My thanks to both of the people (only one of whom is related to me) who asked about blog updates. Here we are, lots of news.
Sunday July 3 and Monday July 4
I took myself down to Cork to see my friend who was home from America with her four children. She had them entered for the Munster junior open and we spent a happy couple of hours on the porch of the tennis club watching them whack balls back and forth over the net with varying levels of success. A ticker tape ran through my head: “This is so much better than working”. I wonder when this will fade. My friend’s mother came down and sat with us for a while. It took me back about 40 years. Her parents have been really well but they are both entering into their 80s now and things are, alas, starting to go wrong and I’m not entirely sure how long they’ll be able to keep up a big house in Cork and another one in Singapore. I do feel for my friend, because it’s hard to be so far away when things start to go awry.
Separately she has four children to put through college in the US. She tells me it will cost €70,000 per child per year. It makes the English fees we are paying seem very modest (though they are well in excess of Irish college fees of about €3,000 a year). One of her children wants to study medicine and that goes on forever. They might send her to college in Ireland as even international student fees in Ireland are far cheaper than American fees. It’s an absolute nightmare. She explained something to me which I hadn’t previously understood. In America, it’s not really about what you study at undergraduate level but where you go. The natural Irish question “what do you want to study in college?” isn’t really so relevant for them.
In more positive news, we celebrated my aunt’s 93rd birthday while I was in Cork and Daniel finally tested negative for Covid on Sunday.
Tuesday, July 5
I spent the day at work clearing out my office, sending a couple of final emails and having meetings with colleagues. At the end of the day, I really felt finally finished with work.
Wednesday, July 6
Herself and myself went shopping. She turned herself into my personal shopper and it was amazing. Would 100% do again. Very entertaining and a great haul of clothes for me.
Thursday, July 7 – The wonderful everyday
I said to the children, “Is there anything you three would like to do? I mean all of you?” It turns out that there is. We went to Ikea for lunch.
Friday, July 8
I investigated the new local market. There was a Greek man selling olive oil. “Are you based in Carlow?” I asked. He was surprised but said that yes, he was based in Carlow. It’s just that my sister buys olive oil in bulk from a Greek man in Carlow and how many Greek olive oil sellers can there be in Ireland?
Herself decamped to Cork to grace her relatives there with her presence. An exciting weekend followed involving a visit to a spa, dinner out (twice!) shopping and a long cycle in West Cork. She pronounced herself very pleased.
Saturday, July 9
Mr. Waffle and I went to a local cafe for breakfast where one of Daniel’s GAA team mates turned up as a waiter. Apparently they schedule his shifts around his GAA commitments (peak employment, folks). We told Daniel when we got home. “Did you speak to him?” he asked in tones of horror. Yes, we did speak to the boy we have known since he was 4 who was also our waiter. Sorry about that.
I went with Daniel to test the cycle route to the course he is attending for three weeks. Michael and I cycled to the Casino Marino to check out the Piranesi exhibition, which was a little disappointing but the Casino is always nice. Lads, I was exhausted though. I cycled for miles.
Sunday, July 10
I had my lovely Sunday afternoon book club. We read a book set in Northern Ireland. One of our number is from the North and the kindest, gentlest woman you could imagine. The book was set in the 90s and I was trying to explain how I felt that the North, where the author grew up in the 90s, was more like the South in the 70s and 80s when I was growing up. I said, clumsily, “I feel that the North is about 10 years behind the South.” Don’t say that to someone from the North, even someone very kind and gentle. In an unaccustomedly tart tone she said, “That’s funny because in the North we always felt we were 10 years ahead of the South.” Cross-border dialogue at its best there.
Monday, July 11
Daniel started his course and pronounced himself pleased. Just as well as it is three weeks long.
Tuesday, July 12
Daniel came off his bike and was a bit shook up. He hurt hands, elbows and hip. He cycled home after the fall but he was really keen to go back to his course so I dropped him there in the car.
I dropped herself to the airport three hours before her flight to avoid airport chaos and she was at the gate in 20 minutes. It was ever thus. Needless to say, her flight was delayed.
I then took myself off to Clontarf where I met my friend, went for a really glorious swim and then lunch. Definitely living the dream here.
Wednesday, July 13
Daniel was much better. We rebandaged his various cuts and bruises and I ferried him to the course in the car. I must say it is super convenient to be able to do these slightly unexpected things – like driving an injured child – without trying to manage work as well.
I had a nice relaxing lunch with my sister-in-law across the city and we caught up on family news including that her son has bleached his hair blond. It’s the year for 16 year old boys in the family to do weird things to their hair.
Daniel met a friend of his cousin’s on his course. Because Ireland is tiny.
Mr. Waffle and I went to see David Sedaris live in the National Concert Hall which was pretty good; he does a great job reading his work. I was very impressed by how witty and spontaneous he was in the Q&A at the end. There were four questions and they were all asked by women. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before in a mixed group.
Thursday, July 14
Michael and I went to Castletown House. Largely unsatisfactory as I have been there a couple of times before and, although I was happy to go again, I wasn’t desperate to do so, and Michael found it a bit dull. On the plus side, it’s not far. Definite highlight was playing the Marseillaise in the car for the day that was in it. Very rousing.
We picked up a new bike for Michael from the bike shop where, we found out the hard way, they now work a four day week. I am in favour in theory but in practice was faintly irate when I turned up on Tuesday and found it shut. It’s run by a French woman and, as Mr. Waffle pointed out, this is what you get when your bike shop is run by a French socialist. I had a chat with them in the shop and they said that it was a way to attract staff (full employment again). Apparently when they went from 6 days to 5 there was almost no change in takings. Not sure whether it will be the same for 5 to 4 but good for them, I hope it works.
Friday, July 15
Myself and Michael went to Avondale, home of Charles Stewart and Parnell and site of a new treetop walk. The expedition was a bit more successful than our trip to Castletown but the treetop walk is a little tame. Sadly, Avondale House itself, where I was keen to gain free entry with my newly acquired heritage card, was closed.
Michael says he can’t wait for the July 2022 pages of the family photo album which will just feature him.
Saturday, July 16
It was toasty though nothing like as toasty as it was about to become. Mr. Waffle and I went out for a nice dinner together; my brother got us a voucher for my birthday in March and I was pretty pleased with it.
Meanwhile, my sister in Cork has decided to clear out my Aunt’s shed of the junk of ages. I’m not sure what prompted anyone to keep this printer but I think it’s time has now definitively passed.
Sunday, July 17
It was very hot. Limerick won the hurling all-Ireland. No one was as hot as the aide de camp in full military regalia with gloves who was in the crowd with the President or the Taoiseach or whatever bigwig was giving out the cup. He was pictured in the crowd photo with the cup winners on the front page of the Irish times. The poor man looked like a tomato.
Monday, July 18
Oh God so hot. 30 degrees. Michael and I cycled in to Dublin castle to see the other half of that Piranesi exhibition which – joy – was fully air-conditioned. I thought we might die on the cycle though.
I went out to my friend who has a large house by the sea for book club and sitting in her beautiful green garden with cooling sea breezes was definitely a highlight of the day for all of us. Though she somewhat raised the bar on the food stakes (rule is always frozen pizza) by making her own pizza in a pizza oven in the garden. I hope that people will have forgotten this by the time they are tucking in to Goodfella’s pizzas in my house in October when I am scheduled to host.
Stay tuned for further thrilling updates.