Bipedal Motion and the Return to School

Once again the update has been delayed and the gap between write-ups has widened further than I would prefer.  As per the last few months the shadow of IMG casts long over Team Bagnall and so I have been unable to put fingers to keyboard and regale to you the tales of our corner of the world.  I will attempt to remember the past month and so you will have to forgive any memory lapses or curtness of writing over the next thousand words or so.

As you can perhaps guess from the title it has been a momentous month, even if I have not been there to share it with the family that often.

But first let me take to back to the last Thursday in August.  Friends of ours Kerry and Dave were due to be wed the following day (Friday 29th August 2014) and so we needed to find babysitters for our brood.  Unfortunately both Lucinda and I were due to work Saturday and Sunday so we were looking for at least three days of babysitting in a row, a tall order for anyone.  Up stepped Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz which was very nice of them and the girls were very excited, however it did mean that we had to drive to West Bromwich to drop them off.  The girls are always excited to see Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz but there was an added edge to this visit but more of that later.

Unusually (ahem), I was at work on the Thursday so Lucinda packed them in the trusty S-Max and drove the 120 miles to West Bromwich.  With Kerry and Dave’s wedding the next day she stayed in West Bromwich just long enough to rest and have some lunch before saying goodbye and heading back home.  She was slightly concerned about leaving Ezra as we had not left him that long before and she was concerned how he would react.  She need not of worried as he simply waved her off.  Not only was he not bothered but to rub salt in the wounds of the separation, he decided that being 120 miles away from Mum and Dad was the perfect opportunity to take he first steps!  Yes, the little blighter decided that genicular locomotion was no longer in vogue and decided to totter to his feet and begin the usual plantigrade locomotion favoured by humans.  So, disappointingly, both Lucinda and I missed this huge developmental stage.

Lucinda arrived home Thursday evening and when I got home from work we both commented on how empty the house felt, even though all of the kids would have been asleep there was still a sense of emptiness.

The next day was the Wedding; the venue Random Hall.  Random Hall is 16th Century cottage (somewhat extended) set in the Sussex countryside a short trip outside of Horsham.  As this is within shooting distance of Staines Upon Thames (about an hour away) we decided that we would drive there and back and not look to stay.  This meant that one of us needed to be the nominated driver and as Kerry is ostensibly Lucinda’s friend and many of Lucinda’s (and Kerry’s, obviously) work colleagues would be in attendance.  For those of you that think that the internet is an evil place and no good can come from it, Kerry and Dave met on the same dating website as Lucinda and I, so good things do happen in cyberspace.

Random Hall was an excellent, one stop venue and a fantastic day was had by all.  Kerry looked beautiful and Dave passed muster!  The only slight downer was the fact that we were both semi-conscious that we would be working the next day, it would have been nice to have been able to take advantage of a sans-child weekend and really let our hair down.  No such luck.

A weekend of work followed and before we knew it Monday morning arrived and we were heading back to West Bromwich to relieve Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz and collect the Baguettes!  We left early because Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz had a big day the next day and was the cause of the excitement from Éowyn and Amélie.  Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz were leaving early the next morning to catch a flight to New York.  Yes, Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz had booked themselves a short trip to the Big Apple.  Now why would Éowyn and Amélie be excited that Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz were going to America?  The power of the internet unfortunately.

The girls have discovered, on Youtube, an American lady who plays with dolls and films herself doing so.  She is either in the employ of the toy manufacturers or is just slightly crazy and has lots of spare cash, or some combination of all three.  She always has the latest dolls and makes little stories with them, much to the delight of the girls.  I have to stop them watching her and actually encourage them to put the iPad down and actually go and play with the dolls themselves.  Whoever she is, it works.  The girls are always interested in the new dolls that she has bought and we had always managed to put them off wanting it by telling them that they were only available in America (which in fairness, they quite often are).  Therefore imagine their delight when Nanny Fran announced she was going to America!  Éowyn began writing a list for her and Amélie so that Nanny Fran could load up with presents.  The upside of this was that we had warned them before going to Nanny Fran’s that if they misbehaved that Nanny Fran wouldn’t buy them anything.  To be honest they didn’t need that (they wouldn’t dare misbehave for Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz) but it was a good warning nevertheless.

The weekend also threw up another of Éowyn’s misheard lyrics, this time Ghost by Ella Henderson.  The actual lyrics are: ‘I keep going to the river to pray‘;  Éowyn instead sang: ‘I keep going to the river to play‘.  Coming from a non-religious household, I can understand where she was coming from and a more enjoyable way to spend time by a river in my humble opinion.

The second part of this update is the fact that September marks the advent of the academic year.  Éowyn has begun year 1 while Amélie still has a year before she starts full time education.  Both girls have had a little shock going back to school.  Éowyn, because there is much more focus on work this year and she no longer has free-time in which she is allowed free reign to discover her talents; Amélie because a lot of her friends have left Mini-Tots to embark on their education journey, leaving Amélie as the oldest at Mini-Tots.

Although this has been a bit of a shock for the girls, it will no doubt all be forgotten in a few weeks.  Amélie is making lots of new friends and Éowyn is thriving on the work focus and it is good for her.  She is racing through reading books at the moment and has already progressed through one level and the next level is in her sights.  There has been an improvement in her writing and she has already earned one ‘Magic Moment’ (the reward system employed by her new teacher Mrs Harris).  It is safe to say they are settling in.

Éowyn’s imagination is developing and will stand her in good stead if she pursues her latest career choice: author.  She enjoys writing and will quite often write books for us.  Yes, books, not stories.  She will fold sheets of paper and loosely bind them into a book before crafting her story.  Her stories are quite good and have a defined beginning, middle and end.  She carries this imagination into her play and some of her character names are quite impressive.  My particular favourite is Sharon Von Poopenwrench.  Have no idea where she got that from!

Ezra, too, is a cheeky little fellow at times.  I was playing with him and pretending to be a sleep replete with comic snoring noises.  As Ezra crept nearer and I suddenly ‘woke up’ and surprised him.  He thought it was the funniest thing that had ever happened and was positively chortling.  So I did it again.  Again, he thought it was a riot and encouraged me to do it again.  After about the tenth time it was becoming a little tiresome, for me at least.  Ezra had other ideas.  When he realised I was not going to do it again he put his head down and started the fake snoring.  So I put my head down and did it a few more times.  The next time I refused to do it, Ezra once again put his head down but still I refused to do it.  So he grabbed my head and pushed it down, he was a tenacious little monkey.

So with Amélie’s birthday a few short days away and Éowyn’s just under three weeks later I will leave you with the knowledge that I have to update you sooner otherwise two of the biggest events of the year will have been missed.

Peace and Love




The nights are drawing in

As the title alludes half the year has been and gone, the Summer (in the Northern Hemisphere at least) Solstice has passed and we are hurtling towards winter with ever shortening amounts of daylight.  That is the natural order of things and it is only of import to the Bagnall family because it means that the amount of electricity we can generate from our Photovoltaic cells has passed its maximum for the year.  Nevertheless we were fortunate with the elements around this solstice with fine weather and clear skies, thus plenty of electricity generated.

However, we are in a quandary with the weather now that we have a veg patch.  Yes, our experiment in growing our own produce is giving us some joy even if we probably will not have the most bountiful of harvests. That was never the main driving force for this year.  This year was to see if we enjoyed it and whether we could fit in enough time to look after our crops as well as introducing the girls to growing your own food, so they appreciate from where their food originates.

It is safe to say that we have definitely enjoyed the growing side, so much so that we have installed 3 water butts (enough for 520 litres of rain water) around the garden and have plans to expand the veg patch after harvest.  We have learned much from this year’s experiment (especially how potatoes can take over a veg patch) and are currently growing raspberries, pumpkins, potatoes, runner beans, tomatoes and sunflowers.  In fact we find it quite saddening when you go to check on your crops and there has been damage.  So far we have had attacks by slugs on a variety of crops (although there are at least two frogs in the garden so imagine the amount of damage without predators), a case of blackfly (need more ladybirds), both strawberry plants and one pumpkin plant were dug up (I’m blaming squirrels) and half my potato crop were sat on (I’m blaming the resident fox family). It is a good job that we are not relying on these crops to survive nevertheless it would be good to have a least a few meals worth.  It is with this in mind that in addition to expanding the extent of our veg patch, next year we also plan on trying to encourage natural predators as well as expanding our range of crops and that is even before we have harvested this year’s crop.

So our quandary is that we need the sun to generate electricity (and to grow our crops) but we also rejoice whenever there is a heavy downpour as it means that we do not need to water that evening and that our water butts are replenished.  It is amazing how quickly those butts are filled from each rain shower and just shows how much water is hitting our drainage systems; no wonder there were so many floods over the winter.  So can we have the best of both worlds with extremely sunny days but extremely wet nights?

The main topic of discussion on the streets and bars, for once, is the not the weather but more the sporting competitions that are going on in the world.  Wimbledon and the World Cup are dominating the television schedules in the UK and my work life.  Wimbledon has not really caught the girls attention but they have been intrigued by the World Cup.  Their interest was first piqued by the prevalence of St George’s Crosses bedecked many of the houses in the area.  Then, I introduced them to the perennial disappointment of being an England football fan.

Although the World Cup is one of major summer jobs (it is a hard job when you have to watch the World Cup) at work I still enjoy watching it when I get back home, especially when I have a fantasy footie team and some small bets on the outcome.  Éowyn has taken to sitting next to me on the sofa and feigning interest, mainly so that she can stay up a little later.  ‘Who are we?‘ she will ask.  Then you have to explain that we are neither of them and she can chose which one she wants to win.  Invariably she choses the referee for some reason, probably because he is the only one wearing whichever colour that FIFA have deigned will be the referee outfit for that match.  It was much easier in my youth:  Referees wore black.  That was it.  Football boots were black.  It is the natural order of things.  Nevertheless it is nice that she is taking an interest in the World Cup although at 5 she is a little young we will have to wait until 2018 and Russia to see if that interest is still there.

Football isn’t the main sport for the girls though, trampolining is the sport of choice.  Amélie has been trampolining for most of the year and has passed the her first two trampoline gymnastic awards.  Now Éowyn has begun going after school.  She has a little bit to catch up with her younger sister but I am sure she will be spurred on not to be in her sister’s shadow.

Their little brother will not be following them on the trampoline though, mainly because he is still not walking.  Éowyn was walking early, Amélie not so.  Ezra has until the 4th July to progress to bipedal motion earlier than his sister.  That is highly unlikely.  Especially since tomorrow is that date!  He was crawling quite early and has been cruising for a long time but he has not taken that next step (no pun intended).  He has decided that he can get from A to B quickly by crawling and if he needs to carry anything then he can get there on his knees.  He has the strength in his legs but he just doesn’t seem interested.  I think that once he decides to go for it he will be walking in no time.  He just needs to take the plunge and go for it.  As always we will let you know about his first steps.

There was another first for the Bagnall family this week: Éowyn had a friend over for a sleepover.  Éowyn and Amélie have had friends over the day, indeed every Friday is movie night which we alternate the hosting with our friends Emma and Martin, but their friends have always gone home at the end of the day.  As the girls get older they will inevitably want to spend the night at a friends so when we were asked if Éowyn’s erstwhile best friend Raine could spend the night to help her Mum out with baby sitting we thought it would be a good opportunity to take our first tentative step into the world of sleepovers.

At Playbox Éowyn and Raine were inseparable, unfortunately however before they moved into full time education Raine’s family moved from Staines, nevertheless we have made sure that the have remained in touch.  Therefore we know Raine very well, and more importantly she knows us, so she was comfortable stopping with us.  Éowyn was so excited, getting more so as the day came closer.  We made the spare bed up in the spare room so that they could sleep together without disturbing Amélie.  It was good choice as the girls were still up when Lucinda and I went to bed.  This was partly due to the excitement of seeing each other and partly due to the amount of sweets they had consumed for their ‘midnight’ feast.

Raine was extremely well behaved and indeed the actual sleepover was very easy as the girls kept themselves entertained and were very inclusive towards Amélie, which was nice.  It was more the aftermath.  Raine’s mum collected Raine just before lunch and left us with one extremely grumpy Éowyn.  The grumpy mood wasn’t due to the fact that Raine had left, moreover it was due the lack of sleep (Éowyn isn’t used to staying up so late) couple with a sugar come-down.

Éowyn was a little better after a good night’s sleep, just in time for the third annual Staines-Upon-Thames day.  Celebrating the town’s addition of the river suffix to its name the memorial gardens were packed with stalls, a music stage, a funfair while classic cars lined the High Street.  Nanny and Granddad parked at our house and we all walked into the town centre.  We turned up as it kicked off to take the first boat trip down the Thames (before the crowds turned up – something we learned from last year!).  The girls enjoyed the 40 minute journey, but it was just enough any longer and I think they would have got bored.

After disembarking we headed around the stalls, and the rides.  The girls encouraged Daddy to win a mermaid doll each on one of the stalls (which I did).  We sat and listened to some of the bands (well we sat Amélie danced – photos below) while we ate an ice cream and then they chose a couple of fairground rides to go on.  It wasnt long before the toll of the weekend was beginning to have an affect on the girls and so after a spot of lunch we left Nanny and Granddad to enjoy the fair in peace and headed home.

We were out of the country on the first Staines-Upon-Thames day but we did go last year (even though technically we were not living in Staines Upon Thames at the time) and in our opinion this year totally eclipsed the 2013 event.  There was plenty to do (and to spend your money on!) but it would have been nicer to have had more local produce to buy and more local businesses and societies peddling their wares.  Nevertheless the event is still in its infancy and perhaps after the success of this year maybe it will encourage more businesses next year.  The high turn out was probably helped by the fine weather (despite the forecast of showers) but we will not take that away from the organisation and obvious enthusiasm of the people behind the scenes.

I will leave you now but warn you that from now I am going to get very busy at work so there may be a few gaps between updates so I will not promise the quantity or quality of the updates as I will be relying more on Lucinda for stories and photos.  The joys of working in the Sports Television industry.  Meanwhile here is an impressive crop of photos, including plenty from Staines Upon Thames day 2014.

Peace and love





Superstar and new shoes!

So you hadn’t had an update for weeks and then, in the manner of buses, three come along in a short time.  See, I am trying to make up for my poor showing in 2014 as well as regale the happenings of the Bagnall clan.  I hope that this meets with your approval.

If you cast your mind back to before the solar panels write up to the first of this trilogy of write ups you will recall that it was Easter holidays.  You also may recall that at the beginning of last term I made a promise with Éowyn.  She would receive an item of her choosing from the Disney store (an Elsa dress that we are still waiting for stock in her size to return to the Disney store) if she managed to achieve superstar status five times during the term.  She made that target before half term and so as a Dad of my word she will receive an Elsa dress, assuming that Disney ever manage to restock.

I was not foolish enough to make the same deal for the last term and I am glad that I didn’t!  Éowyn returned to school on a Tuesday.  In the four days of that first week she achieved superstar status every day and topped it all with the weekly award that she received in morning assembly before the entire school.  It was confirmed with a note in the school newsletter and a certificate.  I could not allow that achievement to go unrewarded and so there is yet another trip to the local Disney store planned to choose another prize.  Actually it will be the same trip, she will just pick up two prizes.  Not sure how long this encouragement can go on, either Éowyn will get bored and the incentive will no longer work, or I will be bankrupt.  Buy Disney shares!

Éowyn’s superstar statuses this week were based on reading and writing.  She moved up a level with her reading and is now where the majority of reception class children should be at the end of their first school year and her writing is coming along in leaps and bounds.  She is encouraged to write and not to worry about the spelling at the moment, it is all about getting the ideas down.  An approach many adults still have judging by their Facebook statuses.  Éowyn’s class have recently been learning about ‘People who help us’.  This has included firefighters, nurses, police officers and vets.  Then they have to write about the people who had come into see them.  So for the police officer she wrote a report about a thief that had been apprehended, so far so normal, but that was part one, he then absconded from gaol and was eventually recaptured.  She is finally using the imagination she uses everyday to make up games in her writing.

For the subject of her nurse story she related she relied more on memory than imagination.  A couple of weeks ago she decided that she would try a lift AmélieAmélie wriggled and Éowyn lost her balance and fell backwards.  Amélie landed on Éowyn’s head and there were tears.  After the usual cuddles and checks to see if they were OK, Éowyn complained that her ear hurt.  There was nothing obvious so we slightly dismissed it.  However as the evening drew on the pain was getting more intense and she began to cry with the pain.  Thinking that she may have done so serious damage I took her to the walk-in clinic in Ashford.  After a short wait the on-duty nurse looked into her ear with anotoscope and said that she could see some swelling but nothing to be concerned about.  She asked if Éowyn had a cold, which she had, and said that the impact had probably bruised the one side of her ear while the cold was putting pressure on the other side.  She suggested that we Calpol her up and wait for the swelling to go down and to return if it wasn’t becoming less painful.  Éowyn received a sticker for being brave and returned home fine.  The Calpol did its job and the incident gave Éowyn inspiration for her nurse’s story.

Éowyn is not the only one who has received a sticker for being brave at the nurses.  Both Amélie and Ezra have had stickers in the last week or so.  Both were due booster jabs so as Lucinda and I were both off we decided to get them both done at the same time.  I would hold Amélie and Lucinda would hold Ezra.  As with Éowyn two years before we forewarned Amélie that the injections would feel like a scratch and may hurt a little but if she was a brave girl she could choose something from the Disney store (I did tell you to buy shares!).  As an added incentive Ezra would be in the same room and she would have to be brave for him.  I know what you are thinking cruel parents!

Amélie was incredibly brave, she didn’t cry, only winced when the first one went in and whimpered a little on the second one.  In complete contrast to Éowyn who screamed the place down when she had hers.  After receiving her stickers (one for each arm) we said that it was Ezra’s turn.  Amélie then said that she didn’t want to see Ezra have his so I took her back to the waiting room, while Lucinda held Ezra.  Again Ezra was brave (he must have seen how brave his sister was).  He didn’t make a sound on the first, whimpered a little on the second but the third was a bit of a shock and then he cried but not for long.  So the girls are now inoculation free until secondary school while Ezra will have his last set in about two years time.

So what else has been keeping me from this website?

There have been a lot of housey things.  With the recent fine weather we have been able to get into the garden and use my new toy (a self propelled petrol lawnmower).  We have also begun our new hobby (if you can call it that) growing our own vegetables.  Three rows of potatoes are growing nicely, as is a double row of green beans (because I don’t get enough of them at work!).  Unfortunately my strawberry plants have been dug up and taken by culprits unknown (although my suspicion lies squarely with the local squirrel population).  We have a row of herbs starting to grow and our pumpkin plants are nearly ready to make the move outside.  We also have some bunny tail grass and sunflowers for decoration and half a dozen tomato plants.  Not exactly the self-sufficient lifestyle à la Tom and Barbara but it is a start with relatively low maintenance crops that even we should be able to get something.  It is also nice for the girls to see where food comes from and give them more reason to eat the produce when we come to harvest.  Fingers crossed that they will taste nice too.

The other addition to the garden is the wendy house from the last place.  It is actually about 11 years old bought by Nanny and Granddad for Lauren (and Maddie).  They have outgrown it so we inherited it and not only has it lasted pretty well for the decade or so it has been built three times (by Granddad) so it is doing well.  Just needs a lick of paint and it is good to go, not that has stopped them so far.  Even Ezra has been inside.

Ezra has also had an eventful time he has increased his vocabulary by one word: ‘that’.  This word is used ubiquitously in conjunction with the pointed index finger.  If he sees something that he wants, anything that he wants, even if he knows he is not allowed to have it, the finger straightens, he looks you in the eye and ‘that’.  It is the only word he needs.  We have tried to get him to say ‘ta’ when he is given something.  Not interested.  ‘That!’  He has also learned to wave goodbye, whether you are going or not.  Probably linked to not giving him ‘that’.

We have also bought him his first pair of shoes.  He was spending so much time on his feet holding against things, that we thought that if we bought him some shoes it might encourage him to walk.  When standing he also tends to tiptoe.  Primarily so that it gives him a little more reach to get hold of ‘that’, but it is also one of the stages that little go through before they start to walk.  So we also hoping that with the shoes he would not be able to tiptoe so easily and encourage him to use the whole of his foot.  We are still waiting.

Amélie also had new shoes (a trip to Clarks cost us a fortune!).  Her feet had grown very quickly up over two sizes, how she had managed to squeeze her feet into those shoes for so long we will never know.  It will be Éowyn’s  turn next with new school shoes a must over the summer.

So another season draws to a close, West Bromwich Albion survived (just) and now the hard work of the Summer begins.  Usually the off-season is quite quiet for me, last season that was not the case and neither will it be this season.  The  Summer will see the transfer of Premier League Productions under the bosom of Stockley Park and all the testing and installation to go with that.  There is also a World Cup (of men’s football), Wimbledon and The Open Golf Championship.  I have got to try and squeeze in some vacation among all that.  Hopefully I will have enough time to keep you abreast of our little family unit.

Hopefully you have enjoyed this trilogy of updates and I promise not to leave it so long next time.  Don’t forget to have a look at our Flickr page (link on the right hand side) there are a few hundred new photos.

Peace and Love