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4 March, 2019 at 7:28 pm by belgianwaffle

I went down to Cork for the weekend. When I left Dublin on Friday lunch time, it was warm and sunny. Like a fool, I decided it was warm enough to go to Cork without my coat. Honestly, am I nine or forty nine? Normally, I get lifts all the time but for a variety of dull reasons, I had to get myself around without lifts this weekend. This is relevant.

When I got to Cork on Friday evening it was lashing. I cycled glumly to my parents’ house on a Cork bike. My parents’ house is so warm that I had more or less steam dried in about an hour which was just as well as I only had a solitary pair of trousers with me.

The next morning I woke up with a pain in my tooth. This was doubly annoying as I was at the dentist last week. It wasn’t super painful but more numb like when you get an injection. Over the course of the day it spread all around my top teeth in a slightly disturbing development.

On Saturday morning I cycled in to town. Obviously, I could have taken a coat out from my parents’ house but I decided that the weather would hold. I don’t know why I would have decided that and with a certain inevitability I got soaked again on the way back to my parents’ house. As my general mouth pain spread, I began to wonder whether I had given myself Bell’s palsy by recklessly cycling around in the rain without a coat. But it got better over the course of the day and was on both sides so, I decided probably not.

I visited my mother in the nursing home. She was awake and I knew that she recognised me because she looked at me and said, “Your hair is lovely.” This is literally all she said in the hour I was there. This is a long-standing fault line between us. She loves my hair long and I like it to be short; in fact, I think it really needs a cut. I’m glad she’s still in there somewhere in dementia land although the comment annoyed me as it invariably did when she was well, so some patterns seem to survive a great deal of change.

On Saturday night, my sister and I went to the cinema. We drove. Say what you like about the car, it’s good at keeping you dry.

I came back to Dublin early on Sunday morning. I cycled to the station in Cork and got soaked. I dried on the train. Then, I cycled home from the station and got soaked all over again. The rain in Dublin was considerably chillier than the rain in Cork. I arrived home freezing and damp to find that the builders had cut a power line and the heating. Unsatisfactory. Herself filled me a hot water bottle. On the plus side, my tooth pain completely disappeared. I suppose this is what this blog is going to be from now on as I move to my 50s: a litany of mysterious symptoms which come and go with no rhyme or reason.

On Sunday afternoon we went to inspect Dublin’s newest tourist attraction, the Vaults which was ok but more aimed at tourists than locals and probably for a younger crowd. We went off to a mild afternoon birthday celebration for Uncle A where Mr. Waffle dimmed the lights to blow out the candles causing unspeakable terror to my little niece, S. Is it bad that I found that mildly amusing? Herself babysat for them last night and as she went home, her aunt pressed a packet of Marietta biscuits into her hand, “Take these, please, we have to get rid of them, they’re like crack cocaine for S.”

When we got home we lit fires to try to keep us warm. It snowed outside. Overall, damp and chilly.

Michael is now taller than me as well. I suppose it’s only a question of time before Herself passes me out.

And how was your own weekend?

Embracing Middle Age

12 February, 2019 at 7:21 pm by belgianwaffle

I bought a pair of new walking shoes in Matthews in Cork. I tried various pairs but none seemed right. The young man in the shop (a relative of the owners currently in his final year in German and business yes, I was there a while) brought me out a beige pair which he suggested I try. “But they’re so ugly,” I protested. “Those are your words,” he said, “I would say they are less aesthetically attractive than some of the other boots.” I tried them on. They were so comfortable. My young shop assistant looked at them critically, “You know,” he said, “they’re not quite so ugly on.” Reader, I bought them.

This Pronunciation Varies*

11 February, 2019 at 7:15 pm by belgianwaffle

My sister was in Chicago the week it was very cold and snowy. Miraculously, she got in and she got out. Her flight out of Chicago was much delayed but she got in to Dublin about midday. She then picked me up and drove us both to Cork.

I offered to drive, I really did but she has a new car and, secretly, I think she doubts my ability to keep it scratch free. It was lovely to have her to myself for the day even if she was exhausted. We stopped en route for lunch in Kildare Village (my struggles with which I have previously documented). I spent a fiver on lipbalm from Penhaligon which was profligate and €7.50 on a vase from Villeroy and Boch which was definitely a bargain.

As we approached Cork, I asked her “Will you go straight to bed when you get home?” “Oh no,” said she, “I have to spend a couple of hours answering emails.” I was suitably horrified by the work ethic expected from her American overlords. “But then,” I said, “then, you’ll go to bed.” “No,” she said, “I’m going to a record launch in Cawlan’s”. “Where?” “Cawlan’s.” “Never heard of it, spell it.” “C-O-U-G-H-L-A-N-S” “Oh,” I said, “Cocklan’s”. “No, Cawlan’s, you’ve just been out of Cork too long, you don’t know how to pronounce it any more,” said she.

I let it go, she was driving after having been awake for 36 hours and flown out of a snow bound mid-West. But I knew I was right.

Later that evening, my brother asked me would I run him to the pub in the car. “Sure,” said I, “where are you going?” “Cawlan’s.” I am a broken woman.

*You know from Hilaire Belloc ” But this pronunciation varies/ Some people call it Buenos Aires.”

Geographical Inaccuracy

10 February, 2019 at 7:17 pm by belgianwaffle

I was having a peaceful cup of tea in a cafe yesterday while waiting for Michael to emerge from drama. Sitting beside me was an Irish woman in her early to mid 20s with two tourists. The Irish woman was offering them tips about what to do in Ireland in general and Dublin in particular. I thought that she gave broadly good advice; though quite loud (let those of us who were not loud in our twenties cast the first stone etc.).

They talked about their own lives and the Irish woman explained that she had studied German in college and lived in Germany for a bit. She’d also spent a year working in Cork and loved it. So, you know, a well informed and discerning guide.

Then the tourists asked her about Irish airports. “Well,” she said, “there’s Dublin and Cork. And Galway I think. Oh yes, and Shannon.” “Where is Shannon?” asked the tourists. “It’s in the middle,” she said. “Hmm,” I thought, “it’s kind of in the middle of the west coast but I suppose that’s enough for tourists.” “What county is it in?” asked the tourists. “Good question,” said the Irish guide, “I’m not sure, maybe Roscommon*, I think?”

Goodness gracious me.

*For non-Irish readers, it’s really not.


9 February, 2019 at 6:59 pm by belgianwaffle

Honestly, I can’t remember when I have had a more miserable January. At least 3 of us had the flu and we were all sick. I am only really better now. Poor Mr. Waffle is still going around coughing pathetically. His recovery was not, I imagine, in any way advanced by a shower of hail while he stood on the side of a GAA pitch this afternoon cheering Daniel on to a miserable defeat.

The works in the kitchen have been quite hideous. The house continues to be almost always filled with builders and dust. The temporary kitchen set up in the utility room is as hideous as you might imagine. We had many freezing weeks without a wall. The temperature in the temporary kitchen fell to as low as 8 degrees celsius and the olive oil solidified. For one hideous wet, rainy, cold miserable night we had to go out in the back garden to get to and from the temporary kitchen.

We enjoyed about a week of an earth floor in the kitchen which as depressing as it sounds. Particularly, when you see the cat eyeing it speculatively as a vast indoor toilet facility. Our tiles in the kitchen were laid on earth by the Victorians and, as Mr. Waffle said, there were worms there sticking their heads into the air for the first time since the build up to the Boer War. British worms.

There were several dates for delivery of windows to make the kitchen weatherproof. This was even more important as doors between the kitchen and the rest of the house had to be removed. Two of the delivery dates were missed to no one’s real surprise but the windows and glass doors were delivered on February 4 and although the door doesn’t open and the bathroom window is not the colour we ordered, we are inclined to regard this as a definite step forward.

Meanwhile, like a fool, I am doing a course which required an assignment to be submitted by February 7. It had to be done in the course of January. You would think we were suffering enough but I enjoyed putting myself through that extra layer of misery. I am never doing another degree, diploma or anything unless it is for my own entertainment and maybe not even then.

My poor 93 year old father also got the flu and I was ringing him for daily updates on his condition. He’s almost recovered, thanks for asking. As I rang to hear his litany of woe and he sympathetically listened to mine, he would say, “there is only one thing for it ‘durchhalten'”.

I think the worst might be over. But it might not.

Failing to Keep Up with the Joneses

14 January, 2019 at 8:35 pm by belgianwaffle

When we went to Cork for a week our next door neighbours minded our cat, then when they were in France last week we fed their chickens. They came back at the weekend and we exchanged token gifts in return for neighbourly services.

Our token gift: a packet of artisan marshmallow picked up at a food fair in Cork

Their token gift: two large bars of chocolate, a jar of foie gras, a jar of onion confit, an enormous amount of Tomme and some other mountainy cheese.

I feel bad but I had some of the foie gras this evening and, God knows, we need some cheering in the midst of illness and renovations, and I was cheered. Also, Mr. Waffle tells me that he put out their bins and took them in again so there’s that. As against that, we got four eggs from the hens during our period of responsibility.

Changing Mores or an Unexpected Caller

14 January, 2019 at 3:31 pm by belgianwaffle

Over Christmas Mr. Waffle and I went for a walk along the South Bull Wall which is a wall with a lighthouse at the end of it that sticks out into Dublin bay. Half of Dublin was there (including a child from the boys’ class whose parents had forced him out while we left ours plugged in to the mainframe). The guilt.

They missed the great views out to Wicklow across the bay but they were unmoved when we told them.


Anyhow, this is all by the by. The story I am wending my way gradually towards concerns a couple who were walking towards us. The woman was speaking with great vehemence, “I mean, she’s a monster, unbearable, who even does that?” I listened with interest to hear what the sin was and, apparently, the monster dropped in on them without notice. That was it, that was her sin. Sadly, only my friends M & R do that to us but I love an unexpected drop in. Is it now gone the way of the dodo? My sister tells me that a woman who was in her class in school has a sign up in her driveway saying, “Please respect our privacy and do not call to the door.” This just strikes me as rude. Am I out of touch? What do the young people do?

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