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Home alone or Random Updates

20 June, 2018 at 10:44 pm by belgianwaffle

“So what news?” you ask.

A couple of weeks ago, I made Mr. Waffle and the boys go to the theatre to see “A Feast of Bones” which the Princess and I saw five years ago and liked. They left the house with great reluctance. Michael, in particular, pointing out that I had a history of never booking them in to good things. I pointed to the session on African explorer Thomas Parke which still remains my single most successful cultural outing. However, I finally have a second triumph, because they all really enjoyed the performance. Go me.

The weekend before last, Mr waffle was off in foreign parts for the weekend. He had a 25 year college reunion. Meanwhile I held the fort. We had a lot of pizza. Michael had his drama showcase which went fine thank you for asking. Daniel had a match – I dropped him up and another parent brought him home. He told me that he was taken off injured after 5 minutes which wasn’t totally ideal. I think he has some kind of floating body in his knee and from time to time, when I have an idle moment, I worry about this. Herself took a break from studying (this was when the Junior Cert was still on – happily it has now ended, it was ok, results in September) and went out for walk at the seaside with her friends. There was a certain amount of scurrying to get everyone everywhere on time but we made it. I left the washing out on the line overnight though – living life on the edge.

On Sunday we cycled to mass. “Are you ok?” I asked Dan. “Fine, why?” he said. “Your knee injury from yesterday,” I said. “Oh,” said he, “I made that up, I was fine and played, it’s just that I didn’t want you to make me have a shower.” Where to begin? I still took him and his brother to the cinema that afternoon (because I am saintly and he did shower on Sunday morning).

Herself finished her exams last Friday and the saintly mother of one of her friends took a group of them to the Taylor Swift concert. A good time seems to have been had by all etc.

Last Sunday was the annual church garden party. Yet again, I found myself manning the ice cream wafer stall with no fridge. Very trying, frankly. Mr. Waffle won the father’s day raffle – a hamper which looked promising but turned out to be full of Nivea for men products. That’s what happens if your sponsor is the local chemist, I suppose.

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There was a box full of loads of Greek and Latin plays and histories. And even though our house is full to overflowing with books and I suspect I will never read them I was unable to resist picking up 5 books for a euro (two French books as well which will be for herself to never read). Here are the books I will never read:

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The boys did a science course last week but have no activities planned this week which fills their little hearts with delight. I met them in town for lunch on Monday. They made their own way in and out. They were in great form. I have to say, if I never see Milano’s again, it might be too soon. That evening, Daniel had a GAA match in Tallaght. Tallaght! With the snow earlier in the year, they are still catching up on league matches during the week rather than at the weekend and it is spectacularly inconvenient. It feels like the season is never going to end.

Daniel went back to the ophthalmologist this afternoon and basically he is cured. He will probably always need glasses but as he is very longsighted, his eyesight will improve from now on. Apparently watching television and playing on the phone is good for his eyesight, if anything. The patching when he was little has worked and his astigmatism is gone. He can wear contact lenses for sport if he likes. And we never need to go back to the ophthalmologist. Nice man but, frankly, I rejoice.

He got his hair cut to celebrate and we had a cup of tea.

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Mr. Waffle is away for work until tomorrow evening, so I am coping alone (so far so good). Real challenge will be tomorrow. The children will be home alone all day – when Mr. Waffle is in the country, he drops in at lunch time to feed them – so I have told them that they have to get dressed and feed themselves. It remains to be seen how that will pan out. Will I come home to starving, feral children in pyjamas? All to play for. Poor Daniel has yet another GAA match. Happily it is relatively nearby so I have told him that he will have to get himself there by bike and he seems resigned if not enthusiastic (I appreciate that enthusiastic would be a big ask there). We’re all looking forward to the return of Mr. Waffle tomorrow evening, particularly the person who may, possibly, have felled a down pipe while doing some overdue rose bush pruning. Also the cat who is sitting looking at me as I type, hoping against hope that I might feed her again.

Tragically, he has to go away again next week and the week after. How will it all end? Also, we have no summer holiday booked. I think I am beginning to panic a little here.

My aunt was 89 today or will be on Friday. My granny always said that my aunt was born on June 20th but the Californian authorities have recorded it as June 22nd on her birth cert. Still, the family wisdom is that my granny ought to have known and so my aunt is celebrating today. Only a spring chicken etc. compared to my father, of course.

Any news yourself?

Tulips

15 May, 2018 at 8:39 pm by belgianwaffle

The Dutch Mama gave us tulips from Schipol airport when she came to stay with us a couple of months ago. I planted them which, frankly, is where I often fall down in reaping the rewards of botanical presents. They blossomed for a couple of weeks in April/May and I sat on the front steps almost every evening looking at them. And they should be back next year. Hurrah for middle age. This picture goes a little way towards conveying the delightfulness of my tulip crop.

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Mother’s Day Walk

11 March, 2018 at 6:49 pm by belgianwaffle

Even though they were exhausted by yesterday’s birthday celebrations, I made my family go out for a walk in the Dublin mountains today. Fortune favoured them and the road to the walk I had planned was closed due to snow.

We went for a mild walk in the woods instead. It was snowy, it was foggy. It was not an enormous success. I said that it reminded me of the set of the play we saw at Christmas and my, extremely literal, husband and son both said, “But the trees on that set were all white.” Walking down the snow in the fog, I said to Daniel, “Listen to the sounds, what do you hear?” “I hear running water and birdsong,” he began and was promptly interrupted by someone shouting in the distance, “Are you taking the piss, Jonathan?”

Some key walk statistics follow.

Time spent complaining about walk: 4 hours
Time spent gathering hats, coats, boots etc for walk: 35 minutes
Time spent complaining about wet socks/trousers: 90 minutes
Time driving to and from the walk: 75 minutes
Time complaining about evil siblings’ snowball throwing: 75 minutes
Time actually spent walking: 75 minutes

UntitledUntitledUntitledAnd we had to stop at Tesco on the way home to pick up ingredients for Home Ec tomorrow. Oh the humanity.

Notions

5 March, 2018 at 8:27 pm by belgianwaffle

I met a colleague for lunch recently in a slightly fancy restaurant.

Colleague poking at his plate: What’s that, coleslaw?
Me: Well on the menu, they said is was celeriac remoulade.
Him: Coleslaw.

Winter Wonderland

2 March, 2018 at 11:55 pm by belgianwaffle

It’s been a very exciting week here, I can tell you.

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My phone started pinging about 6.30 on Wednesday morning with news that the “Beast from the East” (cold air) was coming, the country was to be blanketed in snow and the emergency planning group were issuing a “code red” (it’s far from code reds we were reared etc). From a work point of view, we were somewhat more prepared than when Storm Ophelia struck last year and able to cascade out to people reasonably readily that they were only to come in to work, if safe to do so. I went in myself and it was eerily quiet. Another colleague and I were the last to leave at the not incredibly late hour of 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Mr. Waffle and the children were at home as school was closed as well. About midday on Wednesday we were able to confirm to everyone at work that offices would be closed for Thursday and Friday also – it was a bit of a weight off my mind as I had a hideous vision of last minute calls Thursday and Friday morning.

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We had a lot of snow. Herself is still recovering from a cold and hasn’t left the house since it started. Michael did venture into the back garden and out onto the road and today, with some prodding, to the park around the corner. Daniel went (somewhat) further afield and was rewarded by an opportunity to throw snowballs at the neighbours’ children.

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Mr. Waffle and I walked in to town which was full of bewildered tourists but otherwise, pretty closed and empty.

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We have managed reasonably well. We had sufficient food including strategic bread stocks. We did run out of briquettes but Mr. Waffle chopped up some wood that was in the shed and that’s got us through today, along with the central heating.

Yesterday we watched “The Big Short” and now we all know what a synthetic CDO is so we certainly haven’t been wasting our time. We also tidied bookshelves, shelves in the kitchen, baked, worked a bit, finished homework and put away laundry. It’s all passed off very peacefully. The cat hates the snow though.

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Was there snow where you are? How was it?

Updated to add: Mr. Waffle trekked across the city on foot last night to attend a party. At the top of the road, he was hailed by our butcher. The butcher and two of the lads in the shop had been unable to go home due to the snow and they were staying in the B&B at the top of the road (he has some kind of contract to deliver nursing home food apparently and when they got back from doing the delivery, there was a queue of 20 people outside the shop and he felt obliged to open up and this was his undoing). When Mr. Waffle met them, they were venturing out in search of amusement having exhausted the limited entertainment offered by the B&B – apparently they had been reduced to playing chess on a Friday night and were mildly hoping for something better.

Things are the Sons of Heaven

12 February, 2018 at 7:16 pm by belgianwaffle

My parents and my grandparents had lots of mahogany furniture. My grandmother gave my mother some of her furniture including an enormous solid bookcase and my mother spent a great deal of her own time scouring auctions from where much of our furniture was sourced (I used to sit beside her quiet as a mouse because she told me if I moved at all, items would be knocked down to me and I was terrified). This was great when my parents lived in a big house but not so fantastic when they moved to a smaller Edwardian semi-detached house which basically had to be organised and extended around the furniture. I remember one of my friends commenting when he came to my parents house first what a curiously old-fashioned house it was.

Anyway, doubtless due to my peculiar upbringing, I love dark furniture. I think mahogany is a lovely, lovely wood. And it is out of fashion so truly beautiful pieces are going for a song. I want to cry every time I see a big house auction and fantasise about bringing all these items home to my terraced Victorian house. Although, frankly, with the items we have already imported from my parents house and the sofas of doom, there isn’t a great deal of space. Furthermore, I am not at all handy and so the round mahogany table which should tilt sideways, is permanently slightly askew, let us not even speak of the piano, the wardrobe door will not close (my grandmother gave me the wardrobe and I love it but it is inconvenient to have to wedge one door shut with a child’s old sock) and one leg is collapsing and there seem to be no carpenters who are at all interested in mending these beautiful things. It is all a bit depressing. I saw in the Irish Times design supplement one Saturday (which I find curiously appealing, I know what you’re thinking, stop it) an exhortation to readers to go out and buy mahogany furniture cheap at auction and then paint it over with pretty pastel shades. I think I nearly did cry when I saw that.

Am I entirely alone in my love for cluttered living with dark furniture? A whole generation of Victorians can’t be wrong.

Change and Decay in All Around I See

4 February, 2018 at 6:57 pm by belgianwaffle

When I was in my 30s, a lot of my friends got married. The year that herself was born (2003), we attended 5 weddings in three different countries and it nearly killed us all.

I think, gloomily enough, this is going to be the decade of funerals, not funerals of my friends, I hasten to add, but of their parents. It’s only the start of February but I’ve already been to a removal and a funeral and a colleague’s father is gravely ill and I fear the worst. The removal was for another colleague’s father who died suddenly last weekend. The funeral was my oldest friend’s father who was also a friend of my parents.

The funeral was in Ballydehob in West Cork. I was speaking to a friend before I went and he said, “I love Ballydehob, that gorgeous little bridge.” As a Cork person, I didn’t want to seem ignorant of something a Dublin person knew about and I agreed sagely but inside I was thinking, “What gorgeous little bridge?” Then I realised he meant the really quite big bridge in Ballydehob. That’s Dubliners all over for you.

It’s about a two hour drive from Cork city and although I thought I’d left plenty of time, I arrived just as the funeral service was starting. It was one of the nicest funerals I’ve ever been at. Firstly, the church was beautiful and the service was short and straightforward and I liked the music. My friend spoke really well about her father and made everyone laugh and remember his good points. She spoke about the wonderful care he had received in hospital which is not the kind of thing we see much in the papers and I found it mildly reassuring. Unlike my friend who bore up amazingly, I was a bit tearful. I had known this man all my life and it felt like the end of an era, the utter end of a part of my childhood: I remembered him tending to my teeth (he was a dentist and probably the reason why I have never been at all afraid of dentists); making up stories for myself and my friend (he was a great storyteller – as a dedicated amateur actor, he brought great oomph to performances for even the smallest audiences) and trying in vain to persuade me to eat a boiled egg as a very small girl.

He was buried in Schull with a superb view over the harbour. He was always a great man for a view and he used to live in Oysterhaven on a hill with view and work in Cork at a time when commuting was not the commonplace feature of our lives that it is today. My parents thought he was crazy with his insane 30 minute commute (length of my father’s commute – 3 minutes by bicycle, my mother’s – 10 minutes on foot) but it was worth it to him. It’s nice to think he is buried with a view.

He was 87 and had not been in great health so his death was not a complete surprise. I was very glad that we had seen him en famille over the summer holidays. I felt really sad for my friend as well. She’s an only child and, I know, “how they will manage my funeral” is probably not a good reason to have more than one child but it is a hard time to be alone. She was amazing. I was struck by what a gift she has for friendship, perhaps because she was an only child (swings, roundabouts). She has a lot of lifelong friends, me included, and although the groups of friends don’t necessarily know each other particularly well, we’ve know each other and our stories through her over a lifetime. I had such a nice time at the hotel catching up with all these friends which I know sounds a bit weird (I am doubtless destined to become one of these old people who really enjoys a good funeral) but it was lovely. I ended up sitting beside her next door neighbour from when my friend was a child. I was always slightly wary of the neighbour because, like my friend, she is a year older than me and, when you’re seven, that’s a lot of sophistication. We had so much fun reminiscing about when we were children and the things we got up to with my friend. Her family were farmers and she told me that, very sadly, they lost the farm during the recession (apparently it was all over the news, how miserable), meanwhile the friend on the other side was telling me how her partner also had recession property difficulties and it struck me that our generation really bore a lot of the pain of Ireland’s recent boom/bust cycle: many of us were forced to emigrate in the 80s and 90s and almost all of us were also absolutely crucified on the property market between 2000 and 2008. However, I suppose we’re all still standing.

At least the longest January in living memory is finally over and things will surely improve. I am trying to teach my children “Anois teacht an Earraigh” in celebration (as they are learning no Irish poetry in school – insert middle aged tutting sound here) but they are resisting ferociously. They don’t seem to regard it as celebratory either. And how are your own start of spring celebrations going?

Updated to add: February has not proved to be the break from relentless gloom that I had hoped. I heard that a former lovely, lovely colleague died of cancer. My colleague’s father who had been ill, died on Valentine’s Day. I went down to Tipperary for the funeral the Saturday after. My friend R’s (one half of the couple who got married in November) brother died the same week. He had been ill for some time and it wasn’t a complete surprise but it was very sad. I went over to the house on Friday night because I couldn’t make both funeral’s on Saturday and felt I had to go to Tipperary to represent the office. I got into my car at 7 on Friday evening and, as I did so, the neighbours rapped on the window to ask was I going over to R’s brother’s house as they had been there earlier. I did think it was ominous and I drove across town at speed but when I got there there was still a good crowd. The dead man had been great fun (one of his obituaries described him as Falstaffian) and they were throwing one last party. I stayed until about 10 o’clock. Already when I arrived a number of people were chatting across the open coffin with glasses of wine in their hands. It was actually very nice. The family had dug up loads of old photos and press cuttings (he was a public man) and it was lovely to look at them. At one point the room where the body was became very silent. I said to R, “Are they saying a decade of the rosary?” We both felt a bit surprised as the dead man was not at all religious; it turned out they were singing traditional songs as he had been a big man for trad and various traditional music luminaries (utterly unknown to me, philistine that I am) were in the house. I felt a heel not to be going to the funeral on the following day but I sent Mr. Waffle as our family representative.

Notwithstanding that all these funerals are lovely occasions, I could do with a bit of a break, to be honest. I’m hoping for a “no funeral March”.

Updated to add: Just this morning, March 3, a friend texted me that her mother died last night of an aggressive form of cancer which was diagnosed just after Christmas. People, I have had it.


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