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En Vacances

August 2nd, 2015

If all goes according to plan, which is not at all a given, we will be boarding the ferry to France as you read this. Full blow by blow account of our French extravaganza on our return in late August. Hold your breath there.

Coast to Coast

August 1st, 2015

On Wednesday evening I went for a walk in Dalkey at the southern end of Dublin Bay. It was all very pretty and mercifully rain free after a miserable wet day. On Thursday morning, the children and I were up and out early and off to Howth at the northern end of Dublin bay. We got the ferry out to Ireland’s Eye which was nice if rather fuller of dead seagulls than we might have liked.

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That evening we all went out to Monkstown out near the southern end of Dublin bay for a family dinner.

I am exhausted from driving and darting up and down the Dublin bay coastline.

On Friday, the children and I went to the zoo with some friends to recover.

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Today, we are counting down to our departure for the continent.

Sugar Loaf

July 31st, 2015

We climbed the Sugar Loaf during the week. Due to my legendary sense of direction, it took us two tense hours to complete the one hour journey there. If I never see the ludicrously named hamlets of Stepaside, Kilgobbin and Scalp again, it will not be too soon.

Lovely views from the top though.

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And, I managed to get us home in under an hour, notwithstanding rush hour traffic, so that was something. It would be churlish to point out that the climb up and down only took about 90 minutes. Sigh.

A Game of Two Halves

July 30th, 2015

The Princess was very keen to go to Cork for the weekend alone. With some trepidation, we sent our precious 12 year old off last weekend. I really thought there wasn’t much possibility for disaster. She’s a train veteran and it was a non-stop train, how bad could it be?

Well, on the way down, there was a drunken man in her carriage announcing loudly and intimidatingly that he had just been released from Mountjoy (Dublin’s largest prison). The staff were called but they went away again when he sat down and my poor 12 year old was petrified. Not helped by a six year old running up and down the carriage telling the man he was drunk; some kind of altercation ensued between the mother and the drunken ex-prisoner and the mother and six year old (who had been sitting opposite herself) hightailed it out of the carriage. Herself was terrified and wouldn’t talk to me on the phone in case “he would hear”; I was hearing this blow by blow by text message. I was very upset for her. Mercifully, a kind, saintly midwife sitting nearby asked the Princess whether she was travelling alone and suggested that she sit in beside her for the remainder of the journey which she did, very gratefully.

After the initial trauma, her weekend in Cork was terrific but it would be useless to deny that she approached the train ride back with some trepidation. She met the midwife again in the same carriage so that was a relief to her but they were the only two people in the carriage. One of the staff sat down opposite herself and asked was she travelling alone. She said that she was and he pointed out that every other seat in the carriage was reserved for Dublin supporters who would be getting on in Thurles and they might be a bit rough. Would she like, he asked, to move to first class. She would like. “What about the midwife?” I asked. “I waved to her as I went past,” said she. She travelled back to Dublin in first class. “I am never going back,” she said to me firmly. We’ll have to see about that now.

So, hats off to Iarnród Éireann for prompt action on the return journey but, alas, for the outward journey. Still, I think she is prepared to go on the train alone again, provided that she can travel first class.

Happy Anniversary

July 29th, 2015

We got married 14 years ago yesterday on the only fine Saturday in 2001. And we’re still married. Pretty good going.

Theology or Possibly Hubris

July 27th, 2015

Herself: That story about the labourers is really unfair.
Me: Mmm, my granny always hated the one about Martha and Mary. She used to say that Jesus would have got cranky fast enough if someone wasn’t bringing him a sandwich and a cup of tea or the biblical middle east equivalent.
Herself: And how about the prodigal son, how is that fair?
Me: Well, I suppose the prodigal son and the labourers are parables…
Her: Oh come on, God needs to start accepting some constructive criticism.

Endless Summer – Dublin Cinema

July 26th, 2015

We came back to Dublin on Thursday, July 16. The cat was delighted to see us back.

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That night, the boys and I went to the opening night of the IFI family festival where we saw “Inside Out”. As it was the opening night, they had various competitions and events for the children. As they went around the stalls, Michael was given a stage pass. Before the film started, the children with stage passes were called up to the front. Michael loves this kind of thing and bounded up. There were four other children onstage. They had to do a little piece where they answered “sausage” or “banana” to every question asked. The other children were nervous and almost inaudible. Michael was in his element and had the audience rolling in the aisles. He got awarded the winning prize of the “golden banana” and I have worked out what he can do when he grows up. A win all round.

In fact, it was afterwards I was most pleased. Michael might have been tempted to boast but he hardly referred to his triumph because he felt for Daniel who hadn’t won a prize. Daniel for his part was sad that he shouldn’t have been chosen to go on stage and didn’t win a prize but bravely congratulated Michael and was pleased for him.

We went back to the festival on Saturday with all of the children and a friend (tickets, incidentally fantastic value at €15 for a family and €5 for an individual). We saw a terrific German language film, Winnetou’s Son. It was very sparsely attended which was brilliant for our little group as the star of the film was there with his mother and in the Q and A, they got to ask him loads of questions. He was a lovely, immensely polite child and he posed cheerfully for pictures afterwards:

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Added bonus, Michael was yet again exposed to the advantage of speaking foreign languages. The star was 11 and didn’t really speak English. Mr. Waffle and I speak German (he’s much better than me but I like to talk more so it kind of evens out) so we were able to chat to the star and his mother which Michael could see was useful loath though he might have been to admit it.

Then we went to the closing film. It was a Norwegian film with beautiful cinematography. When I hear the words “beautiful cinematography” I always think, “rotten film”. The film wasn’t bad, it’s about three children who get stranded in the Arctic through a series of deeply improbable events, but for this once, the cinematography really did make the film for me. It was one of the most stunningly beautiful films to look at. The children found it reasonably enjoyable; the main characters are an older sister and her annoying twin siblings and this resonated particularly with some of the family, less so with others. Michael, for example, doesn’t want to see another film, possibly ever, certainly not for some months.

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