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Northern Ireland famous faces and their guilty pleasures: Ice-cream, hair dying or Bargain Hunt?

'My hair's been green, pink, blue and purple'

What are those secret indulgences that bring a smile to our face? Lee Henry talks to well-known personalities here about what makes them happy.

'My hair's been green, pink, blue and purple'

Sara O'Neill (35), a stylist, the designer of the Eadach oversized silk scarf range and fashion blogger, lives in Portrush with her surfer fiance Al Mennie (35). She says:

I was seriously into vintage when I was younger, before it became a thing, and would save my money and go and spend it in Temple Bar in Dublin a couple of times a year, getting stuff I couldn't get at home.

I used to tie-dye stuff, spending a whole week making a crazy Goth dress just to wear at the weekend, or studding and painting my leather jacket.

Dying my hair is also a guilty pleasure. It's been white, pink, red, blue, green, purple, black, multi-coloured.

It's been very long, super cropped, spiked in huge 8in pole spikes, in a quiff and a beehive.

And Instagram is another guilty pleasure. I follow a lot of Australian and Californian boho beach babe types. They get the weather all my floaty dresses deserve, so they can bum around the beach all day in beautiful dresses, bikinis and heaps of accessories without fear of getting rained on or their dresses blowing up. Then I look out the window at the rain and sigh.

I tend to play boxsets and movies that I like over and over again because when I'm drawing or designing I like to have a buzz in the background, but nothing that will also distract me.

It tends to be stuff I've seen a million times - Mad Men, Modern Family, Medium, Frasier. I've even started watching Sex and the City again. That is a guilty pleasure. I loved it when I was at art college, but it's so of its time that it seems weird and dated now."

‘I cried for three days when Busted split up’

Ashleigh Coyle (21), from Londonderry, is a model and former Big Brother contestant. She says:

I have generally lost interest in reality television since appearing on Big Brother back in 2014. But if I’m honest, I’m still a big BB fan. I always manage to squeeze in a series and catch up on episodes missed.

Staying with television, my biggest guilty pleasure is probably EastEnders. I’m a huge fan.

I don’t know of many 21-year-olds who will take three hours out of their weekend to ensure that they’ve caught up on the latest dilemma.

When I’m getting ready to go out on the town, I still dance and sing at the top of my voice in front of the mirror.

I love a good singalong to Whitney Houston — who doesn’t? — but there is always something a little cringeworthy on my playlists, like Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe. I really love that one.

Aside from that, I’ve always had pretty good taste in music, though I admit that I did cry for three days when Busted split up. Poor little me, I thought they were my first true love.

Working as a model, how I look is important to me, but everyone has periods in their lives that they look back on and cringe. When I was a girl, I had crimped hair.

I don’t even want to think about it. I can feel myself going red already.”

‘I love ice-cream ... and it would have to be from Morelli’s’

Chef Paula McIntyre, who lives in Portstewart, says:

I have been known to have a wee ready meal curry now and again, but I really try not to, and at the very least I get someone else to buy it for me so that no-one sees it in my shopping basket.

And I’d also have Marks & Spencer’s butter chicken, maybe once a year, that’s all. But I have been known to indulge.

I like whippy ice cream. I live in Portstewart and on a Monday I would have a Morelli’s whippy.

It’s the sugar really that’s the guilty pleasure.

That and a Tunnock’s Teacake and a cup of tea to start the week off nicely. I travel around doing demonstrations and readings a fair old bit and I am often in London.

When I am, I always get a good Indian takeaway or a really decent kebab. Somewhere where they use actual real meat.

A lot of people wouldn’t necessarily see that as a guilty pleasure, but obviously it’s not the same as having a salad.

I rarely get a takeaway in Northern Ireland and usually eat out at restaurants instead.

But if I did decide to have a takeaway at home, you can’t beat Morton’s Fish & Chip Shop in Ballycastle.

They’re the best. Eat it outside in the sunshine. It’s absolutely gorgeous.”

‘UTV presenter Rose is a goddess of mine’

Punk godfather and owner of Good Vibrations music store, Terri Hooley (68) is from Belfast. He has two children, Anna (37) and Michael (17). He says:

When I was a young pup in Belfast, while people queued up at the local cinemas, I would sneak in and take the photos out of the display boards for my personal collection. Some people called me the magpie or the boy that stole the piccies off the wall.

Brigitte Bardot would go into my exotic women section, Doris Day the interesting women section and Marilyn Monroe the beautiful women section.

It was like collecting stamps but better. I used to hide them in the hot press under the towels.

I’m not a fashion victim but I have been wearing jeans and crewneck jumpers since the Sixties and I am not going to change now.

Last year I bought a wool overcoat for £15 from the Hospice Shop on the Antrim Road and got it altered to fit me. I nearly fainted when I was charged £59.

If the weekend stretched out in front of me and I could indulge in any of my guilty pleasures, I would stalk UTV news presenter and my goddess Rose Neill.

My life has been a bit empty since my girlfriend Claire took down my shrine to the wonderful Rose last year.”

‘Chocolate gets me through a busy shift’

BBC NI weatherman Barra Best (34) lives in north Belfast. He says:

I’m originally from west Belfast, so our guiltiest of pleasures when we were kids was scaling up the back of the Black Mountain — even though we were told not to — up to what was then known as the old Hatchet Field.

Nowadays you can go up there anytime. They have the Divis Walk and platforms overlooking the city.

But at the time, the Army still had a base up there, so we had to plough through fields and brambles and climb over fences. It was like a scene from Stand By Me.

There were no computers in those days to keep us occupied. That’s how old I am.

In the office, if I’m on the 5am shift, my guilty pleasure is definitely coffee. I need a caffeine hit. The odd cup of tea just doesn’t compare. If I’m on the evening shift, it’s chocolate. Nothing gets me through a busy night shift like it.

From a personal grooming point of view, I have to have my beard oil.

I was introduced to it about a year ago and I thought, ‘What is this nonsense?’ But finally I used it and I love it.

It makes the beard nice and soft, and it comes in all different flavours, like cinnamon and peppermint.

Cinnamon is my favourite. I have to resist the temptation to lick my beard all the time.”

‘Every day I pray that Bargain Hunt’s on TV’

Conor Grimes (48), from Co Tyrone, is a comedian and actor. He says:

Reciting comic poems to the class when the teacher left the room was an early guilty pleasure. I would get up on a desk and sing versions of songs with the lyrics changed as someone kept watch at the door. I was a sucker for an audience. One day I got caught and the headmaster made me repeat what I had been doing in front of everyone. I got six of the best. Worth every lash.

In the heart of Tyrone, it was very hard to attain fashion and when my friends and I decided to become Mods, the outfits were not up to scratch.

I remember getting the works for my birthday — desert boots, Fred Perry shirt and a boating jacket, and wearing them to mass. I even remember the priest smirking as he gave me communion.

Being an actor, I find myself flicking the TV on at lunch (after a morning of physical and vocal warm-up exercises) and praying that Bargain Hunt is on.

The former presenter, David Dickinson, is made of solid wood and the experts are wonderfully inexpert as they help the contestants lose money. To top it all, the guests don’t even get the ghastly Bargain Hunt fleeces. An inside told me they give them back at the end.

If I could go back in time to indulge in a guilty pleasure, it would be with my old friends to one of our old dives, with the dirty windows and ‘no entry’ sign on the kitchen door and a computer with the old joysticks, playing Sensible Soccer.

We’d play till the sweat lashed off us and the joysticks were smashed. I guess it’s my jumpers for goalposts sentimental moment.

‘Progressive rock always does it for me’

Radio Ulster presenter Steven Rainey (35) lives in Dundonald. He says:

As a big music fan, I’ve done my best to sample it all. But the music I keep coming back to time and time again is progressive rock.

Never the coolest genre, prog comes with a certain snobbery, and the fantasy lyrics and mystical album covers don’t do anything to dispel it.

But if you’re prepared to look, you’ll find plenty to love, from the guitar and bass interplay of Rush, to the spacey epics of Yes. Probably don’t mention it on a first date, though.

When it comes to eating out, I’m a huge fan of lunch and Belfast has many fine eateries.

But when the mood takes me, and nothing else will satisfy, Mikey’s Deli in the city centre is hard to top.

With American-style burgers and hotdogs galore, their Juicy Lucy double burger is a real belly-buster, most of which tends to get left behind in my moustache after I’ve finished.

One day I’ll lead up to the XXX three-tiered cheeseburger, but I’ll need to do some training first.

As the presenter of BBC Radio Ulster’s Cover To Cover series, where we celebrated books in all their shapes and sizes, you’d be forgiven for thinking I sit at home and devour serious, highbrow literature.

But no, my tastes exclusively settle on sci-fi and fantasy. A guilty pleasure has to be Robert E Howard’s The Chronicles of Conan.

At the end of a long day, nothing beats a barbarian hero heading off on adventures in a land of mystery and magic. It might not be clever, but it ticks all the right boxes for me.”

Belfast Telegraph


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