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Productivity is Up Again, Comrades

July 29th, 2014

We are house swapping this year and the children and I have been cleaning the house with an intensity rarely seen under normal circumstances. Herself and Daniel washed the downstairs windows. Here is a picture of herself making an unavailing attempt to polish the brass – very difficult – suggestions welcome.


We also picked up all the plums that had fallen on the front path:


And chopped up half of them:


and turned them into jam:



Anniversary jam:


The rest are in the freezer awaiting inspiration.

Happy Anniversary

July 28th, 2014

Mr. Waffle and I are married 13 years today. Which is ages. Go us.

Here is some dialogue to explain why Mr. Waffle is perfect.

Daniel: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Mr. Waffle: Maybe flying, that would be cool.
Daniel: If you couldn’t fly, what would you pick?
Mr. Waffle: Controlling the weather.
Daniel: Why?
Mr. Waffle: Then I could always get my laundry dry.

Seriously, what’s not to love?

Drama Queen

July 27th, 2014

The Princess did an acting course last week and absolutely loved it. Mid-way through, she mentioned “Macbeth” and then did a quick twirl. “What did you do that for?” “If you mention ‘the Scottish play’ it brings bad luck and we have our performance at the end of the week. The performance was great fun and she is now full of enthusiasm for drama.

Will this end well?


July 26th, 2014

I live close to town and I usually cycle in, if I have errands to run. Last week, the children did summer camps in town and I drove them in. Then I was kind of stuck with the car in town and found myself driving around doing errands which never normally happens. It is really inconvenient and expensive to boot. I did drive home one day and cycle back in to collect the children but that was not a success as they were hot, tired and hungry and did not welcome the walk home. It’s really too dangerous for them to cycle with me, so we were stuck.

It would be so fantastic if we could have safer cycle lanes in Dublin. If they can do it in Cork, surely they can do it here. Perhaps we need our own pedal on parliament.

Unrelated: The cat has just hauled in a dead bird – delighted with herself. Mr. Waffle and the Princess are out bat watching so I have just had to dispose of the carcase myself. Woe.


July 26th, 2014

Our greatest achievement of the academic year 2013/14 was to start walking to school every day. The journey is a little under two kilometres and it takes us between 23 and 25 minutes. We started in November which was hardly a propitious moment but the children had been to a talk in the library on saving the planet and Michael insisted that we start walking. The great advantage of beginning in November is that the weather is unlikely to get worse. Between November and June, there was only one day where the weather was so wet that we decided to take the car. We also discovered that lots of the other children who lived locally were walking in too. It was all very positive. Between walking in in the morning and cycling home in the evenings, I was, if not fit, then at least used to moderate exercise.


Since the end of school and the beginning of my parental leave, I have largely spent my time sitting down. I cycled out to my friend’s bookclub on Sunday (about 35 minutes each way on the bike) and arrived with legs like jelly. We climbed up to Prince William’s Seat the weekend before. I note it is tactlessly described as a “short easy walk” by the tourist authorities. All I can say is that I panted all the way up and spent the next two days stiff as a poker. Great views though.

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I suppose that the only comfort I can take is that if I get unfit so quickly, then maybe I can regain my mild previous fitness levels with relatively little effort. Sigh.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

July 25th, 2014

Herself loves Shakespeare. This did not come from her parents who, frankly, can take or leave Shakespeare and think that laughing at his comedies is the sign of a sick mind.

Her best friend’s father has a theatre company and I think she may have got encouragement from there. Anyhow, she has learnt off large chunks of Shakespearean plays for her own entertainment which makes me feel proud, obviously, but also baffled. At her age, I found Lamb’s “Tales from Shakespeare” pretty dull let alone going near the source material.

Anyhow, for 6 nights there is a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” running in the grounds of Dublin Castle and she and I went along on Wednesday night. Tickets were only €6 each and, frankly, I have spent far more on less satisfactory theatrical experiences. My only quibble was that visibility at the back was pretty poor and herself spent most of the show perched on my knees. On the plus side, the evening was beautifully warm and clear and it was lovely to be outdoors.

I was unfamiliar with the play but herself gave me a summary and some of the quotable lines at the start (“I don’t want to ruin it for you” – “Never mind, I’ll be alright”). It was billed as Shakespeare and Glam Rock but the emphasis was pretty heavily on the Shakespeare. Herself is still pretty new to theatre going so was amazed and entranced at how 9 actors managed to play all the characters. She laughed at the jokes and was generally absolutely enthralled (although she told me some parts had been dropped – since that kept it under 2 hours, that was fine by me).

One of the great pleasures of parenthood is enjoying something through your children. I think I would have been bored had I been there alone but with her, a little of the magic and enchantment rubbed off. Nevertheless, philistine that I am, one of the highlights for me (and for the Spanish kids sitting beside me) was the menacing behaviour of a number of seagulls, one of whom sat on Titania’s bed as she slept looking at her balefully. It was clearly aware that it had a reputation to maintain.


July 24th, 2014

I have been up and down to Cork a bit with the children.

On our last visit we donated a possibly interesting document to the city archives. I found it in a box at my parents house with random tat including postcards, school essays and the like. I suggested that I might drop it into the national archives but, my father, roused to vehemence, said he did not want it to go off to Dublin and it was to go to the Cork archives.

The city archives are not particularly central but they are near where the man who did my mother’s upholstery had his workshop. I saw a chaise longue on the footpath and pulled up on a whim. The boys sat resolutely in the car but herself came in with me for a look. It turned out that the upholsterer (Mr. Nodwell – an unforgettable name, you would think, but I had forgotten) had operated out of the premises next door but was now dead. The Princess and I had a look around the bric-a-brac shop with the chaise longue. I suggested that she look out for coins to add to her growing collection. The shop owner overheard us and made her a present of a big box of coins and a cheque from 1961 from a butcher’s shop on Castle Street (now gone) which specialised in crubeens. We had to explain to her what crubeens were. Burdened down by her gifts she whispered to me that she felt she ought to buy something. Her eye fell on a 1970s picture of a foxglove.

Her: Excuse me, how much is that picture please?
Him: €3.
[She opens her purse]
Him: Are you paying for it yourself? You should always haggle. Look, I’ll do it for you. Will you take €2, go on, it’s hardly worth €3. Alright so, you can have it for €2.

Giggling, she handed over the cash and left with her treasures clutched to her chest.

Then we went into the North Cathedral where I had never been before.

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The children found the cathedral unutterably dull but I was surprised how attractive it was inside. It is also the burial place of the bishops of Cork. The Victorian bishop is on the left – no false modesty there. The other graves get progressively plainer until we get to Bishop Murphy who confirmed me whose tablet is flush with the ground. There’s a metaphor there but you’ll have to work it out for yourselves.

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We strolled down to Shandon where I had promised the children a chance to ring the bells. Alas, the bells were being repaired and were unavailable to ring. The children sat in the Belfry dolefully for some time and we got chatting with the young man fixing the ropes.

Him: Where are you from?
Me: Cork.
Him: Do you know where Griffith College is?
Me: No, probably after my time.
Him: What?
Me: I haven’t lived in Cork for more than 20 years.
Him: You’re not from Cork at all then.
Me: Where are you from?
Him: Leap (West Cork).
Me: Is there much money in the whole bell repair thing? It must be quite a niche job.
Him: I don’t know, I was a gardener until the day before yesterday.

I hope that works out for you Shandon.

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Then, gluttons for punishment, we went to the butter museum. Of only mild interest, but having been there before, the children knew what they were signing up for.

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I took them to the South Chapel as well. Because I can. But look, catholic church from 1766 and a famous sculpture. What’s not to love?

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