Right, so things didn't quite go as planned and that diet hasn't really got off to the best start ever. And baby, it's cold outside. For most, the great 'I'm-going-tolose-weight-and-become-my-physical- godly-(or goddessly) self ' intentions fall by the wayside far too quickly once the misery of January kicks in. Well, say hello to the Elbow Room's new year Bootcamp . . . three days of (and we're quoting) "pure punishment and pure reward" for those in need of a kick start to fitness. Devised by yoga teacher Lisa Wilkinson, and based on a Californian programme, it's a three-day residential camp in Kippure Manor Estate, Co Wicklow. Each day involves three hours of yoga, a three-hour hike, an hour each of Pilates and resistance training, a circuit of the grounds, meditation and under 1,000 calories of nutritious organic, detox-orientated food. Taking place on 10-13 February and costing 480, there's no excuse . . . you've plenty of time to book. Contact Lisa on 01 677 9859 or email info@the-elbowroom. com

That's the Spirit!

In 1886, Piotr Arseeevich Smirnoff became the purveyor of vodka to the Russian Imperial Court, and 120 years later, we are still toasting the Tsar's excellent taste. But for those who haven't quite had their fill of the clear spirit over Christmas, there are other things to do with that precious liquor. Check out John Rose's Vodka Cookbook (but possibly not on a Sunday morning) for inspired culinary creations, including a rather gourmet lobster steamed in vodka with vodka tarragon dipping sauce, or cast aside that vodka jelly for a far more devilish vodka chocolate icebox pie. The book also includes vodka preserves, infusions (hey, Skittles or Mars Bar vodka's for wimps) and, of course, some fabulous cocktails. Well worth adding to the cookery book collection, only we'll bet this one will see some service!

Cruise Control

Ocean Village is the cruise company which specialises in Mediterranean and Caribbean cruises for "people who don't do cruises" that means, all their holidays are targeted at the 3050-year-old age group who want, basically, less of the bingo and ballroom dining and more of the relaxed dining and more contemporary pleasures.

Its ships have plenty of bars and restaurants, the menus are created by TV chef James Martin and . . . here's the difference . . . you can eat whenever you want. Plus, there's plenty of on-board entertainment (beyond deck quoits), an on-board cinema and extensive spa facilities. Perhaps it's time you reconsidered The Love Boat. Check www. oceanvillageholidays. co. uk for options.

Pretty amazing

If you're already thinking of Valentine's Day, or happen to be a gent in need of earning major brownie points, The City Inn Hotel, a contemporary 4-star establishement in the City of London, has just the package. Stg£995 buys you 24-hours of utter bliss for any girl who's every stared longingly at Pretty Woman. The hotel is offering a night in the Thames Suite with long-stem red roses, Rococo chocolates and pink champagne on ice awaiting arrival. During the afternoon, there's the services of a stylist on hand, who will come to the hotel with suggested outfits, plus a stg£250 voucher to spend at Jimmy Choo (with chauffeur to Bond Street to aid the process).

After dinner, the car is back to bring you both to the Royal Opera House to enjoy a performance of Giselle, seated in a Grand Tier box. Form an orderly queue folks, and call 00 44 207 630 1000.

That'll do, pig

When the majority of people encounter a Nigella Lawson salt pig, they perceive it to be an unnecessary marketing gimmick. But it's incredible how quickly it becomes an essential in the kitchen and a staple on the table. For starters, these seasalt holders are very pretty (and oh-soNigella), but it also means you tend to be more judicious in your salt usage and it's very handy when a recipe calls for liberal use of seasoning.

Devotees might have thought that perfection couldn't be improved upon but she's only gone and done it with the creation of the salt and pepper piglets. Better suited to the dining table than the mother pig, as Nigella says, they offer "charm and serviceability . . . what more do you want?"

Available from Brown Thomas stores for 23.

Berry Good

You may not think of blueberries as being indigenous to Ireland, but far from being a recent American import, picking the fruit was an important part of the ancient Lughnasa celebration, marking the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.

Today, 70% of Irish blueberries come from a 20-acre plantation in Portarlington, Co Offaly. John and Belinda Seager have been tending crops here for the past 25 years and have long been converts to blueberries' health giving properties . . . they're a rich source of fibre, calcium, Vitamins A and C and can help to strengthen eyesight and reduce cholesterol. They're also divine sprinkled on porridge, baked in pies or as an accompaniment to duck. If you can wait until August, you can go pick your own at Derryvilla but in the meantime, pick up some of their refreshing blueberry tonic, tangy relish or preserves from farmers' markets and selected delis around the country. For more information, check out

Just do it!

Making resolutions isn't all about writing wish lists on pieces of paper; it also involves a certain amount of followthrough. And sometimes we need a few skills and pointers as to how to give up smoking, declutter our space or devise a fitness programme that'll deliver results and keep us motivated. That's why we're loving the Teach Yourself guides, published by Hodder Education and available in just about every good book store. Each tome gives you tips, advice, practical solutions, workbook-style target sheets and things to fill in. All the information is practical and, if followed, will help you achieve your goals. Worth a shot because at worst, the clutter book will only add to the pile of junk to deal with 'some other time'.


Place: Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre, January 2 2006. Occasion: first sighting of a new season Creme Egg.

Ladies and gentlemen, Christmas is well and truly over. There are few chocolate treats more welcome or more indulgent than a Creme Egg, so their arrival back on the shelves is truly something to be celebrated. And that's eggs-actly (ho ho) what Cadbury's are proposing to do as they set their cute Creme Egg-shaped eggmobile wobbling off on a nationwide tour, distributing free Creme Eggs to worthy causes. Who cares how we eat them, as long as there's a never ending supplyf