Stephen Flynn (36) is the co-founder, with David, his iden­ti­cal twin brother, of The Happy Pear health-food shop and restau­rant. He lives in Grey­stones, Co Wick­low, with his wife, Justyna, and their chil­dren — May (5) and three-year-old Theo

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - WAKING HOURS - In con­ver­sa­tion with Ciara Dwyer

Iget up at 5am. Gen­er­ally, the alarm will go off, but oc­ca­sion­ally I’ll wake up nat­u­rally. Nor­mally, there’s my wife, Justyna, in our bed and our son, Theo. He goes to bed in his own bed, but pretty much ev­ery night, he gets up and climbs into our bed. I love it. We got a big­ger bed last year just be­cause he kept com­ing into ours. As much as you want your sleep, it’s also lovely hav­ing him in our bed. We also have a daugh­ter, May. I’m al­ways the first one up.

I live in Grey­stones, just be­side our shop, The Happy Pear on Church Road. It’s a fruit-and-veg and health-food shop, and a restau­rant, which has been open since 2004. Gen­er­ally, I go down to see the sun­rise. I do it all year round, and this morn­ing, I even went swim­ming. I phoned David, who was up in the shop, and he joined me. He’s my twin brother. I work with him, and we started the busi­ness to­gether.

We were room-mates, and we’re iden­ti­cal twins. Peo­ple mix us up all the time, but that’s part of the game.

We spend so much time to­gether that we nearly func­tion as one. It’s very spe­cial. Ev­ery day, I’ll feel some­thing that is hap­pen­ing with David, and I’ll call him. Some­times, if I’m very tired and a lit­tle bit off, he’ ll no­tice and tell me to do some­thing for my­self. We were part of the UCD Twin Study done last year, and when they mea­sured us, we were the most iden­ti­cal; 99.9pc re­cur­ring iden­ti­cal. We are mir­ror twins, which means that the eggs sep­a­rated re­ally late. We un­der­stand each other with­out even talk­ing, so we don’t have to dis­cuss things. In terms of busi­ness, it’s a won­der­ful part­ner­ship. But one of our weak­nesses is that we’re not good at com­mu­ni­cat­ing things, as we as­sume that other peo­ple un­der­stand. Also, be­ing a twin, you’re highly com­pet­i­tive, be­cause you’ve been com­pet­ing for love from the day you were born.

Some days I’ll do yoga down by Ladies’ Cove. You feel stronger and more flex­i­ble, and it helps me fo­cus my mind. In sum­mer, the sun­rise is around 4am. There aren’t very many peo­ple around, so it feels very peace­ful, like your own time. In win­ter, I might run up the cliffs. Our sched­ules vary a lot, de­pend­ing on what we might be do­ing. But if I was at home, I might go up to the shop and do an hour’s work. I get a call when the kids wake up — which would be be­tween 6.30am and 8am — and then I’ll go across and have brekkie with them. It’s usu­ally por­ridge. Some­times I’ll bring the kids back to the shop, and we’ll make a su­per-smoothie, and I’ll leave Justyna in bed. She is Pol­ish, and she’s a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist. We speak Pol­ish at home. I had a few lessons, and then I just picked it up. I love lan­guages.

We started a busi­ness, but we wanted to use it as a ve­hi­cle for so­cial change. One Mon­day morn­ing, I walked into the lo­cal green­gro­cer shop, which was al­ready there, and asked if I could buy it. I didn’t have any money, but I had a dream. Peo­ple thought we were lu­natics. We wanted to cre­ate a hap­pier, health­ier world. It came out of my­self and David go­ing off on an in-search-of-truth jour­ney. As twins, you tend to rely on each other and do things to­gether, but we both de­cided to go away sep­a­rately. This was a big step for both of us. Ini­tially, it took a bit of read­just­ment.

Up un­til then, we had stud­ied com­merce. We went to an all-boys’ school and we were brought up on the stan­dard Ir­ish diet. We were meat­heads. We played a lot of rugby and loved get­ting drunk and chas­ing women. If you study busi­ness, you’re sold the Amer­i­can dream. Be a stock­bro­ker, make a load of money, and then you can do what you want, and you’ll be happy. But we fig­ured that there had to be more to life than this. I de­cided to go off trav­el­ling to find my place in the world and where I felt most com­fort­ably me.

Dur­ing that time, I be­came in­ter­ested in health, and I trans­formed my diet and life­style. David did the same. Both of us de­cided to be­come vege­tar­i­ans on the same day, even though we were in dif­fer­ent parts of the world and hadn’t been talk­ing to each other. We also gave up drink. Ini­tially, this was be­cause we were train­ing for a marathon. But we felt bet­ter, so we stayed off it. We learnt that you didn’t need al­co­hol as a so­cial lubri­cant. The big­gest break­through was real­is­ing that you didn’t have to be drunk to meet women. We were only 22 at the time, so the fo­cus was very much on the op­po­site sex.

When we came back, peo­ple looked at us with pity. We had gone to col­lege, and there was a lot of po­ten­tial, but then we be­came long-haired hip­pies, wear­ing bright-coloured clothes, driv­ing a lit­tle red van and sell­ing cab­bages. Even­tu­ally, peo­ple be­gan to un­der­stand what we were try­ing to do, and they sup­ported us. Now we em­ploy 100 peo­ple, and it’s re­ally rock­ing.

Our days vary. We’re in­volved in the Su­perValu Good Food Karma Project, which en­cour­ages Ir­ish peo­ple to cook more. We are highly cre­ative, so we could be try­ing out new recipes, such as tast­ing co­conut yo­ghurt which we’re fer­ment­ing. Our cook­book was a huge suc­cess, and now we have a new book out, which deals with our phi­los­o­phy. We talk about our kids and feed­ing kids healthy food. At the week­ends, I work be­hind the counter be­cause it gets so busy.

I might cook twice a week, and when I do, I let the kids par­tic­i­pate. If they are in­volved in the prepa­ra­tion of the food, they are more likely to eat it. Af­ter the kids go to bed, I might watch a movie, read a book or sit and talk to Justyna. I usu­ally go to bed around 10.30pm. My days are ac­tion-packed, so the minute I’m in bed, I fall asleep straight away.

The big­gest break­through was real­is­ing you didn’t have to be drunk to meet women. At 22, my fo­cus was on the op­po­site sex

The World of the Happy Pear, The Happy Pear is an am­bas­sador for Su­perValu’s Good Food Karma Project, a cam­paign which aims to get Ire­land cook­ing one more meal from scratch a week, to help build a health­ier, hap­pier na­tion. See the­hap­py­; su­

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