Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Mariella Frostrup

'For a long time I thought the world was terrible and I didn't want to bring children into it' 

Mariella Frostrup - well known for her husky voice and campaigning spirit - has won recognition in a wide variety of roles. As a TV presenter she's fronted the likes of The Little Picture Show and Frostrup On Sunday back in the Nineties, more recently Mariella's Book Show and last year's hard-hitting documentary The Truth About the Menopause, while in April she hosted BBC One's Celebrity Painting Challenge.

Kerry McLean with her husband Ralph and their children, Tara, Dan and Eve

We may fear changes in our homes, careers or families but I’ve learnt it’s best to embrace it 

Change is something lots of us aren't great with, me included. One of my mother's favourite stories is when she found me, on the morning of my 10th birthday, bawling my eyes out. When she asked what was wrong, I explained that I didn't want to go into double digits, I was happy being nine and didn't want to get any older. I'd need to check the Guinness Book of Records, but this may just be the earliest reported case of a mid-life crisis.

Barbara Scully with her cat Diego

'Being loved by my cat is a greater compliment than my dog fawning all over me' 

I love it when academics and scientists undertake studies into cats and come up with results that any cat person could have already told them, saving them the time and energy. Back in 2013, the BBC broadcast a programme called The Secret Life of The Cat which promised to reveal a hidden feline world, about which we humans apparently knew little. There were cat scientists, a professor and a cast of 50 moggies who were GPS-tagged so that the team could monitor their movements from Cat HQ in the Village Hall. We learned that cats spend a lot of time asleep, like to go out, to have fights (which, to borrow a quote, "are full of sound and fury and signifying nothing" or very little anyway), to occasionally hunt, to eat the neighbour's cat's food and that they love looking out windows. I could have told the producers all that. Talk about an anti-climax.

Chrissie Hynde

Chrissie Hynde... on living alone, giving up alcohol, taking up yoga - and why the music industry is yet to have its #MeToo moment 

There is a question that nags away at Chrissie Hynde, now some four decades into her music career: "Why didn't more women get into bands?" She frowns and scrunches her eyes. Hynde wears her hair lighter these days, but her eyes are still as heavily kohled and fringe-buried as they were in The Pretenders' early days. "Some will say 'Because we weren't encouraged!"' she continues. "But that was the whole point of being in a band, that you weren't encouraged, so you were like 'I'm doing it!"'

Allen Leech

Allen Leech: 'Downton Abbey has opened all sorts of doors for me and that's why coming back to do this film was really special' 

Like some elaborate, irresistible confection, a soothing balm for frustrated Brexiteers, Downton Abbey swishes gracefully into a cinema near you this weekend, bearing more tales of kindly nobs, harmless misunderstandings and pathetically grateful servants. Though the TV series finished four years ago, nothing much has changed at the fusty Yorkshire estate, whose staff and owners are excitedly preparing for a visit by King George and Queen Mary.

Rory Best

The Best and worst of times: Rugby star Rory on beating the All-Blacks and how his brother was lucky to survive a career-ending heart scare 

Ireland and Ulster captain Rory Best is the most-capped hooker for Ireland with an impressive 100 international and 179 Ulster Caps to his name. He is one of the most highly respected figures in Irish rugby and is a talismanic figure at Kingspan Stadium. He has always said he wanted to bow out on a high. And there is surely nothing higher than captaining his team in the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Noel Lamb, owner of Finnebrogue House in Co Down

Noel Lamb on how he restored Finnebrogue House in Downpatrick 

Bordered by the River Quoile and Strangford Lough, Finnebrogue estate has a long and interesting history. Its earliest occupants, the Maxwell family, are equally intriguing. Some historians have suggested that the name goes back to the eighth century. However, records show that the Maxwell family at Finnebrogue originated from Calderwood in the Scottish Lowlands, arrived in Ireland during the reign of Elizabeth I and settled in The Pale (an area south of Dublin and along the east coast that was under the control of the English government in the Late Middle Ages).

Jessica Harrington at home in Moone, Co Kildare

Jessica Harrington: 'The thing about success is you always want more. There's always that dangling carrot and I'm the donkey always chasing the carrot' 

Jessica Harrington's yard, in the sleepy hamlet of Moone, Co Kildare, is anything but sleepy. The clatter of racehorses leaving their stables is accompanied by the incessant barking of dogs, telephones ringing and a stream of bodies filtering in and out of the open front door of the beautiful farmhouse. It's a chaotic yet domestic scene, a mix of cosy country house and busy stud farm. Trophies and framed photo-finishes crowd every surface, a copy of The Racing Post sits on the hall table, the figure of a race horse is etched into the glass above the front door, and copies of invitations to dinners with royalty alongside family photos and memorable horses Moscow Flyer, Our Duke, Alpha Centauri and Sizing John litter the front room.

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