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12 March, 2016 at 10:24 pm by belgianwaffle

I was 47 on Thursday. It was a bit unsatisfactory. For a range of reasons. Firstly, I was at work, having decided that it would be inappropriate to take a day’s holiday too early in the new job. I think that was a mistake. Secondly, I had arranged to meet someone for lunch when, really, I would have preferred to go somewhere nice on my own and then a couple of other people came and even though all of these people were very nice, I ended up being the conversational glue holding everyone together and that is tiring.

Thirdly, when I came home that evening, I turned around and headed out the door with Daniel who was singing at the school first confession that evening. We were there about 7. The priest was late. We only finally emerged about 9. Daniel got to sing a verse of one of the hymns with a smaller group and it all went well, so he was pleased. I had hoped to have a celebratory birthday take-away (the excitement!). But, fourthly, by the time I got home after 9 it was really too late. Then, fifthly, I trudged disconsolately to the fridge to get a birthday dinner of cheese and crackers only to find that the cat had got into the fridge and food was scattered everywhere and she was wolfing down some chicken scraps. Under the pile of chicken, inevitably really, was the cheese which I had been hoping to eat.

All in all, sub-optimal. On Friday, Mr. Waffle proposed that we go out for a nice dinner on Saturday to make up for the debacle of my birthday. Babysitter and restaurant were booked. Poor Mr. Waffle, this morning he had to do some urgent work thing and around lunch time he started to feel ill. He retired to bed. About 4 we cancelled dinner and babysitter and, as I type, he is still in bed having eaten nothing since lunch time. Oh woe.

Inauspicious, I feel. However, if you sent a card or an email, please know that this year of all years, it was welcome. Also, herself bought me Toffifees which was pleasing. Daniel and Michael made me a card. Daniel tried to give me €50 of his money and Mr. Waffle bought me this picture. So not all bad either.

Updated to add: I forgot to mention my birthday message from vodafone –

Please note you have reached 100% of your monthly data and will not be able to use data until your next allowance begins on 15-03-2016. To purchase our best value data freetext INFO to 50226 or for more details visit www.vodafone.ie/datacharges. To continue using data for the remainder of your billing period, freetext NO DATA BAR to 50226.

I moved on to a new tariff last month and the man said I had more data than I would ever need. I see.

Updated to add: My father said to me when I told him of my various woes “forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit”. I had to look it up (having only done Latin for a couple of years and never having liked it much). Possibly, it means, one day you will look back on this and laugh. Thanks Virgil, not yet though.


6 March, 2016 at 8:10 pm by belgianwaffle

Hello, cruel world. A fortnight into the new job and I am absolutely flattened. I have gone from knowing everyone and everything to knowing no one and nothing. It’s very tiring. And I lost all my swipe cards on Friday night, so I may not even be able to get to my desk tomorrow. Quite the achievement.

So what news, I hear you ask. Well, the boys and I went to Cork. We went to Charles Fort and the Bulman for lunch. It didn’t rain on us. I call that a success. Then we saw a seal near the slip way beside the car park. Very exciting.


Nevertheless, probably the highlight was passing a shop selling holy statutes. Daniel looked dubiously at Padre Pio and asked, “Is that Obi Wan Kenobi?”

While the boys and I were in Cork, herself was in Rome for the week. Actually, Rome, Pompeii, Sorrento, Montecassino and Naples. Notwithstanding the exhausting programme, she had a wonderful time. She liked the Trevi fountain and the Map Room in the Vatican Museums the best.

Early on in proceedings, I got this email.

From: Herself
To: Me

Have successfully ordered McDonald’s in Italian. Forgot to ask for ketchup and was thrown by the choice between mela and kiwi but all in all quite successful.


Clearly, the trip was not entirely about expanding culinary horizons.

The boys and Mr. Waffle featured briefly on Irish language television talking about house swapping. I was at work and the Princess was at school but the boys were off being minded by their father so they got to star. Actually every word they spoke was edited out so they were a bit crushed. Former colleagues of mine (husband and wife team) saw it and when they saw the photo albums (to show the TV people the houses we had stayed in), carefully labelled they said in unison “That is so typical of Anne.” My filing fame has spread and in the most positive way, I’m sure.

Last Monday night was a bit hideous. Daniel had GAA, Michael had scouts and herself was in a massive Dublin archdiocese concert. They were bringing 600 secondary school students together every night last week to sing a range of hymns. 2,000 years of liturgical music and the focus was very strongly on those pieces composed for saxophone and guitar. Sigh. Some of the pieces were composed for the event. I particularly enjoyed the combination of jazzy upbeat music and the very old testament type lyrics “If the just strike me down, it’s done out of kindness” and “Let all that stray from what is good, be thrown a rock of judgement”. I did not get any dinner but I did have a large packet of maltesers at the concert.

On Friday night, Daniel and herself had speaking parts at some ecumenical event. The service was “prepared by the Christian women of Cuba” and it was held at the local Protestant church. Michael refused point blank to attend saying that he was not going to Mass on Friday and Sunday. The booklet giving the details of readings etc. also featured a couple of prayers like our prayers of the faithful. This one caught my eye:

” We recognize that we did not lift up our voices sufficiently to denounce an injustice like the economic blockade that affected the Cuban people for more than 50 years. We recognize our responsibility in allowing walls to be built up which destroy community.”

In the end Michael had to go as I couldn’t and Mr. Waffle brought them all. Daniel and the Princess carried out their roles with aplomb but attendance was poor. Elderly local Protestants and Catholics turned out but not many of them. Mr. Waffle feels that the women of Cuba may have been expecting a different kind of congregation when they decided to put the butterfly hymn on the programme. Apparently, you haven’t lived until you have heard a group of elderly people singing: “If I were a wiggly worm I’d thank you Lord that I could squirm/ If I were a fuzzy, wuzzy bear /I’d thank you Lord for my fuzzy, wuzzy hair”.

Daniel got to deliver the immortal line: “We will now collect our butterflies and bring them to the Scared Prayer Space”.

I was, alas, not in attendance at the Cuban prayer gig, because on Tuesday morning, my poor father fell and broke his hip. My parents are now the proud possessors of four plastic hips. I went down to Cork to see him on Friday night. He was remarkably cheerful given that a) he had a newly inserted plastic hip b) he is nearly 91 c) he spent about 24 hours on a trolley in A&E, and d) he has acquired the winter vomiting bug while in the hospital. My sister and I left him with the paper which he read and my sister tells me he has started to eat again today. He is remarkably resilient.

Final news items. We had parent-teacher meetings for all three children. They are all fine. All of the secondary school teachers told us that herself makes regular announcements over the school intercom. They were more impressed by this achievement than any other as far as I can see. All to the good, I suppose. Also, unrelated, she has won a 1916 poetry competition.

That is all.

Updated to add: I forgot – the dishwasher is broken. A new pump is said to be coming but in the interim we are washing the dishes by hand.  The novelty has worn off.

That really is all.

Snow in the Mountains

16 February, 2016 at 11:37 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle and I went to Glendalough on our own last week. It hasn’t been very cold this year and I was thrilled to find that when we went up into Wicklow, there was snow in the mountains.


And when we got up above the lakes in Glendalough, there was snow.




Down at ground level, there was no snow but the monastic village looked beautiful under clear blue skies.


I cannot believe our luck because there has hardly been a day this winter when it has not lashed rain. Clearly, we have used up our good luck quotient for 2016/the year of the monkey in one fell swoop.

The Great Filing Catastrophe of 2016 and Other News

14 February, 2016 at 11:06 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle and I are tidy. I am the queen of filing and he is the king. People gasp in amazement when they see my tidy office. All of our domestic administration is carefully filed away and (somewhat) regularly sorted through to throw out papers that we no longer need to keep (although, to my knowledge, Mr. Waffle’s bank statements from when we lived in Belgium are still filed in the attic, a fact of which I deeply disapprove – you may recall that we last lived in Belgium in 2008). All this to say that, you know, we are not the kind of people who can’t find guarantees or passports or papers when we need to. You know how this is going to end, I assume. Stay with me anyhow, why don’t you?

Herself is going to Rome horribly early tomorrow morning for a mid-term school trip. She has been counting the days since September when she first heard about it. The programme is daunting. They are going for five days and will visit Rome (Vatican museums, the Forum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and anything else they feel up to – one of the teachers seriously suggested to me that they might go bowling one evening, insert your own sardonic comment here), Pompeii, Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi coast.

She spent the weekend packing. After dinner this evening I went to get her passport out of the drawer and it was there. Of course it was there. I went to get her European health card from the shoebox where we keep these things. Daniel’s was there. Michael’s was there. I emptied out all of the non-EU currency, the Belgian bus tickets, the Paris metro tickets and the foreign stamps which also live in the shoebox but there was no sign of the Princess’s health insurance card. We searched in all the likely places: the desk drawers, the health insurance folder, the folder for herself, all the other folders just in case. It was unfindable. She had had to bring it into school twice so that they could verify that she had it. In light of this I felt that the authorities were likely to check in the cold, pre-dawn Dublin airport whether she had brought it with her. We kept searching. It turned up sticking out of the Lonely Planet guide to Paris on the book shelf. I am not the better of it.

It was also Valentine’s day and my husband got me lovely flowers and a card. I got him some stroopwafels and only because yesterday morning, herself said to me, “I hope you know that Daddy is getting you something for Valentine’s Day.” He took the boys to a reading in the National Library while I scuttled around hoping to find something he might like. I am not sure that he was absolutely thrilled with the packet of biscuits, now. Sometimes I feel that Mr. Waffle gets a poor deal. Guess who is getting up at 4 in the morning to drive our precious first-born to the airport? Not me, I fear.

Have a photo of the boys checking out the National Library reading room:
2016-02-13 14.47.01v2

Earlier today we climbed Bray Head. This was inspired by Michael who needed to do it for some scouting badge. He was pleased to be going. The others, possibly less so. However, we met the cousins and they were all happy to see each other and ran up cheerfully despite the biting wind. A further aim of the trip was to ensure that herself and Mr. Waffle were tired enough to go to sleep early. Any benefits in this regard were entirely offset by the health insurance card trauma.

Still, nice views from the top:


8 February, 2016 at 8:36 pm by belgianwaffle

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Waffle and I took the children to see “Trauma” in the science gallery. It was, well, traumatic. Not unexpected you might argue. After the strain of the exhibition, I felt we ought to do something further of a cultural nature. It would be hard to overstate Michael’s bitterness on hearing this news.

Since we were in Trinity anyway and, one of the major advantages of a degree from Trinity is that it gets you in free to the Book of Kells, I suggested that we might go there and get some use out of Mr. Waffle’s degree. We passed the playing pitches on the way and I found myself, somewhat to my surprise, standing beside a man yelling “Come on Trinity” at a rugby game. How little we know our spouses. Happily Michael’s weary insistence that we might as well get it over with propelled us onwards.

The library is lovely, actually. I note that we went there this time last year so it seems to occur to me as a good outing in January. As ever, I sold it to the boys as being the model for the Jedi library which may be true. They were cynical and bitter, “You say that every time.”


We didn’t stay long and it is genuinely interesting. Afterwards, as we emerged into the drizzle, having contemplated one of Ireland’s great treasures Michael said grudgingly, “I suppose it wasn’t too bad.” I think I will take that as a win.

The Glamorous Home Life of the Working Parent

18 January, 2016 at 10:57 pm by belgianwaffle

I arrived home from work the other night to be greeted by an urgent demand from Michael. Somehow, a DVD and a book had fallen behind the radiator and could not be got out. Before sitting down, before removing my coat, I began work on this important quest. I discovered that the bottom of the radiator was flush with the skirting board and there was no way to get them out from the bottom. Daniel, enterprisingly, got me a stick which had previously been used for flag waving. I poked unavailingly at the DVD and the book. Michael got tense. It was a library book. But of course. I got hotter and sweatier toiling in my coat over the boiling radiator.

The front door banged, Mr. Waffle had come in from work. “Come and help me,” I called. “Never mind your coat,” I added. I explained the problem but he had to establish the parameters of the issue himself (I find that this is always the case for both me and Mr. Waffle, there is no learning from experience in DIY type problems in our house, we both want to try and fail in the same way ourselves). Daniel produced another stick. Slowly, carefully Mr. Waffle and I poked the book with a stick from each end and dragged it to the top of the radiator. Just as we almost got there, it slipped free and fell down to the bottom again. Slowly, painstakingly we tried again, both pushing inwards and upwards with our sticks over the toasty radiator while wearing our coats and being egged on by the boys. About half way up, Mr. Waffle’s stick lost its grip on the book but maintained its vigourous upward trajectory and hit me smartly on the eyeball. Very painful, I can tell you.

At that point, we took a break, took off our coats and had a cup of tea. You will be pleased to hear that later in the evening both items were rescued. My eyeball is fine too. Thanks for asking.

Happy New Year

2 January, 2016 at 12:54 pm by belgianwaffle

I have another cold. On the evening of December 30, I got a headache and by new year’s eve, I was so miserable that I went to bed at 11 unable to make the party to which we had kindly been invited or even to stay up to listen to the bells ringing in the new year. Frankly, not an auspicious start to the year. Yesterday, I didn’t feel up to going to the new year’s day party to which we were invited. We spent the day at home. My sister-in-law and her husband from London came for lunch and stayed for a couple of hours. They are very soothing, undemanding guests, while also being entertaining so it was quite pleasant for me. Mr. Waffle felt that they might have been a bit bored by spending an afternoon listening to me recounting my various ills but I am sure that they had a lovely time. The boys went off to a birthday party and stayed over with the birthday boy, so the evening was very peaceful. I was very sorry for myself. Today I feel alright but not fantastic, still mainlining lemsip and somewhat fed up. The boys will be home shortly from their birthday extravaganza to tend to their sick mother. I am sure that they are looking forward to that. And back to work on Monday. Sigh.

More news to follow. In the interim, I trust that your Christmas was satisfactory and wish you every happiness for 2016. As you know, every reader is precious to me.

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