Objects of Desire... Sheila O'Flanagan
We talk to the author of My Mother's Secret about her favourite purchases.
I'm not really into make-up, much less expensive make-up, but novelist Jill Mansell was raving about Charlotte Tilbury products to me recently, so I went to Brown Thomas and tried some. I'm now a convert. My favourite is Charlotte's Magic Cream, (€90 for 50ml), the only moisturising cream I've put on where I look at my face afterwards and think 'Yes, that's definitely better.' Her eyeshadow pencils are also great for a touch-up on the move. My other extravagance is L'Occitane shower gel (from €11) and hand soaps (from €4.50). The zesty, citrussy scents make me feel fresh and alert.
My first personal computer was a Mac, and I fell in love as it was so much easier and more reliable than my work computer. All of my novels have been written on Macs. I'm not quite as devoted as the people who stand in line to get the latest offering, but I have the MacBook Air, iPad Mini, iPhone 6 and Apple TV. I guess I might end up with the Apple Watch too… (from €320).
These are my guilty (well, not-so-secret) secret. I've been an addict ever since my dad ordered a consignment for our grocery shop. I love curling up with a book late in the evening and nibbling on a Walnut Whip. In fact, I do this so often, many of the books I read smell very faintly of chocolate and walnuts.
I've played in the Dublin and District Badminton League every season for the past 35 years, which must be some sort of record. I buy new gear every year, often from www.tennis-point.com, where you can get some lovely tops and skorts (Adidas Rock skort - skirt with built-in shorts - from €34.95). I buy Yonex badminton shoes, which are the best fit I can get because my feet are so small. I've had the same racquet for the past few years now, and it's a Carlton Razor that cost €125.
I love driving and my object of desire as far as cars go is the Aston Martin DB9 (€200k, Charles Hurst Group, Belfast) which is the coolest car ever designed. Unfortunately the bank balance doesn't quite run to it. I love my Lexus CT200 Hybrid (from €29,995) because it's so smooth and quiet, and I get a great kick out of using the battery as much as possible.
Many authors use cleaning as displacement activity and I'm one of them. I don't mind the house being messy (books and newspapers strewn all over the place, for example) but hate dust or crumbs. I'm addicted to my Dyson Digital Slim cordless vacuum cleaner (€249.99, Harvey Norman) because it's utterly brilliant and I can whizz around the house with it. Because of my asthma, I'm allergic to a lot of chemical cleaning products, but love the environmentally-friendly Method range. It's become quite difficult to get here though, which is disappointing.
I love new places and experiences. This year, my husband Colm (pictured) and I went to the Indian Wells Masters in Palm Springs, California, fulfilling a long-held ambition to go to a Major tennis tournament. We also visited LA where Rodeo Drive left me cold; although I enjoyed a visit to Westfield Century City Mall, which features in so many books set in LA. Another favourite experience is travelling through Spain and staying at paradors (www.paradores.es/en), which are usually located in historic buildings, such as monasteries or castles. They're so atmospheric they always inspire me in some way.
How to get Sheila's favourite things on a smaller budget
We know Sheila loves her Dyson, but we're also big fans of Henry, who's possibly the most adorable vacuum cleaner around. He may be cute, but make no mistake, he's a fiend around the house and shows dust no mercy (€145.49, Argos).
While luxurious moisturiser is a lovely treat, many less expensive brands have won plaudits for their effectiveness. These include the gorgeous ANU Face Lotion, which has natural antioxidants and anti-ageing properties and is particularly kind to sensitive and problem skin (€18.75, AnuYou.ie).
You don't have to fly to Spain to stay at a fabulous castle. To experience a slice of Ireland's history first-hand, Mayo's Ashford Castle (AshfordCastle.com) is offering a night for two with full Irish breakfast and table d'hôte dinner from €685.
As Sheila plays badminton competitively and has won many titles with Raheny Badminton Club, she needs top-class equipment. Those playing for fun can get a starter Karakal CBX-3 racquet for €10 and 300 Yonex Mavis shuttlecocks for €22 from Rackets.ie. Court hire per hour at Terenure Badminton Centre is €15 day/€20 evenings for adult non-members, while members pay €10/€14