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An Irish Education

October 6th, 2014

Herself: I need an uillinntomhas.
Me: A what?
Herself: You know for measuring angles.
Me: A protractor?
Her: What?
Me: It’s the English for uillinntomhas, I think. Uillinn is an angle isn’t it?
Her: Yes.
Me: What’s tomhas.
Her: Guess.
Me: I can’t.
Her: No, guess.
Me: Really, I haven’t a clue.
Her: No, tomhas means guess.

Bonus information: Uillinn also means elbow, now you know why uilleann pipes are so called. Would you prefer if I stopped now?

Not Preaching in the Temple

October 5th, 2014

One Sunday, I was running a bit late and as I was washing my teeth in the bathroom, I heard Mr. Waffle and the children depart for mass. I scooted out after them a couple of minutes later and ran into a neighbour who assured me they had only just gone around the corner. Be that as it may, they reached the church before me and as I slid into the pew, I noticed that Herself was already up with the choir at the front and Michael was sitting beside his father. “Where’s Daniel?” I asked. “Isn’t he with you?” “No.” Cue much concern. His father sprinted back to the house to find him placidly reading his book on his bed and utterly ignorant of the fact that he had been home alone, though quite briefly. It’s very easy to lose count is all I will say in our defence.

Surely Some Mistake

October 4th, 2014

Her: Was Shaquille O’Neill president of France?
Me: Jacques Chirac?

Single Parenting

October 3rd, 2014

Last week I went to Florence for work (not at all the kind of place I normally go to for work). Saturday was the boys’ birthday. This meant that on Friday afternoon, I was in my conference in the Palazzo Vecchio admiring the beautiful ceiling in the Sala dei Cinquecento and on Saturday, I was in an indoor play centre with a dozen small children who were playing quasar with great enthusiasm. The play centre was horribly loud and deeply unpleasant (though, happily, loved by the children). It featured a pizza joint called Dante’s. Please insert your own joke here bearing in mind the Florentine angle. I’ve given you a lot to work with.

Florence was very beautiful though neck deep in tourists. The Florentines must be sick of us. I spent a month in Florence in 1988 but retained almost no memory of my time there. I certainly don’t remember it being so lovely. Nor do I remember the Florentines all pronouncing their Cs as Hs which they famously do. My favourite example of this was my taxi driver answering his phone saying, “Hlaudio, home stai?” In the late 80s and early 90s I spent a lot of time in Italy and one thing that has really changed (aside from the fact that I am now signora to everyone) is the number of people on bicycles. Florence is full of people sailing around on their bicycles and weaving through pedestrians while looking very elegant. There was no evidence of lycra but plenty of normal cycling to get from a to b. I was very taken with it.

Have some photos.

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While I was off gallivanting, Mr. Waffle kept the home fires burning. Then, this week, Mr. Waffle was in Helsinki (the Waffles, we cover the continent – I might point out that my brother in law and his wife were in the South of France at the weekend and my sister-in-law and her husband were in South Carolina for the week – the extended family has essentially caused many of the polar ice cap issues).

This week was a bit tough on the boys. We visited a possible secondary school for Herself on Wednesday night and they tagged along and read their books, then on Thursday night they tagged along to choir with her. They were mildly bitter but broadly very patient and well behaved. I am kind of flattened from the sandwich making and logistics. Also, humiliatingly, on Wednesday night I got scared by a Skulduggery Pleasant short story and had to spend an hour reading Georgette Heyer before I could finally go to sleep alone in the dark about 1.30 am. Look, don’t mock the afflicted. All in all, I am very relieved to have my loving husband restored to me.

Single parents are amazing.


October 2nd, 2014

Me: I am sure you will be taller than me some day.
Daniel: You aren’t very tall, is it because you’ve reached the age where you start shrinking?

More Culture

October 1st, 2014

I went to see “Our Few and Evil Days” in the Abbey Theatre. I had seen one of Mark O’Rowe’s plays before so even without the title I knew it was likely to be a bit grim. It was a bit grim. It featured famous people in an Irish context. The acting was largely good though some of the accents needed a little work. I thought that the play itself was a bit incoherent. The second act was better than the first but the character who triggered the action in the second act and was the hero of the first was a bit unnecessary. I could tell you what happened to the brother, but then I’d have to kill you.

I am tiring of the arts.

Holiday Continued

September 29th, 2014

Let me take you back to August. So we got off the ferry, back in Ireland and we were going directly to Kerry without passing through Dublin for fear of mutiny by the troops if we got home and then turned around the next day and drove straight to Kerry.

We had an unscheduled stop in Dungarvan when we got a flat tyre. As it could have happened while racing for the ferry in France in torrential rain the previous day, we felt that a flat tyre in Dungarvan had much to recommend it. After lunch we pushed on to Cork where we stayed overnight with my loving family.

For complex reasons we had a spare Cork parking disk which we didn’t need and as Mr. Waffle was going into the house he saw these French people with a Finistère registered car trying to work out the parking regime in Cork. Feeling warmly towards the people of Finistère he went up to them and in impeccable French offered them the parking disk. Were they surprised by a) his French or b) his kindness to strangers? Did they engage in general conversation which allowed him to remark we had just returned from our holiday in Finistère? Didn’t I tell you they were French? I do love the sang froid of the French.

17 August

Our first full day in Kerry was a Sunday so began with a trip to mass which the troops greeted with their customary enthusiasm. We were staying in Dingle in ludicrously enormous holiday houses outside the town. The cousins, grandparents and aunts and uncles were staying across the road from us and there was a swing and a green area between the houses which the children played in happily.

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We went to the beach in the afternoon but didn’t swim as the place was alive with jellyfish. Global warming apparently. The children were delighted to play in the sand with their cousins so all was well.

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That night the parents of the children went out together. My sister-in-law and her husband from exotic London took all the children to the fair. Madness, but we were very grateful, as were the children.

18 August

We had a mild climb up Clogher Head and looked at the beautiful view. For his own obscure reasons, an Italian man was sitting at the top playing a flute so that was nice, if a little odd.


We had a lovely lunch in Ballydavid; a further swim with a jellyfish and a visit to Dingle’s excellent library. For the price of €2, you can get a temporary membership and borrow from your holiday address. Is that not wonderful?

19 August

My sister-in-law took her husband to the airport. This was not entirely without difficulty as, despite being over 30 and having lived in London for 13 years and looked after herself perfectly well, she is a youngest child and is therefore assumed by her parents to be incapable of the mildest adventure. I was startled when my mother-in-law asked me whether I thought my sister-in-law would be alright on the shortish drive to the regional airport. I felt she would. Apparently an offer by her mother to sit in the back seat to ensure that she was safe had been vigorously rebuffed by my sister-in-law. Youngest children also have their crosses to bear.

The Princess, her young cousins and her uncle and aunt climbed Mount Brandon. The boys, Mr Waffle and I baled out somewhat less than half way up. There were still great views.


Including, impressively, of my brother-in-law running up the mountain ahead of us.


Back at ground level we forced the boys to speak Irish in a local shop. It passed off peacefully.

20 August

We had a lovely dinner out leaving the children to the tender mercies of a teenage babysitter. She seemed fine on our return despite minding five young children. This was the last night for both sisters-in-law before they went off to London, so nearly at the end, alas.

21 August

The girls went for a trip to the acquarium with their London aunt before she left for the bright lights. A certain gloom overtook the party on the departure of the aunts. We all went on a very damp cliff walk.


There is nothing like Kerry in the rain. The children were cheered by a further trip to the funfair with a view later.

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22 August

This was our last full day in Kerry and the weather was amazing. We spent all day at the beach in Ballydavid and had a beautiful lunch in the nearby pub. It was a lovely, lovely day and, handily enough, obliterated the rain soaked memory of the day before.

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23 August

The end of the holidays; a long drive and finally we were home.

Last picture of Kerry from the road home:


So, excellent, I have finished my account of the summer holidays before the beginning of October, do you enjoy the immediacy of this blog?

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