Celebrities reveal their favourite outdoor oasis

IT’S SUMMER, and while gardens, parks and meadows throughout the land have burst into blossom, nowhere will boast brighter colours or dreamier scents than the RDS, which transforms into a floral paradise next week.

Celebrities reveal their favourite outdoor oasis

The 11th World Flower Show — dubbed the ‘Olympics of flower shows’ — runs from Wednesday next to Sunday, June 22, featuring blooms from no fewer than 31 countries, including Pakistan, the United States, Barbados, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe.

A triennial event, this is the first time that the show, whose theme for 2014 is A Floral Odyssey, has been staged on Irish soil. The event gives garden enthusiasts an opportunity to enjoy the work of Irish and international flower artistes from all over the globe — and the rest of us a chance to simply take time out and smell the roses.

There’s always something special about being out in nature — simply working in the garden or strolling through the local park can soothe the senses and calm a busy mind.

Today we talk to some busy people about their personal outdoors oases; the places they go to escape from the stress and bustle of day-tot-day life.

For psychiatrist and author Patricia Casey it’s a seat beneath her favourite tree, for Joanne O’Riordan it’s the barbecue space her brother built in the family garden. Food-writer, blogger, cook Lilly Higgins relaxes with stroll along the sea-front at Cobh, popular Exposé presenter Michelle O’Doherty loves the sound of the ocean at Sandymount, while for Winning Streak presenter Sinead Kennedy it’s a surfing session anywhere along the Cork coastline…


Sinead Kennedy

TV Presenter

Sinead Kennedy on the beach in Garretstown, Co Cork. “I love the vast open-ness of the sea; it’s to do with simply chilling out.”

FOR Winning Streak presenter Sinead Kennedy it’s a case of finding time for the tide. The Cork native spends much of her life commuting between Dublin and Cork, but when she gets a spare moment, she likes to spend it by the sea — preferably on a surfboard:

“I like to be by the sea,” she confides.

“When I’m in Dublin I love Sandyford beach; in Cork it’s Garretstown beach, although anywhere along the Cork coast is my chill-out place.

“It’s the lapping of the waves, the wind, the cold water, the smell of the sea and the sound of it — it’s all so refreshing.

“I love the vast open-ness of the sea; it’s to do with simply chilling out.”

As long as there’s a bit of seaweed and a bit of surfing to be had, says the 30-year-old, she’s happy.

“I love surfing but I’d like to be better at it. However, I don’t have enough time to practise and get really good. You really need to do it two or three times a week to become even somewhat decent at it, but I only get to surf once in a blue moon.

“When I’m by the sea, though, I feel any worries slipping away — especially when I’m surfing because I’m so preoccupied by keeping my balance that I’ve no time to think about anything else.”

Michelle O’Doherty

‘Exposé’ presenter

Michelle O’Doherty of Expose at her outdoor oasis, Sandymount Strand — loves the sea.

OVER the last few months, Michelle O’Doherty’s life has been both “busy and hectic”, she says, but she’s been “absolutely loving” her stint on Exposé.

When Weekend caught up with her, the actress, model and TV presenter, who is now based permanently in the UK, was finishing up on the last of her Exposé programmes before returning to London where another big event is about to happen — the birth of her first child.

It’s been a very busy time for the Donegal woman — but during her months in Dublin she enjoyed winding down from a busy day in the studio with a stroll along one of her favourite beaches — usually either Sandymount or Dollymount Strand.

“I got there and walk for hours. The water calms me. I think it’s the noise of the ocean and the lovely see breeze, ” she says.

The sound of the sea, she says, reminds her of her native Malin Head — her childhood home was right on the coast.

Michelle has a lot on her mind right now — she’s due to give birth to her first baby on August 20.!

“I’m absolutely loving being pregnant, and so excited about having my first child,” she declared.

Patricia Casey

Professor of Psychiatry at UCD and the Mater Hospital, author

Patricia Casey, psychiatrist, relaxes in her garden where her favourite ‘outdoor oasis’ is beneath a big, reddish tree her children climbed when they were small.

I WORK seven days a week,” Patricia admits. More often than not, on top of the usual working week, many of her weekends are devoted to writing and research.

But she does make a point of taking downtime when she can, she says, and her favourite ‘outdoor oasis’ is beneath a tree in the garden of her home near Naas, Co Kildare.

“There is a particular one in my garden — a big, reddish tree that I like, because when my children were small they loved to climb it.”

It holds some nostalgic memories.

“Once, one of the boys was up in the tree and dislocated his knee as he was climbing down and we had to call the fire brigade.”

“I like to sit under the tree myself, in the summer-time, when the weather is warm, and just relax.

“In the evenings before supper, I sometimes sit out there with my husband, and have a glass of wine.”

In the winter, however, Casey likes to sit and read by the big traditional old fireplace in a sitting-room in her house, which dates from about 1720.

“It’s very big, it’s about four or five feet long and about five feet high, and because the heat would go up the chimney, we put a big wood-burning stove in the middle.”

Joanne O’Riordan

Student and Irish Examiner columnist

Joanne O’Riordan, at home in the garden at Woodland Drive, Millstreet, Cork. “I try to grab a nice moment of peace in the corner of the garden. It’s full of flowers, and very colourful.

Although she’s still only 18, Joanne O’Riordan has addressed the United Nations, successfully tackled the Taoiseach on disability funding and penned her own weekly column — plus she’s currently sitting her Leaving Certificate exams.

“I’ve quite a busy life — I’m doing my Leaving Cert and I also write a regular weekly column for the Irish Examiner which is a big commitment — I’d like to be a journalist later on,” confides the teen dynamo from Millstreet.

“I rarely get much time to myself but when I do manage it, I try to grab a nice moment of peace in the corner of the garden.

“It’s full of flowers, and very colourful, and there’s a little barbecue space that my brother built.

“It’s quite a private spot because there’s a low wall around it. It’s also a real suntrap — it catches the evening sun so it’s a great place to sit as the sun sets.

“It’s also very sheltered as it’s behind the house. I usually go there during the summer when the weather is fine, or on a nice mild day.

“It’s lovely to chill out there — but if it’s wet or cold, then, like other teenage girls, I retreat to my bedroom, put on my headphones and it’s a case of ‘world off, brain off’!”

Lilly Higgins

Celebrity Chef

Food writer Lilly Higgins walking her dog Bo in Cobh, Co Cork where she likes to relax near the seafront.

COOKBOOK author, food photographer, blogger, cake-maker, columnist — and mother of two little boys who generally likes to start the day around 5.30am — Lilly Higgins’ life could be accurately described as fast-paced.

“I’m very busy,” she admits.

“The boys tend to wake up around 5.30am and stay going all day.”

Needless to say, they love food and like to help out.

“I cook everything from scratch,” she explains, adding that they’re always available to help out with the pizza dough and the tomato sauce.

But somehow Lilly keeps all the balls in the air; working from home she juggles her writing — at just 30 years of age she’s already the author of two popular cookbooks — with food photography, and raw cake-making, whilst keeping a motherly eye on two-year-old Liam and one-year-old Cathal.

To relax — and yes, she occasionally manages to find the time — she retreats to the sea-front in the Co Cork harbour town of Cobh, where she lives.

“I like to go for a walk along the sea-front in Cobh. The sea air calms my mind, and the cry of the sea-gulls is so relaxing.

“It’s very soothing because it’s so familiar to me.

“I was brought up just outside the town, only five minutes from the beach, so the sea is part of me,” says the author of Make, Bake, Love and Dream Deli.

“Nowadays I live only five minutes from the harbour in Cobh. I’ll take the boys in the double buggy along the sea-front.

“They’ll fall asleep and I’ll just stroll along.

“I won’t even listen to music on my headphones because I love the peace and the quiet of the harbour so much.

“Cobh is always so pretty, and during the summer it’s absolutely beautiful.”

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