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Returned Safely to These Shores

18 June, 2016 at 6:10 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself was returned to us last Wednesday after a wonderful week in London. Her aunt and uncle were very kind and she had all manner of treats and excitement including a trip to the ballet to see Swan Lake which she absolutely loved.

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Although the weather was a bit mixed.

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She was due to arrive back on Wednesday at 5 but her flight was delayed unbeknownst to me. I was stuck a bit late at work and rang Mr. Waffle to see whether our heroine had returned. “No,” he said, “and I am at the airport, so who is going to be home at 6.30 to relieve the childminder?” I flew home like the wind calling the childminder to tell her that I was going to be late. No answer. I rang the land line at home. Daniel answered.

Me: Hi sweetie, can I speak to K (childminder)?
Him: Yes, but do you want to know my news?
Me: Yes, of course, but can I speak to K first?
Him: It is interesting news.
Me: OK, sweetie, tell me your news first.
Him: When we came home from school the hall was full of blood and feathers.
Me: Oh God.
Him (with relish): Yes, and we found a dead pigeon in the corner of the drawing room.
Me (yelping): Oh God.
Him: Yes, and it’s still there.
Me: What??
Him: Yes, K has a phobia of birds (really, really is this a thing?). Michael and I locked the cat into the utility room. I hoovered up the feathers in the hall and Michael mopped up the blood. K showed us how to turn on the hoover from the kitchen. But we were too scared to deal with the body.
Me: OK, I’ll deal with it when I get home.

Return to the house. I readied myself with a shoe-box and a plastic bag. I went into the drawing room to see feathers, blood:

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and a corpse in the corner:

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I ran out again. Maybe not my finest hour [Daniel took the photo above]. Then the phone rang. It was Mr. Waffle. Herself had returned and they were wondering could they get a lift from the airport. Absolutely. I sped out, leaving the boys at home on corpse watch.

I picked Mr. Waffle and herself up outside the airport.

Me (to daughter): Welcome home my darling, did you miss us?
Herself: Um, no but I did have an amazing time.
Me (to husband): I have slightly unwelcome pigeon news.

On his return, he disposed of the corpse. What a man. Glad to have our firstborn back and despite herself, I think she might be a little glad too. And she brought us all presents.

2016-06-15 20.06.00

Is it true, Hodge, does nothing taste as good as thin feels?

Suspension of Disbelief

1 June, 2016 at 10:26 pm by belgianwaffle

We watch a lot of Dr. Who in this house. The children and I quite like it. Mr. Waffle does not. The other night we watched the episode where a hospital disappears on earth and reappears on the moon.

There is a an annoying consultant character (so far so typecast) and at one stage in the action, he hauls out his binoculars to have a closer look at the action all round. “That’s very unlikely,” I said, “who has binoculars at work?” Mr. Waffle looked at me and asked sardonically, “Really, that is your only difficulty?” There’s only so far one’s disbelief can be suspended, it turns out and I had found my limits.

The Irish Language Opens Many Doors

7 May, 2016 at 10:40 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself: I’m thinking of applying to join the Irish language committee at school.
Me: Do you think you would like that?
Her: Yes, the committee members are allowed to use the front door of the school.*

*In my school students were only allowed on to the premises by the back door. The front door was reserved for teachers and visitors. A similar regime pertains in my daughter’s school. In the egalitarian haven/free for all that was my husband’s school, everyone came in by the same door. I assume he is the exception and we are the rule. What’s your own experience?

Listen, I Can Explain

29 March, 2016 at 7:12 pm by belgianwaffle

Childminders are proving a bit difficult at the moment. We have our regular woman who, alas, is returning to France at the end of April. We have someone who is covering Tuesday afternoons which I cannot since I started the new job (and our regular woman cannot as she has lectures). We have the new woman who is starting in May. We have our regular evening babysitting woman who is doing some day time cover for us over the school holidays (but can only do bits and pieces as she has another job). Even with Mr. Waffle dutifully filling in the gaps, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind of interviewing and checking references and introducing new people. I offer this as an explanation for why the Princess came home from school on a Tuesday afternoon to find an unknown stranger in the hall welcoming her back. You see we’d told the boys and their school and just, somehow, neglected to tell herself, that we had someone new covering Tuesday afternoons. She was not pleased.

Once the boys start secondary school, I think there will be no more childminders.


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.

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