Chef Kevin Thornton… on his holiday cooking staples
“As a family we have a grá and appreciation for all of West Cork, Connemara and North Mayo and we greatly appreciate the chance to explore the ever-changing seascapes and countryside that each area has to offer.
“Sourcing from local artisan food producers is a great way to spend the day and our meals are inspired by what is available locally. We keep it simple and I like to cook outside in nature as much as possible (using simple camping equipment).
A typical meal might be freshly-caught local fish pan fried with lime juice and lots of fresh herbs, served with a big green salad and a fresh pea and fruit vegetable couscous with mint and citrus vinaigrette, or new season Irish spuds simply dressed with sea salt and butter.
“Finish off with summer berries with local yoghurt and honey or some of the island’s wonderful cheeses with fresh fruit.
“Picking seaweed (sea spaghetti, sea lettuce, pepper dulse and dillisk) is a really fulfilling way to spend the day. To prepare the seaweed for eating, fill a bucket with fresh water, submerge the seaweed and allow sand to come to the top — empty water and repeat five times until all the sand is gone.
“Sauté sea lettuce and chopped shallots for 30 seconds on a hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil. You can also dry it out in an oven or use it to wrap sushi.
“Keep your meals simple — buy locally produced food, share the preparation and, most of all, relish the diverse and excellent produce our wonderful island and producers have to offer.”
Author Roisin Meaney… on choosing a cracking holiday read
“My holiday reads tend to be light-hearted and upbeat, with just a little depth to them — I want to give my mind a holiday too.
“A writer I often bring with me is Alexander McCall Smith, whose stories are full of humour and warmth and humanity, peopled with flawed but charming characters, and presented with a beautifully light touch.
“In particular, I love his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, starring the wonderful Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s best (and only) lady detective. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s a series — every book is a complete story in itself.
“Out now is the 20th [in the series], To the Land of Long Lost Friends, and I’m looking forward to losing myself in it over the summer. Short story collections are also perfect for holidays, ideal for a quick read in between whatever shenanigans are happening.
“And I’m delighted to see the great Joyce Carol Oates has a new collection. I’ve read and loved many of her others, so I’ll definitely be picking up the intriguingly titled The (Other) You — its stories explore alternate lives the characters might have led if they’d made different choices.”
The Book Club by Roisin Meaney is out now via Hachette.
Chris Flack of digital wellness company Unplug…on having a digital detox
“When our brain gets used to constant task switching, it develops a habit and struggles to switch off. So think about slowly changing that habit, ideally introducing small changes the week before you go away.
“This might feel like a challenge when remote working, however if you were to check your email once every hour instead of more regularly, you are slowly rewiring the brain to make it easier to switch off.
“Also, to ensure you aren’t checking different work channels when away, agree with your team that if there’s an emergency, they should contact you on just one channel, ideally one that you will be using anyway, such as SMS.
“For non-work stuff, it’s great to share photos, but again, think about reducing the amount you are doing to help minimise task switching. Recent research from the University of Florida found that when people were engaged in activities, they had more fun when they did not take pictures.”
Child psychotherapist Joanna Fortune…on how to keep family happy
“Planning for a family holiday requires a multi-layered planning approach. Before we pack our bags, we consider where we are going (how long is the journey?) and for how long (long enough to get a break, not so long that children are missing friends and plans at home) and what is there for each of us to do individually as well as a family.
“Having gotten this terribly wrong once (flashback to deciding to turn a work trip to Portugal into a family holiday with a young toddler in tow), I am much more aware of how essential it is that we each have the opportunity to do something we enjoy.
“I also structure our activities while away without falling into rigidity. Structure is flexible and adaptable; it bends without breaking.
“This means easily switching to indoor family fun time on an unexpected rainy day and taking advantage of the nice days without over-planning. Don’t pack so much in to the point where it stops being fun and tiredness and crankiness takes over.
“I pack books, rackets and a ball, buckets and spades, jigsaws, paper and pencils. Family holidays are about knowing your limits, but also knowing your children’s limits and remembering it is supposed to be about enjoyment, not endurance, so have fun, play, shake off the idea of the insta-perfect holiday and be in those memory-making ‘now’ moments.”
Joanna Fortune’s 15-Minute Parent book series is available in all good book stores.
Personal trainer Siobhan Byrne…on keeping fitness goals on track
“Being away on a holiday of any sort can throw a spanner in the works on your healthy-eating routine.
“For both Paul [Byrne, Siobhan’s husband] and I, our food during the week is fairly mapped out with perfect portions of brown rice, fish or meat and some greens with protein shakes and eggs thrown in.
“You have to remember it’s not a competition on how much you can eat or drink when you’re away. It’s about enjoying good food and resting and enjoying yourself. You can be clever about how you eat on holidays, but breakfast can be the one place where you really fall down.
“Enjoying sweet treats like muffins, pastries and breads can start your day the wrong way. We tend to opt for a high-protein breakfast when we’re away — something like an omelette or eggs with a side of turkey bacon or some regular bacon (hold off on the bread and sweet treats). This will actually keep you fuller for longer.
“We also try to keep lunch light, sticking to meats and salads if possible and the same for dinner. Opting for more meat- and veg-based dishes doesn’t mean we never have chips or any carbs — we just control it.
“We still enjoy a drink on holidays and choose the dessert if there is something fabulous that we couldn’t do without.”
Psychotherapist Trish Murphy…on how to revive relationships on holidays
“Planning is very important. Everyone in the family should say or write down what they like to do on holidays, then see what overlaps and plan those things for the whole family, but outside of this everyone should get their wish for at least one day.
“This might be where the family or part of it goes to the aquarium because it is one person’s desire and another might be to stay at home alone with a book (without pressure).
“The difficulty is often we are so looking forward to the break that disappointment is inevitable and unless we are saints, we can take this out on those closest to us.
“Tolerance and self-awareness is key. If you find that you are irritable, then acknowledge it and do whatever works, such as going for a walk, talking to someone or just having a coffee. Only then are you fit company for other people.
“However, the most important thing is attitude — believe it or not, we can choose our attitude, so when you wake up and it’s raining, choose an attitude of fun and imagination and then only do things that meet this attitude.”
Adventure/Travel Bloggers Brian Barry & Noelle Kelly…on their go-to adventure activities
“If you’re anything like us, you’ll want to spend as much time outdoors having fun, challenging yourself and doing something memorable.
“With countless opportunities for adventure right here in our own backyard, the question for many staycationers is how to choose what to do.
“The first thing that must be considered for any outdoor activity in Ireland is, of course, the weather. Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable attire. Whether you want to kayak, surf, hike or climb, you should also take into account your ability level.
“If it’s your first time hiking, try some low-level walks before summiting Carrauntoohil. If you’ve never surfed, take a lesson before your first session.
“Being realistic with your personal fitness level and experience will help you to maximise your experience. Long summer days allow for more time adventuring, but it’s important to plan your time well and choose the right destination.
“Finally, keep your budget in mind. Taking the entire family sea kayaking for the day will be amazing, but it will be much more expensive than a sunrise swim or a walk in the hills.
“The possibilities for adventure in Ireland are all around us and you don’t need to spend a fortune.”
Mindfulness Centre’s Josephine Lynch…on the holiday ‘switch off’
“Introduce some mindfulness practice such as breathing. Many of us will be in more rural places where the air is cleaner.
“Deliberately take time to have your tea or coffee, tasting and enjoying and really savouring this when we don’t have to work at the same time.
“When outside, take some moments to feel the air on your skin, to hear sounds around, to feel the feet on the ground, maybe to smell the scent of grass, or sea or trees. It’s about slowing down enough to be present to what is around you so this becomes more alive, more vivid and more enjoyable.”
“Getting away from it all does not mean taking it all with you. That said, sometimes a bit of clever engineering is all that’s required to get the maximum value from minimal space.
“Before packing, lay out everything you’ll need for your staycation. Place heavy items at the bottom of the suitcase.
“Fit shoes foot-to-toe near the wheels of the suitcase or corners of the bag. Stuff each shoe with socks and place inside a shower cap to keep soles from touching the clothes.
“Roll T-shirts, knits, jeans, cotton trousers and wrinkle-resistant clothes. Fold jeans in half and roll from hem to waistline. Fold in sleeves of knits and t-shirts and roll top down.
“Create extra room by placing in space-compressible plastic bags. This pushes excess air out of the clothes and minimises creases.
“In the middle, fold delicate and wrinkle-prone items like shirts, dresses and blouses.Do likewise with jackets but turn these inside out first to help keep smooth.
“At the top, drape longer items like trousers and skirts, which can be laid in layers the length of the bag. Line the sides of the bags and any nooks with smaller items like belts, scarves and underwear.”