Monday 18 December 2017

Anna Nolan: Stressed out by modern life? Just go to an island and enjoy a few naps

Lindisfarne Castle in England
Lindisfarne Castle in England
Paul O'Connell
Jade Goody

I'm a great believer in taking a break. A little time out from the madness of everyday life.

I've always known that stopping what you're doing for a while can make a huge difference.

I don't know where this came from. Maybe it came from my ability as a child to take a nap. In fact I've never stopped napping. I saw a funny post on Facebook the other day - "I'm already planning my nap for tomorrow". That's me.

My mother says it is the greatest gift to have, being able to put one's head down for 20, 30 or 40 minutes, stop thinking about life, be rejuvenated, and switch off.

There was a running joke in my household when I was a teenager. I'd be heading up the stairs and Mam would say "Are you going for a read". "Yeah" I'd shout down. Then I would get into my bunk bed, pull the eider down over me and nod off for 40 winks.

I know there are those who just cannot nap. They don't understand how I can. I don't understand why they won't. In fairness, I've had 44 years' experience.

Maybe I should run a nap-taking work shop. (I'd call it "Nap Attack". Or "Nap to the Future"!)

Taking time out can be a luxury and I am lucky to have had the opportunity to spend a couple of days on an incredible island last week, called Holy Island.

I visited this place before, when I was in my early 20s. But this time I decided to stay for two nights.

Holy Island, or Lindisfarne, is off the north east coast of England. It is an island that can only be accessed when the tide is out.

It has 180 inhabitants, three pubs that have accommodation and a very pretty castle.

Before I arrived, I was aware my daily life was pretty packed.

Every day, my hand has a smart phone pretty much attached to it, my eyes are watching two dimensional images more than three dimensional real life ones, and my ears never get a break.

So it actually took me quite a while to adjust to this island. There was a beautiful quote at the little visitor centre, something along the lines of 'From everywhere on the island, you can hear the sea".

And I could. When I went to sleep, I could hear the waves outside. In the morning, if it wasn't the sea, it was the birds singing.

I walked for the two days (not very far, mind you). A simple stroll followed by a lunch in one of the bars. Then a nap (of course). Followed by another stroll before dinner.

Just like my little naps when I was a teenager, I have come back ready to take on the world. Having left the ritual of my daily life for a few days I feel brand new.

AndI have made one decision since I came back. To buy an old fashioned alarm clock. It's time I left all electrical devices out of my bedroom at night.

My biggest nap needs to be clutter free, so this little adjustment might be a good one.


What a weekend I had in Edinburgh, can we please do this every year?

As a child, I never watched much rugby. Maybe it's because we saw it as a blokey sport and I came from a household of seven women. 

Or maybe you only played rugby if you went to a posh fee-paying school in Dublin, and therefore we had no connection to the game at all.

But over the last few years, I have been learning more and more about the rules, the skills, the personalities, the rivalries.

It's true to say that I am late coming to this game, but it has been worth the wait.

Last week I met up with a pal from Edinburgh who had miraculously got tickets for herself, myself and a pal to the Ireland-Scotland match. It was one of the best days I have had in a long time.

It began with a big bacon sandwich and a glass of prosecco to set us up for the day. We headed along the West End of Edinburgh before the match, to go and have a cheeky beer before the game.

Standing in the sunshine we sipped our cold beers and chatted about how Wales were unlikely to beat Italy by 40 points. An hour later, we left. Shell-shocked. Wales had done the job, and a sea of Irish fans made their way into Murrayfield.

The stadium was bathed in sunlight and we arrived as the national anthems were about to be sung. The Irish fans belting out ours as loud as the could but the Scots won hands down.

The mood was incredible. Scotland wanted to win, no doubt about it. But second best was Ireland winning. They applauded when we played well - two Celtic sides friends and foes all wrapped into one. The elation of the win was carried into the Murrayfield Hotel across the road, where the three of us went to see England play France.

Allez les Bleus? Yes, but come on Ireland!

If you think the Irish like to see England lose, you ain't seen nothing like the Scots! As the final whistle blew, we all screamed. Hands, hats and beers went up in the air. Ireland had won the Six Nations.

The celebrations went on, and on. Can we do this every year?

Let's keep Jade's good work going

It's hard to believe that it's six years since Jade Goody (inset and left) died. 

The Big Brother star was a larger than life girl. I met her a couple of times over the years and she was exactly what you would expect: loud, brash, in your face and, more than anything, honest.

She also brought a lot of attention to the issue of cervical cancer. After she was diagnosed she encouraged women to go and get checked. Many, many did. And many are alive today who would not be were it not for Jade's advice.

The message is still an important one, of course. So all you ladies out there, keep getting the smear tests. What better way to keep Jade Goody's memory alive?


The battering of Clarkson's ego

So Jeremy Clarkson will this week find out if the BBC are to get rid of him. He must be worried. He must be thinking about many things: his upcoming divorce, the fear of his two colleagues not working on Top Gear again. And of course, about his own ego. 

Never, ever underestimate the power of the ego. Clarkson might get to make another silly car show on another channel. But he will not have that well oiled production team at the BBC that have honed Top Gear to the multi million success that it is. A production team that has worked on his TV persona and protected him over the years.

When Adrian Chiles switched channel, when Jonathan Ross left the BBC, their shows were just not the same. Clarkson knows that this could very well be the end of his reign. I'd say he's cacking it!

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