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Archive for August, 2013

Appealing New Local Restaurant

28 August, 2013 at 2:58 pm by belgianwaffle

The food was beautifully cooked and presented and the prices very reasonable – though cash only, no cards. The waiters were attentive though clearly new to the job. So far, they have only been open for lunch once and, with return to school looming, I fear it may be Christmas before they are back in business.

Menu below:

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Dialogue

28 August, 2013 at 2:48 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: That was very generous of you.
Her: A step on the Jungian tree of self-actualisation.
Me: What?
Her: Grandma told me about it.

No more sleepovers at Grandma’s.

Not that famous

25 August, 2013 at 3:50 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel: Who’s Beethoven?
Me: He’s a famous composer. You know, Ode to Joy (I hum a few bars).
Daniel: Oh yes. Did he do the Harry Potter music as well?

Outing Hell

24 August, 2013 at 11:12 pm by belgianwaffle

Michael: If I have to choose between a museum and a walk, do you know what I choose?
Me: What do you choose?
Him: A museum.
Me [mildly pleased]: Really, why?
Him: There’s at least a chance that there will be a shop in a museum.

Happy Anniversary

23 August, 2013 at 10:28 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle and I celebrated our 12th anniversary on July 28th. This post is a little late. Your point?

Let me tell you a story about our first Christmas together. We had only met in November and I didn’t want to make a large investment in Christmas presents. I am not sure why I was so concerned because, in retrospect, we were probably singly and jointly as rich as or richer than we have been at any point since [do you think my training in legal drafting has come out a bit in this sentence?]. So, I said, “I think we should put a limit on the amount we spend on Christmas presents and not go overboard.” I cannot remember what the limit was but I imagine of the order of 20 quid or the equivalent in Belgian francs. Did you know that Belgium brought us together? Well, it did.

Anyhow, I’m not sure whether he thought it was weird or not [it is the kind of thing his mother would do] but he agreed. When it came to time to exchange Christmas presents, he pulled out a framed picture of W.B. Yeats’s poem “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven“. I discovered that he had taught himself calligraphy as a teenager. He had written out the poem and framed it. It was a really beautiful and personal present. It is still hanging up in our house. I think I got him a CD.

Reader, is it any wonder I married him?

That’s My Boy

22 August, 2013 at 10:24 pm by belgianwaffle

We had the American priest again on Sunday. So impassioned and enthusiastic was his delivery that the boys, briefly, paid attention. “Who among us,” he asked [rhetorically, I imagine], “can say that we truly don’t care what others think of us?” Michael instantly sat up straight in his seat and put his hand in the air.

Dingle – Part 2

21 August, 2013 at 10:15 pm by belgianwaffle

Wednesday

Having had a very successful dinner at the cousins’ B&B the previous night, we developed a plan to go on a cliff walk to the beach just across the road. The fathers would drive towels and picnics to the beach and the mothers would shepherd the children along the cliff path. I instantly felt that the fathers were getting a far better deal. Somewhat to my astonishment, this turned out not to be the case. The weather was beautiful, the children were cheerful and the walk was pleasant. We spent the day at the beach and the Princess got the chance to walk up the road and renew her acquaintance with the shopkeeper who had given her a lift the previous day.

That night all the children stayed in another cousin’s house and six of the grown-ups were able to go out to dinner together. Let joy be unconfined.

Thursday

We collected the children from their cousin’s house and went for a walk in the damp.

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Reaction had set in, they were all tired and cranky. We trudged back to the house. The day was redeemed by an evening trip to the merries in the driving rain. The children had a fantastic time. Almost certainly the highlight of their summer. I felt mildly ill after a ride which should have been called the whiplash and knew myself to be as old as time.

Friday

The children and I spent the morning in Dingle’s really excellent library. We all read books peacefully and I actually heard lots of Irish spoken though one of the librarians was from the North which meant that a fair bit of it was impenetrable to me. On a whim I asked the librarian whether our Dublin library cards might work there. They would not but they would issue temporary cards for our stay. Too late, alas, for this trip but filed away for future knowledge and may some day be useful for you to know also, gentle reader.

We met an old friends of mine from college and her family for lunch. During our college careers I had often visited her in Dingle. This time was, however, the first time I had actually been able to see the mountains on the Dingle peninsula. We reminisced fondly over the endless rain that had been a feature of our youth. Her four children and our three bonded and Daniel continues to speak with a midlands accent (where they now live) as a tribute to this encounter. They also bought us lunch – what’s not to love?

That afternoon, using the local knowledge from lunch we went to the beach where, some 20 years previously, I had swum with the Dingle dolphin. I very rapidly turned tail; dolphins are enormous. Of course, Fungi was not then the celebrity that he is today. I brought the children and the cousins to the same cove but Fungi chose to bond with the dozens of boats driving tourists round the bay. Some of us saw him once in the distance. Not, regrettably, Michael, who was inclined to cry.

That night, Mr. Waffle and I went out to dinner while my saintly parents-in-law babysat. All very satisfactory.

And do you know what? The weather was so fine that we never got to visit the aquarium. Saved for next year.

Saturday

Our lovely landlady came to say goodbye. We had a long chat with her (as Gaeilge, very thrilling). She knew a number of the teachers from the children’s school who also come from that neck of the woods – further thrill. We brought her out to the car to meet the children (they were already strapped in for the journey) and finally they spoke some Irish. Not much and that little not grammatical but, you know, it was something. Our landlady and her husband are both local native speakers who moved to Dublin. They spoke Irish to their children but our landlady said that her mother always said what odd accents the children had. She also said that there was a lot more Irish spoken 20 years ago. A former colleague of mine from this part of the world, who has now retired, told me how when he was 12 he won a scholarship to a school in Killarney (this was before free-second level education). A lot of the local clever boys did. This was a school near the Gaeltacht which promoted and supported the Irish language. Yet, somehow, the boys from the Gaeltacht didn’t feel happy speaking to each other in Irish (although this was strongly encouraged) in front of their peers. He described to me the huge sense of relief the boys from the Gaeltacht felt when they sat on the bus home together at the end of term and could relax and speak Irish again. It’s all a bit depressing, really. However, on a cheerful note, have a link to the cups song and “Wake Me Up” in Irish just in case you are the only person who hasn’t seen them.

Dingle – Part 1

19 August, 2013 at 10:07 pm by belgianwaffle

Did I tell you we were spending a week in Kerry with Mr. Waffle’s family? Well we did. Just for a change this year, we went to Dingle.

Saturday

It’s a long, long drive from Dublin to Dingle. We spent all day in the car, much of it, it felt, crawling through the picturesque town of Adare. Dingle is in the Gaeltacht (the Irish speaking part of the country) and the children’s fears were divided between concern that they have to speak Irish and fear that they might run into their teachers, several of whom are from the Dingle peninsula.

As we passed the sign saying “An Ghaeltacht”, I said to them, “Right so, only Irish from now on.” “No,” said Michael, “we only have to speak Irish where they can hear us.” Regrettably, they severely overestimated the strength of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht and I think about two words of Irish passed Michael’s lips during our stay.

Sunday

The children were delighted to discover that there was to be no escape from mass in Kerry. And in Irish to boot. Having recently learnt the Irish mass off by heart for their first communion, they were very sound on the responses. The church was heaving with huge crowds standing at the back (last experienced in other parts of the country about 1983) and we ended up sitting right at the front so the priest was able to get the full benefit of Daniel’s clear articulation of the responses (they were taught to speak out for their communion) and Michael’s regular audible whisper, “Is it over yet?” The Princess got to sit beside the mayor of Kerry. If the mayor of Kerry is at your mass, it is not going to be a short one. A nice lady beside us was delighted with Daniel’s responses, patted him on the shoulder and told him, in Irish, that he was a good boy. Virtue rewarded.

Monday

Our second trip to the beach. Imagine going to Kerry and getting two fine days in a row. I had intimated to the boys (who loath the beach) that trips to the beach would be limited and indoor activities would abound because I had hardly thought that the weather would permit two consecutive days on the beach but so it was. They were only slightly mollified by the presence of their cousins.

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Tuesday

In the morning the boys and I went into Dingle and shopped while the Princess and her father climbed Mount Brandon. In the afternoon, I took herself and the boys went off with their father and cousins. She was keen to go to the beach and the boys had dug their heels in and refused to go again. I was keen to go to the beach where we had been the previous day [subsequently identified as the most dangerous place to swim where a local has never been seen swimming – we were led astray by all the foreigners swimming; we’re mercifully all still alive] but he took us to Wine Strand which was, I felt, less good and less near a tea shop (but, you know, we’re alive). There was some coldness on parting and I said, rather rashly, that we would be perfectly fine to make our own way home.

After about an hour on the beach, we were ready to go. “Let’s start walking home,” I said, “I don’t want to bother Daddy and the boys.” There was a horrified pause. “Can’t we get a taxi?” said she. Oh my city child. “It’s only 11 kms.” We walked up from the beach with our gear and our sandy body board and I recalled my own late teens and early 20s when I used to hitch hike all over West Cork. “Come on, we’ll hitch,” I said. “REALLY?” she said. I stuck out my thumb. We were picked up immediately by a silent Cork man who dropped us at the main road. Somewhat heartened, she tried herself. A lovely matronly Dublin lady with an immaculate car picked us up immediately. She would have driven us all the way back to our house but I felt we hadn’t walked at all yet and asked her to put us down in the next townland. We thought we might get a cup of tea there. A chat with an English tourist revealed that there wasn’t even a bar (horror) but there was a shop.

We walked five minutes up the road to the shop. We were there a long time as the Princess likes leisure to choose and there were no other customers. We told the shopkeeper about our hunt for tea and on hearing that we were on foot, he promptly shut up shop and drove us himself to the nearest bar. He too wanted to drop us home but I was keen that we should walk at least a little of the way. It was only as he drove off that we realised that the bar was closed. Woe, no tea. We walked for a bit. We saw a lot of caterpillars.
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We brought one home:
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Mr. Waffle rang to see whether he could collect us from the beach. “Oh no,” I said mysteriously, “we’re nearly home”. We stuck out our thumbs and to my indignation (having being picked up immediately previously) had to wait nearly five minutes before a hired car pulled in. The driver was a Dubliner who lived in America and the Princess piled in with his American daughters in the back. He drove us home and on my instruction pulled up out of sight of the house. We walked in to cries of acclaim – “What a distance you have walked, you must be exchausted!” Triumph.

More tomorrow. Maybe.

The Rake’s Progress

18 August, 2013 at 10:04 pm by belgianwaffle

On July 11, I saw this post about candy crush. Normally, that kind of thing wouldn’t be for me but I was on holidays with the children and I had time and I thought, why not? Why not? I will tell you why not. That wretched game has taken over my summer; I’ve hardly read a book. The only saving grace is that I refuse to pay money to buy more lives so I have to stop occasionally. Otherwise I would never stop. And I understand that there are 395 levels with more added all the time. I am doomed.

My Biggest Fan

17 August, 2013 at 10:01 pm by belgianwaffle

My daughter comments on my return to blogging after a short break: “I see thou hast updated, wretch.”

Hoist with my own Petard

16 August, 2013 at 11:48 pm by belgianwaffle

I went to the bakery before lunch and bought some buns for after lunch for herself and Daniel (Michael does not eat sweet things or much at all really – he is an exceptional child – we’re just back from a check-up with the doctor where he was found to be perfectly well except for being in the third percentile for weight for his age. If there were no corn flakes, he would starve. I despair. I also digress). I gave Daniel a yellow one and herself a pink one.

Herself: Why did I get the pink one?
Me: You like the pink ones, you’ve had them before.
Her: But Daniel got a yellow one.
Me: Well, I just thought that he mightn’t like a pink one.
Her (pointing to the pink bun): Is this a sexist bun?

The Agony and the Ecstacy

15 August, 2013 at 11:41 pm by belgianwaffle

My brother who, despite his many flaws which I would be only too happy to list, given half a chance, is very kind and generous. Last Sunday, Cork played Dublin in the all-Ireland senior hurling championship in Croke Park the national stadium. My brother got tickets for himself and Daniel to go together (the other two children being uninterested in the prospect). Daniel was extremely excited. I was torn; obviously, I wanted Cork to win, more particularly since Dublin had already beaten Cork in the football and if they beat them in hurling as well (not a traditional Dublin strength) the children would be unbearable. On the other hand, it was Dan’s first match at Croke Park and I really wanted his team to win.

It was a very close match and according to my brother, Daniel really enjoyed it. But, in the end, it was clear that Cork were going to win. Daniel wept into his Dublin flag for the last 10 minutes. My brother said that Cork and Dublin fans alike tried to comfort him but he was inconsolable. When I asked him later what people had said to him he said, “I didn’t listen, I was too sad.” Alas, it is hard to be seven and see your team lose.

Here are the rivals before the match. They posed with a baseball bat for reasons which are not now clear to me. Obviously, a hurley would have been better.

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Garryvoe Part 2

5 August, 2013 at 10:24 pm by belgianwaffle

For the second week of our holiday in Cork, we booked the children on to a computer course. Herself did it last year and loved it and all three of them were old enough to partake this year. I prayed that the weather would break because I couldn’t stand it if for the finest summer since 1976 I sent them in to look at a screen all day. My prayers were largely answered. The weather was pretty awful:
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This left me free to do a range of things with my free time: spend time with my parents; go shopping; force my sister to look at a large house which was deeply unsuitable for her needs but really lovely aside from the dead pigeon on the drawing room windowsill and the damage to the west wing from the largely collapsed roof and, of course, the derelict listed house next door which was included as part of the sale.

The children meanwhile really, really loved their course. But they were exhausted. We got back early one evening and we ate early and I sent the boys to bed. I was just about to turn my attention to herself when she remarked in tones of outrage, “Do you realise that you sent the boys to bed at 7?” “Yes,” I replied. “You cunning, little vixen,” said she. Really, cunning, little vixen? I have a lot to put up with.

Anyhow, after two weeks we returned to Dublin. The children were delighted to be back pointing out familiar landmarks to each other. “Ah the sights and sounds of Dublin,” said their father. “Tobacco,” shouted the children happily from the back seat. Something needs to be done about the illegal cigarette trade alright.

Holidays – Garryvoe Part 1

4 August, 2013 at 6:00 pm by belgianwaffle

Did you know we went to East Cork to stay in our friends’ house? We have excellent friends; a lifetime of careful choosing.

So, in a very 1950s way, Mr. Waffle worked in Dublin and came down at the weekends and I stayed in Cork with the children. The weather was quite outstanding. This did not overcome Michael’s permanent objection to going to the beach but we forced him there; an exercise that requires more enthusiasm on the part of a parent than you might imagine.

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The children spread their wings in a mild way. I went for a swim and left them in the house. The three of them went to the nearby playground together, played and came back. They quite enjoyed being out without their loving parents and I am quite pleased with how responsible herself is becoming. Regrettably, she is getting a bit sophisticated for playgrounds.

We made our annual pilgrimage to Leahy’s fun farm which, as usual, delivered the goods. My cousin, who is a farmer’s son and father of three small children, is underwhelmed by Leahy’s but then he has to go and milk cows whenever his brother goes off golfing, so he and his family are more jaded when it comes to farm animals.

There was a climbing thingy:
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There was a snake:
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There were (new this), mice to put in your hair:
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The Princess made friends with a little French girl and the pair of them ran around together. As ever, her parents were utterly unimpressed by an Irish child who spoke good French. There is a reason why sang froid is a French expression. In an effort to keep her French up over the summer, I have offered to pay her €8.25 [a figure subject to intense negotiation] if she reads one of the Harry Potter books in French. She got to page 87 when the e-reader died. What are we to make of this? Insights thus far: “you-know-who” in French is “tu-sais-qui” when speaking to children and “vous-savez-qui” for adults. Watch this space for more exciting updates. We’ve just purchased a new e-reader. Sigh.

My brother and mother came to visit us for the day. My mother has not been well and it was lovely to get her out of the city. The loveliness was somewhat compromised by my father calling to say that my aunt and two of my cousins had come to visit my mother. He had been peacefully reading the Telegraph when they arrived and although he was happy to welcome them, he was even happier when I said that they should come to us. Meanwhile, my brother had taken the children and the house key to the beach and turned off his mobile phone. So my mother and I sat in the rather toasty car contemplating breaking in. I mulled on the state of disorder which would greet my cousins and aunt. Eventually the sandy ones returned with a very melted packet of chocolate fingers. It all passed off peacefully but I retired to bed with a migraine at 9. Visitors are tiring.

We have been to East Cork many times but never to Cloyne so I forced the children to visit. It is full of interesting things. Despite this photo, they did not like it and they did not find it interesting:

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But look, it has a round tower:

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An effigy of Bishop Berkeley who spent nearly 20 years here (though he died elsewhere):
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It also has a rather fancy marble stone memorial to the man who was a leading light in the British and Foreign Bible Society:
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But no, they remained resolutely unimpressed. Can you take more of this tomorrow?

New Glasses

3 August, 2013 at 5:24 pm by belgianwaffle

As you can see, Daniel was delighted to pose for a picture in his new glasses.

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He’s grown a lot since he got his first pair in November 2007. I’m pretty sure that he couldn’t roll his eyes then.

10 November glasses 017

Visitor

2 August, 2013 at 11:32 pm by belgianwaffle

At the start of August, my mother came to visit my new house. She has been so ill that I really thought she would never get to see it. But she has and she was delighted with it. And she’s been back since and she’s coming again in September!

Reading

2 August, 2013 at 5:08 pm by belgianwaffle

Privileged Lives, a social history of middle-class Ireland 1882-1989” by Tony Farmar

I enjoyed this very much although it’s more of a book to dip into than read straight through. It tries to give an overview of middle class lives in various years: 1882;1907;1932;1963 and 1989. I kept poking my husband and reading him out interesting bits. It is full of detail and incident entertainingly retold but the focus is almost entirely Dublin and it fails to give a larger picture of what is happening in the country. That limitation aside, there were parts of this book that were really entertaining. In ways, the format worked well, giving a sweeping view of what was happening at various points but it didn’t really allow for a narrative so you did feel as though you were jumping about with no over-arching theme (other than lives of the middle classes and that is a bit too broad to do the trick). Still, well worth a read.

TJ and the Hat Trick” by Theo Walcott with Paul May

Daniel was so entranced by this that I had to try reading it. Herself was quite sarky saying “With Paul May what, if anything, did Theo Walcott add?” But, you know, ghostwritten or no, I thought it was a grand little story for the seven year old football lover in your life. Maybe not so engaging for the 44 year old mother of three but it’s a big ask to engage both. Although, Dan is really enjoying “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” so it is possible to appeal across a wide spectrum of ages.

Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

When I reserved this in the library, they said that I was 28th on the list. When I eventually got it, I was bitterly disappointed. It’s a detective story about a guy whose wife disappears. It’s dull. It’s a bit like “Rebecca” without any of the atmosphere or clever parts. Alas.

Death of a Gossip” by MC Beaton

Last time I read one of these, I swore I would never bother with another but I picked this up in my parents’ house as I needed something very undemanding. It worked. It is very undemanding. It’s the story of a local policeman in a small Scottish town where the murder rate is through the roof [one per book]. I am sure that people from the Highlands actually feel faintly ill when they read these books. However, they are written to a formula and we all know what we are getting into before we start and, in that way, they are rather calming. I might try another.

The Last Hero: A Discworld Fable” by Terry Pratchett, Paul Kidby (Illustrator)

Yes, I am now reading picture books, your point? Actually, I found the pictures a bit distracting; they didn’t do it for me. And neither, regrettably, did the book. I am a big Terry Pratchett fan but this is not one of his happier works. Even if does have pictures.

High Rising” by Angela Thirkell

These is a social comedy written and set in the 1930s. I found it great fun – nicely written and gently amusing. Did I welcome the fact that the character known as “the incubus” was Irish and had a mother stashed away in County Cork? Not entirely perhaps but I rose above it. She reminds me a bit of Stella Gibbons and Barbara Pym but not as sharp as either; a much more restful read though. Delighted to see that there are 28 of these books in the series (this is book 1). I intend to read them all. How wonderful to find a new writer to enjoy and see that she has a hefty back catalogue.

Wild Strawberries” by Angela Thirkell

Not as good as the first one, I fear, but still very funny in parts. The characters are, I think less good, except for the saintly Lady Emily who is hilarious. Still looking forward to reading the remaining books in the series.

War Horse” by Michael Morpurgo

Found this on one of the children’s bookshelves and decided to give it a go. It’s about a horse that takes part in the first world war told from the horse’s perspective. It’s a bit sentimental; at least one tear for every chapter. I think that you really need to be a child – or possibly a film director – to appreciate it.


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