My Weekend… with actress Lisa Duffy

The best time to get up at the weekend is? With our first baby, Art, having arrived last year, life has changed dramatically but it’s still recent enough to remember what mornings were like before baby and after baby. Before, weekend wake ups were often slow and leisurely if we were at home, often with a walk in Ormeau Park and a trip to the bakery, to work up an appetite. Now, mornings start whenever Art decides, usually between 7-8am and then the first hour of the day will be hugs and giggles in bed as he is the happiest baby the minute he wakes up, followed by feeding time for him and maybe a quick bite for me too if I’m lucky!

Breakfast or brunch?
There is nothing I love more than a multi-course breakfast. So I would have to say brunch so that we can take as long as we want. The dream is to walk somewhere local like General Merchants on the Ormeau Road in Belfast, order coffees to begin with and browse the papers, then on to something more substantial like avocado on toast, and if I can possibly squeeze it in, a wee pastry to finish; such a treat.

What does an ideal Saturday look like?
Starting with that amazing brunch above, then on a little further walking through any of Belfast’s amazing walking routes — Lagan tow path, Comber Greenway, Barnett Demesne, Cregagh Glen — the list goes on. Of course all walking is merely an excuse to get to the next food stop, so next would be a wee pub or café along the way to meet friends. Or even better still, if there was a festival or event on head to hear a little music or catch some entertainment.
These days, out early, early home, works best so heading home after a long afternoon’s craic in the city, to a takeaway or home-cooked meal with some friends would be pretty perfect.

What would your perfect Sunday be like?
Most weekends we will head out of the city one of the days, either to see family or to do a bit of exploring.

Do you prefer to be indoors or outdoors?
It would have to be a perfect balance of both. When I am outdoors, whether it is sea swimming or walking in the Mournes, I am most definitely at my happiest, however I most definitely don’t do it as much as I’d like — again life changes when a wee one comes along .
I started swimming in Helen’s Bay in 2020, like the rest of NI it seems. And I have to say it is so amazing. Especially when you are doing it with a group of like-minded people. Since Covid, it seems to have become more normal to make new friends and seek out wee tribes of people who have similar interests, which is brilliant and so important to keep doing, no matter what age you are.

How have weekends changed as you have gotten older?
Things are definitely a little less wild now there’s the wee man in the picture, though we still try to get out and about when we can. Big nights in the city have been replaced with slightly more civilized pints in our local, The Errigle, which is always a cozy spot for a bit of craic with good friends.

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

Cu on Lisburn Road. A buzzing atmosphere with really social, sharing food is my perfect spot. This place opened while I had a stay in hospital with my baby last summer and I haven’t managed to get there yet. But I will.

What would you have?
I love the small plates and sharing concept, such a relaxed and social way to connect with friends and family — and that way, I get to have a little bit of everything.

At weekends you’ll always make time for…
Food, family and fresh air.

Do you sometimes work at weekends?
I own a drama school called Bright Young Things, and for years I worked every Saturday delivering workshops and I absolutely loved it. My husband Dan would say I came home so energized and properly happy tired. However in the last few years I have stepped away from weekend work to try and achieve a better balance.

Who would you most like to go for a drink with and why?
My husband Dan, to somewhere with live music and roaring fire for a few Guinness and a cheeky whiskey maybe.

Are you a weekend cook?
I like to dabble in the kitchen when I get the chance. I usually stick to a podcast on so I can maximize on a rare moment of me-time. Curry is probably my go to dish; as spicy as I can get away with.

What’s your dream Sunday dinner?
You can’t beat a Sunday roast and while I can make a decent one myself, there is something about a roast that feels like it is reserved only for my mum or my mother-in-laws house – so comforting.

Who do you normally eat Sunday dinner with and where?
It might not always be a big roast dinner, but we try and get together with family and friends as often as we can. Some weeks with my family, other weeks over with the in-laws. After the last two years, I’ll never take these small moments of family joy for granted ever again.

Too tired to cook – what are you ordering from the takeaway?
Indian, probably something spicy with paneer or Italian — both pizza and pasta as I can never decide.

Heading for the cinema? What are you going to see?
Our nights at the cinema are few and far between at the minute, though I imagine I’ll be seeing a lot more Pixar and Disney in the coming years. I like anything with a really compelling plot, something that you can get lost in for a few hours – I think that’s part of the magic of cinema, and theater – you can get totally absorbed in a story, and come out feeling energized and refreshed .

Staying in… what TV/streaming/catch-up programs are on the menu?
Nothing better than a good box set. I was totally hooked on both Fleabag and Succession — two absolute master-classes in script writing.

What are you reading?
I have about 10 half-read books on the go at the moment, which again I am going to put down to being a new mummy. However, I am absolutely loving rereading books to Art. At the moment our favorite is, Oh The places you will go, by Dr Seuss. Art has already been on a lot of adventures in his short lifetime and we plan to keep it this way, so this book sums us up right now.

Bedtime is?
I try to be fairly strict about my bedtime routine, and try to avoid looking at screens, TV, phone etc. for at least an hour before sleep. If Art is settled, I’ll usually have a cuppa while leafing through a chapter or two of one of the many books I’ve got on the go, until my eyes start to close.

Lisa Duffy plays Mary in Before You Go, a new play from Kabosh, which got its first showing online during the pandemic. The production is set to tour across the country including a run at Lyric Theater until April 7. Before You Go, a play about the fragility of love, explores the themes of love, loss and living.

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