20 Questions: Michael English on limescale in the water and skipping a Gordon Ramsay dessert

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: 39-year-old country star Michael English, who launches his Irish tour tomorrow at The Ulster Hall, Belfast

Country star Michael English kicks off his new tour at the Ulster Hall in Belfast on Thursday October 11
Gail Bell

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

As soon as I wake up, I check emails on my phone for a few minutes. I don’t reply to them; I just want to know if anything is urgent. Then I get up and drink a pint of water. I used to drink water from the tap, but after ruining three irons recently with the amount of limescale in the water system, I now drink from a bottle of water. I wouldn’t eat anything for around half an hour, then I have breakfast. If I’m not touring and have the day off at home, I might go for a ride on my bike or have a swim.


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

Breakfast: Fruit, poached egg and brown bread toasted.

Lunch: If I’m at home, I have a salad, but if I am performing later that evening, I have a dinner at lunchtime, then don't eat for the rest of the day.

Evening meal: I try to eat healthy meals and I enjoy fresh fish, potatoes and vegetables. Last night I made a spaghetti bolognese. I do enjoy cooking when I’m at home but that’s a rare treat. If I’m dining out socially with friends, I love to eat Indian and Thai food – something that’s not easy to rustle up at home.


3: Is nutrition important to you?

Very much so and I’m a firm believer that you are what you eat. If I eat healthily, I work better and have more energy. I do a lot of driving and I feel less tired if I’ve eaten healthily that particular day.


4: Best meal ever?

When I was working in London my friend took me to Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant in Claridge's where I had, without a doubt, my favourite meal to date. I had pork belly for starters and a beef dish for mains. I didn’t have dessert – it’s not that I was watching my weight, it’s just that I just don’t have a sweet tooth. I’d definitely go back to this restaurant as it was so good.


5: Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Sometimes, the very rare time, I would stop off for a takeaway on the way home from a gig and order a chicken burger and chips.


Country star Michael English kicks off his new tour at the Ulster Hall in Belfast on Thursday October 11


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

I’ve never been on a diet to lose weight. I did have high cholesterol levels at one stage. I was 5.5 and was supposed to be under five, so I made a conscious effort to read the nutritional content on packaging in the supermarket until my cholesterol level went down.


7: Do you take health supplements?



8: How do you relax?

I enjoy reading and read every day, even when I’m in the car – though, obviously when I’m not driving! Even when I get home really late from a gig, around 6am, I would still read a chapter as it helps me to switch off and go to sleep.


9: Teetotal or tipple?

I enjoy a pint of Guinness once or twice a week.


10: Stairs or lift?

I always try to take the stairs, especially if I’ve been driving for a few hours and arrive at a hotel as it helps to stretch my legs.


11: Do you have a daily exercise regime?

If I’m not on the road, I try to swim or cycle. Unfortunately, I can’t have any set routine as I’m touring a lot, but when I’m home, I definitely do exercise every day as it helps to clear my mind and it’s great to get a bit of fresh air when out on the bike.


Co Kildare native Michael English now lives in Portlaoise


12: Best tip for everyday fitness?

A little bit and often – like eating meals. I don’t believe in binge-exercising.


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

I’d like to be a 10, but I’d say I’m a seven at the minute.


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

I haven’t, as yet, tried any but I wouldn’t rule it out if I needed it.


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

I loved school sports as it was escapism from studies and it was always great craic kicking a ball around the school yard.


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

When I was young I had asthma and my doctor recommended swimming, so I swam every single day – except for Christmas Day – for years, until my asthma was cured. This meant getting up early every morning and having a swim at 7am before school.


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

Eat healthy and drink loads of water. You are what you eat.


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

I’m not into fitness programmes but being a Kildare man, horse riding is extremely popular and I admire the passion and dedication of the jockeys who are on a strict regime trying to maintain their eight stone weight.


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

I don’t have a ‘normal’ bedtime routine as I’m touring all over the country but even if I don’t get to bed until four or five in the morning, I always ensure that I get seven hours' sleep.


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

I believe in God and have a strong faith. I say a prayer whenever it comes into my head – for example, if someone I knew was sick. I keep rosary beads with me in the car too, but I wouldn’t say I’m overly religious.


:: Michael English will be performing with Brendan Shine at The Ulster Hall, Belfast, tomorrow night ( and at the Millennium Forum, Derry, next Wednesday, October 17 (

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