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Weekend Round-Up

10 December, 2017 at 8:28 pm by belgianwaffle

On Friday night there was no hockey training for Michael as it was cancelled due to cold weather. This is not the kind of attitude adopted by the hardy GAA players/coaches to cold weather; it was very welcome though. I had my office Christmas party so although it was my Friday half day, I went back in about 5 having spent the afternoon picking up my daughter’s bike from school (she was on the DART to friend in Wicklow) and watching a film in front of the fire with my loving sons. I was reluctant to go back to work but did and it was grand but I felt dutiful and virtuous rather than having fun and letting my hair down; possibly for the best. I bailed out about 7 to pick up herself from the DART. She was going to a friend’s Christmas carol concert in Trinity. I was a bit dubious – I have been stung before by youth choirs. We met her other friend J in front of Trinity and then went into the chapel where the concert was to be and to my surprise and delight it was quite warm. And then the concert itself was absolutely superb. The singers were amazing; they were unaccompanied but sounded utterly beautiful. The performance included the only good version of “Away in a Manger” that I have ever heard (sorry everyone). My favourite song was probably “Gaudete” but they were really all excellent. Afterwards herself and myself went to supper and that was lovely too although she was exhausted by the time we got home.

On Saturday afternoon, Daniel had his final GAA session of the year (7 a side tournament – which his team won – followed by pizza). You will note that the GAA were not put off by inclement weather like the hockey people. Michael meanwhile had his drama showcase (v good if a bit confusing). Herself and myself attended and we picked up glitter Christmas glasses.

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Afterwards we went to look at the Christmas window in Arnott’s (for me, for me, children only v mildly interested) and got on the new extended Luas line home (verdict from children – “it’s a tram”).

On Saturday night we all trooped off to see the Princess win an award. My poor parents and parents-in-law are not really well enough to attend this kind of event any more and my brother and sister are a bit too busy and far away so herself had to make do with enthusiastic support from her parents and some lacklustre support from her brothers who were, you know, supportive but a little bored.

This morning we had mass (herself mentioned from the pulpit for her award but they got her name wrong so, um, swings and roundabouts) and choir rehearsal. Had a great chat with one of the other parents while waiting for rehearsal to end. Like my mother, he is from Limerick and v interested in horses. I was asking how his daughter was getting on in secondary school and he said that he had spent last night explaining sets to her. “It is,” said he, “very useful for working things out if you want to put a combination on the tote.” He spent some time trying to explain this to me but, unlike his 13 year old, I seem to be a slow learner, I am glad, however, that somebody has found a practical example for the use of sets.

At lunch time we took ourselves off to see a special screening of “A Muppet Christmas Carol” in the cinema. Singing along was encouraged but it did feel like Michael and I were the only ones who knew all the words; so we were, I thought, a little conspicuous. We had hoped to go and look at the snow in the mountains but it was too cold and wet (I mean, I know snow is wet but you want blue skies to enjoy it not leaden sleeting ones) and we realised, belatedly, that herself has grown out of her hiking boots and would have to climb the mountain in Converse runners so instead, we went to the parents-in-law for a visit and now we are home, I have lit the fire and nobody is going anywhere for the remainder of the evening.

How was your own weekend?

First World Catastrophe

29 November, 2017 at 10:39 pm by belgianwaffle

I spent nearly 5 years choosing a sofa. It was delivered today and it is unutterably hideous. I want to cry. I think we’ll have to get rid of it. It’s much too big. And the smaller one I chose to go with it is disproportionate and ugly. I would show you photos but I haven’t the heart to take any. My affliction is not rendered the easier by being utterly ridiculous.

Saturday Night at the Movies

19 November, 2017 at 7:18 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle, the boys and I went to see Paddington last night. In the cinema, we met a) Daniel and Michael’s friend and his family who had just seen Paddington – they recommended it b) a friend of the Princess’s (she remained unmoved when I told her that her friend was there and thought that Paddington – which the Princess had refused to see with us – was a worthy film) c) a boy from Daniel and Michael’s year in school and two second years from their school and d) a neighbour from the bottom of the road and her two sons. I used to think that Dublin was an anonymous big city; I think I was misled.

Anyhow we all quite enjoyed Paddington in a mild way. The Princess joined us afterwards in Milano’s (funded by my brother’s Tesco vouchers, thanks Dan) and we explained the plot to her though we had some difficulties (what did happen to the treasure? and the book?) she surveyed us in mild contempt and said that if we were having plot problems with Paddington then she despaired of us all. No change there then.

In unrelated news, Daniel won the hamper raffle at school. It was in aid of the student council where herself is a leading light. There’s a hilarious picture on the school’s twitter feed of her handing the hamper over to her brother with a forced smile while he is receiving it with unalloyed delight.

Any Given Monday

13 November, 2017 at 11:45 pm by belgianwaffle

So, today, I cycled home from work in the rain. I got home about 7 to my latch key children and decided not to take Daniel to GAA training as Mr. Waffle would have done, had he been here (he is, sadly, away for work). I then gave the boys pizza for dinner (yes, they had pizza for dinner last night as well for their birthday party; our house is a temple to healthy eating at the moment). I burnt Michael’s because I am truly on top of my game. Herself and myself had Thai take-out. €36 for two on a school-night Monday. I can feel you judging me. I’m judging me.

I signed homework notebooks for the boys. Michael forgot to bring in his art materials today and Daniel forgot his home economics ingredients (“Did you not get to make anything then?” I asked. “Yes, I got ingredients from the cupboard and made scones, they’re in the bottom of my schoolbag,” he said. For all I know, they’re there still becoming ever more appealing as they are crushed by the weight of school books). Daniel also forgot to do his history homework and spent much of the evening frantically writing his history essay now due tomorrow on pain of death. This despite the fact that last night they faithfully promised me that they had in their school bags everything they needed for today. Signed a form allowing herself to go on a school retreat. Revised Michael’s months of the year in German for a test on Thursday. Refused to help herself with prep for her German test on the grounds that at this point I am more likely to put her off than assist. As she corrected my dates in German for Michael’s benefit, she was forced to concede that I was correct.

While the children cleared up after dinner (more a throwing out of cartons than a real clean up), I went to do some work on the computer. Herself went back upstairs to do more homework after cleaning up and, once the boys had packed their bags for tomorrow (Did I double check? I did not. Is this wise? I think we all know the answer to that.), the boys and I watched an episode of the “Big Bang Theory” and then they went to bed. I turned back to my labours for the office (big all day meeting tomorrow) and at 9.45 herself sidled in. “The blueberries didn’t come with the shopping and I need them for home economics tomorrow.” Was there any point between last Thursday when the shopping came and 9.45 the night before they were needed when this might have been mentioned? “I don’t need them until after 11.30,” said she. Usually her father can be relied on to perform these awkward errands but he is away and I am not at liberty to leave my meeting in the morning for blueberry hunting. This is why I found myself in Tesco at 9.55 this evening looking for blueberries, insert your own joke about late stage capitalism and the Americanisation of everything here (it’s far from blueberries we were reared etc.).

OK, I have updated my blog and finished my work for this evening; I’m going to bed now to reread Harry Potter and nobody can stop me. Judge away, it’s all I’m fit for.

Updated to add: The cat can stop me. She’s supposed to be put in the utility room for the night, otherwise she travels around the house mewing in people’s ears. Mr. Waffle normally stows her away. He did not stow her away tonight. Possibly my husband should go away more often so that I can fully appreciate all the things he does around the house. Mental note: why is laundry basket overflowing?

Home Improvements or Why I Never Liked Pinterest

11 October, 2017 at 7:10 pm by belgianwaffle

When we moved into our house in 2013, we did as much renovation as we could afford and then waited until we had money to do the rest. Now we have money to do the rest but no appetite to do so [I know this is what my boss would call a quality problem but nonetheless still a problem – turns out it’s much easier to renovate before you move in]. I was mildly depressed to see that a house we looked at but didn’t buy in 2012 has been put back on the market, having been renovated “top to toe” by its new owners. In the same time, we have failed to get a new sofa. In fact when our old childminder came back into our lives recently, the first thing he said when he sat down was, “Oh God, you still have that really uncomfortable sofa.”

I am pleased to announce that we have put in an order and are now expecting a new sofa in mid-November. I feel an amazing sense of achievement. Also, we got some fancy new mirrors. All the rest of the family cordially loath the one in the hall but I don’t care. Loathed mirror is on the left.

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Have an arty shot of the ones over the fireplaces in the reception rooms that cunningly ensures the orange chintz sofa and the regency stripe curtains are out of view.

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Furthermore, I have, with some difficulty (for me, my sister, my brother, my father and my husband) arranged for my mother’s old dressing table and my father’s old chest of drawers to travel from Cork to Dublin.

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High on my success, I think I might put back the kitchen/utility room/downstairs bathroom renovation programme for another year. In the interim, Michael is insisting on a new bed, we need new curtains downstairs (only so much one can take of unlined, cherry striped curtains) and we have to do something about the wretched piano. God, my father was right when he said that houses are nothing but trouble.

Cycling Gloom

1 October, 2017 at 7:48 pm by belgianwaffle

I seem to have become obsessed by cycling infrastructure. It was not always thus. I have always cycled. I cycled in and out to school from when I was 12 and I never stopped. I don’t remember being concerned about cycling infrastructure and safe cycling until my own children started cycling in Dublin. It has been regularly heart-stopping. But I persist. I want them to be able to cycle: it’s good for them, it’s good for the planet and it’s handy. It’s also scary.

Herself has been cycling in and out to school since she started secondary school a couple of years ago. I was really nervous at the start but increasingly less so. She is on top of it now, I hope. I note from the most recent census that of the approximately 250,000 girls in secondary school, about 700 cycle. This is a significant percentage increase from the last census where only some 500 girls cycled to school but it’s not exactly a sea change. This is what the census says:

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The 25 years, from 1986 to 2011, saw an 87 per cent decrease in the numbers cycling to secondary school. 2016 saw the reversal of this trend with a 10.5 per cent increase since 2011, bringing the numbers of secondary students taking to their bikes to over 7,000. Over 90 per cent of these student cyclists were male, but the number of female cyclists has grown by over 30 per cent since 2011.

Her brothers started secondary school in September (more on this anon) and have been cycling in and out together, at first with a parent and, now, alone. It is unnerving stuff. September 8 is etched on my brain as the first day they cycled in and out unaccompanied and came home alive. I enjoyed the following conversation with Daniel:

Him: If I am run over while cycling to school, whose fault will it be?
Me: I am sure that you won’t be run over. When you say “whose fault” what do you mean?
Him: Will it be mine for cycling carelessly, yours for letting us cycle to school or [my sister’s] for refusing to cycle with us?

This was a bit depressing and, honestly, it is absolutely no wonder that people don’t send their children cycling to school in the same numbers as in 1986 (when coincidentally, I finished school) because there are far more cars on the roads, they’re faster and they’re much bigger, squeezing cyclists to the edge of the road and the car seems to be king in Dublin.

I am getting increasingly annoyed about this. So far, my only action has been to follow people who share my annoyance on twitter so, more work may be needed on my part. I was deeply depressed to see that the Liffey cycle route has been shelved because of inability to reach consensus in Dublin City Council. I mean Paris, Paris, is able to put in place better cycling provision than Dublin. Every time I visit my parents in Cork, I am impressed, yet again, by what can be done by a city with far fewer cyclists and much more rain than Dublin. I’m not saying Cork is perfect but it has more segregated cycling options in the city centre than Dublin. An action group has recently been formed and they are standing in human chains trying to keep cycle lanes free for cyclists. I applaud their efforts. However, with the best will in the world, there are many cycle lanes in Dublin which are so poorly designed that even sympathetic drivers who keep an eye out for cyclists (like me when I drive in town, which I do occasionally) find themselves crossing over them and squeezing cyclists. The motoring lobby says that the City Council is anti-motorist and in the grip of the cycling lobby. If only this were true or there were some evidence that this is the case in the form of half way decent cycling provision. I despair.

In unrelated cycling news, my bicycle was nicked a couple of weeks ago from the shed. Mr. Waffle, sneaked an illicitly purchased folding table (long story which you may well hear in due course) into the shed at lunchtime on a Sunday. When we went out to the shed in the afternoon to go for a family cycle, one of the family bikes was gone. It transpired that the €700 door we purchased after someone last tried to break into our shed hadn’t worked. It turns out that, for it to be really effective, it has to be locked.

I got the bike in 2015 on the bike to work scheme and, sadly, you can only claim relief once every five years so, I was alone on the purchase of the new bike. I got a second hand one and it was grand but I was a bit disappointed by the reaction of the guards with whom I had registered my stolen bike. They didn’t hold out any hope of getting it back and suggested that I look on donedeal.ie which, um, you know, I suppose, I might. Sigh.

Dalkey Island

1 August, 2017 at 10:11 pm by belgianwaffle

Despite my very recent resolution about probably never going on a family outing again, I made the family go to Dalkey island off the coast of Dublin a couple of weekends ago. The weather was beautiful.

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We had a picnic. We explored a bit.

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We paddled.

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We admired the view.

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I didn’t see the famous goats (apparently there are 5 on the island) but I did see some seals very close up and the largest rat I’ve ever seen in my life; also very close up but it moved faster than the seals which were basking on the rocks.

It was a success. More outings to come; my poor children.


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