Boys, blue skies

Dot writes: people who live in Ireland or Britain grimly expect rain in the holidays, or at least a mean stiff wind. However, this week we’ve had blue skies and some astonishing warmth. (Astonishing warmth = 18 degrees in Dublin. Woah.) I took Thursday off work (my mum is visiting, I’m allowed) and we had a family trip into Wicklow to climb Great Sugarloaf, eat a leisurely lunch at Mount Usher Gardens, and then tour the gardens. We’d worried it might be too early in the season for the plants, but there was a wonderful display of flowers – daffodils, bluebells and frittilaries on the ground, rhododendrons and magnolias in the trees.  Here are some pictures, mostly taken by my mum. DSC05269 DSC05283 DSC05292 DSC05295 DSC05311 DSC05317 DSC05318 DSC05336

Today I had a lot of baking to do. Mum took the boys to a playground while I shopped. Then Frank helped with the baking.

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Hugh’s second ascent

Dot writes: we’ve had a lovely day today. We needed it. Here’s a splurge of negative stuff from our week, but I promise if you wade through it you’ll get to some blue skies and cheering healthy exercise, not to mention good behaviour and delicious Avoca salad. You don’t get to eat the salad, but I can assure you I did a very good job of eating it on your behalf.

It has been an anxious week. Tib has not returned. Ken and the boys have leafleted everyone in our road and everyone in the road that backs on to ours and whose gardens Tibby may have run into. I have put up adverts on and and contacted the DSPCA and some local vets. But there has been no news and no sightings. I keep expecting him to turn up at the back door, but the days go by and he just doesn’t.

At the same time we have been dealing with another rather stressful situation. A bit over a week ago, Ken was offered a job – which is good – but in Bristol, which is rather less good, since it means him being away during the week; but it’s a great chance to get experience, and pleasing confirmation of the fact that he is a Good Thing, and we agreed he should take it. They seemed to want him to start very soon, and I signed up to AuPairWorld and began dealing with the flood of applications from eager young Spaniards (there are a LOT of Spanish girls who want to be au pairs). But despite the initial message of hurry hurry, Ken’s new employers don’t seem to be getting their act together. The guy who recruited him wanted him to come over to the UK for training and told him to arrange dates with the current brewer, but the current brewer told him to arrange dates with the other guy and seemed rather hostile if anything; neither of them has been back in touch, and now we are beginning to wonder whether this job will actually happen after all. I narrowed my au pair search down to three girls and then had to tell all of them that I’m no longer sure we’ll need them.

Also, Ken ran the marathon on Monday and has been a bit sore in the knees, and I’ve had a rotten cold. (The marathon deserves a post to itself. The cold doesn’t, but it was very snotty and repulsive.)

All those things on the minus side. But on the plus side, this:






Last time we climbed Great Sugarloaf Hugh was a little baby carried on Ken’s chest. This time both boys did it on their own legs with remarkable vigour and enthusiasm; it seems the secret of a walk without whinging is to make it as steep, rocky and pointy as possible. The wind was brisk but the sky clear, and from the top we could see all the way to the Mournes. Then we came down and had lunch at the Avoca outlet in Kilmacanogue (so that’s the tasty salad part I mentioned – for me and Ken only; the boys were being good, but not salad good – their lunch was rather less vitamin-rich); and then we went and visited our former neighbour, who has poor health and always likes to be visited. It was nice to catch up with her but also felt like something of a good deed. Since we last saw her she has had thyroid cancer (we didn’t know about this or we’d have visited more often) and, post-treatment, ironically feels better than she has done for years.

And so home, feeling pleased with ourselves and our day.

P.S. Here are the boys in their Halloween costumes. A nasty mother would say these costumes reveal rather than disguising, but I am not a nasty mother. And really the boys have been very good today.

Hugh pictures (lots!)

Here are some scenes from the recent life of Hugh (though of course all of Hugh’s life is recent).

Pictures taken by Ben, from the 8th to 11th December. Hugh was four weeks old.
sofaHugh with daddy and Auntie Meriel on the sofa.
hand of dadThe hand of Dad.
argumentativeHugh presents his side of the case
chairThe new chair grabbed his attention at once.

Hugh on his playmat. 18th December.
dangly thingHugh inspects the dangly jingly thing.
batBat! Admittedly, it’s hard to be sure he meant to do this.

Here is Hugh at his first dinner party, with our friend Lucy and some incriminating evidence. 19th December (one day short of six weeks old).
Hugh and LucyHugh and Lucy

Hugh looks Christmassy. Knitwear by Joan Fisher. His six-weeks birthday (Thursday 20th December).
ChristmassyNo publicity, please!

Today (Saturday 22nd December) we climbed Great Sugarloaf. Last time we went to Sugarloaf Hugh had just been conceived, though we didn’t yet know it; we went up the hard way from the GAA carpark at Kilmacanogue. This time we took the cheaty route and parked on the minor road south of the summit. It’s still a decent piece of exercise for someone who can’t walk.
snackHugh readies his strength for the climb.
before SugarloafHugh and Daddy at the start of the route.
partwayPartway up. On the shoulder of the summit cone.
summit shotSummit shot.
summit with MummyHugh with Mummy at the top of Great Sugarloaf.