The pox, the summer and a trip to Nanny Fran’s

Our trip to the Lake District may have heralded the start of the summer vacation for the Baguettes but August is a long month and all three were not due to return to school until September.  So, with Ezra peaking in terms of his chicken pox going to places with lots of other children would have just been bad manners therefore he was quarantined at Bagnall Manor.  Nevertheless, just because Ezra had the pox it shouldn’t mean that Éowyn and Amélie should miss out.  Lucinda saw that the local leisure centre had a week’s worth of trampolining lessons.  That would be ideal for the girls.  They both enjoy trampolining and Amélie used to attend trampolining lessons weekly before she started school, so to break the monotony for the girls they were signed up for the classes.

The trampolining lesson lasted an hour and Lucinda thought that would be good exercise for them and hopefully would wear them out as well as a way of breaking up the day.  An hour’s worth of trampoline with children taking turns would have certainly been good exercise however an hour’s trampolining lesson when the only children to turn up were Éowyn and Amélie was fantastic exercise.  It was the equivalent of a private lesson for a fraction of the price.  The girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves and thus were happy to go back every day that week.

Another week down and all of Ezra’s chicken pox spots had scabbed over and therefore was no longer infectious, that should have been a time for celebration that at long last the Baguettes can hit the town.  Unfortunately, despite having chicken pox previously, albeit an extremely mild case, Amélie succumbed to the disease, and arguably more seriously than Ezra.  Poor Amélie, she did look forlorn as she settled into the sofa, with a towel wrapped around her naked frame because her clothes were rubbing the spots.  Another week or so of quarantine for the Baguettes.  Poor Baguettes, but poor Lucinda too!  I could escape as work was extremely busy gearing up for the Olympics; the start of the Premier League season and the countless other things that are happening, Lucinda had to stay indoors, (or in the garden) on what was turning out to be an OK summer.  Where Lucinda was hoping to take the Baguettes on day trips it was replacing with refereeing arguments and telling Amélie not to scratch.

It was during this period that we decided (well Lucinda decided) that we would decorate the girls bedroom.  We invited the girls to tell us what they would like and they both decided on an underwater theme with mermaids.  Lucinda wanted to separate the girls clothes (they had been up to this point sharing a wardrobe) to prevent arguments over which dress belonged to whom and who was wearing which top.  An order was put in for wardrobes and chest of drawers from our favourite Swedish furniture store and Lucinda bought paint for the walls, ceiling and woodwork.

While Amélie was still infectious (and Ezra came down with slapped cheek – yes it is a disease) the girls’ room was emptied and they camped out with Ezra.  I was preparing for the impending season and Lucinda was refereeing, being nursemaid and painting their bedroom.

It was in this mælstrom of emotions and infections (and an absent father) that Éowyn became upset. Lucinda asked her what the problem was and she said that she was missing her friends and wanted to go back to school.  Six weeks of holiday is a long time when you are only 7 and especially when you can’t see your friends because your siblings are unclean!

Ezra, too, was no immune to this emotion and for a boy who is usually adverse to kisses and cuddles became, for a week or two at least, more affectionate.  He is usually very good at going to bed, indeed he often asks to go to bed, but during this period he would lie down and you would tuck him in as usual.  Then five minutes later he would creep out of his bed and ask for another goodnight kiss or simply say that he ‘needs more cuddles’.  How can you possibly refuse?

The second weekend of the season saw an opportunity for me to have a couple of days off work.  This coincided with Nanny Fran offering to look after the Baguettes in West Bromwich.  This gave us the perfect opportunity to finish the girl’s bedroom. So while the Baguettes were being spoilt (in a nice way) by Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz with trips to Funky Monkey’s, the cinema, Birmingham town centre and Sandwell Valley farm, Lucinda and I were putting up curtain rails and mirrors, building wardrobes and chest of drawers in addition to putting the finishing touches to the decoration including the mermaid stickers.  Have a look at the photos below to see the final masterpiece, before the toys moved back in and the girls had even stepped foot inside.

It was hard work and not exactly the relaxing weekend we were hoping for (I am working the next five!) but we could not have done it without Nanny Fran collecting the Baguettes and bringing them back allowing us to concentrate on the task in hand.  The hard work was worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears (I lied about the tears) when the girls came home.  We made them close their eyes before they entered the room but when they opened them (it was like a poor man’s episode of D.I.Y. S.O.S.) and their little eyes lit up and they gave us big cuddles I’m not sure who was happier, them or us.

Once the excitement of a newly decorated room had worn off the girls and Ezra were fit to busting to tell us all about the stories of their adventures with Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz.  Éowyn and Amélie thoroughly enjoyed the shopping trip to Birmingham (getting used to shopping trips a little too young!) while Ezra was most happy about the trip to Funky Monkey’s and meeting a Stormtrooper at the Disney store.  Unfortunately, Éowyn is now too big to go to Funky Monkey’s (too tall, even though she is still in the age bracket) so Auntie Liz took her to the cinema to watch Swallows and Amazons (set in the Lake District and we had seen some of the locations on our holiday, including the secret harbour on Coniston water).  It didn’t quite go to plan as Éowyn got freaked out by some of the trailers before the film had even begun and although Auntie Liz managed to persuade her to wait until the film began by five minutes in she was so freaked out they had to leave.  This is from someone who was happy to sit through Star Wars: The Force Awakens, surely far more scary than Swallows and Amazons.  My only thought is the fact that Star Wars is obviously fantasy while Swallows and Amazons is set in a familiar world and so she was unable to separate the fact from fiction.

A couple of days after her return from West Bromwich Éowyn was crying about something completely different.  As mentioned earlier at the beginning of the holiday she was upset because she was missing her school friends and wanted to go back to school.  This time she got herself upset because she didn’t want to go back to school because she was enjoying being off too much.  You can’t please some people!

Enjoy the photos and stand by for more updates in the next few days as I try to make amends for a dearth of updates over the last few months.

Peace and Love


When the Snowman brings the snow, well he might just like to know, he’s put a great big smile on somebody’s face

It has been a while hasn’t it? Apologies but I have always had the caveat that ‘sometimes life will get in the way’ and strangely although we have nothing much of note I haven’t found time to spend the couple of hours it takes me to complete one of these updates.

So what has been happening since the excitement of October and the start of November?  Winter has arrived, the wind has a decidedly Siberian feel to it, indeed the north of the country has had it first snowfall (although none around here) and Christmas is around the corner (as is the End of World).  I have been trying to use my remaining annual leave, even though I have still been in at weekends (and a mid-week meeting) in attempt to make sure the house is prepared for Christmas.  The annual Christmas card photo has been taken, the decorations have been retrieved from the loft and Christmas baubles have been decorated.

Since the birth of Éowyn we have unwittingly created two traditions (if five years of anything can be called a tradition), namely a Christmas card photo of Éowyn (and since 2010 Amélie) in suitable Christmassy attire and a self-decorated Christmas bauble.  Genevieve Gallery in Englefield Green allows you to paint your own pottery and at Christmas that includes baubles, angels and reindeer decorations in addition to the usual cups, plates, teapots etc.  When Éowyn was a baby we thought it would be nice to make a bauble with her handprint on, and so we have gone back each year since and thus have a record of her growing hands.  This year however Éowyn rebelled.  She did not want her hand painted and, in fairness to our eldest, her hands are now probably a little too large for even the largest sized bauble.  She did, however, want to paint one.  So a new tradition was born.  Amélie still created a handprint bauble while Éowyn let her creative juices flow and made her own design.  We will see how this new tradition develops.

The former Christmas tradition was altered by Amélie. Éowyn loves to dress up and so convincing her to put on a Mrs Santa Claus outfit was easy.  Amélie on the other hand seems to have an aversion to dressing up.  If you recall she refused to dress up for the Halloween party at the Manor House in Dorset and so it was for the Christmas photo.  We did however manage to get her to wear a red dress and a hairband with reindeer antlers.  You will have to pop back on the 24th December for the annual Bagnall Christmas message, to see the fruits of that labour.

The question that has been occupying our minds of late has been the crucial decision of which school to put down as our first choice for Éowyn.  We have visited each of the schools in the area, we have read the Ofsted reports and we have asked around people we know that have children in each of the schools.  The decision is still to be completely made although we think we are erring towards a decision and it is probably on the side of the school that was at the bottom of the list before we started that process.  Until we fill the form in and find out whether Éowyn has been accepted we will not mention any names but it has been interesting to see how reputations influence decision processes regardless of actualities and how it is actually hard to eliminate that reputation from the forefront of your mind.  I suppose because we realise the importance of education and because Éowyn is bright, we want the best for her.  A school that will push her and stretch her abilities and have the resources in order to be able to do that.  Obviously we will not know until she goes there and she settles in.  Time will tell and obviously you will read it here first.

Lucinda as you will recall suffered from appendicitis back in October and last week saw her six week follow up appointment.  The surgeon was very pleased with the way she was healing and has discharged her from his care.  However he did give her a little more information about her surgery and it was quite worrying.  Effectively the surgery could not have been any later for her appendix was not only at the point of rupture but had already begun to ooze its poison into her abdomen and consequently the surgeon had to ensure that she was thoroughly cleaned out before sewing her up.  It is frightening to think that any extra delay on that fateful day could have had a more serious outcome.

As you may recall that hasn’t been our only medical story of the last couple of weeks.  Amélie has suffered from probably the mildest case of Chicken Pox that our family has seen.  It started with a few spots on her abdomen.  The next day there were a few more so Lucinda took her to the walk-in clinic.  The nurse said that she was 99% convinced that Amélie had Chicken Pox and told Lucinda that it would probably get worse over the next few days but the spots would scab over and then she would no longer be contagious.  Sounds familiar to anyone that has had Chicken Pox or knows anyone that has had it.  Well, that is not how Amélie’s case developed.  The spots had peaked on that second day and then just disappeared over the next couple of days.  So we are unsure if she actually had Chicken pox or some similar disease or whether she just has a really powerful immune system and shook it off without breaking stride.

Amélie’s immune system maybe strong but she is not immune to the terrible twos.  Amélie has always been a cutey and relatively well behaved but lately she has been throwing a few strops and refusing to do things if she doesn’t want to do them.  She is more passive than aggressive preferring to sit down in the middle of supermarket aisle or pavement than throw a tantrum.  She will stand with her arms folded and her lower lip in a pout as a silent protest to whatever it is that you are asking her to do.  Although it is frustrating when you are in a rush but as the same time it is very amusing and I find it hard not to smile.  I can never let her see that obviously.  I will see if I can get a surreptitious photo and post it here for prosperity.

Éowyn on the other hand has been relatively well-behaved but when she falls off the behaviour wagon she really jumps off with both feet.  It is usually when she is tired and not getting her own way however one slight aberration to this wave of good behaviour happened a couple of weeks ago while she was upstairs and unusually being very quiet.  Lucinda crept upstairs to find out what she was up to and there she was quite happily drawing on the wall.  I am sure nearly every child does it at sometime in their formative years but it still not what you want to see.

It may come as no surprise that we are using the threat of that most benevolent of dictators Father Christmas to install a fear of misbehaviour into our oldest. I am not sure that it is working as well as it might but at least her behaviour hasn’t meant that I have to follow up with my threat that if she finds herself on the naughty list (and she likes the song Santa Claus is coming to town so she understands the theory) that Father Christmas will only bring her an orange, an apple and a lump of coal.  I mean where will I get a lump of coal in this day and age!

We have not yet managed to see Santa (although he did visit Éowyn’s school) this year.  Last year we saw him at Peppa Pig World, unfortunately there has only been one non-weekend day so far this year where he has been available (he is a busy man).  With the fact that I now work every weekend I have been unable to take her, however there are still a few days available so perhaps we will catch up with him elsewhere.  Nanny Fran has gone one better though and has gone to visit him in Lapland.  We would have gone too but felt that Amélie was a little too young and it would be unfair on our unborn son.  So we will probably wait a few years and take all three children, depending on the report back from Nanny Fran.

There may not be another update before Christmas but as mentioned there will be the traditional Bagnall Christmas message on Christmas eve so please feel free to pop by to see the girls in their Christmas attire.  Also, give yourself a festive ten points if you can name the Christmas song from which the title of this update has been taken.

Peace and Love



November’s sky is chill and drear, November’s leaf is red and sear

As Autumn strengthens its grip on the land the leaves are changing colour contrasting against the uninspiring greyness that has been the colour of the sky for the last couple of weeks allow the Bagnalls to bring a little colour into your life.  We find ourselves sitting pretty between the girls’ birthdays and Christmas and for such a dull and usually monotonous period of the year it has been far from humdrum in the Bagnall household.

In the British calendar Halloween is closely following by Guy Fawkes night (or Bonfire night) on the 5th November. A date which commemorates an unsuccesful attempt at regicide and mass terrorism by Robert Gatesby and his fellow plotters, including the eponymous Guy Fawkes who was caught readying himself to light 36 barrels of gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament by a team lead by Lord Thomas Knyvet. (As an aside Lord Knyvet is quite reknown around our corner of the world, as he was granted the Manors of Stanwell and Staines and his effigy is in the chancel of Stanwell Parish church).   Bonfire and firework displays are put on throughout the country and we decided that we would try and see one this year.  Unfortunately as I was working at the weekend we had to find one that was planned for the actual date which fell on a Monday this year.

Cleves School in Weybridge appeared to be the closest display and so my friends Andy and Al joined us on a trip to Weybridge.  Hats and scarves were the order of the day as the November chill had begun and positioned ourselves at the edge of the school playing field to watch the display.  There was entertainment beforehand with halloween themed stilt-walkers and band knocking out covers of 80’s and 90’s rock favourites.  The display was not disappointing either and lasted at least half an hour.  We were very impressed, although Amélie was a little scared by the loud bangs.  There are quite a lot of firework related photos here.  I would definitely recommend Cleves School display if you are looking for a firework display next year.

It appears that holiday to Puncknowle has had two positive effects on Amélie.  The first, which in fairness was already well on its way, is the fact that she is now sleeping through the night.  This means that Lucinda and I will have 6 months of uninterrupted sleep before baguette number three makes an appearance.  It is amazing how much better you feel one you can get a good night’s sleep.  The second is a big step forward and all off her own back.

On our return from Puncknowle we decided to buy Amélie a potty and to make her involved in the decision we encouraged her to pick one, a dinosaur potty was her choice.  We put it in the lounge and thought no more.  Then Monday morning she came downstairs and refused to have a nappy on.  That was it.  No more.  Nappies in the day time are a memory.  Yes, there have been a couple of accidents but to be honest the transition to nappy-free days has been rather painless.  Yes, we do have to clap her everytime she goes for a wee, and she has even begun to take a bow when she receives the applause.

Lucinda is now back at work returning from her appendectomy and holiday.  She had to see the company doctor and has been given a gradual restart with reduced hours.  These return days have co-incided with my days off.  So with our days out of sync it means no requirements for childcare, which has been doubly useful with Amélie potty training and the fact that she has come out in spots.  Lucinda took her to the walk-in clinic (no appointments at the doctors) and the diagnosis came back as chicken pox.  Fortunately both Lucinda (and it is not good if a pregnant woman gets chicken pox) and I have both had it as children.  Éowyn has not had it so we feared the worse with both children going through it at the same time.  However, Amélie’s case has been extremely mild (thankfully) and Éowyn has not succumbed to the pox.  We have got away lightly.  This unsynchronised days off occurs in six week patterns so the next time it will happen will be Christmas week.  We both have jobs where public holidays mean nothing to whether we are at work and so it is with Christmas.  Lucinda will be working on Christmas day itself and I will be working throughout the yuletide with the exception of Christmas day.  The glamour of television.

Not that this will worry the girls too much.  Amélie is too young to understand and Éowyn will have her imaginary parents and imaginary brother to look after her on Christmas day.  Yes, Éowyn’s entourage of quasi-corporeal companions is still growing.  As mentioned above she now has imaginary parents and when they are in the room Lucinda and I become Auntie and Uncle.  As you can probably guess her imagination is well developed and her play is quite imaginative and quite regularly makes games up and even songs.  She loves to hear stories and will ask you to tell her stories about when you were a child in addition to stories from books.  Obviously she is a child of the 2010’s (whatever you call this decade) and so enjoys DVD’s and television programmes too and they all help to fire her imagination.

You may recall that in February I took Éowyn to the cinema for the first time to see the Muppets.  Like her father before her she instantly became a fan.  So not only do we own the film on DVD but also have the soundtrack on CD.  This CD is permanently in the CD player in the car and whenever Éowyn is in the car she requests the Muppets.  Not only does Éowyn now know all the words to all the songs, so does Lucinda, and I quite often find myself whistling ‘Life’s a Happy Song’ or bursting into ‘Me Party’ at inopportune moments.  Now the fourth member of the family is hooked.  ‘Daddy, Muppets please,‘ is the first thing that Amélie will say as you put her into the car.  Although I love the Muppets and think that the soundtrack is excellent I think I have to try and find another soundtrack or album that they enjoy as much so that I can have some variety on my CD player in my car!

Julia Donaldson is rightly the Children’s Laureate and the girls enjoy many of her books, indeed Lucinda and I enjoy reading her books too. For those non-parents (and especially non-UK non-parents) her most famous book is probably The Gruffalo (a book I could probably recite by heart) which has made a successful leap to video with a 30 minute animated film.  Another of her books has taken a leap into another medium: Room on the Broom , another of our favourites had been turned into a stage show.  It is the story of a witch that allows a dog, a frog and a parrot join her and her cat on her broom.  Doesn’t sound too interesting?  Well there is a twist in the tale and you will have to buy the book to find out what happens.

We thought that Amélie was probably a little too young so we just bought tickets for Lucinda, me and Éowyn for the Sunday show at the Rose Theatre in Kingston-Upon-Thames with the other families of our NCT group.  Unfortunately work is extremely busy for me at the moment and it is difficult for me to take weekends off so disappointingly I was unable to go.  Rather than see the ticket go to waste we asked Éowyn who she would like to accompany her and mommy to the theatre.  Her cousin Megan was the lucky recipient of the spare ticket.  Éowyn was extremely excited to be going to the theatre (although I think she thought it was going to be the cinema).  The show was excellent and Lucinda, Éowyn and even Megan thoroughly enjoyed it which made me even more disappointed to have missed it.  The other members of our NCT group also enjoyed it and all of the children were well behaved throughout the show, which is nice to think that there are alternative ways to entertain our youngsters that does not rely on 21st century technology.

So since Lucinda is at work and it is time for some Daddy time I will leave you with a small selection of photos while I pretend to be a monster.

Peace and Love