Trust that you all had a fantastic Christmas and Santa brought you all the presents that you deserve. He was very generous with the Bagnall household this year and despite rumours to the contrary the Baguettes must have been on the ‘nice’ list. As tradition dictates this will be the last update of 2015; the next update will be early in the new year when I will reflect on the year but here I will update you on the events of the Bagnall household over the yuletide.
Both girls broke up from school the Friday before Christmas, which means that they will be off school for just over a fortnight. Fortunately my new shift pattern meant that although I was working the weekend before Christmas (the tail-end of a seven-day stint) I was off for the three days leading up to Christmas and could spend some time with them (and Ezra) at the start of their holiday.
Monday saw our fireplace, or more accurately our multi-fuel stove, finally installed and although it is the warmest December on record, in the South-East of the UK at least, wood needed to be burnt. It has taken me a few goes to begin to perfect the technique to obtain a really hot fire, and I still think that there is a lot to learn. My early mistake was that I was a little too eager to get the logs on the fire, as soon as the kindling was aflame I was piling the wood in. Thus the stove was never reaching the optimum temperature before being asked to work. There is still a lot to learn though, something that I am looking forward to.
Tuesday was the first day off as a family and I took this opportunity to take Éowyn to the local cinema to see Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, while Lucinda stayed at home with Amélie and Ezra. I was seven when Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back was released so I thought it was high time to introduce my eldest to the Star Wars universe. Éowyn hasn’t seen any of the other films (something that will be rectified over the next few weeks) unlike her friend Blake who, along with his father, accompanied us to the first showing of the day.
Unfortunately, we could not get 4 tickets in a row, so we had 3 in one row and 1 just in front, therefore Martin sat with the children, while I saw on my lonesome. Even in my excitement of watching a Star Wars film at the cinema, I was conscious of my little girl in the row behind and kept turning round and making sure she was fine. About half way through the film she tapped me on the shoulder because she wanted to go the toilet, so we headed out of the auditorium. I took the opportunity to ask her what she thought of the film. She said that she was enjoying it but was a little scared in places. This as such didn’t worry me too much as I think that is the beauty of film, that it takes you on an emotional journey, however the next sentence broke my heart. She said that she had noticed that when Blake was scared he had his daddy’s hand to hold but when she was scared she had nobody’s hand to hold.
Therefore when we returned to the auditorium I told her to sit on my knee to watch the remainder of the film. As we sat there watching the conclusion of the film my hand was holding her side and chest and I could feel her heart beating at ten to the dozen with the excitement of the final scenes. Father and daughter bonding over a film.
This isn’t really a forum for my report on the film but suffice to say that I enjoyed it but was disappointed. That sounds oxymoronic but Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope – as it was retrospectively christened) took Hollywood in a new direction and kicked off the summer blockbuster (in tracks laid by Jaws a couple of years before). It was a nod to 1930’s serials such as Flash Gordon, it took inspiration from Akira Kurosawa (especially The Hidden Fortress), mixed in 1950’s Westerns and a dash of World War II movies and captured a generation of children’s imaginations.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens on the other hand is trying to be Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, it is not trying to be anything new; it has no story of its own. That is slightly unfair as it is part of the continuing Star Wars story however, for me, it is a scene by scene remake and brings nothing new to either the Star Wars universe or Hollywood in general. It was Disney playing safe trying not to damage the franchise with its first film especially since it has paid $4 billion for the rights. It will do well at the Box Office; it is an enjoyable romp and to be honest I think it is a good film and I will see it again, and I am looking forward to the ‘Director’s Cut’, but is it a great film? Will it be anyone’s favourite film? Does it do anything that no other film does? Unfortunately not. That is why despite my childhood enthusiasm for the film and for all it stands for it is a disappointment.
We left the cinema with Éowyn asking lots of questions (some I could answer, some I couldn’t – the films haven’t been written yet!) and a promise that we will sit down and watch the remaining canon. We had a list of things to pick up while in Staines town centre, so after grabbing something quick to eat we battled the Christmas shoppers and headed home.
In November we had offered to cook Christmas dinner for both of our families. That is Lucinda’s Mom, brothers and their families and my Mom and my sisters. With Granddad’s passing in October it only seemed right and fitting that we spent Christmas together as a family. It wasn’t right, however to burden Nanny with the entertainment (even if we, as the next generation cooked the actual meal) so the logical place was our house. Our lounge/dining room is big enough, with a rearrangement of the furniture to comfortably seat 17, even if the kitchen isn’t quite equipped to cook for that many. However as we stood on Tuesday afternoon, 72 hours before that meal the house was not in any fit state to welcome Christmas visitors.
The lounge had been emptied to allow the workmen to work on the fireplace and so all the furniture was piled to one side of the dining room. There was also a layer of dust coating many of the surfaces in the house. So after returning from the cinema we set about rearranging the furniture and getting ready for the family.
Christmas Eve saw the arrival of Nanny Fran, Auntie Liz, Auntie Mary and Toffee and Frazzle. The house was ready for Christmas and the fire was on. Toffee and Frazzle were introduced to their new home (although the girls did not know that we were going to keep them at this point) and we settled down for the evening. We were all sitting around chatting and watching Christmas telly that we completely forgot to go out into the garden to look for Santa’s International Space Sleigh.
Christmas morning we were expecting to be woken at oh, my gosh it’s early, O’clock. However that was not to be. Éowyn and Amélie didn’t wake until 0730 while Ezra was still asleep at 0800! How lucky were we? Indeed we were downstairs when Ezra woke up and I asked him whether Santa had been and left anything in his room. His little face dropped and he shook his head. ‘Are you sure?‘ I inquired (I did have some insider information), ‘Shall we have a look?‘ His face lit up when he saw he big sack of presents and we took it downstairs to join the girls in the big opening.
Nanny Fran, Auntie Liz and Auntie Mary must have also been good girls as Santa had left them a little stocking of presents too. They certainly were good girls helping us prepare the table and more importantly preparing the mountains of veg for Christmas dinner.
Amazingly, Christmas dinner for 17 went fairly smoothly. We were planning to sit down and eat at 1500 and we started serving at 1503! There was a mountain of food left over (that kept us going for days afterwards) and we needed a little bit of a tactical break before tackling the desserts. Auntie Zoe provided the desserts (with help from Uncle Steven) but as Christmas Day is also her birthday we had a surprise for her. Instead of bringing in the Christmas Pud alight, we turned the lights out to bring in a birthday cake replete with 4 lit candles. Apparently, it was only about the third birthday cake she has ever had.
I was back at work on Boxing Day (it is one of the busiest football days!) and Nanny Fran, Auntie Liz and Auntie Mary headed up to West Bromwich, leaving Lucinda and the Baguettes in the house with ridiculous amounts of cardboard and piles of toys.
There was a gap in the fixtures on the following day so it was time to introduce the Baguettes to one of the big responsibilities of pet ownership – cleaning out the cage. Not sure how long this enthusiasm will last but they all helped cleaning the cage and their house while I disposed of the waste products. It was a good excuse for another cuddle with the guinea pigs before putting them back into their clean cage for them to mess up and throw their food all over the floor. I have been teaching the Baguettes that when you approach the guinea pig cage to talk to them softly and walk slowly to the cage so that they know you are coming at it is not a big surprise. That way they will be less scared (guinea pigs are always scared) and hopefully they will not run and hide as you get there. We have a long way to go until his guinea pig etiquette is fully established and a long way to go until the guinea pigs are fully trusting, especially of the smaller members of the household, but while the enthusiasm is still there, then we will encourage their interest and hopefully Toffee and Frazzle will begin to trust us more and not be quite as nervous around the kids.
I have a couple of days off around the New Year before football kicks off again on the second of January. So by the time the girls go back to school I will not have spent too much time with the baguettes, which is a shame but will have had Christmas and New Year off and Lucinda has had the entire time off which would have been an impossibility if she was still at the airport!
I will leave you now but not before I wish you all a very Happy New Year and see you all in 2016!
Peace and Love
PS For those of you that enjoy geeky stats click here for a summary of baggieandlucy.com for 2015.