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Archive for June, 2006

9 months yesterday – review

28 June, 2006 at 3:07 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel is big and heavy but surprisingly mobile and on the verge of crawling. He’s still bald, but he does have four teeth. Despite looking a bit like one of the Mitchell brothers, he is a big softy and cries sadly if you speak harshly to him or indeed anyone else in the room. He is also inclined to cry, if he wants a toy and does not get it. This is not generally a problem as he is big enough and mobile enough to grab everything within range and Michael doesn’t usually put up much of a fight. He is immensely strong, when things are not going his way, he bucks in your arms and it is quite difficult to hold him.

He was delighted with the effect clapping hands has on those around him initially. Alas, he’s been doing it for a while now and it doesn’t have the effect it once had. He claps his hands and says “bwaw, bwaw” looking around anxiously to check whether people have noticed his cleverness. When we come home from work, he bawls until he has reached the safety of a parental embrace. While this can be tiresome, the affectionate drooly kisses he then doles out are very gratifying.

Michael is a fascinating child to me. He has hair. Not a feature of my other children. He is almost uniformly sunny. Physically Daniel is very like the Princess and, I suspect, in personality also although, as you will appreciate, personalities are at a fledgling stage. I think that, if we treated Daniel as we treated the Princess, he would be every bit as clingy as she was at that age but we just don’t have the time or the energy for that, so he’s not. Michael, on the other hand, is hugely independent. Although he prefers to be held, he is usually quite happy sitting on the ground or in his highchair watching what’s happening around him. He is fond of his parents, but will go to pretty much anyone and bond happily. He loves to be tossed up in the air. He adores when his sister pushes and pulls him and tickles him. Daniel loves that too but he is more inclined to be wary (smart boy) whereas Michael is indifferent to the danger. He is also indifferent to tone of voice. “No Michael” said in a stern voice elicits gales of laughter while his brother collapses in sobs at the brutality and ghastliness of it all.

When instructed to do so Michael will open and close his hand. This is his party piece but, unlike Daniel with his hand clapping, he doesn’t seem to care very much about its effect on other people, there is just so much fun and entertainment out there, who cares about hand opening?

On the whole, they are extraordinarily easy babies and very easy to love, lucky us. I am amazed that in such a short space of time they have become such very different little people and I feel that perhaps they may need to have their own separate categories in this blog shortly. The excitement out there is palpable.

In other news, we had our first ever parent-teacher meeting today and we sat on tiny chairs and heard Madame Marie say that our child is a genius, we know, we know. A very chatty and bossy genius, we know that also. Apparently when Madame Marie leaves the class for a moment, the assistant says it is as though she hadn’t left because the Princess takes over instructing, reprimanding, organising. What I find entirely astonishing is that, it appears, her class mates are generally willing to bow to her will. The fools, the fools – no wonder she is so imperious though.

Kettle, Pot, Black etc.

27 June, 2006 at 11:47 pm by belgianwaffle

I see that despite the football, University Challenge is back. I’m videoing it. I told one of my colleagues this [the one from Northern Ireland, she is entirely unlike anyone else I’ve ever met from the North, if she were in charge there, it wouldn’t be “Ulster says NO” it would be, “Ulster says ‘oh alright, go on then, if you want’”. I digress]. She said “Oh, my God, what nerds, you are videotaping University Challenge!” Pause. “I like to watch it live”. Mind you, I’m glad that I didn’t given her extra ammunition by telling her that we were going to spend the bulk of our evening organising our Summer holidays on a spread sheet. Look, it’s complex: the creche is closed for a month, the Princess has 9 weeks off school and our childminder is going to the Philippines for 5 weeks. Is there anything as dull as other people’s childcare arrangements? Perhaps I should stop while I still can.

Swings and roundabouts

26 June, 2006 at 10:49 pm by belgianwaffle

Her: Look Mummy, it’s a photograph of you!

Me: On the CD cover?

Her: There, there!

Me: That’s Julia Roberts. [Is it necessary to say that I do not in any way whatsoever resemble Julia Roberts?  Also, please don’t despise us for having the CD of songs from “Mona Lisa Smile” ].


Me: What do you think of my new top?

Her: It’s not pretty.

Me: Why not?

Her: It’s got no sparkles. And it’s not pink.

Me: Hmm, but still.

Her (relentlessly): And it makes you look fat. [Is it necessary to say that I am sensitive to any criticism that may be made on this point, however ill-informed; please witness previous dialogue for an illustration of my daughter’s powers of observation].

No, really, no.

25 June, 2006 at 9:01 pm by belgianwaffle

From yesterday’s Irish Times birth announcements:

“TOMKIN and CLARKE – Sarah, Oisin, Isaac, Cosmo, Dashiell, Chaos and Massimo are delighted to announce the birth of Bamford Ultimo..”

I am woman, hear me roar.

25 June, 2006 at 6:50 am by belgianwaffle

Her: I’m a baby tiger and you’re a mummy tiger

Me: Roar.

Her: I’m a baby cat and you’re a mummy cat

Me: Miaow

Her: I’m a baby dog and you’re a mummy dog

Me: Outraged silence (quite hard to do)

I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls…

24 June, 2006 at 9:04 am by belgianwaffle

…because marble doesn’t creak like wooden floorboards.   Every time I go past the boys’ room to get to ours, the floor creaks alarmingly and, nine times out of ten it wakes them up. Just like everything else. Alas.

Keeping up with the post-millenial Joneses

23 June, 2006 at 5:48 pm by belgianwaffle

The Observer had a cartoon a while back where these guys in a coffee shop are chatting and one says to the other “So, half way through dinner she googled me on her blackberry and found my ex-girlfriend’s blog so that was pretty much that”.  His friend replies “do you know that three of those terms didn’t even exist five years ago?”

So, I was playing with the computer and I saw this post from Fluid Pudding and I said to my loving spouse “guess what Jeff gave Angela?”.  And he said “eh, who, what?” because he is not as up on my computer stalkees as I would like.  “A ticket to the blogHer thingy” I said.  And he said “eh, who, what?” and I explained that it was this conference that everyone was going to and I would like to go too and he looked at me blankly.  “Off you go then, nobody’s stopping you”.   There are times when this whole independent woman thing palls.  Somehow, I feel that I will not be going to California at the end of July.

Mountain meets Mohammad

22 June, 2006 at 11:51 pm by belgianwaffle

My sister appears to be having some difficulty with her Indian visa.

Bad hair day

22 June, 2006 at 11:28 pm by belgianwaffle

Her: Your hair is odd.

Me: How?

Her: It’s sticking up.

Me (rhetorically): Why does it do that?

Her: I suppose because that’s the way God made you.

“Aithnionn ciarog ciarog eile” or, then again, maybe not.

21 June, 2006 at 2:20 pm by belgianwaffle

We went to a christening party at the weekend for our lovely babysitter’s little son.  I think Filipinos must be the most hospitable people in the world.  Since our involvement with the Filipino community in Brussels began, we have been deluged with invitations to a range of events.We turned up last night to find that we were the only non-Filipinos in the hall aside from the DJ (they do big christenings, the Filipinos).  On our arrival, the Princess ran to the stage where the threw herself into an energetic dance routine to the tune of  “itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, yellow polka dot bikini” while I hovered awkwardly behind her ready to grab her, if she got too near the footlights.  Tragically, I have to report that she has inherited her mother’s sense of rhythm.

When there was a break in the music, I suggested to her that we might ask the DJ to play a request.  She was very taken with this notion, so we approached the pony-tailed Belgian to ask for “It’s raining men”.  The Princess was concerned that he mightn’t have it, but it seemed to me, that he had the kind of playlist that would not only give us that but “I will survive” later as well.  We approached the young man and in my fluentest French, I asked for “It’s raining men”.  He looked at me blankly for a moment (always unnerving for the foreigner) and then he said “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French, I’m Irish (small pause) and so are you”.  It turned out that he was the boyfriend of a Filipina friend of our babysitter and he has been living with her in Brussels for the past year.  He speaks fluent Tagalog (so he said, who was I to quibble?) but he hadn’t managed to pick up any French working in an Irish bar in the EU quarter (again, no quibbling here).  “How did you know I was Irish?”  “Oh” he said, “I was told there would be an Irish couple here and I knew it was you two the minute you walked in the door”.  Foreign and sophisticated, that’s us.

We held the day, in the palm of our hands…

20 June, 2006 at 10:02 pm by belgianwaffle

Forgive me for quoting Billy Joel songs, but what can I do, I am a product of the 1980s.

This sleeping thing, it must change (for one thing it’s making me talk like yer man, Yoda).  I read Minks’s thoughts on this the other day and I see what she means.  It won’t be forever but, God, sometimes, it feels like forever.  A typical evening proceeds as follows:

8.30 – 3 children in bed, howling has subsided maybe even stopped.
Between 10.00 and 11.00 – We retire to bed.
Around midnight – Daniel starts flopping around in his cot like a landed fish.  For about 5 minutes our dreams are filled with knocks on doors, stamping feet etc.
Five minutes later – Daniel starts to bellow, unimpressed by the slow response to the landed fish act.  He is soothed back to sleep by whichever tired parent is on duty.
As Daniel is being put back in his cot – Michael wakes.
15-30  minutes later – all is well and exhausted parent retires to own bed
About 4.00 am – Some baby wakes up.  Parent far too exhausted to remember which one by morning.  Parent falls asleep with contented baby in arms.
About 5.00 am – The other baby wakes up.  Parent places first baby in cot and takes up howling baby begging it not to wake first baby.  Parent falls asleep with different contented baby in arms.
About 6.00-6.30 am – Parent wakes up with a jerk and replaces sleeping baby in cot.  Other baby wakes.  Parent crawls back to bed and prods other parent out to tend howling infant and face the day.

And this is a good night because, you’ll notice, her highness didn’t wake up at all.

To summarise “they ruled the night and the night seemed to last as long as six weeks”

French as she is spoken

19 June, 2006 at 10:21 pm by belgianwaffle

I heard a man on the radio the other morning talking about the Walloon economy (unwell compared to thriving Flanders – I suspect that if you had the slightest interest in hearing that, you knew it already). Anyhow, he was saying that the benefits from the Flemish economy also help Wallonia “ce que nous economistes appellons ‘le spillover’”. Is there no word in the language of Voltaire to cover this concept? Or self-service restaurant “le self” or air conditioning “l’airco” or a car park “le parking”? The final insult to the French language was delivered on the radio this evening. The Belgian ambassador to Sweden has written a book and he was being interviewed. “So”, said the interviewer, “if two diplomats have a ‘spirited exchange of views’ it means they had a huge fight, right?” “C’est vrai” said the diplomat” que la langage de la diplomatie, c’est la langage de l’understatement” Tell me, is there really no equivalent for the word “understatement” in the language of diplomacy? Good grief. You will note that I am making progress on my aim of becoming a grumpy pedant in two languages.

And, in an entirely unrelated matter, please consider what is possibly the greatest waste of money, ever. I appreciate that this is a challenging category in which to excel, but I think you will agree that this product sees off the opposition in style. Credit for disseminating information on this new high in the tasteless, expensive and useless goes to Spirit Fingers.

Insights gained on public transport

18 June, 2006 at 11:38 pm by belgianwaffle

I was on the metro recently (standing) and an elderly woman and her son were travelling together.  He was about my age and she was possibly in her 70s and looked very unwell.  She was leaning heavily against the wall for support.  Nobody got up to give her a seat.  I looked very disapprovingly at the eight sitting commuters in my line of sight.  I didn’t say anything because her son was with her and I thought that, if he didn’t say anything, then it was hardly my place to step in.*   My deepest disapproval was reserved for a young man in his 20s with no visible handicap who was sitting comfortably while talking loudly on his mobile phone and casually surveying the rest of us.  I gave him my look of utter disdain.  I have had some practice with the look of utter disdain.  I once had to employ it against a range of men in their 50s and 60s who felt it was perfectly acceptable to warmly squeeze the shoulders of young women who came within their ample range.  I have to say that in that context it was not particularly effective and perhaps my friend D’s approach would have got better results, she suggested that I say to the next squeezer “touch me again and you pull back a bloody stump”.  She told me that she had had good results with that in the past.  I opted to go for her sister’s approach of refining my look of utter disdain.  I spent some time curling my lip while she (the sister) sighed despairingly and said “no, no, that’s a come hither look”.  I had always felt that she was entirely wrong about that.  However, the other day when eventually, the metro emptied out, I ended up sitting beside the loud young man.  I gave him my concentrated look of utter disdain and he winked at me.  Well, that does explain a lot about the squeezers.

*Being helpful is sometimes not very helpful.  Witness the man who very helpfully rushed to help me put the boys’ buggy on the tram this morning.  He refused to let any passengers get out wrested the buggy from me and started pushing it forcefully on to the tram.  In his enthusiasm, he managed to wake both boys (who had been sleeping peacefully) by somehow collapsing Daniel’s side of the buggy and poking Michael in the eye with the parasol.  Both woke up and began to howl in understandable indignation.  Struggling to make myself heard over the bawling, I thanked my helper through gritted teeth.  There’s no pleasing some people.

Look, he may not have hair but he can sit up and clap his hands

17 June, 2006 at 2:15 pm by belgianwaffle

Her (in the car): But I wanted Michael to sit beside me and you put Daniel beside me.

Me(with no intention of reloading to meet her whims): Why?

Her: Because I wanted to give Michael a rub on the head.

Me: Well give Daniel a rub on the head instead.

Her: But rubs on the head are only for babies with hair.

Me: Give Daniel a kiss then.

Her: But kisses are only for babies with hair.

Me: What can Daniel have so?

Her (after a pause for consideration):  Well, I can laugh at him.

Today’s news

16 June, 2006 at 8:48 pm by belgianwaffle

Rang my mother for a chat but she hung up on me to hear Bertie give a funeral oration at CJ‘s obsequies.  She got back to me quickly.  She felt it lacked grandeur as Bertie cannot pronounce his ths (a fatally common Irish failing – do you wonder why I had years of elocution classes?  Wonder no longer).  I am as shocked that he has died as I was the day I heard Margaret Thatcher was deposed.  I thought that he would go on forever.

In other news, the Dutch Mama has sent me an email containing this line:
“Our Austrian friend is coming to visit on Sunday with her twin baby boys…about a month old now and (I’ve been so looking forward to telling you this) sleeping through the night!! “Mr. Waffle says that travel often upsets small children.  Let us hope for the best.

Reared in captivity

15 June, 2006 at 10:42 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: Sweetheart, you know that school is over for the Summer at the end of the month?

Her: Yes, Mummy and I’m going to go on lots of courses.

One dark and stormy night the captain sat down and said to the mate…

14 June, 2006 at 2:59 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: Gosh, the weather is really creepy.  It feels like a fairy tale.  I’m half expecting a forest to grow up around us for 100 years.  

Single colleague: 100 years, that’s about how long it will take the handsome prince to come alright.


14 June, 2006 at 2:57 pm by belgianwaffle

Since my sister moved to India, Mr. Waffle has developed an interest in matters Indian and he keeps plying me with information.  Apparently it takes 8 days to get something by road from Bombay to Calcutta.  This is, as I pointed out to him, 6 days less than the time it takes Aubert to get a buggy from its depot in Brussels to its shop in Brussels.You may rejoice, should you so wish, our swish new buggy has finally arrived.

Further linguistic confusion

13 June, 2006 at 10:59 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess loves to identify cars. For a while I thought she could identify them side on without even seeing the logo but then I realised that she was identifying them from the hubcaps. This afternoon I drew a diamond shape. It’s like a “rrennot” she said. “A what?” I asked. We continued in this vein for a while with her getting increasingly frustrated. “THE CAR, Mummy”. “Ah, Mummy says rehno


12 June, 2006 at 9:55 pm by belgianwaffle

This morning, the Princess came running down the corridor to me in floods of tears.

Me: What’s wrong sweetheart?

Her (gasping between sobs): Daddy is torturing me, the big meanie.

Me: What did he do?

Her: The mean old Daddy treated me like Cinderella.

Me: How?

Her: He wouldn’t help me make my jigsaw.

Me: Why not?

Her (she is without guile): Because  he wanted me to eat my breakfast.

Later, while helping her to make the offending jigsaw:

Me: Is there a piece still in the box?

Her (peering inside): We’ll see whether the mean old torturing Daddy left a piece in the box.

While I was away..

11 June, 2006 at 1:52 pm by belgianwaffle

I got Daniel a sailor suit. He is so big that with his shaved head, Mr. Waffle says he looks like a Russian naval recruit.

Mr. Waffle’s former boss (now retired) dropped him in a present for the Princess to tackle the trauma of having two new siblings. He brought it back from America where he was on holidays. It is a cuddly duck that makes a real bird sound (sponsored by the Audubon society); the label tells us it’s a common loon and who are we to quibble. By the time I returned the toy had already been christened in accordance with the family naming policy, adopted on the sage advice of the Dutch Mama, i.e. called after the donor. It in no way reflects the affection and esteem in which Mr. Waffle holds his ex- boss that our daughter is now wandering around the house saying “Where’s Dierk the loon?”.

I read the Telegraph and found two items of interest. It is only a matter of time before I start a petition to bring back flooging. Item 1 was an article on the perils of driving in Belgium. Item 2 was a cartoon. I can stop any time.

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig

10 June, 2006 at 5:29 pm by belgianwaffle

It is lovely to be back.  The children are all bigger and more beautiful than I remembered.  Yes, I know, they probably haven’t grown that much since Tuesday.  My saintly husband has taken the boys out for a walk and her imperial highness is napping.  What should I do with myself?  I suppose there is always laundry.  I think the glamour is what I love most about my lifestyle.


8 June, 2006 at 8:09 pm by belgianwaffle

The Narnia flick is available on pay TV in my hotel.  I would quite like to watch it.  I am told that “All movie charges will appear as ‘room service’ on your bill”.  But we all know that my employer will think that I am watching porn.  I want the movie charge to appear as “Narnia flick” on my bill.  What should I do?

On the home front

7 June, 2006 at 9:31 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle is playing a blinder or else he’s putting up a brave front.  It’s hard to tell.  He had 5 consecutive hours of  sleep last night having stashed the boys in strategic locations about the house so that they wouldn’t wake each other up.  I’m not sure that it will be feasible to keep a cot in the kitchen in the medium term, but we can think about that.

Mr. Waffle is much more upset than I am by the fact that our infants continue, at 8 months, to sleep like newborns.  I wasn’t quite sure why that was until he said to me “you made a deal with God, didn’t you, they could wake as often as they liked, provided that they didn’t have CMV” and I realised straight away that he was right.  In fact, I think I promised never to complain about anything ever again, if I remember rightly.  And though I have not, perhaps, held true to that, I think I have become much better at resigning myself to everyday problems that arise.  I may have to cede my place on the “whinge for Ireland” team to a new contestant.   Beth knows what I mean.

Sicily – Post Mortem

6 June, 2006 at 7:47 pm by belgianwaffle

I know, I know, your bottoms are all numb from sitting on the edges of your seats out there.  But things have been trying.   Herself has been sick, the boys have been sick.  It’s been a bank holiday weekend.  This combination of events is calculated to reduce us to gibbering wrecks.   Thanks to my employer, however, I have made good my escape.  I am spending the rest of the week in the usual, er, glamourous location while my poor misfortunate husband wrestles in Brussels with illness (on the part of the boys) and sleeplessness (available for everybody).  So, I’ve got the wifi thingy to work and I’ve got the evening to myself and I will tell you about Sicily; mentally prepare yourself for an entry of great, and possibly tedious, length.

Well, the bad news, from the blogging point of view, is that we had a fabulous time. As is well known, the best blogging entries are based on complete disasters (pace my father-in-law the captain of industry, retired, who argues strongly that this is not the case; let him start his own blog).  For your reading pleasure, I will deal with the bad things first.  We forgot the wipes.  Yes, stop press, so-called experienced parents of three travel without wipes.  We got to the airport and Daniel needed to be changed, so I lugged all three of them to the disabled toilet (home of the changing mat) and left Mr. Waffle to finish off the checking in.   Daniel had produced what is known in crèche parlance as a “caca debordant”.  I checked and re-checked for wipes.  They were not there.  I got to work with toilet paper soap and water sprinting between the sink and a very squirmy baby praying that he would not propel himself on to the floor or, less seriously, eat any of the poo – cleanliness is next to godliness and all that.  Meanwhile Michael screamed in the buggy and the Princess hoisted herself precariously on to the handicapped toilet (“Mummy, I’m going to do a POO!  Help, Mummy, help, I’m going to fall in”).  By the time everyone was clean and ready to depart (actually, poor old Daniel was only cleanish, his bottom still had a distinctly yellow tinge), I was a shadow of my former self.   I returned to my helpmeet to find that he was just a little tense as I had scooted off to the bathroom with all our passports in my bag and time was marching on and check-in had not been completed.   We scooted to the plane (leaving 67kgs of luggage checked in) with our double buggy, herself on buggy board and Mr. Waffle with clenched jaw. 

When we got to Italy, we went for lunch in Palermo airport. This was Mr. Waffle’s idea and provides proof, if proof were needed, that the man is a genius.  Wandering through Palermo airport with our three children gave me an insight into what it must be like being Madonna’s minder.  People kept ignoring me and formed a scrum to ooh and aah at the boys.  This all made me feel a bit nostalgic because, dammit, they were oohing and aahing at me at one stage.  Sigh.  You know the way something that happens at the very beginning of a holiday can set the tone for it?  Well, there we were in the self-service restaurant in Palermo airport wondering what to do about the wipes when two men wearing airport badges came to ooh at the boys.  I seized the opportunity to ask them where we might find wipes at the airport (did you know that I speak Italian; truly there is no end to my genius) prompted by an anxious husband who was next in line on nappy changing duty.   They considered and recommended the newsagent downstairs and went off.  We continued to eat lunch and attract admiring crowds.  About 10 minutes later the two men came back bearing a packet of wipes triumphantly aloft.  They brushed aside our offers of payment with extravagant hand gestures and went off having chucked the children under their chins for a last time.  And really, this set the tone for the holiday.  People couldn’t be more helpful; we couldn’t be more willing to exploit them.

So, elated by the success of the whole wipes venture we went downstairs to pick up our hired car.  Ah, yes, Avis, “we can’t be bothered to try harder”.   We waited an HOUR in the queue. Fortunately our technique of refusing to let the Princess watch any telly paid ample dividends; for the duration, she was entranced by the promotional video which Messrs Sixt cars offered at the premises next door.  Then, when Mr. Waffle went to rescue the car from a distant car park, the Princess, the boys and I watched as a Dutchman combusted at Hertz car hire across the way from Avis:
Him (shouting): What the fucking of hell is this?  (And people think that the Dutch speak perfect English).
Princess (audibly):  Mummy, he shouldn’t say “fucking”.
Me: No, sweetheart, but I suppose he’s very cross.
Him:  I have been waiting an hour for my fucking, hell car.
Princess (audibly):  He said “fucking” again Mummy.
Me: Mmm..
Admiring crowd gathered around the boys’ buggy:  Words to the effect of tsk, tsk.
Lady at Hertz desk:  Sir, please stop shouting or I will call the police.
Dutch man (slightly less audibly): Is this fucking hell Hertz or not, next time I go Avis.
Me (mentally): I don’t think that’s a good idea, sir.
Mr. Waffle came and rescued us in a large Renault Scenic which accommodated us, our luggage (yes all 67 kgs worth) and our children.  The only difficulty was that it had no handbrake.  Let me ask you this, if you rented cars to people for a living, would you send innocent foreigners off to visit Sicilian hilltop towns in cars with no handbrakes?  Avis, they love to set you a challenge.  The French like gimmicky cars.  The Renault Scenic has a thing beside the steering wheel that you pull out to put on the handbrake and then it’s supposed to go off automatically when you start.   But you know what?  When you’re reversing backwards up a steep hill on a road just wide enough to accommodate your massive people mover with a lot of Sicilians waiting for you to get out of their way and a baby throwing up in the back (it transpires that Michael is a poor traveller on winding hilltop roads*), you’d rather have a real handbrake than one that is a little bit slow and lets you slip back, even a tiny bit or, just as good, cuts out.  I do not have fond memories of the Renault Scenic, though I will say that the space where the handbrake ought to be is an excellent place to put your handbag.

So, to our hilltop town.  We were stars there.  You will recall that we were there for the Princess’s cousin’s christening or the ‘piccolo cugino” as he will be known henceforth, this is my blog, I can be as pretentious as I like.   Half the town was related to the piccolo cugino’s mother and therefore to us, really, and the rest knew precisely who we were.  When I went down town one day with the Princess leaving the boys to bond with their father a number of people whom I had never, to my knowledge, seen before asked me where the “piccoli gemelli” were.  This gave us the smug (though unmerited feeling) of being a cut above the other tourists. We took every opportunity to inform our fellow hotel guests from South Africa, from the Netherlands (around the corner from the Dutch mama’s place, fancy that – little chat about the parks in Voorburg) and from England (walking tours at ₤3,000 a week – dear God – when I heard backpackers, I thought they would be young but I knew when I heard the cost that they would be old – I chatted to their Italian guide and we both agreed happily that they were ‘mad, mad’ and she said, somewhat regretfully, that she too had been under the misapprehension that they would be young when she took the job) that we had special connections.  The Princess was delighted with our special connections and surprisingly taken with her piccolo cugino who is very like Michael (therefore, gorgeous, you understand) though three months younger, tanned and, of course, has been sleeping through the night since he was eight weeks old.  You know, I read that 40% of babies don’t sleep through the night until they turn two.  What I want to know is why don’t I know any of their parents?  Incidentally, the down side of being related to everyone in the hilltop town was that it was no holds barred on the advice front.  I was buying shoes (well, I was in Italy, what would you do?) and the lady behind the counter said that she was related to the piccolo cugino’s granddad.  She continued “my daughter met you in the piazza del popolo yesterday and she tells me that your twin boys don’t sleep through the night; she thinks that you’re not giving them enough to eat but I’d say the problem is that it’s not dark enough in their bedroom”.  Sigh.  However, she redeemed herself by giving the Princess a Barbie badge.

The hotel was fabulous. The staff were fantastically obliging (which I suspect they would have been even had the owners not been on kissing terms with the piccolo cugino’s granddad), cooking things for the Princess at odd times; letting us leave our clip on high chairs in place for the week; feeding the Princess with biscuits (“biscuits for breakfast, Mummy!”) and putting on cartoons on the telly for her (little did they know that thanks to our careful work, she would have been equally happy watching the returns from the local elections in Sicily); holding babies while we went off about our business; and generally making us keen to come back.  We also had, as predicted, babysitters galore.  The royal grandparents played a blinder.  The publishing exec is now, officially the Princess’s favourite person, having spent hours and hours dressing up with her, reading stories to her and helping her sweep bugs out of the pool.  The Princess has no fear of insects and spent much of her time at the pool operating as a spider rescue service, tenderly placing gasping spiders on the paving stones around the pool.

And then we left.  30 degrees in Palermo, 10 degrees in Brussels and not much oohing either.   And all the children were sick and Mr. Waffle and I couldn’t go to work because it was a bank holiday weekend.  If you were home with three sick children, you’d want bank holidays cancelled too.  What’s that you say about curmudgeonly?


* He doubtless gets this from my sister Helen who is the poor traveller in our family which is unfortunate since she seems to spend most of her time travelling around the world having worked in England, Germany, China, the US and now in India. She tells me that strong drugs are the answer.  Strong drugs were not, however, available when we were children and I well remember my mother driving hell for leather from Cork to Rosslare to get the ferry (a number of unfortunate bunnies met their deaths on that early morning trip) and Helen bleating pathetically that she was sick while my brother and I argued about who would have to sit beside her.  My mother said firmly, eyes on the road (if I remember correctly, my father’s eyes were closed in anguish) “Well, we can’t stop, you’ll have to get sick out the window” which she duly did leaving a long vomit streak on the side of the car and also liberally dousing her hair in vomit.  Michael clearly has a great future ahead of him.

We’re Back

2 June, 2006 at 10:50 pm by belgianwaffle

Yes, ok, you thought that we’d been sold into the white slave trade by the Sicilian mafia but, as it happens, no.  I felt that I ought to update here because I rang a friend today to make arrangements for the weekend and she said “but you’re in Sicily”.  I explained that I was back and she said “but I read your blog every day and you’re not back”.  While I am, of course, touched by her enthusiasm for this website, I feel that she should know that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet.  Pressure of work and a sick child [leading to the utterly laughable experiment which my loving spouse and I attempted yesterday and today respectively, of trying to work from home with an, again respectively, sick and recovering three year old on our hands] have kept me from telling you hair raising tales from the Sicilian hinterland but just you wait, this weekend, all will be revealed.  I know, I know, you’re on the edges of your seats out there.  Look, Mum, if you’re really keen you can start with the hundreds of photos on Flickr.

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