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The Essence of Romance

6 May, 2017 at 4:21 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle went away for work on Thursday and came back on Friday. Sadly, this meant he missed the boys’ service of light which is part of the new super duper extended disco remix of the confirmation ceremony (they will be making their actual confirmation in June – fun fact, the Irish for confirmation is “dul faoi lámh an Easpaig” literally meaning to go under the hand of the bishop but when herself was confirmed the bishop was not available, am hoping boys will do better – I was only confirmed by an auxiliary bishop myself so we have poor form here).

The ceremony was held in the school which I was a bit dubious about but in fact it was absolutely lovely. The two violinists in the class whose progress we have been tracking over religious ceremonies for many years, have really improved, the children knew their lines, they sang beautifully and the evening sun streamed in through the tall Georgian windows and lit up the beautiful drawing room which is now the sixth class classroom and features children’s collages on the walls as well as the work of Dublin’s finest 18th century stuccadores on the ceiling. Daniel and Michael had their actual baptismal candles which I regarded as an organisational triumph but sadly I should have road tested them as the wicks were a bit short and they went out. The boys were displeased although I think more generally, they enjoyed the ceremony. Not as much as they enjoyed the Domino’s pizza beforehand though.

My sister who is recovering from an operation was well enough to come up and it was lovely to see her. The Princess came along under duress but loved it. It’s been a couple of years since she has visited the school but all the teachers and the principal have been following her progress and congratulated her on her various achievements and I think she was pleased. As it happens, two of her best friends from primary school have younger sisters in the boys’ class so they were there too and the three of them ran around the school commenting on how small the desks were. She showed me where they had written their names on the wall behind the radiator. “Where’s your name?” I asked. “Further down,” she said, “I was more scared of the authorities”.

The shopping was delivered on Thursday night and on Friday morning, I discovered that toilet paper had not been included in the delivery. I gave herself a tenner and asked her to pick some up on the way home from school. My sister offered herself a lift to school which she gratefully accepted. My sister also offered to buy toilet paper but I felt that it was too much to ask a recovering patient. Normally Mr. Waffle looks after all these things as he is self-employed and flexible (as he often points out, self-employed does not mean never has to work and can do errands but it’s an uphill battle getting that message across). The boys and I went out to the shed to pick up our bikes and I noticed that the Princess’s bike was missing. Good job her aunt gave her a lift. I texted herself, “I hope your bike is in school as it’s not in the shed.” About 11.30 she called me at work. Could I collect her as she was sick? I could not as school finishes early on Fridays and by the time I had cycled home and picked up the car, she’d have made it home under her own steam. How I missed my self-employed husband. Unable to do anything for my sick child I offered, “Look, don’t worry about picking up the toiled paper.”

She made her own way home. “Your bike was in school,” I said. “Look,” she said, “I’m not proud of this but I cycled to the library after school yesterday and locked my bike outside, then I forgot it was there and walked home.” It’s quite a step. However, the bike was still there on Friday and she was able to retrieve it and bring it home. And she bought toilet paper. I let her keep the change.

Mr. Waffle came home at 10 last night. As I said to him, he should go away more often as it helps me to appreciate him even more. As I write, he is off collecting the boys’ new bikes from a soulless shopping centre and he’s already done two loads of washing. My hero.

Mid-term Round-up

11 March, 2017 at 5:07 pm by belgianwaffle

This is a bit belated but, you know, better late than never and so on.

Herself went on a school tour. Day 1 saw them assembling at Dublin airport at 4 in the morning; flying to Beauvais with Ryanair at 6; getting on a bus to Flanders and doing a tour of first world war sites ending with the last post at the Menin Gate at 7 that evening. The next day they got on the bus to Paris and then spent that day and the following day exploring all (and I mean all) that the French capital had to offer including Kentucky Fried Chicken. The last day was spent in Eurodisney. I had an animated discussion with her before she left on the importance of bringing a coat to Flanders in February; something she deemed unnecessary. It was, therefore, with some chagrin that I noted from a photo on the school’s twitter account (my source of all information and a fifth columnist as far as my daughter is concerned), that one of the happy group photographed outside the Eiffel tower was not wearing a coat. “It was fine,” said my frozen daughter, “my friend N was able to lend me a coat.” “Clearly she has a better mother,” I said. “It’s not a competition, Mum,” she said. “Everything’s a competition,” I replied. It’s a good job her father’s a hippy who seemed pretty relaxed about the whole coat thing. “She’ll know next time,” he said. I suppose that this approach has its merits.

While herself was off gallivanting, the boys and I went to Cork for a couple of days. We had our statutory trip to Charles Fort (I have a family heritage card and everyone must suffer) and the Bulman which passed off peacefully except for a terrifying half hour in which we thought Michael had lost one of the gloves he has had since we lived in Belgium (the world’s most nostalgic child was not pleased). Happily, it turned up in Dublin.

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Michael, contemplating the prospect of the lost glove:
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During the week Mr. Waffle and I also took the boys out to Dalkey castle (in Dublin). The castle do a really terrific tour with actors. We were the only people there so we got full value although, alas, I feel the boys are getting a bit old for it.

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Though, arguably, you are never too old for stocks.
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We also went to the (still newish) library in Dun Laoghaire – we were going to walk on the pier but it was lashing and this was plan B. The library is a beautiful, very big building with spectacular views over the harbour and loads of comfortable seats. Disappointingly though, it doesn’t seem to have more stock than our local (much less architecturally impressive) library. It has the same volume of books, just much, much more spread out. As Mr. Waffle said, it’s like a very expensive shoe shop. As he trekked around the shelves, Michael suggested that it might have been designed by people who were good at buildings but hadn’t spent all that much time browsing in libraries. It does have a very interesting local studies collection on the top floor and it was also sporting a very poorly advertised, small, though interesting, exhibition on visitors’ views on Ireland over the last couple of hundred years. So, using some of the space usefully, it must be conceded.

Mr. Waffle was home with the boys a bit and took them to IKEA to source a desk and bed for Michael. I emailed Mr. Waffle to ask how he was getting on. He replied:

We’re just finishing our lunch before we plunge into the Mælstrøm (designed to match the Ångst).

In fairness, he’s hilarious.

My Birthday – Extended Disco Remix

10 March, 2017 at 11:10 pm by belgianwaffle

It’s my birthday today. Last weekend my sister took me to London overnight and she flew me business class, oh yes. I realised that it’s been nearly two years since I flew anywhere. I haven’t missed it, I have to tell you although, business class certainly beats steerage. We went out for dinner (my saintly sister-in-law and London guide responded nobly to an email saying, ‘recommend dinner venues and afraid I won’t have time to see you guys’ – she also got me a Persephone book for my birthday) and we talked and talked. We went to the National Gallery which is superb. When I did art history (diploma, spare time, pre-marriage and children), one of my lecturers said that going to the National Gallery in London is like being at an amazing party and each time you go into a new room seeing a raft of familiar friends. This is so true.

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I took the day off work today. I am feeling quite elderly although yesterday I got this comforting text from my friend R:

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[Note smuggled in reference to reading Elena Ferrante in Italian. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, my parents paid good money for these pretensions and I am going to use them.]

On the other hand, one of my bookclub members is getting married and when she and her fiancé went to the church to discuss logistics with the sacristan, he said, “You’re the mother of the bride aren’t you?” The worst thing was that he kept apologising for the remainder of the discussion.  On the plus side, she can have as many flowers as she wants. It hadn’t struck me before but, of course, I too am in mother of the bride territory. Slightly horrifying.

I got loads of cards, including two handmade ones from my sons. I was pleased. I got a cheque from my loving parents which is always welcome. The post also brought herself good news on an exam. People texted (sample from my brother: “Hey Anne happy birthday… Hope you have a brilliant day…. Am in France at the moment will call when I get back. Any requests for presents….A Chamonix stick of rock will hardly cut it I suppose”), emailed and called. Mr. Waffle got me more Persephone books and a print out of my blog which I really wanted in case the internet ever died. Are you mocking me?

That, right there, is the reason I haven’t got a PhD:
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Note cunning juxtaposition with New Yorker book of cartoons. Unintentional.

Mr. Waffle and I spent the day together. We went for a walk in the Wicklow Hills which was damp but not unpleasantly so.

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We went out to dinner to a surprise location and we arrived home about 15 minutes ago to find all the children still up so I thought I would update my blog.

Yet another very satisfactory birthday. Every birthday, about now, I realise that Mr. Waffle’s birthday is on March 19 and I have nothing planned. It can cast a pall on the end of any successful day, I can tell you. Poor Mr. Waffle.

Romance

9 March, 2017 at 8:26 pm by belgianwaffle

The Saturday before Valentine’s Day, Mr. Waffle said to me, “Tuesday, can we declare a truce?” “Tuesday,” I said wildly, “what’s happening on Tuesday.” Our lives are filled with logistics and I was worried I’d missed some. “Valentine’s Day,” he said. “God, yes, a truce,” I agreed. I was not therefore entirely delighted when on the morning of February 14, Mr. Waffle presented me with pink card with a heart on it emblazoned with the words, “To my darling wife”. I opened it up, “Did you read it carefully?” I asked. “It’s just that on the inside it says ‘Happy Birthday'”. Oh, yes, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

Weekend

4 March, 2017 at 8:01 pm by belgianwaffle

Our weekends are logistically challenging at the moment. Daniel has a match on Saturday mornings, usually in a distant location and Michael has a course in town from 1.15 to 2.45. Herself has a course, on the other side of town from 12.15 to 2.15.

A couple of weekends ago was not untypical. Daniel had a match in Howth which is brutally awkward to get to. Mr. Waffle took Dan and the neighbour’s child out to the GAA club. The pitch is on a high outcrop overlooking the sea which, as Mr. Waffle pointed out must be beautiful on a warm summer’s day but on a sleety, freezing day in February, it was nothing to write home about. Our neighbour’s child is very slender and quite fragile looking (though handy at gaelic games despite appearances to the contrary). He was wearing shorts and a t-shirt when he turned up at our house. “Would he like a tracksuit?” we wondered. No he would not as he had underarmour and he pulled it down to mid-thigh as he spoke. Frankly, we didn’t feel it would cut the mustard. When they got to Howth, the neighbour’s child went in goal. Sadly, our team was being flattened* and he was very busy in goal. So busy in fact that even though he now conceded that he would quite like to put on the tracksuit bottoms, there wasn’t a moment’s quiet form him to do so. Eventually, he got a knock to the head and had to come off which may have been a mercy. Mr. Waffle took the visibly shivering child into the club house and got him into the tracksuit and plied him with hot chocolate and crisps and he seems to have been no worse for the experience.

Meanwhile back in the city, I was looking out glumly at the rain. The Princess was getting the bus into town and wasn’t quite sure where her venue was. I volunteered to go with her leaving Michael home alone. She and I got the bus in together and then I went to get the bus home but due to extensive works on the new city centre tram line was utterly unable to find the bus stop for the return leg for a surprising length of time. I was consequently both late and very damp when I got home to pick up Michael. We rushed into our rain gear and cycled into his course. Then I cycled off to her course and showed her where the bus stop had moved to, put her on the bus, cycled back to Michael’s course, cycled home with him, peeled off my damp clothes and stayed at home for the rest of the day a shadow of my former self.

If I had known in my 20s what was coming, I would have enjoyed those long, relaxed weekend brunches even more.

*Daniel got man of the match as he is a child who does not give up even under the most daunting of circumstances. I was pleased for him, it was all that could be salvaged from a rather grim experience overall.

Ominous

17 January, 2017 at 8:14 pm by belgianwaffle

When I checked my personal mobile as I left the office this evening, I saw that herself had called me at 2. I rang her back. “Oh yeah, it was an emergency when I called you. The cat caught a mouse and brought it into the utility room.” “What happened?” I asked. “I shut the door and called Dad and he’s going to deal with it when he gets home.” Cravenly, I cycled home very slowly. Mr. Waffle opened the front door to me. “Did you find the mouse?” I asked. He had not. We both looked again but could find no trace. Could the cat have eaten it all, including the tail? She is certainly less hungry than usual this evening. Alternatively are there mouse body parts quietly rotting in an unseen corner of the utility room? It’s all to play for, folks.

L’Actualité Dans Toute Sa Majesté

12 January, 2017 at 6:16 pm by belgianwaffle

When we lived in Belgium, I used to occasionally buy and read “Royals” magazine. The clue is in the title; it goes large on the Belgian royal family but all of the European royals feature from time to time (the Grimaldis are my absolute favourites; what a family) and sometimes more exotic royals from Asia or the Middle East. I used to read it in a post-modern, ironic way and, because it’s in French, it’s clearly not the same as reading, say, “Hello” magazine which I am obviously too lofty to read.

Mr. Waffle goes to Brussels for work from time to time and on his return he often picks me up a (post-modern, ironic) copy of “Royals” magazine. Inspired by his success he got me a subscription to 12 months of “Royals” magazine last Christmas. I have to tell you I was not delighted, I felt I’d tipped over from post-modern, ironic to weird middle-aged Belgian royalist lady. Anyway 12 months later, my subscription has finally expired. If you need to know anything about the Belgian royal family, ask me now. While I have to say that I enjoyed it more than I expected to, I am glad to have reverted to being an occasional consumer of Belgian royal family news rather than the Irish expert on Prince Laurent’s latest quirk.

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