If we had no Winter, the Spring would not be so pleasant

We are half way through April and the Baguettes have not been to school this month.  A relatively late Easter has meant that the fortnight break between the Spring and Summer terms has so far prevented the Baguettes from attending class this month.  Unfortunately, their two-week break has coincided with a busy time for me at work so most of the childcare has fallen to Lucinda.     Read more

Easter Holidays

This update comes to you a week later than I was planning.  I had planned to update you all about the latest shenanigans of chez Bagnall at the end of the Easter break but somehow I haven’t managed to find time until now to bring you up to speed with our latest news.

After a heavy month at work, including working the Easter weekend I decided to use a couple of days earned in lieu and tagged them around rostered days off to spend a few days with the family in the second week of the Easter holiday break from school.  Work is going to remain busy for the next couple of months so it was a good opportunity to spend some quality time with the family.

The Easter break from school was the usual fortnight.  My break from work was the second week of that vacation so Lucinda had to entertain our children along with childminding wards for the first week of the Easter break.  This included taking them all to Saville Garden to take part in their Easter Egg hunt.  There were not real Easter Eggs to find but clues laid out throughout the gardens and a reward of golden chocolate coins for a completed task sheet .  The cardboard eggs that they needed to collect via questions on said task sheet were not the traditional chocolate eggs that the children usually try to find at this time of year but Dragon Eggs for this was an Easter Dragon trail.  It’s what Easter is all about!

It was also a good opportunity for our N.C.T. group to meet up.  The usual place for meet ups recently is Saville Garden.  It is convenient for all and the kids can pick up sticks and run around in the mud while the mums can amble and catch up.  It is amazing how much the kids still get on with each, I suppose they have known each other for over seven years, even if they don’t see each other as regularly as they should.  It is also amazing how much fun you can have with a stick, something that humans of one species or another have been doing for millions of years.

I missed out on those two events due to work commitments so we needed to make up for it in the second week.  Therefore the first day of my mini-break saw the Bagnalls and Nanny heading south to visit Granddad’s brother and his wife, Uncle David and Auntie Sally in Middleton on Sea.  A short trip East along the shore from Bognor Regis our only previous visit was when we spent a long weekend at Butlins four years previous, a year before Ezra was even born.

We arrived around lunchtime and Auntie Sally has prepared a lovely lunch which stood us in good stead for an afternoon on the beach, which is only a short walk from their house. Lucinda, Uncle David and I played in the sand with the Baguettes while Nanny and Auntie Sally sheltered from the wind in their Beach hut while getting the cake and tea ready for refreshments.  We were lucky with the weather for despite the portentous dark clouds we only had one short sharp shower that wasn’t worth rushing for the hut.

It was a really fun afternoon doing simple things that kept the Baguettes occupied more than the screens that they are becoming increasingly addicted to.  The bracing sea air really cleared the lungs and we all felt better after an afternoon of splashing in rock pools and building sand castles.  Indeed the time when by so quickly that we were surprised how late it had become and after tea and cakes returned to the house for the journey back home.  We will not leave it as long for our next visit!

The following day, Lucinda had two of her clients but we did not let it stop us from enjoying the day.  Éowyn had a playdate at her best friend’s so we headed out with just four children to Ham House taking advantage of our National Trust passes.  The National Trust have begun an initiative to encourage kids to rediscover the simple things of life and the things that kids of previous generations took for granted with their 50 things to do before you are 11¾.  Ham House was helping with this initiative with a large pile of branches from which the kids were encouraged to make a den.  That only entertained our wards for a short while, perhaps they were a little too young.  However, they were more than entertained by one of the other activities, making a kite.  It may have only been made with A4 paper, lollipop sticks and ribbon but the older children really enjoyed making it and then enjoyed running around the gardens attempting to make it fly.  It wasn’t quite Mary Poppins but the look on their faces as we encouraging them to run so that the kites caught in the draft behind them.  We only briefly toured Ham House playing and picnicking in the gardens, enjoying the relatively good weather (apart from one shower).  I think that we will have to go back with Éowyn.

The following two days we had an extra ward so it was not so easy to travel far, but it didn’t stop us leaving the house.  Indeed with a park at the end of the road we headed there to keep the children entertained and our of the house taking advantage of the break between the showers.

The week also saw Éowyn and Amélie having 0900 swimming lessons to try to boost their confidence in the water.  Something that we desperately want them to have and so not only have they completed this week worth of lesson Amélie has been signed up for weekly swimming lessons on a Saturday morning (Éowyn is on a waiting list).  This is really going to give Amélie a busy end to her week.  For not only has she signed up for dancing lessons after school on a Friday, she then will be going to Rainbows later that evening only to have to wake up early on a Saturday morning to go swimming.  She is going to be one fit little girl, who hopefully will want a lay in on a Sunday morning.

Ezra, too, has been taking strides forward in his development.  For at long last he seems to have cracked toilet training.  All other attempts have failed as he just didn’t seem to get the idea of going to the bathroom before he needed to.  However with some persistence from both Lucinda and I and the incentive of a Paw Patrol toy he is now in big boy pants.  For some reason however he insists on being completely naked from the waist down when he goes to the toilet (including his socks) but hopefully this is only a passing phase.  It will be a little embarrassing at the urinals when he his 21!

The other great stage that my children have reached is the fact that they have now watched all three of the original Star Wars movies with Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi completing the hat trick.  I now have the dilemma of whether to introduce them to the prequels.

Usually I would leave that there but I feel I have to share this little anecdote with you as I am worried about my son.  While watching Return Of The Jedi, Éowyn cuddled up to me on the sofa saying that she was frightened of Darth Vader as he was scary.  A fair comment I am sure you would agree.  Not Ezra.  He turned to Éowyn and said: ‘Darth Vader not scary, Darth Vader’s the good guy.‘ Now either Ezra is very astute and is looking deeply into the arc of the Star Wars universe or my son is edging towards the Dark Side.  I am fearing the latter.  Two further incidences are adding weight to that notion.

The next morning Ezra is rummaging in the musical instrument box (nothing fancy, just toy musical instruments) and picks out the old favourite:  the recorder.  He starts blowing into it and despite not really playing the instrument the overtones of the Imperial March were coming from him as he strode menacingly across the room.  Then a couple of days later, we are looking through some Star Wars playing cards and Ezra said that he like it when Darth Vader killed the bad guy.  I immediately thought that my son knew what he was talking about and thought of the scene on the second Death Star when Darth Vader despatched the Emperor.  No.  Ezra pointed to the duel in A New Hope between Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi.  I am truly concerned!

Before I leave you, I feel that I have to mention that Friday was the funeral of my friend and colleague Terry Wood.  I think he would have approved of his send off.  A group of us met up at Piebury Corner for pie and mash before heading to Enfield Crematorium.  The service was both moving and funny as I am sure he would have wanted (although the Birdy Song was nowhere to be heard) and it was good to meet his family, if only it could have been in better circumstances.  It was a testament to the man that so many people made the journey on a Friday afternoon and I know a number of people that were devastated that they could not make it.  The word legend is overused but Terry truly deserved that epitaph.  Terry Wood you will be missed.

Peace and Love



Batman versus coffee table

With the Vernal Equinox occurring only a few days before a full moon it meant that Easter Sunday completed a quartet of important weekends in March.  The first Sunday was Mother’s Day; the second Ezra’s birthday and the third was my birthday.  Therefore it seemed fitting that I squeezed another update in before the end of March.

As implied by the fact that I have mentioned the fact that it is Easter Sunday, the kids (yes, all three of them) have broken up for two weeks from school.  As this marks the end of a term and not the midway break, it also meant that there were end of term reports and parent/ teacher meetings in the penultimate week of the term.

As you may recall from the previous update, Éowyn did not enjoy Ezra’s birthday party as she was running a temperature and complaining of stomach ache.  She woke on the Monday morning still complaining of a stomach ache.  However, as she had not vomited and was no longer running a temperature we decided that she should still go to school.  Nevertheless I did forewarn the school office that she wasn’t particularly well and although I was at work, Lucinda was at home if she did not improve and they wanted to send her home.

Mid-morning Lucinda received the phonecall from the school to say that Éowyn had not improved and would we like to collect her.  So as Lucinda picked Ezra up from his pre-school she also picked up our eldest from hers.  Éowyn’s 100% attendance for the year was no more.  Not great timing for our parents/ teacher meeting was the next day.  I think we call that Murphy’s law.

Lucinda had a full complement of clients the next day but fortunately I was not due in work and therefore I could look after Éowyn and then attend the school meetings later in the day.  Éowyn was still not well when she woke on Tuesday morning, so I suggested that we sat curled up on the sofa (while Mommy attended playgroups with her brood) and watched Star Wars Episode V:  The Empire Strikes Back.

Since watching Star Wars Episode VII:  The Force Awakens just before Christmas, Éowyn, like her father before her, has become obsessed by the Star Wars universe.  Wanting her to watch the films in the ‘correct‘ order I have made her start with Episode IV: A New Hope.  She is therefore now two thirds of the way through the original trilogy with only Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi to go.  What a shame I will have to sit through that with her!

As Tuesday morning was taken up by events from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away; Tuesday afternoon was taken up by events from the near past in a school just down the road: the aforementioned parents/teacher meetings for our Baguettes.  Éowyn was first and it was our first meeting with her new teacher Miss Jetten.  Éowyn’s initial year 2 teacher, Miss Bernath, left at Christmas to move to Australia and with a hand over in December Miss Jetten took charge in January.  Miss Jetten confirmed what we know of Éowyn ourselves, that she is very clever but gets bored easily, she needs to be constantly engaged and challenged.  She rushes her work to be the first to finish which leads to two issues.  The first: in rushing she will make silly mistakes and then not correct herself and, secondly, she then disturbs the other children by talking to them.  Miss Jetten believes that Éowyn will have no problems with the end of Key Stage 1 SATs (Statutory Assessment Tests) at the end of year 2.  Not that I am over concerned about any of my children’s ability to pass exams, that should not be the fixation of education, yet in our world of league tables and an Education Secretary who seems to think that every child should be above average (someone needs to go back to school) they seem to have an inflated importance.  I don’t want my children just to learn how to pass exams.

So, would Amélie have a similar report from her teacher, Miss Snow?  Indubitably!  Indeed Amélie’s report was even more impressive.  She is exceeding expectations in all aspects.  She is top, or near the top, of the class in all subjects and perhaps the only work that Amélie needs to improve on at the moment is her confidence.  Although she is quite confident socially, she doesn’t always demonstrate confidence in her own abilities.  That is something that we can work on.

It is quite nice, as parents, to hear that your children are doing well at school but it is also useful to have pointers to help with their education at home.  Let’s see how their educational path continues as they mature and find new distractions.  When I returned from Amélie’s meeting I let them know what was said and how pleased we were with them and then noticed that Ezra seemed distracted in his own little world and was pretending to be on the telephone.  ‘Who are you on the ‘phone to?‘ I enquired.

Darth Vader,’ came the reply.  So, while our girls are on the road to improving themselves through education, Ezra is going to take the quicker, easier, more seductive route of joining the dark side of the force!

Ezra is still enjoying school, although like his sisters he will not be returning for a fortnight.  It is fortunate that he is not at school as he will have time to recover.  ‘Recover from what?‘ I hear you cry.  Maundy Thursday saw Lucinda with her usual Thursday houseful of children while I was at work.  I was in a meeting when I received a panicked phonecall, Ezra had fallen over and cut his cheek and it would not stop bleeding. I rushed home from work to see Ezra with his Batman costume on, with a still bleeding laceration on his left check and blood not only all over his Batman top but over Lucinda’s top too!  He had been running round, as kids are wont to do, and fell catching the side of his face on the corner of the coffee table.  His cheek had taken the full force of the impact and being quite a deep gash needed medical attention; off to the walk-in clinic we went.

There were not many people in the clinic, thankfully, however it was still an hour before we were seen.  Enough time for Ezra to work his way through the snacks I had taken (his appetite wasn’t diminished!).  The nurse we saw was fantastic and I said to her that I had told Ezra if he was a good boy that he would get a sticker.  She looked at me as if to say, we haven’t got any stickers but would see what they could do.  Ezra, was the perfect patient.  He didn’t cry, scream or move.  He let the nurse clean the wound and manipulate it to see if there was any other damage (like a fractured cheek bone).  He even let her open and close the wound to see what the best course of action was:  glue, stitches or, as was the case, Steristrips (butterfly stitches to you and me).  With no stickers in her little box of tricks she left the room to see if there were any in another room.  I told Ezra I was very proud of how brave he was, when she appeared with a Paw Patrol certificate of bravery!  She also gave him some extra Steristrips and the disposable tweezers that she used to affix the Steristrips.  He was quite pleased with his haul and we headed back home to bed.  He had had enough excitement for one day!

It is with two pieces of sad news that I end today’s write up with the deaths of two members of communities to which we belong.  We began our married life and the children began their lives in a little corner of Stanwell Moor.  The houses in which we lived were set back from the road and thus there is a little community that grew up there.  A big part of that community was our next door neighbour at the time:  Bob.  Bob always knew what was going on and was always there with advise or a kind word or deed.  He made us feel part of the community and has done so for our tenants in the same house since we moved out.  His passing has come as a big shock and our thoughts are with his wife Pat and their family.

The second death this week has probably a greater effect on me and my work family.  Terry Wood, freelance MCR operator and friend, finally lost his battle with cancer of the omentum (an organ I had not heard of until Terry told me of his diagnosis).  Terry came into our lives when he was made redundant from his previous place of employment.  A mutual friend asked me if I needed any freelance MCR operators as he would highly recommend Terry and so I brought him into the fold.  Terry was a larger than life character, he would always have a tale to tell and you never knew if it was going to be a genuine story or a really poor joke.  It didn’t really matter you were enthralled either way.  Terry lived life to the fullest, whether that was just part of his nature or because that he had been diagnosed and defeated cancer of the bowel 11 years previous; the truth was probably somewhere in between.  He loved his family (and we were all his family) but he especially enjoyed doting on his grandchildren and sharing stories and photos of them with us, his work family.  It goes without saying that he was an enormous fan of Arsenal.  He had been brought up around Highbury and his Mom had worked there for many years so working in IMG and Sky’s MCRs was a dream come true for a man who had begun his career on the building sites of London.

It is a testament to the man the number of people who are devastated by his passing.  It goes without saying that his death has had a profound affect on our MCR family and the bookings department that work closely with MCR, but equally his passing has affected the Premier League Production staff that worked with him at weekends.  There has been an enormous outpouring of grief on social media and the photos of Terry that have been shared as tribute to the man have one thing in common: a man in the midst of friends enjoying life.  Every photo has him surrounded by family and friends, usually laughing but definitely looking like you missed out on a good time.  Sleep well Terry, MCR will be a smaller, sadder place without you.

The last six months has been somewhat devastating in terms of loved ones, people I know, friends and relatives of friends and childhood heroes that have passed.  I sincerely hope that 2016 has had enough and the Grim Reaper can take the rest of the year off.

Peace and Love