Published Monday, 03 September 2012
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For various reasons we didn't get a chance to sample any of Neven Maguire's dishes at his famous MacNean House Restaurant during the time we were filming at Blacklion.

That's a treat I'll look forward to on another occasion. The truth is we rarely have the time during the working day to sit in anywhere to have lunch and we're very often miles away from any eating houses anyway, so we're well accustomed to eating out of the back of the car. If you think that sounds a bit rough and ready then you're absolutely right, but we've grown to like it that way.

That's not to say it's not a highly organised and efficient affair. There's usually five of us in the production team and either Kevin or Patrick will have two jumbo flasks filled with hot water, begged from whatever hostelry we happen to be staying in that week, and one of them will also have gone to the local shop that morning to stock up on fresh rolls, ham, cheese, corned beef, mustard, Branston pickle, mayonnaise, salad cream (for Orlagh), biscuits, crisps, apples, oranges, and, occasionally,(if Orlagh has also gone to the shop), chocolate of some kind. Vinny, our camerman, brings his own fruit pastilles but he's very good at sharing them.

The first thing we try to do is find a quiet, lesser-spotted, country lane somewhere or a forest clearing or a riverbank or a lakeside, ideally with a picnic bench nearby. Even more ideally the sun will be shining and the birds singing and everybody will be in a good mood. More often than not though it's a filling station forecourt and it's raining.

Next I have to clear a space in the back of my car (it's one of those estate cars) and spread a picnic blanket (I kid you not) in order for Orlagh to make the rolls according to the various tastes of the crew members e.g. Billy our sound man doesn't like "stuff" on his ham whereas Kevin takes mustard, mayonnaise and Branston on his and I prefer to eat ham and cheese without a roll. Orlagh is usually attended by two people who have to hand her wipes, open things for her, swat wasps away, ensure people attend when their rolls are ready and congratulate her on yet another culinary triumph. She really does make very fine sandwich rolls.

Meanwhile Kevin or Patrick or I will have made the tea in hand-crafted polystyrene cups, again to the exact specifications laid down by each member of the party, e.g. Vinny takes sugar in tea but he prefers coffee anyway.

We then stand around and munch quietly for ten minutes, our minds filled with our own reflections.

Then spend the next twenty minutes or so promising ourselves that we'll go for lunch to Neven Maguire's someday.

Or somewhere like that.

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Joe Mahon
Joe Mahon

Joe Mahon is the presenter of UTV's long-running series Lesser Spotted Ulster.

He is a man who has seen more of the nooks and crannies of the Ulster countryside than anyone else.

His travels for the show have seen him cross land and sea finding the hidden histories of the local landscape.

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