DO YOU consider yourself to have a healthy lifestyle? Fairly healthy. I try to balance my sweet tooth with plenty of fruit, veg and wholegrains (all of which I also, fortunately, love) and I also attempt to counteract my fondness for wine and Guinness with exercise....
Do you exercise regularly?
I tend to do it in bouts. I'll go full tilt at something for a few weeks or even a few months, and then something happens – a change in routine, a change in the weather – and I'll get out of the habit for a while. Pilates, yoga and walking would be my exercises of choice, with sporadic running when I'm feeling particularly energetic (or have been particularly bold).
Do you do it willingly or begrudgingly?
I always start off willingly enough; the spirit is definitely willing, but the flesh can be weak. At the beginning of this year I signed up to run a half-marathon, but my training was hopelessly sporadic and eventually died a death, and I ended up not taking part. I was mad at myself for being so lazy and I'm vowing to give it another go next year, and to stick to it this time.
What time do you go to bed?
Usually between 11 and midnight – but I always read for about an hour, so it could be close to one when I'm turning out the light. Too late, I know, but particularly in winter when the fire is blazing in the sitting room I get too cosy to think about moving from the couch.
What time do you get up in the morning?
I'm a hopeless sleeper, so several times a week I'll be wide awake before five, and up soon after that, as I can't bear to lie in bed once I'm awake. This lack of sleep used to be a real headache when I was teaching, but now that I work from home it doesn't bother me much.
What do you have for breakfast?
I vary it. Typically I'd have one or two of the following: brown toast, porridge, yogurt and honey, eggs, berries. My neighbour keeps hens and whenever he passes one or two eggs over the wall I poach them for breakfast – sublime on a slice of wholegrain toast. I have a bread machine and make my own brown. I also have a juicer and used to use it a lot, particularly at breakfast, but my dentist told me to go easy on the fruit juices, so I'm more cautious with it now, and tend to juice vegetables instead for lunch.
Again, it varies – crackers and cheese with some fruit maybe, or a bowl of chopped-up mixed stuff, like cheese, tomatoes, apple and veg, or a glass of mixed veg juice and some yogurt.
Wholemeal pasta with maybe a salmon steak or chicken breast or turkey steak and some veg; or a stir-fry of mixed veg with rice or couscous or lentils; or a baked spud with cheese or oven-roasted veg.
I don't eat a lot of meat or fish in general – the only time I have red meat is when I go to my parents' house for Sunday dinner.
A glass of wine before dinner – would you call that a snack? It's my pick-me-up after the writing finishes. I can't pass the fruit bowl without helping myself to something. And a day hardly goes by without some form of sweet stuff – a bar of chocolate (I'm particularly partial to Mint Aeros) or a bag of Maltesers or the like.
I also adore crisps, especially salt and vinegar, but I rarely buy them – I figure I'm doing enough damage without them.
Do you take any supplements?
A dessertspoon of Cod Liver Oil before breakfast. I've done this for years. And every now and again I go through a phase of taking a slice of lemon in a glass of boiled water – my mother swears by this, says it 'cleans you out'.
How much water do you drink?
Not enough, less than a litre a day. Every so often I vow to drink more and that lasts about a week.
Do you have a skincare routine?
I make my own facial cleanser from olive oil, aloe vera gel and a few other things. It's wonderful. I use it religiously every night, and follow with a night cream. I make my own body scrub from olive oil and sugar and some essential oils, and use that every few days in the shower, and slather on body cream afterwards.
Happily no, apart from a bit of hay fever in the summer that doesn't bother me too much.
Where do I begin? Laziness, greed, envy, sloth – tell you what, why don't we just say I have the seven deadly sins well covered and leave it at that.
If I could change one thing about my lifestyle it would be ...
I'd like to exercise more regularly, not just in fits and starts. I'd like to start an exercise programme and stick to it. Chance would be a fine thing.
'After the Wedding' is published by Hachette Books Ireland.
Health & Living