Wednesday, April 7, 2021
This was the last day of my Easter holidays. Mr. Waffle was back at work but he took some time off to cycle along the canal and through the park with me. It was fine but, honestly, I am beginning to think that I know every inch of my 5kms.
I spent a lot of the day practising German with herself. She’s really come on in leaps and bounds. The non-stop German television is definitely helping. Also, she has been consulting this textbook which has spent the past 37 years lying dormant on a shelf in my parents’ house waiting for its chance to shine again. I enjoyed the oral sample questions which included “Does your mother work?” Honestly, Mr. Cockburn, all mothers work.
Thursday, April 8, 2021
The German teacher came into school on her holidays to give them all a mock oral. Herself said it went ok but she wasn’t delighted.
I went back to work and spent the whole day thinking it was Monday which was confusing. on the plus side, I didn’t have to speak German.
I have been targetted by a toilet brush ad on instagram and the worst thing about it is that I’m slightly intrigued.
I was chatting to a friend whose son is doing his finals next month. It’s a three year degree and he basically only spent a year of it physically in college. I feel so, so sorry for those young people whose college experience has been largely online.
I did the enneagram personality test for fun and then made them all do it at home. Not my most fantastic idea ever. Everyone’s results were a bit scarring except Michael’s, he’s a nine and simply the best.
Friday, April 9, 2021
I got myself a new bike. It is in the shop but the parts, ordered from Germany, could take 9 weeks. I can’t even blame Brexit. I love the bike. It’s an omafiets and I don’t even care. The brakes on my own bike are a bit dodgy at the moment and I wasn’t going to bother getting them fixed (having spent €200 on an overhaul only a couple of months ago – this was the final straw which persuaded me to get a new bike) but now, I’m wondering whether this is entirely wise as 9 weeks is a bit of a stretch to ride a bike with dodgy brakes.
We watched another episode of “Wer Kann, Der Kann” and understood everything. It was a walk in the park after season 1 of “Charité”. Truly, she seemed ready for her oral.
Saturday, April 10, 2021
Herself had her Leaving Cert German oral. It seems to have gone really well. I’m delighted for her. Not just for the exam but because she is really enjoying the language and it’s something she’ll have for the rest of her life (though, like mine, it may need brushing up, of course). She’s worked so hard on her German over the past couple of months, I’m really glad that it’s paid off for her.
A school friend of mine lives in north county Dublin and, in peacetime, we meet up a couple of times a year for dinner and a chat. With Covid, I haven’t seen her since November 2019 and she called me out of the blue today to say hello and how are things. We arranged that next weekend when our 5km limit is lifted we will go out to the beach near her house for a walk. Delighted with myself. I asked about her family and then she asked about mine and said, “How is your mother managing in the nursing home?” And I said, “Um, my mother is dead, remember you came to the funeral?” God love her, she was mortified but it was kind of hilarious. We’ve reached the age where lots of people’s parents are dying or infirm and it can be difficult to keep track. I told her about my father dying at Christmas, she hadn’t heard and this added to her general levels of mortification. But look, really with Covid and everything, we are where we are.
I was genuinely thrilled to hear that a friend of a friend whom I’ve known since I was about 13 has just got a very important job. She’s a lovely person and the first woman ever in the role. Sometimes it feels like you have to be a bit ruthless and heartless to get these kinds of jobs and it fills my middle-aged heart with joy to see someone so kind filling such a significant role. Also, she’s from Cork. I mean, really, what’s not to love? It perked up my day considerably.
Herself and myself went into town to stock up on birthday goodies. She is facing into her second lock down birthday. Alas.
Sunday, April 11, 2021
Herself celebrated her fake birthday. Her 18th birthday (full, full birthday post to follow), falls on Monday, April 12. We had a somewhat elaborate birthday breakfast.
Then we zoomed with her aunt and uncle in Cork. Her aunt had spent some time planning and had 18 (yes, 18) presents for her to open including a big fat cheque. Her uncle had sent her a fat bank draft. Aiming to outdo his sister, he went to make it out for a round number +€18. On discovering that a bank draft cost €3.50 he had it made out for a large round number +€14.50. I cannot tell you how typical this is of my brother. Herself was pleased. He also wrote her a letter saying that she didn’t have to send a thank you letter no matter what her mother said. Hmm.
Then we had an afternoon birthday tea. As she said, “Don’t think I haven’t noticed that the ‘y’ is missing on the Happy Birthday sign.” Alas. I also had the greatest difficulty in finding numbered candles and, in fact she blew out 78 with the cross taken off the 7 rather than 18. Look, there’s a pandemic on. I bought a pricey enough cake from a local artisan but I am not entirely sure that she liked it. Alas again.
As part of her German prep she made her phone language German. She used to have it in French but her new found dedication to German made her change over. She was outraged to discover that it addressed her as ‘du’ rather than ‘Sie’. You will doubtless be relieved to hear that in French it always addressed her as ‘Vous’.
Monday, April 12, 2021
The great day of her 18th birthday dawned. It was the mother of all Mondays as the boys went back to physical school for the first time since Christmas. Excitingly, we were all to be allowed outside our 5km zone (either county wide or 20kms from home whichever is the greater – as someone who comes from one of the largest counties in Ireland – it takes the guts of 3 hours to drive from west to the east – and lives in one of the smallest – about 5 minutes west to east – it’s a source of abiding bitterness) – there was much rejoicing re the latter if not the former.
The paper had on opposite pages two enormous pictures of women – Linda Doyle, first female Provost of Trinity College and Rachel Blackmore first female jockey to win the Grand National and I was quite pleased, I have to say.
Town was much busier than it has been and in the course of my commute I ran into a couple of acquaintances which hasn’t happened in a while.
Herself arrived home from school in great form with an enormous number of presents from her friends including this bag which one of them made. Aren’t the young people talented all the same?
We had another birthday cake and champagne after dinner. You’re only 18 the once. Her father and I gave her some book bundles from Books Upstairs and she seemed pretty pleased. Her aunt and uncle in London sent money and a book.
All in all, notwithstanding that it was her second lock down birthday, she seemed pretty happy.
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Mr. Waffle’s lunch was interrupted by the cat coming into the kitchen with a live mouse in her jaws but otherwise the day was uneventful. The child benefit people wrote with impressive promptness to tell me that herself, having turned 18, is now off their books and the health insurance people sent her her own health insurance card. Small thrills.
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
For the first time in a long time there was no one in the house. Inevitably a delivery arrived (the boys’ presents for their sister’s birthday from their aunt – are you with me?) but the neighbours kindly took it in. Mr. Waffle was able to visit his mother in the nursing home for the first time in ages. Although she is, happily, vaccinated, he is not and he had to be swathed in PPE to get in so not entirely successful as he was certainly unrecognisable and inaudible to her.
My brother texted me that an older cousin had died suddenly. It was a real shock. She was only in her 60s. And, of course, no possibility of going to the funeral. It is depressing.
I am being tortured by people in Cork enjoying their new found freedom, travelling all over the county and putting the resulting pictures on Instagram.
Michael is reading “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” and loving it. It is very gratifying to recommend a book to someone and have that person love it. Particularly if the person is a child of yours and the book is a long one with a lot of details to discuss. All the others are hating our detailed dinner time discussions but Michael and I are delighted with ourselves.
There have been complaints about the kitchen bins and their ineffective foot pedals for some time so I bought two new bins in champagne (yes, this is a bin colour) and spent more than I thought possible on bins. They work pretty well though and the troops are pleased.
By the by, the package that had to be delivered next door in the morning contained cool sweatshirts for the boys. My sister is by far the biggest present giver to all of my children. Mr. Waffle and I used to try to compete but now we just relax and say, “Your best presents will be from your aunt.”
Aside – are we missing hairdressers? Very much indeed.
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Now that all five of us have to shower in the morning, bathroom time is at a premium. I went scooting up saying “I’ll only be a minute.” I sang as I went up, “She’s like the wind…” and I heard Michael through the ceiling saying gloomily to his brother, “She’s not like the wind.” Indeed.
Friday, April 16, 2021
Mr. Waffle found ants in the kitchen. Why is our house a haven for vermin of all kind with exciting seasonal variety? Please don’t answer that question.
I bought a hamper from the Lismore Food company at Christmas and, in a moment of weakness signed up to their mailing list. Lads, it’s the best mailing list I’ve ever signed up to. They send excellent, easy to make recipes. I made their Crunchie and it was amazing. No favours, other inducements etc. were given for this recommendation. More’s the pity.
Saturday, April 17, 2021
An absolutely beautiful day. We’d arranged to meet the cousins out in Dun Laoghaire (two households are now allowed to meet outside, hurrah!). It was our first time outside out 5kms and I was delighted. Everyone else in Dublin appeared to have the same idea and the traffic was dreadful but it was worth it. Herself got a flight voucher for her 18th birthday from her uncle and aunt which was lovely and although it’s apparently valid for 5 years, I’m hoping she’ll be able to use it before then.
We had arranged to talk to our French friends for the Princess’s birthday and the carefully set up zoom call had to be done in the car as we were yet again caught in traffic as everyone who had gone out to the seaside to enjoy the sunshine tried to get home again. Their daughter is going to do a college course which involves a year in London, a year in Berlin and a year in Madrid. If all goes according to plan, she and the Princess may be in England at the same time which would be nice. All the parents are very excited about this; the girls showed moderate enthusiasm.
Sunday, April 18, 2021
Neighbours from across the road got turf on a roll for their garden and offered the leftovers to the rest of the road so we scooted out and got four rolls. It’s heavy stuff. I hope it will take in our garden and give us reasonable grass instead of bald patches. More middle aged thrills.
I want out to visit my friend in Skerries and we had a long walk around the beach and the town and it was pretty nice I have to say even though the weather was chilly (the sea was full of people swimming and paddle boarding and generally messing around – dry robes abounded). It was pleasing, firstly because it was well outside 5kms and secondly I was meeting another person outside the family circle. Delighted with myself. Oh I do hope that the end of Covid is nigh.
*This translates from the Irish as “You deserve these results” and is one of the standard comments for our children’s reports so I have seen it a lot over the years. As Mr. Waffle says, it can be a double-edged sword.