They said there’ll be snow at Christmas; they said there’ll be Peace on Earth

For those of you who scored 10 for knowing the answer to last year’s Christmas pop trivia another ten points are on offer if you know from which Christmas ditty the title of this update is from.  Well done, treat yourself to a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine.

This will be the last full update before Christmas although the (now annual) Bagnall Christmas message will automatically appear just after noon on Monday 19th December 2011 (already pre-written – aren’t I clever?) and I will try to squeeze in a post-Christmas update (time permitting) before the New Year.

As I mentioned in the last write up, I have attempted to use the remainder of my 2011 annual leave up by taking this past week off, in an attempt to get into the Christmas spirit and complete (start) the Christmas shopping.  The week started well with the obligatory trip into the loft to get the Christmas tree and decorations down.  We then duly put them up and encouraged Éowyn to help decorate the tree.  Not the most enthusiastic of decorating from our oldest child but I think she will get into it a little more as the years pass.  Amélie on the other hand just wanted to pull the bauble that you had just placed on the tree and throw it across the floor, well it is a fun game!  Éowyn however did let us play Christmas songs (her particular favourite being Mrs Santa Claus by Nat King Cole for some reason) while we bedecked the lounge.  It certainly raised the Christmas spirit and indeed does the tree everytime I walk into the lounge, all that was missing was a flurry of snow (still a disappointing lack of snow in these parts this winter!).

As I was off Lucinda also decided that she would book her week off too (both days!) so that we could have some time together and since the childminder had already been booked for Lucinda’s work days then it meant that there was two days that we could have off together.  However, an invite to a supplier’s lunch on the Tuesday put pay to part of one of those days but at least Lucinda could spend a little time with her mum without the kids, which was good for both of them.

The Wednesday without the kids flew by.  We were worried that we would spend the whole day missing them, but to be honest we just didn’t have the time.  Taking advantage of the fact that we were dropping them off at 0800 we headed to Kingston early (to avoid the lengthy queues to the car parks) in attempt to complete our Christmas shopping.  We may not have completed our Christmas shopping but we certainly put a big dent into it.  Going early meant that there was no queue for the car park and we were ahead of the game before the shops got too crowded.  Definitely the way to Christmas shop, second only to sitting at home surfing the on-line retailers and getting it all delivered to your door (or alternatively their door – even better if the on-line retailer offers a wrapping service!).

It seems that no matter how much you think you know you children they will always do something to surprise you.  Amélie has not slept through the night since she was born.  The latest she will wake up in 0530 and usually once or twice in the night.  This week she slept straight through for four nights in a row.  Yes, not one or two days but four!  Brilliant we thought, she is finally learning to appreciate the magnificence of a good night’s sleep.  Unfortunately we don’t know how long she may have slept on two of those days because we had to wake her up to take her to Jo’s (the childminder).  Nevertheless we were feeling a little pleased with ourselves as we headed to the end of the week.

A trip to West Bromwich to visit Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz was in order to complete the week, especially since we will not see them until after Christmas.  We arrived Friday lunchtime and did not stop.  We paid a visit to see Éowyn and Amélie’s Great-Grandma.  Then the school that Auntie Liz works at were having a Christmas fayre and so we paid Auntie Liz (who was busy face-painting) a visit and had a look around the fayre.  Very disappointing really, except for the roasted chesnuts.  They after putting the kids to bed myself and Lucinda headed to the local supermarket to stock up on supplies that we hadn’t brought up with us.

Sitting in the car on the way back to Nanny Fran’s, Lucinda realised that she hadn’t got her purse.  We headed straight back and retraced our steps from the till to the car.  No luck.  No one had handed the purse in and there was no sign of it either in the shop or in the car park.  We gave our details to security and headed back to Nanny Fran’s.  Obviously Lucinda was extremely upset but fearing the worse we left Nanny Fran’s and headed straight to the Police station to report the incident.  As soon as we had the crime number we began cancelling Credit cards.  It was part way through cancelling the second bank’s cards that we received a phonecall from security, someone had found the purse and handed it in.

All the cards and all the money was still in the purse and Lucinda was delighted to have it back (even with the now useless cards in there).  We had been fearing the worse but the spirit of Christmas still endures in the Black Country and we thank the kind soul for handing it in.  He left his name and number and so there is a thank you card and a little something for him to thank him for his goodwill.  We salute you, sir!

Amélie, however was no so generous.  After lulling us into a false sense of security with her four nights of sleep she brought us down to earth on Friday night.  She awoke just after 0100 and would not go back to sleep.  Nanny Fran popped up about 0500 (when Amélie is awake everyone without a blast zone of 20 blocks is awake – she has the most piercing scream when she wants to let loose!) and took her from us and finally got her to sleep leaving us to get a couple of hours.

On Saturday myself and Lucinda headed into Birmingham to visit the German market while Nanny Fran, Auntie Liz, Éowyn and Amélie went on an adventure of their own.  Again the few hours that we had to ourselves allowed us, not only to visit the Christmas market but to finish off our Christmas shopping without the kids.  Indeed I think we are both now completely ‘Christmas shopping’-ed out, we just have to wrap them now!

But where was the adventure that the other went on.  Well Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz took the girls to visit Father Christmas at Dudley Zoo and Castle.  It was Éowyn’s first visit to Santa this year and she was a little overwhelmed by the experience.  She was overcome by shyness and did not ask Santa for anything (does that mean that she doesn’t get anything? – I am a cruel father!), indeed did not speak to him at all.  Not sure what Amélie thought about it.  It was only afterwards that Éowyn got a little upset because she did not ask Santa for a cicciobello doll, which seems to be the one constant that she asks for.  We are not sure where she discovered the doll or why she particularly wants it but it is a parent’s duty to at least investigate.

After another disturbed night of sleep (it is payback time) and a Sunday lunch we headed back down the M40 and home.  When we finally arrived home Elf was on the telly and if there is one thing more magical than watching a Christmas related feel good film that must be watching a Christmas related feel good film with a three year old that believes every word of it.

For those of you that we won’t see between now and the big day we hope that you have a great time and trust that Santa (Father Christmas/ Saint Nicholas/ Kris Kringle/ Santa Claus/ Ded Moroz etc…) brings you all that you deserve and maybe a little of what you want.

Peace and Christmas Love


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