Badger Moot 2016 – Part One

With a somewhat predictable opening, I apologise for the late delivery of the write up of the 2016 Badger Moot.  For those of you that are new to the concept of the Badger Moot, each October half-term the greater Badger Clan (descendants of Grandpa Badger – Lucinda’s Granddad) gather in Dorset for a week’s holiday.  This has been an annual event since 2004, with the exception of last year due to obvious reasons, making this the 12th moot (13th if you include Uncle Bill’s 70th birthday celebrations) and the 11th (12th) at Berwick Manor.  Berwick Manor is a large house set on the Puncknowle Manor estate in the Bride Valley, West Dorset just north of Burton Bradstock.  As this is the twelfth time we have stayed here we know it very well, it feels like a home from home and it is large enough to accommodate the ever-growing clan of Badgers (and indeed there were Badgers this year in the shape of Uncle John and Auntie Margaret who had flown over from Sydney to take part in this year’s Badger Moot).

As usual we can pick the keys up for the manor on the Friday afternoon, however it was not only the last day of term for Éowyn and Amélie, they both had after school clubs that they wanted to attend and Friday evening was Amélie’s weekly Rainbow meeting and their Halloween party (a week early for there would be no meeting during half-term), so we made the decision not to leave for Puncknowle until the evening.  I still thought it prudent to take the day off work, to pack and get the car packed and sorted, so with the knowledge that we were going to miss Uncle Bill and Auntie Sally’s traditional Friday night curry we took to the roads a little after 7pm.

The post rush hour roads were relatively clear and we had a good run down to the Bride Valley arriving around 10pm.  This gave us enough time to say hello, unpack and have a quick drink before turning in for the night.

Saturday morning in Bridport is market day.  It has become a tradition to spend the first morning of our holiday wandering aimlessly around the market looking for bargains.  It has also become a tradition that I give the children £10 to spend on whatever they want while they are on holiday, in the knowledge that when it is gone, it is gone and they can ask for nothing else.  Bridport has probably one of the best toy shops in the area, in the form of Toymaster.  Toymaster shops are a group of over 250 independently owned shops that collectively purchase under the Toymaster buying group and although independent can use the Toymaster brand to promote their business.  The Bridport Toymaster is fantastic and the Baguettes excitedly run from one aisle to another working out the best way to spend their tenners.

They spent probably the best part of an hour trying to get as many toys, or as big a toy, as they possibly could with Ezra probably doing the best coming away with Ramsey (one of the T. Rex’s from Disney’s A Good Dinosaur) to go with his favourite toy of 2016: Butch (the leader of the T. Rex’s from the film).  Ramsey was on special offer – half price – and so he had enough to purchase a light sword (not a sabre – although it was somewhat reminiscent of Kylo Ren’s lightsabre from The Force Awakens – complete with cross-bar).  His only disappointment was the fact that the light sword (or light saver as he calls it) was green and not red.  As I have explained my son has a penchant for the dark side – he wants to see those crystals bleed!

We left Bridport with the Baguettes’ booty, some trainers for Éowyn (her feet have grown one and a half sizes since August, and now all her shoes are hurting her!) and a nugget of information.  One of the stalls at the market was selling fossils (this is the Jurassic coast after all) and the Baguettes showed a real interest in the Ammonites.  So as we were browsing I started a conversation with the owner who asked if we were going to go fossil hunting.  I replied that since they were showing an interest we would when we visited Lyme Regis later on in the week.  He then pointed us in the direction of Charmouth explaining that the visitor centre has lots for the kids to do and will happily give you information on the best place to look for fossils along that stretch of coast.  We thanked him and made a note that we would indeed visit Charmouth later on in the week.

After lunch we headed to another traditional haunt: Hive Beach.  Framed by the dramatic limestone cliffs Hive Beach has a real majesty from where you can appreciate the power of the sea.  Indeed, we donned wellies to head across the pebbles to the sea to play chicken with the waves.  The first few minutes are always very tentative as the kids run as soon as they see a wave breaking but then they get bolder and bolder and that is when you know that someone is going to get wet.  This year it was Éowyn and she just say alone on the pebble sulking and muttering that she wanted to go home while the others continues to play.  Eventually we ceded and headed back to warmth to prepare ourselves for the evening meal and the week’s fancy dress night.

It is also traditional that one of the evenings we would all realise that we are still kids at heart and dress up and everyone from Uncle John (at 80) to Ezra (at 3) put on costumes for the evening.  This year’s theme was ‘Stereotype’s from around the world’ and there was plenty of opportunity to be a little bit racist!  So there were lederhosen (Germany), stripy t-shirts and baguettes (France), prison outfits (Australia) and kilts (Scotland) to name but four.  The Bagnalls decided to use costumes we already owned and go as Hawaiians replete with Leis, Hawaiian shirts, Coconut boobie-shades (bikini top for those of you that don’t know) and grass skirts.  Ezra didn’t want to join in the family theme, however and decided that he wanted to be a dragon.  Could he get away with being Welsh?  He is only 3 we let him off!

Sunday, we had nothing planned so we decided to take the man from the market’s suggestion and head to Charmouth.  Despite visiting Dorset over a dozen times neither Lucinda or I believe that we had ever visited Charmouth, therefore it was an adventure for us all.  Lauren and Maddie, the Baguettes cousins, asked if they could come too so the S-Max was turned into seven seat mode and off we set.  Charmouth, as its name suggests, is a village in West Dorset at the mouth of the river Char.  Overlooking Lyme bay and framed by steep hills and cliffs it lies about a mile to the East of its bigger and better known neighbour: Lyme Regis.  Like Lyme Regis it is sited on the Jurassic coast and again like its neighbour its cliffs are a constant source of fossils as the sea erodes them revealing new fins almost daily.  Charmouth is famous for the quality of the marine creatures fossilised in its vicinity, it is also the only place in the world where remains of the terrestrial herbivorous armoured ornithischian dinosaur Scelidosaurus have been discovered.

We parked up and walked down to the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre.  Situated up a wooden staircase with a view of Golden Cap (the highest cliff on the south coast of England) the Heritage Coast Centre is replete with Jurassic related activities and books, souvenirs and toys to buy.  It also has a wealth of information about the area, help on how to look for your own fossils and an impressive display of local fossils found by professionals and amateurs alike.  We entered the Centre and it was relatively full, this, we found out later, was because the tide was high and so there was little of the beach on which to go fossil hunting.  Nevertheless one of the activities was to polish your own fossil.  The local volunteers had procured a box of ammonites from a local quarry, not great quality but good for the exercise that they  had in mind.

For £1.50 you could choose your own fossil to polish and keep.  All the Baguettes (and Lauren and Maddie) wanted a go so we got in line and paid our money.  After choosing your fossil the work started.  It need to be sanded flat ready for waxing.  Starting with a course block of sandpaper and graduating to a finer sandpaper roughly 10 minutes of elbow grease was enough to smooth the fossil ready for the volunteers to wax.  The Baguettes were very pleased with their efforts (and indeed Éowyn has since taken it to school for show and tell).  This spurred them to want to find their own fossils.  So after lunch we hired a (rusty) rock hammer and goggles from the local fossil shop and headed to the beach.  Despite our best efforts we did not find much.  Maddie found a good Ammonite fossil; Éowyn, one that wasn’t and Daddy potentially some sea vegetation imprint (or just a case of pareidolia), nothing that was going to set the world of palaeontology alight.

Charmouth was a good opportunity for Éowyn to practise using the camera that Nanny Fran bought her for her birthday. You can see some of her efforts below and many more on the Flickr page, indeed she has her own page, here.  She definitely has an eye for it and it is interesting to see the world from her angle, it is just a shame that it imprinted the time and date on the photos she took (why do you even need that on a digital camera?).  That has now been removed for future snaps.

As it was Sunday we, as a family, had decided that it would be nice to have a Sunday lunch and all chip in to help cook it.  Now, Berwick Manor is equipped with an Aga and more modern electric oven but to feed 25 both would need to be called into action.  It was thus decided that the two chickens, parsnips and Yorkshire puddings would be cooked in the electric oven with the legs of lamb and roast potatoes in the Aga.  All good, until we realised that the electric oven wasn’t getting up to temperature and after 20 mins in the oven the chickens we still tepid.  What to do?  We needed a method of cooking them so we decided to employ the barbecue.  Where there is a will (or a hungry Bagnall) there is a way.  The barbecue was lit and the chickens (then parsnips, and then the Yorkshire puddings) were all duly cooked and we all sat down to Sunday lunch, albeit a little later than planned.

Monday was the only really inclement day; it was warm but it was raining.  Nevertheless it did not stop the Bagnalls from leaving the house any going on an adventure.  We decided that we would head into the county town of Dorset: Dorchester.  With the interest in all things prehistoric growing in the bosoms of our children we headed to the ultimate (in the area) destination:  The Dinosaur Museum.  The museum is the only museum in the country that is solely devoted to all things dinosaur.  It has a combination of fossils, life-size reconstructions and lots of hands-on attractions for kids of all ages to enjoy.  It was probably a little smaller than I expected and this coupled with the fact that the weather was inclement and it was half-term combined for quite a cramped feel.  However, the kids loved it (so did the grown-ups) and Lucinda realised that she has a lot to learn about pre-historic life in order to help answer the myriad of questions coming from the Baguettes.

Along with all the models, fossils and hand-on experiences during half-term the museum was running the great dinosaur hunt.  Dotted around the museum were eight different clues each with a letter.  Collect the clues and the letters, and they will spell a word.  Find the letters, fill out your form and hand it to the staff for a prize.  The Baguettes duly did (with a little help from Mommy and Daddy) and they were awarded with a special Dinosaur hunter’s medal.  Something they all show proud in wearing.

We left the museum and headed into the shopping area while it was only drizzling.  While wandering around we had one of those moments that demonstrate how small the world really is as we bumped into Amélie’s best friend (and her family).  Living only a few streets away in Staines upon Thames they, too, had decided to go to Dorset for the half-term.  Even stranger they were staying in Charmouth where we had been the day before.  Our little gathering had to split up as the rain increased in intensity and we headed back to the car and Berwick Manor.

Another annual tradition that we initiated in 2013 was a visit to my Auntie Margaret (actually my first cousin once removed) and Uncle Ray’s.  They moved to the isle of Portland from West Bromwich to retire near to the sea and as we are only down the road it seems rude not to visit.  The girls enjoy visiting their honorary Grandparents and Auntie Margaret always has something for them to enjoy.

The journey to Portland takes us along one of my favourite roads in England (the B3157 – the Jurassic Coast Road) and it doesn’t take too long to get there from Puncknowle.  With the knowledge that Tuesday was our turn to cook for the family we decided to head to Portland early as we would have to leave early to prepare the meal.  This was probably good for Auntie Margaret as she is still recovering from open heart surgery that she had over the Summer.

Auntie Margaret had bought them some activity books to do to keep them entertained.  That was until Auntie Pauline, Auntie Margaret’s younger sister turned up, then she became the entertainment.  Auntie Margaret had also been kind enough to buy the girls fans to replace the ones that they had stolen when they were on holiday in Italy.  The Baguettes keep Aunties Margaret and Pauline and Uncle Ray entertained (teaching them how to Pop See Koo! – don’t click on the link otherwise you will be singing it for days.  You have been warned!) and I think Auntie Margaret, especially, was completely worn out by the time we left.

This is a becoming an epic and as you can guess from the title I have decided to split this up into two write-up for it has only covered half of the holiday thus far.  You will have to wait until my fingers can type the second part to discover what else we did down in Dorset.

Peace and Love

Baggie

Amélie’s first visit from the Tooth Fairy

With a recent general write up; a write up for Éowyn’s birthday and one due for the return of the Badger Moot you may not be expecting me to spoil you with another at this time and you would be right.  However, as I am sure you can tell from the title, Amélie has recently had one of those special moments that deserves to be relayed without delay to you and it doesn’t seem right and fitting to squeeze it on the end of the Badger Moot – it is much more important than that.

So as the title suggests, (well, more tell you outright rather than suggests) Amélie has lost the first of her deciduous teeth.  If you recall, Éowyn lost her first tooth at the beginning of June 2014, 5 months younger than Amélie was on the 28th October 2016 when she lost hers, under more dramatic circumstances (this is Éowyn we are talking about).  Éowyn wasn’t mentally prepared for the loss of her tooth that came out while she was eating a corn on the cob for she had not noticed it was loose and so when it came out it freaked her out completely.  It took a phone call from Daddy (who was still at work) to calm her down.

Amélie, on the other hand was more than prepared for the loss of her tooth.  She had noticed it was wobbly on the last day at school a week before it actually came out.  However, this caused Amélie some major concerns mainly because her tooth had become wobbly the day we were due to go to the Badger Moot in deepest darkest Dorset, so if it came out while we were in Puncknowle how would the Tooth Fairy know where she was? (Indeed, who else would know where Puncknowle was?)  I am sure, therefore, it was sheer willpower that meant that we had to wait an entire week and our return to Bagnall Manor before her tooth came out. We didn’t have to wait long, it was less than hour after we returned that the tooth fell out. She had obviously dropped the effort of keeping the tooth in and although she had eaten 23 meals since she had noticed it was wobbly the first meal back home finally caused it to fall out. The offending article was a piece of chicken in yellow bean sauce from the local Chinese takeaway that was our welcome home meal.

I was half expecting the spare ribs to be the culprit but as she bit into the chicken it must have loosened because she suddenly spat it out complaining that there was something hard in her chicken and there in the half-chewed meat was her tooth.  There was then a moment of panic where she thought that she was going to bleed to death (Amélie can be a little dramatic – but not as dramatic as Éowyn!) but when she realised that she wasn’t bleeding and that it didn’t hurt, she became excited that she was going to receive a visit from the Tooth Fairy.

During the week leading up to the loss of the tooth, Amélie had asked me why do Tooth Fairies collect teeth.  This caught me on the hop and I wasn’t quite prepared for the question, so I turned it back round and asked the girls what they thought they did with the teeth.  Now I was probably expecting answers such as:

  • They turn them into money
  • They turn them into stars
  • They build their houses out of them
  • They make them into jewelry
  • They plant them and grow fairy flowers
  • They grind them into fairy dust, which they use to fly
  • They give them to new babies who don’t have any
  • Or they just collect them

I wasn’t expecting the answer that Éowyn gave: ‘They grind them into powder which they give to the Sleep Fairies who sprinkle it in your eyes to make you sleep at night.‘  I quite like that answer and is far better, or at least more kid-friendly, than some of the ideas that were going through my mind.  I have encouraged Éowyn to turn that idea into a story.

So, with her tooth wrapped in a square of toilet paper Amélie was quite happy to take herself off to bed in anticipation of the booty that the Tooth Fairy would bring.  She was not disappointed for this was her first tooth so the reward was greater than it will be for subsequent teeth (as it was for Éowyn – you’ll be glad to know that Brexit has yet to affect the tooth exchange rate).  Indeed, the next morning Amélie awoke to two shiny pound coins (so shiny they looked like they had been dipped in Cillit Bang) that lay under her pillow in place of her tooth (the Tooth Fairy must have run out of two pound coins). She was delighted with the cash and squirrelled it away.

Amélie’s permanent tooth has already erupted from her gum so it won’t be long until her gap is no more and indeed as it grows out it might push some of the neighbouring teeth out. Will she catch up with Éowyn, who has only lost 4 teeth to date? You will have to keep popping by to find out, for if that happens you can rest assured that I will let you know.

Peace and Love

Baggie

A cheeky gappy grin
A cheeky gappy grin

 

Uncle Bill’s birthday

I was hoping to have posted this at least a week ago but with a busy period at work and an intermittent internet connectivity at home (it has been reported to my ISP – don’t you worry) somehow the time has eluded me.

January saw Daddy enjoying weekends at home, and with weekends off it meant that I was able to do the kind of things that daddies should be doing with their kids.  One of these important events was to take Éowyn to the park and teach her to ride her bike.  Éowyn has had her bike for a while but has refused to learn and with the fact that I have been working at weekends Lucinda and I have not had the opportunity to force her hand.  So when the school arranged a road safety awareness week and the children could take either a bike or a scooter in, it seemed like the ideal time to address this skill gap.

The first hurdle was to attempt to stop her giving up before she even got on the bike.  With that stage passed it was the back-breaking role of holding onto the back of the seat while she peddled and I ran alongside her.  It didn’t take long for her to gain the confidence albeit with stabilisers.  After a few trips around the park she was riding barely using the stabilisers.  Therefore the next stage will be taking the stabilisers off and getting her to ride on two wheels!

That hasn’t been the only big step forward for our first-born.  After a hiatus of over a year she has lost her third tooth.  As you may recall she lost two in relatively quick succession and we thought that was going to be the start of the avalanche.  However, there was no further exfoliation, edentulism if you prefer, until this week.

The tooth was wobbly for nearly a week before it fell out and we got regular updates from Éowyn.  We tried to encourage her to eat food that would encourage it to exfoliate but it did not happen until she was at school and out it came.  Obviously, the school is prepared for such occurrences and she was given a small paper envelope in which to place the tooth to keep it safe for home time.  This was then placed under her pillow for the tooth fairy.  As per tradition, the tooth was replaced by a shiny pound coin (so shiny it looked like it had been cleaned with Cillit Bang).

This loss of a milk tooth occurred at an appropriate time, the bi-yearly dental check-up.  This was Ezra’s first trip to the dentist and Lucinda had spent the previous week pretending to be the dentist and asking him to open his mouth so that she could look in his mouth.  The training paid off, for at the dentist Ezra was the most comfortable and most compliant with the dentist.  Éowyn, on the other hand, freaked out when the dentist looked in her mouth.  He did manage to confirm that although she may have only lost 3 of her milk teeth, that her adult molars had come through at the back of her jaw.  It was these teeth that he was trying to paint with a protective coating but had to leave because she was so distressed.  I think it is time for Daddy to be the bad guy and take her next time.

The majority of the photos below though come from a weekend away in Dorset.  Lucinda’s Uncle Bill decided to celebrate his 70th birthday at Berwick Manor in Puncknowle, the scene of the majority of the Badger Moots.  Uncle Bill had hired it for the week, but being term time we joined him for the celebrations just for the weekend.

We always enjoy the Badger Moots (we are usually held in the October half-term) and this was no exception.  It was a long way to go for a weekend but definitely worth it.  Berwick Manor feels like a home from home as we have been there so many times before, so it feels very familiar as soon as you drive through the gate.

We left home late on Friday night (after I had returned home from work) and so didn’t arrive until long after the Baguettes’ bedtimes, however the sight of their cousins gave them all a second wind and so didn’t get to bed until late.

Since we were planning on leaving after lunch on Sunday this meat that Saturday was our only full day in Dorset. We know the west of Dorset extremely well due to the annual Badger Moot and one of our favourite places is Lyme Regis.  Therefore we were looking forward to a trip to the edge of Dorset.  However, when we looked at the weather report we decided that Lyme Regis was perhaps a little too far to shelter from driving rain and a howling gale.

Nevertheless we did not want to come all that distance and just sit in the house, regardless of how homely it is.  So we decided to head just down the road to Bridport to check out the Saturday market.  However, the market stall holders must have heard the weather report too and there were only a handful of market stalls brave enough to open in the rain.  Therefore after running from shop to shop to avoid the rain we decided that enough was enough and after picking up supplies from the local supermarket headed back to the manor house.

The girls did not mind going back to the house.  One of the shops that we had stopped in was Toymaster, a large toy emporium in Bridport where they had spent the shiny Christmas money that Santa had left them, plus the shiny pound coin that the tooth fairy had left.  Thus, going back to house gave them the opportunity not only to play with their cousins but to play with their new toys, while Daddy could watch the start of the six nations rugby.

Saturday evening was Uncle Bill’s birthday buffet and it was family time.  The large kitchen table seated us all comfortably and it was a good night spent eating, drinking, catching up on family news and putting the World to rights.

Sunday morning started bright although still extremely windy and with Sunday lunch booked for 14:30 we had some free time in the morning so we decided to pop out and visit the nearby town of West Bay.  West Bay beach was used in the introduction to the television series ‘The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin‘ and more recently the series ‘Broadchurch‘.  Although it wasn’t the weather for filming when we were there.  Nevertheless, despite the weather when the girls asked if they could have an ice cream, we decide we would let them, they were by the seaside after all.

So after a Sunday lunch we bid farewell to the birthday boy, Nanny, the rest of the family and Dorset and headed back home ready for school (and work) on Monday morning.  It was a long way to go but a thoroughly enjoyable weekend spent with the family in what could be described as a Badger Moot-ette!  Roll on October and the next.

Peace and Love

Baggie