Life

It's hard to beat a mug of coffee and some fruit loaf on top of one of the Mournes

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Peter Rafferty, founder and director of the Walk the Mournes website, who will be a tour guide during the three-day Mourne International Walking Festival (June 22-24)

Mountain leader Peter Rafferty who is promoting this month's Mourne International Walking Festival

1. Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

My alarm goes off at 6.15am every day. I hit the snooze button for five minutes – every day – then it's up to get shaved before heading downstairs to get the kettle on and catch the 6.30am news on BBC Radio 2 with a cuppa in my hand.

2. What might you eat in a typical working day for...

Breakfast? When I'm leading groups in the mountains for Walkthemournes.com, breakfast is usually porridge with some added flax, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, with a good dollop of honey for fantastic natural energy. If I'm not out in the Mournes, I might have some toast with Marmite and red onion – don't knock it until you've tried it. Oh, and a mug of tea.

Lunch? Lunch is usually a sandwich, like a ciabatta roll with cheese or some fruit loaf with jam – great fuel for the mountains.

Evening meal? My wife Siobhan is a fantastic cook and usually prepares a beautiful meal which we eat together with our three children. But if I'm cooking, its usually just chicken in a wrap.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, I try to eat a varied diet and I watch my salt intake. A few years ago I stopped taking sugar in tea and coffee too.

4. Best meal ever?

I'm spoilt with lovely meals at home every week and just couldn't pick the best one. That being said, it's hard to beat a mug of black coffee and some fruit loaf on the top of one of the Mourne mountain peaks. I have no doubt walkers during the festival this month will feel the same.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

I'm a sucker for a bar of milk chocolate.

6. Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

I think I'm probably on a diet all the time and, like most people, I must keep reminding myself to keep off the fast food, crisps and all the other lovely things that are there to tempt us.

7. Do you take health supplements?

Yes – I take glucosamine sulphate tablets and cod liver oil capsules. Given the nature of my work and the fact I spend most of my time on the mountains, I find they help keep my knees in good working order.

8. How do you relax?

I like to read, usually material relating to the mountain environment, such as guides on wild flowers or geology. As a guide, it is vital to be knowledgeable on a broad range of subject matter.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

I've been known to partake of a glass of red wine on occasion, but purely for medicinal purposes…

10. Stairs or lift?

It totally depends; if I've had a long day leading a group for Walkthemournes, it's the lift every time.

11. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

Basically, the only exercise I do is walking and hiking the mountains. I always have great intentions about doing some weight training but after carrying a 10kg rucksack about, enough is enough.

12. Best tip for everyday fitness?

I find the step apps that are on most mobile phones are brilliant and a great way to keep you motivated. When I'm not out on the mountains, I try to ensure that I clock up at least 10,000 steps a day, but over the course of the festival weekend, I could easily treble that on each of the three days.

13. On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?

Honestly, I might make a five, but like most people I would love to be a 10.

14. Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

I’ve tried acupuncture and found it to be effective. I have also had a very limited experience with mindfulness, but this is something I would like to do more of, especially given the mindfulness properties of the mountains and hillwalking as a pastime.

15. Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

Why did you bring this up?! It's taken me 40 years to get over it…

16. Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

Yes, I was a smoker until about 15 years ago. One day I had to run upstairs at work to answer the phone and I was so out of breath that when I got there, I couldn’t speak to the caller. That was when I realised I had to quit – it was hell for two years but I wouldn’t be enjoying the mountains today if I hadn't.

17. Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

I like so-called inspirational quotes and one of my favourites is, ‘Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right’.

18. Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?

I have taken lots of people from the ages of 65 to 80 out on the mountains and have really admired their positive attitude to life. It’s great to see how busy they keep themselves and how positively this impacts on them, their lives and those around them.

19. What time do you normally get to bed, and do you get enough sleep?

I usually go to bed between 12.30am and 1am and about 30 seconds after my head touches the pillow, I’m asleep. I must get enough sleep or I would be nodding off during the day.

20. Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

It's the only thing I'm sure of.

:: For more information on the Mourne International Walking Festival, visit visitmournemountains.co.uk To register for any or all of the three days, search 'Mourne Walking Festival’ on eventbrite.co.uk. Tickets are also available via Eventbrite for special social event the Life & Sole Swing on Saturday June 23.

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