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Anna Nolan: I spent my holiday alone...and loved every minute of it


Clovelly was absolutely lovely

Clovelly was absolutely lovely

Pat Kenny.

Pat Kenny.

Woman exercising.

Woman exercising.

James May.

James May.


Clovelly was absolutely lovely

So I decided to take a little road trip on St Stephen's Day. I fancied something different and not the usual sitting on a couch for the day, eating my body weight (which is a lot at the moment) in carbs.

I had planned this some time ago and booked five days away in Devon, three nights in a cottage looking over the sea in Appledore and two nights in Clovelly, a tiny cobbled stoned village that looks something from that Hovis ad from years ago.

To say that it was the best idea I've had in a long time is an understatement. It has been unexpectedly brilliant. And still is, I'm not leaving until New Years Eve.

It's my first big journey on my own and I was nervous. Would I be scared at night? Would people laugh at me when I went into a restaurant on my own and think I was strange? Would they have Kerrygold butter in local shops?

All these worries left quickly as I settled into my daily Devon routine. The drive from Bristol was so simple. One and a half hours on well signed roads. The cottage when I arrived was on a tiny street, each house a different colour.

The view from the sitting room upstairs looked out onto the estuary of the river Torridge, where each morning I would have my coffee and toast and watch small flocks of birds fly low over the water.

The first day I decided to go to Saunton Sands, which was an hour's drive away. A magnificent stretch of beach that had all sorts of activities going on. A group of adults and children playing hockey on the sand. Dogs and their owners were out for some exercise. Such a lively, lovely place.

That night I ate in my local pub, The Beaver Inn. (Of course I saw the sign and had a juvenile snigger.)

I went up to the bar and asked if they served food. I was shown to a table which had a view out over the water and you could see the lights of Bideford across the way.

I had nothing to worry about in the pub. They minded me, gave me the most delicious steak and chips with a big yummy glass of red wine and no one said I was strange.

It was the perfect way to end the perfect first day. Since then I have travelled around Devon, visiting Exmoor (where I stalked a wild pony for a photo - he was having none of it), Bideford, Westward Ho! And now I am off to Clovelly.

I have met some lovely people who have been kind enough to chat to the single gal in the restaurant (shout out to Rita, Maureen, Richard and Tony - two retired couples).

Travelling on your own is liberating. I think I'll be doing a lot more of it this year.


'Hello', 'Good evening' or 'Howya'? UTV's arrival is a big day for Irish TV

Counting down to a live TV show can be scary. For everyone. The floor manager counts from 5 to 1. The 5 and the 4 are said out loud, the 3, 2, 1 are done silently, holding their hand up. 

And then it's just the presenter, talking to everyone at home.

Yes, going live is terrifying, but going live, on a brand new channel, has to be doubly nerve wrecking.

You appear in a space that never existed before, and your first words will go down as the opening line of that station.

On New Year's Day UTV Ireland will appear on our screens. I wonder what the first words will be? "Jayzus we made it" will probably be the sentiment behind the sentence, even if it comes across as something more upright, like: "Hello, we are here to kick some ass".

I remember when Chris Evans arrived at Virgin Radio, at the height of his career. Millions tuned in to hear what he would say. He simply took a breath, and said "It's ok. I'm here". Confident, safe, funny.

No doubt the preparation for going live on UTV has seen everyone working hard, getting all the details right.

Its New Year's Day so there might be a little headache or two floating around the studio from the night before, or perhaps the good folk at UTV will resist the bubbles and wait until after their first day of broadcasting.


I'll be joining gym suckers next week

I WAS thinking this week of all the people and companies who will benefit in January from our over-indulgence at Christmas time. Gyms, sports clubs, health food and drinks companies, sports gear manufactures, yoga centres will all be ready to welcome the New Year Resolution suckers next week. Will the same folk stick it out and still be there come February? Oh well, they'll probably be making some cash from me regardless!


* The funniest telly I saw over Christmas had to be James May's Toy Stories, with his attempt to put Action Man in a little rocket which would then break the sound barrier. I can't believe I was actually moved when the mini plastic soldier went into the stratosphere. Maybe it was the vino, or maybe I just like seeing people like May (left) achieve their goals, no matter how weird. But it was one small step...

* FINALLY, I want to wish a Happy New Year to all my lovely Herald readers. Mind yourselves in 2015. And if you are to do one thing for me - vote for marriage equality in May. You know it makes sense, so gwan, gwan, gwan!