A night at the Embassy and an Emmy win

And so another Premier League season draws to an end.  The first solely from Stockley Park and although it hasn’t been without incident on the whole it has been relatively successful.  Indeed not only successful for IMG but NBC, the rights holders in the United States.  They have raised the profile of football (or soccer) in the States and not only for their production standards but for the technical complexity of bringing Premier League games into the homes of the average American.  Indeed, on the 5th May 2015 in New York they won an Emmy, in the 36th Sports Emmy awards, for Outstanding Technical Team Studio.

If you look at the list of Technical Supervisors whose names are on that Emmy, you may recognise a familiar name.  NBC were gracious, not only to recognise the fact that my department assist them in their technological endeavours but to include me and a number of other IMG staff members on the official list of winners.  I was very touched by this kind gesture and NBC had no obligation to include us in their win nevertheless it means that I am an Emmy winner and entitled to say so in perpetuity.

Not a bad start to my new position at work.  Yes after 4 years as Head of Live Operations I am now Head of Engineering, MCR and Live Operations.  As part of a departmental restructure I have become a third of the Cerberus inspired, Head of Engineering role.  This is my 6th position, in my 19 plus years at IMG, a relatively unusual state of affairs in our modern world.

The new position brings more responsibilities and a further step away the coal face which has the added benefit that I will be working only one weekend in three, rather than every weekend that I do at the moment: a rebalancing of the work-life equation and more, quality, family time.

The streak of good fortune is continuing.  IMG are currently providing facilities to the BBC to produce the 60th Eurovision Song Contest.  The contest is being hosted in Vienna due to last year’s win by the Bearded Lady: Conchita Wurst.  In the spirit of the competition the Austrian Ambassador hosted a send-off party at the Austrian Embassy.  Along with the BBC personnel, four of us from IMG were invited to attend.  How can you refuse an invitation to an Embassy from an Ambassador?  Therefore, Tuesday saw the four of us head for Belgrave Square at the Austrian Embassy.

A grand building, as befits an embassy, the party was just getting going as we arrived; good timing from our point of view.  There was a steady flow of alcohol but disappointingly no silver platters of Ferrero Rocher.  After an introduction by Rufus Hound, Electro Velvet (the UK entrant) performed their song: ‘Still in love with you’ and there was an opportunity to grab a photo with the duo.

The icing on the cake, and the completion of the hattrick of wins, was yours truly winning the top prize in the free raffle.  Yes, I won flights to Vienna and two nights in a boutique hotel to be taken by the end of the year.  With Lucinda’s birthday less than a week away it was a good present to add to the 1 metre inflatable Austrian Airways jet that the tickets came attached to.

This website is not supposed to be hogged by me, merely written by me but I think they are worthy of inclusion in family news.  However, you are here to hear about the exploits of the baguettes so I will stall no longer.

Lucinda’s new venture, her new vocation, childminding is going well.  As mentioned I will not go into details on this website however suffice to say her regular care is settled and she has helped a neighbour out with two days of emergency childcare.  She has raised invoices and has been paid.  More importantly she has not had to wake up at 0345 and spend a day being shouted at by irate passengers.  She has been able to pick our children up from school and be there for them every day.

Even better than that, because as a registered childminder she has had to be DBS (CRB) checked (and consequently so have I by association) and therefore we have been able to register with Éowyn’s school as potential helpers.  Therefore, when the school asked for volunteers to help with the year 1 school trip to the Living Rainforest in Berkshire, Lucinda put her name down and was invited to assist.  So while Lucinda and Éowyn had fun at the Rainforest (not really fun for Lucinda looking after 6 children), I took the day off to look after Amélie and Ezra.  This is something that we would not have even considered in the past.  So although it was a difficult decision to leave the airport it is rapidly proving to be the correct one.

As school trips indicate Éowyn’s school year is rapidly coming to an end, just a half term left but there is still an awful amount to squeeze in to those few weeks.  She is enjoying her after school dancing lessons (taking after her aunties and cousins).  She has some end of year academic tests (personally I think that this is a little too young – let them be children!), however the biggest event will undoubtedly be Éowyn’s film role.

As I have previously mentioned her after school drama class are shooting a little film and all the children in the class have been given roles.  Éowyn has been typecast as the naughty girl.  She has a number of lines and hopefully is taking it seriously.  There will be a premiere and a red carpet event, something definitely to look forward to.  Could it be the start of an illustrious film career?  Are you someone from the future looking at this website for a background on the latest Oscar winner?

Éowyn isn’t the only one whose academic year is rapidly drawing to an end.  Amélie will take a big step in her life, leaving nursery and heading for full time education in September.  We have had Amélie’s school place confirmed and she will be attending the same school as Éowyn.  Unfortunately they will not be in the same campus for as Éowyn moves to year two so she will move further up the road to the bigger site.  It will be a further two years before they are on the same site.

Amélie currently attends the outstanding nursery at the school across the road from Éowyn’s new campus.  However, it seems that Amélie has misheard the name of her current school for she does not attend Our Lady of the Grocery.  In fairness, she does not really know what a Rosary is, the heathens that we are.  We are very impressed with Our Lady of Rosary nursery so much that we have put Ezra’s name down, even though he is not due to start for nearly a year: such is the envisioned demand the newly bestowed outstanding status will have.

Ezra is growing up though and his vocabulary is increasing daily.  Much of it revolves around food: ‘Pork Pie’, ‘Chocolate Toast’, ‘Cheese’ and the ubiquitous ‘More Please’ but there are the usual animals, colours and cartoon characters.  If he is out and about and he sees an animal he will point to it, name it and then make the sound associated with the animal.

Usually this is a dog, for as we take the girls to school we have to walk through the local park where many people walk their dogs.  He will point to the spaniels, collies and other various breeds and declare ‘dog’ followed by ‘woof, woof’.  However that wasn’t what he said when he saw an Old English Sheepdog.  He looked scared, pointed at the beast and muttered ‘Bear’.

‘No,’ I replied, ‘it is a doggie.’

‘No Daddy,’ came the answer. ‘Bear!’

I suppose to a two year old child an Old English Sheepdog would look like a bear and he, for one was not to be dissuaded.

Ezra’s new found love is jigsaws.  Not the electrically powered reciprocating saws but the multi-piece puzzles.  It is something that we are encouraging for it develops his eye to hand co-ordination, manual dexterity and problem solving at the very least.  Indeed he enjoys them so much he will sit on the floor after completing his current favourite, a 45 piece ‘In The Night Garden’ puzzle, and before you have a chance to congratulate him he will take it apart and start again.  We would prefer him to do this though, than sit with the iPad or watching television.  There is a hint of irony considering my career, or perhaps I have better appreciation.

So, with a full BBC crew producing the Eurovision Song Concert, semi-finals and final and preparations underway for 10 simultaneous matches for the last day of the Premier League season (can West Bromwich Albion end the season with a hattrick of their own, with wins against Manchester United – check – Chelsea – check and Arsenal – tbc); not to mention the last Football League shows produced by IMG for the BBC, and a couple of recruitment drives television is taking up a great deal of my time this week.  Therefore, I will bid you adieu and leave you to look at the latest batch of photos.

Peace and love



Has Spring, sprung?

It seems that we go from one extreme to another with our weather.  After a week of freezing temperatures and snow across the land, we now have unseasonably warm weather with the mercury touching 17°C (19°C in some places!) and the news that the south east of England is in drought conditions due to lack of rainfall.  Not bad for February!

Éowyn’s behaviour has improved immensely.  Obviously it has been half-term and so we have been able to spend time with her, without her feeling that she is being dumped from one place to another.  Now she is back at school and we return to the old routine we need to be conscious of not letting the impetus and her behaviour slip.  So far, she has been very well behaved and is receiving copious amounts of encouragement from Mommy and Daddy for this, which she is responding to in the manner we would like.

Last weekend (the end of the half term break) we travelled up the M40 to West Bromwich and Nanny Fran (and Auntie Liz of course). We arrived Saturday morning, dropped the girls off with auntie Liz and headed to Great Uncle Albert’s house to help get it ready for an estate agent viewing.  As you may recall Uncle Albert passed away at the end of January and now there is the difficult task of sorting out his estate, which includes selling his house. Myself and Lucinda joined Nanny Fran, her cousin Ray and Uncle Albert’s friend Yvonne to try and sort the house out.  His house had been broken into during the week but it was difficult for us to determine what had been taken as we did not (obviously) have an inventory. It is quite upsetting to think that some burglar had been in Uncle Albert and Auntie Iris’s house and gone through their things.  We found it very difficult looking through someone’s personal effects but nevertheless fascinating at the same time, especially looking through the effects of someone who has lived for so long and through many interesting times.  One of the most interesting things that we found was an old newspaper (The Birmingham Mail) that was lining one of his drawers.  It was from Friday 28th March 1958 and there was an article bemoaning the fact that televising football matches was having a detrimental effect on attendances.  Specifically, the F.A. Cup semi-final replay at Highbury (it doesn’t mention the teams but I believe it to be Manchester United (who won the game 5-3 but lost to Bolton Wanderers in the Final 2-0) v Fulham and was actually played on the 26th March 1958) where there were only 38,000 supporters in a ground that could hold 68,000.  It is only a small article but it mentions the fact that the grounds are poorly constructed without a thought for the fans so a ‘lukewarm soccer supporter‘ will stay at home if he has a TV set and the clubs will miss his two shillings!  The article concludes that ‘Big games belong to the nation and television is a link.  It must not become the game’s ball and chain.‘ So the arguments between television rights and the fan that turns up every week to watch his (or her) team haven’t changed that much in 54 years!

Éowyn and Amélie were very well behaved for their Auntie Liz and were extremely excited to see their Nanny Fran when we returned from Great Barr.  They both like to see their Nanny Fran (and Auntie Liz) and enjoy playing with the toys that Nanny Fran has at her house (some of which were mine!).  Nanny Fran looked after Amélie over night so Lucinda and I got a little bit of a easier night, although someone should have told Éowyn!

We returned back to Middlesex Sunday afternoon (so it really was a flying visit) so that Éowyn could have an early night ready for her return to pre-school after the half term break.  And so Monday morning Éowyn returned to the routine of schooling.  I was  off work and so Lucinda, Amélie and I headed to Kingston-Upon-Thames for some shopping.  Amélie needed new shoes and I needed a new suit for a black tie event (but more of that later) as my old suit is far too big for me as I now weigh 4 stone (56 pounds for Americans or 25.5kgs for everyone else) less than I did the last time I had to wear that suit.  One successful shopping trip later we returned home with everything we had gone for and the cherry on the cake was the fact that Éowyn received glowing praise from her pre-school teachers.

As I mentioned in the last write up, Éowyn has stopped wearing nappies to bed.  This has been on the whole a great success however, whether it was worries about going to pre-school or just because she was going to bed very tired but she had accidents two nights running.  We have been lulled into a false sense of security and believed that she would just go from the safety of nappies to not wearing nappies in a heartbeat.  Obviously it is never that easy and she has done remarkably well but now we need to help her.  So, when Lucinda and I go to bed which is usually a couple or three hours after Éowyn we have taken to waking her and leading her to the potty and trying to get her to have a wee so hopefully she will then last through the night or just get into the habit of getting out of bed when she recognises the need.

Wednesday, Lucinda was working so before I headed to Chiswick and work I did the usual double drop off of Amélie to Jo’s and Éowyn to pre-school.  I also had to make sure that I had my new suit, dress shirt and dickie bow.  For IMG mediahouse were sponsoring a table at the RTS Television Journalism Awards which was held at the Hilton in Park Lane.  It was my first award ceremony and although thoroughly exciting it was also very humbling to be there.  We work in television but it puts our work into sharp perspective when you hear the stories of the embedded and uncover journalists that risk their lives daily to bring the truth to our television schedules.  Indeed the evening was somewhat overshadowed by the death of Marie Colvin an American journalist working for the Sunday Times in Syria.  Indeed the list of the those journalists that had lost their lives in the line of duty this past year was sobering as were the stories that the won many of the journalists their awards.  Sports television doesn’t seem half as important any more.

I returned home at 0100 but unfortunately didn’t manage to get the 5 hours of sleep I was hoping for.  Lucinda had called me in the afternoon to say that Amélie had been sick at Jo’s and so to prevent the spread of any possible virus that she may have she would have to be dropped at Nanny and Granddad’s, although Éowyn would still need to be dropped off at Jo’s.  Amélie’s sickness continued through the night and the next morning, and indeed throughout Friday.  Unfortunately because we have begun to test her milk protein intolerance we are unsure whether the sickness was due to a reaction to milk protein or whether it was indeed a virus.  So once she has fought this sickness we will have to go back a step on testing her milk protein intolerance and see if it happens again, that will prove whether it was the milk protein intolerance or just a virus.  However, the poor girl has been suffering, which is never good to see and it has affected her sleeping which therefore means that neither Lucinda or I got much sleep either.  But she has come out of the other side of it now and just needs to regain her strength.

Therefore, if you will excuse me I will take advantage of a day off and try and put some sleep back into the sleep bank but before I go I am afraid that I have some more bad news.  The sister of one of my Mom’s friends and my eldest sister’s god mother passed away on 20th February.  Auntie Anne (as we called her) ran a B&B in St Ives, Cornwall for many years a place that we spent a number of holidays when we were children.  She leaves her sister, Teresa and our thoughts are with her.

Peace and love