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I’ve been to Paradise but I’ve never been to Meath*

2 November, 2015 at 11:19 pm by belgianwaffle

Yesterday, Mr. Waffle’s brother and his wife took our children and theirs to Tayto park. The park named after a potato crisp which proves that stereotypes are there for a reason.

It’s in Meath just on the outskirts of greater Dublin. The original plan was that we would rendez-vous at Tayto Park. Mr. Waffle and I spent quite a while trying to work out what to do near Tayto park in November and rapidly came to the conclusion that our best option after dropping the children would be to turn tail and go home. Happily, the cousins came in two cars and collected our children from home and dropped them back.

With a whole afternoon on our hands, we decided to go out to Howth for lunch and a walk. We went to the pier for lunch. Recession? It is over. We went to Aqua; next available table for two? 3.45.

[Conversation about Aqua at my bookclub this evening:

Friend A: It’s amazing.
Me: Maybe, but we didn’t get in.
Friend B: Yeah the food is fantastic.
Me: Yes, but we didn’t get in.
Friend A: And the view out is wonderful.]

We eventually found a table at another spot after queuing for a bit. Yes, really. We had to fight off some queue jumpers but, egged on by the woman behind us in the queue, we secured our table eventually. The minute we finished, about 2.15, two other enthusiastic diners hopped into our chairs.

The place was awash with tourists. Really, who says, “Long weekend in November, let’s go to Dublin!” Lots of people it transpires, almost all of them French, and fortune definitely favoured them, the weather has been delightful and yesterday it was so mild and sunny that lots of people were wearing shorts.

We then went off for our walk around the Hill of Howth which was pleasant but definitely busy. It was misty but pretty.


As we went around, a solitary Dutchman approached us from the opposite direction.  He began declaiming.  Initially, we thought he was speaking to someone else, but no he was addressing us.  He said, irritably “If you go on, maybe six headlands, all the same, misty and then a lighthouse.  About an hour’s walk and all the same.” Then he stalked off.  “Was he comparing it unfavourably to all the cliffs in Holland?” we thought nastily.  In any event, he clearly had no idea what the weather is normally like in Ireland in November or he would have been just delighted with his lot.

The children were returned to us at tea time happy to have done all manner of terrifying things including eating their own weight in crisps.

A satisfactory Sunday all round.

*If you are unfamiliar with the Dustin the Turkey number which inspired this title, may I direct your attention here.

Playing Hard Ball at the Negotiating Table

8 September, 2015 at 12:57 am by belgianwaffle

We have decided to reconsider pocket money amounts for the children in exchange for extra work around the house. We also decided to close the gap between what the boys get and what their sister gets as this has caused no end of grief all year.

Mr. Waffle made a first pass at negotiations at the weekend while I was away. The boys were delighted. Mr. Waffle texted me as follows in relation to herself:

First meeting of pocket money committee over dinner. [Herself] rejected management proposals – wants greater differential or less productivity. We may have to go to plenary.

I will keep you appraised of developments.

Happy Anniversary

29 July, 2015 at 3:12 pm by belgianwaffle

We got married 14 years ago yesterday on the only fine Saturday in 2001. And we’re still married. Pretty good going.

Sharing the Housework: Perceptions

6 July, 2015 at 11:36 pm by belgianwaffle

I have said before that I am blessed to have a husband with a well developed sense of duty and a clear understanding that housework should be shared by both parents.

I thought I would check over dinner what the children’s view of this was.

Me: What work does Daddy do around the house?
Daniel: The laundry!
Michael: The cooking!*
Herself: The cleaning up after dinner!**
Me: And what do I do?
Long Pause
Me: Well, for starters, the tidying up! I am always picking up things and putting them away.
Michael: But that’s more of a hobby, really.

I think my work may not yet be done here. On a related matter, I was very struck by this post and the comments; worth a look, if you are working mother.

*At weekends
**During the week with the children


3 July, 2015 at 11:12 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself finished school last Friday. The boys and I soldiered on for Monday and Tuesday of this week. On Wednesday morning we were all on holidays (oh hurrah!) except poor Mr. Waffle who had to go in to the office.

On Wednesday, the Princess and I cycled into town at lunch time to see the Anu Productions, 1916 offering. It still needs work and they described it as a work in progress, to be fair. We might go back next year and see how it looks; we weren’t completely entranced. It is set during and just before the Easter Rising and the action takes place in the back lanes around O’Connell St which, I imagine, are, in some ways, very little changed since the Rising. The meeting place is the Dublin Tourist office. There were a couple of tourists in our group and they seemed to react much better than the Irish members of the audience to the participatory element which is a part of all of this company’s work. Still, I wonder how much they knew about 1916 and whether they were a bit baffled.

In the afternoon we had friends of the children’s around. Due to extraordinarily fine weather we were able to barbecue. The excitement. This lured everyone outdoors and all of the children played in the garden.

The next day, Thursday, it was up and out to the park,


then on to library and, after a refreshing tea with Mr. Waffle, on for our annual trip to see the mummies in St. Michan’s. I love the way the graveyard is so quiet and peaceful right in the centre of the city.

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Alas, there was a rough looking bunch of people drinking at the end of the graveyard. One of the disadvantages of urban, edgy, city centre living is that your children are only too familiar with this kind of group. Mr. Waffle took them home on the tram the other day and there was an arrest where they got on and a bloody altercation with ambulance summoned where they got off. I digress.

In the afternoon, it was back on the bikes to go to the dentist – all was well, we now have plaque disclosing tablets which are a source of enormous delight.

2015-07-02 20.33.16

Mr. Waffle had spent the afternoon fetching the car back from the distant suburb where it was being repaired and we greeted its return with boundless enthusiasm. We are all sick of travelling everywhere by bike (unworthy but there it it).

A man is coming next week to sand and varnish the floors. So that he can sand under the bookcases, the children and I emptied the one bookcase this morning and transported its contents (A-H) to the utility room.

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He is going to do the rest himself. I can only applaud his work ethic.

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Then into town to get sandals and shorts. I then made the children go to the Little Museum of Dublin. I think it’s lovely and, also, Mr. Waffle got me a season ticket for my birthday. They found it moderately entertaining. The Princess has been a couple of times already and likes it. The boys were a bit grumpy going in but seemed to quite enjoy it in the end. I saw a one armed bandit and recognised every one of the images from when I was quite small and spent my evening in pubs in West Cork in the summer (not as bad as it sounds). Looking at the fruit pieces every detail was familiar to me. I realised that one I had been a bit unsure of at age 6/7 was, in fact, a watermelon, the knowledge fitting into my brain with a satisfying mental click. I had utterly forgotten my time on the machine (2p a go, I see, good value for the grown-ups) until the moment I stood in front of it today but all of the images came back to me with startling clarity. The inside of my head is a mystery to me.

Michael with Podge and Rodge whom he would adore if I would let him watch them:
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Irish Times Editor’s Desk:
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Herself and Alfie Byrne contemplate St. Stephen’s Green
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Ross O’Carroll-Kelly (she likes him, she reads the column faithfully ever Saturday, for Honor; Michael does not care for him):
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Daniel blowing a trumpet with a model of Nelson’s Pillar in the background:
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The remainder of the day was spent packing. Tomorrow we drive to Kerry. The children are filled with excitement. The weather forecast is shocking.

Some Highlights from the Week so Far – Or the Dawn of a New Era

27 June, 2015 at 1:29 pm by belgianwaffle

Monday – Scouts for Michael. Daniel skipped GAA. Felt very rebellious. This is the last week of training of the year, we’re exhausted.

Tuesday – Princess went to scouts, theoretically 7.30 to 9.30. Phone call at 9.15 to indicate that they were in Howth (distant Northern suburb by the sea) and wouldn’t be back until 10. As I was standing outside the den at 10, this text message arrived:

Due to unforeseen circumstances (the ice cream machine broke) we are running late hoping to hit the den for 10.20.

They were eventually disgorged from the scouting jeeps at nearly 11 full of excitement and chatter. As the Princess and I cycled home in the twilight (welcome to Ireland in summer) she told me all about it and the wonderful time they had and she was completely delighted with herself and her enthusiasm was infectious and we arrived home full of good humour and bonhomie even though it was very late and a school night.

Wednesday – Mr. Waffle had to work late. That evening Daniel and Micheal had to pack their bags for their school tour (complete change of clothes, hat, suncream, rain gear etc. – when I checked their bags later I found that they had both packed winter woolly hats rather than summer hats which I presume was what was intended). Herself announced that she planned to rollerblade to school on Friday, her current rollerblades were too small and she had sourced a pair online which I had to reserve for her to collect on the morrow. The boys informed me that the following day was the last day for the school book rental form and money to be returned. Much consternation. The Princess then said that she had to go to school the following day dressed as Annie Moore. She looked pretty good considering we started preparing at 6.45 the evening before. She was finally able to get some use from her massive coin collection. She brought in a number of coins from the 1880s and her classmates were suitably impressed.


Thursday – The boys had a fantastic school tour. The Princess picked up her roller blades and then proceeded to bake like there was no tomorrow. She made brownies, flapjacks, lemon drizzle cake and fairy cakes. We discovered that the clutch in the car had gone.

Friday – This was the scene which met my startled gaze when I came down for breakfast at eight.


As we filled a large bag with baked goods, she said, “What was I thinking, why did nobody stop me?”

She decided not to roller blade to school in the end. We had a ceremony at the school at lunchtime and sixth class got to say goodbye. I am, obviously, partial but I thought she did a great job in presenting her part of the show. The school is in an old Georgian building and the drawing room, where we had the event, was clearly not built with acoustics in mind and it was very difficult to hear most of the speakers.

Obligatory photo of ceiling stucco.


She had a really great time in primary school and made friends and was happy. She liked schoolwork and was good at it. I hope, that when she starts secondary school in the autumn, it all works out for her. I know that she will really miss primary school, and I think I saw her wiping away a furtive tear in the course of the ceremony.

So then afterwards she got her shirt signed by all her friends (which is, apparently, what you do):


I wish the shirt had been cleaner to start with as I realise that I will never be able to wash it again.

And she and her class went off to the cinema. I was going to meet her afterwards but when I rang her, she had already hopped on the bus home by herself, she hoped I didn’t mind. I didn’t but when I got home I also gave her her first set of house keys. Big girl.


Yesterday evening we ignored the blandishments of the school parents’ social night and Mr. Waffle took Daniel to his first soccer match. The local team lost. Naturally. Apparently you can read about it in today’s paper but as Michael said, “Why would he want to, he was there.”

Today – Mr. Waffle got up at 6 to go to Cork for a funeral (non-Irish readers, no one particularly close to him, mother of a friend, Irish people specialise in funeral attendance) and will be back mid-afternoon to grace the street party with his presence in his role as chairman of the residents’ committee. It was beautiful this morning but, inevitably, it is clouding over now. We need to do more baking for the street party. Sigh. Meanwhile in the absence of a car, a kind neighbour picked Dan up for a GAA match in Malahide at 8.45. This is his last outing until September. Rejoice.

Also, this week, because it was quiet (hah), we got a couple of the windows repaired. Here is the girl of the moment sitting in front of her new window in an utterly unposed (ahem) image. She is genuinely pleased to be able to open her window and also that the crack across the top, through which the winter wind used to whistle, has been repaired.


And how was your own week?

Weekend Round-Up

24 June, 2015 at 8:21 pm by belgianwaffle

More GAA for Daniel and Mr. Waffle on Saturday morning. Meanwhile, Michael and the Princess and I cycled into town which went very well. We got sandals for herself and dropped in to the Chocolate Factory which was having “A weekend celebration of an emerging design community“. Herself and Michael regarded this with the deepest suspicion but it was very successful. They made origami frogs.


There was a “create your own den” thing which they loved and it was manned by a young woman who had done something on art and philosophy with Michael’s class a couple of years ago and, amazingly, remembered him. While they were playing with the designer den, I was looking at the exhibition. I didn’t buy anything but there were some really lovely things.



Downstairs in the inevitable pop up shop, the children bought wooden key holders for €5 each. It took them a very long time to decide and they explained at some length to the nice woman on the cash desk their difficulties in choosing. “You know, I think the artist wants to get rid of these anyway,” she said, “Why don’t you have another one each for free?” Great rejoicing.

Buoyed up by this success, I said I would buy an ice cream for the trip home. While waiting outside the shop for the children, a child no older than Michael threw a Lucozade bottle at the bin and missed. “Pick that up,” I said smartly (oh yes, I am now that woman) but he didn’t hear me and sailed in to the safety of the shop. Herself put it in the bin for me.

Then we began the long trek home. I discovered, belatedly, that my children are not capable of cycling and eating ice cream. In fact Michael can’t push a bike and eat ice cream. So I pushed my bike and his and we essentially walked all the way home. I sent the Princess (speedy ice cream eater) on ahead but Michael and I trudged on (it felt like for miles) while he enjoyed his almost endless Calippo. This deeply unsatisfactory progress also gave me the opportunity to mortify my poor children.

A gang of four young children (aged, say 8-12) came up to me as I was pushing the bikes and pointing at Michael’s said, “Hey, can I have a shot of that?” “No,” I said shortly, and recognising the Lucozade culprit, I added “I saw you throwing a can of Lucozade on the ground, don’t do that, it’s not nice, we all have to live here and we don’t want rubbish on the ground.” Him, startled “It wasn’t a can, it was a bottle and I picked it up on the way out.” “No, you didn’t,” I said, “it was gone when you came out because I asked her to pick it up [indicating Herself]” Insert here, the sound of the ground opening and swallowing the Princess and the reproachful words “Why did you have to bring me into it?” The culprit said gamely, “I must have put another bottle in the bin” and so, admiring his resourcefulness, hostilities were suspended and we spoke a bit more generally about where they were from and what they were up to before they took themselves off. I feel like some kind of caricature; should I have just said nothing?

After mass on Sunday morning [herself did a reading which went fine but also sang the alleluia before the Gospel from the altar for the first time, possibly needs work] we were all back at the GAA. If I never see Gaelic games again, it won’t be too soon and, as Mr. Waffle, points out, he actually does almost all the ferrying and sideline standing. On Sunday he also took Daniel’s broken hurley to be fixed notwithstanding the fact that we have already bought a new one. The hurley man indicated that it was irreparable. I wanted to throw it out but Daniel resisted on the grounds that it had “sentimental value” which is an attitude which explains why attics across the land are full to bursting point.

We all cycled up to the GAA club for the blitz to support Daniel in his endeavour and then we cycled to the pub where we had a triumphal drink to celebrate his medal and then home again. Only hair raising in parts.

On Sunday afternoon we had our first barbecue of the summer and it didn’t rain although was threateningly cloudy. Then at 7, Mr. Waffle and I went to a midsummer party and finally home at 11 to face into a new week, refreshed.

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