Plungey and zen painting

Dot writes: We’ve been in this house almost five years now, and in view of this Ken and I have been thinking it might be a good idea to finish decorating the children’s bedroom. It had a rather vile built-in wardrobe which we’ve been using as a place to keep clothes the boys had grown out of, and as a graveyard for extraneous coat hangers. It also had several test squares of different blues on the ceiling, from when Ken was going to paint a sky around the exciting sun-shaped IKEA light fitting.

The thing about being working parents is that the weekends are very short. You wake up on Saturday, take the kids to swimming, buy pick’n’mix, hang about a little feeling pleased it’s the weekend, have lunch, do the grocery shop, go to the park, do some cleaning and church stuff on Sunday morning, say “wouldn’t it be a good idea to sort the house out this weekend?” and then realise it’s already practically Monday. Rinse and repeat, for four years.

Well, we decided the four-day Easter weekend was too good an opportunity to miss. I’d already prepared last week by sorting out the too-small clothes and putting the ones that were too small for Frank in the clothes bank, and on Saturday we went as a family to Woodie’s and bought paint. Hugh insisted on green paint for the walls, and Frank insisted on buying a plunger which he referred to as “Plungey”. As in “Please, don’t leave Plungey behind!” I’m afraid this made me and Hugh spend the rest of the day compulsively exclaiming “I am Plungor, God of plumbing, and toilet wolves are real!” As a brief digression, this is why:

Anyway, we came back home and Ken ripped out the wardrobe. The room immediately felt astonishingly bigger. He stripped off the wall-paper from the inside of what had been the wardrobe to reveal this (the second picture is on its side):

IMG_2065copy wall inscription

I think this says “Moyley was here January 1952 and Frank”, but the first word’s a bit indistinct. Hugh helped me pick up the mess of soggy wallpaper; he was really very sweet, asking for tasks and running up and down eagerly fetching the dustpan and brush and other things. A far cry from the decoration efforts of 2011-12 when the children spent their time scribbling on walls and breaking raw eggs on the floor.*

Today we have put undercoat on the sections of bare plaster and the blue squares on the ceiling. The children had various wall stickers which have had to be removed under protest (many cries of “nooooo, don’t move our stickers, paint round the stickers”, but it would have been a hideously fiddly job); the stickers are supposed to be movable and have been carefully preserved on a roll of cling-film, but they’ve brought speckled samples of the previous paint job with them and I’m hoping (probably in vain) that they can be discreetly lost. It was actually my first time doing more than the tiniest bit of painting. In 2011-12 Ken did virtually everything by himself while I was out at work. I have discovered that I am pretty terrible at painting, but that I like it. You can find a zen rhythm in this repetitive manual task while happily listening to The Best of Depeche Mode on your lovely new Bluetooth speaker bought with air miles. We got as far as “Walking in My Shoes”and then the head fell off the paint roller.

More exciting updates to follow.

*It was Frank who did that. We were having the kitchen re-done and all the food was in cabinets in the living room.



Dot writes: Hugh had just been jumped on by Frank and was cast into deep woe. Weeping, he spoke in full-throated tones:

“My brother is a man without a heart, a man without a soul. He hurt my neck… I am nothing in this family. I am just sand in the fireplace. I’m a thing left to be burnt.”

I’ve left a few bits out that I don’t remember properly, but he genuinely said all this. He’s seven.

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.

DSC05353 DSC05374 DSC05393


Portmarnock Beach, 9 July 2014
Portmarnock Beach, 9 July 2014
The same rocks, 7th April 2015
The same rocks, 7th April 2015. My mum in stripes.

Dot writes: It’s a little hard to be sure because the pictures are taken from different angles, but it certainly looked to me when we were there as though the winter storms must have dumped a load of extra sand on Portmarnock beach. That large rock in the foreground seems much more buried now.

My mum is visiting. The sun is shining. I worked in the morning and then we went to the beach. It’s suddenly warm enough for the boys to run around making sand-castles in their underpants. (That is, run around in their underpants making sand-castles.) I paddled in the sea and it was cold but exquisitely clear.

20150407_160501 20150407_165447

Wholesome family activity

Dot writes: on Sunday we took the boys to Howth and did the cliff walk. It’s the first time we’ve done it with them, as the path is unfenced and in places runs next to a scary drop to the rocks and sea. But we decided they were now sensible enough not to fling themselves merrily off it.


Hugh went for comfort and mud-proofing – tracksuit bottoms and wellies – but Frank had his red skinny jeans and funky new Skechers shoes.


It’s hard to tell from the photo, but there were crackly panes of ice in this puddle.

Refreshments at the end. The walk took us more than an hour and a half, which is quite a long time for five-year-old legs. Hugh is helping Frank with his crisps.

Hugh and Frank sort out their sexuality

Dot writes: it’s well known that many of life’s most important conversations happen in the car. It’s because you’re together but can’t really look at each other’s faces, so there’s a kind of privacy about it. Or maybe it’s just because nobody is on Facebook or playing Minecraft. (Then again, with mobile data maybe they are.) Anyway, I was in the car with the two boys the other day and they decided to sort out some stuff about adult life.

Hugh: Mum, did you know that boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls?
Me, deciding not to start talking about next year’s referendum: Yes.
Frank: Why didn’t you marry a girl?
Me: Some girls fall in love with other girls but I fall in love with boys. So I fell in love with your Daddy and married him.
Hugh: I fall in love with girls.
Frank: I fall in love with girls too.

So that’s dealt with. Now they are busy deciding which girls to marry. In Hugh’s case this involves being a bit tragic because his latest flame, Charlotte, has another boyfriend whom she prefers to him (he says); in Frank’s it involves cheerfully listing three or four different girls and changing his mind daily about which of them is to be the lucky lady. At what point does this amazing directness stop and they go all hot and embarrassed about it?