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Weekends Rounded Up

26 May, 2018 at 3:36 pm by belgianwaffle

The bank holiday weekend is a while ago now but I know you are keenly awaiting an update from me. Oh yes you are. Saturday was unremarkable but on Sunday, which was a beautiful, beautiful day, my poor sons spent the day in the art house cinema judging the young audience award for three films (one Finnish, one Italian and one French-Senegalese co-production – all a bit worthy, I think). Herself had plans with friends so Mr. Waffle and I daringly went out for a walk for the day in the Wicklow hills. The weather was really beautiful and we got a little bit burnt but it was delightful. The thrill. If 15 year old me knew that I was describing a walk as a thrill, she would be utterly appalled.

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On Monday, we went out to visit Mr. Waffle’s parents leaving herself at home to study for the Junior certificate (state exams at 15 – a taste of the fear that is to come in 3 years when she sits her final school exams). Later that afternoon, Mr. Waffle and I went up to Glasnevin cemetery to investigate the newly reopened Daniel O’Connell round tower. It’s only just reopened and currently only open from 1-3, given that it was 4.45 that was quite annoying.

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However, we had a soothing middle aged walk around the cemetery and the botanic gardens followed by a cup of tea so not too bad. They have tea rooms in the cemetery but I feel there is something a little disturbing about that so tea elsewhere. We had a pleasant evening in the garden where the boys managed to lose 4 tennis balls to various neighbouring gardens and one landed in the middle of the dinner table (to clarify, outside). I am a martyr to my sons’ entertainment.

The weekend before last, Mr. Waffle and I again went off together and visited Charleville House – we offered to bring the children with us but it was an offer that they were resolute in declining. It’s a big house in Co. Wicklow that is owned by a property developer and opened up to the public at various times of the year for tax break reasons. I wasn’t hoping for great things but it was actually very enjoyable. Firstly, we had the place to ourselves which is always good. We explored the grounds in a mild way. I have reached the age where I find grounds delightful. Four rooms in the house are open to visitors: the hall, the dining room, the music room and a drawing room. There is a really lovely collection of art and furniture. We had the ministrations of two guides entirely to ourselves and could ask questions and look at things for as long as we liked (honestly, the tax break must be terrific because there is no way that this enterprise is turning a profit based on the visitor to guide ratio). I particularly liked a John Lavery picture of the neighbouring Viscountess who was an interesting character in her own right. Highly recommended. I couldn’t face asking to take pictures indoors but here are some pictures of the grounds. Well worth a visit.

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Also, I bought, second hand fire irons. I have been spending my evenings since floating in a cloud of brasso fumes. Idiotically, failed to notice on purchase that bargain basement price may have been due to the fact that there was no shovel. Alas. Photo of work in progress.

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Also that weekend, I has my first spice bag. I think that this is a Dublin only delicacy. It’s chips and chicken strips in batter mixed with spices and chillies. I found it quite spicy myself but I was glad to have sampled the cultural phenomenon. Daniel made a spice bag in home economics on Monday so it is clearly part of the mainstream here. Are people outside Dublin aware of this particular thing or is it, like the deep fried Mars Bar, a delicacy only available in a particular jurisdiction?

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On Sunday I made the boys and Mr. Waffle go for a cycle along the sea front which was moderately successful. As an incentive measure, we had chips from Beshoff’s at the end of our cycle ride and before heading back. Take away chips on Friday and Sunday: truly exceptional parenting.

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Last weekend I went to a work dinner in Kerry on Friday night, took the train to Cork on Saturday morning and came back to Dublin on Saturday night. I wouldn’t exactly recommend it. Although, I must say, the view from my hotel bedroom in Killarney was lovely.

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I did get to go for a lovely lunch with my sister in this convent in Cork which has been repurposed as the Nano* Nagle centre and the UCC school of architecture.

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On Sunday, I forced everyone to walk from Bray to Greystones along the coast. Suffice it to say that it was not a success and all the children were quite cross with me, though no one was quite as cross as Michael who pointed out that it was yet another failed outing on my part and then asked when was I ever going to stop. A low point was finding out that the Dart wasn’t running and we were going to have to get a bus back from Greystones to where our car was parked in Bray. In my defence, I would say that the rain held off for much of the walk.

Actual enthusiastic little faces filled with joy:
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*Real name Hanora. My own granny was called Hanora but I can really see why it’s gone out of fashion and nickname versions were so popular. Granny was always known as Nina. If your name is Hanora, I’m sorry. Not as bad as Tanora (popular fizzy drink in Cork, not normally a girl’s name but I saw one year in the Holly Bough that a grief stricken Cork exile had gone for that for his daughter).

New Job

22 April, 2018 at 4:07 pm by belgianwaffle

I have secured a new job. I only started just after Easter so I’m still at the stage of working out what I’m supposed to be doing and trying to find my office. I think it’s going to suit me better than the last job though so that’s all to the good. Disillusion may, of course, set in. One of my former colleagues gave me a goodbye card with a fish jumping from a smaller bowl to a bigger one. When Michael saw it he said, “Mmm, still a fish bowl though.”

On the first day, I went out for a bowl of soup and a woman at a nearby table waved to me and said hello. I began to frantically scroll though the deeply inadequate Rolodex in my head: was she someone I had met at work that morning? “No,” I realised, “it’s M from bookclub.” Then I said (aloud), “I thought you were M from bookclub but you’re not, are you, wait, wait, I know who you are, I do, you’re M’s sister…” “Catherine,” she said kindly. Why would I think aloud like this? Suitably mortified, I scuttled away but with the inevitability of these things, the following bookclub was at M’s house which she shares with her sister who dropped in to say hello. “I’m so sorry about the other day,” I said. She was very kind but did comment when she turned to tell her lunching companions that I was Anne from her sister’s bookclub they all said, “Yeah, we know.”

So, lots of new people in the new job, none of them, it turns out, a sibling of one of my bookclub members but, so far, they all seem very pleasant. I must say, I do miss my friend in HR from the old job – a lovely, lovely woman who convinced me that there was a point to HR (comment from another friend working elsewhere on my telling her about the wonders of our HR division – “Really? In my experience HR are scarcely human and not at all resourceful”). But I can still meet HR friend for lunch and my new location is delightfully central.

Wish me luck.

Out of Control Inverted Commas

13 March, 2018 at 6:34 pm by belgianwaffle

My colleague whose father died last month has, naturally, been inundated by mass cards. He tells me he received one from some friends saying, “Sorry about the death of your ‘father'”. “I have to ask them what they were implying,” he said. This inverted comma for emphasis business must end.

7×7

10 March, 2018 at 8:21 pm by belgianwaffle

I am 49 today. Herself arrived home from school yesterday to announce, “Seán in my class thinks you’re a drama queen.” “Why?” I asked. “Because he asked what I was doing for the weekend and I said that we all had to stay at home on Saturday because it’s your birthday. He asked if it was an important one and I said no but I told him that we’re all dreading when you turn 50.”

So, yes, I like to celebrate my birthday, is that bad? Herself spent the afternoon slaving over my favourite brownies. I expect to enjoy them after my birthday dinner. Mr. Waffle got me flowers, a candle (always welcome to me) and a framed print of a picture which I once failed to identify on University Challenge (I pronounced it appealing and he took careful note).

More generally, I had a slightly unsatisfactory day. The boys and I cycled into their drama class. Some evil person punctured Michael’s tyre while they were in there which meant it was flat as a pancake when they emerged and we had to walk home pushing our bikes (“I’m tired” “When will I be able to stop and eat my bun?” “I want to go to the toilet.”). It took a lot out of all of us.

Mild highlight of the day so far was herself walking up to the bike repair shop with me after I got home.

Be not afraid though, because Mr. Waffle and I took a day off work during the week to celebrate my birthday. We went for a walk in Glendalough and had a nice lunch in Powerscourt. Was there snow in the mountains? Yes, there was:

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We had to scoot back to Dublin a bit earlier than we would have liked because there were parent-teacher meetings for the boys, but that was satisfactory as well because they seem to be getting on very well which is always a relief to hear.

Furthermore, tomorrow is mother’s day. I am not delighted about it coming hot on the heels of my birthday as I think 48 hours of indulgence is a lot to ask from my family, however, it has put me in a good position to force everyone to go for a walk in the mountains tomorrow. Rejoice.

So I am hoping that 49 will be a good year. My sister is recovering from cancer – she’s gone back to work which is great. I am starting a new job in April – you may congratulate me – and so far I have all of the delight of anticipation and none of the horror of the new job. And surely, I have done enough funerals in the past year that there can’t be too many more to go through this year.

Now, you will have to excuse me because I just heard from the kitchen the magic words, “Someone put the kettle on!” and I think that my birthday cake is approaching.

Notions

5 March, 2018 at 8:27 pm by belgianwaffle

I met a colleague for lunch recently in a slightly fancy restaurant.

Colleague poking at his plate: What’s that, coleslaw?
Me: Well on the menu, they said is was celeriac remoulade.
Him: Coleslaw.

Absorbing Lessons about Work from your Parents and Applying them at Home (inadvisability thereof)

5 February, 2018 at 7:29 pm by belgianwaffle

Her (lying on the sofa): That picture over there is crooked.
Me (sitting down on the other side of the room): Well, get up and straighten it.
Her: I’m afraid you’ll have to do that, you see, I’m policy and you’re operations.

Weekend Round-Up

10 December, 2017 at 8:28 pm by belgianwaffle

On Friday night there was no hockey training for Michael as it was cancelled due to cold weather. This is not the kind of attitude adopted by the hardy GAA players/coaches to cold weather; it was very welcome though. I had my office Christmas party so although it was my Friday half day, I went back in about 5 having spent the afternoon picking up my daughter’s bike from school (she was on the DART to friend in Wicklow) and watching a film in front of the fire with my loving sons. I was reluctant to go back to work but did and it was grand but I felt dutiful and virtuous rather than having fun and letting my hair down; possibly for the best. I bailed out about 7 to pick up herself from the DART. She was going to a friend’s Christmas carol concert in Trinity. I was a bit dubious – I have been stung before by youth choirs. We met her other friend J in front of Trinity and then went into the chapel where the concert was to be and to my surprise and delight it was quite warm. And then the concert itself was absolutely superb. The singers were amazing; they were unaccompanied but sounded utterly beautiful. The performance included the only good version of “Away in a Manger” that I have ever heard (sorry everyone). My favourite song was probably “Gaudete” but they were really all excellent. Afterwards herself and myself went to supper and that was lovely too although she was exhausted by the time we got home.

On Saturday afternoon, Daniel had his final GAA session of the year (7 a side tournament – which his team won – followed by pizza). You will note that the GAA were not put off by inclement weather like the hockey people. Michael meanwhile had his drama showcase (v good if a bit confusing). Herself and myself attended and we picked up glitter Christmas glasses.

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Afterwards we went to look at the Christmas window in Arnott’s (for me, for me, children only v mildly interested) and got on the new extended Luas line home (verdict from children – “it’s a tram”).

On Saturday night we all trooped off to see the Princess win an award. My poor parents and parents-in-law are not really well enough to attend this kind of event any more and my brother and sister are a bit too busy and far away so herself had to make do with enthusiastic support from her parents and some lacklustre support from her brothers who were, you know, supportive but a little bored.

This morning we had mass (herself mentioned from the pulpit for her award but they got her name wrong so, um, swings and roundabouts) and choir rehearsal. Had a great chat with one of the other parents while waiting for rehearsal to end. Like my mother, he is from Limerick and v interested in horses. I was asking how his daughter was getting on in secondary school and he said that he had spent last night explaining sets to her. “It is,” said he, “very useful for working things out if you want to put a combination on the tote.” He spent some time trying to explain this to me but, unlike his 13 year old, I seem to be a slow learner, I am glad, however, that somebody has found a practical example for the use of sets.

At lunch time we took ourselves off to see a special screening of “A Muppet Christmas Carol” in the cinema. Singing along was encouraged but it did feel like Michael and I were the only ones who knew all the words; so we were, I thought, a little conspicuous. We had hoped to go and look at the snow in the mountains but it was too cold and wet (I mean, I know snow is wet but you want blue skies to enjoy it not leaden sleeting ones) and we realised, belatedly, that herself has grown out of her hiking boots and would have to climb the mountain in Converse runners so instead, we went to the parents-in-law for a visit and now we are home, I have lit the fire and nobody is going anywhere for the remainder of the evening.

How was your own weekend?


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