Due to a complete failure of imagination, I am always appalled by the Irish weather. No one could have been more surprised than I was when on the morning after leaving sultry France, the Princess was running up and down the misty deck of the ferry, splashing through puddles in her sandles.
When we went to the beach the other day I was, however, prepared and the children were warmly wrapped up and had their rain coats on. I realised that they will need to become hardier: all the Irish children were in t-shirts and shorts. Mostly they had retired indoors by the time the torrential rain started.
We went to the local horse show on Monday (not an exclusive event). It was supported by a field of ancillary stalls and children’s entertainments. In Belgium, it was always easy to tell our blonde milky white children from others on the boucy castle. Here it is proving more challenging. If only we had spent more time in Uccle than elsewhere we would have had more practice.
To our surprise and delight, there was a waffle stall. The waffles cost 5 euros each. And they weren’t very nice. We were outraged. The standard rate for a reasonably acceptable waffle across all Belgian waffle vans is 1.50 (perhaps evidence of price fixing which the local competition authorities could investigate). It is true what they say about the cost of living here.
On Saturday morning the boys and their Grandfather watched Australia play New Zealand on the television. They have not been exposed to rugby before. “They play a football, they all dirty!” exclaimed Daniel in surprise. My brother came to visit later in the afternoon and, having seen the boys tripping about delightedly in my high heels was anxious to indoctrinate them with the basics of rugby. I am not sure how much progress he made; when he left, Daniel was still trying to hit the ball with a tennis racquet.
Escaping the rain on our return from the beach the children and I ended up in a cafe (Mr. Waffle was getting the car taxed – the glamour). The Princess got chatting to a little girl. They bonded and jumped in the small back garden. The boys joined them. They were very loud. The punters got restive. The little girl’s parents and I brought them in. I decided to head out in the driving rain. The little girl’s mother wondered could I get a lift from someone. I explained that my husband was tied up with the Revenue (something I could have phrased differently, perhaps). She offered us a lift. I refused, grateful but polite. 10 minutes later we were drenched and only, alas, a little further along due to the indifference of small children to heavy rain and their deep interest in pausing to smell the flowers. The little girl’s father pulled up beside us in his Saab 9-3 (which, as his daughter had explained to us earlier was a clean car because they had taken Daddy’s instead of Mummy’s) and insisted that we all hop, dripping, on to his leather upholstery and dropped us to the door. See, it is true about Irish people being friendly; we have to be to survive the weather.
We went to a barbecue on Sunday. There was a little girl called Clodagh (very common Irish name, the gh is silent). “No,” said the Princess “there is no such name, it must be Claudia”. Meanwhile the boys had agreed that the young man called Matthew must be Matteo and spoke firmly but kindly to the other 2 year olds in French (their experience of children in groups has been that French is the appropriate language, no longer). Incidentally, my sister-in-law is a very talented painter and one of her nudes was hanging on the wall. Daniel examined it critically and declared, “That lady has no nappy”.