We are half way through April and the Baguettes have not been to school this month. A relatively late Easter has meant that the fortnight break between the Spring and Summer terms has so far prevented the Baguettes from attending class this month. Unfortunately, their two-week break has coincided with a busy time for me at work so most of the childcare has fallen to Lucinda.
Thankfully, the weather has been surprisingly clement throughout the break. Apart from one extremely warm day (peaking at 25°C – 77°F), it hasn’t been particularly hot, but it has been dry and that it is the important point. Thus, we will not bemoan such a nice start to Spring – in the South East of the country at least. This has certainly helped Lucinda, allowing the Baguettes to play in the garden or taking them for a trip to the local park or further afield. Play dates also help break the monotony of the long weeks and share the burden with reciprocal agreements with other parents, but nothing beats both parents being off and sharing the responsibility. It is also an excuse to venture further afield and go on an adventure.
I have only had a few days off and thus there have been limited opportunities for such adventures. You may recall from the update prior to the last that we had two days of adventure. A trip to West Bromwich to pick up Willow (although we did not know she was going to be our cat at the time) and a trip back in time (10’s to 100’s of million years or so) to see the dinosaurs at Osterley Park. (And the non-related extinct animals that are often associated with dinosaurs in the form of Pteranodons (pterosaurs) and a Dimetrodon (a form of stem-mammal known as a synapsid); indeed, Dimetrodon is more closely related to humans than to dinosaurs, you can tell your friends that one!)
Despite the relatively few days off we still managed two more adventures during the Easter holidays as the Family Bagnall but before the first we hosted our first outdoor soirée of the year. Not really a soirée, as it wasn’t in the evening and we only hosted one other family; but it was outdoors. Indeed, it was the first time that we had managed to use our tiki hut! Our friends Lisca and Theo were heading into deepest, darkest Surrey for an Easter break and so they stopped by for a chat up and some lunch. They were accompanied by Raine and the newest addition to the family, our god-daughter, Lake. As we, and the kids especially, were going to be constantly going in and out of the house and there were going to be lots of new people about, we decided that we would let Willow out in the morning. This was a couple of days earlier than we were planning, but as she was a stray and a mature cat we didn’t think it would be too much of a risk and it was going to be a lot easier than trying to prevent an accidental escape. We need not of worried she left and began to explore her territory.
We had a great day with Lisca and Theo, Éowyn and Raine got on really well, although their make-up skills need to be improved (see photographic evidence below). Amélie was doting on Lake and even gave her one of her bottles of milk. Amélie was so happy sitting there holding Lake in one arm and the bottle in the other. Éowyn is not so maternal.
The next day was our next adventure. So after a day of freedom to come and go for Willow, Monday saw her locked in the house while we headed into London. You may recall that a couple of weeks ago that we headed into London to visit the Transport Museum. We had complimentary tickets for the Transport Museum but we also had vouchers for a boat trip along the Thames. The initial plan was to do both activities on the same day, but we soon realised that it was going to be too busy for the Baguettes. Therefore, we decided that we would split the day and take them to the Transport Museum first and return for the boat trip. This was the return.
Although it was a school holiday it was still a normal working day and so we wanted to avoid the rush hours (and peak-time fares) and therefore the day was going to have to start after 0930 and we needed to be on a train back to Staines-Upon-Thames by 1600. The train from Staines-Upon-Thames station terminates at Waterloo and the boat trip departed from Westminster Pier on Victoria Embankment, in the shadow of the Palace of Westminster.
We crossed the Thames over the Golden Jubilee foot bridges and walked along the North shore of the Thames along Victoria Embankment past Whitehall Gardens, the Ministry of Defence and New Scotland Yard homing in on the Elizabeth Tower, famous for being the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster and housing the bell that is synonymous with the tower itself: Big Ben. Éowyn took her camera and thus was as busy as her Dad taking photos of all the London landmarks as she walked, first, across the Golden Jubilee foot bridge and its impressive view over the London skyline, including St Paul’s Cathedral and the Shard, then across the Thames from Victoria Embankment, the South Bank including the London Eye.
We caught the boat and decided that we would go as far as the Tower of London as we thought the extra 30 minutes to Greenwich would be just a little too much for the Baguettes. The cruise along the Thames was fascinating, it is not often that one gets to travel down the river that bisects our capital. The boat’s crew were very good and kept us all entertained with a detailed commentary of the sights along the river. There were plenty of opportunities for photographs, which was not lost upon Éowyn. Many of her photos can be seen on our Flickr pages.
It was a forty-minute journey downstream to the Tower of London and perfect angle for photographs of the iconic Tower Bridge. We disembarked and walked around the edge of the Tower of London, taking photos of the ancient monument. We will leave visiting the Tower for another day, as neither Lucinda or I have been to site of the Crown Jewels never mind the Baguettes. It is one of the quirks of living so close to so many national monuments, there is always mañana. The only problem is that tomorrow never comes and you put off the trip again, again and again. However, now that the Baguettes are getting older it gives Lucinda and me the excuse and the opportunity to go and visit these tourist attractions that are quite literally just down the road from Bagnall Manor.
Working shifts and in the live sports industry, Bank Holidays mean nothing to me, apart from the traffic is lighter and there are less people in the office. Premier League football is played around all but one of the Bank Holidays (Spring Bank Holiday – the second Bank Holiday in May). However, with my new position I can take the occasional Bank Holiday off, and so I decided to actually take Good Friday off, especially considering I was working Easter Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Therefore, our last adventure of the Easter break was booked for Good Friday; a trip down the A3 and a visit to Lucinda’s cousin, Joanne.
As you may recall, Joanne lives in a gated community with its own grounds and swimming pool and the Baguettes love to visit because Auntie Joanne (as they call her) arranges lots of interesting crafting things to do. You may recall, the last time we paid Auntie Joanne a visit she had arranged for us all (including Mommy, Daddy and Nanny) to make our own reindeer antler headdresses. So the Baguettes were very excited to see what delights she had in store for them this time.
We arrived a little later than we had intended (Good Friday traffic on the A3), so, after helping to catch a friend’s excitable puppy, we took the opportunity to go into the grounds and begin the Easter Egg hunt. Auntie Joanne had made a ‘treasure map’ with the approximate position of all the Easter eggs indicated by blue stickers. Off they went, with Éowyn holding the map. Ninety minutes later all the eggs had been found, Lucinda and I had loaded the car with some silver birch logs for the fire and we were all ready for our lunch.
After lunch it was time to craft. The girls had their initial letter to decorate, while Ezra had a tiger hidden within plaster of Paris (a lot of mess and a lot of hard work to extract) and a wooden skeleton of a Pteranodon to build. The fun still wasn’t over, there was still the swimming pool to take advantage of.
The girls love swimming and so were happily swimming and jumping in the pool; Ezra is not so keen. It sometimes takes an enormous amount of encouragement just to get him to dip his toes in the water. With a private swimming pool and only the Bagnalls (and Auntie Joanne) it was time to force his hand. As he stood at the edge of the steps dipping his toes in the water, Daddy came behind him, picked him up and took him into the pool.
We were in the pool for over an hour, but I eventually managed to encourage him to ‘swim’ with a noodle under his midriff and Daddy’s hands supporting him. I even managed to dip his face into the water so should him that there was nothing to be scared off. It was very rewarding to see him progress from a monkey-limpet to doggy-paddling, albeit with Daddy’s support, around the pool. We have got to hope that he continues this next time, so we are going to have to find some time to squeeze in a trip to a swimming pool, unfortunately, I doubt very much that we will be the only ones in there unless we head back to Auntie Joanne’s.
There are lots of photos on the Flickr pages of our trip to London and of our trip to see the dinosaurs. You will also note that along with Éowyn, Amélie, Ezra and Toffee and Frazzle, Willow now has an album of her own, in case there are not enough photos on these pages for you!
Peace and Love
P.S. The title of this update is from Anne Bradstreet’s 1664 work: Meditations, Divine and Moral, if you are at all interested.