Badger Moot 2013 – The Tenth Anniversary

A trilogy of November updates end with today’s update: the 10th Annual Badger Moot.  In 2004 Nick and Bonita Badger (Lucinda’s cousins from Australia) were preparing to leave the UK to return to their homeland and decided that it would be nice for the entire UK family to spend a long weekend together in deepest darkest Dorset.  Nestled in the Bride valley village of Puncknowle, Berwick Manor fitted the bill as a reasonably priced house that could accommodate the family.  The Badger clan enjoyed it so much that it has since become an annual event (changing from a long weekend to the full week) and Berwick Manor has served the family well over that last decade.

Unfortunately this year Berwick Manor had already been booked (which was slightly disappointing it has to be said) and so an alternative was needed to keep the tradition alive.  The Old Rectory at Symondsbury ably filled the bill.  Eight miles further down the A35, Symondsbury at the foot of Colmer’s Hill lies a mile or so to the west of Bridport.  This eleven bedroom home is reputed to be one of the largest rectories in England and to be honest I could quite believe it for the three floors, eleven bedrooms and nine bathrooms that we hired is not the entire house for the owner lives in a separate wing.

Initially built in 1730 (although expanded in 1814) the Old Rectory is a grade II* country house and as such retains much of its original décor, with a large dining room, a library that contains a 6 foot pool table and upright piano, a breakfast room, fully equipped kitchen and a drawing room replete with a grand piano.  It many ways it was far grander than Berwick Manor and the extra bedrooms and en-suites certainly helped make everyone feel more comfortable.  However it lacked some of the charm or perhaps more accurately the familial atmosphere of Berwick Manor.  Now whether this is due to familiarity, we know Berwick Manor inside out, or the lack of focal point.  In Berwick Manor this is most definitely the kitchen and there is always someone in the kitchen whether preparing food, reading the paper or having a cup of tea, at the Old Rectory one could be completely unaware that there was anyone else in the house.

It is difficult to say which one was it better, they are different, however the Old Rectory feels more part of a community with a pub a thirty second walk away and Bridport a 30 minute stroll away.  Those points coupled with the extra bedroom tips the balance, in my opinion, to the Old Rectory but not in any detrimental way to Berwick Manor and have no strong opinion as to whether it should become the new venue for the Badger Moot.  We will have to see what the majority decision is.

As usual the Badger Moot began Friday afternoon, with a number clan members arriving for the official handover time of 1600.  This would usually include the Bagnall sub-clan; however that was before half-term and a child of school-attending age.  Although we could have written Éowyn a sick note and taken her out of school for the day, it seemed a shame to ruin her perfect attendance for the want of a couple of hours.  In addition, the school was marked down in its Ofsted report on attendance and somehow it didn’t feel right to take her out for such a trivial reason.  Indeed our decision bore fruit with Éowyn receiving a certificate for perfect attendance.

So with the car loaded we picked Éowyn up from school and drove the 130 or so miles to Symondsbury.  We arrived in unfamiliar territory in the dark, the landmark of Colmer’s Hill hidden in the Cimmerian blanket of night and drove right past the entrance to the Old Rectory.  In fairness, even in the day it is quite easy to drive past.  Fortunately there was enough of a mobile phone signal for the family to guide us in and so the moot began.

The first evening meal of the week was prepared by Uncle Bill and Auntie Sally, a variety of curries and Indian side dishes and they delayed dishing up until our arrival.  We had just enough time to unpack the car before tucking in.

The bedroom that we had been allocated was impressive.  It was at least 7 metres by 6 metres with an en-suite shower room.  It contained a four-poster bed and two single beds for the girls.  Ezra’s travel cot easily fitted at the foot of our bed and there was still room for 5 tables, a large wardrobe and two settees.  To say it was adequate would be a gross understatement.

I think most of the family were happy with their rooms too, and the elder cousins were happy because they got to share an attic room and a bathroom which was seconded as the obligatory Spa for the week.

A disturbed night (a template for the week) followed so the Bagnalls were the first awake on Saturday morning.  We were therefore washed, dressed and breakfasted bright and early ready for the traditional visit to Bridport’s Saturday market.  Very few bargains were to be had, although Éowyn and Amélie treated themselves to a small toy each and Lucinda bought herself a hat.

Saturday afternoon we decided to visit another of our traditional haunts, Hive Beach just east of Burton Bradstock.  Sea spray hit you as you stepped out of the car in the car park and as you headed to the shore you couldn’t fail to be impressed by the power of nature.  The sea was incredibly dramatic with waves heralding the advent of what was to become known as St Jude’s storm (a weather event that some countries would consider a squall which hit Sunday into Monday).  Wrapped up with coats and wellies the girls headed to the edge of the sea, playing chicken with the waves.  Confidence was high as they turned and fled each incoming breaker, but the sea is a cruel mistress and before you knew it we had three (Éowyn, Amélie and their cousin Lauren) wet children!  Time to go home.  Saturday night was hearty casseroles courtesy of the Swindell arm of the clan and the first fancy dress night of the holiday:  Wigs and Hats.

The highlight of the evening though was to be found in the garden.  Uncle John and Auntie Margaret (over from Australia) were the only named Badgers at the moot this year (although there were three ex-Badgers) but (potentially fleeing the badger cull in nearby Somerset) we were graced by the visit of a real badger in the grounds of the Old Rectory.  It is quite rare to see them for us townies and so we all took delight in gazing through the window at our nocturnal visitor.

The Ilchester Arms, the only pub in the village, has a reputation for a mean Sunday lunch.  At only a 30 second walk away it seemed rude not to head there for a family meal.  Since there was 27 of us we had pre-booked months in advance and took over the majority of the restaurant area of the pub.  Nevertheless the meals came out relatively together and it was without doubt the finest Sunday lunch I have had in many a month.  (This is nothing to do with the fact that I am usually at work and Sunday lunch is usually a packed lunch or a takeaway, rapidly eaten between phonecalls and problems).

After lunch was the traditional post-lunch slump so we were glad that before we had headed down the road to the pub we had actually ventured out of the village.  The weather was still in its threatening phase but dry nevertheless.  We therefore decided to take the girls down to West Bay.  Primarily for them to play in West Bay Play Area and for us to have a mooch around the West Bay car boot sale.  The car boot sale was very disappointing, just a handful of stores but the girls thoroughly enjoyed the play area.  Éowyn made a little friend named Tia and played nicely with her until we dragged her away to have a look at the sea.  Like Hive Beach the day before the low pressure heading our way was travelling across the Atlantic churning up the sea culminating in dramatic waves crashing against the shore.  This time there were no heroics and no damp children to take home.

Sunday night was the second of three fancy dress nights planned for the week, ‘A onesie/ pyjama party’.  As I don’t own either I decided to go for a onesie, quite a nice one, from Next.  I didn’t realise how popular onesies are.  There are a plethora of designs (most bought for the party were amusing) and indeed Lucinda had difficulty buying one for her as most were sold out in her size!  After wearing one for the evening I can see the attraction, especially if you live in a cold house, they are extremely warm.  A little too warm for me!

With the media hype surrounding St Jude’s storm we were half expecting total destruction when we woke on Monday morning.  Yes, there were individual tragedies around the country but the effects in Dorset consisting mainly of a lot of leaves and small branches in the road.  Therefore we decided that we would take advantage of a bonus day and again head for another of our usual haunts:  Lyme Regis.

Lucinda and I are big fans of Lyme Regis and with its sandy beach it is an excellent place for the girls to play and make sandcastles.  So after a tour of the town and a quick toasted teacake we headed to the beach.  As we wandered down the front, watching the waves break over the Cobb we randomly picked a spot on the sandy part of the beach for the girls to play. Then one of those quirk of fates occurred, sitting not 20 feet in front of us on the beach was Tia and her family, the little girl that Éowyn had played with at West Bay Play Area the day before.  Éowyn, Amélie and Tia played together on the beach very nicely, however Tia had sea interface error and as she was due to go to the cinema later that afternoon her mum had to run off and buy a new set of clothes.  She wasn’t the only one in the shop either, it seemed to be a very common occurrence, bonus time for the children’s clothing department!

Tuesday saw a departure from our usual haunts and instead we headed to Portland (Dorset not Oregon) to visit my mom’s cousin Margaret and her husband Ray.  My mom and Auntie Margaret were close when Auntie Margaret still lived in West Bromwich and growing up we saw a lot of Auntie Margaret but it wasn’t until my Nan’s funeral the previous Thursday that I had seen them this century.  It seemed to be a shame to be so close to them and not pop over to introduce them to the latest members of the Bagnall family.

We had a fantastic day on Portland.  Éowyn and Amélie made themselves at home at Margaret and Ray’s and were on their best behaviour entertaining us all.  Before the rain swept in we paid a visit to Fancy’s Farm, which if you ever find yourself on Portland you should visit.  It is a community farm and is free to enter (although donations are welcome) and kids (and big kids alike) will enjoy feeding the animals.  Éowyn was a little nervous of the animals and was shamed into feeding some of them by her little sister.  Amélie showed no fear at all, even when feeding Harvey the shire horse that dwarfs me and whose head alone was bigger than she was.  Amélie also held a guinea pig which Éowyn reluctantly held afterwards, just to show that she wasn’t scared.  We returned just before dark, in time for the evening meal and the third, and main fancy dress night of the week.  The theme this year was 70’s and 80’s.

As you can see from the photos, once again everyone took the theme to heart.  Again it was the brainchild of Adam and Lucy and Zoe and Steve.  The evening meal was suitably fitting to the era with Cordon Bleu Chicken, Spam Fritters, Potato Croquets and Spaghetti Hoops for main course and Viennetta, Arctic Roll and Black Forest Gateau for desert all to a 70’s and 80’s soundtrack.  For some reason I felt very comfortable in my flowery shirt and bell-bottom jeans.  Once again the family owe a big thank you to the organisers, it was great fun.

Wednesday saw the Bagnalls chilling out at the house.  This was in part to the fact that neither Lucinda or I had had a full night’s sleep all week and in part due to the excitement of the girls by having their cousins on tap all week and journeys across the Dorset landscape.  Also it was our turn to cook the evening meal.

The house was hired from Friday 25th October to Friday 1st November but Friday 1st November was the day that we completed on our new home (see the following update) and so we had decided that we were going to leave on Thursday night after the evening meal.  Therefore we didn’t want waste the day.  Earlier in the week a number of the family had headed to Cerne Abbas to solve a treasure trail.  Everyone said how much they enjoyed it and so we thought that it would be a fitting end to the week.  Plus I have always wanted to see the Cerne Abbas giant so what better excuse?

The treasure trails are great fun, you have to eliminate suspects in a fictional murder but following the trail and solving clues.  The trail took us all over Cerne Abbas culminating at the Giant viewpoint.  It was great fun and we got to see far more of Cerne Abbas then one would normally of a day trip to a town.  There are a large number of these treasure trails as you can see from the website and I would heartily recommend them.

So ten Badger Moots have come and gone and new members have been added to the clan (myself and our three children included) let us hope that this is a traditional that continues for at least another ten years.

Peace and Love


PS: Sorry for the longest write up in this site’s history, to recompense you for the lack of photos in recent updates here are 33!

We have a smiler!

Another update, another month, although a little later than I had planned, 2013 is definitely speeding by.  The first couple of months seemingly dragged as a combination of cold weather and the anticipation of Ezra’s arrival apparently dilated the passage of time, somewhat like the week before Christmas when you are a child.  However since his birth, time has flown and amazingly he is now eight weeks old!  Eight weeks old and 12lbs 12oz (5.78kg).

Thus, as you can guess Ezra is putting on weight nicely and sitting happily on the 75th centile.  The health visitors are very happy with his progress and it appears he has missed the genetic lottery and cow’s milk protein intolerance.  As a coincidence we also weighed Amélie and Éowyn to compare them with their brother’s 12lb 12oz.  Amélie weighed 2 stone 2 pounds (13.6kg /30 pounds) while Éowyn tipped the scales at 3 stone 3 pounds ( 20.4kg /45 pounds); a nice symmetry to their results (in imperial measurements).

You are not here for weight updates though, are you?  You want to know what has been happening in the world of the Bagnalls.  Fortunately we have been blessed with some seasonal weather of late (although looking out of the window at the moment you wouldn’t believe it) and so we have been able to leave the confines of chez Bagnall and take full advantage.  Unfortunately I have not been on all those those adventures (work does get in the way), but there are plenty of photos to give you all (and me) the flavour of those adventures.

We have also managed to complete the adventure that is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Both girls thoroughly enjoyed the book even though it took us best part of a fortnight to read it and they kept up with the story remembering (with a little help from the voice-over guy type: ‘previously on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory‘) all the names and what was going on.  I have now said that since they know the story they can watch the film.  Neither of them have shown too much interest in the sequel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator though and to be honest neither have I, it doesn’t quite have the charm of the original, it is no Empire Strikes Back.

As I mentioned above Éowyn and Amélie have been taking advantage of the good weather playing in our garden, in Nanny and Granddad’s garden and down the local park, fully sunblocked up (Lucinda and I both have delicate celtic skin that burns easily, even in the poor weather we have had so the kids have no chance) with matching sunhats (the only item of clothing that they will wear that is the same).  The local park (Lammas recreation ground) has, in addition to the usual adventure playground a splash park.  Great fun for little ones (and the little one in adults), water jets squirt large arcs of water over anyone in area and the girls love it.  Fantastic fun on a warm day, so not that often this year.

However the weather doesn’t have to be warm for a Bagnall to go on an adventure, although if it is dry it is a bonus.  The girls have been on a couple of adventures since the last update.  The first was to the Great Cockcrow Railway in Lyne.  It is a miniature steam railway maintained and operated by volunteers and I am a little bit jealous that I wasn’t able to go (that work thing!).  Éowyn thoroughly enjoyed the trains but Amélie, being a little younger, was a initially scared of the tunnel but nevertheless when she was asked if she wanted to go on it again and seeing that her older sister was so keen to go again insisted that she went too.  The Great Cockcrow Railway is only open from May through to October and so if Daddy is going to go it will have to be over the next couple of months.

Daddy did manage to go on the second adventure though a trip around Saville Garden and Virginia Water with Éowyn’s best friend Raine.  It was a little insight into how live will be with three ‘mobile’ children, you really need to have eyes in the back of your head.  For although both Lucinda and I were there, there were occasions when all three would run in different directions and with large bodies of water and people walking dogs you have to be one step ahead all the time.  Not relaxing!  Thankfully there were all well behaved so that when we told them to stop or come back they did and so thoroughly deserved their ice-creams at the end of the walk.

Ezra accompanied the girls on their adventures but obviously was very much a passenger.  However his development is accelerating and he is far more alert now and will sit watching his sisters or mommy and daddy.  However the biggest and most pleasing development is that he has begun to smile and even giggle.  He will sit on your lap looking into your eyes and give you the biggest smile cooing gently at you.  When I come home from work the girls usually run to the door to give me a kiss to welcome me home and now, in addition to that attention Ezra will turn his head and look at me and give me his cutie smile.

Not only is Ezra ingratiating himself with his cute smile and cooing noises he is also giving us as much sleep as one could expect from an eight week old.  He goes to bed as we go to bed and will wake once in the night (as much as seven hours later) but only cries to wake us, has his feed and then goes back to sleep quite quickly.  He was even good the night he had his first set of inoculations.  Obviously he cried and got upset when he had them and was quite disturbed throughout the day and we were prepared for a bad night but as soon as the lights went out and he was lain in his moses basket he went to sleep for six hours. Can we ask for any more?  But now that I have told you have I put the collybosh on it?  We will wait and see.

Work is building to the end of season crescendo so afterwards worklife should calm down a little and hopefully their will be more time for me to take part in the Bagnall family adventures and you dear readers will hear all about it on these pages.  I will leave you now with a good selection of photos below and over 200 new ones on our Flickr (broken link now fixed) pages (I have been busy with the camera), feel free to pop by and check them out.

Peace and love


The first cut is the deepest

I have been regaling the world with tales of my enclave of the Bagnall family for nigh on four years.  Many of these updates are planned; some are written out of necessity and are difficult because there were no major stories to base them around but there have also been a number of them that have been thrust upon me.  This is one of those.

Most of these updates have photos to illustrate the stories behind them.  A few have no photos.  This is one of those.

So what has happened to necessitate an emergency update prior to Éowyn’s birthday?

Our story begins in the early hours of Wednesday morning.  Lucinda had gone to bed feeling a little discomfort in her abdomen which we had put down to pregnancy grumbles, but at 0100 she woke me up saying that the pain was a little stronger and it felt like she needed to go to the loo.  We put it down to a virus that is going round and although she had a disturbed night thought it was nothing more.  I went to work the next day but kept in touch with her through the day to find out how she was feeling.  She didn’t seem to be getting better and she couldn’t get an appointment at our local doctor’s surgery so I left work early so that she could go to the walk-in clinic at our local hospital (Ashford) – it no longer has an Accident and Emergency department like many hospitals around the country, it used to but now it just has this walk-in clinic.

She was at the clinic for around 90 minutes before she was seen and they worried her: her symptoms seemed to indicate appendicitis and that she needed to go to the ‘local’ Accident and Emergency department at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey (the hospital where both of our children were born).  This is where living in the same village as your parents and brother comes in handy.  With Éowyn and Amélie in safe hands we headed around the M25 (in rush hour) to St Peter’s.

We reported in to reception and were quickly seen by the triage nurse.  Bloods were then taken and a cannula inserted in her hand and we were led to a bay to await a visit from the on duty doctor.  Appendicitis in pregnancy is not uncommon, and in fact appendectomies are the most common need for surgery in pregnant women, however appendicitis in pregnancy can be notoriously difficult to diagnose as, due the growing foetus, the appendix will have been pushed up and back from its usual position.  In addition not all of the usual symptoms (especially a fever) will be present.

The doctor we saw was excellent, she had a great bedside manner and quickly concluded that Lucinda did indeed have appendicitis and that she needed to be seen by the surgical team as soon as possible.  As you are probably aware appendicitis is the clinical term for inflammation of the appendix which, if left untreated, leads to appendiceal rupture (a burst or perforated appendix) which can lead to peritonitis, septicaemia and even death.  Obviously being pregnant complicates this somewhat.  A conservative estimate for the mortality rate of a healthy adult with a perforated appendix receiving treatment is about 0.5%, for a pregnant woman it is 8 times higher with 1 in 25 of patients dying and the prognosis for the unborn baby is worse with 1.5% dying in women with appendicitis and over 1 in 3 dying should the appendix burst.  Thankfully we were unaware of those odds at the time.

It is with those odds in mind that medical teams will err on the side of caution and always opt for the appendectomy.  It is far better to remove a healthy appendix than run the risks of the above, especially since the risks of the procedure are far lower than hoping that it can be tamed with antibiotics (which is only in the case of a ‘grumbling’ appendix).  Hence the removal rate of healthy appendices in pregnant women is higher than that in the population at large.

We were taken from the Accident and Emergency area to the Surgical Assessment Unit to await for the surgeons.  Unfortunately we had just missed the surgeon’s rounds and they were not expecting him to come back for several hours.  After waiting for several hours Lucinda and I decided that it was probably best for me to head home at relieve Lucinda’s dad of childcare duties and allow him to get some sleep.  Lucinda had her phone and strict instructions to call me when the surgeon came.  At 0200 the surgeon assessed Lucinda and basically told her to get ready for theatre.  She called me and was obviously very scared especially as there seemed to be a debate between the surgical team and the obstetrician team over who was in charge and what pain relief and medication she was allowed.  As many of you know when you are pregnant the only pain relief you can be given is paracetamol, nothing stronger and any medication given needs to be proven not to cause any issues to the unborn baby.  Not necessarily what you want to hear when you are pregnant, in pain and scared.

Needless to say I didn’t sleep very well and I am sure that the girls knew that something was up and they had a disturbed night too.  I got out of bed early and phoned the Surgical Assessment Unit.  They told me that Lucinda was now under Midwifery care and so to call the Joan Booker ward.  It took three attempts to get through to the Joan Booker ward to be told that they had no record of Lucinda and were just about to hang up on me when I became a little more assertive and before I really did get angry with their dismissive attitude they suggested that perhaps she might be on the Labour Ward.  I called the Labour Ward (thank Tim Berners-Lee for the internet!) and got through to a very helpful Midwife.  She went to check on Lucinda while I was on the phone and said that both Lucinda and our unborn son were in good health even if Lucinda was a little groggy.

Plan A then went into action.  Amélie was dropped off at Nanny and Granddad’s after which I took Éowyn to pre-school before taking supplies to the hospital.  Lucinda was a little groggy and in some discomfort but in good health and not in the pain that she was in the night before.  Obviously the Labour Ward has a high demand for immediate bed space and so we were temporarily moved into a delivery room to allow more immediate needs to take Lucinda’s space on the ward before she was to be moved to the Joan Booker ward.  In a quirk of fate the delivery room that we were moved to was the same delivery room that Amélie was born.

Before we were moved to the Joan Booker Ward the surgeon came to see Lucinda.  He seemed very pleased with her progress and was quite happy to discharge her from his care into that of the midwifery team.  He did confirm however that her appendix was extremely inflamed and close to rupture and because of its inflamed nature and the fact that in pregnant women the appendix will have moved he was unable to perform keyhole surgery and hence why she now has a 2 inch (5cm) scar.  Again in a quirk of fate she received her first operation scar thirty years to the day that I received mine (although mine is slightly more impressive: a 10 inch sternotomy scar from open heart surgery).

Before moving down to the Joan Booker ward we requested to listen to the bubba’s heart beat.  We knew that the midwife team were happy that all was OK in there, but we wanted physical reassurance of our own.  We were both relieved when a really strong heartbeat resonated through the room.

Lucinda got stronger throughout Thursday but was starting to feel the two nights of lost sleep, so I left her in the late afternoon and headed for Nanny and Granddad’s for a home-cooked meal and to see my little girls.  Again both the girls seemed to pick up on the fact that something was amiss and it took quite a while to settle Amélie before I could actually sit down and relax and eventually try and get some sleep of my own.

Friday morning started as Thursday: drop Amélie off at Nanny and Granddad’s, Éowyn at pre-school and then to St Peter’s.  Lucinda looked much better but was still feeling sore.  As anyone that has been in hospital would know it is not possible to get a good night’s sleep, especially when you are being woken every four hours to have your blood pressure and temperature taken and so it was for Lucinda.  It wasn’t long before we were given the news that we wanted, Lucinda had been discharged from the surgical team and the midwife team were happy to do the same and so it would not be too long before she could go home.  She also let us listen the bubba’s heartbeat once again and it was loud and proud.  By all accounts if a pregnant woman is to have appendicitis the best time to have it is in the second trimester.  In the first the foetus may not survive and in the third it can bring on contractions (indeed, one of the drugs Lucinda was given was an anti-contraction drug so that the surgery did not bring on labour).  Therefore Lucinda chose well to suffer appendicitis in her 17th week.

Just after lunch the duty midwife came with Lucinda’s notes and medication – Paracetamol for pain relief and Enoxaparin, a anticoagulant to thin the blood to prevent thrombosis.  The paracetamol was in the usual tablet form but the Enoxaparin is in a pre-filled disposable syringe and Lucinda has to give herself an subcutaneous injection once a day for the next five days, a small price to pay.

I have to praise the staff at St Peter’s and especially the midwifery team, they looked after Lucinda extremely well and the head midwife especially took an active role in Lucinda’s care.

So you will forgive the lack of photos and our elusiveness over the last couple of days but I think that the above is fair excuse and I thank my lucky stars that I still have my wife and unborn son even if Lucinda is making me honour the wedding vow ‘In sickness and in health‘.

Peace and Love