The Magical ABC of London: Accessibility, Base and Cuisine
When I schedule a break away nowadays I submit the plan to harsh scrutiny; it has to comply with what I call the ABC of travel - accessibility, base, and cuisine.
When I schedule a break away nowadays I submit the plan to harsh scrutiny; it has to comply with what I call the ABC of travel - accessibility, base, and cuisine.
On the TV programme Room to Improve, each week there is always one major tussle between...
There are good times to buy a house, and January is not considered one of them.
There has long been anecdotal evidence that people have died and gone to a different ethereal...
'There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in," author Graham Greene once wrote.
The CAO offers will be coming out at the end of the month and students all over the country are in a state of high anxiety waiting to see if they're going to get their first choice, or at least the course they listed as their first choice.
When a person is looking for a home, there is always a collection of criteria - the right price, the location, the size of the property, to name the obvious ones.
A magazine article like this is usually the closest we get to a celebrity's home.
Who ever wrote there are nine million bicycles in Beijing should take a look at Amsterdam; the Dutch city is awash with them.
When a house is furnished with lots of textiles, with beaded bags and pieces of interesting fabric hanging on the walls, wickerwork hares boxing in the hall and serried rows of painted pottery, it's a strong hint that the occupier is passionate about arts and crafts and all things artisan.
When it comes to risk, parents are usually the cautious ones, while the offspring want to push the boat out. However, in the case of that all-important first-house purchase, Anne...
Programmes like Who Do You Think You Are and commemorations, such as the 1916 centenary, have ignited a real interest in history and our ancestry.
Few can boast of a successful house sale in 2012: the world had gone into financial meltdown, and the property market was in utter turmoil.
A wise old Greek philosopher named Epictetus once said: "Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants." And...
Mary O'Sullivan continues her once-in-a-lifetime trip to Vietnam with a visit to the capital city of Hanoi.
Sri Lanka is known as the jewellery box of the Indian Ocean; apparently, it's home to more precious stones than anywhere else in the world.
Let them eat cake is reputedly what Marie Antoinette said back in the 18th Century upon learning that the French peasants had no bread to eat.
It was in the spirit of Dr Johnson's great maxim, "He (or she) who is tired of London, is tired of life," that a city break there was chosen to celebrate the big birthday of a dear friend.
The downturn in 2008 was one of the worst things to happen to the majority of Irish people, and, nearly 10 years later, many are still recovering from the shock of it and its after-effects.
When Kate O'Dowd got married, she didn't wear white. She didn't get married in a traditional wedding venue like one of the many expensive castles around Ireland, and she didn't do any hair or make-up trials in anticipation of her 'big day' look.
We all have our Proustian moments; when a sight, a taste, a smell, a touch, or a sound will send us off on a journey of nostalgia; a trip down memory lane.
Newscaster Aengus Mac Grianna has always appeared to be a bit of an enigma.
Alice Carey's house in deepest west Cork is full of images of Mary, the Blessed Virgin. Now, it's true to say many houses in west Cork, west Kerry and the west of Ireland would generally contain a picture of Mary, usually holding the baby Jesus, in the same way they might have a picture of a pope and even still one of John F Kennedy.
The Schiaparelli-pink doormat outside the home of Andrea Horan was something of a giveaway.
Colette and Martin Lenehan have known each other since they were teenagers; they've been married 22 years and they worked together for the best part of 35 years, but that doesn't mean they think as one.
A trip to Vietnam is rejuvenating and it's not just because of the hot weather with its injection of sunshine and vitamin D; and the many stimulating visual delights which await the visitor.
When Belinda Rohan announces - as she gives the tour of her exquisitely renovated home - that her husband met the builder for the first time the day the work finished, it's difficult not to be flabbergasted.
The first house that Morwenna Gerrard and her husband Kim bought together was a one-bedroomed bijou on the northside comprising about 1,000 square feet. That was in 2000; the second, bought nine years later, was a double-fronted, three-storey home in Blackrock, south Co Dublin, comprising more than 4,500 square feet.
Mary O'Sullivan eats and drinks her way around the fast-developing foodie destination that is Dubai.
There are many striking elements about businesswoman Hilarie Geary's fabulous Victorian drawing room - the mantelpieces, the cornicing, the velvet sofas, the paintings - but it's impossible not to notice too the extraordinarily abundant supply of candles in a basket under one of the side tables; it shouts, 'This woman likes to entertain'.
A wonderful, almost epic scene greets the visitor on arrival at the home of Peter and Alison Roe; amid the rolling Tipperary fields, a lone russet-coloured pony stands proud under a majestic chestnut tree.
These days, no matter what happens to a person in life, it's always described as their journey, and, as a character in David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas says, "There ain't no journey that don't change you some".
Whatever it is about the human psyche, we have a habit of putting people who excel in life on pedestals and investing them with all sorts of superhuman qualities.
There's a new kid on the block in Blackrock, Co Dublin; it's a shop, which opened 15 months ago on the main street, and it's attracting lots of attention.
When glamorous entrepreneur Louise Jordan moved into her stunning new house in South Dublin, there was one special surprise - as a house-warming present, her interior designer had installed Swarovski-crystal-encrusted taps and towel rails in the downstairs bathroom without Louise's knowledge.
Victorian terraced houses tend to be dark. Yes, the rooms are grander than those in modern houses and the ceilings are higher, but the windows are traditionally narrow, and so the light is limited.
As we slip into another year, it's nice to reflect that, despite the recession of the last eight years, there have been many positives about the Noughties.
In families, we have a tendency to pigeonhole our offspring and siblings - the clever one, the pretty one, the strong one, the creative one. In his family, Fergal Doyle is regarded as the one who hasn't green fingers.
In the pages of My Favourite Room over the years, people have waxed lyrical about many elements of a house, but the one that's been most consistently praised is the Aga.
Every so often, since the advent of the mobile phone, a debate erupts about their effect on children and how early a child should be given one and why.
Most cooks, even good cooks, break out in a lather when it comes to entertaining, and the bigger the crowd, the greater the anxiety.
It's often said that a man's home is his castle, but what about someone who really did live in a castle? Is that likely to be more special than your average home?
Alot of holidays can be summed up in three words — sun, sea, shopping.
As everyone knows, the downturn affected most people, but none more so than those in architecture, construction and interior design. Thriving firms disappeared overnight, and the people involved seemed to dissolve into thin air.
A lot of holidays can be summed up in three words - sun, sea, shopping. And three lovely words they are too, suggestive of a foreign location, catching the rays, relaxation and retail therapy. My most recent holiday had those three Ss in spades, but there were a further three which added hugely to our enjoyment of the holiday - sail-ins, sail-aways and sunsets. My companion and I were on a cruise, and every morning the ship, the Thomson Majesty, would sail into a new location and every evening we would leave and begin our journey to our next port of call.
'This is the head of a Tasmanian devil, they became extinct in the 1920s; and these are two leopard heads," Darren Robinson explains, as he points out the three heads above the door into his living room. He adds, "The Tasmanian devil is a really early one because it's got a lead mouth, one of the leopards has a Bakelite mouth, and the other is early too, because it's got a clay mouth. You can date them by the type of mouth they put in, and, of course, the eyes are glass. The teeth are real."
It was a mistake to look down. I felt vulnerable enough on the steel ladder nailed to Sigiriya's sheer rock face without taking in the ground 650 feet below me.
If a woman wants a showstopper of an outfit, Dublin-based Jen Kelly is the designer for the job; he's famous for his spectacular wedding dresses, ballgowns, and occasionwear.
'You are throwing the bouchon too far. Do not throw it more than 10 metres from your circle."
Breda Cashe lives in a gorgeous house in Clontarf that's full of period features which look as if they're been in situ for aeons. But here's the thing: there is really nothing period about the house because it went on fire, not once, but twice, since Breda and her husband, Cyril, bought it 12 years ago.
As architect Hugh Wallace, a judge on RTE's current series of Home Of The Year, noted in a recent interview, the winner of the competition to find Ireland's home of the year will be a particular type of home. "It's not about architecture per se, it's about family, functionality, good design, and the personalities of the people who live in the home, and how that comes through." Hugh enthused.
Hotelier Eithne Fitzpatrick lives in a gorgeous house in Dublin's southside, and conveniently, it's just a short distance from her hotel, the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel.
Clocks are not something you see much in modern homes; to find out the time nowadays, we depend instead on smartphones.
'They have been so helpful, I couldn't have done it without them," are not words you often hear in connection with the HSE, but Eleanor Hickson believes in giving credit where it's due. She's full of praise for the way the HSE helped her to set up her artisan business - Killiskey Bakery - in Ashford, Co Wicklow, where she hand-makes gluten-free bread.
Will Rogers the American cowboy/philosopher/social commentator once said that a stranger is just a friend he hadn't met yet.
Committees have a bad reputation. Someone famously said that a camel is a horse designed by a committee - the implication being the camel is ugly compared to the elegance and beauty of a horse.
Great, big, life-size stone lions flanking a gate or door were commonly used in Asia as a symbol of strength or power, but the stone lions that flank the front door of gallery owner John Daly's house are there for different reasons altogether. They relate to two of his great passions - art and family.
Over the years these pages have featured a wide variety of houses, including restored buildings that started life as stables, barns or even cow sheds, and were transformed into comfortable, often elegant homes. This week, however, is something of a first, where the home owners actually wanted to incorporate into an extension a particular element, and it turned out this element was sourced from manufacturers of farm buildings, specifically pig sheds.
A lot of the small businesses that have sprung over the last decade in this country are run by husband-and-wife partnerships and, despite the old cliche about never mixing business and pleasure, many are very successful; it seems the roller coaster of marriage brings a greater understanding of the strengths of each partner and each helps the other to fully exploit his or her potential.
There's so much to absorb about the decor in musician Ger Eaton's house that a key piece almost goes unnoticed until he himself draws attention to it.
Gardening is "the purest of human pleasures and the greatest refreshment to the spirit of man" according to the 17th-Century philosopher Francis Bacon, and professional garden designer Kevin Dennis would probably agree with his sentiments.
When Selina Gittens had to move house, she decided a barn, up until then a shelter for cattle, would be ideal. Her solution to the need for extra space was even more novel.
Jeni Glasgow left Dublin in her 20s, because she felt it was too 'parochial'. Now she's back, happily running a restaurant in a small town and living in the countryside.
We all have our views on the Anglo-Irish and the Big House, but it can’t be denied that they built wonderful buildings in stunning locations. It’s also a fact that these houses are pretty hard to maintain, so in most cases they’ve been overhauled to accommodate paying guests, giving the hoi polloi a chance to enjoy a few days of above-stairs life.
It’s almost D-Day, with just over three weeks to go before the Leaving Cert results, and thousands of students are pinning their hopes on a CAO points drop. If only they really knew how, in so many cases, it doesn’t matter what course they study.
'If someone flicks the tips of his fingernails under his chin, it means he does not like something, or if he presses a finger into his cheek and twists it, it means yes, he likes very much," my new Sicilian friend Mauro is demonstrating to me how gestures and signs are very important in his country.
As anyone who owns an old house knows, the main personality trait required is unflappability. Broken slates, cracked gutters, leaks, dry rot, electrical problems - these are all everyday occurrences, and one has to learn not to panic, realise the house was there long before you were born and will be there long after you're gone.
Though we were taught never to judge a book by its cover, we continually do so. We constantly judge other people by our first impressions of them. And we are often so wrong. Emily Naper has what we Irish would think is a terribly posh accent, and our tendency is to dismiss posh people as rich and confident, and often indolent.
In the centre of Rory Cowan's spanking-new built-in wardrobe unit in his cleverly renovated home, only shirts hang, and they are not the kind of shirts the stylish fiftysomething wears in real life. Subtle and elegant, they ain't. Loud, brash, garish are the words that spring to mind. But that's fine. These shirts are worn by Rory's alter ego — one of the Mrs Brown's Boys cast, also named Rory.
Bill Dowdall may have heard the American composer Kirke Mechem's well-known advice that one should "only become a musician if there is absolutely no other way you can make a living", but he clearly didn't take it too seriously.
Though we might all be a little bit obsessed with Sheryl Sandberg and her Lean In philosophy when it comes to combining work and motherhood, there are still some women who believe in giving up work when they have babies – women who believe in giving the role of mother their all, at least while the children are young and need looking after.
If you were a gambling person, you might be into assessing the odds on calling a fashion business after a horse that didn't win many prizes, but Paula Corbett didn't waste time on negative thoughts when she opened her gorgeous fashion boutique in Leixlip in 2004 and gave it the name of a horse.
It could, for all the world, have been one of those team building exercises that the United Nations or Facebook might organise: Belgians, French, Germans, Irish, English and Russians all let loose in a forest in Portugal, with only a rudimentary map, and told to find their way out.
Musical instruments are prominent in Eva Byrne's home – a harp, a double bass and a piano all catch the eye on entering her D4 town house, and first impressions suggest the home of a musician. While Eva is musical, however, and plays the piano, by profession she's an architect. But, then, as the German philosopher, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, said: "Architecture is music in space, as if it were frozen music."
Una Hunt lives in a magnificent period house in Dublin 4 with her family
Though a yellow kitchen is a lovely thing, and cheers up a typical grey day enormously, we Irish haven't taken to yellow in a big way. Only a really creative person used to taking risks with colour would venture into such a prominent yellow and, sure enough, Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh – owner of this successfully yellow kitchen – works in design. As one of Ireland's most celebrated costume designers, Eimer has a profound knowledge of the power of colour, texture and pattern, and uses them to great effect in her lovely home in Co Meath.
QI HAVE read your column and have wanted to write many times, so here goes. I'm a 40-year-old woman with a good job and my own apartment. I would consider myself attractive, confident and an independent lady, who has a number of close female friends.
Painter Peter Pearson is a hoarder. Nothing too odd about that – a lot of artists are. Their collections, treasures, memorabilia, stuff – call it all what you will – are often their source of inspiration, their way into a new theme or subject for their work.
The late-lamented and witty Elizabeth Taylor often joked about her love of jewellery, claiming she had been born with it. "My mother said I didn't open my eyes for eight days after I was born, but, when I did, the first thing I saw was an engagement ring – I was hooked," she said.
Every Wednesday, Berna Williams's handsome husband, David, has a date with a wag, but she's not too worried – there's more than one type of wag, and his is not the glamorous-woman variety. "There was a question on RTE, one of the radio quizzes: 'What is a wag?' I was going to ring in and say my husband has a wag, but I didn't," Berna says with a laugh.
It's often said that one of the best places to meet the love of your life is at a wedding – and that's exactly where Eugene Gillies and Robbie Power first clapped eyes on each other.
Homeowners go through the gamut of emotions when their houses are being renovated. Anxiety, fear and dread are fairly standard, given the amounts of money at stake, but the upside is the excitement at seeing your hopes and ideas translated into your dream home.
'Marriage is a wonderful institution," said comedian and actor Groucho Marx, "but who wants to live in an institution?" Those who think they're funny often answer, "Crazy people."
It's that time of year when, after months in a dark half-light, ignoring the gathering dust and clutter, everything changes for us.
There used to be a popular TV programme called Mr & Mrs, in which couples were split up into separate booths and quizzed about each other's more arcane tastes and preferences, and, depending on how many times each one guessed the other's answers correctly, they got prizes. A simple, repetitive, yet strangely compelling formula – it was always surprising how little even long-established couples seemed to know about each other.
The Mexican architect, Luis Barragan, said: "My house is my refuge, an emotional piece of architecture, not a cold piece of convenience." Fortunately, it's a sentiment that architects are taking on board more and more when they design houses.
To hear communications expert Natasha Fennell speak – and her melodious voice is one of her many strong points – is to immediately recognise her as a West of Ireland woman, so the last place you'd expect her to live is in one of the warren of red-brick terraces close to Dublin's centre.
Starting a business is only part of the battle in getting yourself established as a successful entrepreneur; finding the right name is also crucial. Nikki Walsh was positively smug with delight at her choice of company name – it was so perfect – only for it all to come crashing down around her, thanks to a certain superstar.