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My weekend… with singer-songwriter Ciaran Lavery

The best time to get up at the weekend is?

ue to the nature of my work as a self-employed songwriter, the concept of weekends and weekdays does not exist for me – they are all just on and off days. Therefore, for the purposes of this article I will create a mostly fictional world in which weekends do in fact exist, complete with a wholesome list of activities that I could in theory enjoy.

Breakfast or brunch?

Breakfast is a very important time for us as a family to be together and discuss our plans for the day, as well as quiz the kids on some fun trivia (we are that family!). Owning a milk farm means that we obviously have a lot of perishable produce on hand, so whether we like it or not we typically have bowls of cereal every day of the week with no exceptions on the weekend. Personally, I love porridge. I read online that it is essentially brain food and so I find it kicks off my day perfectly, especially if I’m launching myself into a song writing session, either for myself or another artist.

What does an ideal Saturday look like?

We’re early to bedders in this house, so the weekends usually start just as early as any other day. Hugo and Frankie can be a bit of a handful when they’re full of energy, so I like to ensure that I wake up before them to enjoy some rare and appreciated contemplative time, talking to my partner about how difficult today’s Word is or googling random five letter words.

What would your perfect Sunday be like?

On Sunday’s I would love nothing more than a crackling fire to make s’mores by and watch my family laugh as we all squeeze onto the same sofa and watch back-to-back episodes of Catchphrase or Tipping Point.

Do you prefer to be indoors or outdoors?

I was raised in the country, so outdoors is where I am at my most relaxed. I will say though, that I also absolutely detest camping, so maybe it is the exception to the rule here. My two children live for the outdoors, and there really is nothing like the joy of watching them running freely through the local woods with a stick each in their mouths. As a songwriter I also enjoy being outside and away from the notebook and instruments to allow ideas to ruminate, though thoughts of this season’s milk harvest are seldom far from my thoughts as well. My partner and I spend much of our time indoors planting new flowers or watching zombie movie reruns.

How have weekends changed as you have gotten older?

I must admit, things are very different now that I have children. On a night out now, we tend to look for somewhere that is child friendly and have to be constantly wary that they don’t bark up a storm or bother any of the locals.

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

It really is slim pickings out here on the sticks in terms of eateries, so in reality we tend to eat more cereal or cheese, or both. But if I had my choice I would love to eat at the delicious Yugo in Belfast.

What would you have?

Everything on the menu is a winner, so if I had a bottomless purse and appetite, I would try it all.

At weekends you’ll always make time to…

Call up old friends or family. The benefit of living out in the countryside is the privacy, but unfortunately, it’s common for people we know to have other local plans and often turn down our invitation. I’m not bitter or anything, and I don’t blame them at all. I’m just saying that you really learn who your true friends and family are.

Do you sometimes work at weekends?

If I can avoid working at the weekends then I will try to limit this time to focus on family-oriented activities like beach walks, or group journalling. Sometimes we have the kids’ read excerpts from their diaries because it helps them to understand the importance of sharing with your family and also it helps us to criticize their grammar.

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

My partner is a big fan of Homelander from the TV series The Boys, but from what I’ve seen of the show I’m not sure if he would be my choice haha. I’d likely go for someone like Kevin McCloud from Grand Designs – he’s a deeply poetic guy with a fine eye for cutting edge designs, which would be a useful conversation to have as we’re looking at an extension onto the garage currently!

Are you a weekend cook? If so, what’s your specialty dish?

Ask the kids this and they’ll tell you something like mozzarella on toast or porridge, but I personally fancy expanding upon my culinary skills into areas that utilize the many herbs that grow outside of the house. I know it’s not a meal, but I recently made my partner a mojito using some mint from the garden, and she eventually drank it all.

What’s your dream Sunday dinner?

It’s difficult to look beyond a classic Sunday roast, isn’t it? I spent some time in Brighton a few years back before everything happened and every Sunday, I would try a different bar for their own specific twist on the roast. That was a very fun, albeit brief period of my life.

Who do you normally eat Sunday dinner with and where?

As I mentioned previously, because we decided to build in an area of ​​isolation that would support my song writing we eat as a family. Every Sunday. Just the four of us. In truth, that’s how we prefer it as it allows us to be lazy if we want to be without feeling the pressures of entertaining guests or having to consider more dietary requirements.

Too tired to cook – what are you ordering from the takeaway?

Great question! I’m a fan of Mexican food – any and all really, so long as it’s nothing too spicy. Luckily enough there are few options around, so the Mexican food is provided by the local chippy who don’t seem to stock anything remotely spicy or Mexican, bar tortillas, so I usually have the Mexicana Explosa (battered sausage and chip wrap).

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

Myself and my partner are both film buffs and we enjoy taking a risk on movies, though admittedly we’re both suckers for apocalyptic films. Thankfully the two children aren’t much for TV, so we don’t really have to factor them into cinema trips, though finding a babysitter can be a hassle.

Staying in… what TV/streaming/catch-up programs are on the menu?

On a recent trip to Edinburgh, we recently stumbled upon a few shows that we can’t believe exist – Naked Attraction being one of them. Could you imagine being a contestant? Anyway, we watch a lot of it now, and also reruns of The Bill.

What are you reading?

I recently received a copy of Susannah Dickey’s latest novel Common Decency which I’m very excited to dive into.

Bedtime is?

Bedtime is the most essential part of the day for me personally. Sometimes it can be the only period where I switch my brain off completely. I usually take a cup of chamomile up to bed with me, fill out my daily affirmations and talk to my partner about their day, before getting the essential 9-10 hours of shuteye.

*Please note – to strengthen the potential authenticity of my answers I may have referred to my two dogs as my children (or kids) and my partner and I may or may not own a milk farm.

Award winning singer songwriter Ciaran Lavery will play in the beautiful and atmospheric surroundings of St Patrick’s Church, Newtownards Road, as part of the EastSide Arts Festival on August 7

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