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





First update of the year

2014 has begun (in the UK at least – we will not talk about the Polar Vortex in the US) as 2013 ended with storms and flooding, indeed the floodwaters have been encroaching the Staines area and the Thames is approaching the record highs of 1947 and 1894 (and let us not forget the terrible floods of 1774!). Fortunately the new Bagnall manor although not that far from the River Thames and Staines Upon Thames town centre stands on a 1000 year flood plain, which although doesn’t completely guarantee that we will never get flooded, does infer that it would have to be a pretty weather impressive event to do so, which is just as well as I have not found my wellies yet, they must be still in one of the many unopened boxes sitting in the garage.

We may have moved in to Bagnall manor in November with Christmas but with the general malaise induced by the melancholy weather (not to mention the almost perpetual precipitation) we still have a considerable number of boxes sitting in the garage waiting to be opened.  Most of the important stuff has found a new home however the bookshelves betray what lies hidden in some of those boxes.

With the New Year comes a return to routine.  I am at work (not that the Christmas break affected that routine), the girls are back to school (and thankfully their school has remained open during the ‘floods’, many of the schools have closed not due to the flooding per se but because the drains are full) while Lucinda is left at home with Ezra (at least for a couple more months until her maternity leave comes to an end).  Amélie is now entitled to 15 hours of free nursery tuition and so to take full advantage of one of the few government schemes we are entitled to, she now goes to TinyTots 3 days a week.  This means that we only have to pay for three hours of tuition a week (and her lunches) a considerable saving for us but it does mean that Amélie has had a 50% increase in attendance.  Poor little mite, although she enjoys it and it is good for her.

Ezra is growing up fast.  He spends a lot of his waking hours (and to be fair to the lad he does still like his daytime naps) either standing against whatever seems stationary, included your leg if you stand still long enough, crawling around the house or putting whatever he can find that is small enough into his mouth.  Has has also started cruising, holding onto the furniture and walking.  Although he has not yet summoned the courage to try to walk.  Indeed if you try to encourage him by holding his hands he tries to sit down, not yet interested.  Not that he needs to expend any more energy to wear himself out for he is usually good at night.  However over the last week or so he has been a little disturbed but that is due in no small part to his teeth.  He already has 9 teeth, which I think is quite a lot for 10 month old, however we think his back teeth are starting to poke through and they are causing him some pain. We are prepared though, Bonjela and Calpol the pain-fighting duo are at hand to numb the pain enough to get him to sleep.

The biggest milestone that Ezra has just achieved is the power of recognisable words. ‘Daddadaddadaddadda‘ is the main (and most important) one but he has also said ‘Yum‘.  Éowyn is convinced that he said ‘Éowyn‘ and this let Amélie to say that she heard him say ‘Amélie‘.  Poor Mommy.

As part of the new year, new house regime we have decided to mark the height of our children for prosperity.  It will be interesting to see how much they grow over the months and years.  For those of your that are unable to see the results:  Éowyn is 119.5cm (a shade under 4 feet – the height of an average 7 year old); Amélie is 103cm and Ezra is 71cm.

Anecdote of the month goes to Amélie.  I was putting the girls to bed and Amélie, tries to climb into bed wearing an eye-patch.  Thinking that this wasn’t a very good idea I said to Amélie, ‘Take that off please, you are not going to bed wearing an eye-patch.‘ (A phrase that I never thought that I would ever say). ‘But Daddy, I’m a pirate.‘  A fair reply I hear you cry.  However the danger of going to bed with a piece of elastic around her head is a stronger driver so it was time to make a new rule ‘We do not go to bed with an eye-patch in this house, whether we are a pirate or not.

Now as this is only a relatively short write up so I will leave you with this nugget of information: last weekend’s full moon was the smallest full moon for 1,000 years as the full moon occurred within 2 hours of apogee (the furthest point in the moon’s orbit).  It will keep that distinction until 2154 when a full moon will occur closer to apogee.  Unless I live to 181 I will not see this, even the Baguettes will have to break the current longevity records to see it.

I will leave you with some photos and promise that it will not be so long until I update you all with latest events in the Bagnall household.

Peace and Love