The Keen-eyed among you will have noticed that this is a very special post in the history of this website. This is the 100th article written for baggieandlucy.com. Yes, 100 different times I have sat down and transcribed the latest goings-on of our little family – that’s nearly a book – and hopefully 100 times you have sat down and read them. These 100 articles consist of 9 static pages (the Major Events) and 91 posts (the regular updates); over 70,000 words, nearly 1000 pictures and have received nearly 90,000 hits. Not bad for 2½ years of stolen time. So we would like to extend a big thank you to you (our readers) for popping by and enjoying the trials and tribulations of our growing family and we look forward to the next milestone, our 100,000th hit (by my reckoning some time in late August, early September).
As if to celebrate this milestone the weather, too, has been kind to us with an early summer in time for our late Easter. Temperatures of 25°C in April are definitely unusual (hottest April day since the 1940’s apparently!) but more than welcome however it probably infers that we will have a dull and wet summer. So enjoy it while it lasts! With that in mind the Bagnalls are not shy to take full advantage. We are quite fortunate that we live fairly close to three major theme park attractions: Chessington World of Adventures, Legoland and, closest of all, Thorpe Park. Therefore when we discovered that you can trade £40 (it has since gone up) worth of Tesco Club Card vouchers for an individual Merlin Pass we jumped at the chance. The Merlin Pass is almost a must have for families in our situation, it allows free entry to the three aforementioned theme parks plus many other attractions around the country as well as giving you discounts on purchases (including food) at those places. Since both Éowyn and Amélie are (for the time being) free to enter all of these attractions, two adult passes were all we required. Thus armed we must take advantage and get our money’s worth.
The first on our list was Chessington World of Adventures. Mainly because, if you recall, Éowyn had asked to go to the zoo and see a tiger (and a giraffe(!)). Chessington World of Adventures begun life as a zoo in 1931 and although the theme park that has developed around it (since 1987) is possibly more famous it still retains an impressive collection of animals (around 1,000) including the all important tiger (two actually, Sumatran to be specific) although sadly no giraffes!
We only spent a few hours at Chessington (with a Merlin pass it doesn’t matter, you can always come back!) and only really concentrated on the zoo (and food) side of the park. Viewing the zoo through adult eyes is never a good thing and in places I felt that it showed its age and is indicative of the sorry state of zoos around the world; a male lion (albeit of the Asiatic subspecies) with a single lioness a pride does not make! But the wonder on Éowyn’s face as she saw a tiger pace inches away from her on the other side of a glass window is what you need to take away. Her fear when the male lion roared to warn the lioness away from his food is something that can not be captured in a book, or even on the best of the wildlife documentaries. There is something primeval that is triggered when you hear big cat roar, the part of the brain that remembers being on the menu.
She thoroughly enjoyed the zoo and kept talking about the lions and the tigers (‘The daddy lion roared: Get away from my Dinner! I was scared‘). Chessington also has a monorail (called the Safari Skyway) that travels over the zoo and so while Lucinda fed Amélie (who was as good as gold all day), Éowyn and I took the circular route over the cages. Not exactly the best view but it was a good trip for Éowyn especially since most of the rides in the area we were in, were unsuitable for her. I think that was the impression that we took from Chessington that it is probably a little too old for Éowyn but a good alternative than taking her to a dedicated zoo.
In order to make a Merlin Pass pay, you do not have to go to the attractions that many times. In fact for us, twice. Hence we are already in profit as the following week we headed to Legoland. Now I love Lego. I loved Lego as a boy and still love Lego now. Not obsessed by it as some people I may mention but I think it rightly deserves the title of Toy of the 20th Century, but I was intrigued on how a whole theme park based around Lego would work. Now interestly, since it was Éowyn requesting to see tigers that took us to Chessington, Legoland is actually built on the site of what was Windsor Safari Park and was the world’s second Legoland (after the one in Denmark). It is the third most visited theme park in the UK (after Alton Towers and Thorpe Park – both included in the Merlin Pass) and most importantly is aimed a three to 12 year olds. Thus making it ideal for Éowyn and her friends and more likely that we will return regularly.
Again, we only spent a couple of hours around Legoland (because we can) and thus just scratched the edge of the park (I was surprised how big it actually is). However this time Éowyn did manage to go on some rides. Far from being scared, which we thought she might be, she loved it and didn’t want to get off when each of the rides had finished. We had feared that half way around the track she would have been asking to get off or to stop the ride. Nope. Not our little Éowyn; Again!’ was the cry.
The hot weather has bought out the huge mosquitoes again. Where there is pleasure there must be pain. We seem to have a number of different species around our corner of the globe, with the biggest being close to an inch long with stripes along thieir . Who needs to go to the zoo when you have tigers in Stanwell Moor. That drone at night when you are just about to drop off to sleep is one of the most annoying noises in Christendom.
Éowyn has taken another step in her development this week. She had her first plaster put onto a cut. She fell over while out with our childminder and Jo put a plaster on her elbow. Éowyn was very proud of it and very upset when Daddy took it off to look at the ‘wound’. She didn’t cry because it hurt when I took the plaster off, as I thought she might, but because it was her plaster and she wanted it back on. I am such a cruel Daddy! Then on Good Friday Lucinda and her brothers took all the cousins to Woking Leisure Pool. A great time was had by all and both Éowyn and Amélie loved it but on leaving the pool, Éowyn slipped and cut her toe. The lifeguard was very good with her and gave her another plaster. They are obviously badges of honour now!
Before I leave you, a quick ‘Happy Birthday’ to Nanny Fran for last Wednesday, and for those of you interested we are hoping that our kitchen will be finished before Friday’s Royal Wedding. It will be bliss to have, not only, a working kitchen but the rest of our house back.
Peace and Love
Just as I was about to post this update I received some bad news, hence the slight delay. A friend and colleague Marc Aberson passed away on Easter Sunday. He had a heart attack while cycling with friends near his home in Gloucestershire. He was 48 years old (although until his memorial service we were not sure. It appears that he had told a number of different people, with different ages, that he was the same age as them. It brought a smile to our faces when we found out!).
I have worked with Marc for nearly 14 years and was a hard-working bloke, always willing to help and get stuck in. Nothing seemed to phase him at work and he always had a smile on his face. He has been a mainstay of our VT department during that time (even while he studied for his degree) and has trained many of the guys that have passed through our doors. He was a true gentleman and will be sorely missed. He leaves a partner and two sons; our thoughts are with them. Sleep well Marc.