Sinéad Moriarty: Want to say 'thanks' to a teacher? A bottle of red will do quite nicely
I recently called into a friend, a teacher, for coffee. I could barely get in the front door due to the towering boxes of scented candles. The smells were mingling together and frankly making an awful stench.
When I asked her if she had a new-found fetish, she rolled her eyes and said: "End-of-year presents from parents."
Before you think she's ungrateful, would you really want 28 candles, all smelling of different flowers and fruits?
The truth, when you speak to teachers, is that the presents they value and remember most are the simple, homemade ones. They love nothing more than a handwritten 'thank you' note.
A colleague of my friend was given a framed photo of one of her pupils.
She has four children of her own and barely enough space in her house to hang up photos of her own children.
Another regular gift is a mug with either the student's face printed on it (seriously!) or 'Thank you' or 'Best teacher'.
No one needs 28 mugs either.
So what is a "good present" to buy, I asked.
My friend said that if you really want to buy a gift, all teachers (even those who don't drink) appreciate a bottle of wine.
They can sit back and drink the wine from a mug with little Seán's face on it, while little Emily beams down from the mantelpiece, in a room smelling of fig and blackberries.
The app for sweaty pits
If your best friend can't tell you, an app will. With warm weather comes sweat - and with sweat comes body odour. We are a nation who would rather poke our eyes out than confront someone in the office about their stinky armpits, so a new app, conjured up by the Japanese, could be about to make working life a lot more pleasant.
A Japanese technology company has begun selling a device that allows people to self-test their sweat for three categories of smell.
The pocket-sized detector connects by Bluetooth to a smartphone app that tells you your level of smelliness.
It appears that the idea arose after a discussion the app designer had with several male colleagues, who admitted that they worried about body odour during the summer months.
Studies have shown that body odour is a big problem in the workplace but is an issue that people find difficult to speak out about.
The app can be used to test for smells in four locations: near the head, behind the ear, under the armpit and around the feet.
So now Frank from accounts has no excuse for not knowing when to crank up his deodorant usage.
Say no to the Fitbit terror
A girls' school in Britain is banning wearable activity trackers, like Fitbits and smartwatches, due to concerns that pupils are skipping lunch if they fail to meet their calorie and exercise targets.
Having briefly flirted with a Fitbit, I can attest to how addictive it can be and how bad it makes you feel if you haven't achieved your daily goals.
I'd find myself marching around the kitchen table late at night like some kind of nut-job, trying to reach my 10,000 steps (I never did).
After three weeks, I developed a rash on my wrist from the Fitbit strap, which I happily used as an excuse to dump the device.
Life was a lot nicer without the wearable guilt.
Fitbits for schoolgirls - isn't that a bit rash?
In Britain, the teachers at the school noticed that some girls were obsessively monitoring the number of steps they had taken and the number of calories they had used.
If they didn't feel they had taken enough steps in the morning, they wouldn't eat lunch.
An obsession with body image is not a new thing for girls.
But wouldn't it be nice for girls to be able to sit down at lunch time and actually talk to their friends?
Wouldn't it be a lot more relaxing for them to eat nutritious food without feeling guilty because they are 1,000 steps below their target?
All schools should think about introducing the ban.
Lunchtime could go back to being time out from the school day where you can actually (whisper it) have fun.