arrived, dropping demos at the doors of major labels and working in Rough Trade. Eventually, she landed

In November 2021 she launched her own gaming show “Gameplay with Baby Queen” which was broadcast to BBC Sounds focusing on video game soundtracks and features music selected by Latham herself.

and dolls sitting alongside empty wine bottles. The album’s release follows a rapid ascent in notoriety for Baby Queen. In the early summer of 2022 – just before she joined pop behemoth Olivia Rodrigo on her UK tour – a Netflix show named Heartstopper had an unexpected break-out moment. A queer TV series based on the blossoming relationship between two high school boys in England, it became a global hit. Her single, “Colours of You”, was used to promote the global smash series with a series of videos featuring the cast with Baby Queen which were posted on TikTok. At the time she no idea about the size or the weight of what she was signing up to but it made stars of its cast, and Baby Queen’s fanbase widened, with a new gaggle of queer fans entering her oeuvre. She had fans of the show and now her writing to her to tell her how Colours of You gave them the opportunity to come out to their parents. It was such a deeply felt collaboration that the team behind the show welcomed Baby Queen back for season two. The season’s soundtrack – famously well curated – now features six of her songs, including “All the Things”, a song inspired by the relationship between two of the show’s characters, Tao and Elle. Her Debut Album Quarter Life Crisis is out Friday 10th November - Reviewed by Gary on page 58 Her Quarter Life Crisis Tour plays The Academy Dublin on Tuesday 21st Nov 2023 tickets from

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JORDAN Oosterhof Interview By: Daniel May

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We get to know Jordan Oosterhof and chat about his starring role in Punch!

you called home when younger and where you live now.

Jordan plays Seventeen-year-old Jim, a small-town boxing hero who carries the hopes and dreams of his father Stan (Tim Roth, The Hateful Eight) on his shoulders. But when he becomes aware of his strong attraction to Whetu (Conan Hayes), a feisty gay Maori teenager ostracised from the local community, Jim starts to see the limitations of his world, and understand what he and Whetu must do to break free.

Born and raised in the suburbs of beautiful Auckland, with a twin-sister, a Dutch father and an Indian mother. Safe to say, very contrasting cultural backgrounds. But I love both ways of looking at life. Grew up at the perfect point in time where we rode bikes and climbed trees endlessly, plus played football almost daily. Surrounded by heaps of great friends and constantly going on cool adventures. Still flatting in Auckland with 5 of my closest friends! Loving life.

I’ve got to say I thoroughly enjoyed the movie , I could relate to so many things and emotions, I honestly didn’t want it to end in general nor did I expect it to end how it actually did lol though we will get into that first though I’d like to get to know more about you. Tell us about you - your upbringing , family , where

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What made you want to get into acting? Did so much reading of books as a kid, so have always loved stories. Also, my entire life I’ve been so fascinated by people: their laughs, their idiosyncrasies, the events that shaped their lives.

After school I had no idea what to do, but I knew

I was motivated by that and I knew I thoroughly enjoyed mucking about, making things up and playing around with people - so thought it might be the perfect fit. As well as getting to learn from and consider every emotion of any character we get to portray. I also have a very short attention span coupled with a curiosity for most things in life, so I love the idea of intensely focusing on things for months at a time and then moving on to the next interesting field. Who inspires you - what’s your favourite movie and who is your fav actor? My favourite movie is La Vita E Bella! Adore that film. Wouldn’t be able to pick a favourite actor though! There are too many I love - Jake Gyllenhaal, Leo (of course), Gary Oldman, Jim Carrey, Joaquin Phoenix, that lady who is in both Derek and After Life, holy shit she is amazing. No other actor can make me feel emotion the way she does.


Take us back to the casting and auditioning process - did you have to audition or were you approached for this role? I had to audition! Loved the script from the moment I read it. I could feel the heart and soul on every page, so I did everything I could to get the role. Including making detailed notes of every single moment in the film - even for the first audition! Visually the part seems perfect for you, you are in great shape, do/did you work out ahead of filming? Haha why thank you! I was always in pretty go od shape considering I’ve played fairly high level football my whole life, but really put on some muscle when I got to do boxing training 5 days a week for three months before we started shooting! Loved every minute of it. How was working with Tim Roth?

It was something I’ll never forget. He was a legend. A well of knowledge coupled with a great sense of humour and some phenomenal stories! We still chat every few months. He was both complex and confused though it’s a very common situation for millions of people to be in - struggling with their identity . Did you find it hard to relate to the character at all? I can’t say that I relate to the exact circumstances of Jim, but like you said, the struggle of finding your identity is a universal feeling. We’ve all been at that stage of our lives, unsure of ourselves and our place in the world. It was beautiful to be able to channel that feeling and try to understand how Jim felt. You had to learn to box and trained a lot ahead of filming - has it become a new hobby and form or exercise or have you had your fill now ? I loved boxing! And still do. I got to train and learn with some commonwealth games boxers too! What an experience, I just tried to be a sponge and soak up as much from them all as possible. I boxed 5 days a week for a year and since then I have only trained sporadically, honestly, I was just getting punched in the head too much! Working on a movie can be both exhilarating and exhausting - what were the most and least enjoyable things for you? Every single part of it was a rush. Every day a new set of challenges, a new location, a new opportunity to find emotional depth. We ran the gamut of all different types of scenes - action scenes, emotional scenes, comedic scenes, sex scenes (wink wink), stunt work, we blew up a flipping car!! Was just beyond happy to be there. Was making your first movie everything you hoped it would be? Hell yeah, that and so much more! You learn so much about yourself in that environment, you know? You tell yourself “yeah, I’m capable of doing this” But when you are really there, really doing it, on a big stage - it’s the most beautiful challenge, a real sink or swim moment. Now or never. Radical. Did you get any injuries while training or filming? -Some of those punches looked so real !

Was that Conan singing at the end? It’s such a beautiful song. Yes, it was!! Conan has potentially the most amazing singing voice of anyone I’ve ever met. When he was coming in for callbacks there was a scene where Jim was surprised by how well he could sing - there was honestly no acting involved, I was absolutely blown away. I LOVE his rendition of that song. Any chance of a sequel - a few years on to see where they are? Sadly, I highly doubt it. PUNCH is a very personal and emotional piece that Welby has crafted over many years. We’ve all just gotta appreciate it for what it was (and of course buy thousands of copies of the DVD each). Can you summarise why you think audiences should watch and support the movie? I think anyone can find something they relate to in PUNCH. We’ve all arrived at that moment where we have ached to find our people, our niche, the place we ‘belong’. Everybody can understand the struggle of trying on and shrugging off identities on the path to becoming our true selves, if we ever get there. Punch is the story of two young people in the midst of that journey, just starting to comprehend who they are, what ‘love’ is to them and where they fit in. I may be a tad biased but I think it is beautifully crafted and so very vulnerable. It’s like taking a sneak peek into a very personal, raw experience of the challenges we all face, and I hope you decide to take a look. And finally, do you have any current projects that you would want to share with us? I have a few exciting prospects in the pipeline, however I can’t reveal too much about those yet. But just keep an eye out ;) Thanks for taking the time to chat with me Interview with Daniel May Punch is OUT NOW! Available on DVD and On-Demand in the UK and Ireland via Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play, Rakuten, BFI Player, and Peccadillo On Demand

Thankfully no, although I did accidentally punch some of the other boxers occasionally when we were running through our stunt choreography! But that was just to keep them in line, you know lol. GNI MAG [33]


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90’s Boyband Stars Launch


Boyband members from Boyzone, 5ive & Another Level played a special live gig at Moe’s Grill in Antrim last week to launch a new competition site that will be giving away £1million! Shane Lynch (Boyzone), Abz (5ive), Dane Bowers (Another Level) & Ben Ofeodu (Phats & Small) performed DJ sets and sang live at the launch party hosted by TV & Radio Presenter Robin Elliott. Comedians Paddy McDonnell and Adam Mogey also had the audience in stitches with their hilarious stand up routines.

To enter the competitions go to www.

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Jason Caceres was a teenager when the trailblazing gay drama Boy Culture released in 2006. “I was in high school,” he recalls, “and watched it at a highly inappropriate hour to avoid having any difficult conversations with the people in my life. I remember starving for any content that would help me understand what I was feeling.” He’s thrilled to star in its sequel, Boy Culture: Generation X, alongside the original film’s stars, Derek Magyar and Darryl Stephens. The film picks up the story ten years later with the onagain, off-again couple X (Maygar) and Andrew

(Stephens), now broken up but still sharing a home out of financial necessity. When X attempts to plunge back into his previous job as a sex worker, he’s in for a rude awakening — at 40, he’s no longer the flavor of the month. Also, the entire sex industry has changed with new online platforms, attitudes and PreP. X reluctantly turns to Jason Caceres’ character Chayce, a bratty Gen Z twink, to guide him back into the sex trade. We spoke with the young actor about his role in Boy Culture: Generation X. It has to be exciting to be part of a groundbreaking film franchise! It is definitely exciting. Comedy has always been my favorite genre but, growing up, we didn’t see many queer characters represented in mainstream comedies unless they were being made fun of by the cishet community. Allan’s body of work (Alan Brocka, the film’s director) was the first time I saw these characters fully embrace their individuality and own their own comic mishaps.

Were you even alive when the first Boy Culture film came out? Yes, I was definitely alive. I came across the original Boy Culture at a time in my life where I was fully developing my own sense of self and coming to terms with my identity. I believe one of the only queer shows on television at the time was Queer As Folk. Once I had finished that, I wanted more! I wanted more stories, more characters, and more content. I wanted to get to know my community and, as I was still in, erm, high school, I had to rely on the internet. I would search for anything queer after I was done with school, extra-curriculars, and homework, so, naturally, it would be very late. That’s how I came across Boy Culture. I illegally pirated it online. Sorry, Allan.

How did you learn they were making a second Boy Culture? I was performing in a play in Los Angeles and my cast mate was scrolling through Twitter before the show. He followed Darryl Stephens and Darryl had posted that they were looking for an LGBTQ+ actor in his early 20’s who could play Chayce in the sequel. I sent the producers my headshot, demo reels, resume, all the typical audition materials. They sent over a few lines for me to record at home and then they called me in to meet me in person. I remember the callback was at this kind of grungy theater somewhere in Hollywood and it took me forever to find a place to park, as is usual in Los Angeles. Everyone in the room was very nice and incredibly friendly and then they told me I had the part! What are your thoughts on Chayce? I enjoy his wild, confident, sexy side. It’s actually something I somewhat envy. He could not care less what others think of him and he is going to live his life his way. To me, that’s very admirable. He does have brat like tendencies but, if you take a look at the character as a whole, and dissect his actions, he’s extremely vulnerable and welcoming. The way he attaches himself to X and agrees to take him under his wing is very telling of his psyche. If he were truly, unequivocally, a brat, he would waste zero time with someone like X.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Sex work should absolutely be destigmatized. We should have autonomy over our own bodies and if someone wants to make a living providing that service, then more power to them. But what happens, when, like X, they reach an age where they are no longer the flavor of the month? I think we’re past the point of the “flavor of the month” concept. People are into so many different shapes, sizes, ages now. Someone like X would find clientele very easily in today’s market. Final message to all of your future fans? I hope viewers will continue to consume queer content so that we can continue to make it. There is such a need for it in this world that I feel it is crucial to continue representing our community in mainstream media. It can save lives. I also want them to take away from this sequel that, yes, we are all one community, but there are so many different stories, and they are all valid. It’s important to unify our community but also celebrate what makes us different. Boy Culture: Generation X is releasing to TVOD via Dekkoo Films, a subsidiary of the Dekkoo streaming platform, and is available on numerous platforms including Apple, Amazon, and Google. For more information, visit

Do you agree with him that there is wide generational gap between young and old gay men, especially as it relates to technology?

Of course! It’s not a gap that is exclusive to the gay community. If you take a look at the world as a whole, the boom in technology in the last few years has been tremendous. Even now, there are new apps and systems that I don’t know and have to rely on the generation after me to teach me. What can young gay men like Chayce learn from their gay elders? The LGBTQ+ community owes a lot to our predecessors. They fought for very long and very hard to get us to where we are today. Obviously, we still have a way to go, but we’re standing on the shoulders of giants and it is very important to remember that. What are your thoughts on guys like Chayce and X who choose careers in the gay sex industry? GNI MAG [37]


EVERY WOMAN WANTS TO BE HER! Following the smash hit success of The Shop at the Top of the Town last year, the Theatre at the Mill is delighted to welcome back writer Michael Cameron with his new musical play for Christmas 2023, O Holly Knight! It’s 1965 and Holly Knight is the name on everyone’s lips in Belfast. Every woman wants to be her and every man wants to marry her. She’s a journalist, an agony aunt, a fashion icon, food expert, and homemaker extraordinaire...or at least that’s what she wants her readers to think! It’s not too long before Holly’s talents are noticed by the Editor of Belfast’s biggest newspaper, who is always looking for new ideas to boost circulation. Holly is thrilled when he offers her a column in the paper, and for a special Christmas edition he’s arranged for Holly to host a famous Hollywood star who is bound to be dazzled by her legendary talents. What could possibly go wrong? Featuring a stellar cast and a wonderful blend of nostalgia, comedy, music and romance, O Holly Knight! runs at the Theatre at the Mill from 29 November – 30 December, with ticket prices starting at just £13. O Holly Knight! stars Rosie Barry, Ruby Campbell, Rea Campbell-Hill, Richard Croxford, Jo Donnelly and Darren Franklin. It is written by Michael Cameron, directed by Colm G. Doran, with set and lighting by Ciaran Bagnall, music and sound design by Chris Warner, costume design by Diana Ennis and choreography by Sarah Jane Johnston

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I was delighted to be invited to an exclusive evening at the AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast to experience the exquisite flavours of their upcoming new seasonal menu last night. My guest and I were greeted warmly by the team with 2 festively tasting cocktail options glittering gold and festive red in colour both from their new menu, they were super tasty and packed a punch….thankfully we weren’t driving home!

The atmospheric ambience was provided by acoustic guitar player and singer Phil Doulton, it was great to see some familiar faces in the form of Q Radios Jordan Arnold and her chef Husband Ben Arnold, UTV’s Pamela Ballantine and our very own tandem riding, handlebar-moustached Gourmet Boys!

Deserts: • Spices Apple and Plum Crumble with Creme Anglaise • Festive mince pies

It was time to sample the festive offerings from local Executive Head Chef Adam Jones and his team, whom I was told Jean Christophe Novelli had taken under his wing to develop him into the executive head chef that he is now. I do love a good local boy done good story and the fact that Adam appears to have worked his way up within the AC Hotel makes that story all the more fascinating and inspiring. Some of the tasting samples we got to try were: Starters: • Jawbox Gin Cured Salmon with Cucumber, parsley and dill emulsion GNI MAG [40]

Goat’s Cheese fig and onion Tart with Parmesan pastry and seed dressing

Mains: • Roast Turkey Breast stuffed with pork and herb roulade, crispy hamp croquette, Ballymakenny Potatoes, and Armagh Honey roasted Root Vegetables. • Roasted Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto

Everything we tasted had that Michelin look with exquisite local twists and flavouring that just melted in our mouths and tantalised our tastebuds, dont suppose you are free to come cook Christmas Dinner at my house on Christmas Day Chef Jones?? One can dream lol! AC Marriotts Festive Lunch and Dinners at Novelli’s run from Friday 24th November to Sunday 23rd December. 3 Course Lunch is available for £39 per person Monday to Saturday 12noon - 3 pm and Dinner is available for £49 per person Monday to Saturday 5 pm to 10 pm. There is even Live entertainment every Friday and Saturday in December. If the standard festive Lunch or Dinner doesn’t take your fancy there 2 more exclusive offerings in

the shape of: Christmas Eve Brunch £25 per adult • Offering an escape from the city to bring family and friends together for a relaxing brunch to toast the holidays in style with Live entertainment and a kids’ craft table included. If you are like my dad and leave your gift shopping to the last minute you can also avail of their complimentary gift wrapping station too! New Year’s Eve Dinner £60 per person • End the year in style with a specially curated New Year’s Eve menu and a glass of prosecco to toast the start of 2024 on the banks of the atmospheric Lagan. If none of this personally takes your fancy or that of your loved ones, they offer Gift Vouchers which can be redeemed against overnight stays, food and beverages after the festive period. The perfect gift for the hard to buy for in my opinion, because let’s cut to the chase nothing says I love / value you more than a gift voucher for a stylish and welcoming hotel with Michelin Star dining, it certainly beats a high street voucher or a lynx gift set anyway! Novelli at City Quays AC Hotel Belfast, City Quays, 90 Donegal Quay, Belfast. BT1 3FE Tel: +44 (0) 2895 313180

£46 £47

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Getting the Christmas party right is the pride of any host – and making sure you have the right playlist to match is essential. Maddie Kelly at Pink Boutique, says: “Christmas is a time where you can show off your best hosting skills – from organising Secret Santa to cooking a feast, there is plenty of opportunity to spread the cheer. And one key skill all hosts need to know is timing the party right. “Dressing up in your favourite clothes can get you in the festive spirit, and a well-made playlist can help too. Ensure you’re greeting guests to Santa

Claus is Coming to Town or unwrapping your gifts listening to Underneath the Tree. The right music can definitely set the right atmosphere.” Online Fashion Brand, Pink Boutique, have investigated what makes the perfect Christmas playlist. The average length of Christmas playlists includes 88 songs, resulting in just over five hours of party time to play with. By comparing the most common songs in 1000 Spotify “Christmas” playlists, they have the answer to the 88 best backing tracks for your festive get-together this year, and the top tips for hosting the perfect event. Get the music right It is no surprise that the ultimate Christmas party playlist kicks off with Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You appeared 475 times across the playlists – so don’t forget to warm up for those high notes. Other staples like Wham’s Last Christmas (which appeared 256 times) and Ariana Grande’s Santa Tell Me (appearing 238 times) also appear in the list, claiming the next two top spots. And the music doesn’t have to start when the party does. Treat yourself to some Deck the Halls (coming in 36th) while decorating. This will surely get you and the girls in the Christmas spirit ahead of the day. The perfect hosts must know when to end the evening too. Whether you’re sitting down for a meal or up and dancing, five hours gives you enough to impress without overrunning the night. Making sure your Christmas list is the right length to end as everyone is going home can help you finish the evening right on time. “Approximately 88 songs are enough to fill your GNI MAG [42]

evening with the best Christmas tunes and more for just over five hours.”

there are plenty of designs you can try to add that festive spirit and shock your guests.

Obviously, you will want to add some personal favourites to your list too. Whether you’re enjoying the evening with some family favourites or making a stage from your living room with your best friend’s favourite karaoke number, adding a personalised touch can bring the true Christmas feel.

Seasons greetings Greeting your guests in the right way is important for any host, and this Christmas, you can be a bit creative. As guests are likely to be carrying gifts with them, having a Santa sack by the door can help your guests drop off their presents as they enter – rather than finding a spot under the tree. This will also give your guests the space to take off their coats and grab a winter-themed cocktail. Offering a drink at the door can make them feel welcome and add a bit of class to your evening.

Here are the Top 15 from the list 1 - All I Want for Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey 2- Last Christmas - Wham!

3 - Santa Tell Me - Ariana Grande 4 - It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas Michael Bublé 5 - Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - Remastered 2010 - John Lennon 6 - Underneath the Tree - Kelly Clarkson 7 - It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Andy Williams 8 - Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Dean Martin 9 - The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) - Nat King Cole 10 - Holly Jolly Christmas - Michael Bublé 11 - Do They Know It’s Christmas? - 1984 Version - Band Aid 12 - Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee 13 - Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms 14 - Wonderful Christmastime - Edited Version / Remastered 2011 - Paul McCartney 15 - Sleigh Ride - The Ronettes Dress for the occasion Of course, no Christmas party is complete without an outfit to match. We are thinking of red mini dresses with small Santa-hat hairclips to add a chic Mrs Clause feel to the occasion. Don’t forget to add killer black heels to finish the look – with slippers on the side to swap into later. Why not make your party fit for the red carpet? Ask your guests to arrive in their best “Hollywood Christmas looks” to see who can bring the festive spirit without adding costumes to the list. If you’re not a fan of the ugly sweater competitions, why not add traditional designs to your makeup? Whether you’re going classy with a frosted look with white mascara and a cranberry colour or going all out with coloured bauble eyeshadow,

Whether a warming hot toddy or an Eggnog, you can start the festive spirit right on your doorstep. Setting the table What is a Christmas party without the food? Whether organising a family feast complete with all the trimmings or simply setting up a buffet, offering your guests a good spread of food is essential during the festive season.

Focus on the colours you’re using, not only in your cooking but on the table. Try filling the tables with greens and reds to add to the festive feel. You can use faux holly leaves as a runner for your table – meaning you have some texture filling up the table without spiking your guests every time they reach for their drinks. Icing sugar can be a great addition to sweet foods that need a bit of a snowy touch. Yule logs, mince pies, and gingerbread houses are great additions to any sweet Christmas buffet section. Make sure you have festive napkins too, so you can wrap up leftovers for guests. Wanting to make your debut as the best host? Christmas is the perfect time to bring the girls together and celebrate. Take time to look back at the year and wow them with your dedication to details. From Igloo eyeliner to a party playlist everyone will be vibing with, you’ve got this! Sources:, Maddie Kelly at Pink Boutique • christmas-eye-makeup-looks • dresses


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Evening Song Devore Kimono - £59.00


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Seriously Stylish Blazer - £99.00

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Touch Of Luxe Blazer - £120.00

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Dazzling Jersey Cardigan -£55.00 Perfect PU Trousers - £50.00 Glam Velvet Skinny Scarf - £21.00 My Saviour Soft Leather Belt £30.00 Rosetta Velour Dress - £55.00 GNI MAG [48]


Ready For The Slopes Knit - £65.00 GNI MAG [49]


Wrapped In Luxury Faux Fur Wrap - £69.00

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All Over Music Shirt - £40.00 GNI MAG [51]


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The cost of living crisis has hit us all hard – even basic necessities such as food and heating are becoming increasingly difficult to pay for. And now it’s Christmas – great. It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it also tends to be the most expensive. It can be kind of hard to tell kids why Santa might not be so generous and jolly this year (although you could say that he’s had to lay off some elves), but it can be even more difficult to try to explain this to your friends and family members who think that Christmas cheer is 8 or 9 highly overpriced mulled wines at the Christmas Market. Luckily for you we have rounded up some ways to keep the magic of Christmas while keeping your electric turned on. First things first, try not to go out as much. I know that this is basic, and everyone wants to go out at Christmas time so it can be hard to convince them otherwise, but there are a million different things to do indoors that are far cheaper and create far more memories than sitting in an overpriced and overcrowded bar in the city centre. Hosting a BYO Christmas Party is always a great idea, whether that is for your friends or your family (it also comes with the added bonus that whatever alcohol is left is basically a Christmas present). A lot of Christmas Parties can get a little bit dull – we all love Mariah Carey but there are only so many times a night you can really appreciate her. Spice it up by making your own mulled wine or eggnog. Better yet - make it a competition of who can bring the best – like a boozy Christmas bake off. You can really make this an activity (rather than a way of not having to spend half a month’s wages on refreshments) by printing out voting cards for the guests and announcing a ‘winner’ at the end of the night – bonus points if you get a mini trophy from Poundland to give them. Speaking of places to shop, Secret Santa is always very common amongst friend groups, but we all know you usually end up spending £10-£15 and getting some tat or clutter for the back of your bedroom cupboard. So why not make that the point? Have a laugh and see who can get the worst present from Poundland or B&M, then take time

opening them and having a laugh at the ridiculousness your friends have came up with. What if your friends or family have kids? Or just aren’t really big drinkers? One of my favourite Christmas activities is something dubbed the ‘ABCD game’. Basically, you put on Youtube or Spotify and take turns picking a song, the catch is that the first person has to pick a song beginning with A, the second person B and so on and so forth. You can go one step further and make the song have to fit a theme (like the riff offs in pitch perfect) such as 80’s classics, cheesy pop or, because of the time of year, Christmas Songs. It’s great fun for all ages, and you can all have a laugh at each other’s song choice because someone ‘really couldn’t think of anything’ beginning with T bar ‘Twinkle Twinkle’. Another great game for all ages is the 3 second rule game, there’s hundreds of apps for it or you can make your own but it’s basically where each player has 3 seconds to name 3 things in a category such as ‘3 things you take camping’, ‘3 water sports’, ‘3 of Santa’s reindeer’. You can give the easier ones to the younger ones and make it more difficult for the adults, or you can ask your 2-year-old nephew to name 3 surgical instruments, no-one is here to judge the fairness of your family game nights. This game doesn’t have to just be for families though, if everyone is adults you can revamp it a bit and name 3 sex positions or 3 cocktails. The world is your oyster. Food and drinks are obviously a massive part of Christmas (hence why everyone joins the gym in January), but of course this does come with a massive cost. The best idea, however obvious, is making sure to shop around for the best deals online. Make a list, tally it up before you shop and go where it is cheapest, but make sure that you stick to the list. The Christmas food shop is the worst for temptations when you see that tin of biscuits that ‘would be perfect for after’, or the prawn ring that ‘would be great to nibble on while you’re waiting on dinner’. Before you know it, you’ve an extra 10 things in your cart, and the bills gotten significantly higher. Make a list, check it twice, and don’t be naughty. Even on a budget,

making Christmas treats is great fun, especially for the little ones if you do it together. Things like truffles or peppermint bark are super easy and super fun to make whilst also being quite cheap, and you can get little plastic bags and make them into a cheap gift, that’s also very cute and heartfelt. Making ‘special’ hot chocolate on Christmas Eve by melting chocolate and using milk (and a dollop of cream) is really tasty. Make a big deal about it only being for Christmas and letting the little ones help make it to create cherished Christmas memories – and you can chuck in some Baileys for the adults. One thing that always fills your heart with the spirit of Christmas is giving. During a cost of living crisis charity might be the last thing on your mind – hell you might even be sitting thinking that you are the less fortunate one that should be on the receiving end instead. Lots of us won’t be able to necessarily give money donations, but that doesn’t mean we have to give nothing – give your time. Volunteer to help out at organisations such as toys-for-tots, storehouse or a local food kitchen. Giving and loving is the spirit of Christmas, so why wouldn’t you want to help make someone else’s just that little bit more magical? Even if giving doesn’t make your heart grow three sizes, it might just make you feel a little bit more grateful for all the little things you do have. The main thing is to take your time – try not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season to the point where you almost miss the whole thing. When you pull your crackers, take the time to go round the table and hear the jokes that are in each person’s. When you’re opening your presents from that one Great Aunt who, bless her, tries her best but always picks the weirdest stuff – open them one buy one and vote who’s is the most outlandish this year. In all the small bits of Christmas, stop, go slow, and take time to appreciate them – you might just realise in the New Year that those were actually the best bits.

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CHILL A New York Christmas Wedding

AVAILABLE TO STREAM NOW A New York Christmas Wedding features a lead bisexual character in Jennifer (Nia Fairweather), who is in the midst of planning her wedding to David (Otoja Abit). However, she second-guesses the marriage when her fiancé’s monster-in-law mother (Tyra Ferrell) insists on conducting the ceremony her way. Jennifer, who is still mourning the loss of her father and best friend Gabrielle (Adriana DeMeo), receives a visit from her guardian angel Azrael (Cooper Koch), who whisks her off to an alternate world in which both are still alive. There, Jennifer gets a second shot at love with Gabrielle. It’s fantastical, Christmassy and nostalgic as hell and is guaranteed to make you blubber. GNI MAG [54]

Best. Christmas. Ever!

AVAILABLE TO STREAM NOW Netflix’s “Best. Christmas. Ever.” unites a star-studded cast in a heartwarming holiday tale of friendship, love, and festive chaos. When Jackie’s Christmas spirit clashes with Charlotte’s skepticism, their reunion sparks comedic drama. Together, they must salvage the holiday season after Charlotte’s well-intended plan goes awry. Get ready for a merry mix of laughter and feel-good moments!

Candy Cane Lane

OUT 1st December - Prime Video Get ready to deck the halls and jingle all the way, because Eddie Murphy is about to sprinkle some serious holiday magic onto your screens! The comedy legend is making his merry debut in a festive flick that’s bound to fill your heart with joy.


Dashing Through the Snow

Happiest Season

Journey to Bethlehem

The B**** Who Stole Christmas

The Christmas House

The Naughty Nine

AVAILABLE NOW ON Disney+ A good-hearted man who has turned his back on Christmas due to a traumatic childhood experience. The movie is headlined by rapper Ludacris.

AVAILABLE TO STREAM NOW Boasting an all-star cast with Drag Race alum such as Brooke Lynn Hytes, Chad Michaels, Ginger Minj, Kylie Sonique Love, Manila Luzon and Peppermint, The Bitch Who Stole Christmas follows a fashion journalist (Krysta Rodriguez) who is sent on an assignment to a Christmas-loving town by her ruthless editor (RuPaul). With the intention of digging up a juicy story, she unexpectedly gets involved in the town’s yearly winter ball competition. Of course, the festivities has its dark side with cutthroat housewives and ruthless townfolk seeking to ruin the holiday season. Slay! (Sleigh?) The feel-good comedy also features appearances from Michelle Visage, Ross Matthews, Carson Kressley, Kim Petras, Charo and Anna Maria Horsford.

AVAILABLE TO STREAM NOW Released to overwhelmingly positive reviews, the romcom puts queer female narratives at the forefront with Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis). When the couple attend the latter’s annual Christmas festivities, Abby discovers that Harper hasn’t come out to her conservative parents (Mary Steenburgen and Victor Garber), as well as her dysfunctional sisters (Alison Brie and Mary Holland). If you weren’t convinced by all the mega-stars mentioned, Happiest Season also stars Aubrey Plaza (!) and Dan Levy (!).

AVAILABLE TO STREAM NOW Hallmark kicked off the decade with their first-ever gay Christmas film, The Christmas House, following Brandon (Jonathan Bennett) and his husband Jake (Brad Harder) as they visit the former’s parents for the holidays, where they anxiously await a call about the adoption of their first child. Bill (Treat Williams) and Phylis (Sharon Lawrence), their parents, hope that “bringing the family together to recreate the Christmas house will help them find resolution and make a memorable holiday for the entire family and community.” It received praise from viewers and was followed by a sequel, The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls.

IN SELECTED CINEMAS A live-action musical celebration of the birth of Jesus. It looks almost like a Christmas version of ‘Joseph’ and we’re super excited about it. Pretty sure this one will become a timeless classic.

November 22nd - Disney+ 10-year-old Andy wakes up on Christmas morning with no presents. He concludes that he must have landed on Santa’s list of naughty kids. Andy unites with other children who share his status on the “naughty list,” forming a formidable team of eight. Together they hatch an elaborate plan to execute a heist at the North Pole, determined to claim the presents they believe they deserve.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, let’s not ruin that at your work Christmas Party. We are here to give you all of the insider tips and tricks to not only survive, but thrive when you have to speak to your co-workers after a couple of mulled wines. Firstly, don’t pass up the invitation. I know it can be daunting, but it is supposed to be a celebration of all your hard work this year, make an effort to go. When you go, make sure to participate! Enter the Christmas jumper contest, join the Secret Santa, take part in the games. Not only will it make the party more enjoyable for you, but you’ll also look like a great team player who thrives in and appreciates the company culture. Try to mingle when you are there too! I know it is very tempting to just chat and gossip with your work bestie, but Christmas parties are a great opportunity to talk to people outside of your circle. You never know where it will lead you – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know after all. In all this chatting, make sure to keep it positive and upbeat, this is not the time to complain, bring up controversial topics or just sit and talk about work. Try to keep it light and fun. However, it is important to remember this is not a personal party, If the event is being held by the by the company then it is a workplace event, behave accordingly. If you are allowed a plus one, pick wisely and make sure that they are also on their best behaviour. If they cause any drama, it looks worse on you than if you had done it yourself ! Whatever the dress code, try not to wear anything too scandalous. We all want to be the hottest co-worker, but don’t be the sluttiest. The biggest thing that can make or break a work night out is, of course, alcohol. If you are planning on drinking, check to see if food is being served at the event, otherwise make sure that you eat, preferably carbs, before you go. When you get there, pace yourself ! How much alcohol you can hold won’t be on your annual review, but workplace relations might be if you have one to many and decide to tell that one co-worker what you really think about them. So, don’t try to ‘keep up’ with what everyone else is drinking, just cause Kenny from IT is banging the shots doesn’t mean that you have to. That being said, while you shouldn’t ‘match’ others drinking, do be mindful of what the majority of people are drinking. Spirits are stronger than wine, which is stronger than beer. If everyone else is on the low percentage stuff, it’s probably best to stick to that so everyone is roughly on the same level. Hydrate! Make sure you are necking a cheeky glass of water in between drinks because it will firstly, stop you necking drinks just because your thirsty, but it also helps to ease the hangover the next day – so it’s a win-win. In short - don’t be the drunkest there, don’t even be in the top 5, you will be the office laughing stock come Monday. You want to be able to tell the story – not be the story. However, if booze is just not your style, don’t feel pressured to drink just because everyone else is – you can just stick to mocktails and lemonade – if you’re really concerned about it, just lie and say there is alcohol in it. Another massive thing during Christmas parties is interacting with co-workers that you maybe would not choose to see outside the office in quite literally any other setting, but we know how to navigate that too. Firstly, stay vigilant – there is always that one person that tries to take pictures or record videos for subtle blackmail or embarrassment purposes – don’t let them catch you out. Another big no-no is to having a heart-to-heart with your boss. They do not need to know the innermost details of your life. Whether you love them so much or whether you want to punch them every day of your life, just leave it alone regardless. If you see the boss – or any senior management for that matter – getting a bit wavey, get close! It’s safe to say some serious gossip is about to be spilled – but be strategic about it. That’s another reason not to get too GNI MAG [56]

drunk – you’re going to want to remember this! A massively important thing to remember when it comes to interacting with co-workers is that with alcohol comes lowered inhibition, which can lead to a bit of harmless flirting. Except it isn’t harmless. Worst case scenario, it can be considered harassment which comes with some pretty serious consequences. Best case scenario, it goes great, leads a bit of touching and feeling and then having a sleepover with the hot guy from work – but I guarantee that they are only work hot. Whether they are the best or worst you’ve ever had, you still have to see them on Monday…and Tuesday…and every other day after that. Trust me, it isn’t worth it. By now you’ve been having a ball, following all the advice and finding out all the juicy gossip there is to know in the workplace. It’s getting later and later and you are trying to figure out when to make your departure. First things first, remember to thank the party organisers. This can just be a quick thank you as you leave, or you can round up a little contribution from each of the attendees and give a small gift – whatever feels right for your work place. But when should you leave? You don’t want to be the very first person to go, but if someone starts getting a bit controversial or heaven forbid offensive, just leave immediately. If it’s a workplace event, you can take it up with HR and file a complaint, and probably should if something offensive is said for obvious reasons - company rules and behaviour expectations apply at all company events. With company rules in mind, if any substances other than alcohol pop out, get yourself out of there ASAP. If you are caught even in the vicinity, whether you are participating or not, it is a sackable offense. Lastly, a bit less serious but still important, when you get to the point of the night when someone suggests going back to theirs for an ‘after party’, just go home. Once you’re in an afters it becomes kind of awkward to leave, and can become more difficult depending on where the afters is. Nothing good ever happens at an afters, but lots of bad stuff often does. You are far better off just cutting your losses, and grabbing a cheeky takeaway on the way home. Now you know a bit more about what to do when you’re rocking around the Christmas tree with the office – and, maybe more importantly, how not to make it a blue Christmas (or Monday morning).



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It’s the season to be jolly fa la la and all that jazz! We’ve made it to the end of the year and my column is still going so I must be doing something right! Let’s get stuck in.

M y to p 5 h it s

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What I am liste

ctory Cian Ducrot - Vi ng is so is th / y gu - this Deep, something else! nest hard-hitting, ho us or ch a d an lyrics arena an see n ca I that g full of fans singin . m hi to back

New Album releases I’ve previewed to get excited about!!! Rebecca Ferguson - Heaven Part ll - 5th Dec You will have already read my feature interview with the lady herself earlier in this issue, but I have to say this album is one that has me more personally and professionally excited than I have been in a while having met and worked with the lady herself in various capacities in Ireland.

Baby Queen - We gCan Be Anythin p po e th up g pin rip and ok bo le ru t rle sta Lily picking up where by Allen left off, Ba rise. e th on is en ue Q #Heartbreaker

A 10-track follow-up to her double platinum Heaven album released 12 years to the day of this part II release, which I think is poetic in itself. Working with some of the original writers from the first instalment with a few new contributors added the songs are a reflection of the past 7 years for Rebecca. Exploring love, family, joy, liberation and her journey to happiness, this album is full of lessons learned from the peace that came after she found her voice speaking up, overcoming obstacles and empowering women in creative industries.

s of CarPark- Suburb Trio Hell - Girl Rock dy proving they ’re rea an th for bigger venues a their first gig in rage, ga s ate m st lfa Be d by being champione BBC Radio1. eHolly Humberston ack Bl Paint My Room ved ser - Proving she de ar St g her BRIT Risin le tit award with the ly track to her high t anticipated debu album.

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a Griff - Vertigo r song that Taylo on Swift promoted g Instagram sayin ell she “loved” it….w gh ou that’s good en it a for me….go give listen!

Rebecca kindly gave me a VIP listen to the full album, she has grown and developed as an artist and the album is just perfection for her dare I say it… come back. Personally, stand-out tracks for me are: “Diggin for Gold” - perfection for radio airplay and live performance. “I Have a Dream” with its positive messages of encouragement, I can hear Rebeccas performing this with a full choir in my head. “Found my Voice” where Rebecca really shows what she can vocally do paired with superb backing vocalists and a phenomenal guitar rift.

Baby Queen - Quarter Life Crisis - 10th Nov The wait is over for her devoted kingdom as Baby Queen (aka Bella Latham) announced the details of her eagerly awaited debut album ‘Quarter Life Crisis.’ Featuring 12 tracks, including previously released singles ‘Dream Girl’ and ‘We Can Be Anything’ and the new lead single ‘All The Things,’ which is one of six songs she has contributed to the soundtrack of the 2nd series of the global smash Netflix show Heartstopper. Blending pop hook tendencies with


My Top 5 R Tunes - T ediscovered he Fresh ers Version My Top 5 R ediscovered Tunes - The Version! Festive With Hallow een over the festive season fast approach is ing, so I figur ed I would br samples of th in g e best moder n-day diva cr tracks! imbo

hard-edged aggression, the album’s first single “Dream Girl” is the perfect, compromise-free meeting of these two sides of herself. An achingly honest song, it chronicles a kind of unrequited love she felt for a woman who was in a relationship with a man. When chatting with Baby Queen about the album she told me, “This album tells the story of my journey through my early 20s - leaving my childhood and my adolescence behind but never really losing my childlike wonder and never quite growing up. The songs are all facets of what early adulthood has been like for me while discovering new parts of myself, my sexuality, my past and my place in this world. It has been lonely, chaotic, beautiful, devastating and inspiring and I think these songs reflect that, creating a space in which innocence and experience can live side by side as two conflicting entities.” Her sound, lyrics and not giving a fuck attitude remind me of Lily Allen but rather than mimicking her she is picking up where Lily left off and making it her own, with already 1.1 million listeners on Spotify she is doing something right, bring on the 10th Nov is all I can say!

Vinyl of the Moment - The way all the greats should be played! Tina Turner - Queen of Rock N Roll - Contains her 55 singles from 1975 to 2020 in chronological order and I got a copy before its official release, thank you old PR friends! It is the first project to be released since her death in May this year and like a true Queen, she is still rocking n rolling for us from beyond the grave!

The Corrs - Best of the Corrs - covering the incredible Corrs first 3 hugely successful studio albums. Made available on vinyl for the first time on gold discs it includes 3 new tracks recorded in tribute to Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie, Little Lies, Everywhere and Songbird. it sounds great and matches my living room decor. I hope you all have enjoyed my recommendations, reviews and bits of gossip over the past year. All that is left for me to say is that I wish all our readers a fun and safe Christmas period, drink, eat and be merry. Happy Listening, Gary x

Meghan Tra inor I’ll Be Home - A beautiful balla d-style tune, making promises that she will hopefully get to keep. It ’s a wee tune that yo u will hum along to. . Kelly Clarkso nUnderneath The Tree - power voca l check, Christmas tr ees check, and honkey tonk piano…..a cl assic for many years to come! Leona Lewis - One More Sleep Fast becoming th e UK’s answer to th e queen of Christmas with her annual Chris tmas tour Leona counts down the run-up to the big day.

Mariah Car ey ft Ariana Grand e& Jennifer Hud son - Oh Santa - the undisputed qu een of Christmas with 2 featured fe llow powerhouse vocalists, jiggling bells and a catchy tune… couldn’t hate this one if you tried! Little Mix One I’ve Been Missing - This one didn’t ch art so well for the girls but I adore them so……. fight me if yo u disagree with them being on my list!

Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.

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ust the thought of a family Christmas sends shivers up and down my spine. I doubt my liver would survive the amount of alcohol I’d have to drink to get through the day without having a complete nervous breakdown

Apart from the fake pleasantries, the narcissism, Jesus, God, the three wise men, the fake plastic Christmas tree, the undiagnosed OCD, the psychological abuse, and blatant energy vampirism, it’s the not being able to be me bit that would really fucking suck. At the age of 45 years old and now approaching the coffin from the wrong side, I just don’t have time to waste pretending to be something I’m not. Let’s take my favourite word ‘cunt’ for instance. I have never uttered the word ‘cunt’ in front of my parents even in the rather fun and friendly Australian use of the word ‘cunt’ for example when one says “He’s a good cunt!”, meaning someone is a nice bloke.. or the London use of the word ‘cunt’ for example when one is in a pub getting shit faced and a simple toast goes like this “Cheers Cunt!”. It makes me sad to not be able to use my favourite word ‘cunt’ in front of my conservative family and not being able to use the word ‘cunt’ when in their presence makes me think twice about mentioning bum sex or indeed dick jokes and who doesn’t love a good dick joke on Christmas Day? And so I shall be spending Christmas Day with my cats who neither judge me nor restrict my usage of the word ‘cunt’ because to them it’s just another meaningless sound. They love me just as I am much like Mr Darcy loves Bridget Jones and god knows there are many similarities between me and Mrs Jones! Being a single gay dude I often wear the same pair of pants for a good few days. I only do the washing up when absolutely necessary, and I frequently walk around naked with the curtains wide open. I adopted this ‘Fuck it’ attitude a few years back and it’s served me well. The biggest advantage of being a bit of a cunt is that one doesn’t get invited to family dinners. Had I known this would be the result of my being myself I would have done it years ago! But then one learns from one’s mistakes.

schlong dong who will fuck you in half but who isn’t after a relationship because he’s married to Sheila down the road. The ones in the closet are always really up for it because they can’t get blowjobs at home. If I am ever in doubt about how to spend Christmas Day I think to myself “W.W.G.J.D.?” - “What Would Gay Jesus Do? And I find I always get the right answer. Not that Jesus ever existed of course but if you’re reading this magazine you’ve probably worked that one out by now. But if gay Jesus did exist all those years ago I imagine him as a power bottom taking 12 loads one after the other. Can you tell I’m enjoying writing this article this afternoon? See? Told ya! It’s the art of not giving a fuck anymore and it’s extremely cathartic. What you find over time is that when other people realise their mind fucks are not going to work anymore they tend to leave you in peace and after all Christmas is the time of peace and a time to reflect on the year past and to make new year’s resolutions you have absolutely no intention of keeping. I find it’s so much nicer to make those empty promises like going to the gym, stopping smoking, saying ‘cunt’ less, not eating 6 slices of toast, using less salt, drinking less vodka, and cleaning my bathroom more than once every 6 months when at home alone without the need to pretend to care about what others are telling you about their straight privileged lives. So here’s wishing everyone a very Merry Fuckin’ Christmas and a Happy New Year!

It’s wonderful to free oneself from both guilt and gas-lighting the staples of Irish Catholicism and give zero fucks. These days if I offend people with my language, appearance, dick jokes, or opinions in general I feel an overwhelming sense of pride as a 45-year-old homosexual (who is naturally grumpy, sarcastic, and borderline sociopathic mainly as a result of other’s cunty behaviour) because more often than not those who are most offended by the word ‘cunt’ tend to be rather cunty themselves. So if you are dreading the family Christmas this holiday season why not stay home, get shit-faced, order a pizza, enjoy some of your favourite pornography, and eat your body weight in chocolate before passing out in a drunken stupor. Better still go on Grindr and find the bloke with the biggest GNI MAG [60]

Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.



Here are some of our favourite locally produced gift ideas for foodies, which would make perfect stocking f illers, Xmas hampers, or simply spoiling yourself with a little Yuletide luxury!

Modest Beer. A small independent brewery based in Randalstown, Modest Beer believes in simplicity & a knack for brewing pretty good beer! We had the pleasure of meeting brewer Chris recently, & had to try his amazing beers, from the blackcurranty Bramble Sour with its fragrant gin botanicals from the Echlinville Distillery, to the #7 release in a rotational “Pretty Good Pale Ale” series: a hazy pale ale dry-hopped for big flavours of pink grapefruit, sweet pineapple & a touch of resin. And probably our favourite, ideal for sipping by a crackling fireplace, a smooth Irish Stout, just like Nanna used to drink! Matsúra Co. Cookies. Matsúra Co.’s name is rooted in Kapampangan, a language native to the Philippines. “Matsúra, a term of playful endearment, which when translated can signify either “I am ugly” or “Imperfectly perfect” cookies. The inspiration for Matsúra Co. stemmed from baker Chai’s research and dedication to perfecting the art of creating cookies with a unique texture that balances fudgy, gooey, and crusty elements. Recently debuting as a pop-up at Trademarket Belfast, these cookies are handcrafted with the highest quality ingredients, boasting an original recipe. The lineup includes four flavours: Espresso Chocolate Chip, Ube & White Chocolate, Matcha Latte, and Pistachio & Date. Additionally, Matsúra Co. has plans to unveil seasonal flavours for Christmas. Irish Black Butter. A legendary treat, this award winning rich & spicy conserve made from Armagh Bramley apples, Irish Black Butter can be used to cook, bake, spread & mix. An incredibly versatile product, it ’s an ideal accompaniment to a Christmas cheeseboard & or charcuterie platter, or baked in a fruit loaf to give it extra moistness & flavour, and even as an ingredient in ice cream! We’re never without a jar of “the other black stuff ” in our larder! Blanco Niño Tortilla Chips. Blanco Niño’s award-winning range of corn tortilla chips, (recently earning 5 stars from the Great Taste Awards), are traditionally slowcooked and have a fantastic, authentically Mexican, style and flavour. Based in Co. Tipperary, Blanco Niño selects the very best, nonGMO corn from verifiable sustainable sources. The Tortilla Chips are GNI MAG [61]

naturally gluten-free, vegan friendly, kosher certified and contain no artificial preservatives. They’re also the first tortilla chip brand in the UK & Ireland to switch to fully recyclable packaging! There are five flavours in the range: Lightly Salted, Chilli & Lime, Smoky Chipotle, Creamy Jalapeño and Blue Corn; we created a bowl of delicious Nachos with the Blue Corn & Lightly Salted Chips, and the Smoky Chipotle flavour perfectly complemented a cool sour cream dip! Brilliant for Christmas parties. Two Stacks Whiskey. Two Stacks Irish Whiskey “Dram in a Can” is a world first, combining award-winning whiskey in a lightweight 100ml serving. We love Two Stacks Double Barrel Single Malt, a ready-to-go can with its blend of 10% peated malt & 90% unpeated malt, matured in both bourbon & oloroso sherry casks, delivering a fruity nuttiness. Two Stacks: available in packs of four, even the smallest of packages can bring the biggest surprises, and they’ll nestle perfectly in the toe of a whiskey lover’s stocking! Mike’s Fancy Cheese. Mike’s Fancy Cheese on Little Donegal St, an absolute treasure trove of delicious Irish cheeses to delight turophiles everywhere, is one of our go-to cheese shops when we need to create that unforgettable cheeseboard for a special dinner party over the festive period. We picked up some tangy yet creamy Ballylisk Single Cream Brie, a buttery, sweet Durrus, a sharp and bouncy Emerald, some salty Carraignamuck, and Mike’s very own legendary blue, Young Buck, made in Newtownards. We paired these fantastic cheeses with a lovely little pot of Erin Grove Caramelised Red Onion & Redcurrant Relish, and some charcoal, beetroot, and oat biscuits. Christmas after dinner nibbles sorted! Neary Nógs Chocolate. Situated between the stunning Mourne Mountains and the shimmering sea, Neary Nógs is Ireland’s first bean to bar artisan chocolate making studio. What began as a fundraiser to help the Neary family through personal challenges evolved into a passion that led to the establishment of the business in 2011. Integrity, sustainability, & ethically sourced cacao beans from small farms in Central America, South America and the Caribbean islands are key to fostering close partnerships, prioritising direct trade practices, and supporting the rain-forest alliance. Tours are


Two Stacks Whiskey

available, where you can see how the beans are hand sorted, gently roasted, stone ground, aged and then tempered into delicious chocolate bars which are an absolute feast for the senses and would make great gifts for chocoholics!

Follow @thegourmetboys on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok & LinkedIn Email – hello@thegourmetboys. com

Mike’s Fancy Cheese

Neary Nógs Chocolate Irish Black Butter

If you have any requests for restaurant recommendations send us a message and we’ll get right back to you.

Modest Beer

Matsúra Co. Cookies

Blanco Niño Tortilla Chips GNI MAG [62]


THE OUTING ‘Love & Friendship’ at World Famous Queer Arts, Music & Matchmaking Festival Ireland ‘The Outing Festival’ returns for our 11th Year in 2024 for a New 3 Day 3 Stages & 1 Fun Festival Valentine’s Weekend 9th-11th February 2024 on the grounds of Dromoland Castle at the Inn at Dromoland Co. Clare in the west of Ireland We have had a breakup with life in the last few years. Now it’s time to get back out there and find that passion or even love again or both, and The Outing Festival is here to help in the areas of Arts, Music and most importantly, Matchmaking., “An LGBTQ+ Weekend like no other!” The Outing Festival is a fusion of music, comedy, ceilí bands, queer arts, and the best of Ireland’s and International performers, drag artists, and DJs. The World’s Only Music, Matchmaking & Queer Arts Festival.

Now in its 11th year, the ever-fast-growing offshoot of the historical matchmaking festival in Lisdoonvarna is back and bigger than ever and is now a stand-alone Queer Arts Festival. With Irish and International stars, LGBT+ singer-songwriters to popup clubs, drag performances, comedy, live music, Film & Arts Festival, and interactive events, it’s a guaranteed craic-filled weekend away on Ireland’s stunning west coast. Eddie McGuinness, Queen of Matchmaking & Ringmaster of Love, Paul Ryder, plus Victoria Sercert, hostess this year for Blind Date. “Who needs dating apps? At The Outing, the glittery LGBT+ matchmaking festival, there’s no technology, just good old-fashioned parties,” said Eddie McGuinness, Queen of Matchmaking ‘An LGBT weekend away like no other. I’m only just recovering from last year’s craic!’

Supporting Belfast’s pet parents with prices to get tails wagging VISIT US AT 55 BOUCHER ROAD BT 12 6HR

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COMPETITION Enter Now The One I Love has teamed up with GNI Mag for an amazing competition for one lucky winner to win A Wedding Dress/Jumpsuit to the value of 1000 euro.

To be in with a chance to win please go to our website and answer the question. Competition closes Valentines Day 14th February 2024. T&C apply Follow us on: &

TITANIC HOTEL BELFAST PER PERSON WEDDING PACKAGE In the breathtaking and historic Drawing Office One

£75.00 per person Minimum numbers apply. Subject to terms and availability.

Red carpet arrival and welcome bubbles for the Wedding Couple Tea, coffee and homemade shortbread on arrival for all guests Hire of the room for the full day and evening Three course dinner menu with tea/coffee and petit fours Evening buffet of sandwiches and wraps Non-floral centrepieces on every table Personalised menu booklets for each table Complimentary bedroom suite for the wedding couple on the wedding night Menu tastings are available for the wedding couple To add the ceremony at the hotel is an additional £500 fee.

Contact our wedding specialists on +44 (0)28 9508 2000 or

Big Day





FOR LOVERS OF SOMETHING DIFFERENT If you want your big day to be completely out of the ordinary, choose an iconic location at National Museums NI and make your wedding memorable. The Ulster Museum is the epitome of city centre cool – it’s teeming with dramatic spaces and exquisite collections of art and history, for the chicest of wedding celebrations. Say ‘I do’ in the beautiful Belfast Room, explore Botanic Gardens for unforgettable photographs and host your sublime reception in the architecturally awesome Atrium.

At the Ulster Folk Museum at Cultra, you can let your imagination run free as to how you use the exhibits for your special day. Say ‘I Do’ in an 18th Century church or be the leading characters in the original Picture House Cinema. Turf fires, thatched roofs, stone walls, cobbled streets, a lovely

old pub, sweetie shop, the list goes on. Traditional character at its best. Cultra Manor is nestled exquisitely in the glorious grounds of the Folk Museum. Its graceful Edwardian charm puts guests at their ease immediately as they relax in its collection of high ceilinged, beautifully lit and stylishly ornate rooms. Secluded grandeur at its most elegant. The Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh is a venue with countless unique features blending homely rural Ulster with the buzz of 19th century America. Big wooden barns, cute woodland cottages, the bar, the print shop, the icehouse - mix and match spaces to get exactly the atmosphere you want for your wedding and your photos. Rustic charm at its most authentic.

We love hosting weddings and we understand that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. We will work with you as a couple to understand exactly how you imagine your special day and match you with a venue and wedding type that reflects your personal style. We cater for ceremonies, receptions, blessings or anniversaries. There are spaces of all shapes and sizes across each of our museums, each with distinct appeal. All our museums are licenced for Civil and Humanist Ceremonies.

To find out more about weddings at National Museums NI visit or email our team at

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YOUR CELEBRANT As we continue to overcome challenges within the LGBTQ+ community, lets take a moment to celebrate that Samesex marriage has been legal in Northern Ireland since 13 January 2020. Yet, discrimination and prejudice still exists in many parts of the world, including right here in Northern Ireland. As a celebrant within the LGBTQ+ community it is my calling to create an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere for all those I work with.

orientation or ceremonial wishes. I am happy to include religious or spiritual beliefs or neither, it is all about you. Love knows no bounds. What benefits are there in choosing a celebrant? There are many benefits in choosing a celebrant for your wedding day, firstly

After many heart-warming consultations with excited clients, hearing their tales of love and connection, I find great joy in weaving their journey together alongside vows, affirmations and words of honour at the beginning of the new chapter in their story. As a celebrant the holding of a ceremony is a great honour, I thrive on ensuring

and begin the process. TWO Next, we’ll have a consultation to lay out your plans for the day. This is the fun bit where we focus on your story of love and your journey that led you to marriage. First date romances to the complexities of blending families and building a partnership, these are the feel-good elements that make fabulous wedding ceremonies!

What is a wedding celebrant? The role of a celebrant is to guide the warmth and love present in your union into a bespoke ceremony that commences the binding of your lives together. A celebrant will co-create a beautiful and tailored ceremony with you and your partner to be shared with family, friends and loved ones. Celebrants can shape ceremonies rich in personalised vows and bespoke scripts that can reflect traditional values or embrace non-traditional approaches when celebrating the union of two hearts.

THREE We can then craft your unique wedding ceremony, weaving in warmth, joy and a sprinkling of humour. It will feel authentic to you both, flowing between storytelling & symbolism and brimming with celebration.

Why are celebrants becoming more popular? As the only fully trained Civil and Spiritual Wedding, Naming and Funeral celebrant in Northern Ireland, I speak to a lot of people who wish to create something memorable, personal and unique for their chosen ceremony. The wedding ceremony is the most meaningful part of your wedding day, therefore it’s the perfect moment to create a magical and honoured ceremony that will express your commitment to each other. Choosing me allows for more freedom than conventional wedding ceremonies, as each aspect of the ceremony is personally crafted with complete liberation in terms of location, format and style. Another reason for the rise in popularity is that I welcome all couples regardless of their beliefs,

FIVE The ceremony will commence and unfold just how you have dreamed.

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FOUR On the big day, I’ll be at your wedding venue early to make sure we’re all set. I’ll check in with photographers, venue staff, musicians and readers. I’ll also be there to reassure you both.

there are no restrictions regarding wedding location or venue licensing. Opening up castles, forests, home gardens or beaches as potential wedding venues. Also there are no limitations with the time of day or day of the week, so sunset weddings or midnight commitment ceremony is always an option. The Sacred Ceremonies and hand fasting ceremonies that I deliver are now becoming much more popular as couples are leaning towards cherry picking ancient wedding practices, age old traditions and ancestral rites as they tie the knot.

the preparations and delivery of the occasion is brought forth with presence, harmony and joy, creating moments to cherish for a lifetime. Five steps to your perfect wedding ceremony. ONE If you are interested in booking me as a celebrant you can contact via my website and we can have a friendly chat. Here you can ask questions and get a vision of the pathways to creating your perfect ceremony. If you and your partner are happy we can set the date

Chosen Name ceremony As an LGBTQ+ celebrant, I have the privilege of creating and officiating these deeply meaningful and joyous events. A name affirmation ceremony is a celebration of identity, a declaration of self-expression, and a testament to the power of love and acceptance. Friends, family members, and allies often play significant roles in these events, offering support, love, and encouragement to those undergoing this transformative experience. Insta: sacredceremoniesbymaecassie Fb: Mae Cassie Karen


THE LODGE Newly engaged? Why not book your personal viewing to meet our award-winning wedding team and plan your perfect day. Located on the 350-acre Ashford Estate, with stunning views over Lough Corrib and country house charm, it’s easy to see why The Lodge at Ashford Castle is one of Ireland’s leading wedding venues for beautiful, bespoke weddings. The 4-star hotel prides itself on going above and beyond for its wedding couples, delivering a truly memorable experience. Catering for affairs of up to 200 in the Harbour ballroom, or 250 in a special marquee and with unrivalled amenities that includes panoramic views, delicious menu options and a private bar & drinks reception, it’s no wonder The Lodge at Ashford is an award-winning venue. The Harbour Ballroom Overlooking Lough Corrib, the beautiful Harbour Ballroom is flooded with natural light and can GNI MAG [74]

cater for banquets of up to 200 guests. A spectacular menu using local produce and fresh, seasonal ingredients will be created by the hotel’s culinary team lead by Executive Head Chef, Jonathan Keane, with perfectly paired organic wine options chosen by The Lodge’s experienced sommelier. An array of beverage packages is also available. Ceremonies at The Lodge at Ashford Castle With panoramic views of Lough Corrib and Kinlough Woods, The Lodge at Ashford Castle offers a stunning space for outdoor civil ceremonies (weather permitting). Indoor ceremonies can also be accommodated. A private bar and reception area is also available exclusively for wedding parties’ post-ceremony. Accommodation Options The Lodge at Ashford Castle can be privately hired for weddings and with 64 bedrooms available, The Lodge at Ashford Castle can accommodate up to 130 wedding guests on site. A variety of room and suite options are available, including

dog friendly rooms so even four-legged guests can attend your big day. Rehearsals & Day Two Events The Lodge at Ashford Castle is the perfect venue for extended celebrations. Enjoy a pre rehearsal dinner in Wilde’s restaurant which offers a seasonal menu with dishes made using estate-grown and locally sourced produce. The Quay Bar & Brasserie can also accommodate day two celebrations and a BBQ in the hotel’s dedicated terrace area can also be reserved. If you or indeed someone you know is engaged and planning their wedding, The Lodge at Ashford Castle is the perfect place for their special day. Contact the wedding team today on 094 954 5400 or visit

T H E PERFE CT WED D ING VEN U E WINNER OF COUNTRY HOUSE WEDDING VENUE OF THE YEAR WHY SHOULD WE BE YOUR DREAM WEDDING VENUE? • Intimate and larger weddings catered • Award-winning Executive Chef Jonathan Keane • Indoor & outdoor civil ceremonies • Picturesque lakeside setting • Splendid gardens with breathtaking views • Award-winning personal wedding planner For further details contact Cora Duggan at the Lodge at Ashford on +353 (0) 94 954 5400 or email The Lodge at Ashford Castle, Cong, Co. Mayo WWW.THELODGEAC.COM

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07711487324 | 07858526444 | Find us on Facebook - KSLIMOUSINES

Excellence since 1979

Multi award winning venue. Embrace yourself in the stunning heritage village of Leighlinbridge, a hidden gem in the South East.


The Lord Bagenal Inn, Leighlinbridge, Carlow |

Make it Special, Make it An Grianan

Photo: M77 Photography


Speenoge, Burt, Co. Donegal, F93 YA0P +353 (0)74 93 68900

The North-West's Premier Wedding Venue



FROM £68 PER GUEST Available to book from Sunday to Thursday excluding Bank Holiday Weekends, Christmas and Easter Book a private viewing today Email: Tel: 028 8224 2520 |

The Lord Bagenal Inn, multi award winning, family run venue, in Silverbirch Wedding Ad GNI Mag SEP23.indd 1 the stunning heritage of Leighlinbridge 15/09/2023 15:12 village, is a “hidden gem” in the South East Hosting your wedding, The Lord Bagenal Inn is devoted to creating #yourweddingyourway. From the moment we first meet you, we will be there every step of the way to make sure your Wedding Day is perfect. Booking your wedding with us guarantees you a dedicated wedding consultant and wedding team who with their wealth of experience, will seamlessly guide you through your wedding day. Wedding Packages start from €45 per head. Alternatively by using the extensive Menu Selector you have the flexibility to create your own unique wedding package or add extras to those already created for you! The luxurious, spacious marble lobby allows you to mingle with your guests, with pre dinner drinks from the Waterfront Bar. The classic, bright décor of the Marina Room comfortably caters for anything from 50 to 280 guests. Opening out onto a garden terrace where your wedding photographs capture everlasting memories, against the backdrop of the River Barrow. For more intimate weddings, dining in the Lord Bagenal Restaurant may be more your style. Whatever your wedding plans, The Lord Bagenal Inn has something for you. The Wedding Suite is complimentary for the night. The hotel has 40 guest bedrooms – subject to availability. CEREMONIES The Lord Bagenal Inn is approved to host civil ceremonies, blessings, same sex ceremonies and civil partnerships. Ceremonies outside on the garden terrace are a possibility, subject to numbers and Irish weather! Indoor ceremonies in The Gallery or The Marina Room depending on numbers. A charge applies for Civil Ceremonies on site. We would be delighted to meet with you for a viewing, pop in or make an appointment with one of our dedicated wedding team E: W:

T: 059 977 4000 GNI MAG [79]

OUR BIG DAY Becky & Ciara


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BIG DAY BECKY & CIARA So tell us how you met, were you single for a long time before you started dating? We met as all good love stories in Belfast start, in the Kremlin! We matched on tinder (twice!) and then fate stepped in and we finally met face to face in the Kremlin. I (Becky) had been single for about 10 months before we met. At that point I was planning on trying to leave the country to work as a cabin crew so had not expected to get into a relationship. How long after you started dating did it take to pop the question, was it an immediate yes? And who asked who? We knew early on that we wanted to get married. But we had two rules. Whoever proposed first got to walk down the aisle last and we both wanted to be proposed to. I proposed to Ciara first. It took her a few

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moments to say yes due to the uncontrollable sobbing! But about a year and half later, I got my proposal on our 6 year anniversary. Tell us about your big day, location, amount of guests etc. Was it planned pre Covid, had you to alter many things? We got married on 12th August 2023 in a place called Segrave Barns, Dunany in Co. Louth. We actually found the venue by sheer chance. I had picked up a wedding magazine just before the first lockdown and came across it. It was everything we could want! All I wanted was a big barn to dance the night away in. It was rustic, had accommodation, by the sea but also in the countryside. The staff were exceptional! I cannot recommend them enough. We were lucky with the venue because we could arrive on Friday and celebrate with family and friends, get married on Saturday, have our

second day in the little pub on site and then leave on Monday. Never once leaving the premises! But also it could accommodate our 120 guests very easily. We thankfully planned our wedding for 2023 and started the planning just as the lockdown hit. It was a bit of a nightmare to find vendors or meet them due to restrictions and wedding fairs weren’t running. We were extremely fortunate to have such amazing suppliers and vendors. What about the food and drink? Food and drink was really important to us. When I first met Ciara she was a Bartender and we quickly learnt we had a shared passion for great food and drink. The food was supplied by the incredible Old Barn Catering. We decided on a sit down dinner. The doube of beef was the highlight of everyone’s dinner!

BIG DAY BECKY & CIARA Were there any hiccups or did all go to plan?

Have you or are you going on a honeymoon?

We had to change our wedding celebrant due but we were so happy we did!! We ended up with not only the best ceremony anyone could ask for, but also a friend!

As I’m typing we are actually on our way to Florida for 3 weeks!! I’m a Disney fanatic! So much so I walked down the aisle to the Lizzie maguire song “this is what dreams are made of ”

Two weeks before our wedding we had to change hair dressers but Susan Evan’s hairdresser stepped in and saved the day! I have never met a one woman band power through so many people and not even break a sweat! When people say expect the bride to be late, the bet was on myself and not my wife. Unbeknown to our guests, my wife decided our wedding day was the day to make us all late by watching the Arsenal match... she’s lucky they won!

In your day to day lives are you into the same things? What interests do you have that are different? This is a tough one, we love sitting in with the dogs with a cup of tea watching some

But as with all weddings, there were many other hiccups but you soon learn to just get over them and not let it ruin it!

11 Church Square Banbridge Down BT32 4AS 028 4062 8811 Open Monday- Saturday Follow us:

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trash tv shows on Netflix or going on some kind of an adventure. But ciara is very much into sports and country music... and I’m a big Disney musical geek!

be able to start our fertility journey and have a couple of kids. The dream is to be standing in Disney world with our kids in front of the castle watching the fireworks.

Do you do everything together or do you like to keep independent?

Tell us who made your day possible in terms of rings, flowers, photographer, cars etc There are so many people we would like to thank..

We do a lot of things together but we are very much two separate entities and make a point of going out just with our own mates. Have you a family, is this something on the plan for you? We hope in the very near future that we will GNI MAG [84]

• • • •

Venue: Segrave Barns Dunany Celebrant: Laura Fitz Humanist Celebrant Photographer: Agnieszka Marsh Photography Videographer: Forever Endeavour Films

BIG DAY BECKY & CIARA • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Catering: Old Barn Catering Cake: NI Cake Design Singing chef: Eugene from Segrave barns Ceremony and reception music: Sean Magee Music Flowers: Forever Flowers Neon sign: Majestic Neon Invites designed by: Those Wee Doodles Carvings by the cake: Caricatures by Trevor (my dad!) Camper booth: The Quirky Camper Booth Band: The Convicts Becky’s dress: Lauren Elizabeth Bridal Ciara’s dress: La Boda Bridal Seamstress: Sew Handy Hair: SUSAN EVANS hairdressing Makeup: Julie Quinn Bridesmaids dresses: asos Best man’s suit: Suit Locker (find on Instagram) Dads suit: Suitor Bros Clothiers and Custom Tailors

Ciara’s engagement ring: Murray and co Becky’s engagement ring and both wedding rings: Jack Murphy Jewellers Jackets were made by my friend Nadine O’Hare and her mum Paula O’hare

We are based just outside Drogheda, our work encompasses wedding, corporate events, funerals and gift flowers. We can create lavish & unique bridal bouquets, centerpieces etc. If you’d like to have a chat about your upcoming wedding give me a call. Opening Hours: Tuesday - Friday 10.30am - 6pm Saturday 10.30am - 4.30pm Kearney’s Lane, Monasterboice, Co. Louth, A92 Y8W2 P: +353 86 244 6143 W:, E:

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Has anything changed since you said “I Do”? Well we still don’t see each other as often as we would like... although I was told this was the secret to a good marriage! I suppose for me, being able to say “wife” and be the same as any other couple, means a lot to me sentimentally! Anything else we may have missed that you may want to add/mention??? Possibly just some advice to future lgbtq couples: 1 - Don’t settle on vendors. Go and explore your options and do your research!!! 2 - We got ready together right up until we

put our dresses on and it was the nicest way to spend the day. It made the day feel longer as well 3 - Do your wedding how you want it! Not what others want or what you think they will want. 4 - Breathe and enjoy it!! 5 - Lastly if anyone is stuck or needs help, reach out to our Instagram page @ bridesbythesea_ni

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Make your day


At Starling Entertainments we very much appreciate the time and organisation required by the couple, so it is our pleasure to eliminate some of that pressure and provide you with a professional, fully bespoke entertainment package from start to finish. Our aim is to lighten the weight of responsibility that falls on your shoulders by supplying the highest quality acts and much more to meet your individual requirements. All of the acts that are accessible to you, have been personally vetted by us before their details are made available through Starling Entertainments. We guarantee that you will get only the best quality entertainment for your very special day.

Its your day so have it your way! For additional information please contact Tel: 07802 341134 Email:

OUR BIG DAY Lee & Loan


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BIG DAY LEE & LOAN So tell us how you met, were you single for a long time before you started dating? Back in 2015, I (Lee) joined The Emerald Warriors Rugby Club in Dublin (an inclusive Rugby Club), each year they played a 50:50 tag rugby/football match with The Dublin Devils Football Team (an inclusive Football Team in Dublin). It just so happened that a TV crew were there to film the match, and upon their win, The Dublin Devils needed to find a spokesperson to go on camera and make a speech about their achievement! Loan, a proud member of the team, was voluntary to get on up there, accept the trophy and make a speech to the camera. The TV crew were there from TnaG – a purely Irish speaking channel, for audiences fluent in Irish and Ioan, one of the only British members of the team then went on to reluctantly make the victory speech. I heard the Northern Ireland accent and along with oan’s devilishly good looks I was instantly besotted with him. It wasn’t until a few months later, when Ioan decided to get back into Rugby training again and re-join The Emerald Warriors, our paths crossed again. I saw Ioan arrive looking wonderfully dapper and as handsome as ever. We didn’t really get past the matchrelated pleasantries during training in those first few months. It wasn’t until Ioan tackled me to the ground (in what was supposed to be a tag Rugby match!!) that we kinda, sorta finally had a conversation.... Albeit just profuse apologies and embarrassed excuses

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from Ioan, as I bruised and also embarrassed, tried to pull myself up, wondering how many broken ribs I now had! Ioan travels to Carrickfergus each year to spend Christmas with his Northern Irish family. When he was returning to Dublin he posted a photo of the bus station. I managed to get some courage and liked the post. We began to talk through messenger and both realised that we would both be out in The George (Dublin gay bar) for New Year’s celebrations with friends, we agreed to meet up. As the New Years Countdown struck midnight, we shared our first kiss. And as they say all is history! Both of us were single for about 2 years before we met with myself only coming out 3 years previous to meeting Ioan with Ioan being out a couple of years previously. How long after you started dating did it take to pop the question, was it an immediate yes? And who asked who? It is certainly something we laugh about all the time! It should have been very romantic but like all things, our relationship, it didn’t go to plan. We got engaged on the 01st Feb 2019 in Central Park in New York. I had brought Ioan to NYC for his 30th birthday, not knowing it would be the holiday we will remember for the rest of our lives. I had been previously so I tried to play tour guide to Ioan. That morning I suggested we go to the National History Museum and we could

walk through Central Park, killing two birds with one stone! The night we landed in NYC a winter blizzard had just passed, it was the coldest weather we both have ever experienced. As we walked through the park there was a cute little bridge over a frozen pond looking to the skyline of the famous Plaza Hotel. It was nice and quiet and Ioan had asked me to pose looking into the distant skyline. I hate posing for photos let alone one of the typically posed ones. As it was his birthday holiday I obliged. It was so cold and Ioan was taking ages, I kept turning around telling him to hurry. Not knowing he was trying to take the ring out of his pocket. I felt something brush my leg and I jumped around to find Ioan down on one knee. My first words “What the hell are you doing down there, will you take the bloody photo, I am freezing”, not realising Ioan was presenting an engagement ring. Ioan, a little taken back by my response, began to stutter saying “Em, will you marry me”, to which I began to ask several times “Are you sure, really are you sure”. Crowds began to gather and we do not show PDA so Ioan politely said “Are you going to F***ing marry me or what?”. To which I obviously said “Of course I will”. We then put on the ring and immediately rang off the bridge and continued on our day trip as both of us were then mortified and didn’t really know what to do with lots of people around. Tell us about your big day, location, amount of

BIG DAY LEE & LOAN Estate and Spa being from the South, but Ioan had always dreamed of being able to stay there let alone get married there. I booked a viewing with their events manager Ainsleigh Baxter during our stay up North. We bought Ioan’s gran-mother Ann to view it too and Ann was certainly ensuring we booked there, she fell in love with the place. Not to mention how stunning it is. We took a couple of days after meeting Ainsleigh and rang to book our wedding for September 2023. We never looked at another venue. We end up having ~150 guests at the wedding, although you would love to bring so much more, you have to put a number to it. That was a hard thing to do as some people you can only invite them to the afters. It was incredible for us seeing all our family, friends, work colleagues in the one room. A very wise friend told me when I was a little skeptical about whether this day would be the best day of your life, she said “At dinner, look around at all the people who have made an effort to be there for you both, that will make it the best”. She was so right. It was the best day of both our lives. What about the food and drink?

guests etc. Was it planned pre Covid, had you to alter many things? We got engaged in Feb 2019. This was obviously before the start of Covid but Covid came very quickly. We had initially started to look at venues online, talk about what we would ideally like and then Covid did hit. We were never really in a rush to get married so it didn’t affect us and we were lucky we didn’t have any booked either. Many of our friends had to cut their lists when guest numbers were restricted for their big day. During Covid, Ioan was working from home most days but still had to travel to the office and I was in work in the lab most days so apart from the social aspect of life, it didn’t really change for us. As Ioan’s maternal family live in Northern Ireland and his paternal family living in Northern Wales planning a wedding during the hard times of not seeing family didn’t seem right. We also started the typical spreadsheets and saw the work that goes into a wedding and kept deciding that is a next month problem. So all in all Covid didn’t really impact our wedding plans. Each year Ioan goes to Northern Ireland to have Christmas Eve and Day with his family and I follow up St. Stephen’s Day/Boxing day to continue the festivities. We decided that as we were up there we would pass the time and just look at some venues. At this point we had no idea what year we were going to get married but decided we should start making some form of a start. I had never heard of the Culloden

As mentioned, myself and Ioan have a few similarities but more differences. We went to our meal tasting where we tried 2 starters, 2 soups, 2 mains and 2 desserts. We both loved the opposite of one another and then had to make sacrifices for each of us to get our own way. We ended up going for the Fish Cake for starters even though Ioan wanted the Goats Cheese. A spicy red pepper soup for the soup course again, beef and white fish for main with a strawberry pavlova for dessert. Everyone to this day said how much they enjoyed the meal so we were so happy as there were so many people to try and please. We also had night food of sliders, chips and fish goujons. But we used a Cheesemonger from Holywood and had an actual cheese wedding cake which went down a treat. Mini cheese boards for the night time snacks too. Were there any hiccups or did all go to plan? Loan is a huge planner and always has at least 10 spreadsheets going at once for something or another. So Marrying him was actually always going to run smoothly, but he was marrying me so....... The only thing I booked was the photographer and the weekend before the wedding, 5 days before we found out that they had over booked, were known for canceling the night before, so we went into panic mode and there was a few subtle “I am not going to say, I told you so”. We ended up finding the Amazing Epic Journal Photography and Film when he was reassuring us he had availability for us if we needed him. We ended up having a video call that day and got such a good vibe from him we booked him. Everyone loved him that day. Have you or are you going on a honeymoon ?

After the holiday we booked a week All Inclusive to Rhodes Town, Greece. We called this our Minimoon as we wanted to do an all out trip to South Africa for a Safari but with wedding planning we didn’t have too much time to do our proper research. As this trip will probably be a once in a lifetime trip we really wanted to make sure it is done properly. Now the wedding is over and we are back to reality we have begun to look into it a lot more. In your day to day lives are you into the same things? What interests do you have that are different? This is funny, so both myself and Loan both are big family men. Our family is the most important thing to us both. We love nothing more than hanging out with family, cousins, nieces and nephews and going to family parties. We also know how special we are with the friends we have made individually but also together. We have accumulated an incredible network of friends over the years and they mean the world to us. We love a good city break where we walk for hours a day and try our best to see everything in the tour guide books in a weekend, hikes with our two dogs, out for meals, out to watch the rugby. On the other hand, Ioan loves his Xbox, something I think more than me, I haven’t played a game console in 20 years. I like my cheesy shows and my kindle. Loan hates my shows but somehow 3-4 episodes in he is sitting beside me commenting on it and has made himself cozy on the sofa. We always laugh about the fact that Loan likes horrors, I hate them. Simple things such as Loan like chicken breasts, I only like legs. I love olives, Loan hates olives. I’m obsessed with spice, Loan cant even have pepper on his dinner. There are so many more things we differ on but they say opposites attract. Do you do everything together or do you like to keep independent? We would do a lot together but understand the importance of our own time. We do have our own friends and mutual friends but regardless my friends are Loan’s and vice versa. There are holidays we go on with our own friends and then trips we go away together with friends. Ioan enjoys a Thursday night out after work with friends and although they are our mutual friends, I choose not to as I am old and can’t handle school night drinking but we don’t need to live in one another’s pockets. Not only that, we understand when the other has had a rough day and know when to give the other one either a cuddle and some quality time, or let the other one just play their Xbox and the other read their kindle or watch the tv. It’s a healthy balance but all about communication as to how the other is. Have you a family, is this something on the plan for you? Myself and Loan are really close to our GNI MAG [91]


nieces and nephews, saying that when we had only been with each other for a short time it was completely noticeable to both that in our futures we would love nothing more than to start a family and have children of our own. Unfortunately, with the extremely grey laws both in the South of Ireland and the UK for non-traditional families it is extremely difficult to do so as the laws are clearly not defined. The cost to go abroad for surrogacy is extreme. Although we speak about it all the time and spend so much time researching we are unsure of what the outcome will be. At present though we have our two beautiful dogs Macy (Lurcher/Staffy X and Angel (Teacup Pomeranian).

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Tell us who made your day possible in terms of rings, flowers, photographer, cars etc Our parents financially really helped us out, my Mam, Dad, Ioan’s Granny and his Dad also. Loan had his best friend Leon and brother William as best men, his cousin Scott and Uncle Jonathan as Best men. I had my best friend Julia as my Chief Groomsmaid and my sister Tara and brother Craig as groomsmaid and my groomsman. Ioan’s sister Heather and my brother’s wife Julie were our witnesses on the day. Joanthan’s wife/Ioan’s aunty Tina and Julia’s Fiance were our Ushers. Loan’s aunt Julie was our organiser, dragging everyone for photos and ensuring people were doing as

they should. My life long friend Grainne was my ring bearer with Ioan’s brother William as his and again my lifelong friend Lindsay did our handfasting. She actually thought that with her doing that she was technically marrying us so telling everyone. Overall everyone who attended made our day possible. We never would have had the amazing memories we now have and will have for the rest of our lives if it wasn’t for everyone making an effort to join us on the day. McGarrys Wedding Design completed all the flower arrangements, buttonholes, and Groomsmaid bouquets. Epic journal Photography and Film were our photographers. Devine Moments were our videographers. The Artisan Cheesemonger

BIG DAY LEE & LOAN from Holywood was our cake maker. Ulster limousines provided the Groom’s limousines and an executive car for his Welsh Grandmother. Translink provided a double decker bus to transport our guests from Carrickfergus to the Culloden Estate and Spa. Claire Shearer was our humanist Celebrant and was the most amazing persona and celebrant. Ainsleigh Baxter was our Event planner in the Culloden Estate and Spa and she was nothing more than amazing, she could not have done any more for us. She even came in on her day off to come check up on me as I stayed in the hotel the night before and also walked me to the room before I walked down the aisle. Has anything changed since you said “I Do”? We can anticipate each other a lot more. I also love saying “my husband” every chance I get. I immediately changed my name to our married name on everything (bank, work etc.). I was told by most that nothing should change after marriage and it is a good sign if it doesn’t so I think we are doing good!

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A Humanist Ceremonies wedding gives you the chance to celebrate your marriage with a memorable and meaningful ceremony, totally and authentically personal to the two of you. Warm and welcoming to all, it allows you to mark your special day wherever and whenever you want - the choice is entirely yours. Our trusted network of Humanist Ceremonies celebrants are experienced in working with couples to create special and significant non-religious marriage ceremonies, capturing your unique and individual stories. Trained to a gold standard by an organisation with more than 125 years’ history, they are all annually accredited, insured and DBS checked so that you can be sure of a professional and reliable service on this most important of occasions. We have campaigned for marriage equality for decades, and were instrumental in making humanist marriages in Northern Ireland legally recognised. To find out more, and to meet our Humanist Ceremonies Northern Ireland celebrants, visit


TIPS FOR AN AFFORDABLE HUMANIST WEDDING Weddings can be a large expense. And, in this difficult economic climate, it’s even more important to plan carefully to create a wedding that doesn’t break the bank. Humanist marriages are legally recognised in Northern Ireland, which means that you can have a personal, non-religious wedding. Your celebrant will work with you to create a ceremony unique to you, and will have ideas about how you can personalise your ceremony and save some money at the same time. Here are four tips to plan an affordable humanist wedding 1. Venue hire The venue hire is often the largest cost but, with a humanist wedding, you can have the ceremony wherever you like!

A beautiful woodland is a wonderful place for a ceremony, allowing you and your partner to affirm your love immersed in nature – and avoid the costs of an expensive venue. 2. BYOB (Bring your own bouquet) Ask your guests to bring flowers from their gardens or local florists to pop into bottles or vases at the venue. This saves on budget and allows your guests to be involved with the decor. 3. Put your playlist-making skills to good use If you regularly create great playlists, save on the costs of a DJ by creating your perfect wedding playlist.

4. Elope Elopement can be a great option if you’re on a very tight budget. For some couples, it’s also the chance to shake off difficult conversations about guest lists and family. You can personalise your humanist elopement however you want – you just need to find the right celebrant for you. Humanist Ceremonies are inclusive to all. Find out more about humanist marriages, and meet our network of Humanist Ceremonies Northern Ireland celebrants, at ni-ceremonies.

You can even create a collaborative playlist where guests can add their favourite tunes!

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Danny Malone What a whirlwind of a year it has been! The Revlon Professional Visionaries program has finally come to an end, and let me tell you, it has been an absolute dream come true. I had the incredible opportunity to be mentored by the renowned and globally acclaimed stylist, Mark Leeson. Learning from him was like stepping into a whole new world of hairdressing, filled with the latest technologies and cuttingedge techniques. Witnessing Mark’s mastery firsthand was nothing short of aweinspiring. But this journey was about so much more than just acquiring skills. It was about building lifelong friendships, personal growth, and proudly representing myself and my beloved MACC Hair. From the excitement of jetting off to Spain and immersing myself in the electrifying atmosphere of Salon International to now being honored as a finalist for the prestigious British Hairdressing Awards in the Northern Ireland Hairdresser of the Year category, being a part of the Visionaries has propelled me closer to my dreams. I owe an immense debt of gratitude to my mentors, Mark and Richard, for their unwavering support and belief in me. I simply cannot express my gratitude enough to Revlon Professional, especially Matt and his remarkable team, for making all of this possible and welcoming me with open arms into the Revlon family. And a special shout-out goes to the extraordinary Karen Thomas, without whom the Visionaries journey would not have been the same. GNI MAG [96]

Words fail to capture the profound impact that Mark, Richard, and the entire Visionaries team have had on my life. Their support and guidance have meant the world to me, and I cannot wait to raise a glass and celebrate our incredible journey together at the British Hairdressing Awards. A heartfelt thank you also goes to my salon, MACC Hair Belfast, for allowing me to seize this life-changing opportunity and grow into a stronger stylist. A heartfelt thank you goes out to Julie Bellinger and Gorgeous PT for their unwavering support throughout the Visionaries project. Your encouragement and belief in our journey have meant the world to us. We are truly grateful for your contribution and dedication. Thank you for being a part of this extraordinary experience. As for what lies ahead with the Visionaries, well, my friends, you’ll just have to wait and see. The anticipation is part of the magic, after all. Here’s to an extraordinary journey filled with passion, growth, and unforgettable moments. Ashley Long, Dodge MacKay, Danny Malone, Emy Roccabella, and Jessie Stride, you are all shining stars, and I have no doubt that your futures will be nothing short of spectacular.

Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.



By Gavyn Andrews

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If you have never thought of Switzerland for a city break then I am here to tell you why you should . Firstly it is a nation known for sadly one of my biggest downfalls CHOCOLATE (So I was Sold) exciting city nightlife , unique culture and of course the amazing city architecture which isn’t just limited to the big cities of Zurich and Geneva. Zurich has a very to the point structure about it meaning you will get to know your way around it pretty quickly and get to understand that this is a city based on being nothing but efficient for resident and tourist. I know this country might not originally be at the top of your list to visit unless you might be a winter ski regular but I hope by the end of this you might consider Zurich for your next city stop vacation for many reasons. Did you know know Switzerland offers some of the most spectacular lakes and mountains in Europe and Is constantly voted the number one country to live and visit on social media and by tourist industry professionals. You might also be very keen to learn Same-sex sexual acts between adults has been legal here in Switzerland since 1942, not to mention there has been legal recognition for same-sex relationships since 2007, following a referendum in June 2005. Switzerland has many beautiful cities such as Geneva and Zurich. Zurich is one of Switzerland’s larger cities, and has many different bars and restaurants that are LGBT ran and operated. Altstadt is considered Zurich’s Gay-hood, where you can find many coffee shops, bistros, and community events. Alternatively the Swiss city of Geneva could be your option to visit because it is a very gay-friendly city, with a thriving LGBTQ+ community and a vibrant gay scene. The city also has a designated gay neighbourhood , known as Les Eaux-Vives, which is home to many LGBTQ+-owned businesses, such as bars, clubs, and restaurants so you might prefer to opt for Geneva over Zurich. I must point out that Switzerland is one of the most expensive places to both travel to and live but for locals they also have one of the best paid wages and highest living standards of all of Europe. All I am highlighting is that you will need a lot more money with you here to have GNI MAG [98]


a good time than you would say if you went to the cities of Berlin, Prague or even Amsterdam. So getting back to Zurich its one of the most gay friendly cities and progressive places to visit so holding hands and even kissing in public as you walk around the city you should feel safe. Zurichs gay scene nightlife is maybe going to surprise you it is anything but quiet and offers the average LGBTQ+ traveller much more than you might have bargained for. If you have traveled to other gay friendly cities such and Berlin and Barcelona the you might have thought that the Zurich scene would be smaller and even have less of variety but I like most was shocked to learn of the delights that this city offers us. Altstadt AKA the GAY neighbourhood is considered to be the “gay area” of Zurich, with lots of gay bars, clubs, saunas, and cafes. It’s a nice spot to hang around outside of peak party hours too – as it’s home to lots of shops, galleries, and theatres. Personally I got the feeling daytime at least of like a very posh daytime feel mainly due to the look and feel of the place and well of course the Price of shopping which to be fair was out of my personal reach but hey if you have the cash to splash then this is the place to indulge. As day changes into night Altstadt becomes an almost different place with music blasting out from the clubs and bars all of which more often than not have good outdoor terraces for you both to chill out in or take in the bright colourful Gayness as it happens around you. Moving on to where to stay in this gorgeous city its obvious to me that anywhere is going to be pretty darn expensive and because of this I would want and recommend somewhere that is simple and well located. One such property which offers you this in abundance is CITIZENM ZURICH which is very modern and clean and something unique is that its like a turn key service operated by a simple APP you download to your phone. Once you have checked in and maybe had your first walkabout the city you will most likely find yourself wanting to see where you will head to for next few nights and days out. When

it comes to LGBTQ+ bars the city has many many options so it will of course come down to your individual style and choice of atmosphere. One thing I did notice which wouldn’t be unlike the Belfast gay scene is that it can close up early depending on the time of year and day of the week. So heading out that little bit earlier than you might could benefit you greatly.

Zurich surprised me in many ways from the look and feel of the city and the surprising freedom vibes that the local LGBTQ community gave off. The way it changes from day time to night is also something I think was quite unique but I liked that it could do this without any fanfare just like the change of a stage setting in a theatre play.

I would highly recommend Heldenbar a weekly event at Provitreff Bar every Wednesday night. It is one of the longest-running gay events in all of Zurich. The space is small but the people and sights that you see I think capture the diversity of the local scene.

Zurich might be expensive but like everything that usually is expensive in life its worth paying the money to experience the delights at least one time in your life. Zurich and Switzerland offer many annual LGBTQ events from Prides to Parties and festivals and you should keep an eye out for its annual Queer events.

If you are a lover of all that is Drag then Switerland’s own Petra’s Tip Top Bar Petra is seen locally as the Queen of Queens. I would say this venue is everything camp should be loud, fun, colourful and even when she isn’t performing herself the music is pure cheesy pop just as you would expect. Once you have made it through choice of bars you will more than likely wish to migrate to a club and again you will not be short for choice. Heaven however is a club that you simply can’t miss.. Expect to see electrifying drag performances, exotic dancers AKA GO GO BOYS/ MEN busting moves to some of Europes best beats. Yes this might just be the place you have a city break meet-cute in without even having to well match on gay app like Recon or Grinder. You will of course find many other options for clubbing which I think is good as I always feel that one good night can never be repeated and so another day another venue is my city break motto.

If you like your city breaks to be full of diverse things to see and do with some amazing history and places to visit then I think from the Art Museums, historic walking areas and the quite brilliant LGBTQ nightlife then you won’t regret saving up a good few pounds to visit. Flight connections from Belfast Via London or direct out of Dublin can be booked with the likes of Swiss Air and or British Airways. I don’t personally like the cold so I would recommend heading to the city in the summer time and if you want to see the city at its very biggest and brightest Gay time of year then Pride month of June is the time to book. Keep travelling and enjoying the planet we all share until next time.

As always with me no city break would be complete with out a visit to the local Gay Mens Sauna scene which often in Europe is quite different to that of the small sauna of Belfast. Unlike Belfast Zurich has many saunas and they are often more than simply the quick spots for fast sex. I bring your Moustache Zurich which might be the most well known and busiest sauna. This spot is very well respected with great reviews and smells amazing and upon entry fresh Towels are offered. Inside includes Finnish saunas, steam rooms, open-showers, video rooms, and obligatory maze/dark rooms. GNI MAG [99]




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I am a passionate advocate for holistic health and wellness, with a unique journey that has taken me from a successful career as a pharmacist to becoming a trusted guide and practitioner. My story is a testament to the transformative power of embracing a more comprehensive approach to mind, body and spirit.

I was born in Belfast at the end of the 80s

children on his own. I went to three different

not realising I was numbing myself and

skinheads at the time; my mum being from

settling in Rathmore Grammar School.

I was always out clubbing at raves, after

into a young working class couple who were Creggan in Derry City and my dad from

the Falls Road in West Belfast. My mum’s

dad, my grandfather, was from Famagusta,

Cyprus which is on the border of the Turkish Territory in Cyprus. My dad’s father was

murdered in his home on 26th August 1986 during the troubles; there has still been no

justice or answers for his murder. I was born on my grandfather’s anniversary, three years later in 1989. I will discuss the importance of this information further on.

As a family we moved around quite a bit. I lived in Derry, London and Belfast up

secondary schools due to the move, finally

I always loved school and wanted to go on and study Medicine at university but after my GCSEs I lost interest; not knowing

why at the time but on reflection now it

to the realisation that I would not be

comments and remarks made about their

partnership. However, as a teenager I kept saying to myself “it’s normal for peoples”

parents to break-up’ and putting on a brave

face and doing my best to not get involved in the chaos among my family.

path I wished to follow. Eventually, in 2015,

the baby walker- causing serious burns all

down my back and down both my legs. I was considered to be very lucky to be alive and

not to have my genitals scalded; however, I

do have scarring down both my legs. Again

the relevance of this will be discussed later. From an early age I was always fascinated with the human body and its intricate

workings. During school years I had a thirst for knowledge and learning but this took a

took me three years to firmly establish the

I committed to and successfully completed

addiction. Fortunately, I possessed enough self-awareness to recognise my profound

dissatisfaction and the necessity for change.

I explored alternative approaches to healing, understanding that I needed to address the underlying causes of my problems rather

than merely covering them up with alcohol and drugs.

including strongly connecting with the frog

pharmacist, gaining experience across diverse clinical and community settings in Dublin. I realised a long-held aspiration by becoming

the head pharmacist at Ireland’s largest drug addiction centre, as I felt a strong urge to work with people suffering from mental health and addiction.

with addiction. I never realised till in my

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in a role centred on mental health and

I launched into a rewarding career as a

University of Hertfordshire. Subsequently,

had to move from Eglinton to West Belfast. years as my dad had never looked after four

particularly beneficial to anyone, particularly

This led me to dive head first into a deeply

Nonetheless, during weekends, I continued

We lived with my Grandmother for two

a significant transformation, and I came

a Master’s program in Pharmacy at the

bit of an unexpected turn when my parents separated when I was 13 years old and I


for years-even up to this very day there are

in London at 10 months old I had quite a filled with boiling water over myself in

left me carrying a lot of sexual guilt and

At some point, my awareness underwent

My parent ’s divorce was extremely volatile

Upon my departure from school in 2008, it

serious accident in which I pulled a kettle

parties and attending chemsex parties, which

was down to the separation of my parents.

till the age of seven, when we moved from

Belfast to Eglinton, Co. Derry. When living

neglecting my wellbeing. On the weekends

to grapple with my own personal struggles

late 20s the impact this had on me as alcohol and drugs slipped in at the weekends;

transformative journey with plant medicines; medicine Kambo. Embarking on this journey

brought up so much of my shadow that I had been using drugs and alcohol to escape from; abandonment, rejection, transgenerational and ancestral trauma (being connected to two countries affected by war), physical

trauma to my body, internal homophobia,

deep and painful suffering that thrown me

into the Dark Night of the Ego (I personally prefer this than Dark Night of the Soul). I was suicidal for months after my first

plant medicine retreat. I questioned my whole existence that left me extremely


confused. The pain and suffering that I had

my mum and respect her decision as this

the human part of us that requires labels for

comfortable within this suffering, I knew no

only manage with the tools and love she had

a genderless soul in a male body and I am

been unconsciously holding onto. I was so

different and I showed very little compassion to myself and my body.

So far on my journey I have worked with multiple modalities; breath work, energy healing, tantra, shamanic journeying, compassionate

was part of her life’s journey and she could received in her life.

grateful for this experience.

The shame and guilt also had a huge impact

When it came to my role as a pharmacist my

around the age of 31. I have been openly

of conventional medicine, especially within

on me accepting my sexuality up until

gay since I was 17 years old but I could not


journey left me questioning the limitations the addiction and mental health sector. I

observed that

many patients


were desperate

and family

for solutions


that addressed

I have come

the root causes

to learn that I

of their health

need to show

issues, rather than

forgiveness, love

merely managing

and compassion

symptoms with

to every single


part of me, even


my shadow

The realisation

aspects, which

marked the

is an ongoing

beginning of

process. I now

a profound

know that I

transformation in

was born on my

my approach to


being a healthcare

anniversary to


heal the pain

In 2021 I left my

for not just my

role as the lead

family but for

pharmacist of the

all individuals

drug addiction

affected by the

centre and trained

troubles. The

to become a

accident with

certified Kambo

the kettle also


inflicted so

which became

much trauma to my pelvic area,

everything. I have come to accept that I am

a driving force in me setting

causing it to contract which has affected my

accept this internally. Through compassion

up Aho Wellness, meaning “Yes, I agree” or

and love and there was no need to hold onto

and now strongly believe that each soul is

circles, interests and general understanding

sex life- all I craved was human connection any shame or guilt from chemsex parties.

The abandonment and rejection from my

mum leaving has been the toughest part to

accept as all I have wanted from 13 years old was my mum to love me and be there for me during the difficult times. I love and forgive

and love I came to accept this part of me

genderless. We only present here on Earth

in this meaty vessel-which may have male or female genitals. When we tap into our True Soul’s desire we are neither male or female, we are a blend of feminine and masculine energies that are given these traits as it is

“I understand” . My belief systems, social

of what life is all about completely shifted.

My thirst and desire to learn and expand my knowledge returned and over the following years I continued to delve into further trainings; where I have trained in:

Master/Teacher Reiki Practitioner, GNI MAG [103]


SPIRITUS Breath-work & Somatic

the Queer community; collaborating with

once we begin to perceive these experiences

Hypnosis, Time-Line Therapy, Mindfulness

a community that loves and accepts each

discern the omnipresent force of LOVE in

Facilitator, Neuro Linguistic Programming, & Meditation and Level 1 & 2 Tantric Massage Practitioner.

I have since further trained to become an Advanced Kambo Practitioner, delving further into Shamanic Practices and

mysticism. I have also assisted on several

Kambo Practitioners’ Training courses and facilitated at multiple wellness and plant medicine retreats across the country.

like minded people, connecting, building individual as they are.

I would be completely lying if I said this

past several years. Implementing healthy

I hate labels* reflects my unwavering

boundaries, removing people pleasing and

saying NO has been very tough when I did not know how to practise this.

that sex is taboo and that it is in fact

form of psychotherapy during her healing

every part of ourselves through enhanced

sensuality, emotional healing, self-acceptance and liberation.

I recently launched a new service; Soul

Script: Your Prescription for Antidepressant Freedom. This service combines a

combination of the modalities which I have been practising along with my pharmacy background to offer a slow and gentle

approach to helping individuals to taper

off their antidepressant medication over a prolonged period.

These skills have allowed me to look

beyond the prescription slip and offer

clients a holistic approach to healing. I

believe in treating the whole person – mind, body and spirit; combining my extensive pharmaceutical expertise with holistic

principles to provide a unique experience for each individual’s needs at that moment in time.

I advocate and educate on raising awareness about mindfulness and wellbeing within my community and beyond; frequently

conducting workshops for men, LGBTQIA+, teenage youth groups and at wellbeing festivals.

My dream would be to work more with GNI MAG [104]

manageable & enjoyable.

My rollercoaster of a journey from

lot of difficulties and obstacles over the

A few very important things to highlight

very sacred. We need to embody and love

everything, life becomes significantly more

journey was easy. I have encountered a

Exploring tantra for my own sexual healing has allowed me to see through the illusion

as valuable learning opportunities and

to people is that it is vital to have some

journey. Plant medicines are for everyone

pharmacist to *I don’t know what because commitment to helping individuals achieve all round well-being. My unique blend of

pharmaceutical expertise, deep awareness, honesty and integrity make me a trusted guide on the path to empower YOU to

transcend limitations and boundaries and embrace your authentic self.

but not everyone is for plant medicines, I

We are all interconnected, beautiful souls,

to individuals who have done some ground

wildest imagination.

now only offer plant medicines and Kambo work with myself; allows me to know where

and our capacity to receive love surpasses our

they are on their journey and if they are

If you would like to enquire more or

any space holder for any event you have

on: IG: @aho_wellness

able to integrate and self-regulate. Screen attended-what work have they done on themself and are they able to hold you through what you are going through.

On a more personal note I am a lover of nature, sea, mountains, music, festivals, concerts, consciousness and my family. We live in a hectic society filled with

busyness and the urgency to have the goal/ result instantly. In essence, by guiding

and empowering people to connect back

to their True Self through; slowing down, creating safety and trust in the body is

how people ignite this inner harmony and follow the path to wholeness once again.

Emotional and mental healing often require introspection, self-care, and processing

difficult experiences. Slowing down allows

you to take the time needed to address your emotions, explore your thoughts, and work

through any trauma or distress, allowing you to move beyond the superficial and tap into the profound and transformative aspects of your spiritual journey.

Challenges are an inevitable part of life, but

interested in collaborating please contact me FB: Aho Wellness




Gnostic Gnostic is born in the newest development of Belfast City. Resting on the edge of the River Lagan, the desirable Belfast City Quays location offers visitors beautiful views and walkways with a deep heritage and history of the City. Gnostic (which faces the Harbour Commissioners Office) offers its customers a cozy and intimate environment, it’s a place to meet & mingle with friends and colleagues or to taste and tipple with excellent food and drinks options. Gnostic is a Public House offering both Lunch and Dinner. With a variety of small tasting plates to share, main courses or platters of your favourite cheese and charcuterie boards. It has something for everyone. It holds a large selection of premium wines and offers an extensive cocktail list. We know a thing or 3 about cocktails, we have a great selection of premium house cocktails. Crafted using the freshest local ingredients with high-end spirits, our drinks are what sets us apart. At Gnostic it’s always time to tipple. Those familiar with Belfast will easily find Gnostic on Corporation Street, perfectly positioned a few hundred meters from the Lagan, though if like me you get confused with street names your favourite “maps app” will bring you right to the door. There is free parking after 6pm on the street though also a large car park just round the corner with hundreds of spaces - this is a massive tick as parking can often be a nightmare.

We (Debbie and I) arrived around 6.15pm, first impressions are always important, we were welcomed with a smile, there was a great chilled vibe about the place, we were seated, presented menus and offered drinks almost instantly. Our review took place on Halloween night, it was a Tuesday and even though the vast majority of people would have had plans with families/friends etc the place had a nice steady flow of customers which really added to the ambience. Right on to the grub, it was suggested to have a Mezi and share dishes so we ordered a nice we mixture, all came at the same time, our table was literally filled with food... I started off with a Slider, a perfectly cooked mini burger dressed with cheese, mayo and a wedge of chorizo which in my opinion really added to the flavour. Next I tucked into the Roast Hake it was translucent and fell apart, it was served with a Prawn Arancini ball - both were devine The dish I was most excited about trying was the Curried Cauliflower Steak and boy was it good, i’m unsure of the cooking method but it was crispy on the outside and soft and cooked on the inside, they curry was of average heat, for my pallet I could of ramped it up though it was lovely. It came with lentil bhaji’s another triumph, so crispy and moorish. We also ordered a portion of the Mac & Cheese, this

was probably my least favourite dish - too carb heavy for my personal preference. It didn’t stop there though, the Manager insisted we also try the Squid and their homemade chips, I am so glad he did, they chips were honestly fantastic, chips aren’t something I would usually rave about but these were something else. There is always room for afters lol so we decided to share a dessert - Raspberry and white chocolate tart with ice cream and amaretti crumb called to me, it was divine poor Debbie barely got a mouthful, I polished off the lot. Oh I must add - I was the designated driver on the H20 though Debbie was happy to sample some of their cocktails, she was well pleased as one in particular ‘The Daily Tot’ was pretty strong with 3 different types of Rum, this drink was in homage to the Sailors who would have filled the Docks area in bygone years. In all we had a great time, the food was lovely, next time i’ll be on the cocktails Thank you so much to the owner, chef and staff for your hospitality You simply must check out Gnostic Review by Daniel May Gnostic is located at: 13 Corporation Square Belfast, BT1 3AJ Tel: 02895928950 |

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Since 2019, I have been writing for GNI Magazine on local, national and international sports personalities. I have had a blast using my platform to launch LGBTQ Teams and events across the country and making sports bodies and Belfast Pride a more inclusive space for the whole community. My work with GNI and Sporting Pride has brought joy and opportunity to thousands across the country and I have received such waves of love and support. I truly have discovered the power of inclusivity and the power of love.

I had one hiccup working with a few troubled individuals who have caused issues for me for over a year now. They have now tried to hurt other organisations

been on a date or a holiday since my assault 4 years ago so I think it is time for a change. As I change my life, I think it is time I change my media contribution

When I first started, I had the goal of setting up a national LGBTQ Sports day and as of 21st October 2023, my dream came true at Sport Ireland headquarters in Dublin with LGBTQ sports teams, corporate companies and politician’s nationwide coming together to learn and celebrate. On top of this, I will be a part of GAA history and Belfast Pride History for my work on making Ulster GAA more diverse and as the founder of Belfast Frontrunners connecting with over 100 clubs across more than 19 countries.

As I discuss my fear and excitement for the future, I think it is suitable to be looking at ‘Carrie’ by Stephen King. Carrie tells the story of a young girl in high school who has just hit late puberty. A concept she knows little about due to her strict religious upbringing and lack of friends. On top of battling an abusive mother and school bullies, Carrie has to come to terms with learning of her telekinetic powers. On its surface, Carrie is a typical coming of age horror story leading to an epic massacre with a young pretty girl as the protagonist. However, Carrie is so much more as we examine how hormones effect each of our young high school students. We learn of Carries mother’s youth and relationship to sex. Next, we learn of Carries Neighbours introduction to her own body. Later, we hear about how Tommy and Sue see their future. Themes range from trauma, harassment, sex, body positivity, religion and education to family and crossgenerational societal views.

I am involved with which is why I have made the difficult position to separate myself from those organisations and remove and protect them. I now have a legacy too large to stop with 100s of LGBTQ Activists across Ireland working on sports equality.

Therefore, the question is, now that I achieved another goal, where do we go from here. I think we all have a responsibility to give back to the community and world around us but I did find my place and I am aware that it is not possible for someone to do that role at the same level I have access to achieve. I am at a loss to what I should do next but I will always be available to all my fellow activists for advice and anything they need from me. I think its ok to be a little lost every now and again. When I was a teenager, I worked in theatre and film and was in full time education, so I was busy constantly working. I left school during the 2008 financial crash and then left university during the 2012 economic drop so in my 20s I continued to work in film and television but got involved in finance and marketing completing my degree and postgraduate qualifications as a backup. Following my assault at the age of 28 I decided to put my energy into making sure what happened to me never happens to another person again. I think I have added a wave of motion to get us to that status but there is still a journey for our community to go through in calling out and putting a stop to sexual assault. For now, though I think it is time I focus a little on myself. I have not actually GNI MAG [106]

too. I recently joined an LGBTQ Book club called Get Er’ Booked so I would like to discuss some iconic queer literature starting with the diva of horror Miss Carrie White. Carrie White - “People don’t get better, they just get smarter.”

One thing is certain and that is that the popularity of ‘Carrie’ comes from its agelessness. Carrie may be a terrifying tale of how when a young girl is pushed too far she destroys and entire town causing unimaginable pain and fear in its residents but its charm comes from the fact that the storylines of each of its characters are relevant to every generation trying to find its place in this world. The real reason I would recommend reading Carrie though comes from the scenes that did not make the films. One particular scene I was surprised to read was when Carrie leaves the Prom and confronts the town’s adult citizens. This scene is far darker, shows the depths of Carries anger at humanity or rather her town’s lack of humanity, and adds to the religious imagery of the book, which is highly inspired by biblical tales. Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.

in your local AREA we provide these services and much much more for our GB&/T COMMUNITY

VICTIM SUPPORT TRAINING & EDUCATION Counselling social opportunities family support Sexual ealth Advice & Support belfast

foyle 028 9031 9030 028 7128 3030


CASTING COUCH Martin Kearney

Halloween has passed its last whisper, so from November 1st to December 25th, it’s off icially Christmas time. The anticipation for the John Lewis Christmas advert leads us to a winter wonderland. – “ The Bear and the Hare” remains a personal favourite.

Dozens of festive-themed Hallmark movies are now on repeat, and Netflix boasts its ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ franchise amongst other holiday films, which, to be fair, are quite good. Disney+ delights with ‘The Santa Claus’ series, and modern classics like ‘Last Christmas’, ‘Love Actually’, and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ are seasonal must-watches. However, for many Millennials and those born in the late ‘70s to ‘80s of Generation X, there will always be one Christmas movie that stands out: ‘Santa Claus: The Movie’. Not Home Alone or Gremlins or even Die Hard but this tripe The Santa Clause Movie Starring Dudley (I wanted it like Demi Moore not Dudley Moore) Moore. Created by the team behind the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies and ‘Supergirl’, and directed by Jeannot Szwarc, ‘Santa Claus: The Movie’ is fondly remembered. Now, why call it tripe if it’s deemed the best Christmas film? Because it is delightfully crappy but ask anyone from my generation for their favourite Christmas film, and the majority will cite this one – the Dudley Moore vehicle, not the Tim Allen series. Despite the movie’s flaws, it has an odd charm with Santa (David Huddleston) oddly ranking third in the credits, preceded by the elf Patch (Moore) and the antagonist, John Lithgow, who always reminded me of my Uncle Joe. The

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film starts with Santa’s origins and segues into Patch’s departure from the North Pole to New York, where he’s manipulated by a greedy businessman – a role brilliantly played by Lithgow. If hypothetically, a remake was in the works, who would be the dream cast? Imagine Kim Bodnia of ‘Killing Eve’ fame as Santa – a quick Google search will prove it’s a perfect fit. Ann Dowd, known for her role as the evil sadistic Aunt Lydia in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, would bring warmth as Mrs. Claus would make a great change for the talented underrated actress. For Patch, I’d suggest a gender flip to America Ferrera, who has proven her comedic chops and stole the show in the Barbie Movie. And for the corporate villain, why not Taraji P. Henson, who would bring a new dynamic to the character. Despite its initial flop and critical panning, ‘Santa Claus: The Movie’ has achieved cult status. While I’ve shared my playful critique, the film evokes wonderful childhood nostalgia. You and your family might watch it and wholeheartedly disagree with me – and that’s the beauty of the festive season! Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.




Mariah Carey has defrosted for another year! I’m back to give you some tips on how to stay accountable in the run up to Christmas and feel your most confident in that little black dress... or RED! If you find yourself on a downward spiral with your health and fitness efforts around this time of year because you’ve got an all or nothing mindset; Doing the groundwork now will allow you to ease back slightly and enjoy your Christmas. All while feeling your best both physically and mentally over the festive period. The last thing you want to do is be a member of the ‘New year new me- transform your life’ rat race come January and fall off because it all gets a bit overwhelming. So here are ten tips to keep you accountable over the Christmas period and feel your absolute best at this year’s Christmas party! 1. Set yourself up to win by revisiting your training and nutrition goals for the month. Be realistic: can you honestly train 5 times a week throughout December? Will you really be eating chicken, broccoli and rice throughout? Probably not. Remove the pressure of unrealistic expectations. Try by setting 3 days that are non-negotiable to train (any extra is just a bonus) A brisk walk an hour a day and focus on intake of nutrition and vitamins to support your goal and immune system this time of year. 2. Meal prep for the week- Not everyone’s favourite thing to do but if you are serious about your health and fitness, you’ll make it a priority. We all have at least one free evening a week. Let’s say it’s Sunday. During the winter season, spend an hour every Sunday evening doing basic food prep. It will make life much easier when you’re tired. Batch cook lunches or dinners (soups, high protein dinners, volume foods). Portion these out and store some in the fridge, the rest in the freezer. Planning your main meals for the week ahead is going to save you time, cash, and calories.

3. Create a routine that works for you, so you can tick all the boxes. If you are strapped for time and find yourself unable to fit in a decent gym session, try some at home workout routines. 4. Throughout the weeks to Christmas take the stairs rather than using the lift, park further away or walk to your destination where you can. Increasing your overall NEAT. 5. With all the Christmas parties and festivities looming, if you’re going to drink, try switching the high calorie wine, beer and cocktails to spirits- but beware of the high sugar content of mixers which can seriously increase calorie intake. Try swapping to the low-calorie mixers. Or if you want to skip the booze all together (we all know that hangover isn’t worth it anyway)

have a good boogie, the festive season is upon us, after all! This is also a winner when it comes to seasonal blues. 10. If you’re struggling for accountability- Get a coach. Just in time for Christmas I have a very exciting launch @efr_coaching. So, keep your eyes peeled if you’re ready to make big changes before we even hit the New Year! Now I’m not saying restrict yourself over the

6. If you’re a social butterfly and have quite a few Christmas parties, plan ahead to make sure you have a routine and prep to stay on track around your occasions. 7. Try focusing on volume eating to stay fuller for longer. Keep the protein high. The temptation will be there to open the tub of Celebrations but it’s important to focus on the goal stay on track. So, when it is the right time, you can enjoy them. 8. Remember to treat yourself during this festive season but be careful to not over-indulge. Calorie banking may be the answer to you still enjoying some of your favourites, so you are able to eat some treats but still maintain some control over your diet. 9. At this point we probably know I’m all for the feel-good dancing no matter how awful the moves are. Dancing is a great way to burn calories, so stick on your favourite tunes and

festive period. Definitely not- it would never be sustainable or fun. But keeping yourself on track will have you feeling great for the occasion, and once January hits you’ll already have made amazing progress all whilst enjoying yourself !

Please note, this column is the opinion of the columinst and not that of GNI or Romeo & Julian Publiccations Ltd.

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I’m never one to refuse a night away, though this was not your typical trip. Let me give you a little background, Michelle the owner of ‘Breda Lodge’ is a friend of a friend, for sometime she has let out rooms on Airbnb though approx 9 months ago she decided to built a dedicated luxury lodge for guests and boy is it some job. Before I elaborate here is a few words from Michelle.. “My cosy lodge is nestled in south east Belfast, close proximity to the Four Winds bar Restaurant complex. Just off the Saintfield Road with a variety of different restaurants, Chinese, Thi, Indian Dominoes and a surpurb fish and chip shop. It is also on the local bus route, guests can get into the centre of town in minutes, also on our doorstep is Forestside shopping Centre, which you can walk to in less than 5 minutes. Our doors are open and we are ready to greet you to our Lodge xx”

beautiful patios and seated areas, lots of lovely plants, shrubs and greenery and the beautiful lodge at the bottom of the garden. I really felt like I was in the wilderness. The lodge is simply immaculate, designed and decorated beautifully, the grey theme gave me a real feeling of relaxation. With the exception of the bathroom everything was studio style, large super comfy bed, working kitchen and breakfast table all in one room.

even a hob if you wanted to cook.

This is perfect for those who want to escape the bustingly city though still be able to easily reach it, it has all the mod cons one would expect, wifi, smart tv already preloaded with your favorite apps. There were even bits for a continental breakfast - Bread, Ham, Butter, Milk, Orange Juice etc and

With work deadlines and a todo list the length of my arm for once I didn’t do my homework about the place, I knew what area I was going to and that it was a lodge though had not seen images ahead of time which isn’t like me, though in hindsight I am super glad as there were a myriad of wonderful surprises exploring. I was imagining a type of weathered logged cabin lol though the lodge was the complete opposite.

I had such a wonderful time and will definitely be back.

You enter through what appears to be a normal side gate to someone’s backyard though once I opened that door it was a real wow moment. There are

Thanks again for your hospitality. Review by Daniel May You can book to stay at Bread Lodge using this link

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I must conclude with a special thank you to Michelle for the kind invite and for going over and above, taking the time to talk to me and also for the treats the chocolate was devoured and the wine is still chilling - I’ve been on a detox though with the big 40 being next week it will be consumed.

Belfast’s Newest Japanese Teppanyaki Restaurant Our focus is to serve outstanding Japanese cuisine and to share with you our authentic teppanyaki cooking culture.

16 - 19 Shaftesbury Square, Belfast, BT2 7DB Phone: 028 9024 4677 / Web: / Email: Opening hours: Mon - Thurs 12 noon - 10pm / Fri & Sat - 12 noon - 10.30pm / Sun - 2pm - 10pM

Cocktail 20% OFF happy hour A la carte menu excluding Teppanyaki


Thurs - FRi: 4pm - 7pm Terms of conditions for voucher All bookings must be pre-booked & vouchers to be presented to avail of the discount

All cocktails £6.50


KINGFISHER Country Estate On Sunday past I was invited to stay/review the Kingfisher Country Estate - Previously Hilton Templepatrick, in the past I have been at the hotel for meetings though never stayed so this is another new experience for me to share with our readers. It couldn’t have come at a better time either as the hotel has been undergoing a refurbishment and rebrand. Here are a few words from the Kingfishers website ahead of my review. ____________________ ‘The recent acquisition of Hilton Belfast Templepatrick by Loughview Leisure Group sets the stage for the development of Northern Ireland’s preeminent Resort and Golf Hotel. Kingfisher Country Estate will feature world class facilities including the luxurious Double Tree Resort Hotel, modern, immersive hydrotherapy area and spa, health club with indoor pool, sauna and fitness centre, award winning Parkland golf course, outdoor activities and accommodation pods bringing you closer to nature.’

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Completion of the initial program of redevelopment includes the refurbishment of guest room accommodation, providing luxury, quality, comfort and memorable experiences in the wooded surrounds of the County Antrim countryside. Every one of the hotel’s 129 rooms has been styled to induce calm and restfulness while a natural colour palette of soft sage, heritage teals and nudes is accentuated by rich walnut fixtures and finished with premium textiles. This stunning composition, elevated by views of our handsome parkland and golf course, makes a sleepover at Kingfisher Country Estate an indulgent experience to remember. Set among 220 acres of wooded parkland on the Kingfisher Country Estate, our hotel has access to the championship Templepatrick Golf Course. We’re within a 15-minute drive of Belfast Airport and 13 miles from the City Center. _____ Approx 2 weeks before my stay I knew I was

in for something special - I received the most elegant emerald green presentation box in the post, it contained a voucher which detailed everything that was planned for my stay - I thought this was a wonderful touch which really got me excited. I have stayed in many hotels and establishments over the years reviewing and as a regular guest and I do not recall receiving anything similar. Needless to say we are already off to a more than promising start OK let’s relax into my review! I had planned to check in early, but due to work commitments it was around 5pm before I arrived, I was immediately taken back on the drive in. It was so scenic with lush greenery which set the tone for quality and the experience that was ahead of me. The reception staff were so friendly, they checked me in promptly , explained the location of the bar, restaurant, spa and fitness suite before advising me of my room and confirming details around my dinner plans.


I headed up to the 3rd floor, I was booked into room 313, it was only on exiting the elevator that I realised I would be staying in the Upton Suite, WOW! I was not expecting such grandeur for little old me. Room 313 - Upton Suite The suite was unbelievable , probably larger than the entire ground floor of my house lol. Everything was pristine, as soon as you opened the door your attention was caught by a super luxurious L-shaped Yellow Sofa, work desk area with an Emerald Green chair which

specials. My server took a drink order while I pondered over the Menu, I had intended on behaving, I haven’t had alcohol in 6 weeks though as it was a special occasion my arm was twisted into ordering a glass of wine - Sauvignon Blanc was the tipple of choice, it was perfect. To start I order the Pil Pil Prawns , these were delicious, I have never had softer prawns, they melted in your mouth, they were served with

Food Having not eaten since 11am I was more than ready for some Grub. I headed down to the restaurant for 6pm as planned, I was escorted to a reserved table, gave menus and told of

Soon after with a full belly I retreated to my room.

I don’t recall the exact time I fell asleep. I think it was around 10.30pm, and I didnt wake until 7am. This was a combination to being chilled with the wine, though mostly due to the bed being so comfy, though it was after 9am before I managed to drag myself out of it with just enough time to get breakfast.

There was a working kitchen with all the mod cons, again everything was immaculate, I’m unsure if it had even been used.

I must also mention the HUGE bathroom, a family could get ready at the one time, there was a double shower and full bath - I really was blown away so much so that I had to share a video across my socials - if you saw it you will have just possibly noticed the excitement in my voice lol.

The Manager and Servers were all so friendly and super attentive, thank you.

Next Morning

matched the presentation box I had been sent and a massive flat screen TV, it was clear that no expense had been spared with the refurbishment.

Around the corner there was a beautiful King Size bed, a dressing area pre equip with dressing gowns and another seating area.

To finish I ordered a 2nd class of wine and the Mango and Passion fruit Cheesecake, I asked for this to be served with Honeycomb ice cream - this was right up my street, I have such a sweet tooth and this had the perfect balance for me, it was sweet, tart, rich and satisfying.

gooey melted cheese, garlic butter and a little hit of chilli with a side of Melba Toast - I could have eaten 2 or 3 portions, they were so good. For my main I opted for the Ribeye Steak. It was served with Chips, roast tomatoes and a choice of sauce. Being indecisive I ordered the peppercorn & garlic butter and a side of buttered vegetables. The steak was almost perfect, the meat was medium as I requested, though for me the fat could have been rendered a little more, saying that it was so juicy and bar the fat I devoured the lot. The portion was perfect, though had to leave some chips and veg so I would have room for pudding

I must mention the view from the room, it would’ve been a golf enthusiast’s dream, had it not been raining I would have been chilling on the balcony watching people play. Breakfast was served in the restaurant, everything was self service buffet style though there was a chef on hand if you wanted something else - I overheard other guests ordering omelets though I was more than pleased with the cooked offering, in fact I had a double helping of a few things - don’t tell lol. Halcyon Spa, Hydro Space and Facilities Probably one of the things I was most looking forward to was being pampered - let’s be honest who doesn’t love to be looked after.

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My original plan was to be up early to use the gym ahead of my treatments though time had escaped me , I did however admire the facilities and set up, when I return I will definitely be pumping some Iron lol.

Sauna, Hydro Pool were all so lovely, I think I stayed for almost 2 hours. I must mention the little extras, chocolates waiting in my room, Mimosa, sorbet and truffles after treatments were all super welcome gestures - you won’t be surprised to hear that I polished off the lot lol.

The entrance to the Spa is just to the left of reception, I arrived about 10.45 ahead of my treatments at 11am, I filled in a few medical forms, had a little consolation and was brought to the treatment room - again I was taken back with how state of the art and new everything was, this really was in heaven all that was missing was muscular men in very little,feeding me grapes - I can dream lol. There are dozens of treatments , Rituals and Massages to choose from. I decided I would get a 30 minute back massage followed by a 30 minute facial. The massage was lovely, just the right amount of pressure and as for the facial, while writing this 3 days on my skin is still subtle and soft.

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All in all I had the most amazing time at Kingfisher Country Estate, I have already recommended it to so many people and cannot wait to return. Thank you so much for the generosity and invite to review, I will be talking about this for a long time to come. Review by Daniel May I thoroughly enjoyed both treatments - I think I even fell asleep while getting the facial - this has to be the ultimate compliment. Thankfully, having arranged a 2pm late checkout I had time to immerse and enjoy all of the facilities. The Steam room, Salt Room,

Kingfisher Country Estate Paradise Walk, Templepatrick, Ballyclare BT39 0DD 028 9443 5500 | www.



Christmas MOMENTS


Grand Festive Carvery

Two night Christmas Break

Monday 25th December

We look forward to welcoming you on Christmas Eve for a fabulous two night break.

Seating Time between 1:00pm to 2:30pm Adults - £120 13-17 years - £60 | 6-12 years - £30 Children 5 & under – eat free Prices above are for guests joining us for lunch only. Menus are subject to change

Arriving 24th December £720 per couple for 2 nights £170 per child (6-17 years old) Children 5 and under free


Festive Carveries

Friday 8th December and Saturday 16th December

Celebrate The Season with Our Festive Sunday Carveries

Work hard and party harder! Whether it’s a night out with friends, family or colleagues, you are sure to have a ball.

Enjoy a Festive family outing to get everyone in the Christmas spirit in December! The kids will enjoy a visit from Santa before Christmas. All Children attending the festive carvery will meet Santa, Mrs. Claus and the Elves, and receive a present. Don’t forget to bring your letter for Santa.

Join us for a Festive 4-course meal with sparkling wine and enjoy our live band entertainment and disco. From £50 per person Arrival 6:30pm Food served promptly at 7.30pm

3rd, 10th & 17th December, seatings between 1pm to 3pm Adults £35 | 12-17 years £20 | 6-11 years £12 Children 5 & under eat free

Email: Phone: 028 9443 5500 option 2 Hilton Templepatrick, Kingfisher Country Estate, Paradise Walk, Templepatrick, Ballyclare BT39 0DD

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Articles inside


page 115

KINGFISHERCountry Estate

pages 112-114


pages 110-111


page 109

CASTING COUCH Martin Kearney

page 108


pages 106-107

Gnostic REVIEW

page 105


pages 101-105


pages 97-100


pages 95-96

OUR BIG DAY Lee & Loan

pages 89-94

OUR BIG DAY Becky & Ciara

pages 81-88


pages 79-80


page 74


pages 72-73


page 71


pages 64-68


pages 62-63


pages 60-61


pages 57-59


pages 54-56


page 53


pages 42-43


pages 40-41


pages 38-39


pages 36-37

JORDAN Oosterhof

pages 31-34


pages 29-30


page 28

Can I Foster?

pages 26-27

Meet the WriterTara Lynne O’Neill

page 25


pages 22-24


pages 17-20


page 16


pages 13-15


page 10
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