Polly Garnett: I moved from France to Belfast – by bike

1 Up and down – what’s your morning routine?

My routine is simple – never go without your morning coffee.

2 What can you eat on a typical workday…

Breakfast? I love having toast for breakfast and I love mixing my sauces – my new favorite is tahini with honey.

Lunch? I really enjoy a bagel sandwich for lunch, followed by an orange and a banana.

Dinner? I used to be a chef at ski chalets in the French Alps, so I see cooking as a way to be creative and have fun. I usually make macaroni or soup in the winter – currently roasted parsnip soup.

3 Is nutrition important to you – do you take health supplements?

Yes, nutrition is important to me and I try to eat lots of fruit and vegetables – it’s easy because I’m a vegetarian and all my meals basically consist of vegetables cooked in different ways. I don’t take supplements but try to be aware of how my body is feeling.

4 Have you ever dieted – so how did it go?

Growing up in a vegetarian household, I was aware that my family ate a little differently than others. I loved animals and found the ethical side of being a vegetarian to make sense. It also made me realize how my actions could affect others. I’m trying to eat what’s right for me.

5 Weekend treat?

It would be a pleasure for me to bike to a cafe with a friend and have a nice coffee. Anything left by bakery Bread and Banjo on Ormeau Road would have been a bonus if I didn’t get there too late. We also do sourdough pizza once a week, which is still an emerging curfew trend.

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6 How do you stay physically and mentally fit?

As an active travel officer at Sustrans, I enjoy walking and cycling in Belfast. I also do yoga and I’m lucky to live next to a forest, so I always try to fit in with a short walk there. Access to nature and the outdoors plays an important role in my overall happiness.

Top tip for 7 Days of fitness?

I’ve biked to work almost every day for the past two years, but if I want to take the bus, it’s not the end of the world. I can always try cycling again the next day – the best way to maintain a fitness goal is to be realistic and achievable in your routine.

8 Were you a fan of school sports/physical education or do you have a memory from those days that you prefer to forget?

I was definitely not a fan… I was an art nerd. Other than swimming, I didn’t like the competition and pressure in PE. I tried hiking until I was 18 and fell in love with the outdoors. I’m a little more knowledgeable now and trying to avoid hiking in tight jeans – not a good choice for my first walk to Slieve Donard.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

I’m not a big drinker, but I enjoy Guinness once in a while.

10 Stairs or elevator?

Stairs all the way.

11 Which book are you currently reading?

I just finished Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and am now rereading Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing with Feathers. I enjoy any book that will help me better understand someone else’s experience.

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Top 12 Netflix?

The best show I’ve watched lately but not on Netflix is ​​The Dropout on Hulu. It tells the story of Elizabeth Holmes, a biotech entrepreneur who was recently convicted of fraud.

13 The most surprising thing you learned about yourself during the pandemic?

The pandemic has shown me that I am not afraid to undertake change. I moved from France to Belfast by bike. My boyfriend and I spent three months traveling around Europe despite having no experience or plans.

14 Any new skills or hobbies?

I tried my luck at physical theater a few weeks ago.

15 How do you relax?

I do yoga, read or draw. If it’s a nice day, I’ll ride my bike around the forest and the Lagan towpath.

16 What are your goals for 2023?

I would love to see the Cathedral Gardens Active Travel Center explore how local workers, along with students and staff from the university, can walk, cycle, or cycle more in their daily lives. I would also like to do more bike tours. I did the North Coast and the west coast of Ireland. I like to go leisurely with my bike to a campground and set up camp – just to take it all back the next day and bike to my next destination.

17 What time do you go to bed and do you think you are getting enough sleep?

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I’m in bed at 23:00; I like a good night’s sleep, so I always try to get at least eight hours of sleep.

18 Biggest complaint or regret?

Honestly, I don’t have any regrets, maybe because I’m 26 and haven’t lived long. Sometimes I wish I had concentrated more on my Spanish at school. I grew up in France and I love being bilingual, but I also want to speak Spanish.

19 Have your priorities or perspectives in life changed?

My priorities have changed quite a bit over the past few years. I used to be very career-oriented, but after spending every minute outside of work skiing and working seasonally for a few years in France, where I spend it in the mountains, I gave up that pressure. I am now lucky to be able to combine my love of the outdoors with my work as an active travel officer for Sustrans – it’s the best of both worlds.

20 Has the coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

The coronavirus has made me value my health and body more and be grateful for where I live and the people around me. I am very happy to have a new city that I can call ‘home’.

:: Polly Garnett’s last group event of the year will be a led march that leaves the Cathedral Gardens Active Travel Center at 12:00 on Monday, 19 December and returns at 13:00. To book a spot or learn about upcoming events in the new year, follow SustransNI on Eventbrite or on Twitter or Facebook @SustransNI


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