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The Garden of Ireland

February 20th, 2017

It wasn’t possible to have a week in Kerry with the extended family last year so many months ago, we thought that we might try for a more modest overnight break near Dublin. The logistics of organising a date for this nearly sent Mr. Waffle to an early grave. We tried several dates but it was very difficult to get everyone together for just one night. Ironically, a week in Kerry was easier as people could dip in and out on different dates. However, we finally picked a night and it was last Friday. After some humming and hawing, I took a half day on Friday to facilitate our speedy arrival at our destination. This did not work well as by the time we had collected the boys from school, snacked and packed it was somehow 4.30 before we got on the road and the traffic was absolutely catastrophic. It took us about two hours to get to our, not very distant, Wicklow destination.

Also, in our leisurely packing for one night only we successfully forgot the following items:
– Coats for herself and Michael
– Change of top for me
– Toothpaste
– Calpol
– My walking boots

None of these was disastrous but the list is just to give you an idea of the slick operation you are dealing with here.

Things picked up when we actually arrived – sadly we failed to co-ordinate sufficiently with my sister-in-law in London and her husband and they weren’t able to come, but everyone else was in situ. London in-laws are having a baby in June and we inspected the premises to ensure that were they to come with their baby (insert much excitement here) another time, it would work for them.

We were very pleased with the place (no favours were given etc.). Mr. Waffle and I stayed there years ago and found it lovely and very good value. We were not disappointed on re-visiting with the wider family group including children. We stayed in Ballyknocken. The owner is a celebrity TV chef and I told the children this and they were utterly indifferent proving that another generation of Irish people is growing up who are keeping to the traditional values of ignoring any and all celebrity firepower. Our hostess, in fairness, was lovely. She greeted and chatted. She was terrific with the children who were put at a separate table from the adults and did their own ordering and had their own sophisticated conversation. The children themselves are reaching an age where they are quite self-sufficient and really need minimum effort. Very pleasing, I have to tell you.

Before dinner they played tip the can in the dark and slightly damp grounds with the aid of a head torch (reader, I married into a family where not one but two men came with head torches) and had a terrific time. Meanwhile the adults chatted in the drawing room in front of the fire and enjoyed, according to their tastes, tea, wine and sherry.

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Dinner was excellent though there was a lot of it which, I suppose, is a good complaint. The children all slept well and, in the morning, experienced the joy of a good buffet breakfast. My brother-in-law and his wife went for an early morning run up a nearby mountain (head torches are the least of it really) and we all met at the breakfast table. Breakfast was amazingly good. Better than dinner I thought and, again, the staff were lovely.

Michael was rather gloomy as he had a bit of a cold and spent some time in the morning moping about our bedroom looking at the drizzle.

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I took him for a walk around the grounds and he cheered up when we found a trampoline behind the rather mossy tennis court where his brother and cousin were kicking a football over and back across the net.

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Sadly, my niece and, designated driver, her mother, had to speed back to Dublin as she (niece) is performing in a play and needed to be back for rehearsals. The rest of us went to Avondale, home of Charles Stewart Parnell. It was a bit damp and, as herself pointed out mournfully, the house and attached tea rooms were closed, but we had a mild walk and the children played in the playground. They were a bit doleful but perked up when we said we would take them to a pub for a healthy lunch consisting almost entirely of chips.

On the way back to the car, a woman with 5 children was experiencing difficulties. She had, I would say, a 1 year old, 3 two year olds and a six year old and all four of the younger ones wanted to be picked up and the poor six year old was lugging all the kit required for an expedition with four small children in a large Tesco bag for life. The woman was getting a bit tetchy, as well she might. I decided to offer to help although, in my own experience, this can be unwelcome, sometimes you just want people to ignore you and leave you to struggle in peace. However, she gratefully accepted my assistance and I took over the (actually quite heavy) bag from the six year old. “I assume that you are on some kind of outing and they are not all yours,” I said laughing. “Oh no, they are,” she said and seeing my raised eyebrows added, “Triplets; I should have known better than to take them all out on my own.” The mind absolutely boggles but I can tell you one thing, that six year old is a saint.

On to lunch in the pub which was very satisfactory and home by 4 in the afternoon. Frankly, a triumph. I think we might even try again when the weather improves.

Terrible Jokes Department – Part II

February 19th, 2017

Herself: Suppose there was a census and it was all fake. Like “fake news”!
Me: Mmm.
Her: And everyone agreed that it was fake.
Me: OK and?
Her: It would be – wait for it – a consensus.

Further Intimations of Mortality

January 25th, 2017

I meet a group of former colleagues for lunch regularly. The median age of the group is 40ish and I am the oldest, at 47, and the youngest is 36. We met recently and I got there a bit late. As I arrived, one of them asked, “How old are you?” “Why do you ask?” I said. “We were speculating because you were late,” they replied. I told them. “Oh really, that old we thought you were younger, except for G, she guessed you were approaching 50.” I turned reproachfully to poor G, who said, defensively, “I only said that you were looking very well for someone in her late 40s.” I understand that there are three ages: young, middle aged and “you’re looking great”. Have I really entered the last phase?

An Important Role

January 24th, 2017

One night at dinner, everyone was a bit cranky and Michael announced, “I sense tensions are high.” There was a dramatic pause and then he added: “I am the tension weatherman.” Every family should have one.

Terrible Jokes Department

January 23rd, 2017

Herself: Did you hear about the punctuation mark that lost both parents?
Me: No.
Herself: It needed someone to act in loco parenthesis.
Me: Aargh.
Herself: I made it up myself.

Heavily Laden

January 22nd, 2017

I took this picture before I went into work the other morning. Observe, my noble bicycle carrying my handbag, both boys’ schoolbags and my briefcase.

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Deep Waters

January 20th, 2017

Herself, on being forced to go to mass on Sunday, announced, “I’m an atheist martyr.” It takes a saint to live with a martyr, you know. As part of her campaign to not go to mass any longer she is asking me hard questions. I am dealing with issues that I never really considered myself and where I have no answers. In the context of the Arian heresy (obscure, but not as obscure as you might think because every Sunday when we recite the Nicene creed we refer to Jesus as being “consubstantial with the Father” which I understand is the essence of the controversy. A former colleague of mine used to refer to the creed as “the best mission statement ever”; I digress), she asked me whether the Holy Spirit has chromosomes. On balance, I’m inclined to think not, but really, this is all getting a bit beyond me.

And as though all this wasn’t enough, the sacristan nabbed me at mass on Sunday and asked whether I would like to be part of the parish’s outreach team for baptisms. One evening a month only, apparently. I fear I will have to commit as I have already avoided all kinds of things including organising tea after the family mass once a month. I will offer it up, I suppose. There will be training available, I understand. I hope they will cover all the relevant theological questions which are likely to arise.


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