When I’m 102!

Well aren’t you blessed?  Two updates within the arbitrary fortnight deadline that I set myself.  However before you get excited there will not be the 27 or so photos this time, you win some, and you lose some.

Éowyn has just finished her half-term break and pre-school beckons.  Unfortunately, I was at work for the majority of it so the onus for entertaining was entirely in Lucinda’s hands.  This was made more difficult with the meteorological spring ending in a similar vein to the previous three months (cold – indeed the coldest spring since 1962 and the fifth coldest on record, according the Met-Office or the coldest since 1891 according the Central English Temperature Series) there was not the opportunity to go out and enjoy the weather.  Nevertheless, Lucinda managed an admirable job entertaining them (as always) heading to friends’ houses to relieve the boredom of being stuck in the same house.

I may work long hours but nearly every night it is I that read the girls their bedtime stories (assuming they haven’t lost them as a punishment).  They have free range over which stories they chose and often go through phases of what is their particular favourite: any of the Julia Donaldson stories, Mr Men, Disney, ‘Traditional Fairy Stories’ or one from their big book of Princess stories.  However, Roald Dahl now finds himself added to that illustrious list.  It began a couple of months ago with me introducing Éowyn to the Candy Man by Sammy David Jnr.  That lead to reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which both girls love and once we had read the book I let them watch the Tim Burton film version.  As you may or may not know there was a follow up to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory called Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.  In my opinion, it is not as good as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (sequels rarely are – Empire Strikes Back the obvious exception).  Nevertheless I began to read it to them (we have since given up and begun to read the BFG!).

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator begins as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ends with Charlie and his entire family in the aforementioned Great Glass Elevator along with Willy Wonka heading back to the Chocolate Factory.  Now, the method of entry of the Great Glass Elevator into the Chocolate Factory involves gaining height in order to fall to the Earth with enough force to smash a hole in the roof of the factory.  (We will ignore the science behind terminal velocity, deceleration on the human body or the tensile strength of glass and just suspend our disbelief).  As all good adventure novels begin something goes wrong and Willy Wonka is distracted at the vital moment and instead of hurtling to Earth, the Great Glass Elevator and its occupants enter orbit (again ignore the science, it is a children’s book!).

As I read, Éowyn asked what ‘in orbit’ meant.  I explained it is when you go into space and circle the Earth. ‘Daddy, I would like to go into space.‘  I explained that so would I.  She then asked as to whether we could go into space.  I explained that when I was a boy we were told that we would be able to take holidays on the moon but unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet and only astronauts or very rich people can go into space at the moment, however when she was Daddy’s age then hopefully there would be affordable trips into space.

That would be great, I would be your age and you would be 102 and we could go into space together.’  She has got her sums a bit wrong but idea is wonderful and very sweet that she would want to take her daddy, so I replied that I would like that and then I made my mistake.  There are times as a parent when you say something and as soon as you say it, you realise that you shouldn’t have said it, but now it is too late and you have a long drawn out discussion ahead of you.  I made one of those mistakes.  I replied that I would like that and that I would be very happy just to live to 102.

Éowyn picked up on this immediately and began to cry.  I asked her what the matter was and she replied ‘You’re not going to die are you?  I don’t want you to die.‘  When do I go with this?  I said that everyone dies and that 102 is very old and that she would be very old (well 67) if Daddy lived to be 102.  ‘But Daddy I would miss you and wouldn’t be able to see you ever again‘  Fighting the lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes I reassured her that I wasn’t going to die any time soon (well I’m not planning on it) and that I would always be there for her.  She hugged me tight and sobbed into my shoulder, while Amélie looked on oblivious.  It is nice to know that I am still her hero, for the time being and I will have to remind her of this if she turns into a stroppy teenager wishing her parents would just leave her alone!  Better still remind her of the story in 2075 when I turn 102!

It is not like Éowyn to be so loving and emotional.  She is usually the stoic one, headstrong and determined.  Amélie on the other hand is the more loving.  While Éowyn certainly went through the terrible twos (although not as bad as some children), you would not know that Amélie has reached that stage.  Her only slight rebellion is the refusal to eat meals (but she doesn’t have the iron-will of Éowyn and folds usually by the next meal) and the fact that she will ‘swipe’ things (indeed, you may remember that when she was younger we nicknamed her Swiper after the Fox in the Dora the Explorer cartoon).  My nail-clippers disappeared for about two weeks, Lucinda’s tweezers for the same length of time both found in Amélie-type hiding places around the house.  However, we may have to forgive Amélie because it might be someone or something else, a house pest of frightening proportions.

An ornament had disappeared and found on the floor in the middle of the landing.  Sensing the unmistakeable signs of Swiper I said to Amélie ‘Did you take this?‘  Looking me in the eye, she sincerely replied ‘Daddy, it wasn’t me.  It was the Big Bad Wolf!‘ I think she needs to work on her lies either that or I should be slightly concerned about the house pests in this part of town.

Amélie is certainly growing up, she is potty trained during the day and now is in the process of occasionally waking up at night to use the potty, which is a huge step of a 2 year old.  In addition, her cognitive powers are certainly increasing.  If she refuses to do something or wants to do something and you ask her why she wants what she wants she will reply with the conjoiner ‘’cause‘ to buy herself some thinking time.  However, when I type ’cause it doesn’t quite do justice to the word that Amélie uses.  A close approximation to the word that Amélie uses is ‘caaaaauuuuu-uuuuuusssssssseeee’, which lasts about 2 seconds and more accurately could be described as a whine that varies in pitch, starting low, ascending with a descending dip before ascending sharply.  Have you got that?  For older (UK) readers somewhat similar to the way that Richard Briers’ character would say the word ‘Ann‘ in Ever Decreasing Circles.

Although Éowyn and Amélie are very different in temperament, both seem very forward for their respective ages.  I find it fascinating sometimes where they pick things up from and have to be careful exactly what you say, either to them or around them.  Éowyn for instance was eating her lunch and said, ‘Daddy, this is delectable!‘  Now I personally do not think that I have ever used that word (I even had to check that I had typed it correctly as I wrote this) and neither has Lucinda.  Therefore, although I am not sure where she has picked that up but kudos to her that not only did she use it but knew in what context to use it.

With the summer comes a return for me of a Monday to Friday working week.  I now get weekends off, like normal people, but the trouble is there seems to be an awful amount of people around.  However, I do now manage to go to events and this weekend saw one of the first of the summer:  Ashford on the map.  Held on the playing fields of Brooklands College in Ashford it is the ninth annual fun day.  It seems that they had booked the weather for it had turned particularly summery with bright sunshine, although there was still a chill in the air; it was probably the warmest day of the year.  There were about 100 stalls, pony rides, fairground rides, face painting and all the usual things that you would expect at such an event, including a display by the Spelthorne gymnastics club that Éowyn was a member of, and indeed the display has inspired her to go back.  Watch this space to see if she is still interested next week.

This was the first time that we have visited it and it was excellent.  The girls thoroughly enjoyed it, especially Éowyn who, in addition to getting her face painted, won a prize on ‘hook a duck’ and happily threw herself down the 10 metre high inflatable slide.  Unfortunately her parents caused the only problem.  We didn’t expect it to be so big or have so much to entertain the girls so we only paid for 2 hours of parking at the local car park thereby enforcing an artificial deadline on our fun or at least the girls’ fun.

Amélie fell asleep on the return home; it had worn her out so much.  Therefore, with Amélie asleep, Ezra snoozing between feeds and Éowyn happily amusing herself I mowed the lawns.  What a perfect picture of modern suburbia.

In other news, Ezra is still behaving himself and growing at a rapid rate of knots (am I allowed that mixed metaphor?);  Éowyn’s current favourite song is Think by Aretha Franklin and Amélie has begun to craft stories, and not only to shift blame from her direction. While the next big change in the Bagnall world, selling our house, is a slow process with no news to update you with yet.  Rest assured though you will be the first to know.

Therefore, before the length of this update (and it has to be close to taking the record for the longest update of the site) causes you to pandiculate I will bid you adieu and leave you with a few more photos.

Peace and Love


Mommy’s 40th

A little later than planned but happy birthday to my darling wife and welcome to the 40 club.  I was aiming for an update just after her birthday but once again life has got in the way  (excuses reasons later).

Lucinda’s birthday fell on the day before the last day of the Premier League season which was both fortunate and unfortunate in equal measures.  As Head of Live Operations for IMG my major client is the Premier League and thus taking the last day of the season off as holiday is not an option and therefore the idea of taking Lucinda away for a birthday weekend (notwithstanding the fact that Ezra is only two months old) was a non-starter.  However, I am fully aware of the importance of birthdays and especially ones with a zero on the end so I made sure that everything was in place for our busiest day of the season so that I could take her birthday off.

Lucinda has a number of favourite places around the world:  Hawaii, South Island, New Zealand, Melbourne, St Ives, Cornwall and Hengistbury Head, Dorset to name a few and as Hengistbury Head was the closest we decided that was where we would go for a day trip to the seaside.  Looking at the weather forecast leading up to the weekend our hearts dropped.  Snow, month’s worth of rain and 65mph winds is not the usual Maytide offering from Ambisagrus (or other weather deity of your choice) even for Britain.  Thus we were fully prepared to stay at home for the day.

So imagine our surprise when we woke to glorious sunshine on the morning of Lucinda’s birthday.  We had an appointment in the morning (more of that later) so as soon as we left there we headed down the M3 to Hengistbury Head (via Mudeford).  Hengistbury Head is a headland jutting into the English Channel at the mouth of Christchurch Harbour and is both an Ancient Monument and a Special Area of Conservation.  It is a spit that points across the harbour towards Mudeford and is home to a few hundred beach huts which are among the most expensive in UK.  However although Hengistbury Head was our destination it was to Mudeford that we headed.  Mudeford is on the east side of Christchurch harbour and thus closer than heading to Hengistbury Head directly, although there is the small matter of an arm of the English Channel between them.  So once parked at Mudeford Quay we headed for the short ferry ride over to Hengistbury Head.

The good weather held all day and indeed we were worried that we may get burnt as we sat on a sandy beach looking out to the Isle of Wight.  The girls thoroughly enjoyed playing on the sand and in the sea (which was absolutely freezing – a reminder that it has been one of the coldest springs on record) and Ezra cast his eyes on the sea for the first time (we weren’t cruel enough to dip his toes in the sea).  Before we headed back to the ferry we stopped off for the obligatory ice cream.  Éowyn asked if she could order her ice cream, on her own.   So I gave her the correct money and watched from a safe distance.  She confidently stepped up to the ice cream kiosk and politely asked the lady behind the counter for her ice cream.  I was very impressed and very proud, she is growing up fast.  This was further supported a little later.  We saw the ferry pulling on to the jetty and so myself and Éowyn ran across the beach and down the jetty to catch the ferry and stop it leaving Lucinda, Amélie and Ezra behind.  We boarded and Éowyn walked straight up to the operator/captain/pilot (delete as applicable) and said, ‘Excuse me, please wait there are three more to come.‘  Again one very proud father.

So what was the appointment we had on the morning of Lucinda’s birthday?  Well, with a growing family we are in danger of outgrowing our home.  It is tight at the moment but as the kids grow older it will become a bit of a struggle and rather than waiting until Éowyn has settled into her school we have decided to dip our toes in the housing market and see if there is anything out there that we can afford.  Houses have been very expensive for the last few years and, in my opinion, are still over-priced however I have been waiting for a correction in the housing market to bring the prices down to nominal levels for the last seven years and it still hasn’t happened.  This is mainly due to lack of suitable properties and the availability of cheap credit both of which are still there keeping the prices high (especially in the South East of England) and so it doesn’t look like the correction is going to happen any time now (knowing the financial luck of the Bagnalls probably a month after we move in to our next home!).  Now time constraints are the greater factor so we have decided to go for it.

We have been looking at property for a while but the better properties are snapped up quickly (mainly because of the lack of suitable properties) and unless you are on the market yourselves some agents will not let you even see the property.  Therefore we have put our house on the market and started looking at properties in earnest.  We will keep you informed as we go through the highs and lows of moving home.  The house that we saw on the morning of Lucinda’s birthday wasn’t quite right but it is the start of a long process and the houses that you don’t like help you decide about the houses that you do like as much as the houses that you do like.

The day after Lucinda’s birthday was the last day of the English Premier League the culmination of this season’s work.  As last days of the season go it wasn’t a particularly interested one on paper with most of the major decisions already made and my team, West Bromwich Albion nestled safely in 8th place, their highest Premier League finish.  Which was good because our last game was against Manchester United and the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson’s last match in charge.  After going three goals down it looked like records were going to get broken and that the Red Devils were going to give their boss a day to remember.  The Albion had other ideas though and after dragging it back to 3-2 relaxed and let Man Utd restore their three goal lead: 5-2.  West Brom were not about to give up though and three late goals saw the first 5-5 draw in Premier League history.  Now that was a fitting way to say good-bye to the Premier League’s greatest manager.

You will forgive the above it is not often that whitter on about football but it was something special.  It also marks what it traditionally a slowing down at work although this year will be different as it is not only a family move that I am planning but IMG are moving London premises too and this summer (and beyond) is going to be a busy time facilitating that move.  I don’t do things by half.

Fortunately, Ezra is currently being close to the ideal baby and seems to enjoy a good night’s sleep as much as his parents.  He has even managed a 7 hour sleep, but 5 hours is more usual which is still fantastic for a two month old.  He becoming more alert and enjoys watching his sisters play and they, in turn, still love their brother and both hold him at least once a day.  However as soon as he cries or, worse, pukes then it’s ‘Mum! Dad! I don’t want him any more!‘  Let’s hope that this sororal love continues.

To complete the busy fornight or so we paid a flying visit to Nanny Fran’s on Sunday.  The S-Max makes the journey extremely comfortable so the 250 mile round trip is relatively painfree.  Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz haven’t seen the kids for a month or so and therefore saw a huge change in Ezra.  The girls were their usual excited selves and Éowyn (who is now beginning to reason in an more grown up manner) lamented,’Why does Nanny Fran have to live so far away.  I wish she lived nearer‘.  The girls had a great time (as always) at Nanny Fran’s and kept their Bagnall relatives on their toes for the entire day which included making Auntie Liz paint their nails and, if that wasn’t enough, paint their faces too!

I will leave you there and let you enjoy the photos and hopefully I won’t leave it so long next time.

Peace and Love