I would walk 500 miles

Another month draws to an end which means that we have already had a quarter of 2014.  How did that happen?  As John Lennon said: ‘Life is what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans‘.  This update is a little overdue and has had to be rewritten a number of times so apologies for those of you that have been waiting with bated breath for the latest instalment of Baggie and Lucy dot-com.

As 2013 taught us, life has a habit of throwing things at you, both expected and unexpected and 2014 has started in a similar vein.  As regular readers know this is about the time that Lucinda should have been happily returning to work after an extended maternity leave.  That is still true, in a fashion, but not quite the full story.

As regular readers and close friends will know Air Canada are outsourcing ground staff at Heathrow Airport to the handling company ASIG.  This handover coincides with Lucinda’s return to work, consequently just as Lucinda was preparing herself to enter the grown up world of work there have been a number of very grown up decisions to be made.  Those decisions have been made, the relevant applications have been filled in and verbal confirmations have been given however we are still waiting for the definitive written contract (in the case of the job offer from ASIG) and in the case of VSP (Voluntary Separation Package – a form of redundancy) from Air Canada the cheque.  A brave new world beckons.

So what else has happened since the last update?

I have celebrated another birthday.  A week after Ezra’s first birthday, I celebrated my forty-first complete orbit of the sun.  I think that the girls were more excited that it was my birthday than I was.  For the second Thursday in a row I managed to leave work early and returned home in time to go to the local pizza restaurant for a birthday meal.  The girls enjoy pizza and doughballs and with a discount afforded to me by virtue of my tastecard, Pizza Express seemed like a good choice.  Éowyn was so excited that she kept whispering to the waiter than it was her daddy’s birthday, so when my dessert arrived (tiramisu – if you really must know) it was adorned by a lit candle and accompanied with the waiter (and then the family and certain other patrons of the restaurant) singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me.

Happy Birthday isn’t the only song that Éowyn has been singing of late.  The girls’ musical tastes have been somewhat influenced by a combination of the Disney films that they watch and Lucinda’s choice of euterpean delight.  Current favourites include ‘Let it Go’ from the Disney film Frozen, a couple of Katy Perry songs: Firework and Roar and a variety of other Disney songs (thankfully no One Direction!).  There have been a few that I have been responsible for:  Shake Your Tailfeather by Ray Charles, Think by Aretha Franklin and The Candy Man by Sammy Davis Junior.  Then there have been a number that Éowyn has heard on the radio and quiet liked, Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin and Thank You For The Music – ABBA.  Another can now be added to that list: I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers.

I had picked Éowyn up from school and as usual the radio was on in the background while I asked Éowyn about her day.  The opening bars of I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) began and Éowyn’s ears pricked up.  ‘Daddy, can you turn the radio up please.‘  So I turned the radio up and she attempted to sing along.  ‘I like that Daddy, can we have it on when we get in the house?‘  I have played it a number of times for her now and showed her how to dance like a mad loon around the kitchen and she is not the only one that likes it.  Amélie tries to sing along and joins in the dancing and even Ezra will sit in his high chair tapping his foot in rhythm.  I am most pleased.

Éowyn however is not completely in the good books.  At school they have a traffic light system for behaviour.  Green – good behaviour, Yellow on a warning, Blue – Several warnings and Red – bad behaviour.  Éowyn has always been in green (as to be expected) and I had promised her a special gift if she stayed in green all year (still waiting for the Disney store to receive some more Frozen dresses to pay the promise of collecting 5 superstar certificates in one term).  I was prepared for perhaps a one-off or even occasional foray into yellow depending on the strictness of the teaching but was disappointed when Éowyn came home all upset to tell me that she had been on red.  I asked why she had been put on red and she told me that she had pushed Aaliyah (her best friend).  In Éowyn’s favour, she did not try to justify it, she just stated the facts.

Miss Finbow had no choice but to put Éowyn on red and so when Lucinda picked her up from school she was taken aside and told of the day’s events.  Miss Finbow explained that it was completely out of character for our eldest but had to give her the red card.  She also said that Éowyn was beside herself, extremely upset and there were lots of tears.  However, she somewhat redeemed herself by apologising straightaway and then later in the day with some outstanding writing which helped her to climb back into green.

I could see that Éowyn was upset and somewhat fearful to tell me, however she did and that in itself demonstrated some courage.   There was no point in shouting or getting angry, I just told her that I was disappointed and that she was never going to do it again.  I asked her why she had done it and you could see from her expression that she realised that it was trivial.  Apparently Aaliyah had something that Éowyn wanted, Aaliyah wouldn’t give it to Éowyn so Éowyn pushed her.  At least she had the maturity to realise what she had done was immature, something I wish some grown-ups had the foresight to realise.

Éowyn is still of the age where the term is probably just a little too long as so getting up for school everyday takes its toll.  You can see it on all their little faces that at the end of term they are ready for a holiday to recharge their batteries.  Éowyn’s Easter break could not be more ill-timed from a Bagnall viewpoint.  The first week of this Paschal festivity coincides with Lucinda’s return to work.  That could have worked out better.  Fortunately I work Wednesdays to Sundays and Lucinda only works two days in six and for Lucinda’s first two weeks back at work I can take one day’s holiday (which is actually a day owed in lieu for extra days worked) and be off with the kids for those days.  There are advantages to working weekends (sometimes!).

There will be days that we need to rely on family members and child minders but that is still in the future and we have no fully come to any decisions about that.  That might sound a tad unorganised but with Lucinda’s employment situation and the change of employer she is unsure of her shift pattern after the beginning of May.  That makes organising ad-hoc child minding a tad difficult.  Fortunately I should be able to take some holiday at the beginning of summer (although from July onwards a day-off yet alone a day’s holiday may be a rare and precious thing) to cope with her shifts.  We will see how that goes.

Éowyn still has a fascination with graveyards and death in general.  Every time we pass a cemetery she will ask to go in and have a look at the graves.  Passing one with Lucinda, Éowyn begun to tell Amelie that it was the place that they bury people.  This triggered a question: ‘Mommy, why do they bury people?‘  Lucinda explained that is what they do when someone dies.  This did not satisfy Éowyn.  ‘But why don’t they just leave them out on the ground?‘  Lucinda tried to explain that when we die we our bodies shrivel and rot like fruit and that wouldn’t be very nice.  Éowyn seemed nonplussed as if she wouldn’t mind if that was the tradition of this country in the manner of Zoroastrian religions such as the Parsi of India.

I have kept you long enough and now I am sure that you want to see the photos.  I hear my audience and here they are.

Peace and Love







Half term at Nanny Fran’s

As promised, the second update in a week – how I am spoiling you.  So what is it that warrants a second write up.  Nothing dramatic merely half-term coinciding with a non Premier League weekend meaning that I could wrangle five days off work and spend some time with my family.

Éowyn’s half term started a day early with an inset day, unfortunately we were still experiencing one of the countless Atlantic lows that have brought so much rain to this fair isle over winter.  Thus the Bagnall family needed to find an indoor activity.  Fortunately (well let’s think about this, not fortunately just good marketing by the film distributors) there are two child friendly movies released during half-term that appealed to Éowyn: The Lego Movie and Tinkerbell and the Pirate Fairy.  Daddy wanted to see the Lego Movie however since Amélie is also a big fan of the Tinkerbell movies we decided that this was an opportune time to take Amélie to see her first film at the cinema.  You may recall that Éowyn’s first trip to the cinema was to see the Muppet Movie at roughly the same age.  This time it was Lucinda’s turn to be the first to take one of our children to the cinema.  So Friday morning saw the Bagnall girls go en masse to the cinema in Staines to watch Tinkerbell and the Pirate Fairy, while the Bagnall boys stayed at home and talked about football (not really – Ezra slept).

Éowyn thoroughly enjoyed her cinema trip and avidly sat through the whole film.  Amélie was also very good considering it was her first time and only asked to leave when there was a scary part of the film.  However, Amélie doesn’t like loud noises and a cinema can be a particular noisy environment, Lucinda, being the experienced mother that she is, was prepared and took Amélie’s ear-muffs.  It was not long before Amélie complained that the cinema was too loud and so on went the ear-muffs and they did not come off for the entire film.  It may have looked a little strange but at least it muffled the sound enough for Amélie to enjoy the film and that’s all that matters!

Friday night saw 80mph winds and fallen trees (and a third fence panel) but Saturday saw a distinct change in the weather.  With greatest threat of flood warnings peaking on the Friday and our street seemingly avoiding the worst of it (large puddles appearing out of the drains but no streams or torrents of flood waters threatening our threshold – see photo below) we felt safe to leave the confines of Staines Upon Thames.  In mid-January the Badger Clan had decided that a trip to the Natural History Museum in London was called for and this first Saturday in the half-term break seemed to be the best date for all concerned.  Unfortunately with threat of inclement weather most of the clan had pulled out.  Undaunted the Bagnall sub-clan and Lucinda’s brother Michael, his girlfriend Cristina and eldest of the latest generation, Lauren caught the train from Staines Upon Thames to the Big Smoke.

I was not prepared for the popularity of the Natural History Museum (not sure why being a Saturday and half-term) but we joined the queue and were quickly inside.  The Natural History Museum is an impressive building without the exhibits but it was all a little too much for Amélie who was a little freaked out, especially since we said that we were going to see the dinosaurs.  Nevertheless the strong arms of Daddy carrying her into the main hall was enough to allay her fears and raise her excitement levels at the wonders within.

Unfortunately we were only in the museum for 20 minutes or so (enough time to see the Diplodocus and the whale hall) before there was an evacuation and we were all ushered outside.  It was a big disappointment as we hadn’t seen the dinosaurs or managed to fully take in the big wonders that are the whales.  (Éowyn has a half-term project entitled ‘Under the Sea’ so we were going to use the trip to highlight some of the wonders of the sea and indeed the vast size of creatures such as the Blue Whale).

With thousands of displaced people milling about in the street waiting to go back into the museum we decided that we would wander a little way down the street and visit the Science Museum instead.  Although fascinating for me, I think the girls are a little too young to appreciate the wonders inside.  A skeleton of a dinosaur fills all ages with awe-inspired wonder but there needs to be a little more of an understanding to appreciate the beauty of Stevenson’s Rocket or rotative engines built by James Watt.  Also, to best take advantage of the Science Museum it is worth visiting their website and planning your visit, booking timeslots to see the various exhibitions.  I think that is perhaps a visit left for when they are little older.  I can’t wait.

So after the culture side of our trip to London, we headed into Piccadilly on, what Éowyn described as the best part of the day, the top deck of a double decker bus for a late lunch.  A quick walk around Covent Garden (including a visit to the Disney story – although nothing grabbed Éowyn’s fancy as reward for the 5 superstar certificates) before heading over Hungerford Bridge (well strictly the Eastern Golden Jubilee Footbridge) to Waterloo railway station and home.  The girls were both very well behaved and considering the amount of walking that they did, did not complain for the entire day.  This was probably because it was such an exciting day out and there was plenty to keep them occupied.

Both were so worn out that they slept past 0800 the next morning.  This is in complete contrariety to the norm.  School days usually involves dragging them (metaphorically) out of bed at 0730 to give them time to breakfast and get dressed before leaving with enough time to walk to school (rather than a sprint from a parking space half a mile away).  Holidays and weekends usually involves them waking up at 0600 and waking Mommy and Daddy up when we could actually catch up on our beauty sleep (not that we need it :-))  So an opportunity to have a lie in while our children slept was a welcome, if somewhat unique occurrence.

A relaxing Sunday was followed by another adventure on Monday.  Calling on the services of Lauren once again, we headed to Epsom and the delights of Hobbledown Farm.  Hobbledown is a rebranded (or built out of the ashes of – depending on the rumours) Horton Park Farm based on a mystical and magical fantasy tale by A. J. Kecojevic (to be honest I had not heard of it until I started writing this update).  In 50 acres of farmland it combines a farm/ petting zoo with an outdoor adventure playground and an extremely large indoor play barn.  It is themed around the Hobblers, fey-like gnomic people who are based on traditional English nature spirits and their arch-enemies the Skibblers, ugly, hook-nosed goblin-like entities that have arrived in Hobbledwon intent on causing mischief.

Although it was half-term the inclement weather had put pay to baying throngs and there were no queues (although they were still operating a 90 minute time limit in the indoor play-barn).  The girls enjoyed the animals and the adventure playground (there was an aerial adventure course aimed at older children that Lauren completed, which culminated in a zip-wire back to the start –  our girls are a little too young (or short) for but it will not be that long before Éowyn (10 more centimetres) will be harnessed up and clambering over our heads) and an afternoon in the indoor play-barn allowed Ezra time to stretch his legs and play in the soft-play area.

The adventures continued on Tuesday.  It has been months since we paid a visit to West Bromwich and Nanny Fran’s and so it was time to rectify that.  Unfortunately I was returning to work on Wednesday so we decided that Lucinda and the kids would have a extended visit and return on Thursday while I would return home on the evening.  Therefore we had to take both cars up the M40. Éowyn saw this as an opportunity to spend some time alone with her daddy and asked if she could travel in Daddy’s car.  So Éowyn and I set off five or ten minutes before Lucinda, Amélie and Ezra.

Fifteen minutes into the journey, I’d just made it onto the M40, my mobile rang, it was Lucinda.  For some reason my handsfree didn’t work, fortunately there was service station and so concerned I turned off the motorway so that I could call her back.  An ‘Engine Malfunction’ error message had flashed up on Lucinda’s dashboard and so worried headed off the motorway and headed to her parents.  Unfortunately cars are controlled by computers and so it is impossible to lift the bonnet (hood – for Americans) and see if there is anything obvious.  So there was nothing to do except call out our breakdown service and let them hook a computer up to interrogate the car and determine the problem.  In the meantime Éowyn and I continued to Nanny Fran’s.

Not long after we arrived at Nanny Fran’s Lucinda called to say that the breakdown mechanic had been and the car behaved itself.  No warning light.  Nothing!  The mechanic said that it is one of those things and it should be fine, just a hiccup and effectively turning it off and turning it back on had cured it.  Computers!  Thus Lucinda packed Amélie and Ezra in the car and headed up, so in the meantime Éowyn had Nanny Fran (and then Auntie Liz) all to herself.  Éowyn enjoyed the attention but poor Auntie Liz as soon as she walked in through the door from work Éowyn assaulted her begging for her nails to be painted!  Evening came and I headed back south via a friend’s in Tipton while Lucinda and the kids stayed with Nanny Fran.

I think fun was had by all (as I was at work).  There was a visit to Sandwell Park Farm and something that Éowyn has been craving to do for a while a combination of two ideas in her head.  As many of you know my father died when I was 14, therefore Lucinda never met my dad and my children have never met their Granddad Vic.  My dad is buried in West Bromwich and, to my shame, I do not visit his grave as often as I should, and only took Éowyn as a baby to ‘introduce’ her to her granddad.  Éowyn has reached that age when she is starting to ask questions and one of those questions has been about my dad, so I have been honest and open with her, as we are about all her questions.

Secondly, Éowyn has recently acquired a fascination with graveyards.  Not sure why but every time we pass a church she will ask if it has a graveyard and whether we could go and visit.  I have actually taken her around a couple (I quite like graveyards) but is right for a 5 year old to have such a fascination?  Éowyn added these two ideas together and asked if she could visit Granddad Vic’s grave.  I said I would take her the next time we went to West Bromwich but unfortunately haven’t, as yet, had enough time to take her, so I suggested that she asked Nanny Fran.  So Thursday morning Nanny Fran and Éowyn headed up the road to buy some flowers to take to Granddad Vic.  This made Éowyn’s trip and I think that she now has some sense of reality of Granddad Vic.

Thursday afternoon Lucinda and the kids returned home and relaxed a little over the remainder of the holiday.  Éowyn visited her new best friend on Friday then spent the weekend at home.  As I mentioned above Éowyn had a half-term project entitled ‘Under the Sea’ so Éowyn asked if she could make an underwater scene.  So Daddy used his computer skills and printed off some pictures of sea creatures and Mommy helped Éowyn paint a cardboard box and decorate it with the images.  You can see the results below.

Anyhow I have kept you long enough so will leave you to enjoy the photos.

Peace and Love