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A year at school

30 June, 2009 at 10:54 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess finished up in senior infants (or high babies as we used to call it, or naionan shoisear as it is known as Gaeilge – spelling may not be 100% correct there) today.

We got her report card and it confirmed what we knew already: our child is a genius (I am keen to benchmark her against her class mates though, I feel that it’s just possible they may all be geniuses) but kind of lazy. She mostly got 6* out of a possible 6 except in handwriting (3 and lucky to see it) and in one area where she got 1 and an exclamation mark. Punctuality. She had 44 late days; I am appalled. How is this possible? Who knew that they were counting? Mr. Waffle is surprised it isn’t more. Next year we will turn over a new leaf. Especially now that I know that there are consequences.

I take my hat off to the Irish education system. They got a child who couldn’t read, write or speak Irish and one academic year later here she is speaking fluent Irish, reading everything and writing, well, writing dammit. We’ll see how they do with the boys next year.


25 June, 2009 at 11:46 pm by belgianwaffle

Our friend, the Professor of Hard Law has just had her second volume on hard law published by Oxford University Press. This is exactly the kind of publication that I associate with OUP. On its website it says: “Oxford University Press is perhaps the most diverse publisher of its type. It publishes in many countries in a variety of different languages, for all levels, and across virtually the whole range of academic disciplines. The main criteria in evaluating a new title are its quality and the contribution it makes to the furtherance of scholarship and education.”

This is why I am always mildly surprised to see that “Winnie the Witch” is one of their bestsellers. Aside from the fact that all of the titles of the books on Winnie’s shelves are in Greek characters (academic joke for men who studied Greek in school – my experience is that this option is even more unlikely to be offered in girls’ schools), these are definitely aimed at the under sixes and I’m not quite sure how they contribute to the furtherance of scholarship and education. Nevertheless, Winnie is a big favourite in the Waffle household and we are familiar with Winnie in French, under which guise we first met her as “Pélagie la sorcière” and in Irish as “Cití Cailleach“. As far as I am aware, the sales and translation rates for the OUP’s more traditional output can in no way match Winnie’s success. Odd but heartening for OUP, I am sure.


24 June, 2009 at 7:29 pm by belgianwaffle

I felt very peculiar at work on Friday. I continued to feel somewhat peculiar at home on Saturday. Not sick but odd. Lightheaded perhaps a little faint. As though I had drunk slightly too much champagne but without the reassuring feeling that this was rather pleasant.

At first I thought it was exhaustion (I stay up late of my volition and am dragged out of bed early by the demands of life) but I never felt at all like this when the children were babies and I was definitely a great deal tireder then. I live in fear that diabetes will strike. I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with the boys and the doctor explained to me in far too much detail (using graphs and spending a good hour with me) why I was in danger of developing type II. I am, however, not thirsty, so this is a good sign. Also I never felt like this when I had diabetes. I have always had slightly low blood pressure and I do see stars when I get up too quickly but, again, I have never experienced anything like this before. Could it be my blood pressure getting lower? I then wondered whether I was developing some bizarre inner ear disorder. I searched the internet and, actually, of all possible afflictions, lightheadness seems to be the one that the internet regards as safest. Unless it’s internal hemorrhaging and I think we can rule that out now several days later as I am not dead.

Now it is over. But it was very odd and deeply unsettling. Has anyone else ever had anything similar?


23 June, 2009 at 7:04 pm by belgianwaffle

This may be a dull post for those who were not in my class in college (most of you, as far as I know), so read on at your peril.

I went to my 20 year college reunion recently. Over a third of the class of sixty showed up which wasn’t bad given that it was at short notice.

Several surprising things: everyone was almost exactly the same, only grown-up; several of the people I hadn’t spoken to 20 years ago turned out to be very pleasant despite my prejudices at the time; almost everyone has three children; almost everyone is practising as a solicitor; nobody was at all competitive about what he/she was doing. One woman opined that it was far better than her school reunion where, if you hadn’t a site in Kinsale, you were no one. Alright, one man mentioned that he was doing up a house in Goleen, but that’s really not the same thing at all…

One very unsurprising thing: if they were at all interested, most people had a vague idea what others were up to – “My friend A is a friend of your friend the Dutch Mama and I heard you were back in Ireland, kind of thing.” This happens to Irish people all the time. It’s one of the joys and one of the curses of coming from a small country.

I suppose, when I started studying law in college, I hadn’t really thought of it as a vocational subject, more a good grounding. I was wrong there. Aside from me, one man who had become a primary school teacher, one woman who married a well-known hotelier and two or three women who were not working outside the home (dreadful expression but it is important to acknowledge that dealing with toddler tantrums is much more work than hanging round in court could ever be), every single person was working in law and even the women working in the home were qualified solicitors who planned to go back to it when the children were bigger. In fact, even the hotelier’s wife and I had qualified as solicitors, I think on the basis that it was something we could always go back to, if we needed the money. However, the current downturn, is making that look pretty unlikely, should the need arise. Just as well, I couldn’t convey a broom at this stage.

I thought they were a very nice bunch – mostly country solicitors from market towns, the backbone of rural Ireland (that sounds a bit patronising but it’s not meant to be, oh for better writing skills) though only one election agent (to my astonishment, I expected half a dozen). It was like meeting new people in many ways but with something useful as a starting point for conversation. I was surprised how little I knew about my former classmates. I was chatting to one guy and telling him about my husband’s grandfather playing senior hurling for Tipperary (v. exciting recent discovery) and he said that his own father had won two all-Ireland hurling medals with Tipperary. The glory, the glamour. All unknown at the time. True, I did know that one classmate’s mother had been at boarding school with my mother but that was largely due to badgering by her mother and mine rather than any particular initiative on our part. It made me feel that my mother had some justification when she used to drive me demented by asking me the names of the parents of new college acquaintances (“would that be Murphy the chemist?”). I now realise that I have turned into her and I was fascinated by where these people were from and who their parents were and, with any luck, I will live to torture my misfortunate children along similar lines.

What it really brought home to us was how young we had all been. Most of us were 17 when we started college and 20 when we finished. The mature students in the class who we thought were ancient were only 24 or 25. As one former classmate said “what on earth can you be expected to understand about law of all things when you are 17?” I’d say our excellent memories stood us in good stead for the exams but it was probably many years before most of us understood the practical implications of the theories we had learnt.

At about 2 o’clock a select group of us went to a chipper near the pub to do a post mortem of the evening and relive our student past; our conclusions, you will be delighted to hear, were broadly positive. The moral is, go to your reunion, you might like it more than you think.

Well observed

22 June, 2009 at 10:08 pm by belgianwaffle

Thoughts on the usefulness of examinations from the ever estimable Lucy Kellaway.

The longest day of the year

21 June, 2009 at 9:37 pm by belgianwaffle

Up with the lark with the Princess and Daniel to get croissants and the paper for their father (left Michael slumbering). A somewhat bad tempered trek accompanied by grumbling sounds from herself as the chain kept falling off her bike. Children insisted that we buy juice also and had to carry home two bikes, two litres of juice, the Observer and five croissants.

Arrived home to the sound of Michael’s wails. His brother and sister had gone and left him alone. I pointed out that his father was still there. Further tears. Daniel, who is often kind, gave him a big kiss and he wailed all the louder: “First they left me alone and then Daniel covered me in slime.”

Their father arrived down to Father’s Day breakfast and expressed suitable gratitude. Attended mass accompanied by children lolling in the pews. Went home and tidied the Princess’s room with untoward vigour in the hope of unearthing a missing doggy. No joy but I did discover that she has already packed three large rucksacks for the holidays. Didn’t have the heart to empty them.

After lunch out to the GAA where (with all the other contestants) the children all won medals (hurrah) together with lollipops, bags, footballs and sliotars. Our ball needs are met for the foreseeable future. The afternoon was rendered hideous by the Princess who after her own match and medal ceremony came to watch the boys. The boys, despite getting very little action on the ball, were pink and broadly cheerful while tearing around the pitch. The Princess had had her school play again last night and was exhausted this afternoon. A refusal to buy sweets was enough to tip her over the edge and she spent the rest of the afternoon keening at the edge of the pitch occasionally rousing herself to pink faced abuse when particularly moved. I was mortified. By the time the boys medal ceremony came round, I was sitting in the back of the car berating her thinking to myself “I am sure this is not what Supernanny would do.” I hate Supernanny. Sigh.

Home again where we played with the new toys in the back garden and then round the corner to our street party. It really reminded me of the kind of thing that we had in Brussels but it was, as the Princess kept running up to tell me in delight, completely free. They had two bouncy castles, a barbecue, face painting and a clown who made balloons. It turns out that the neighbourhood is awash with kids. The children dived in but I hung around a little nervously; it appears that I don’t know many of the neighbours. Fortunately, Mr. Waffle met a colleague. She was lovely and knew other people and lived nearby (by definition, I suppose). She brought company, chairs and prosecco and we sat around chatting as the children played (very nicely – or, at least, nobody cried). This is the kind of thing I remember from my childhood. The grown-ups chatting while the children play nearby perfectly happily. Could this herald a new phase and very welcome phase? Mr. Waffle’s colleague lived in Brussels as a teenager on exactly the same street as we did when we lived there up to last year. She and I found this fascinating but the rest of the group seemed, somehow, less interested. But seriously, isn’t that a little odd?

So, now it’s quarter to eleven and nearly dark outside; I think I might go to bed. Long day.

Thrilling Spectacle

20 June, 2009 at 7:03 pm by belgianwaffle

Last night my sister and I went to the show that the Princess’s school put on to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The Princess was a munchkin with one line in the “Wizard of Oz” but she delivered it with great panache (Féach ar na daoine sin. Tá siad an ait). As my sister said when the first child opened her mouth (Dorothy): “Oh God, it’s not in Irish is it?” It was in Irish and the overall effect was a little odd.

When Dorothy was told “Níl tú i Kansas anois, a Dorothy”, my sister hissed at me “In more ways than one, Dorothy”. As well as doing the “Wizard of Oz”, there were little cameos by the teachers (seeing the múinteoirí doing a scene from “Sister Act” was memorable), parents and past-pupils – all very appealing. The big show of the night was “Oliver” by the senior school (9-12). They took some considerable liberty with the story and, as far as I’m aware, “The Sun will Come out Tomorrow” is not a song from the musical Oliver, however, who am I to quibble? A past pupil, now 25, was a suitably intimidating Bill Sykes and, to my untrained ear, pulled off a reasonable cockney accent leading to unlikely phrases such as “Cá bhfuil sé, the little blighter?”

What can one say only – an ait ar fad but surprisingly enjoyable for a school production.

In short

19 June, 2009 at 10:13 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: I’ve bought a book about twins starting school: “Topsy and Tim Start School”
Mr. Waffle: I wonder what Topsy is short for?
Princess: Topsyietta?

Dispatch from the office

18 June, 2009 at 11:06 pm by belgianwaffle

Title of email sent to everyone in the office: “Intranet unavailable 1-2pm today!!!!”

Can we discuss this? Is there any item of news which conceivably requires four exclamation marks? If there were, would it be that the intranet is unavailable at lunch time? Weighty matters.

In other work related matters, I had a long phone conversation with a colleague today. In the course of this, I was continually distracted by small errors he made.

“This was muted [mooted] for later in the year”. “The board will take their clue [cue] from the chair”. After a while, I began to wonder whether he was doing it on purpose to leaven the boredom of our conversation. Do you think that’s possible or am I just indulging in paranoia?

Illicit Activity

17 June, 2009 at 11:00 pm by belgianwaffle

Recently Mr. Waffle and I both took a day off work while the children went to school. An excellent idea and something I fully intend to repeat. We did not share details of our illicit outing with the children. We didn’t say that we were going to work but we didn’t say we were not going to work either. Jesuitical. We went for low key, nearby pleasures: a walk around Glendalough and a cup of tea in Hunter’s with the paper. I was, however, made to squirm for my fun when, in the morning getting the children ready for school, herself who is an expert on guilt said to me “Mummy, I know that you are in a hurry getting ready to go out to work but I wonder could you get me another bowl of cornflakes?” Her normal form of address is “More cornflakes, minion!” so it was unfortunate that she chose that of all mornings to ramp up the politeness quotient. Oh well.


16 June, 2009 at 10:59 pm by belgianwaffle

The other night we were awoken by frantic knocking at 1.30. It was the security men who patrol the institution nearby, someone had broken our car window and the neighbour’s camper van. They had got away with a set of jump leads and Mr. Waffle’s glasses. So, a great haul then. The poor gardai came at 2.30 am. Mr. Waffle took the car to be repaired the following day. It was covered by insurance and done in an hour. Hurrah, finally a return on the approximately 20,000€, I have spent on insurance over the years.

Summer Plans

15 June, 2009 at 10:57 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself: Where are we going on our summer holidays?
Me: East Cork and West Kerry.
Her: But no, for our summer holidays.
Me: East Cork and West Kerry.
Her (outraged and, also quite correct): But it will be raining. Summer holidays are in the sun.

Sharper than a serpent’s tooth etc.

The Incredders

14 June, 2009 at 10:55 pm by belgianwaffle

We got “The Incredibles” out on DVD. It has made a huge impression on the children. They are now to be known as Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack. I am Elastigirl (though, as Michael kindly pointed out, Elastigirl is really thin unlike me but I can still be Elastigirl because I am his Mummy) and their father is Mr. Incredible. Sometimes we forget and call them by their real names and Michael, in particular, becomes furious. He is also demanding that his diet be further restricted as, in the film, Jack-Jack only eats porridge. In vain do I argue that off-screen Jack-Jack enjoys a healthy and varied diet and that he can eat alone (in the film his mother feeds him). It’s all becoming very tedious and shows no signs of wearing off.

Because Daniel speaks so clearly, I regularly correct him. Michael is far less distinct and as I can’t hear what he’s saying, he is far less subject to maternal corrections. I note that Daniel has decided to address this deficit. I heard Michael say “The Incredders is a vewy good pwogwamme.” Daniel replied firmly: “No, Michael, ‘The Incredibles‘ is a very good programme.” “Yes, a gweat pwogwamme.” “No Michael, not pwogwamme, programme.” “Yes, progwamme.” It’s tough being a twin.


13 June, 2009 at 11:29 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel speaks exceptionally clearly and quite loudly. Grown-ups always understand him. This has its drawbacks.

The other day Mr. Waffle met a little old lady who chucked Daniel under the chin. To his father’s mortification, he said to her clearly and reproachfully, “You hurted me.”

Shortly afterwards I was cycling with Daniel in our edgy/urban/ rough (delete as appropriate) neighbourhood and saw two small children (maybe 3 and 18 months) playing on the main road. A quiet main road but certainly a main road. As I toiled up the hill , they fell over together and lay spread out and bawling. I stopped the bike, took Daniel off, went over, took them off the road, dusted them down, made comforting noises and asked, “Where are your Mummy and Daddy?” No very coherent answer was made but shortly a large man came around the corner and grabbed them roughly. I made bleating “no harm done they seem to be fine” type noises. He was joined by his partner. Both of them seemed slightly out of it and they yelled at the children (who ignored them – a constant across socio-economic groups, apparently). At no point did either of them address me. I mounted my trusty steed and peddled slowly off (it was hilly). Daniel, speaking loudly and, of course, clearly said from his perch behind “Mummy those people were very rude, they didn’t answer you when you spoke to them.” I pedalled more quickly.

A series of unfortunate events

12 June, 2009 at 10:14 pm by belgianwaffle

Slightly against my better judgement, I read chapter 1 of “The Bad Beginning” to the Princess last night.

Cravenly, rather than turning out her light, I said that she could read for a little longer and slunk away to the end of the news and my waiting cup of tea. I did not go up to turn off her light and for this I paid dearly. At five to eleven as Dr. House was about to solve the problems of his patients who suffer from narcolepsy (did everyone else know that he was modelled on Sherlock Holmes and Wilson is Watson?) she came into me in tears. She was scared of Count Olaf. I went back upstairs with her and it was well after midnight by the time she got to sleep.

We dragged her from bed this morning. She instantly began reading her book again. We took it away. She was extremely crabby though whether from exhaustion or a foiled desire to know the fate of the Baudelaire orphans is unclear.

In other news, both home doggy and travel doggy are lost.

Gasping consumer

11 June, 2009 at 10:40 pm by belgianwaffle

According to the Irish Times and RTE news, Tesco are squeezing out Irish suppliers. Barry’s Tea will no longer be readily
available on the shelves. It will be replaced by Tetley and Typhoo. Excellent brands in their way, I am sure, but not for me.

We decided to explore other options for our shopping. At the weekend, Mr. Waffle went to Lidl. I now understand that their employment practices are suspect, so we will not be going back. Further, while Tesco may be cutting back on Irish products, apparently Lidl has none at all. Mr. Waffle said it was like shopping abroad. There was a whole range of alien products and he didn’t know the layout of the supermarket. This impression was enhanced by the fact that the weather was fine and everyone had shed all outer layers in favour of flip flops
and beach wear. Lidl is therefore out.

Other than Tesco and Lidl, we live a fairish way from a supermarket. Should I ignore my principles and starting drinking Typhoo tea? Is that like taking the soup?


9 June, 2009 at 10:46 pm by belgianwaffle

Michael and Daniel are starting school in September. They will be four on September 27. I hope they are not too young; although children can start school at 4 in Ireland, increasingly the trend seems to be to hold them back until they are 5. A parent I met recently thought that she had sent her son to school too early and he had been 4 the previous March. At the GAA, I was tortured by a man who said that his son had only just turned 4 and he was far, far too young to start school in September and he was putting in another year at pre-school. However, we got their uniforms the other day and they tried them on in complete delight, so I think that we are committed now. Also, I feel Michael is looking forward to having a little less one on one attention from his teacher.

Last week, Mr. Waffle went to a parents’ evening for children who were to start in September and met a college acquaintance from the cumann gaelach. Together they made painstaking conversation as Gaeilge. As the acquaintance went into computers, I’m not sure how that went (our Gaelic ancestors not having had a word for computers).

Mr. Waffle learnt some mildly useful things from the meeting even though our daughter has been in the school for a year. A copy of the disciplinary code was handed around. The principal explained that it was a little out of date but it would give parents an idea of what was expected. One woman asked why her daughter couldn’t have a pony tail. “Ah yes,” explained the principal, “it was drafted when it was a boys only school.”

We also got a photocopy of an Australians study from 1990 on how twins do in school. It reminded me of how remiss I have been in my own research. According to this twins are particularly at risk of language and reading delay if they are identical, if they are boys and if they have a sibling 2-3 years older. Well, at least they are not identical. In light of this I have been considering their speech. Daniel speaks very well and articulates clearly; Michael far less so. [Don’t compare says the study reprovingly.] It is not clear to me whether this is just relative to Daniel or in absolute terms. Ho hum, always something to worry about. On the plus side, the study recommends letting them see their parents enjoying reading – I think that we could probably do that alright.

The study also emphasises that they need to be seen as individuals. I do regard them as two different individuals but the following things are true: they have never spent a night (or more than a small part of any day) apart; when you ask either how old he is, he will reply “we are three”, even when the other is not in the room; if one starts doing something, then the other invariably wants to do it too (although, I’m not sure that this proves anything, it is also true for their sister).

Dismal Weekend Summary

8 June, 2009 at 11:11 pm by belgianwaffle

Friday: Was able to observe the democratic process up close in Cork (where my mother was allowed to vote despite failing to produce polling card or identification on the basis that Mr. O’Rourke, who was responsible for ticking her name off the list knew her – didn’t he live aound the corner and didn’t his wife play bridge with my aunt on Tuesdays and where had I been, he hadn’t seen me around in a long time) and Dublin (polling card and ID please).

Saturday: GAA rained off (bizarre and practically unprecedented, the point of the GAA is that you should be wet and miserable). Quick tea with other rained out parents. Princess hysterical at sight of school friend. V. mortifying. Rain continued belting down all day. Deeply unsatisfactory trip to the Chester Beatty museum where the Princess sulked and refused to look at any of the beautiful books. She did, however, watch with interest a DVD on making paper and insist that Mr. Waffle take notes for her to use later. Hired a baby sitter to come to the house that evening (still lashing). Went to a pub to hear comedy only to discover wrong evening. Went to nearby hotel for restorative cup of tea where Slovakian waiter compared Irish weather to April in his country when the weather is always unpredictable. I think that he is missing home.

Sunday: We went to Smithfield horse fair. It’s a monthly horse market in the centre of the city and Mr. Waffle reckons that it will be gone by the time the children have grown up so they should see it. All a bit too authentic really, the horses were sad looking or vicious or both. Men from the ISPCA were roaming the square. We asked a nice young fella holding a small horse, if we could rub it and he said we should find a quieter one. The horse was four years old and it hadn’t got a name. The children were terrified of hooves and I saw one horse foaming at the mouth (hot, rabid, scared of the trap behind? who knows?). We took ourselves off to the quieter environs of Collins Barracks. Much quieter, since the museum didn’t open until 2 and it was now only 12. More cutbacks, I suppose. Home for lunch and afterwards wrestled with the wretched creeper thing which is taking over the garden. Sigh. At least it stopped raining.


7 June, 2009 at 11:36 pm by belgianwaffle

I typed “does” into google and the first suggestion in the drop down list was “does he like me?” which I find rather endearing and delightful.


6 June, 2009 at 11:18 pm by belgianwaffle

Michael is constantly injuring himself. He is our daredevil. He had to be rescued from an oncoming tram with inches to spare. At least, this is the story he and the Princess tell, I have yet to verify it independently with our childminder, F, – sometimes, it’s better not to know. The Princess insists that Daniel pushed Michael and that Daniel was not properly reprimanded by F something which the Princess is keen that I should remedy – presumably poor F was too traumatised to do anything other than hang on to Michael for dear life.

Last week, Michael managed to rip a piece of skin off his foot climbing in his bedroom. I have inspected the locus of the accident and can find nothing that might remotely be suspected of causing such a nasty cut. He hobbled for the week.

Then, their father took them to the zoo where “the dreadful fate/Befell him, which I now relate.”* Michael managed to take a square of skin off his arm climbing a fence. He got dirt ingrained in the cut and under his skin. I prodded at it unavailingly for a bit to his anguished screams of protest and then, on the advice of my father (who first verified that Michael’s tetanus shots were up to date – of course Michael’s tetanus shots are up to date), stuck on some disinfectant and a plaster and sent him to bed. “Why am I always getting hurt?” he asked mournfully. Being the mother of a daredevil is very challenging.

*This came into my head. Look, it’s my blog. Small prize (you know, having your charming comment acknowledged for a change, that kind of thing), if you can identify the source without recourse to the internet.

From the birth announcements

5 June, 2009 at 11:05 pm by belgianwaffle

X – [Innocous parental names] are thrilled to declare the arrival of a beautiful new person to the world, Thoraí… a sister to [slightly less outlandish name and another odd one]..

ZEITGEIST – ZEITGEIST – A and B are delighted to announce the birth of their son …Jake… A little brother for Ben, Sam, Jessica and Milly.

Note that I have selected names that are too unusual and names that are too common for your consideration. We birth column police are a fickle, hard to please lot.

The Cunning of the Law

4 June, 2009 at 10:55 pm by belgianwaffle

Nice (slightly elderly) Garda: You can’t put your bicycle there. Put it across the road instead.
Me: OK.
Him: That’s a lovely bike.
Me: Thank you. I’m really enjoying cycling in the fine weather. Usually, I’m very unlucky and my bike is stolen at the start of the spring and I don’t get around to buying a new one until autumn.
Him: I have the same bike for 32 years.
Me: Really?
Him: Yes.
Me: How come it was never stolen? What’s your secret?
Him: It’s 32 years old.

The Múinteoir

3 June, 2009 at 10:47 pm by belgianwaffle

The children and I were having tea in a cafe after school and the Princess was still resplendant in her uniform.

An elderly lady came up to us and said to the Princess “Cén fath nach bhfuil tú ag caint as Gaeilge?” She blushed and subsided into silence and it was left to me to pick up the conversation in my very threadbare Irish (before the interruption the Princess had been telling me about how she had won a prize for speaking Irish at school – obviously not something she was going to be trying out outside the school grounds). After some rather basic conversation with me, the elderly lady turned her gimlet gaze back on the Princess. “Cad is ainm duit?” Upon being met with silence from my unexpectedly shy child in the face of this very basic query, she said quite sternly “Bi dea-bheasach!”

Memories of my own primary school days came flooding back to me and I realised that I confronted that most alarming of specimens, a retired primary school teacher. She put me forcibly in mind of big Miss O’Hea (big to distinguish her from her sister small Miss O’Hea who also taught in the school) who taught me in second and third class. She was effective (I probably learnt more at ages 8 and 9 than any point subsequently) but distinctly alarming. “Were you a teacher in my daughter’s school at some point?” She was indeed. Had she overlapped with the present (very kind, good and hard working) principal? Only for a short space of time. I see. “Of course,” she said meaningfully, “his wife teaches there too.” I see. “Agus a colceathair” she said nodding significantly. And then with no more than a pat on the head for the boys, she was gone. The Princess’s current teacher is a very sweet (very trendy) young woman in her 20s, I don’t think that she quite realised that teachers came in such formidable guises and she was pretty shaken by her encounter with the old guard. There’s nothing like a múinteoir to put you in your place.

Bring on the oil crisis

2 June, 2009 at 11:05 pm by belgianwaffle

The weather was spectacular this weekend. It was undoubtedly the finest June bank holiday weekend I can remember. It’s going to be a heatwave summer again. Like 1977! I certainly hope so as we will be holidaying in Ireland this year and Ireland in the rain is glum though sadly typical.

This weekend, things went our way. We went to the Dublin docklands festival. We arrived at the right time and we didn’t have to queue for anything, even ice cream. We investigated the Jeanie Johnston, the world’s most expensive replica ship for which every man, woman and child in the country will have to make a contribution ad infinitem. We also looked over the Loth Lorien (no sniggering, the owner’s other ship is called the J.R.R. Tolkien) from Amsterdam where I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in 20 years (“the man with three children and the strong Cork accent” guessed Mr. Waffle).
Me: Bernard, how are you, it’s Anne.
Princess: Can we go up here?
B: Anne, how lovely to see you.
One of his small children legs it for the rigging.
Me: Are these all your children?
Princess: Can we go up here NOW?
B: Rescues small child from rigging, admonishes another says yes.
Me: What are you doing now?
Princess: I AM climbing up here.
Him: In the bank. And you?
Me: Get down and wait one minute.
Him: Flails after small children.
Me: Well, nice to see you.
Him: Yes, lovely to see you too.
I suppose having small children does fill in those gaps in conversation that inevitably arise when you meet old acquaintances.

Following my mother’s slightly puritanical but ultimately rewarding rule, we left when we were enjoying ourselves most and were able to look back on a very successful outing.

Then on Monday, we took ourselves off to Brittas Bay for the day. The last time I went to an Irish beach, it was all Irish people. The migrant population has certainly made us look less like a nation of milk bottles. It was extraordinary. Firstly, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I don’t think I have ever seen this in Ireland before. In fact, when I went on holidays with my parents, my mother used to drive my father insane by pining for cloudy skies “Don’t you get tired of these endless blue skies,” she would lament. Secondly, the beach was heaving. You had to step around people. I have never seen an Irish beach so crowded in my life. Thirdly, everyone in Ireland seems to boast a tattoo. Fourthly, almost everyone in Ireland is overweight. All very pleasant all the same. We bought ice cream in the car park and the man in the ice cream van told me that they had run out 5 times the day before and that the following day, he would be buying himself a porsche (people need fuel to keep up their bulk, you know).

The children enjoyed themselves as did we though, despite the hot sand and cloudless blue skies, the water was absolutely perishing (some things never change).

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