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August 4th, 2018

On Thursday night Daniel said to me, “When do you get your holidays?” “Tomorrow!” I said. “Do you not get a summer break?” he asked. “My fortnight in Denmark is my summer break.” He felt that seemed very unfair which it totally is. However, all going well, by the time you read this, we will be safely ensconced by the North Sea. Daniel doubts that Denmark will beat the excitement afforded by a trip to see Arsenal v Chelsea in the Aviva stadium earlier this week but you never know.

Changing By Degrees

August 3rd, 2018

When we were in Cork, Mr. Waffle and I found ourselves in the Stone Corridor in UCC admiring the ogham stones. There was an office with a plaque there; it said “Head of Student Experience”. “What do you think that is?” I asked Mr. Waffle. “I think it’s what we used to call the Dean of Discipline when I was in college.”

Like the Murphy’s, I’m Not Bitter

August 1st, 2018

Daniel: You’re not fat, you’re just portly.
Me: Mmm.
Him (casting an appraising eye): Sorry, sorry not portly, stout.

More Cork

July 31st, 2018

Thursday, July 19

Despite only having finished her course the previous Friday, the Princess and her companions were having a reunion in Dublin less than a week later. She was very keen to go which I thought was ludicrous but her kind indulgent father said that we should let her go so we drove her up to the train station in Cork with 6 minutes to spare before her train left. Note to file, Clonakilty to Cork may be 45 minutes by car; outside Clonakilty to the train station is quite a bit longer.

My brother who, when he is not being annoying, can be rather saintly took the boys off to Milano’s for lunch and Mr. Waffle and I had a really lovely lunch in the Farm Gate which I would very much recommend.

We spent the day in Cork bonding with relatives each of whom asked me in turn why on earth I had chosen to go to Clonakilty on my holidays. We picked herself up from the train at 8.30 (a train which she leapt unto 3 minutes before it left Dublin – it was a day of close shaves) and took ourselves back to base. She opined that her 5 hours on the train for 3 hours with her friends had been totally worth it. So that was something.

Friday July 20

For his own obscure reasons, my brother was cycling from Cork to Skibbereen. He stopped off on his trek and we all had lunch together in Deasy’s outside Clonakilty which is quite fancy and, therefore, didn’t have chips. Some trauma ensued as some of the cohort thought that the nice view and gourmet menu did not make good that deficiency.

Then we went to Kinsale to meet a friend of Mr. Waffle’s who had just bought a house there. We had take away fish and chips at her place for dinner so the natural order of things was restored. We also had a an opportunity to take our traditional “Caution Children” picture so that was obviously good.

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On the way back to Clonakilty, to the intense chagrin of Michael who stayed in the car timing how long I was taking, we stopped off and had a look at Timoleague Friary which is very, very beautiful It was sunset (about 10.30 so Michael’s chagrin was understandable, I suppose) and it looked quite spectacular.

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The setting was pretty spectacular also.

No filter, honest.
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Saturday 21 July

I went to the Red Strand for a swim leaving my non-beach loving family to entertain themselves as well as they could in my absence. Their loss, frankly.

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We went in to Rosscarbery where I spent many bored summers as a teenager (a friend’s parents had a house there) and, to be honest, there is still little enough to do. However we did have dinner/afternoon snack in a very nice pub. One of us had prudently bought a jumper and two of us were cold so she made the ultimate sacrifice.

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I was a bit grumpy and herself asked what I would like. “Why?” I said suspiciously. “Because who ever is the grumpiest runs this family.” This was a startling insight and I realised as I turned it over in my mind, entirely true.

My brother sent us a photo of Lough Hyne which I include because, you know, why not? It does highlight one of the problems of Clonakilty. It is West Cork but not west enough. It’s a bit of a trek to Lough Hyne from Clonakilty (not impossible, 40 minutes in the car) but almost all the good places are a bit of a trek.

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I went up to Cork for the evening because, since my brother was away, I thought I might be able to help my sister out a bit with the elderly relatives. I am not sure how much of a help I was really, particularly as she ended up having to feed me as well but we did enjoy a nice walk.

Sunday 22 July

We packed up and set off for home. Already Mr. Waffle and I were somewhat preoccupied by the thought of the working week ahead (something that does not happen at the end of week one of a three week holiday, I can tell you) and it was a long enough drive back. We stopped off at Blackrock Castle in Cork for lunch because I thought that it would not take us much out of our way (it did) and it would have pizza (it did not, they took it off the menu before Christmas, alas, alack).

On balance, West Cork again next year I think, but further west.

Clonakilty, God Help Us

July 30th, 2018

We went to Cork last summer for a week. You may remember that excluded from the list of potential places to stay was Clonakilty on the grounds that it was too near Cork and why would you bother. This was good advice I gave last year and I would have done well to have heeded it. But earlier this year, a family from Clonakilty contacted us and asked would we do a house swap and I thought, why not? I know why not. Why did I think that? Anyway we agreed dates and then they wanted to push it to earlier and, like fools, we agreed.

Furthermore, poor old Clonakilty has a gloomy reputation. It was home to a big workhouse during the famine and really the last desperate staging post of dying people hence when you say Clonakilty, people will often say to you, “Clonakilty, God help us” which is a tag line that I think the town has probably been keen to lose since 1847 or thereabouts (I’d say they’d like to have Macroom’s line instead “the town that never raised a fool”).


Sunday 15 July

Herself returned to us from her three week course on Friday and it was such a thrill to have her back. She was very reasonable about packing up to leave again two days after returning. It was a long old drive. We stopped for lunch in Cashel and got in to Clonakilty late afternoon. The house was in the middle of nowhere and it was slightly damp like many, many houses in Ireland but if it was going to be damp after a month in the heatwave, I shudder to think what it was like in the winter. On the plus side they had a wheel attached to a tree in the garden.

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And a piano that was in tune in the house.

We took ourselves into the town which, to be fair, is attractive enough, and went to the tourist office looking for attractions. There was much Michael Collins stuff and also the railway village. In addition to the price of your admission, you get to go on a tourist train around the town. “Would you like to go on Choo Choo?” the tourist office lady asked our mildly affronted 15 year old.

My sister drove down to Clonakilty that evening and saw Jack L in concert. He was good but he needs to find a younger fan base, it’s not often I feel like one of the youngest people in the room.

Monday 16 July

We recovered from our drive and stayed around the town. We bought a card game called “Now That’s What I Call Music” which I cannot recommend highly enough. Did you remember that “Don’t Give Up” was a collaboration between Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel? If yes, this is the game for you. I drove each of my partners wild by singing the 80s songs mentioned but, never, never knowing the artist. We bought a good jigsaw because that’s what holidays are for.

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We bought some books for the children.

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Tuesday 17 July

We went to the model railway village. It was not entirely successful. Our children were the oldest children there by a good ten years. But they were patient. We exhausted its charms quickly. Probably this functioning phone box was a highlight. We decided not to go for the choo choo train around the town experience. This was particularly good for herself as later she ran in to someone she knew in the town and bad and all as this was, it would have been considerably worse if she’d been in the tourist train.

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Continuing our run of poor luck we chose a deeply unpleasant pub to have our lunch in. Go us.

After lunch, we took ourselves to the Michael Collins museum in Emmet Square. This was a success. It was housed in a lovely Georgian house in the square where Michael Collins lived for a bit (not in this house it transpired). And the displays were interesting and it was all quite well done.

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We peaked a bit too soon on the jigsaw.

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I bought a great bowl with a drawing of an octopus by these people. We have named him and I love it. I loved it so much that I later went back and bought a jug and a casserole and it is dishwasher and oven proof. No favours etc. were received for these kind words. Sadly.

Wednesday 18 July

Despite really hard work on my part over the years, Daniel loathes the beach and Michael and Mr. Waffle are, at best, neutral. But it was the best summer since 1976 and I insisted on going to the beach. We went to Inchydoney which is a lovely beach and the Princess and I both swam. Here is how her brothers enjoyed it.

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The Princess continued to diligently read her very hard book on Aids. I made good progress with “99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret”. Don’t judge.

Once we left the beach, both boys cheered up and we had a nice lunch in the nearby hotel. We went to the Michael Collins homestead which is a bit basic but, you know, grand.

Then we went to see the Drombeg Stone circle which I thought was pretty impressive. Beautiful site overlooking the sea.

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My Dad was telling me that he had had it described to him by the archaeologist who found it. Apparently he married a publican’s daughter from Clonakilty and the stone circle was well known locally but archaeologists had never been near it (they have their work cut out, West Cork is just one big wedge shaped gallery grave) and he wrote about it and publicised it. It was felt that he would be the next professor of archaeology at UCC but then he died young. See, if you’re from Cork these are the extra exciting details available to add to your guide book information.

Then we went on to Glandore for a cup of tea. Glandore is basically a couple of houses and a view. But what a view.

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And then one of the pubs has been gentrified and it offered seats outside with shade and cushions and blankets and a delightful desert menu which we partook of liberally. It was absolutely delightful.

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Stay tuned for the second half of our Cork adventures.

Neglected or Completely Random Round-Up

July 28th, 2018

This blog has been a bit ignored recently. I’ve been busy, what can I say?

The cat has been killing small animals to beat the band. One weekend we had an injured pigeon (one wing down) and a small mouse fleeing around the garden to the cat’s endless delight. We went out hoping that matters would have resolved themselves on our return. When we came back the mouse had gone to his reward but the pigeon was still hopping round the garden. The cat had lost interest and fallen asleep in the flower bed. Mr. Waffle had to usher the injured pigeon to safety in the lane through the shed. You haven’t lived etc.

Herself went off on a three week residential course. I missed her. She had a great time. When she came back, I overheard her saying to her brothers, as the three of them cleaned up in the kitchen, “You guys have really missed your union rep.” Oh yes she is returned.

While she was away I made the boys go to gallery. They can now recognise St. Jerome at 20 paces. A summer afternoon well spent.

They also went to a tennis camp which was somewhat successful. Inspired by this and Wimbledon, Dan and I went out to play a match one evening and I practically expired from the heat. Irish people are just not made for hot summers.

My sister came to visit and too the boys to Taytopark which they quite enjoyed notwithstanding some reservations that they might be too old and sophisticated for it. My poor sister lost her car exhaust while staying with us and fell and hurt her knee in Taytopark so not a total win for her.

My Parisian friend’s family came to Ireland for a fortnight. She was stuck in Paris and in the first week we were on holidays in Cork (much, much more of this anon) but we saw a bit of them last week. We went out for a drink on Monday night and they came around to us for a barbecue on Wednesday evening. Unfortunate that the cat chose to catch a mouse under the table in the garden and decapitate in front of the horrified yet fascinated gazes of the French children. The eldest who has stayed with us a few times on exchange pointed out that the house was full of spiders (a bit I suppose) and coupled with the mouse, it was just too much. I scoffed at her fears and kept from her the fact that when I went to put the burgers on the barbecue there was an enormous charred spider sitting on the grill. Alas. Look, nobody dead yet, eh? My friend came to join her family today and we had lunch together and then went to see the children perform in the drama emerging from the drama camp they had been in all week. It was pleasant, I have to say. And Daniel is going to stay in Paris for a couple of weeks next summer and they’ll take him to see Paris Saint Germain.

It’s all been a bit exhausting though. In previous years, we have tended to do a week in Ireland followed by a fortnight abroad for our summer holidays. This year we did a week in Cork in July and then a fortnight back in work and then we’re off to Denmark. The week in Cork meant Mr. Waffle and I were frantic in the week leading up to it and equally frantic this week after (with added French entertaining duties – it was worth it, but it was hard). Next year we will do three consecutive weeks again.

On the plus side, met a friend for lunch and in our regular, “how are your children?” update told her that herself was going into transition year and she said that they had a work experience programme and might our firstborn be interested. Since finding herself work experience is a problem that has been gnawing at me since the start of the summer (herself seemed relatively unphased) with the school sending me unwelcome text reminders that it had to be sorted before she went back to school in September, I was very pleased. I could have taken her in to my office, I suppose, but neither of us were particularly keen. I feel, however, the life lesson she is getting in how to get a job may not be exactly the one we would want.

Finally, and only tenuously related, while I am on the theme of neglected, the html or css or whatever on this blog seems to have given up the ghost. The twitter links don’t work, the feedly link doesn’t work and the pictures are bizarrely stretched. Not to mention the weird wide margins. And now WordPress is torturing me about General Data Protection Regulation. Frankly, if this website is harvesting personal data, it’s news to me. I had to add a privacy page filled with suggested WordPress text and I feel it is overkill. I cannot believe that this blog is the kind of thing they were thinking about when the GDPR was drafted. Deep sigh. Maybe I can pay someone to fix it all.

Unnerving

July 27th, 2018

Conversation with my sons this evening:

Me: You know we’re going to a barbecue tomorrow?
Michael: Something even more important is happening.
Me (dubiously): Uncle Dan is coming to stay?
Daniel: More important than that.
Me: I give up.
Them: It’s your wedding anniversary!
Me: 9.45 on the evening before is a truly excellent time to be reminded of that.


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