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My Weekend: La Mandarine’s founder Rachel Kelly

La Mandarine’s founder on the simple pleasures; a game of golf, good food and great company

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Rachel

Rachel

Rachel

Rachel

Rachel

Rachel

Rachel featured

Rachel featured

A model wearning La Mandarine's Giselle dress

A model wearning La Mandarine's Giselle dress

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Rachel

The best time to get up at the weekend is?

After years of early starts, with horses to feed and my kids’ sporting commitments, I still feel a bit guilty having a lie-in. James and Anna, my children, competed in sport to a high level, so for years I spent very few weekends at home from March to October and had few lie-ins. I’m not great at sitting still however, so I’m finding new things to do.

I’m self-employed with my beachwear and clothing business La Mandarina and, as anyone in this position knows, there is always something needing doing and taking up headspace.

Until November 2021, I worked from home but after Covid lockdown I had to escape the house. Now I’ve an office on the Lisburn Road and often call there mid Saturday morning to post out the previous evening’s orders. I might treat myself to a good coffee once while I’m there.

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Rachel

Rachel

Rachel

Breakfast or brunch?

I’m not a great breakfast person during the week but I will make the effort on the weekend and my go-to is sourdough with either scrambled eggs and smoked salmon or smashed avocado (I know what a cliche).

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If the kids are here then I still like to feed them, and my son — an ex-rower — can eat for Ireland. James and Anna, who are twins, have just finished their respective degrees in Oxford and Exeter and graduate this summer. I love having them home, and the buzz in the house when they and their friends are around.

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Rachel

Rachel

Rachel

What does an ideal Saturday look like?

For me the best way to transition from work to pleasure is by doing something active. I have ridden horses in the sport of eventing for years, but then last year I began golf lessons — four words I never though I would say — and I’m hooked. It’s such a departure in terms of sport as there is next to no adrenaline, very little preparation and minimal equipment needed in comparison to horses — plenty of frustration though.

So an ideal Saturday would still involve sport, although now that might be a few holes of golf. Or maybe Park Run — not that I love running but I enjoy the feeling afterwards. If my son was back from uni then ideally he would join me.

I like good food and good company, so an ideal Saturday would definitely involve either heading out for dinner with friends, cooking something delicious or being cooked for.

What would your perfect Sunday be like?

On Sunday I’d ideally start with a long walk with some company and the dogs, preferably on a beach or up a hillside. During Covid my girlfriends and I began weekly hill walking, and we covered a lot of ground both physically and metaphorically speaking. Then back home for a late Sunday lunch.

I enjoy cooking and while it doesn’t always have to be a traditional roast, I like a proper meal. While lunch is cooking, I’ll put my feet up with a gin and tonic and the Sunday papers, saving the Sunday Times crossword for afters. Another favourite Sunday lunch, stretching back to when our kids were toddlers, would be at my good friend Katrina Mackie’s. She is not just a wonderful cook but also the warmest host; delicious food, good wine, always a great mix of friends and no washing up.

If you could eat out anywhere tonight in NI, where would you go and why?

I enjoy eating out and my current favourite is Stock, located above St George’s Market. The owner and chef, Danny Millar, cooked at Balloo House some years ago when I lived in Killinchy. He specialises in the freshest seafood and local produce. My go-to meal there would include oysters, crab claws, then either the Dover Sole or his delicious Côte de Boeuf. Plus there is a lovely bar area so you can meet friends beforehand or have a nightcap afterwards.

I’d love to try Neven Maguire’s food at MacNean House & Restaurant in Blacklion, as I’ve heard so many good things about his amazing tasting menu. If I’ve been away, working late or I’m too tired to cook, my takeaway would be pretty much anything from Sakura in Botanic Avenue. I also like Bao Bun on the Lisburn Road.

Heading for the cinema? What are you going to see?

I saw The French Dispatch and Cabaret recently in QFT. I didn’t think I’d enjoy Cabaret as I usually avoid musicals like the plague, but here the music gave great context to the real story. I loved Four Billboards Outside Epping Missouri and the Peter Linklater trio Before Sunset etc, and I could watch a good Tarantino again and again.

I like the theatre, particularly anything by Martin McDonagh, and I saw Brian Friel’s Translations at the Lyric in May.

It just never gets old, and it was great to be back out enjoying real performances in a full theatre.

As for TV, I literally go for ages without watching anything and then I’ll binge on a Netflix series. I loved House of Cards, Lupin and Succession. The Morning Show was terrific on Apple TV.

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Rachel featured

Rachel featured

Rachel featured

Who would you most like to go for a drink with and why?

I’d like to meet up for a drink with either my brother Patrick who lives in Sydney or my friend Fiona in Dublin. Neither of whom I see often enough, so every time we do meet there is a lot of catching up to do. That is of course unless Daniel Day Lewis calls!

Bedtime is?

I am a late bird, so I rarely get to bed before 11.30pm. I often end up working at home in the evenings after dinner whether its browsing Instagram for inspiration or tweaking my Etsy store or my website’s SEO — like I say, there are always more than a few brain tabs open when it’s your own business.

What are you reading? Fave type of book?

I’m a big reader but I’ve no favourite type, I read everything, so I’ve an eclectic mix beside my bed. Right now, I’m re-reading Niall Williams’ Four Letters of Love. I really enjoyed it years ago but couldn’t remember the details — I’m a speed reader so this is not unusual for me. Another is Bob Rotella’s Golf is Not a Game of Perfect. I do a lot of reading in the evenings when I’m working in Jaipur for almost six weeks a year. It’s the best way to zone out and relax after hectic day. I also like to have three or four books in my summer holiday suitcase, along with lots of gorgeous La Mandarine beachwear of course.

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A model wearning La Mandarine's Giselle dress

A model wearning La Mandarine's Giselle dress

A model wearning La Mandarine's Giselle dress


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