Welcome to 2017 and the first post of the new year. This is my traditional Janus-like post where I look back upon the year just gone and the one that lies before us.
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
I began this first post of the New Year while the house was still in its clinquant finery, unfortunately for you dear readers life has got in the way and I now post it a couple of weeks into January. However as usual this post is where I sit like the personification of Janus with one eye on the future and one on the year just gone.
I do not think that I can go any further without mentioning the defining family event of the year. It is always difficult when someone we love passes away; when that person is a much loved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, friend then even more so. John passed away on Monday 19th October from pleomorphic cell sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. He had been diagnosed in April after months of investigations into the pain in his shoulder and a loss of control of his arm, and was told it was terminal in September. So, although not unexpected the relative swiftness of his passing was a shock to us all; a shock that we are all still coming to terms with and no doubt will do for many years to come.
It goes without saying that Granddad’s death has left an enormous hole in our lives and it has also made us think of our own mortality. It was a testament to the man to see so many people at his funeral; he had touched so many people’s lives and all wanted to pay respect to him. He was an extremely practical man and although it is right and fitting that we are grieving he would not want us moping around.
This was the first time that the children had to deal with grief. Indeed it was the first time that Lucinda had to really face bereavement, especially of someone so close. Thus, it was me that told the girls (Ezra is too young) about their Granddad. I explained that Granddad had died and asked them if they understood and whether they wanted to ask any questions and I answered them as truthfully as I could. I assured them that it was fine to cry and to be upset and we sat in a huddle and hugged each other while crying. I let them see me cry to illustrate that I, too, was upset that Granddad had died and thus there was no shame in crying.
The questions that the girls asked, illustrates the difference between them. The scientific questions from Éowyn, (‘How do you catch cancer?’, ‘What happens to your body?’ etc.) to the practical from Amélie (‘Who is going to cook me pancakes? ‘Who is going to fix my toys when I break them?’). I answered them as honestly as I could, without going into any dark details, then came the question ‘Is Granddad in heaven?’ ‘Can we go and visit him?’
Now, I may not believe in Heaven, but then again neither do I believe in Father Christmas. Like Father Christmas I am not going to crush the girls’ belief with my adult logic (flawed or otherwise), it is more important for them to believe in the magic. In the same way that the belief in the magic of Christmas is embodied in the personification of Father Christmas then Heaven is a belief in the enduring love of those we have lost.
Please feel free to click here to read my tribute to Granddad, and here if you want to read my ramblings on life and death. I have also set up a tribute page to John that you can reach by clicking here, you will see that we have raised over £500 for the Sam Beare hospice that looked after John so well.
It is difficult to follow the memory of Granddad’s passing but 2015 has many good memories too and it has been very important year in the life of our second born. September saw Amélie start full time education. This is an important step in everybody’s life and so it was for Amélie. Indeed she has now completed a full term at school and is still enjoying herself. She gets on well with her teacher, Miss Snow, and as seemingly made some friends. This was something, that Amélie had put great importance on when she first went to school, and became upset when the other children didn’t seem interested in becoming her friend. We spoke to miss Snow about this and she said that it was no slight on Amélie moreover it was the fact that Amélie was emotionally more mature that the average reception pupil and so although Amélie was putting great store on building a special relationship, none of the other children were ready for such a commitment. Notwithstanding the lack of a best friend Amélie is progressing very well and hopefully she can continue this through 2016.
Éowyn continued her journey through the education system moving from Year 1 to Year 2. She has settled in well to changing school at such a delicate age and has made a number of very good friends, however she has still not forgot her best friend Aaliyah from her previous school. She has enjoy her extra-curricula activities especially drama. Indeed Sense Theatre the third party company that taught the after school drama club filmed their summer performance and then arranged a premiere showing where the actors were treated as V.I.P.s. It was a difficult watch (imagine a school play 2 hours long) but Éowyn thoroughly enjoyed it and we purchased a DVD recording for prosperity, if ever you are suffering from insomnia.
Meanwhile our third born has become a cheeky young man. He has two older sisters and therefore he has to stick up for himself and that he does rather well; he will not be taken for a fool. His speech is coming along very well and he will have to look forward to joining his sisters in going to school (or pre-school in his case) in the coming year. One of Ezra’s biggest steps this last year was his first taste of foreign travel. Indeed a big step for all of our children. The Bagnall family holiday (one of two – the other was no less exotic: The Lake District) in 2015 was to visit Sarigerme in Turkey. This was Ezra’s first flight (which he loved) and the first time that the Baguettes had visited another continent, for although Turkey straddles both Europe and Asia and we were most certainly in Asia. We feel fortunate that we decided to go to Turkey last year, as although we all loved Turkey and felt safe in the region, with the current sociopolitical situation in Turkey I am not sure that I would want to be taking my family there this summer.
The Baguettes are not the only members of the Bagnall family that have had seen big changes. 2015 saw Lucinda give up her career at the airport, retrain and become a full time Ofsted registered child minder. It can not be understated how much of a big decision this was and how well Lucinda has adjusted to the change. You may recall that Lucinda used to work for Air Canada, as ground staff at Heathrow Airport. However, as is the want in our modern world Air Canada found it too expensive to employ staff at Heathrow but with flights still terminating and originating from such a busy hub they turned to a handling agency to provide this service. Lucinda took redundancy and took a job with the handling agency. She worked for ASIG for a year but realised that the job she has done for the previous sixteen years no longer existed and the job was interfering with being there for her children. Hence the retraining and the child minding. Child minding is not the easiest of jobs as you are working with children constantly without any adult interaction, but she has got good feedback from the parents of the children thatch looks after which is some comfort that she is doing things right.
This is the last time I will mention it but last year (my twentieth at IMG) was a very good year for winning things. There has been the Emmy, NBC won the Emmy for Outstanding Technical Team Studio at the 36th Sports Emmy award and 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 (although I promise not to mention it on this website again!); a signed Rugby World Cup ball (thanks England for being the first host team to be eliminated at the group stage heavily deflating any value that it has) but the first, and arguably the best, was the trip to Vienna.
For those of you that can’t quite remember the details: IMG provided facilities to the BBC to produce the 60th Eurovision Song Contest for transmission on BBC 1. The 2015 contest was hosted in Vienna due to the previous year’s win by the Bearded Lady: Conchita Wurst. Apparently this hasn’t happened before but it is in the spirit of the competition the Austrian Ambassador hosted a send-off party for the UK entry at the Austrian Embassy. Invitations were strictly ‘invite only’ and along with the BBC personnel, four of us from IMG were invited to attend. As we entered the Embassy we were given a raffle ticket. Never say no to a free raffle ticket: the top prize being two return flights to Vienna on Austrian Airways and two nights in Das Triest Hotel (and a 1 metre inflatable Austrian Airways jet). This is what I won.
We decided that we would like to visit Vienna as the winter drew in and the Christmas markets begun, unfortunately weekends in December were filled booked and so we headed to Central Europe mid November. It came at a good time, a month after Granddad’s passing and allowed us to relax as a couple without trying to make the weekend something more because it has cost us money. Nevertheless we did managed to take a lot in int he 48 hours or so that we were there including the early Christmas markets. We thoroughly enjoyed Vienna and would recommend a visit there, and indeed would love to go back.
2015 also saw the Bagnall family grow by two more members. Chez Bagnall welcomed its first pets in the shape of two guinea pigs: Toffee and Frazzle. As this only happened at the end of December we will see how 2016 progresses how the novelty of pet ownership continues with the Baguettes. Early indicators are favourable but let us revisit this in June.
2015 also saw an additional to the structure of the house itself in the shape of a fireplace and a multi-fuel stove. The house is big and old and lacks the insulation of modern homes and therefore can sometimes feel quite cold. Rather than turn the central heating on to heat the entire house when during the day we are all spending time in the lounge the stove should come into its own. That is the theory anyway and if we are being completely honest the look and feel of a real fire is much more that just the heat it gives off, plus you get to burnt things!
So what will 2016 bring our family. Hopefully it will be a little more boring. The last few years have been manic with huge emotional earthquakes. I think the family could do with just a year that just plods along nothing too stressful or life changing. That is off course if we survive yet another end of the world prophecy (if you want to read my thoughts on the 2012 prophecy read this). Apparently we survived the authors own 2015 prophecy and so it is now being pushed to 2016. I think I am safe to say that you will still be able to read this post in 2017 (if you choose to do so).
So as we leap into 2016 with precious few longterm plans (we have a couple of holidays booked) we hold our heads up high and face the future as a family and I leave you with this thought:
“May Light always surround you;
Hope kindle and rebound you.
May your Hurts turn to Healing;
Your Heart embrace Feeling.
May Wounds become Wisdom;
Every Kindness a Prism.
May Laughter infect you;
Your Passion resurrect you.
May Goodness inspire
your Deepest Desires.
Through all that you Reach For,
May your arms Never Tire.”
― D. Simone
Peace and Love