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Archive for March, 2014

You Will Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties

31 March, 2014 at 10:32 pm by belgianwaffle

I had Michael in Cork for the weekend recently. One evening he, my father and I sat down to dinner together. My father is quite deaf. Michael was anxious to return to the iPad. But we were sitting at the dinner table. I was sitting in my mother’s place and perhaps something of her spirit infused me as I strained my (I like to think) not inconsiderable skills as a conversationalist to breaking point.

Me: Michael, ask Granddad what it was like at school when he was a little boy?
Michael (dutiful but indifferent): What was it like at school when you were a little boy, Granddad?
My father: What?
Me (loudly and in the face of Michael’s manifest indifference): He wants to know what it was like at school when you were a little boy.
My father (testily): I can’t remember, it was years ago.
Me (loudly): Michael, you like school, don’t you.
Michael (quietly): No.
My father: What’s that?
Me (loudly): Nothing.
[Several more minutes pass in vain attempts to promote conversation on my part – the other protagonists remain largely indifferent]
Me: Will we excuse Michael?
My father and Michael (in tones of considerable relief): Yes.

This Week’s Forced March

30 March, 2014 at 8:17 pm by belgianwaffle

The children and I were in Cork this weekend. We went from Kinsale out to Summercove. We visited Charles Fort. This was greeted with reasonable levels of enthusiasm. The nice man at the entrance gave the children a cannon ball to lift and explained in some detail how to load and light a cannon which they enjoyed.

And then we went to the Bulman for lunch. All very satisfactory. Note soulful expression while herself waits for mussels.

The only fly in the ointment was the driving rain that accompanied our walk back to the car. We were passed by a couple of tourists who were readily identifiable by their all enveloping rain gear. Locals like ourselves looked damp and unprepared. [What? Rain? Here? In Cork? Who would ever bring an umbrella on a walk?]

Today was the day the clocks went forward. I wish I had realised this earlier. This morning at 10.15, the Princess and I went to visit my mother in the hospital. I breezily assured my father that we would be back for 11.40 to accompany him and the boys to mass. He looked dubious, as well he might, I realised, in retrospect, as it was 11.15 when I left. No one in my family went to mass today and it was all my fault. Alas.

I was going to bring my mother’s sewing table back to Dublin with me but lost my nerve at the prospect of bringing it and children and luggage. I had a quick look through the contents which included my brother’s report for second year in school, lots of thread, a 70s large capital letter still in its packet that had clearly been destined to be appliquéd to something and this school photo of me when I was about the same age as herself. I am always struck by how alike we look though I think I look considerably less sophisticated than she does.

Michael made me a card for Mother’s Day, herself gave me a paper rose (complex to make, I understand) and Daniel wrote me a poem which he sang aloud despite his embarrassment. Herself said bitterly, “The poem won.” Mr. Waffle said to her, “It’s not a competition; I know you and your mother think everything is a competition but it’s not.” Did you know that Mr. Waffle was brought up by hippies?

Here is the poem*:

I think you are nice even it you have head lice,**
I think you are kind, there’s not a nicer mother I can find,
I think you are calm, I won’t find a calmer person in my whole life span,
I think you’re swell, every time I hear your name it rings a bell,
I think you’re funnier than a magic racing bunny,
I think you’re superb, you’re better than Phinneas and Ferb.
That’s my song done, I hope you have fun.
Goodbye.

*Slightly idiosyncratic spelling and grammar amended.
** Not as far as I am aware but I am feeling slightly paranoid after our recent encounter with lice.

The poem was lovely but so were the rose and the card and the flowers and chocolates Mr. Waffle bought. It turns out that not everything is a competition. I hope that you had a lovely mother’s day.

Confirmation

29 March, 2014 at 11:47 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess is in a mixed 5th/6th class and, as a consequence is experiencing confirmation preparation a year early [she’ll get to do it again next year when she actually makes her confirmation which does not fill me with delight, but, small school: advantages and disadvantages]. For confirmation, children get to pick a confirmation name and this is all very exciting.

Me: What kind of names are the children in your class picking?
Her: Well, D, has chosen Razor.
Me: Razor as in razor blade?
Her: Yes.
Me: What did the teacher say?
Her: There is no St. Razor.

They are also doing lots of religion. Herself said to me that the she, the two atheist children and the Protestant child have been told that they are to stop answering questions put to the class. I was very indignant until she explained that they had been answering all the questions and the teacher wanted to give other children a chance. To no avail according to herself as, confirmation class or no, none of them seem to know anything about the Bible or catechism or indeed religion. Catholics, we’re not great on knowing the details of our religion; we’re more broad brush people.

When the teacher put the 10 commandments on the board and asked whether anyone knew them. No one, except for the foursome, did. Is this not a little surprising? The teacher explained them to the class [more necessary in an Irish medium school, I suppose]. “How did she get on with adultery?” I asked. “She stopped before she got there and said we’d come back to it tomorrow, but, I don’t think she will,” she said sagely. I suppose, if they can cover even 5 of the 10 commandments it will be a triumph given the low base from which they started. And to think that for my confirmation [or, possibly, even my communion – it’s all a bit of a blur now] I knew a little yellow catechism off by heart [Did anyone else have this catechism?]. We were told that if we didn’t we wouldn’t be allowed to make our confirmations. I now suspect that was a lie. We were told that the previous year a child had failed to answer the question “Who is God?*” correctly [as in word for word from the catechism] when the parish priest visited and she had not been allowed to make her confirmation. This [false, I now realise] tale was much discussed and focussed our minds on accurate memorisation.

*God is our father in heaven, the most wonderful person ever.

The Classics Summarised

28 March, 2014 at 9:28 pm by belgianwaffle

We’re having a “Pride and Prejudice” moment here. You may recall that we went to see a play before Christmas and herself has read the novel. We saw the film with Keira Knightly. Mr. Waffle brought home the BBC series from the library and the Princess and I watched it together.

During that last, rather lengthy, process over several evenings, Michael annoyed us both by looking up briefly from playing on my phone [or “our phone” as he calls it] and saying, “So, Pride and Prejudice is basically about a bunch of girls who get married?”

Obligatory Photo from Forced March in Wicklow Hills at the Weekend

27 March, 2014 at 10:07 pm by belgianwaffle

Once, they get there, the children love it really, no they do.

Looking a Gift Piano in the Mouth

26 March, 2014 at 11:11 pm by belgianwaffle

When we moved to our new house last year, my aunt in Cork very kindly asked whether we would like her old upright piano. I hummed and hawed. Then my brother-in-law generously asked whether we would like his spare piano, currently in storage. Conveniently, the piano was in tune and in Dublin. I said definitely maybe. Then my mother asked me whether we would like my Nana’s old piano currently with my aunt and uncle in Limerick. I kicked to touch.

I kept my options open by not doing anything for the best part of a year. My aunt rang me recently to say that my uncle was coming home from hospital and that they were going to move his bed to Nana’s sitting room and the piano had to go. She confirmed that none of her 6 children (some of whom to my knowledge actually learnt to play the piano) wanted it. I talked to my sister. She suspected that Nana’s piano was probably a good one. I sent in a man to assess it (based on my, admittedly partial, research, piano tuners in Munster seem to be German or American men). I reassured Mr. Waffle that if it turned out to be not particularly good or very expensive to repair we would go with the perfectly good piano (in Dublin) which his brother was offering us.

The man called me. “It’s a really lovely old piano,” he said. “You could pay up to €10,000 for a new piano like this.” That was a really good line because it persuaded me to part with €100 to “weatherise” it so that it will be safe in my aunt’s shed while I make up my mind whether I want to spend €850 on repairing and another €200 at least on transporting it to Dublin. I have six months. But I think I am committed; my Nana’s piano, after all, and I loved my Nana. It’s the piano my mother learnt to play on; mind you, she absolutely hated learning the piano, but still.

Incidentally, I have discovered that I am not the only person to experience the whole, you have a new house, would you like a piano phenomenon. It seems that almost everyone my age had piano lessons growing up but very few children now seem to be interested and there are far more pianos than pianists about.

Anyhow, did I mention that no one in this house can actually play the piano? If we go ahead, all of the children will have to have lessons.

More Birthdays

25 March, 2014 at 9:08 pm by belgianwaffle

My father is 89 today. I feel about 89. So we have that in common. He is unimpressed by having reached this vast age. “If you live long enough, it will happen.” I’m a bit impressed all the same. Happy birthday, Daddy.

Lenten Sacrifices

24 March, 2014 at 11:09 pm by belgianwaffle

It is Lent. The children have brought their Trócaire boxes home from school. Michael instantly deposited his entire savings of €15 in the box. I suggested that he might like to give a percentage of his savings but no, with tears in his eyes he told me that “these children really need it”. As Mr. Waffle said, there is a reason why they distribute Trócaire boxes in schools, not workplaces.

Michael has given up the computer for Lent it may kill him. Daniel has given up Fifa 14 but this is not the sacrifice it might be as we also have Fifa 13.

Reading

23 March, 2014 at 10:03 pm by belgianwaffle

“Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg

This is not bad but it is very particular to Ms. Sandberg’s experience which, I suppose, is fair enough but it’s not everybody’s. One example she gives of women failing to seize opportunity is when they don’t sit at the table but meekly go to the chairs in the row behind. Someone did that to me at work the other day actually and I said to her afterwards, “Why didn’t you sit at the table?” and she said that she was worried there wouldn’t be room. Which is exactly the kind of thing Ms. Sandberg points to so maybe there is some universality there after all. I wouldn’t bother buying the book, if you’ve seen the TED talk. Apparently they’re going to make a film as well.

“The Brightest Star in the Sky” by Marian Keyes

I am quite fond of Marian Keyes. This is not her best work but it’s not too shabby either as my sister-in-law would say. Romantic comedy with a gloomy strip in the middle which reflects the author’s ongoing struggle with depression.

“Death of a Prankster”, “Death of a Sweep”, “Death of a Kingfisher”, “Death of a Dreamer”, “Death of a Valentine”, “Death of a Maid”, “A Highland Christmas” and “Death of a Snob” all by MC Beaton

This is utterly humiliating. I read my first MC Beaton with a sneer of disdain and asked my sister how she could bear to read anything so poorly written. It has since become clear to me that I am addicted and I am likely to read them all. They are all the same: Highland policeman in small area with alarmingly high murder rate is smarter than big city cops. Also has a lovelife in a small way. Has been in his early 30s since 1988 or possibly before. I suspect that if you are Scottish these stories are excruciating. I understand that they have been made into a television series with Robert Carlyle which I am quite pathetically keen to see.

“A Blink of the Screen” by Terry Pratchett

I am a bit Terry Pratchett fan but I wouldn’t recommend this. It is collected snippets from all sorts of places; something he wrote when he was 15, something from the back of a catalogue for a Discworld event, various miscellanea. All a bit underwhelming.

“Mutton” by India Knight

As in “dressed as lamb”. I haven’t read anything by India Knight before and this does have the occasional very funny turn of phrase. It’s about a woman in her 40s and her various romantic entanglements and whether it’s worth the effort (surgery, botox, cosmetic dentistry, living on air) to look as young as humanly possible. Some interesting ideas and good lines but it’s only alright in terms of character and plot.

“The Spinning Heart” by Donal Ryan

I think that everyone in Ireland has probably read this book. It’s the author’s first published work. It is dark and gloomy in a very small town Irish way; think Patrick McCabe or Ardal O’Hanlon’s underrated “Talk of the Town” – not funny at all, despite what you might think. I find this kind of small town Irish gloom a bit claustrophobic and the author’s plotting leaves a bit to be desired; it reads more like a series of short stories than a novel. That said, the writing is amazing and the characterisation outstanding (though rather too many characters). I’m not sure I’ll be rushing back to try book two though.

“Anansi Boys” by Neil Gaiman

This is about twin brothers whose father is a spider god. If this is your kind of thing, this isn’t bad and it’s quite funny in places.

“The Man who Forgot his Wife” by John O’Farrell

Ever since I’ve read “Things Can Only Get Better” by this author, I have had a soft spot for him. That is an outstanding book. It’s a hilarious account of the life of a Labour supporter when the Tories ruled the roost. This book is not hilarious. The plot is clever. Essentially, a man who is divorcing his wife forgets everything and falls in love with her all over again. It is not done in a Hollywood fashion though. It has its moments but the lead character is unbearable, even to himself, as he starts to remember and its hard to care too much or to want the wife to take him back which – spoiler alert – she does.

The Fifth Wave” by Rick Yancey

A scifi offering which I would not recommend.

“If I Could Turn Back Time” by Nicola Doherty

Just because I am related to the author doesn’t mean it isn’t brilliant. I read it at home while sick in my bed with a cold and it was very enjoyable.

“How I Live Now” by Meg Rosoff

I really enjoyed this book for teenagers set in the near future after a war has cut off communications and food supplies. Our heroine is an American staying with cousins in England and the cultural contrast works well alongside the drama of the invasion.

“Trooper to the Southern Cross” by Angela Thirkell

I love Angela Thirkell but this was a bit different from her usual offering. It was originally written under a male pseudonym. It was based on her experience of travelling to Australia on a troop ship after the war. Not an experience which I think she found enjoyable. She is very hard on the character modelled on her husband and she is quite hard on herself. It makes me think that all of that home counties comedy comes from quite a sharp and, sometimes, unpleasant individual. Worth a read, though while there are comic moments, it’s not exactly a barrel of laughs and is sometimes actively unpleasant

“Bring up the Bodies” by Hilary Mantel

I quite enjoyed “Wolf Hall” and I was looking forward to this. I did enjoy it but I thought it was less successful than its predecessor (which was, itself, too long). I felt that Cromwell becomes less and less believable as she crafts him into a modern-day liberal saint. She is too in love with the character and while she can’t be blind to his defects (given that he has been a villain for hundreds of years) she dwells too much on his virtues. She makes him a character out of time rather than of his time. That said, I’m still going to read volume 3 when it comes out.

“Longbourne” by Jo Baker

This is quite a clever concept: the re-imagining of “Pride and Prejudice” from the servants’ point of view. I don’t think that it quite came off. The language was a bit hit and miss and it could be quite anachronistic in places. A quick flick through brings me to “those God-awful public dances” and there are quite a few expressions like that which jar. Well plotted though and certainly an insight into the rather grim lives of servants.

“Labyrinth” by Kate Mosse

I was bitterly disappointed by this book. There was a time when everyone seemed to be reading it and when I saw it in the library I thought it might be enjoyable. It’s a novel about the Cathars set in the present and in the 12th century. It isn’t fish or flesh. It’s certainly not literary fiction but its plot didn’t draw me in and drive me on. It’s mildly interesting on the historical fact front. I had heard of the Albigensian heresy, but I didn’t know much of the detail of the brutal repression. I asked my father (who knows everything) about it and he knew the story of the Dominican who killed everyone in a town, men, women and children and heretic and Christian alike on the basis that “God would recognise his own” which even by the standards of the time was considered memorably excessive. But I wasn’t really in the market for history by novel. Also, I continue to be amused by the automatic reaction that the word Jesuit inspires in the UK (creepy, untrustworthy) as against the automatic reaction here and I suspect in other traditionally Catholic countries (the Jesuits, so intellectual, so well got in the Church etc., having a Jesuit in the family used to mean that you are clever and quite possibly well connected also).

“The Examined Life” by Stephen Grosz

The author is a psychoanalyst and these are case histories. If this is what psychoanalysis is really like then it seems to be making a plausible guess at what triggered the problem and saying that this is the solution. It does not seem very scientific to me. Nevertheless, a very enjoyable and interesting read although it put me right off ever going to a psychoanalyst.

“Dear Life” by Alice Munro

This post is nearly as long as an Alice Munro short story at this stage. I really enjoyed this collection. I had read some of her work in the past and found it tough going but I found this collection drew me back again and again and I was putting aside other things to read it. I am not sure whether her style has changed or whether I like her better now that I am older. These short stories are all sad. They are slices of life and although things happen, that is not really the point. She is superb at drawing characters; not necessarily very nice or appealing characters but convincing ones. She writes beautifully. Well worth a read.

“For Who the Bell Tolls” by David Marsh

A book about grammar from the Guardian’s production editor. Not bad, if you like grammar books which, sadly, I do a bit.

“Delusions of Gender” by Cordelia Fine

This was recommended to me by Town Mouse. It was a brilliant recommendation. If you are busy thinking perhaps there is something in this brain science about difference between men’s and women’s brains and map reading, then this is the book for you. The author goes through the research and unpicks it or points to where it is being used to sustain conclusions which give the researchers themselves palpitations. The conclusion is that the science of looking at brains is in its infancy and we are reading far, far, too much into the limited results we have to date. It’s all done in a thorough and entertaining style. I cannot recommend this highly enough.

The Organised Child Plans Ahead

22 March, 2014 at 10:37 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel (who, you will recall, is 8): Where am I going to secondary school?
Me: We’ll see it’s not until you’re 12, we have time.
Daniel: Well I want to go to [the school for which his primary is a feeder].
Me: OK, that’s quite likely, why do you want to go there?
Daniel: Because my friends and I are all going to go there together and then we’re all going to college in Trinity and then [pause] we’ll live our lives.

On questioning Michael, he too had the same plans – clearly there’s a group in the class hard at work on these important issues. When asked, “Why Trinity?” he said, with dignity, “Because I know where it is.” Practical.

Training

21 March, 2014 at 10:43 pm by belgianwaffle

With my mother unwell, I have been up and down to Cork a fair bit on the train. It’s not a bad service but I am quite tired of it. I particularly disliked the weekend where I got back to Dublin on Sunday night and realised that I had to go to Belfast the following morning for work. It did give me the opportunity to verify that it was raining on the whole island of Ireland.

How bright am I to be going to Cork this weekend and up to Armagh on Tuesday?

That is all.

Fishmonger to the Queen

20 March, 2014 at 10:42 pm by belgianwaffle

You may not remember this, but when the Queen of England visited Ireland, she went to the market in Cork.

She chatted to one of the fishmongers and he has made it his business to keep this in the forefront of people’s minds, inter alia, by hanging a large picture of himself and herself over his stall (“Rebel county, indeed” as Mr. Waffle remarked sardonically at the time). This drives my brother insane and my sister and I have had hours of harmless entertainment pointing to the marketing abilities of Mr. O’Connell.

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, he published a book. This is from the blurb:

In this heart-warming story, Pat O’Connell recalls the historic visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the English Market, which left a lasting impact not only on the market itself but also on his own life.

This is from my brother when he heard the news.

Why are they doing this to me………………I’ve had enough..this guy makes me want to buy frozen fish from an industrial fish farm in the south Pacific, with 3 gizillion food miles, online from a faceless global retailer that pays no tax, headquartered in the Caymen Islands (or maybe Ireland)….

And look, only look, at the cover of today’s Examiner: Pat getting fitted out for his trip to Buckingham Palace.

Hours of harmless entertainment for all the family.

Happy Birthday

19 March, 2014 at 10:57 pm by belgianwaffle

Today is Mr. Waffle’s birthday. It always casts an ominous shadow over mine on the 10th. Almost invariably, he gets me a lovely, thoughtful present. My pleasure is always tempered by the knowledge that I have nothing for him and by the 19th, I will have to rustle up something.

Oh yes, it’s all about me. Anyhow, when he came in from work this evening the children and I sat him down and gave him a glass of wine. The Princess had made madeleines during the afternoon while we were at work and he had them as his birthday cake. She is a virtuous child. Mr. Waffle often asks for these but the children and I prefer our cakes to be iced and to include chocolate. His family are frugal in their habits; a marietta biscuit between five of them is plenty. These are good genes. Michael has them in spades.

I thought that I should note that my husband is a saint. I intended to give lots of examples of his virtue, including, for example, that I still don’t know how to operate the washing machine and yet we have clean clothes. A daily miracle. As it is late, one earlier example of virtue will have to suffice. After dinner, I told him to go and sit down and I would clean up when the dishwasher had finished. I went upstairs to harass the retreat (or “sing a lullaby” as it is known locally) and what unmistakeable sounds did I hear from the kitchen? Yes, indeed, my husband had cast his book aside and was cleaning up after his birthday dinner.

Definitely, the best husband.

Parent Teacher Meetings

18 March, 2014 at 11:00 pm by belgianwaffle

We had our annual parent-teacher meetings. Mr. Waffle and I went along and wedged ourselves into tiny primary school size chairs and heard that all is well. Though Michael is inclined to question the utility of much of his repetitive labours such as colouring, writing and sums which could be done much more speedily and effectively on the computer. I got the impression that his teacher did not entirely welcome Michael’s consequent reluctance to engage in these activities. However, some kind of truce appears to have been worked out. I am pleased to reveal that only other day I was summoned to the classroom to admire a project on Ancient Greece which he, his brother and a classmate had worked on. It involved both colouring and writing and they were all justly proud of their labours.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

17 March, 2014 at 10:39 pm by belgianwaffle

On Friday, the school allowed the children to dress up as a figure from celtic mythology or Irish history. The Princess spent weeks thinking about her costume and putting it together and eventually went as a druidess [is that actually a word?].

However, in her year, the whole dressing up thing seems to have peaked and most of the other children just wore Leprechaun hats and t-shirts saying “Kiss me, I’m Irish” [thank you America, sigh].

There were three other children in her class who had dressed up: a girl as Aoife (the evil step-mother in the Children of Lir), one boy as Michael Collins and one boy as Bobby Sands. There are quite, um, green, elements in the school.

“What did J wear as Bobby Sands?” I asked.
“His swimsuit and a blanket.”

I’m really sorry I missed that.

In other news, even though it is a bank holiday, there is still GAA training. Horrific. We skipped it. We’d already been to the parade; how much should one family have to suffer?

Climbed the Sugar Loaf over the weekend. Obligatory photos:

And a happy St. Patrick’s Day to you too.

Seasonal

16 March, 2014 at 10:22 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself: I’m thinking of making unleavened bread.
Me: Are you, where will you get the recipe?
Her: From the Bible.

Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

15 March, 2014 at 10:16 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel: Jabba the Hutt has a son, was he married?
Michael: No, I think Hutts just breed naturally.
Me: What did Jabba the Hutt do again?
Daniel: He made Princess Leia wear inappropriate clothing.
Michael: That’s not really a problem in “Angry Birds Star Wars” though.

There’s a whole world out there.

#tycdinners

14 March, 2014 at 11:31 pm by belgianwaffle

Look at me with my trendy title. You will never guess what I did last night. You don’t have to, however, because I am going to tell you.

I saw a competition on broadsheet: to enter you had to tweet a picture of the statue of Grattan at College Green and add the hashtag tycdinners. If you won, you got an “intimate dinner for two” in a secret location. So I entered, but you know, just because I was passing really.

So you can imagine then, my surprise, when this popped up in my notifications:

I never win anything; I was delighted. And then horrified; the nature of the competition was that night or never [and I’d only seen the notification at lunchtime]. This competition is designed for trendy young people who don’t need to get a babysitter before they go out. Not just that but Daniel and Herself were scheduled to sing at the First Confession between 7.15 and 8.15 and somebody had to look after Michael at home. It looked as though the first competition I had (possibly ever) won was slipping from my grasp. My husband, who is, as you know, a saint, said, why not ring your friend F and see whether she can go with you instead of me.

I rang friend F.
Me: What are you doing tonight?
Her: I have to work late doing some tax prep (she is a tax lawyer so not as bad for her as other people, or, who knows, actually, maybe worse).
Me: Oh dear.
Her: Well, I could be flexible, why, what is it?
Me: [Slightly garbled explanation]
Her: Feck the tax, I’m in. [She was accepted for art school but decided to do law at the last moment, I feel this makes her my most alternative friend].

With the excitement of dinner at 8 in a secret location; me only getting home from work at 6.30; and two of the children to be bundled out in their best bib and tucker by 7, it was all a bit of a scramble. Mr. Waffle bought chips for the children for dinner which I didn’t touch (my body is a temple etc.) and which they regarded as a hugely welcome unexpected bonus. I cannot reflect on my children’s meals this week with a sense of anything even approaching virtue.

Never mind. My friend called round to collect me [obligatory phone call – do you know the way punctuality was never my strongest point? – I’m running a bit late] and I navigated us to the secret location with some success. I read aloud to her from the email: “just go in the steel gates”. “Really?” said she. “Through the steel gates to this unknown man’s garage. Are you sure about this competition”

Anyhow, we were met by the organiser who is part of a company rejoicing in the unlikely name of Designgoat who was charming and F was reassured. He said he made furniture which was lovely and everything but, you know, dinner. We were brought to an enormous room where he had made a little house and inside the little house [which matched the one at the bottom of the Grattan statue] was our table, our chef and our kitchen.

Aside, I said to Mr. Designgoat, I know somebody who works in the creative business; my husband’s, brother’s wife’s sister is a stylist and her husband is a graphic designer [go me – and such a close link]. He paused for a moment and said, “Oh you mean A who is working upstairs as we speak”. Welcome to Ireland. Also about were me&him&you who were involved in a way that is not entirely clear to me but they were lovely young men and they took our pictures. It was an environment where I was finally able to sample an extensive range of this hipster beard I hear so much about.

Our chef was called Essa and he was young and charming and we were filled with hope. And hungry. He mentioned that Mr. Designgoat had only finished the restaurant kitchen half an hour before he had to start cooking and it looked a tiny bit primitive [he only implied the latter but as, it turned out Mr. DG was his brother so he was, perhaps, more frank about the logistical shortcomings than a stranger might have been].

There was mild apprehension in the air. It was misplaced. The food was amazing. And there were loads of courses. I was particularly taken with the granita and the cod [two separate courses – focus]. And Essa chatted away merrily to us while doing all kinds of fancy things with no apparent effort. He was doing this on his night off, so I felt slightly guilt ridden – chefs and junior doctors the home of the long hours cultures – I felt he needed his night off. Never mind, it was all good for us. Did I mention the homemade Snickers dessert? Are you screaming with envy? Rightly so. Also, I now know what a micro herb is. There will be no stopping me now.

While somebody else worried about washing up we got to look at the Mr. DG’s studio and workshop – I nearly asked how much it would cost to make some furniture for us but then I remembered about my piano costs (I’ll tell you another time) and scuttled out into the night before committing any terrible extravagance.

I can tell you, this is what I always thought the romance of the big city was all about.

Tomorrow morning, however, I will be standing at the side of a windswept pitch somewhere in North County Dublin looking at determined 8 year olds playing Gaelic football.

Insert your own sage comment here. Did you know that sage can be grown as a micro herb? Really, I can stop anytime.

Cat News

13 March, 2014 at 11:00 pm by belgianwaffle

Just because you’re fat, doesn’t mean that you’re not hungry. Our cat is living proof of this. All of our meals are eaten to the accompaniment of increasingly desperate squawks from the cat. She is on an endless, unavailing diet which she undermines by catching and eating wildlife supplements.

Mr. Waffle bought me flowers and a card on Valentine’s Day. We don’t usually bother with Valentine’s Day because I am terminally unromantic. The children put us under pressure though and he was always more likely to crack because at heart he is a complete romantic. I put the flowers in a vase in the other room and the cat used her time alone in the kitchen to eat the roast beef intended for the Princess’s lunch time sandwich; so it was a definite win from her point of view. When I went to the fridge to get the pre-sliced turkey which was the alternative for lunch, I found that the fridge door had opened (an ongoing problem – sloping floor, poor seal, overfilled) and the cat was working her way steadily through the turkey slices.

Yesterday evening when I came home she had managed to heave her impressive bulk on to the roof of the neighbour’s shed. She was delighted to see me and made a series of pathetic, I’m stuck noises. I tried to coax her down but to no avail. Even though I was late for my tennis match (lost 6-1, 6-3, alas, thanks for asking), I felt I couldn’t just leave her there. I hauled out the ladder from our own shed and hopped up to grab her but she had disappeared. I leant out uncertainly checking the neighbour’s shed roof and guttering and I heard the cat in the distance as though she were indoors. I started checking pipes, peering into alcoves and generally risking life and limb. I heard her again and there she was sitting looking at me from the doorway of our own shed with a “what is she doing” look on her face.

So, for those who asked, she’s fine thanks but the rest of us are starting to feel increasingly resentful.

The Wisdom of Belgians

12 March, 2014 at 10:04 pm by belgianwaffle

I got my hair cut recently. I was speaking with some enthusiasm about the new hairdresser when Mr. Waffle commented, “Il faut jamais changer du coiffeur”. “Eh?” “Remember, the obstetrician said it when you were giving birth.” I am glad that he has treasured this advice all these years to be produced at an opportune moment.

It’s all about who?

11 March, 2014 at 10:32 pm by belgianwaffle

Sister (to me last week): You haven’t updated your blog in ages.
Daughter: I know, and I have said so many blog worthy things.

So, obviously, I’m back.

More Birthday – Normal Service Resumes Tomorrow

10 March, 2014 at 8:34 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle and I went for a birthday walk in the mountains today. It was an absolutely beautiful day as you can see from this photo taken in town at 9 this morning.

Unfortunately, my pictures from the mountains do not do the day justice. But never mind, I will make you suffer anyhow.

Before:

During:

[Sore knee from skiing – Andorra ’96 – coming back to haunt me somewhat during the ascent along with pulled calf from tennis match on Friday night. This is what happens to the elderly.]

And the view from the café afterwards:

.

My 5 year old niece has just called me because she remembered it was my birthday – that’s the kind of dedication we like to see in young children. My father and aunt sent cards. I got lovely presents from family members. Lots of people emailed. This is the first birthday, though, when I haven’t spoken to my mother because she is just not well enough to talk to me. She is, however, the person who taught me to continue enjoying birthdays as a grown-up so I am sure that she would be delighted that I am still celebrating with enthusiasm.

Here is my cake.

Here I am, nearly 45, and still alive

9 March, 2014 at 10:32 pm by belgianwaffle

That line comes from something. Can I find it in the richness of the internet? I can not. I thought it was from “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” but it’s not. I offer you:

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

So, tomorrow, I will be 45.

This is what it is like to be 45.

1. I can feel a draft. I am constantly saying, “Close the door!”
2. I really wanted an airtight biscuit tin for Christmas. Nothing says Christmas like an airtight biscuit tin.
3. I bought a new winter coat from Windsmoor.
4. I rely on my children to make me aware of the latest internet viral video. In fact, are there videos any more?
5. I love to stay in with a book or the internet. In Chesterton’s short story “The Strange Crime of John Boulnois”, John Boulnois says “.. sitting in that chair with that story I was as happy as a schoolboy on a half-holiday. It was security, eternity–I can’t convey it… the cigars were within reach…the matches were within reach… the Thumb had four more appearances to…it was not only a peace, but a plenitude.” I am not a cigar smoker but I know what he means. Incidentally, to my knowledge we have three copies of the Fr Brown short stories in the house. Could I find one? No but the internet provided.
6. I love being on my own.
7. I love BBC radio 4, I really do. Not as much as my father who has, for as long as I can remember, had it on all night – very loudly – on his bedside table, but a lot. Even stupid old “Money Box Live” and “You and Yours”.
8. I find music in pubs VERY loud.
9. When I see teenagers, I frequently find myself thinking variants of what is that child wearing/she’s a lovely looking child, if only she would wear some nice clothes/is that the fashion, I wonder.
10. My parents are old and, alas, ill. I love my siblings and enjoy spending time with them. Even my extremely annoying brother.
11. I find a basket on my bicycle really handy. What is the point of dropped handlebars? Cycling makes me feel slightly smug.
12. I am not always sure what day of the week it is offhand. Or what age I am. I can usually make a good guess.
13. My children have reached the age where they can largely entertain themselves but they still love me.
14. I like to go hill walking with my husband.
15. I feel stretched in all directions; work is busy; home is busy; my parents are old and live 250kms away. In the evenings, there is always a pile of domestic administration awaiting my attention.
16. I like home improvement shows on the television. You wondered where the audience was for those programmes; your hunt is over.
17. I generally only see my friends at my bookclubs and at lunch.
18. I book my holidays 6 months in advance.
19. I like classical music in the background as I eat my breakfast and read the paper.
20. I like to do things in the garden.

You may wish me happy birthday.


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