Today, 2nd July, is Ruadhri’s 10th birthday. That’s huge!

New born Ruadhri

He’s come a long way. He was born six weeks early and his first 48 hours were touch and go. Here’s a picture of him all wired and tubed up in his incubator during his early hours. As you can see he’s a bit gory – they didn’t waste time cleaning him up before they started treating him. He was given caffeine to keep his heart beating, which I’m sure explains why he has always been partial to a nice cup of tea! Ruadhri weighed in at 4 lbs 9 oz, 2.09 kg. How we agonised every ounce that he put on or lost at the time. Each one was so important. He was skin and bone for eight years but is a nice sturdy young man now, thank goodness! I’m obviously eternally grateful to the doctors and nurses at the Bon Secours hospital in Cork for taking care of him.

No party this year, though. Ruadhri and birthday parties haven’t been a good combination and after a major tantrum and sulk at last year’s bash, Chris and I decided enough is enough. There are some things you don’t want to go through again! We’ll have a traditional Dagg birthday tea with pizza, Pringles, home-made cake (by the chef in wellies) and fizzy drinks. And this year, since Caiti has her ice-cream maker, there’ll be ice-cream too. I mean, what more do you need to celebrate?

Ruadhri has spent exactly half of his ten years in Ireland, and half in France. He is a totally French boy now. He’s the most likely of the three to use a French word instead of an English one, or the English version of a French expression. For example, he’ll sometimes say: “I can’t arrive at doing this” instead of “I can’t do this”. The French use the verb ‘arriver’ to mean ‘to acheive/to manage’. He’s addicted to bandes desinnées (comic books) and his four-course school dinners!

Today is the first day of the summer holidays in France. There will be chaos on the roads around Paris and on some stretches of motorway. It will take a few days, but we’ll soon slip into a holiday routine. Computing hours will be strictly controlled! We’re planning lots of bike rides and some days out. Hopefully we’ll have a good few llama trek clients during the summer too.

So lots of reasons to celebrate. Here’s one more – Caitlin’s very own cornflake ice-cream recipe. It’s awesome!

Put 200 ml milk + couple handfuls cornflakes in a bowl and cover and let it soak overnight.

Strain the mixture. Discard the soggy cornflake mush and save the cereal-y milk. Add 200 ml cream to this, a few spoonfuls of creme fraiche, and another 100 ml or so of milk, plus 100 g sugar, or until slightly ‘too’ sweet to taste (when frozen it’ll be a lot less sweet).

Fill another bowl 3/4 full with cornflakes.

Make some caramel. (Caiti is vague about how to make this since she does it without measuring anything out, so best point you to David Lebovitz’s perfect caramel recipe here.) Pour caramel onto cornflakes and mix well so they’re coated, wait ’til the mixture cools and then smash into pieces. Very cathartic.

Pour milk mixture into ice cream maker and let it mix. When ice cream is almost ready, and in the bits of caramel-y cornflakes. If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, put the milk mixture into freezer for an hour or so until it is beginning to freeze, then mix the caramelly cornflakes in. Stir the ice-cream every couple of hours until it has frozen solid.