We went to midnight mass on Christmas Eve (9 o’clock, midnight isn’t what it once was, inflation etc.) which was nice and the choir were in great voice. Herself and Daniel got trapped by the elderly priest who mans the side door.
Him: I haven’t seen you for a long time.
Her: I’m in England [as she explained she wanted him to understand that she was abroad and not like the other two pagans she was with].
Him: There are great Catholics in England. Look at Cardinal Newman, you can be like him.
Anyway, when we got home, the children disappeared up to bed and Santa got to work. At 11.30 herself arrived down looking for a snack in the kitchen which was Santa’s centre of operations. Who comes down hungry at 11.30 on Christmas Eve? Anyhow, Santa finished the present wrapping and brought herself out a snack to boot. What a saint.
I cracked open the After Eights at 11.55 and who could blame me?
Santa was very tense this year but in fact, did a very good job, the children were broadly pleased.
Herself made brunch for us all. It was excellent.
We visited Mr. Waffle’s mother in the nursing home and then had a brief – though pleasant – walk.
Then we went home to make our very complex dinner. I had put the turkey in the oven before we went out. In fairness, the aga came into its own and overall dinner was v elaborate and v successful [my next door neighbour cooked for 18 and they had to drive to her daughter’s place to do some of the food as her oven was not big enough – the stress!]. However, our turkey was, alas, like ashes. To paraphrase Paul Hollywood, “very dry in the mouth.” But is that not what gravy and cranberry sauce are there for?
I spoke to my brother in France. Over the course of Christmas Eve the gas in his airbnb had got feebler and feebler. It ran out about 7 which was not a great time to ring the owner and explain the problem. Himself and his friend S were looking at charcuterie and cheese for their Christmas day lunch. However, they went for a walk around the town and found an open restaurant with a festive menu. My brother wanted to see what other options there were (this is so typical of him) but S insisted that they go there (my brother always characterises S as his pleasant but slightly dim friend from college but my sister says this is not so, it is just what my brother believes and S’s PhD from Cambridge and post-doc from MIT are strong arguments for S’s smarts but nothing has been as convincing as his bundling my brother into the restaurant there and then). Apparently dinner was delicious.
St. Stephen’s Day
The washing machine broke down again. We went to visit the cousins for lunch bringing with us a full load of damp laundry from the machine (happy Christmas!). The children were glad to see their cousins and lunch was delicious including very good turkey. If I ever have to cook Christmas dinner again and, honestly, my aim is not to, I will ask my sister-in-law for tips.
Daniel made Cajun turkey pizza for dinner which he said was a real success. The rest of us had our leftovers in other forms.
December 27 – 30
We went down to my sister in Cork for a few days. It’s amazing how good the road is now. Just over 3 hours each way which compares very favourably to the five hour trek which was a feature of my youth.
My sister and I did a tour of our relatives in North Cork and Limerick which was broadly successful – though God it is impossible to visit my Limerick relatives at any time of day without getting a full three course meal – v nice in fairness but it does make me think that they must regard my hospitality as well below par. We talked a lot about my father and my sister talked about the day he died. I think, it was a surprise to everyone but my sister felt particularly sorry for the junior doctor in charge.
The boys spent most of their time playing Magic with my sister’s partner. She says he enjoys it. I hope so for his sake.
Herself and myself went out for breakfast in Cork (difficult, many places closed, queues everywhere and the indignity of a queuing app nearly broke me). We had an unsatisfactory breakfast but a good trip to the Crawford gallery.
Then the boys joined us in town and we went up on the Ferris wheel. Mr. Waffle had met a friend for lunch but we met him in Waterstone’s after where as a Christmas treat he bought each child a book and then we went for tea and a bun. Where will it all end?
I thought my 93 year old aunt was in good nick. I got her a book of poems about cats (you’d be very surprised how many poets have penned cat verses) for Christmas and she was delighted. Honestly, I think it was the most popular Christmas present I gave anyone this year.
After our disastrous effort earlier in the week, I booked breakfast for myself, Mr. Waffle and herself (no one else wanted to come). Options were few. I booked Sophie’s at the Dean for 9 in the morning which was earlier than I would have liked but beggars can’t be choosers etc. The Dean is a new hotel beside the station part of the ubiquitous Press Up group which is basically a Dublin franchise. I see they are doing what they can to ingratiate themselves with the locals.
The views were really good but the food was only alright. The decor was odd, ski chalet meets marble palazzo. I remain on the hunt for a good Cork breakfast venue.
Herself expressed interest in a very nice but profoundly uncomfortable antique sofa and armchairs my mother bought at auction sometime in the 60s (the sofa is very like this but with fewer legs – it’s a two seater rather than a three seater). My sister was going to get rid of them and I was resigned (because although nice they are, see above, uncomfortable). I was delighted when herself said she wanted them (she said that if you weigh less – like her – they are less uncomfortable). But now I realise that I will move them to Dublin and by the time she comes to have her own flat, she won’t like them any more and I will have them forever. I am not sure that I am as pleased as I thought I was.
New Year’s Eve
Notwithstanding the thrills of Cork, it was nice to be home. The boys filled in their CAO forms today – a procedure which is more open to error than you might think. However, having seen how the English system operates, courtesy of herself, it could be a lot worse.
Herself went to Scotland to stay with a friend for new year’s. I spent the day doing jigsaws and eating stem ginger.
The new washing machine arrived at 8 in the morning and the men said we hadn’t paid for installation (no, but we would have, we would have, if we had known this was optional) and left us to our own devices. Mr. Waffle spent a happy time wrestling with it but it is now working, we are pleased. Michael audibly gasped when he saw it in all its glory when he came down for breakfast.
Lads, we are 2023 ready. May I join in the already deafening whatsapp chorus from the people on the road and wish you a very happy new year?