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

 

 

It has turned a bit cold

You may have had to wait for over a fortnight for the first update of 2016, and that was more of a reflection of 2015, a little more than a week later you get, this, the first proper update of the year.

The update begins on the last day of 2015.  At Granddad’s funeral we meet up with Lucinda’s cousin Joanne. It was the first time that I had met Joanne and, it goes without saying that she had not met Éowyn, Amélie or Ezra and so we decided to make amends and made a promise to meet up.  There is something about funerals that makes you appreciate life and one quite often makes promises to meet up, or take life less seriously or focus on the things that make you happy.  I think we all start off with good intents before life, once more, gets in the way and we fall back to our old ways and habitual behaviours.  However, sometimes, something sticks and we follow through.  So it was with a visit to cousin Joanne.  She had initially invited us to her house to go for a walk and take advantage of the communal swimming pool in her complex sometime between Christmas and New Year.  She called just before Christmas to confirm a date and we decided upon New Year’s Eve; the invite was open to the whole family.  Therefore, on New Year’s Eve the Bagnalls and Nanny headed to just outside of Godalming to do just that.  Uncle Michael was away in Spain, so did not join us but Uncle Steven, Auntie Zoe and Megan and Finley met us there.

We took advantage of the 55 acres and the dry weather and went for a walk around the woodland surrounding her complex.  There was plenty of chopped wood that caught my wood-burning eye but unfortunately due to the extremely muddy ground Ezra’s pushchair could not be used a wood-carrier and it had, unfortunately, to be left on the ground to rot.  After the muddy stroll it was time to relax in the swimming pool (and by the swimming pool for those who didn’t take a dip) before heading back to Joanne’s flat for a spot of dinner.  A very sedate but enjoyable way to spend New Year Eve’s day.

There were no mad New Year’s Eve parties for the Bagnalls which meant that when the Baguettes woke early on New Year’s Day although slightly annoying they were not greeted by hungover grunts. As we were awake, we greeted the new year with a full English breakfast before heading to Bedfont Lakes with Nanny for a New Year stroll.

Indeed, taking advantage of Daddy having work-free weekends, weekend strolls have become the norm for 2016.  Our usual haunt, however is Virginia Water, with our annual car park pass allowing us free entry into the Royal car parks.  One of these Sunday strolls saw our N.C.T. group meet up for the first time in over a year.  One of the reasons that we decided to do N.C.T. classes when Lucinda was pregnant with Éowyn was to meet people in the same situation, expecting their first child at a similar time, so that we had a support group.  We were very lucky and amazingly six of the eight couples are still in regular contact and we now only live 4 doors away from one of the group.

Unfortunately, as with most things, life tends to get in the way and we do not meet up as a big group as often as we once did, especially now that the children have school friends of their own (although Éowyn, Billy and Blake are at the same school and indeed Éowyn and Blake are in the same class).  What was interesting was that the kids, even though they have made their own friends, still see the others from the group as their ‘true‘ friends, perhaps somewhere between a relative and a friend.  It will be interesting to see if this continues as they grow older.

Although true when I first sat down to write this update and not quite so now, we have had (at least in this corner of the world) a week’s worth of winter.  The overnight temperatures dropped below freezing and we even woke on a Sunday morning to snow.  Not enough to call a blanket, not even a sheet; I think the correct term is a dusting.  Nevertheless this is the first time since we moved to our current home that it has snowed, and the first time that Ezra had seen snow.

The Baguettes woke up excited and asked Anna-like, ‘Can we build a snowman?‘  Unfortunately the dusting wasn’t even enough to make a snowball in our garden, so once again we climbing into the trusted S-Max and headed to Virginia Water.  Again there wasn’t a huge amount of snow but the snow still lingered in the shaded areas and they ran around excitedly.  Snowball fights and sliding on the slippery surface helped them to ignore the sub-freezing temperatures and we spent over an hour taking advantage of this excitement.

The other side of the cold weather was that it gave me an excuse (as if I need to have an excuse) to light the wood stove.  I have developed my technique for lighting a fire and when it is at optimum burn the heat it gives off is amazing.  It easily warms our lounge and the rest of the house also feels the benefit of a roaring fire.  It is interesting to think that lighting a fire is easy and we do it without thinking but when you are doing it everyday you notice the science of fire-lighting.  The fuel (down to different types of wood and how dry it is) all affect the quality of the fire.  I have even had the unfortunate effect known as a downdraft.  This was caused by atmospheric/ wind direction over our flue.  This meant that the fire struggled to light and the smoke decided that the easiest route wasn’t via the flue but into the room and we were quickly coughing with the smokey atmosphere.  A quick google and  warming the stove with some flaming paper soon warmed the flue itself and begun to draw the smoke back up and into the atmosphere.

Toffee and Frazzle (the guinea pigs) are settling into Bagnall Manor and becoming more comfortable with the attention that they are getting.  They still run and hide if they think you re going to open the cage but are quite happy to squeak to you if you just sit and talk to them.  Once you have taken them out of their cage they are quite relaxed and will sit happily on your lap.  The girls (and Lucinda) are becoming much more confident holding them, although it is still Daddy that has to take them out of the cage.  The girls and Ezra are still very much engaged with their first pets and not only want to hold them most days but help with cleaning of the cage.  Indeed they fight over who is going to clean what and how much.  They enjoy the engagement with the guinea pigs’ home and they know that when we clean the guinea pigs out then before we put them back into their newly cleaned home we get to handle them.  Hopefully this level of engagement will carry on.

I will leave you now with the first set of photos from 2016, mainly from our various walks in Virginia Water, perhaps we need to go elsewhere before the next write up.

Peace and Love

Baggie

 

That was the Christmas that was

Trust that you all had a fantastic Christmas and Santa brought you all the presents that you deserve.  He was very generous with the Bagnall household this year and despite rumours to the contrary the Baguettes must have been on the ‘nice’ list.  As tradition dictates this will be the last update of 2015; the next update will be early in the new year when I will reflect on the year but here I will update you on the events of the Bagnall household over the yuletide.

Both girls broke up from school the Friday before Christmas, which means that they will be off school for just over a fortnight.  Fortunately my new shift pattern meant that although I was working the weekend before Christmas (the tail-end of a seven-day stint) I was off for the three days leading up to Christmas and could spend some time with them (and Ezra) at the start of their holiday.

Monday saw our fireplace, or more accurately our multi-fuel stove, finally installed and although it is the warmest December on record, in the South-East of the UK at least, wood needed to be burnt.  It has taken me a few goes to begin to perfect the technique to obtain a really hot fire, and I still think that there is a lot to learn.  My early mistake was that I was a little too eager to get the logs on the fire, as soon as the kindling was aflame I was piling the wood in.  Thus the stove was never reaching the optimum temperature before being asked to work.  There is still a lot to learn though, something that I am looking forward to.

Tuesday was the first day off as a family and I took this opportunity to take Éowyn to the local cinema to see Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, while Lucinda stayed at home with Amélie and Ezra.  I was seven when Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back was released so I thought it was high time to introduce my eldest to the Star Wars universe.  Éowyn hasn’t seen any of the other films (something that will be rectified over the next few weeks) unlike her friend Blake who, along with his father, accompanied us to the first showing of the day.

Unfortunately, we could not get 4 tickets in a row, so we had 3 in one row and 1 just in front, therefore Martin sat with the children, while I saw on my lonesome.  Even in my excitement of watching a Star Wars film at the cinema, I was conscious of my little girl in the row behind and kept turning round and making sure she was fine.  About half way through the film she tapped me on the shoulder because she wanted to go the toilet, so we headed out of the auditorium.  I took the opportunity to ask her what she thought of the film.  She said that she was enjoying it but was a little scared in places.  This as such didn’t worry me too much as I think that is the beauty of film, that it takes you on an emotional journey, however the next sentence broke my heart.  She said that she had noticed that when Blake was scared he had his daddy’s hand to hold but when she was scared she had nobody’s hand to hold.

Therefore when we returned to the auditorium I told her to sit on my knee to watch the remainder of the film.  As we sat there watching the conclusion of the film my hand was holding her side and chest and I could feel her heart beating at ten to the dozen with the excitement of the final scenes.  Father and daughter bonding over a film.

This isn’t really a forum for my report on the film but suffice to say that I enjoyed it but was disappointed.  That sounds oxymoronic but Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope – as it was retrospectively christened) took Hollywood in a new direction and kicked off the summer blockbuster (in tracks laid by Jaws a couple of years before).  It was a nod to 1930’s serials such as Flash Gordon, it took inspiration from Akira Kurosawa (especially The Hidden Fortress), mixed in 1950’s Westerns and a dash of World War II movies and captured a generation of children’s imaginations.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens on the other hand is trying to be Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, it is not trying to be anything new; it has no story of its own.  That is slightly unfair as it is part of the continuing Star Wars story however, for me, it is a scene by scene remake and brings nothing new to either the Star Wars universe or Hollywood in general.  It was Disney playing safe trying not to damage the franchise with its first film especially since it has paid $4 billion for the rights.  It will do well at the Box Office; it is an enjoyable romp and to be honest I think it is a good film and I will see it again, and I am looking forward to the ‘Director’s Cut’, but is it a great film?  Will it be anyone’s favourite film?  Does it do anything that no other film does?  Unfortunately not.  That is why despite my childhood enthusiasm for the film and for all it stands for it is a disappointment.

We left the cinema with Éowyn asking lots of questions (some I could answer, some I couldn’t – the films haven’t been written yet!) and a promise that we will sit down and watch the remaining canon.  We had a list of things to pick up while in Staines town centre, so after grabbing something quick to eat we battled the Christmas shoppers and headed home.

In November we had offered to cook Christmas dinner for both of our families.  That is Lucinda’s Mom, brothers and their families and my Mom and my sisters.  With Granddad’s passing in October it only seemed right and fitting that we spent Christmas together as a family.  It wasn’t right, however to burden Nanny with the entertainment (even if we, as the next generation cooked the actual meal) so the logical place was our house.  Our lounge/dining room is big enough, with a rearrangement of the furniture to comfortably seat 17, even if the kitchen isn’t quite equipped to cook for that many.  However as we stood on Tuesday afternoon, 72 hours before that meal the house was not in any fit state to welcome Christmas visitors.

The lounge had been emptied to allow the workmen to work on the fireplace and so all the furniture was piled to one side of the dining room.  There was also a layer of dust coating many of the surfaces in the house.  So after returning from the cinema we set about rearranging the furniture and getting ready for the family.

Christmas Eve saw the arrival of Nanny Fran, Auntie Liz, Auntie Mary and Toffee and Frazzle.  The house was ready for Christmas and the fire was on.  Toffee and Frazzle were introduced to their new home (although the girls did not know that we were going to keep them at this point) and we settled down for the evening.  We were all sitting around chatting and watching Christmas telly that we completely forgot to go out into the garden to look for Santa’s International Space Sleigh.

Christmas morning we were expecting to be woken at oh, my gosh it’s early, O’clock.  However that was not to be.  Éowyn and Amélie didn’t wake until 0730 while Ezra was still asleep at 0800! How lucky were we?  Indeed we were downstairs when Ezra woke up and I asked him whether Santa had been and left anything in his room.  His little face dropped and he shook his head.  ‘Are you sure?‘  I inquired (I did have some insider information), ‘Shall we have a look?‘  His face lit up when he saw he big sack of presents and we took it downstairs to join the girls in the big opening.

Nanny Fran, Auntie Liz and Auntie Mary must have also been good girls as Santa had left them a little stocking of presents too.  They certainly were good girls helping us prepare the table and more importantly preparing the mountains of veg for Christmas dinner.

Amazingly, Christmas dinner for 17 went fairly smoothly.  We were planning to sit down and eat at 1500 and we started serving at 1503!  There was a mountain of food left over (that kept us going for days afterwards) and we needed a little bit of a tactical break before tackling the desserts.  Auntie Zoe provided the desserts (with help from Uncle Steven) but as Christmas Day is also her birthday we had a surprise for her.  Instead of bringing in the Christmas Pud alight, we turned the lights out to bring in a birthday cake replete with 4 lit candles.  Apparently, it was only about the third birthday cake she has ever had.

I was back at work on Boxing Day (it is one of the busiest football days!) and Nanny Fran, Auntie Liz and Auntie Mary headed up to West Bromwich, leaving Lucinda and the Baguettes in the house with ridiculous amounts of cardboard and piles of toys.

There was a gap in the fixtures on the following day so it was time to introduce the Baguettes to one of the big responsibilities of pet ownership – cleaning out the cage.  Not sure how long this enthusiasm will last but they all helped cleaning the cage and their house while I disposed of the waste products.  It was a good excuse for another cuddle with the guinea pigs before putting them back into their clean cage for them to mess up and throw their food all over the floor.  I have been teaching the Baguettes that when you approach the guinea pig cage to talk to them softly and walk slowly to the cage so that they know you are coming at it is not a big surprise.  That way they will be less scared (guinea pigs are always scared) and hopefully they will not run and hide as you get there.  We have a long way to go until his guinea pig etiquette is fully established and a long way to go until the guinea pigs are fully trusting, especially of the smaller members of the household, but while the enthusiasm is still there, then we will encourage their interest and hopefully Toffee and Frazzle will begin to trust us more and not be quite as nervous around the kids.

I have a couple of days off around the New Year before football kicks off again on the second of January.  So by the time the girls go back to school I will not have spent too much time with the baguettes, which is a shame but will have had Christmas and New Year off and Lucinda has had the entire time off which would have been an impossibility if she was still at the airport!

I will leave you now but not before I wish you all a very Happy New Year and see you all in 2016!

Peace and Love

Baggie

PS For those of you that enjoy geeky stats click here for a summary of baggieandlucy.com for 2015.