The three week gap between Amélie’s and Éowyn’s birthdays is usually barren on this website unless there is a major event (and there have been a small number of such instances over the last eight years).  This year I thought I would treat you to a bonus update because I am feeling generous, however time has crept upon me so it doesn’t actually bisect but has been snuck in just before the birthday update, and just before the half term holiday.

So, as half term looms into view it is probably a good time to reflect on the school term so far.  Both girls still thoroughly enjoy school, although the new school year has taken them both a little time to settle in.  Amélie because, as mentioned in a previous post, as you enter year 1 you have to leave the childish ways of Reception behind and become much more disciplined in your learning.  So, instead of learning through play and breaking up the working day with unscheduled play breaks, year 1 is much more regimented in lesson structure and it wasn’t just Amélie that was struggling with the change in regime.

Éowyn struggled in the first few weeks for a completely different reason.  The school had decided to completely mix up the classes of her year as they moved from year 2 to year 3.  Unfortunately for Éowyn, nearly her entire circle of friends were split up (probably because they all talk too much!) and she had to forge new friendships as she entered junior school.

Nevertheless we have just had our first Parents’ evening  of the academic year and both girls are doing well.  They have no problems with Éowyn’s work and she is an intelligent, enthusiastic girl who always wants to take an active role in lessons, however she is prone to bouts of silliness and talks too much!  We will work on that!  Amélie, on the other hand is top of her class in everything, exceeding expectations in everything and is a ‘delight’ to teach.  I think Lucinda and I are both guilty of thinking that Éowyn is the clever one (and she is naturally very clever and is very questioning, it is just that she has a tendency to laziness mainly because she doesn’t need to try so hasn’t developed the tools to motivate herself to learning) while Amélie is just quiet and gets on with it.  Amélie means ‘hard-working’, and Iris means ‘angel’ and she is our hard-working angel!

It is not just school that starts up afresh in September.  Both Éowyn and Amélie are part of the Girl Guide movement.  Éowyn is in Brownies and Amélie attends the local Rainbow group.  They both thoroughly enjoy their respective evenings and neither are ever in a rush to leave the respective church halls at the end of the meetings when we come to collect them.  There must be something in the blood both Lucinda and her mum loved Brownies while Nanny Fran was a Brown Owl and a Rainbow leader.

It is not just school that Amélie has had to get used to but as you may remember she is now bespectacled.  None of our fears of bullying or resistance from Amélie to wearing her glasses have materialised which is a worry off our mind and we now have a confirmed appointment for the ophthalmologist to start the treatment for her amblyopia.  Lucinda did have to do some negotiations with the hospital bookings team however as the first date given coincided with the special something that was alluded to in the post Half term and a trip to Nanny Fran’s but you will have to wait to find out exactly what that is.  She was initially told that if she couldn’t do the date given we would have to go back not he waiting list but she explained why we couldn’t make it and they relented giving us an appointment for the following week.  Well done Lucinda!

It hasn’t just been school, swimming and girl guides though.  Those of you that know me, know that I read Electronic Engineering at Manchester University in the early 1990’s (I, know, I don’t look old enough!).  In my final year I shared a house in Longsight with four other lads.  We have kept in touch through the years attending each others’ weddings, however that excuse to meet up has dried up and so if we don’t make an effort then the years will pass us by and before you know it a decade or more will have passed.

Life is busy and it can be difficult to arrange these meet ups but inertia is the biggest obstacle.  Once the notion has been sown we are all happy to become involved, we just need someone to take the upper hand and start the ball rolling.  Up stepped Karl and Sara (in fairness to Karl, mainly Sara) who set up a WhatsApp group, found suitable accommodation and donned the cloak of debt collector to ensure that we all managed to pay on time.

The choice of location was the town of Box, just outside of Bath, in a lovely luxury home called Shockerwick Lodge.  Four bedrooms in the main house with a fifth in a log cabin in the garden, it fitted the criteria perfectly.  A large lounge and an equally large kitchen completed the layout with the added bonus of not just one but a pair of hot tubs!

We hired the house for two nights and could take ownership on Friday afternoon and had to vacate by Sunday lunchtime, so to make the most of the time I decided to take holiday on the Friday so that we could head down the M4 as soon as the girls left school.  This meant that the girls could not attend their Friday after-school clubs and Amélie could not go to Rainbows.  In addition they missed their Saturday morning swimming lessons but all were a small price to pay for a weekend of fun, or at least we hoped it would be for the children as much as it would be for me.

The decision to leave as soon as the girls left school was a good one.  We missed the heavy Friday night London traffic and it meant that we arrived at the house while it was still light.  We were the first ones to arrive and so had the choice of bedrooms and we had the opportunity to explore the house and garden before night fell.  Gradually the house filled and the weekend celebrations began.

Although we do not see each other that often it wasn’t long before we were all chatting and mickey-taking as though we were 20 years old.  Indeed we sat up until the early hours discussing Brexit, Trump and reflecting on our time in Manchester.  I crawled into bed around 03:00 leaving some of them still putting the World to rights.

There was no lie-in for the Bagnalls on Saturday morning though, not with Ezra!  So, we were first up and washed and dressed and gradually we all arose proving that we still have the stamina to drink to the wee hours and be up and functioning at a reasonable hour.  Which I think surprised us, as much as you dear readers!

A fairly relaxed day followed with the kids getting on extremely well.  Éowyn and Amélie got on extremely well with Andy’s eldest daughter, while Ezra latched on to Charlie’s youngest mainly because he had lego and a lightsabre.  This definitely puts him high in Ezra’s estimation especially since the lightsabre was modelled on Kylo Ren’s lightsabre replete with the cross beams.  (Although Ezra’s current favourite Star Wars character is Darth Maul – I am concerned about my youngest!).  Advantage was taken of the hot tubs – mainly by the children but we didn’t just stay in the house.  Karl had done some research and found that we were not too far from the Avon and Kennet canal and so we headed in convoy the couple of miles or so for a pleasant walk along the canal  looping back to a pub (it would be rude not to!). Then we headed back to house for a repeat of the previous night of drinking and chatting.

Again, we were woken early by Ezra and got up and begun the tidying and packing ready for leaving the house.  Éowyn was extremely upset to leave her new friends and we have promised that we will meet up soon, especially since Andy and his family only live a dozen or so miles from us.  It is nonsense really that we don’t meet up that often – but,as this website is testament, life can just be a little busy.

Andy and Máire had to leave to get back home but the rest of the party decided that we would try and find somewhere for the remaining 8 adults and 5 children to have Sunday lunch.  That proved to be a little difficult, nevertheless we found somewhere along the way and so decided to take a punt.  I think it was probably the worse Sunday lunch, if not Pub grub that I have ever had.  We waited for what seems like an eternity to receive our food after we ordered it (in reality it was probably close to two hours!) and when it arrived it really wasn’t worth the wait.  We were all so hungry that it didn’t matter I think we all managed to eat it and Ezra invented a new favourite.  His garlic bread was so dry and hard he dipped it in the gravy boat.  Garlic bread and gravy – a winning combination!

We first met 25 years ago and we have all done pretty well for ourselves putting our degrees to good use and I truly believe that we will since be friends in another 25 years we just have to keep this momentum up and not leave it too long before the next Manchester Alumni Moot.

Before I leave you just a quick funny from Ezra.  When you are getting him ready for bed he has a tendency to hide, usually under the bedclothes.   So the game commences and you loudly province ‘I wonder where Ezra is?‘  And then you eventually discover him under the giggling lump of bedclothes and he thinks it is brilliant.  I was playing this game the other night and I loudly pronounce ‘Who is this under the bedclothes?

Not me!‘ came the reply.  I am not entirely sure he has got this hiding malarkey down to a tee yet!

Stand by for an Éowyn birthday write up and see you soon

Peace and Love




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