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




Amélie’s Fourth Birthday

I think it catches me by surprise every year how rapidly September comes around and thus how quickly the year turns and also how quickly my children are growing up.  As you can probably guess from the title of this update, my little girl Amélie turned 4 last Sunday.  Due to the fact that the start of the academic year, in the UK, is the 1st September this makes her one of the oldest still at nursery.  This is despite the fact that she, like Éowyn before her, is probably more than ready for reception and full time education.  Nevertheless another year at Mini Tots looms for her.

Amélie’s birthday sits in the middle of a busy birthday period.  Not only is it just under three weeks before Éowyn’s birthday and the day before Auntie Liz’s birthday it also sits in the middle of our N.C.T. group’s crop of birthdays.  As many people in the same situation do, when we were expecting our first child Éowyn we joined an N.C.T. group and although that was six years ago we are still in touch with 5 of the other couples.  We may not meet up as often as we used to as a group (individually we often see each other) but in an attempt to keep the group spirit alive we arrange a joint birthday party for the kids, somewhere in the middle of their birthdays.  As a coincidence this year’s N.C.T. birthday party fell on Amélie’s birthday.

A stroke of luck in part due to a busy European week for our Premier League big boys and in part due to the Ryder Cup (go Europe!), the bulk of the Premier League games were on the Saturday and the Super Sunday game was my beloved West Bromwich Albion v Burnley.  Not a game with a large interest from foreign broadcasters even I will admit, therefore I decided that my (work) team could safely handle this one by themselves and I could start to claw back the days work owes me, by being off with Amélie on her birthday and attending the N.C.T. birthday party for the first time in years!

Not only was I off work but Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz decided to come down for a few days.  Again, a little bit of a coincidence with Auntie Mary buying Auntie Liz tickets to see Kylie Minogue at the 02 for (and on) her birthday.  Therefore Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz had double the excuse (not that they need one) to come for a visit.

The venue for last year’s celebration was deemed a success and so Alice Holt was once again chosen as the venue for the party.  Alice Holt, a few miles outside of Farnham, is a woodland managed by the Forestry Commission.  In addition to the woodland, it has a Go-Ape adventure playground and this year has been home to the Gruffalo Trail.  Indeed, Lucinda took the kids on the Gruffalo trail during the summer holiday, so it is somewhere we know quite well.

We parked close to the wooden chalet that would be the venue for the party and were surprised that we were the second family to arrive, especially since we had to wait for Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz to drive down from West Bromwich (an early start for them).  Thankfully with the trusted S-Max we could squeeze Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz in the car save them driving any further.  We unloaded the car (kids and party food) and had a look around the chalet.  It appears that we had been upgraded from the chalet we had hired last year (not that I know!) and this one was much bigger, with its own toilet facility and resident fox and badger (stuffed you’ll be glad to know, taxidermied, if that is indeed, the proper term).  Not the best taxidermy for the fox looked like it was quite surprised when it died, or at least when it was stuffed!  The badger on the other hand seemed to be smiling, perhaps he saw what happened to the fox!

It seemed to be a shame not to take advantage of the Indian summer we were experiencing (indeed the temperature peaked at 25C, not bad for the end of September) so we decided to tackle the Gruffalo trail en masse. It was a good walk to build up an appetite for the party food.  The kids were all well behaved but perhaps a little bored with looking for the Gruffalo characters in such a large group.  The most fun they had was when they found a branch across a dried up creek.  They it was a bridge over boiling lava and they all took it in turns to walk across it.  Who says that kids today have no imagination.  It is amazing the fun you can have with a fallen tree branch.

So after party food, some party game and even a birthday cake (baked by Claire) we headed back home to celebrate Amelie’s birthday.  Regular readers may recall that at the beginning of September Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz flew to New York for a mid-week trip.  Éowyn and Amélie were so excited about Nanny going to America because there are some toys that are available in America that are not available in the UK (a demonstration of the power of the internet that they even know that) and Éowyn had handily written a list so that Nanny Fran wouldn’t forget.

As usual Amélie was truly spoiled with the presents that she received (including the ones from America!) and as usual Daddy spent more time extracting them from the packaging than Amélie did unwrapping them.  Thank you all for your presents.  I think that Éowyn was as excited as Amélie about the presents that she received and we had to stop her hogging them before Amélie had got a chance to play with them.  Amélie (and Éowyn when her birthday comes around) is going to have her first proper bike for her birthday from Mum and Dad.  We know it is the wrong time of year but there should be some fine days over the winter, and so hopefully by Spring they will both be confident on two wheels.  You will have to keep popping by to see how that goes.

I will leave you there, as if I manage to find the time there should be a veritable plethora of updates over the next month or so.  Again you will have to keep popping by to see how that goes!

But before I leave you there is one thing left to say: ‘Happy Birthday Amélie, love from Mum and Dad’

Peace and Love


PS West Bromwich Albion made it three wins in 8 days with a 4-0 defeat of Burnley.  Maybe it will be a good season after all.