A warm November is the sign of a bad Winter – or so they say…

We are two weeks closer to Christmas and I still have no presents or indeed made any effort towards purchasing them.  Nothing new there then (although I have looked on Play and Amazon and bought stuff for myself -it’s a start!).  It is with this in mind that I now start a 10 day break from my place of employment.  I hesitate to use the word work, as Christmas shopping, visiting friends and relatives, preparing the house for Christmas and looking after the children is also work, I just don’t get any money for that!

So, again since this write up comes on the back of a couple of busy couple of weeks at work so you must forgive the brevity of amusing ancedotes and photos.  It has become more of a discipline for me to continue with the updates when I am busy and not let the impetuous slip for as you will notice I have seriously missed the target this year in terms of updates and am currently only averaging 12.85 days between writes ups as opposed to 11.41 days last year and 11.77 days the year before.  OK enough of the geekiness and back to the task in hand. 

So with the 25th December less than a month away it is all geared to getting ready for the big day and Éowyn is, probably for the first time fully comprehending the idea of Christmas, i.e that Santa brings you presents not the religious aspect of the year.  We are trying to temper the fact that she will get what ever she wants and the incessant stream of advertising aimed at children is not helping and the phrase ‘I want one of those,’ is heard umpteen times a day.  However, it is giving us the opportunity to use the notion of Santa to our advantage.  ‘If you are not a good girl then Santa will not bring you any pressies‘, although in fairness to Éowyn we have not had to say that to her that much because she has been relatively well behaved.  We haven’t resorted to the tactics of friends of ours who pretend to call Father Christmas whenever their child misbehaves and asks him to take away a present.  We’ll save that for when we need to wheel out the big guns.

We are, however, trying to use the notion of Santa in an attempt to stop Éowyn from sucking her thrumb.  She has always been a thumb sucker.  The nurses in the ICU at St. Peters tried to encourage us to give Éowyn a dummy when she was born (it seems to be one of the factors in preventing cot death) but, much to our relief, Éowyn kept spitting it out and so never had a dummy.  Thus her comfort became her thumb, which is handy in some ways (never gets lost!) but at the age of three we feel that it is high time that she stopped, at least during the day.  So, the power of Santa is being invoked by trying to convince her that only babies suck their thumb so if she is sucking her thumb then Santa will think that she is a baby and therefore only bring her baby presents and not big girl presents.  Will it work?  Watch and wait.

Amélie, obviously, is oblivious to it all.  As indeed she is oblivious to the fact that her parents need more than 3 hours continuous sleep.  Amélie doesn’t seem to understand the notion of a good night’s sleep and the best we can ever expect is to be woken at 0500.  It is starting to get a little tiresome after 14 months!  We had initially hoped to be able to move Amélie into Éowyn’s room earlier this year but until she sleeps through the night we are of the opinion that it is unfair on Éowyn that unfortunately means she is still in with us.  However, now that Lucinda is back at work it is becoming more important to train her, if not to sleep, then not to scream like she is being murdered when she wakes in the small wee hours of the morning. 

In the daytime Amélie is completely different and a little cutie with a very different personality to Éowyn.  She is much more of a mommy’s girl than ÉowynÉowyn was, and indeed still is, a daddy’s girl which, considering the amount of work that Lucinda does for her, much be frustrating for mommy.  Amélie has redressed that but it can be equally frustrating for Lucinda as Amélie will follow her around incessantly, hanging onto the back of her legs whenever she has her back towards her.  As if to illustrate this Amélie’s favourite word (not that she has that many at the moment) is ‘mommy‘.  She can also say ‘daddy‘ and what sounds like ‘big sister‘ (much to Éowyn’s delight) among others but it is ‘mommy‘ that she constantly mutters.  However, in the last few days that has been replaced with a new favourite: sneezing!  She sits there pretending to sneeze.  She then looks at you and gives a cheeky grin.  You can start her off by saying ‘Bless you‘ and off she goes.

Amélie still has not taken her first unfettered steps.  She spends a lot of her time on her legs cruising along the furniture but has not yet attempted to let go of the sofa and walk across the room.  If you hold her hands to encourage her to walk she just sits down refusing to entertain the idea.  This is probably down to a number of reasons:  there really is no need at the moment: she is the Usain Bolt of crawling and can cross the room in a blink of the eye; her sister will carry toys for her so she can concentrate on crawling and the wooden floor is more slippery than carpet so probably doesn’t install confidence when taking those first steps.  We’ll see if we can encourage her to make that next stage before Christmas; another of the items on the list for the week off. 

So with that in mind I will leave you with this one thought.  This apparently has been one of the warmest Novembers on record and one of the mildest Autumns on record (for the UK) and apparently the old weather lore states that: ‘A warm November is the sign of a bad winter’ (hence the title of this write up) as does the similar pearl of wisdom ‘Flowers bloomin’ in late Autumn a sure sign of a bad winter comin’ (not sure if that second statement is supposed to rhyme but if it is, it is a bad one, if it doesn’t they why does it look like they have tried to make it rhyme?).  I have no empirical data to back up either of these statements, or indeed if they relate to great swathes of the world or just to a small town just outside of Scunthorpe (Winterton, perchance?) but I thought that I would throw it into the public domain and test it this winter.  Obviously it will prove nothing either way but perhaps 30 years of study and a supercomputer (or at least a piece of paper and a propelling pencil) will, so come back to me in 2041 and I will let you know.

Enjoy the photos

Peace and love




Stand in the place where you live

Is it just me, or is this November more depressing than usual?  The usual anticyclonic gloom has truly spread it’s November mirk over the land, Christmas is over a month away and coupled with the darker nights, even the news (as reported by the Daily Mail – so it must be true) that this is probably going to be the warmest November (in the UK) in recorded history hasn’t raised the mood.

There is, however, some news from the Bagnall household that may just disperse the melancholy: Amélie has begun to cruise.  She has gone from being the Usain Bolt of crawling to bipedal movement almost overnight.  OK, she had not taken her first unfettered steps but she is pulling herself to two legs at every available opportunity and every opportune object that stays still long enough (even the back of your legs when you are doing the washing up).  This presents itself with more issues, for her reach has now increased itself tenfold.  Those little arms can reach, almost Mr Tickle-like, further than you would believe and always to the one thing that you don’t want her to have.  Hence the lack of photos on this upload as Lucinda’s camera is one of those shiny things that Amélie has become besotted with and it no longer works as it once did.  However, it has given me an idea for a Christmas present for Lucinda.  Shh!

There is a second reason why there are not some many photos as usual and that is because I have not had so many days off work as I have in recent weeks.  It is still manically busy at work so on some days I have left the house before the girls have woke and am back just as they are going to bed.  Then, the days off I do have with them Lucinda is working and so at the moment there has not been the collective family events and thus such photographic opportunities.  My working does have others effects especially on Éowyn.  Last weekend we were chatting and she said, ‘Daddy, do you have to go to work tomorrow?‘ I replied that I did and she wandered off to her table and took out a sheet of A4 paper and her crayons, furiously scribbed away and wandered back.  ‘Here’s a map, Daddy, so you know how to get back home,‘ she said handing me the finished picture.  There was a tear in my eye.

Éowyn has been very good of late.  She has seemingly left her terrible twos far behind and I can not remember the last time she sat on the thinking step or even was threatened with sitting on the thinking step.  Indeed, she has been very thoughtful and polite and is truly a pleasure to be with.  She has also begun to really enjoy going to pre-school (Playbox) and seems to have made many friends this term.  At the end of the last school year we were undecided as to whether we should be sending her there as she didn’t seem to be enjoying it but perserverance has paid off and as of January (when she is entitled to 15 hours of childcare paid for by the government) she will be going there three days a week.

Éowyn also has inherited her father’s (and grandfather’s) love of films.  At the moment she is going through the back catalogue of Disney films.  She knows Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast inside out (as indeed Toy Story 3) but her current favourite is Lady and the Tramp.  At least it gives us a rest from Peppa Pig and Dora the Explorer (her current favourite television programmes) and I’d much rather sit down with her and watch a film for at least it is a fixed, defined duration.  Watch the film then do something else, rather than the ending stream of television programming punctuated with endless adverts for toys and games (I want one of those) that she doesn’t need.  All you parents out there are saying welcome to parenthood.  Thanks!

Christmas is rapidly approaching and myself and Lucinda have promised ourselves that we will be more organised this year.  We have to be with two children and are both in employment.  So presents are being bought (internet shopping is a wonderful thing) and days are being booked off to attempt to get ahead of the game for since both of our jobs are shift based, the Christmas period is no different to any other day of the year, we will be in our respective places of work.  There is no two week break for us.  I always remember when I first got my first job in television and some friends were disgusted that we would be expected to work during the Christmas holidays and I replied ‘What do you do on Christmas day?’ ‘Eat, drink and then fall asleep in front of the telly.’  ‘Exactly, someone has to be pressing the buttons at the other end to make it all work.’

So with that in mind I will bid you adieu and once again apologies for the less than usual number of photos below and I promise to do better next time.

Peace and love


11:11, 11/11/11

Confirmation bias, spirit guardians, Nigel Tufnel day, your 40th birthday (you know who you are), Armistice Day or just the ninth binary date of the year?  What does the date of 1’s mean to you?

There are a lot of people that I know that hold the time 11:11 in some kind of esteem, some temporal awe and claim that whenever they look at the clock (a digital one of course) that it displays 11:11.  For me this is nothing more that confirmation bias, you are looking for it so as soon as you see it you remember it and it confirms your theory.  The fact is, because you are holding 11:11 in some form of regard, subconsciously you are looking for 11:11 and the frequency that you are looking at the time will peak in the lead up to 11:11, then once you have seen it the belief is confirmed.  You probably don’t even remember that you looked at the clock at 11:08, 11:09 and three times during 11:10.  How often have you just looked at the time, then someone immediately asks you what the time is and you have to look at the clock again.  Is your memory that bad?

Still quite a cool date though.

So what have we been up to in the last couple of weeks?  Well as the East Coast of the U.S. received it’s first dumping of snow (New York City’s heaviest ever October fall) we were experiencing a mild end of October which continued into the beginning of November.  This was most welcome for my 2nd cousin Charlotte who was married to Paul Eccles on the 4th November at Salmesbury Hall just on the outskirts of Preston (Lancashire).  When we first received the invite I was concerned that the weather could play an unwelcome part in the ceremony but I need not have feared and although the Lancashire countryside can be unforgiving during the winter months it was perhaps a little too early to cause any issues for the wedding party and the rain held off until after the ceremony and most of the photos had been taken.

As Preston is 220 miles away we decided that we would head to Lancashire the day before the wedding and spend two nights away from home.  We had initially thought that we would drive to Nanny Fran’s and spend the previous night in West Bromwich and then head in convoy to Preston.  However we decided that trying to get ourselves and the girls ready while Nanny Fran and Aunties Mary and Liz were also trying to get ready and then drive to Preston was perhaps asking a little too much.  Far easier to concentrate on just getting ready on the morning of the wedding and not then worry about the drive and checking into the hotel and all that entails.

Thus having just come back from a fortnight off work I took another couple of days off for our petit sojourn.  We left the moor a little late (we always do whenever it involves packing with the kids!) and headed north.  The girls were fed and watered and laden with toys to keep them entertained on the journey.  We also gave Éowyn a packed lunch in case she felt hungry along the way.  In true Bagnall style she had eaten most of it before we have even made it to the motorway – that’s my girl!  Fortunately the traffic was light and the girls fell asleep so we were able to make good time.  We arrived in Lancashire in the early afternoon and decided that we would head to Blackpool for a couple of hours before checking into our Preston lodgings.

Blackpool was as tacky and dreary as one would expect for early November and although the weather was kind (I have seen what the Irish sea can do to the promenade at Blackpool) it still felt desolate and depressive.  However as the night closed in and the illuminations were switched on then Blackpool came to life.  We were only in Blackpool for a couple of hours and didn’t really see it at it’s best however we are considering a holiday either to, or near, the Fylde coast for our summer break next year.

Our lodgings for the night was the Preston Central Travelodge and I only mention it for the fact that it ranks in one of my top ten worst car parks.  (Rest assured I don’t actually have a top ten worst car park list and it certainly isn’t laminated!).  The rooms are what you can expect from a £19/night hotel but the car park is veritable challenge.  After negotiating either the ramp (to the 1st floor) or the tight ground floor entrance you are confronted with a forest of metal pillars (all decorated with a variety of paint scuff marks) and 90° turns.  My only regret is that I never actually took a photo to show you, but please be warned that should you ever find yourself in Preston and decide to stay in the night at the local Travelodge and you are driving the car park is something you may not want to negotiate more than once.

Despite the basic nature of the hotel, Éowyn thought it was a fantastic adventure.  This was due in no small part to the fact that our room was on the fourth floor.  This meant that we had to take the lift and for a three year old that enjoys pressing buttons that is the best thing in the world.  She insisted on operating the lift and not only was it fun it was a little educational too with her making sure that she knew what floor we were heading for and whether we were going up or down in the lift and pressing the relevant call button.  We also told her our room number and encouraged her to find it.  It is important to find the education benefits and the game in the mundane, whether you are a three or ninety-three (think Mary Poppins and A Spoonful Of Sugar).

Charlotte and Paul’s wedding was excellent, Salmesbury hall was a beautiful venue.  It is a 14th century manor house on the outskirts of Preston and an ideal one stop venue for the guests with the ceremony and reception all held within the house and plenty of photogenic spots within the grounds, especially with the trees dressed in their autumnal garb.  The hall was closed to the public for the day which was nice to have the venue to the wedding party and we did not see any of the supernatural residents while we were there either.  Both of our girls were very good and before the ceremony Éowyn kept asking where the Princess was (i.e. the bride) and if she was a Princess who was the hansome prince?  They were both very good even through the speeches (although Éowyn did start heckling the groom’s speech with ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah!‘ part way through, Amélie just joined in with the clapping).  However the excitement of the day was far too much for them and they only managed to last until the Bride and Groom’s first dance, before we had to make our excuses and head back to that car park!

We headed back the next day, breaking the journey up at Nanny Fran’s before tackling the final four motorways and home.  I was working the next day so there wasn’t any time for relaxation on these days off, time to book some more I feel.

I will leave you now with the photos

Peace and Love