Tuesday, March 23
Mr. Waffle drove us to glamourous Charleroi and we hopped on the Ryanair plane. While I am no fan of Ryanair, they are cheap and, to be fair, very nice if you are travelling with babies (big plus). We flew to Shannon because, alas, there are no direct flights of any kind from Bxls to Cork. Although the Princess was very good on the plane, she did require lots of entertaining. After an hour and a half’s flying, I was running out of entertainment options. Have decided not to visit my sister in Chicago after all (9 hour flight from Bxls). The loving parents were there to collect us. Princess was in outstanding form having been waved at by lots of random strangers on the plane or “toy picker uppers” as she thinks of them. Packed brilliantly – one, yes one, bag only, so managed to fit everything in the boot of the parental car. Then spent half an hour trying to strap the Princess into the car seat my mother had borrowed with my father intoning dolefully from the front of the car “we won’t be able to get out you know, our ticket will have expired”. We got out.
Wednesday, March 24
My father found me feeding breakfast to the Princess. He waved at her, she waved back at him. They were delighted with each other. My father said “they’re almost human, aren’t they?” Quite.
My cousin called round. Her baby was due in May last year, a month after mine but was actually born in January, at 24 weeks. And she, the baby, is absolutely fine. Isn’t that amazing and fantastic? Apparently she is walking and, technically, she is younger than our crawler. My father was astounded to hear that her grandfather actually looks after her. On his own. He is now terrified that this might set a precedent…
Thursday, March 25
Went to Kinsale with my mother and the Princess. Weather was beautiful and Kinsale v. picturesque. Princess was, however, unenthused about Kinsale and its glories and spent the time on the walk to Scilly squirming unhappily in her pushchair. She was somewhat revived by a cup of tea outside the Spaniard (our girl is fond of cold tea) but screamed blue murder when put back into the pushchair. A day of less than complete success. Became convinced that she was coming down with something. Parents felt not. They were right, mercifully.
Friday, March 26
Have I mentioned that my aunt lives next door? Well, she does and she loves the Princess. The feeling is mutual. Princess was displayed to all of aunt’s friends and dutifully admired. Felt aunt was pushing it when she called over the builder working on her house saying “Wally, I’m sure that you’d love to see this beautiful baby.” It has to be said that Wally was only medium enthused “Sure all babies are beautiful.” “But this one is particularly beautiful” she said. He seemed unconvinced. She was most disappointed, I hope that she’ll still pay him for his work on the bathroom tiles.
Saturday, March 27
Saw in the Examiner property supplement, the house which Locotes was laughing at on his website is for sale for 160,000 euro. Good grief. Watched rugby match because mother made me (she either taught or knows the mothers of half the squad). Because my mother got so excited every time we scored a try, the Princess would clap her little hands also. Mother was entranced.
Mr. Waffle called. Our Irish friend in the Netherlands has given birth. Clearly the relaxed Dutch attitude to childbirth has affected her. She gave birth in the morning and was on in the afternoon for a chat. Those Dutch people.
After dinner, abandoning my poor mother to babysit, I skipped off to see my friend for whom I bridesmaided. Had most entertaining time looking at wedding pics. When I came home, my mother was sitting in the dark talking to the Princess who was refusing to go back to sleep. Most trying.
Sunday, March 28
Went to mass with the parents. Father arrived first and mother, Princess and I were somewhat later as we had to retrace our steps to find doggy who had been carelessly chucked out of the pushchair. Father was ensconced three rows from the front with no one in front of him. We slunk in beside him, 10 minutes late. Gospel was about the woman taken in adultery. The sermon was about forgiveness for adultery. The priest addressed his remarks exclusively to me. I was strongly tempted to hold up a placard saying “It’s ok, I have a husband in Brussels”.
Forced by my evil mother to stay up until 12.30 watching the golf. I hate to say this, but it was kind of exciting. Between 12.30 when I went to bed and 7.30 when I got up, the Princess woke up 7 times to check that I hadn’t abandoned her with a babysitter again.
Monday, March 29
Further cousin called. Inspected the Princess and found her beautiful. Mildly depressed me by saying that it took her two years to find a job. But secretly a bit cheered. Maybe am not utterly without hope after all. She is now gainfully employed.
Went out with friend the bride again. We had a lovely dinner in town and reminisced about school. Mostly about how hideous it was. And I said “Who would have thought that nearly 20 years out of school you would be a consultant heart surgeon and I wouldn’t have a clue what I want to do?” This got a laugh out of her because at school she never, ever did her homework and I was always very virtuous. She comes from an interesting family. Her mother’s siblings are notoriously brilliant and sporty and so are their children. One of her cousins won the Pulitzer Prize. You would think that at the family reunions saying “My 34 year old daughter is a consultant heart surgeon” would trump any other offerings, but I think that “My daughter just won the Pulitzer Prize” may be a winner here. I put this to my friend, but she said, no, mostly they just say “My God, it’s just a nightmare, why do you think she dresses like that…” Mothers can be hard to please.
Came home to find the Princess sitting up in the kitchen chatting animatedly to my mother. She gave me a dirty look on my return.
Sister texted us from Chicago to say that she has finally got the keys of her new apartment, having waited six months for the sale to close.
Tuesday, March 30
Began our trip back at 9.15. Father tense as he wanted to leave at 8.30 (for margin). Passed the journey trying to initiate my mother in the mysteries of predictive text. Eventually sent a message to my sister in Chicago saying “Great news love ma and la”. Got to Shannon at 11.10. Checked in baggage. Weighed 17.7 kilos as against 12 on the outward trip. Mostly because of the range of presents received by myself and the Princess from our generous family. Hounded by Ryanair into departure lounge, tense that we would miss plane (unnecessary tension). Realised in X-ray queue that I had no money and when I left machine in Charleroi was broken. Would it be fixed? If not how would I pay for the bus in Charleroi? Borrowed 50 quid from my saintly mother. I’d say, in some ways, she must have been relieved to see the back of us. Ryanair stewardess spectacularly nice, did safety demonstration where Princess could see her and smiled at her throughout. Princess watched in rapt attention. I’d say this was a bit of a novelty for the stewardess as well. Journey home uneventful but horribly long. Collapsed into flat at 5.15.
on 01 April 2004 at 09:49
Um, “events” is pushing it, but thanks for your comments. Can I say how impressed I am that MC is walking and also that no I can’t get video to work and worse, it is obscuring text in a way that seems only to happen to me. Deep sigh.
on 03 April 2004 at 22:09
Now that was a grand tale – glad you had a good time back in the People’s Republic – but how could you not?!160,000?? Ouch. No wonder daring to have a house with 7 or so rooms can cost a cool million. You guys could be onto something joining the ol’ property game…
Ah, it’s a shame I was actually working on Monday night, or else I could have joined you guys for dinner. A damn shame. Next time for sure. 😉 So where did ye head for? I can imagine a consultant heart surgeon would probably have fancied more than a quarterpounder from Lennox’s…though personally I have no idea why.
ps – poor Wally. He was onto a loser there from the start…