So, now that you are up to speed with the family holiday from the end of May, it is probably time that I get you up to speed with the adventures of the Bagnalls during June, even though it is nearly August. Life is certainly taking precedence over telling you all about it – and that is how it should me.
I will take you back to the beginning of June. We have just arrived back from our holiday in Croatia (via Italy and Slovenia) and the Baguettes are back at school for their last stretch before the summer break, while Lucinda and I return to work.
On our return, I was concerned that Willow would not be happy with us for leaving her for so long, even though she was left in safe hands. I was expecting a moody cat that would ignore us or wake us up at oh-my-god-it’s-early o’clock. I need not have worried. She was not so much annoyed with us leaving, but, on the contrary, happy that we had returned. Indeed, she refused to leave my side. I had a little shadow for the first few days of my return, which was nice.
The summer term is the culmination of the school year and thus it brings a cornucopia of delights: end of year reports, moving up days (so that they find out where their new classroom is and meet their new teacher), Sports Day and the Summer Fete.
Sports Day has been a feature of end of school years for time immemorial, with egg and spoon races and sack races being the perennial favourites from my school days. However, with the number of pupils at Éowyn and Amélie’s school, it is not so easy to have individual heats. There are 90 pupils per year, so the co-ordination that would require would take an Olympian effort and so the school was divided into three houses and each of the events were of a relay-inspired format.
The first decision was to choose names for the houses and to get the children into the spirit of elections, every pupil (and parent) got a vote, which was held on the same day as our own General Election. The choices were Famous People (Austen, Brunel, Churchill, and Darwin); Rivers (Thames, Colne, Ash) and Elements (Air, Water, Fire). I quite liked the Famous People group as it was both educational and alphabetical, and that group received my vote. I also thought the Rivers group was quite clever as the school’s name is Riverbridge and they are the three biggest rivers in the area. However ‘Elements’ was the clear winner, even though it was only three of the four elements – pedant I know!
Both Éowyn and Amélie were put into the Water house – which meant that there would be no inter-Bagnall rivalry. As the day approached the South East of the UK was basking in a heatwave (i.e. temperatures above 30°C – which may make other nations around the world smirk at us) and so the school decided to split the Sports Day over two days so that the races could take part before the heat of the noonday sun. The upper school went first and this included Éowyn. The races were highly imaginative, there were tennis ball on a tennis racket race (egg and spoon for the modern generation); hockey stick dribbling; football dribbling; skipping race; hurdles as well as long jump, bean bag throwing and netball hoop shooting. All good fun. Unfortunately, at the end of the day ‘Water’ was in last place.
A couple of days later it was the turn of the lower school and perhaps Amélie’s side of the team could drag Water back into contention. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The inaugural Elements house Sports Day left Water, and thus the Baguettes, in last place. There is always next year!
In the lead up to Sports Day, the children had obviously been practising, but we didn’t realise exactly the importance of these practise sessions until Éowyn came home with a letter, informing us that Éowyn had been selected to represent the school in the District Sports Day for throwing. We asked Éowyn about it, but she didn’t know too much about it, except that they had all lined up to throw a tennis ball and she had thrown it the furthest. The competition was to be held in the penultimate week of the term, so I will tell you all about that in the next instalment.
Sports Day is not the only sports-related news from the Baguettes. As you may recall Amélie has progressed quicker than Éowyn in their swimming classes. Indeed, at one point, Amélie was two classes above Éowyn. However, just before our holidays Éowyn moved up a class to be one behind Amélie. Then, while on holiday, we all spent a lot of time in the pool. While Ezra was happy to shoot people with his water pistol, and Amélie played with her German friend, Éowyn spent time with me in the big pool, practising her swimming strokes. Now, I am not a very good swimmer, and I am certainly no swimming instructor, but from my point of view, it was all about giving her confidence and not letting her take the easy way out. Seemingly, it helped. On her return, she spent two weeks in yellow hats before joining her little sister in the green hats class. Now, both are in the same class and hopefully sibling rivalry can spur them along to progress to the next stage.
While Éowyn has been progressing in swimming, Amélie, in addition to continuing her swimming lessons has also been progressing in her street dance class. Indeed, the end of term saw her take part in her first medal competition. There was no immediate result though, and we had to wait several weeks and their demonstration week before we knew whether she had passed and whether she was graded. I will also keep you in suspense before I let you know her results.
In addition, to swimming, school and dancing Amélie has also been to see the orthoptist again to see whether her amblyopia (lazy eye to you and me) had improved. We were somewhat surprised, yet definitely pleased to hear that they were going to wean her off the patches over the next few weeks and then no patches over the summer. They seemed to think that she had no longer suffering from amblyopia but we will have to wait until a follow up appointment (arranged for her birthday!) to know for sure. Fingers crossed that she will just have her hypermetropia (long-sightedness) to cope with and remain a glasses wearer, like both of her parents.
In addition to all this sporty activity, there has also been the academic side with the aforementioned ‘moving up’ days. To help the transition to the next year, the school organises a day for the class to move, as a whole, to their new classroom and spend a day with their new teacher. Éowyn has the smallest transition of the three and only moves further round the school. She is very happy with her new teacher, she is happy that she is staying with all her current classmates, but she is most looking forward to the fact that in year 4 they go swimming.
Amélie has a bigger transition. She is moving from year 1 to year 2, which doesn’t sound too traumatic, however, this involves moving campus, in addition to the usual moving of classroom and getting to know a new teacher. Unusually, for Primary School teachers, Amélie’s new teacher will be a man. It will be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out over the next year.
However, the Baguette with the biggest transition is Ezra. Ezra turned four in March and thus has reached the age of compulsory education in the UK and from September will join his sisters (albeit on the campus that Amélie has just vacated) at school. He will have a familiar teacher (to us at least), Miss Snow – Amélie’s reception teacher.
In preparation for this life event, Ezra has had two taster sessions with his new class. The first only lasted an hour and Mommy was with him throughout. The second was a little more intense: it lasted the morning and he got to stay for lunch. We were concerned that because his best friends are not going to his new school with him, that he would not be happy. However, our boy is made of sterner stuff. He told us that his friends were not there, but he still liked his new school and was looking forward to being in Miss Nsow’s class. Now, that isn’t a mis-type, for some reason he has taken to pronouncing Miss Snow by placing the ‘n’ before the ‘s’. Although amusing, hopefully, it is just a phase.
So, come September all three Baguettes will be schoolchildren, our brood is growing up!
If I can pull my finger out and find some time, expect a lot of updates over the next few weeks as there have been a number of events I need to let you know about. Until then, keep an eye on the Flickr pages (link on the side) and there will be a few photo uploads over the next week.
Peace and Love