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“Not free merely, but Gaelic”

May 27th, 2018

In pursuit of further Irish excellence, the boys went to the Donegal Gaeltacht for three days from Monday to Wednesday with the school. I was a bit worried that they might not have enjoyed it but it all went swimmingly. There were lots of pictures on the school’s facebook page apparently but since I have deleted facebook, I will never know. I’m sorry I will miss the one of Michael on the beach, coat on and hood up standing beside his classmate in her togs.

Apparently they had a disco one night. I asked Daniel whether they got dressed up. He said, “The girls all wore make up and had their hair done and the boys all wore tracksuits; in fact, I wondered whether I was overdressed in my jeans.” Who would be a teenage girl?

Weekends Rounded Up

May 26th, 2018

The bank holiday weekend is a while ago now but I know you are keenly awaiting an update from me. Oh yes you are. Saturday was unremarkable but on Sunday, which was a beautiful, beautiful day, my poor sons spent the day in the art house cinema judging the young audience award for three films (one Finnish, one Italian and one French-Senegalese co-production – all a bit worthy, I think). Herself had plans with friends so Mr. Waffle and I daringly went out for a walk for the day in the Wicklow hills. The weather was really beautiful and we got a little bit burnt but it was delightful. The thrill. If 15 year old me knew that I was describing a walk as a thrill, she would be utterly appalled.

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On Monday, we went out to visit Mr. Waffle’s parents leaving herself at home to study for the Junior certificate (state exams at 15 – a taste of the fear that is to come in 3 years when she sits her final school exams). Later that afternoon, Mr. Waffle and I went up to Glasnevin cemetery to investigate the newly reopened Daniel O’Connell round tower. It’s only just reopened and currently only open from 1-3, given that it was 4.45 that was quite annoying.

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However, we had a soothing middle aged walk around the cemetery and the botanic gardens followed by a cup of tea so not too bad. They have tea rooms in the cemetery but I feel there is something a little disturbing about that so tea elsewhere. We had a pleasant evening in the garden where the boys managed to lose 4 tennis balls to various neighbouring gardens and one landed in the middle of the dinner table (to clarify, outside). I am a martyr to my sons’ entertainment.

The weekend before last, Mr. Waffle and I again went off together and visited Charleville House – we offered to bring the children with us but it was an offer that they were resolute in declining. It’s a big house in Co. Wicklow that is owned by a property developer and opened up to the public at various times of the year for tax break reasons. I wasn’t hoping for great things but it was actually very enjoyable. Firstly, we had the place to ourselves which is always good. We explored the grounds in a mild way. I have reached the age where I find grounds delightful. Four rooms in the house are open to visitors: the hall, the dining room, the music room and a drawing room. There is a really lovely collection of art and furniture. We had the ministrations of two guides entirely to ourselves and could ask questions and look at things for as long as we liked (honestly, the tax break must be terrific because there is no way that this enterprise is turning a profit based on the visitor to guide ratio). I particularly liked a John Lavery picture of the neighbouring Viscountess who was an interesting character in her own right. Highly recommended. I couldn’t face asking to take pictures indoors but here are some pictures of the grounds. Well worth a visit.

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Also, I bought, second hand fire irons. I have been spending my evenings since floating in a cloud of brasso fumes. Idiotically, failed to notice on purchase that bargain basement price may have been due to the fact that there was no shovel. Alas. Photo of work in progress.

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Also that weekend, I has my first spice bag. I think that this is a Dublin only delicacy. It’s chips and chicken strips in batter mixed with spices and chillies. I found it quite spicy myself but I was glad to have sampled the cultural phenomenon. Daniel made a spice bag in home economics on Monday so it is clearly part of the mainstream here. Are people outside Dublin aware of this particular thing or is it, like the deep fried Mars Bar, a delicacy only available in a particular jurisdiction?

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On Sunday I made the boys and Mr. Waffle go for a cycle along the sea front which was moderately successful. As an incentive measure, we had chips from Beshoff’s at the end of our cycle ride and before heading back. Take away chips on Friday and Sunday: truly exceptional parenting.

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Last weekend I went to a work dinner in Kerry on Friday night, took the train to Cork on Saturday morning and came back to Dublin on Saturday night. I wouldn’t exactly recommend it. Although, I must say, the view from my hotel bedroom in Killarney was lovely.

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I did get to go for a lovely lunch with my sister in this convent in Cork which has been repurposed as the Nano* Nagle centre and the UCC school of architecture.

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On Sunday, I forced everyone to walk from Bray to Greystones along the coast. Suffice it to say that it was not a success and all the children were quite cross with me, though no one was quite as cross as Michael who pointed out that it was yet another failed outing on my part and then asked when was I ever going to stop. A low point was finding out that the Dart wasn’t running and we were going to have to get a bus back from Greystones to where our car was parked in Bray. In my defence, I would say that the rain held off for much of the walk.

Actual enthusiastic little faces filled with joy:
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*Real name Hanora. My own granny was called Hanora but I can really see why it’s gone out of fashion and nickname versions were so popular. Granny was always known as Nina. If your name is Hanora, I’m sorry. Not as bad as Tanora (popular fizzy drink in Cork, not normally a girl’s name but I saw one year in the Holly Bough that a grief stricken Cork exile had gone for that for his daughter).

Tulips

May 15th, 2018

The Dutch Mama gave us tulips from Schipol airport when she came to stay with us a couple of months ago. I planted them which, frankly, is where I often fall down in reaping the rewards of botanical presents. They blossomed for a couple of weeks in April/May and I sat on the front steps almost every evening looking at them. And they should be back next year. Hurrah for middle age. This picture goes a little way towards conveying the delightfulness of my tulip crop.

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This is the Maiden

May 14th, 2018

Me – Looking into the distance thinking about nothing in particular.
Michael: Are you sad, Mama?
Me (snapping out of it): No not at all, why?
Him: It’s just your neutral face looks forlorn. [Yes, forlorn, that is the exact word he used].

Me – Celebrating summer by wearing new shorts.
Daniel (definitely most fashion conscious child): Mum, what are you wearing?
Me (nervously): Just new shorts, do you like them?
Him (kindly): It’s just that I’m not used to seeing your knees.

Machiavellian

May 13th, 2018

Michael is reading “The Prince”. He says that he isn’t really learning anything he doesn’t know already but it’s nice to have it set out so succinctly.

His sister sang solo in a Dublin archdiocesan choral extravaganza (very proud) and we all went along to hear her perform. Michael appears not to have been entirely spellbound, I saw he brought Machiavelli for company. Why would he be listening to choral music when he could be learning how to run a renaissance kingdom? He’s already given me some very good advice on mercenaries (bad) and allies (should be smaller and weaker so that they have to be really organised to gang up and defeat you).

You know, his teacher in third class said to me, “Michael will do amazing things.” “Amazingly good or amazingly bad?” I asked. “That remains to be seen,” said the teacher.

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Handy

May 1st, 2018

Michael is doing woodwork at school. I didn’t think that he would like it but he does. They made a wooden plane and it is very impressive. He says it would be better if he hadn’t had to use wood glue and the pieces fitted perfectly but it looks pretty good to me.

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Everything’s A Competition

April 30th, 2018

Former colleague: Can you get out for drinks on Friday night?
Me: No, sorry, I’m going to French karaoke at the Alliance with Mr. Waffle and the kids.
Him: You win being middle-class.

It was quite good actually. We sang a song (La Mer– it sounded exactly like it does in the video at the link) and if herself hadn’t been ill with a cold and Michael hadn’t spent the evening with his fingers in his ears and his head on the table, I think we could have ranked it among our successes.


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