Snakes alive

It's our idea of hell, but then again, we're not a 12-year-old-boy. But those who visit the 7UP Christmas on Ice at the RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 from 27 December . . . 15 January can experience the first Big Reptile Show, hosted by a latter day (and Irish) Crocodile Dundee, Dave Griffin.

Featuring over 100 live animals (including a 15-stone snake, dragon lizards, iguanas, tarantulas, scorpions and a young crocodile), many of which can be viewed up close and personal, there are facts and stats galore as well as, for the more girlie fainthearted, an array of rabbits, prairie dogs, parrots, chipmunks and other small mammals. The shows run every half hour from 11am during the week and from 10am weekends. Combine with a session on ice skates for a fully exhilarating holiday adventure. Tickets available through www.7upchristmasonice. ie, at the box office or by calling the Ice Line on 0818 717 200.

Pinky and perky

Right, so Santa doesn't always get it right, or occasionally stuff falls off his sleigh, so we should all feel perfectly entitled to treat ourselves to a little New Year's somethingf Let's face it, it's the last spending we'll be doing for a while once the credit card collapses from exhaustion. The new Motorola Razr V3 phone comes in glorious bubblegum pink. A limited edition favoured by girls like Paris Hilton (yes, it has a camera), it has electric blue backlighting on the number pad. And the clamshell design means there'll be no unintentional 'hand bag calls'.

Ultra slim (the only thing that is after Christmas), it is available exclusively from the Carphone Warehouse on the O2 network for 49 on contract and 249 speakasy.

Burn, baby, burn

Cloon Keen is a Galway-based company which does the sort of candles you buy in America . . . ones that smell of delicious things like apple pie, fresh linen, poached pear, sea surf and . . . an indigenous new classic . . . Irish soda bread . . .

each priced at 13.95. The soy wax candles come in sturdy tins, while the new glass-contained spa range includes contemporary fragrances like cassis and fig tree at 14.95 each. Lovely stuff and perfect for a fresh new atmosphere at home or in work. Available from Kilkenny stores or from the Cloon Keen Atlier on Kirwan's Lane, Galway.

Down on the pharm

Routine health checks are a bit like getting a pension or clearing out the press under the stairs . . . definitely on your 'to do' list, but you never seem to get around to actually doing it. However, it's much more clever and ultimately less time-consuming to do a little bit of preventative work in the form of health screenings. With this in mind, the McCabe's Pharmacy Group is introducing screening areas in all its stores around the country, and you can check cholesterol levels, glucose levels (for diabetes), iron levels, blood pressure, lung capacity and body mass index. The results are available within minutes and you can make your appointment over the phone or by just dropping in. So if you've promised yourself that 2006 will be the year of the new, fit and healthy you, this is a good place to start.

Doing the dog on it

When Mongrel magazine burst onto the scene two years ago, it raised the bar for freesheets to the nth degree. As its name suggests, it's a slick mix of photography, fashion, reviews, opinions, politics, polemics, opinion and reviews. Reassuringly, it's not a mag to say what it thinks and its subject matter is generally good food for thought . . . check out the excellent photo essay on Mountjoy Prison in the current issue. You can pick up your free copy in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford, Kilkenny, Wexford, Carlow, Limerick, Sligo, and Belfast. But if you live further afield, or are just not a 'right place right time' sort of person, you'll be pleased to hear that it's now online.

While it's not there in its entirety, you'll still get a good feel for the mag and its biting editorial. Go visit on your first day back at the desk. www. mongrel. ie


Before you decide to give up sweets and chocolate and all things lovely for the new year, it might be worth paying a trip to Harvey Nichols food hall and stocking up on their range of skinny candy.

These treat-size packs of white/milk chocolate pralines, cola bottles, chocolate beans (smarties in a different guise) and gummy bears come with no added sugar and thus, if bending the rules slightly, still permissible on the diet sheets of sweet lovers who just can't resist.

Delicious and, as far as we can work out so far, without laxative effect.

Clean and serene

Such is the level of self-indulgence over the holiday period that you start to think eating brandy butter with a spoon, directly from the jar, is perfectly acceptable. It's not and neither is consuming your weight in Quality Street, but this is no time to dwell on your acts of gluttony. Instead, draw a line under it and book yourself a yoga and detox weekend at the Burren Yoga Centre, where Dave Brocklebank and Miriam Gormally help you cleanse body and mind. The yoga is gentle and you'll learn about the benefits of juicing and how scrumptious good vegetarian food can be. At worst, you can expect a caffeine withdrawal headache but the healthy living combined with the restorative powers of the Burren air will put some bounce back in your step.

Detox and Yoga Weekend, 27-29 January.

www. burrenyoga. com.

Sleeping beauty

So, you've had enough of the glitter, of the fake tan and the smoky eyesf time for a new make-up look. And while we may not be ready for the first flush of springtime, it's good to know there's an alternative. First on the shelves with a new make-up palette is Stila who present an ultra pretty Sleeping Beauty palette in aid of the English National Ballet and to coincide with their production of the same ballet from 5 January. As always, the packaging is heavenly, with an illustrated princess snoozing along the magneticclipped cover. Open up and there's three pink/cream/brown eye shades . . . from shimmery to dusky . . . and a lovely pink blush to bring the apples of the cheeks alive.

Priced at 32, it's a collectable gem that's limited in edition and ever so flattering to wear.