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Any Port in a Storm

2 October, 2018 at 5:17 pm by belgianwaffle

I was in the Spar last week looking for a bottle of Sherry for a recipe. I went to the counter where the spirits are kept. The young man behind the counter was in his early 20s.

Me: Hi, do you have any sherry?
Him: What?
Me: Sherry, do you have any sherry?
Hm [Long pause]: I don’t even know what that is.
Me: Look behind you, the Harvey’s Bristol cream, that’s sherry.
Him: Oh really?

I bet his granny knew what sherry was.

Weekend Round-Up

30 September, 2018 at 6:52 pm by belgianwaffle

Saturday saw the usual drama/football dropping off with a side trip for Mr. Waffle to visit his father in hospital. My sister came over on Saturday afternoon to give the boys their birthday presents which were very well received indeed. She also advised me on my kitchen renovations (only starting in November almost certainly will not be finished by Christmas despite the builder’s blithe assurances to the contrary). She found a dead mouse on the utility room floor (the cat is in overdrive) and instead of closing the door and waiting for Mr. Waffle to return, she took it out to the garden on the dustpan to dispose of it. “Where did you put it?” I asked nervously. “The compost heap,” she said. I was outraged and made her go out and rescue the corpse with a tongs. Then she took it to the lane. I was keen that she throw it over the wall on to the building site from whence, I am convinced, it came but she was unsure that she would be able to get it over the wall and felt unable to run the risk that it might not clear the wall and would rain back down on us, so laid it in the lane underneath some foliage.

After that excitement, she went into town to see an Irish language play. Her partner’s mother was the playwright – he comes from a very literary family. They came to our house afterwards for a cup of tea. I have to say, the playwright is a lovely woman and I felt a bit guilty that we hadn’t attended ourselves but she did not seem at all offended. A low point came as I handed round the plate of biscuits and Daniel said, “No, she can’t have those, they’re the book club biscuits!” It is true that I am up to host book club on Monday and I had indeed bought the biscuits for this purpose and previously forbidden Daniel for eating them on those very grounds but this was not the moment to bring it up.

After they left we went next door where they were having their annual end of summer party. Among the neighbours is a man whose father, I had heard, delivered the little old lady across the road. In fact, chatting to him about this, it turned out it was his grandfather – an awkward moment I have to concede. He is a bit older than me but, it turns out, not that much older than me. I had thought all the families were local to the area but in fact she was born in Carlow where his grandfather lived and worked and he was from Tullamore and it was complete coincidence that they turned up living across the road from each other. I also found out that Mrs. Second Next Door is a sister of Mrs. Directly Across the Road. Yes indeed, Ireland is tiny. Getting back to the man whose grandfather delivered the little old lady who lives across the road, he told me that his wife wasn’t there as she was at home minding their daughter. Ever mindful of my own daughter’s pecuniary needs, I offered her up as babysitter for a future occasion should there be a need, once she returned from France. At this he looked a little sheepish. It turned out that their daughter, who does look very young, is only 18 months younger than ours but that her parents are very protective. He pointed out that she is the only child of older parents and, there we have it, another awkward moment. The next person I spoke to was another neighbour, a lovely man, whom I had met in a slightly heated work context earlier in the month. Between one thing and another, I ended up leaving early to mind the [sleeping and entirely indifferent] boys next door with something of the mien of a coursing hare.

On Sunday we had a specially lengthy mass. I love those. There was a great quote from Frédéric Ozanam:

The question which is agitating the world today is a social one. It is a struggle between those who have nothing and those who have too much. It is a violent clash of opulence and poverty which is shaking the ground under our feet. Our duty as Christians is to throw ourselves between these two camps in order to accomplish by love, what justice alone cannot do.

I have to say that I thought that it was a contemporary source but no, it dates from the first half of the 19th century. Ozanam (I learn from this morning’s leaflet at mass) was a lawyer but a reluctant one which may explain why he was unimpressed by what justice alone could achieve.

All afternoon we had Daniel and Michael’s friends from school playing elaborate board games – like a birthday party only much less effort. We had our regular scheduled talk with herself this evening. She seems to be getting on like a house on fire in France. I hope that she’s not putting on a brave face but I think not. She got my latest letter and hasn’t read it all yet and I don’t get the sense that she’s saving it up. I think that’s a good sign though slightly disconcerting.

I face into a week of book club hosting, football training for Dan, parents’ council AGM, return of Mr. Waffle’s weekly soccer club and kitchen appliance inspection (you have to BOOK to see kitchen appliances now). I’m feeling a sense of anticipatory exhaustion.

I plan to spend the evening re-reading Terry Pratchett to fortify myself. How was your own weekend?

More Weekend

23 September, 2018 at 7:48 pm by belgianwaffle

So we went to our play last night. Despite the rather grim subject matter which was a little close to home (siblings caring for a parent with dementia) it was funny and the acting was very good. I would possibly call it my best Dublin fringe experience ever – this is quite a low bar. If you get a chance, The Cat’s Mother is recommended.

Michael was back to hockey this morning and Daniel and I went along to 11.30 mass together. He did the Prayers of the Faithful with the other children in the choir – it went chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, growl. Although he’s not the oldest, he is the oldest boy and he’s the only one whose voice has broken. He seems relaxed as does the choir mistress who says that his new baritone goes well with the other children. Both boys’ voices have broken over the summer; I don’t really notice much but apparently a number of their classmates have commented.

As a special treat for Mr. Waffle we went to the transport museum this afternoon. I had completely forgotten that we’d been before years ago but I found a reference on the blog. I would be less harsh on this occasion. Maybe it’s a better outing with older children but still not tremendous now.

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We had a cup of tea and then went for a walk on the pier in Howth which was nice in a low key kind of way.

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We got our weekly call from herself while we were walking on the pier. It was a bit unsatisfactory as reception wasn’t great. She seems to be having a good time and settling in well as far as we can tell. I do miss her. It’s probably as well we are restricted to one call a week (“It’s supposed to be immersion, Mum.”) as otherwise I would probably be on 4 times a day.

Culture Night

22 September, 2018 at 6:15 pm by belgianwaffle

Last night, the boys went for French lessons (not a success). While they were there, as part of Culture Night, Mr. Waffle and I went to the RIA and the Mansion House. I’d been to the Mansion House for events before and it was grand but a bit dull. Not their brass, though, which was impressively shiny and made me realise, sigh, that my own is in sad need of polishing. A very enthusiastic woman in the RIA explained about the Irish Historic Towns Atlas and explained, even to my satisfaction, why on a 25 year project when even Youghal and Bandon are done, Cork city is not due until 2020. Apparently it’s because Cork is particularly difficult to do as it has a very complex and ever-changing street landscape. So there.

We went with the boys to the Terry Pratchett exhibition in Trinity which was disappointing as it was a bit heavy on lecture and light on other elements. There was a great map though. It was a bit of an evening of maps.

We went to Gotham (a pizza and burger joint off Grafton Street) for dinner as I could not face Milano’s. It was crowded but they were able to put us outside. It was the first time in years I’ve eaten my dinner beside a smoker and the first time ever for the boys who were displeased but also fascinated. “Wait until tomorrow,” I said, “when you wake up, all your clothes will smell of smoke.” We packed up reasonably rapidly and went home.

When I was going to bed I noticed a weird small rash thing on my neck. “Probably stress,” I said to myself gloomily. In the morning, however, it came off in the shower so I can only suppose that it was ketchup which ended up on my neck due to a combination of peculiar eating habits, shortsightedness and poor hygiene. You’re welcome.

In other cultural news, Mr. Waffle and I are going out to the theatre this evening. It’s a thing in the Fringe and only an hour or so; we are leaving the boys to fend for themselves. Mr. Waffle has just come in after struggling for about an hour with a ladder and the unhappy interaction of the down-pipe and the rose bush in the front garden. I’ve told him we’ll have to leave for the theatre in about 15 minutes. He’s delighted.

We spent the day ferrying Daniel and Michael to various activities – tennis, drama etc. But, we also looked at ovens for our new kitchen. I want to get an aga. Am I crazy? Stove/oven advice very gratefully received.

Just now, the cat has skulked to the flower bed with a dead mouse between her jaws, I can only hope that my shouting at her, “Don’t you dare bring that into the house!” will be effective. All the news as it happens here.

And how has your weekend been so far?

Local Colour

18 September, 2018 at 7:15 pm by belgianwaffle

On my way home from work the other night, I saw a dead rat in the lane. Huge yoke, with it’s little paws frozen in the air from rigor mortis. The next morning when I cycled out, it was gone. What are we to make of this?

Papal Visit – Belated Edition

10 September, 2018 at 8:14 pm by belgianwaffle

The Pope came to Ireland. I didn’t go last time a Pope came to Ireland in 1979 and I hadn’t intended to go this time but my sister got tickets to the mass in the Phoenix Park and couldn’t find anyone to go with her. Given that I live in Dublin and she was staying with me, it seemed churlish to refuse to tramp to the world’s longest mass. It was fine, actually (though the weather was not); it was nice to go for a long walk with my sister and we had tea to tide us through the mass. The Pope gave his sermon through Italian which was subtitled and I was able to deploy my college Italian to translate as we were too far to see the subtitles on the big screen. Given the age profile of the crowd, I doubt we were the only ones who couldn’t see. It was fine but I was not particularly excited. I’m not a great one for live concerts either so maybe I am just not designed to stand in fields for performances of any kind.

By far the most exciting part of the Pope’s weekend in Dublin for me came on Saturday afternoon and had nothing to do with the Papal visit. I had been in town with the Princess on Saturday morning to replenish her wardrobe in advance of her trip to France and retired exhausted before she had been to all of the shops she wanted to cover. I gave her some cash and told her to make her own way home when she was finished. Waiting for the tram to take her home, she saw a stabbing. As she reassured me, it was just the blood she saw really. Anyway, it effectively stopped the trams and she had to go and find a bus to take her home. As I sat in horror listening she reassured me further, “The stabbing was the worst thing that happened to me on the way home.” In fairness, there is something to be said for keeping her safe in small town France for a couple of months.

Weekend Round Up

9 September, 2018 at 7:24 pm by belgianwaffle

So we are slowly getting back to normal after the return from the holidays and the departure of Herself for France. The two weeks between our return from Copenhagen and her departure were spent in a whirl of activity. Herself went to Belfast for a conference, Cork to say farewell to the relatives before departing on her odyssey (a financially very worthwhile journey although, in fairness, that was not at all her motivation) and Donegal to the Gaeltacht with the school. That’s a lot of travelling in a fortnight even if you haven’t just come back from Denmark and are about to depart for France. Also, she has a vast circle of friends all of whom had to be seen and bidden a fond farewell, some more than once. When she came back from the Gaeltacht (last Wednesday), I announced to the family that she would not be going away again before she went to France. Michael voiced mild surprise, “Was she away? I thought she was up in her room.” This may explain why he feels that, at least initially, he may not miss her.

On Saturday morning Mr. Waffle and I went out for breakfast in town leaving the boys to the tender mercies of the x-box. We signed them up for French classes until Christmas, news which they greeted with the amount of enthusiasm you might imagine. Our lovely, lovely French childminder is finally sick of Ireland and moving back to France. He had been coming on Friday afternoons to play games with the boys and force them to speak French whether they liked it or not but now he is gone and we have to consider alternatives.

On Saturday afternoon we had the street party and it says a great deal for our residents’ committee that they managed to pick a rainy afternoon after the finest summer we have had in 40 years. That said, it was nice to see all the younger children who live nearby and the new families who have moved to the area. Michael really enjoyed it but Daniel was not in the mood for it although he came and played football and basketball with the other children. He had just returned from his final hurling game. While he likes Gaelic football, he has been lobbying to give up hurling for some time and yesterday was, by agreement, his last hurling game ever (end of an era etc.). His team was beaten 6-19 to 1-2 and he is not one to shrug off defeat lightly. Perhaps finishing on a low note. He has also been recently diagnosed with Osgood Schlatter disease which is not serious but explains why he has had a lump on his knee for years and was limping after every match and training and means I have had to notch my sympathy levels up from my traditional, “you’re grand”. Apparently you grow out of it so the cure is, basically, just wait. It was not maybe the ideal moment for him to join in the street party fun.

This morning we were back to mass in the parish for the first time in ages. Some new priest turned up. He spoke on the second reading which was a nice one (religious people, how come so much St. Paul and so little James?) about how every person has value and we shouldn’t judge based on appearances or wealth. This is the part of Catholic teaching that really appeals to the wishy-washy liberal in me. So I was not delighted when the priest used it as a starting point for saying that probably no one in the congregation had any importance in the world and yet we could influence things even though we were pretty powerless. He suggested we take the example of Saint Serapia who sold herself into slavery as she felt that this was how she could serve God (without wishing to criticise Saint Serapia, I am not completely convinced). I am possibly being a bit chippy here but I resented the way he patronised the congregation of this parish some of whom are perhaps not particularly rich; it being Ireland, I can absolutely guarantee you that quite apart from the number of the parishioners who were themselves very important in the world, every one of those parishioners, even if not “important in the world” (and pray define that and isn’t the point of the reading that importance in the eyes of the world is not important in the eyes of God?) has great influence with all kinds of people who are “important” in the tiny pond that is Ireland. By the way, please note the irony of my being judgemental about a priest’s sermon on a reading about the importance of not being judgemental. If I have one fault… (as a friend’s brother said to her, “If you have one fault?)

In other religion related news, our musical director had one of her pieces sung during one of the events when the Pope came to visit and we are all suitably impressed. She jotted it on the back of an envelope in 1996 and now it is sung all over the place. The excitement.

We had Mr. Waffle’s parents and their carer around for lunch and then found ourselves slightly at a loose end. My programme of constantly ringing herself for updates yielded fruit and she called to tell us that she had finally reached her destination in the west of France after her orientation in Paris. She’s a bit flattened, poor mite, but she seemed in reasonably good form, all things considered. She’s starting in the Lycée tomorrow and has promised to ring to update us tomorrow evening. It’s all go.

Back in Dublin, after some deliberation, I forced Mr. Waffle and the boys to go up the restored Daniel O’Connell tower which was only moderately successful.

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On the plus side, we got to touch the coffin which, apparently brings good luck. A little unlikely, I would have thought but like Niels Bohr and his horseshoe, I understand it works whether you believe in it or not.

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We were all reasonably interested but it turns out Osgood Schlatter disease is not super-consistent with playing hurling, football, basketball and climbing to the top of a round tower in one weekend.

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Still and all, good views (in the foreground is the museum building which I did not make us visit although the price was covered in our entry ticket to the tower; we have been before and I am merciful).

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And sighting of a dangerous handrail. So definitely not a complete loss.

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We got home for 6 for poor Mr. Waffle to take a work call and the rest of the evening has passed off peacefully so far.

And how was your own weekend?


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