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Wasting my Sweetness on the Desert Air

8 March, 2017 at 7:11 pm by belgianwaffle

Myself and the Princess drove along the lane behind our house and when we got to the end we found someone had parked a van so that we couldn’t get out. I was very annoyed. I penned a strongly worded note as follows: “Please do not park here as your van is blocking vehicular access to the lane.” I then very slowly and carefully and to a symphony of beeping (our new car beeps if it gets near walls) reversed down the length of the lane which is quite long and narrow. “I wonder if he will move?” said the Princess conversationally. “I certainly hope so,” I said indignantly. “I don’t know,” she said, “when I cycled in to school this morning, it was there and somebody had taped a note all over the window saying ‘Don’t park here you f**king eejit’ and I notice that it’s gone now so the van owner must have returned, taken it off and not moved the van.” I take it my note was unlikely to be effective then.

Further Intimations of Mortality

25 January, 2017 at 10:52 pm by belgianwaffle

I meet a group of former colleagues for lunch regularly. The median age of the group is 40ish and I am the oldest, at 47, and the youngest is 36. We met recently and I got there a bit late. As I arrived, one of them asked, “How old are you?” “Why do you ask?” I said. “We were speculating because you were late,” they replied. I told them. “Oh really, that old we thought you were younger, except for G, she guessed you were approaching 50.” I turned reproachfully to poor G, who said, defensively, “I only said that you were looking very well for someone in her late 40s.” I understand that there are three ages: young, middle aged and “you’re looking great”. Have I really entered the last phase?

Heavily Laden

22 January, 2017 at 12:32 pm by belgianwaffle

I took this picture before I went into work the other morning. Observe, my noble bicycle carrying my handbag, both boys’ schoolbags and my briefcase.

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Humiliation of the Non-Handy

19 January, 2017 at 8:50 pm by belgianwaffle

Our heating broke during a cold spell there recently. It worked upstairs but not downstairs. We poked ineffectually at the boiler and the radiators but, in the end, we had to get someone in. He had a look and pointed out that we had a thermostat on the wall downstairs which was currently set to zero and that might be the root of our problem.

There’s Still a Mountain to Climb

8 January, 2017 at 6:03 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle was up with Daniel at the GAA club before Christmas. A number of players from the women’s and men’s county teams were there to talk to the children and do some training with them. There were about 500 boys and girls there.

One of the Dublin team players said to the children, “Who’s the best at handstands?” Mr. Waffle said all of the boys immediately put their hands in the air. Very few girls’ hands went up. Instead, the girls started talking amongst themselves, “Are you the best? No, I’m not the best, maybe X is the best.” And so on. Ironically, given that far more of the girls are doing gymnastics (yes, a gendered space that), de facto it was likely that far more of the girls could do handstands. Capacity doesn’t really seem to matter in these contexts though, does it?

Epiphany

6 January, 2017 at 11:53 pm by belgianwaffle

Today is the last day of Christmas. Christmas was good and really long this year because of how it fell, I was on holidays for nearly a fortnight. Hurrah.

Our advent calendar went missing mysteriously and despite extensive searching could not be found so our Christmas season began with the week long steaming of the pudding:

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This was followed by the arrival of Saint Nicolas. To be honest, Mr. Waffle and I were pretty sure that he would not come to people who left Belgium more than 8 years ago. We were so wrong.

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We got the annual Christmas magazine from school – same as the one I got 35 years ago but they’ve updated the graphics:

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We got the Hollybough:

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We got the bumper RTÉ Guide:

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We put a wreath on the door.

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Then we got the tree.

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Daniel and I decorated it.

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We saw Santa at mass the Sunday before Christmas – he was in mufti – he gets a lot of work locally and covers the boys’ school. At the sign of peace, Michael was quite startled to see him in the pew behind us but Santa, showing great composure, raised his eyebrows and put a finger to his lips. Michael was charmed.

We had a furious round of pre-Christmas activity. I took a day off work to get my Christmas shopping done. Don’t mock. That morning Mr. Waffle had a meeting he couldn’t miss. Inevitably, both boys were sick. I spent the morning minding them until the secondary school rang to say that herself was sick also. I left the boys in their sick beds and, as the car was in the garage, took a taxi out to rescue my poor sick child (on the plus side it gave me the opportunity to verify that the Princess’s bike was in the school bike shed as suspected and not, in fact, stolen from our garage like the last one as we had feared – there had been a certain amount of driving in and out to school due to wet weather and the pathetic time she arrived home bedraggled and damp and her heartless parents felt bad and we had slightly lost track of where the bike was). At lunch time, Mr. Waffle relieved me from duty and I went off and bought everything in the afternoon. It just shows, it can be done.

The boys had their Christmas play which was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Daniel was Charlie and he was terrific. Michael was Slugworth. He was also terrific. I was very proud, my sister came up to see them and she said they were marvellous and, unlike me, she is completely objective. In drama class, Michael got to star as Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”. It went very well but Tiny Tim’s leg accidentally fell off. There was a Christmas concert in the Princess’s school; there was also a carol service in the church near the Princess’s school. The Princess sang at both. I recorded her singing the song at home so that I could dazzle you with her general amazingness but she is not keen to share it so you will have to imagine it. There was also a carol service in our local church where both herself and Daniel sang (not a complete success as she was exhausted after a sleepover the night before and Daniel was sick). And we had some neighbours and friends around for Christmas drinks. We watched “A Muppet Christmas Carol”; in my view by far Michael Caine’s best film. And then constant work parties, lunches etc. It was quite the whirlwind, I can tell you. I can almost sympathise with the teacher in the Princess’s school who hates Christmas and wants them all to know about it; an t-Uasal Ó Grinch as he is known.

By Christmas Eve I was a bit flattened. Nonetheless I was up early getting cranberries in the supermarket (I blame the Americans, when I was a child there were no cranberries and we got through Christmas fine). Then I went to the butcher’s to get our Christmas turkey and spiced beef. There was an enormous queue and the staff were plying Christmas punters with tea and coffee during the wait. Text received from herself during the waiting: “When will my mother return from the war?” When I got back, we took ourselves off for a walk in Wicklow with a picnic lunch. It was cold but, crucially, it did not rain.

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And then we went to midnight mass (starting at 9, confusingly) where there was beautiful music and herself got to carry the baby Jesus to the crib and none of the children collapsed from exhaustion. In fact so lively were they that Daniel arrived downstairs at 12.30 for a chat which was quite the surprise.

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The next day, we had Mr. Waffle’s family for Christmas- 8 adults and 5 children including ourselves. I was quite nervous about the quantity of food that needed to be prepared but it was grand and a good time was had by all etc. At least I hope so, they ate it anyhow which is crucial when you bring a turkey into the house.

As is tradition, we went orienteering on St. Stephen’s Day and for the first time ever, I think, it did not lash rain on us.

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The next day we headed to Cork. As my mother always says, we travel light. Ahem.

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We stopped off at my parents’ house and hoovered up presents. It was like Santa all over again and then some. Then we went to east Cork where we often stay in my friends’ summer house – so often, that we now have our own key. Um, look they were in Spain, it was empty. They have very energy efficient modern Scandinavian heating which takes about 12 hours to warm up so we came prepared with hot water bottles for the first night but after that it was perfectly toasty – underfloor heating is where it is at.

They have no television and no wifi. We fell back on traditional entertainments. The boys made plastic models.

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We attempted their jigsaw. Very hard.

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We went ice skating. We went to Fota Wildlife Park. I must say that all of these things are a lot easier when your children are 11 and 13 than when they are under 8. Although Mr. Waffle got pretty grumpy about the traffic in and out to Mahon Point for the ice skating. Do not go ice skating in a shopping centre at peak post-Christmas sale time was part of the message we took from that experience.

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We went to visit second cousins in Limerick. We saw a ruined abbey.

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We were back in Dublin for new year’s eve. Mr. Waffle went to a party at a neighbour’s house but I was tired and stayed home and the Princess and I chatted. Mr. Waffle returned to join us just before midnight. We did some further mild relative visiting. I went to the sales. I took the boys to the dentist. We went for a lovely walk in Howth.

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I went back to work yesterday and am slowly re-adjusting. Mr. Waffle and the children are still on holidays. Today is Women’s Christmas and Mr. Waffle nobly took the children out so I got back to an empty house – slightly thrilling. After dinner, I suggested that Mr. Waffle and the boys might clean up as it was Women’s Christmas and the Princess might be excused (I was the cook and so excused ex officio). The Princess was outraged by this blatant sexism when Mr. Waffle does just as much work around the house as I do (or, according to Michael, slightly more which I dispute but I don’t think Michael counts putting things away as work) and insisted on staying to help her father.

And now it is nearly midnight and the end of Christmas. Tomorrow we will be taking down the Christmas tree and the decorations. Alas. How was your own Christmas?

More Weekend

27 November, 2016 at 8:49 pm by belgianwaffle

After mass this morning we zoomed back to the house for lunch and then went off to our interactive theatre or, bus tour, as the less imaginative might characterise it.

Mr. Waffle and I have been to a couple of Anú productions before and this was definitely the least scary one ever. Things started off tensely enough though. Despite our speedy early lunch we left the house a bit late and floundered around trying to find parking.

I took the children and left Mr. Waffle to park the car. The website describes the route of the tour thus:

Starting from Dublin Bus Head Office, 59 Upper O’Connell Street, this 90 minute adventure will travel through the city stopping at major sites including City Hall, Dublin Castle, St. Stephen’s Green, Four Courts, North King Street and the GPO.

Was there any sign of the bus when I got to 59 Upper O’Connell Street? There was not. Was Dublin Bus head office open? It was not. Fortunately, some idly milling people told me that a woman had just gathered up bus tour people and taken them to Cathal Brugha street which is not far away but not exactly round the corner either – good luck with finding it tourists. We managed to get on the bus. But O’Connell Street was essentially closed (the Luas tram works continue – possibly the centre of Dublin will just be dug up forever) so no GPO stop. No North King Street stop or Four Courts stop either. We survived without.

It didn’t really do it for me but the children enjoyed it – it was very interactive and herself and Michael love interactive. I’m not sure that Daniel is so keen but he seems to like theatre a lot anyhow so he was pleased too.

But with the late start and everything else, the tour took longer than we expected and pitched us up in a different location from where we had started. Daniel and I immediately peeled off to see “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. We quite enjoyed it and Daniel showed an impressive ability to guess all the plot twists. I did not and mocked his predictions until they turned out to be true.

Meanwhile, Mr. Waffle and the others went to Eason’s to spend some vouchers and get a cup of tea. Mr. Waffle’s parents were coming over for dinner but due to a misunderstanding turned up at 5.40 and ended up spending 20 minutes waiting patiently in the car outside our door until Mr. Waffle turned up and let them in and fed them. Slightly tense times in the Waffle household but Daniel and I missed it as we were safely cocooned in the cinema with a family size pack of Malteasers.

By the time Daniel and I got home, the grandparents had, unfortunately, fled the coop. Happily, some Yorkshire puddings were saved for us.

As I type, I am conscious that not a solitary word of my 1,500 word essay has been typed and my enthusiasm levels for beginning are very low indeed. I note that this post is about 500 words and I feel some puritanical motto might apply. I think I will start tomorrow. No really, definitely tomorrow.


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