Another update? I can tell that you are not used to so many updates from me, especially at the beginning of the year. Well, it is a new look to the website so I am going to try to fill it with new content, and I will keep up the momentum and as long as life allows me. I always find that the part of writing this blog that falls down is just the effort required to take the time and begin to write. Obviously our lives are not that interesting that they warrant a bi-weekly update, but there are times that updates are missed because I never begun the process of sitting down at the keyboard. Therefore, this year I will try to amend this, however, you will probably find by Easter that I have fallen by the wayside but at least I have begun in the right vein.
So what can warrant an update mid-term in mid-winter?
The deadline that the end of January brings regarding the use of the remainder of the previous year’s annual leave entitlement. With a couple of days’ worth of holiday left, I added them together with the days off that I earned from working over Christmas and managed to take the last week of January off. Although this is mid-term and thus the kids were at school it meant that Lucinda and I could get a number of those boring jobs around the house, that need to be done but get pushed to the back of the queue for the weakest of excuses. It was also nice for me to be able to take the kids to school and be there to pick them up at the end of the day.
One of the more exciting of the jobs that we have managed to complete this week is to finalise the designs of our extension and submit the plans to the local council for planning permission. When we moved into our house one of the slight bugbears that we had with it was the layout of the kitchen. After three years, this is still the case so we have decided that we would like to rectify this and the best way would be to make a modern looking kitchen/diner. However, in order to this we need to build an extension and hence we have employed an architect/building surveyor, we have come to a design compromise and the plans have been submitted. Now, it is the waiting game. We wait to see if there are any objections either from the planning commission or indeed any of our neighbours. Hopefully not, but you never know.
The extension maybe designed but what goes in there needs to be thought about too! And that is the next stage, to head to a kitchen designer to fill the space and make a kitchen/diner that is not only a space to be able to cook in but also to eat and probably work as a family room during the day. It will be the second kitchen we have had fitted since I started this website but rest assured this one is likely to be very different and on a completely different scale. It will be interesting to see how this progresses throughout the year.
The biggest news of this update, however, is not the submission of plans for our extension (although it is likely to be the most expensive) but the title of the update itself. Ezra will be four in a little under 6 weeks time, even so in all that time he has never had a haircut. He was relatively bald for the first year or so of his life and thus there was no requirement to take the scissors to his locks. Lately, however, this has changed and his hair had become a little unruly therefore it was time to take him to the barbers.
Fortuitously, a new barbershop has recently opened on our local parade of shops (taking the number of hairdressers in that parade to three!) and they were offering an introductory rate to attract new clients. Therefore, Lucinda and I headed to the barbers with Ezra (and Darth Vader – obviously) to help him through this potentially traumatic experience. We had to wait for a little while before it was his turn but presently it was his turn to take the chair. We warned the coiffeur that it was his first time and so she took an extra effort to put him at ease. Nevertheless, as we approached the chair he held on tight to my leg slightly afraid of getting into the chair. So I had to think quick and noticed the cape. ‘If you sit in the chair,‘ I told him, ‘They will put a Darth Vader cape on you.‘ I know how to motivate my children. He jumped into the chair and, although apprehensive, sat quite quietly.
He was as a good as gold in the chair. He never looked like he was enjoying it but he was very brave and let the coiffeur do her job, even when she swapped from scissors to the electric razor. Knowing that it was his first haircut she asked Lucinda if she would like to keep a lock of his hair. Lucinda said that she would and so a suitable lock was chosen and the boy’s first hair cut was marked in a very traditional way. We are expecting that his hair will now bush out and so this will become a regular event.
My holiday leave wasn’t the only thing that needed using up by the end of January. We had some vouchers that needed using and so we traded them in for tickets to the London Wetland Centre in Barnes. The London Wetland Centre has always been somewhere that has been on my list to visit and embarrassingly I lived not that far from there when it opened in 2000. However, somehow a trip to London’s wetlands has eluded me for nigh on seventeen years.
So why did we think a trip to the Wetland Centre would interest the Baguettes? It is not that they are of an age that they would sit in a hide for hours upon end looking through binoculars trying to spy a bittern in the reeds. In fairness the London Wetland Centre is more than that and is certainly worthy of a visit for anyone interested in wildlife and in wetlands in particular. But in addition to the waterfowl and otters that can be found in the ponds that are dotted around the centre over the winter they had been joined by a menagerie of Lego equivalents.
These Lego brick birds (and an otter) are touring the various wetland centres around the country and form an adventure trail for the young visitors to the centre. Obviously they are there to encourage the children to think about nature and their role in preserving the environment for such creatures. The adventure trail encouraged them to explore the whole of the wetland centre and there were three questions about the Lego creations that if the children answered correctly would allow them to enter a prize draw.
In some ways it kind of had the opposite effect on the Baguettes and they concentrated so much on hunting out the Lego animals that the real cousins were relegated to a side show. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable afternoon and they were fascinated by some of the waterfowl including Black Swans and the Common Cranes. After a spot of lunch in the café we headed up the observation tower where there where a number of volunteers had arranged a couple of crafting projects. The Baguettes enjoy a bit of crafting and so we took out coats off and settled down to allow them to perform their art.
The first project was to make a snowy owl out of a pine cone, some cotton wool and card – not forgetting the googly eyes. Amélie came up with the idea of adding a tongue to the beak, which was quickly copied by Éowyn and Ezra and something the volunteers said that was unique. All the time that they had been running the crafting project no one had thought of doing that. Well done Amélie. Ezra topped this by adding eyebrows to his owl, giving it somewhat of a surprised expression.
The second project was to make a dreamcatcher. Unfortunately, they were running out of time and so this project felt a little rushed. Nevertheless, three dreamcatchers made their way back to Bagnall manor although none to the Baguette’s bedrooms!
In addition, to the trips and crafting projects the Baguettes have been to school and have been doing rather well. Both have been awarded bronze and silver this term with also achieving the ‘Marvellous Mathematician’ accolade and going up a reading level. Amélie, also, has had a significant accolade, however hers was from outside of school. Every Saturday morning the girls have swimming lessons. Amélie started a few weeks before Éowyn but it has always been Éowyn that has seemingly been progressing faster. Not so. Amélie on Saturday earned her first certificate: swimming 5 metres unaided and thus has moved up a class from orange caps to yellow caps! She is understandably delighted and more so because it is the first time that she has achieved something before Éowyn. We wait now to see if Éowyn continues to be upset or whether it spurs her on in a spirit of healthy competition. You will have to keep popping by to find out.
I will take my leave of you now, with a promise of trying to keep this rate of updates up on the newly configured website. You may also notice a difference in how the photos are handled – told you there may be a few tweaks. There is also an album of photos from our trip to Wetland Centre on Flickr, if you feel so inclined.
Peace and Love