A new home for the Bagnalls!

And so the house move saga comes to an end and a new chapter in the lives of the Bagnalls begins.  Yes, Friday 1st November (two weeks after we exchanged contracts) we completed and took possession of our new home, while still retaining possession of our old home.

House moves are very rarely straightforward but this has seen its fair share of twists and turns.

We first saw the house on Monday 13th May 2013 (another 13 to add to the various 13s following us about this year – no triskaidekaphobia here) and fell in love with it.  It was the first and only house that we saw that we liked for both the house itself and its location.  Although far from perfect (is there such a thing?) it ticked a considerable number of boxes, including the majority of our major boxes but was over budget.  We chatted about it and decided to go above our budget and put a cheeky offer in.  Not surprisingly the offer was rejected but we were in no position to increase or indeed make any kind of counter-offer for we did not have a buyer for our property, so we sat and waited.

A couple of weeks later, the sellers had not had an offer on the property (and neither had we) and they said that they would be prepared to accept a lower offer than our cheeky offer, if we could start the purchase ball rolling.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have an offer on our house so that opportunity passed us by.

Then we had a day of mixed emotions.  An offer was made on our house that we accepted but on the same weekend an offer was made on the house that we were buying that blew us out of the water, we simply could not match it.  At that moment it looked like we were going to be homeless with our buyers looking for a quick sale (which suited us too) and no house suitable for us to buy.

Then the twists of twists.  Two days after accepting the offer on our house BAA submitted a new proposal to the Airports Commission (the Davies Commission) for the expansion of Heathrow Airport.  Stanwell Moor is nestled between Staines Moor, the western section of the M25, the King George VI Reservoir and Heathrow Airport and as such has been encroached before by the construction of the reservoir, the construction of the M25 and, more recently, the construction of Heathrow’s Terminal 5.  The South West expansion proposal however was the first time that it has been threatened directly.  The South West expansion proposal for the third runway at Heathrow airport will see the complete destruction of Stanwell Moor, the village that the Cathralls have called home for the last 50-odd years.  Obviously this is only a proposal, one of nearly 50 that affect the South East of England, and there is no reason to believe it will be the one that the Airports Commission give their backing to (indeed that backing will not come for any of the proposals until at least 2015) nevertheless it is a sword of Damocles hanging over the village.

In complete fairness to our buyers they investigated the situation thoroughly including calling council members and the Heathrow commission hotline.  However, they decided that it was a risk they were not willing to take (and I can understand that, as they were moving into the area and as such have no emotional ties to Stanwell Moor) and thus pulled out of the purchase.

This now left us with no house to buy and a house that no one was likely to buy.

There was still time for one more twist.  The chain for the alternate buyers was looking decidedly dodgy and the sellers were becoming nervous and they asked if we could up our offer and they would then go with us.  We still had no buyer for our house and we could not match the other offer but we spoke to a financial adviser to seek the possibility of releasing equity in our current house by turning it into a buy-to-let (or strictly ‘let-to-buy’) and scraped all our investments together and put in a final offer.  The sellers spent a couple of days mulling the options over and decided to go with us.  The rest, they say, is history!  We have the house that we wanted but have become reluctant landlords in order to realise that dream.  Assuming we can rent the property out without too many void periods or anything going tragically wrong then we should be fine, at least in the short term.  Depending on the Airports Commission decision this may either be a short experiment or a potential pension investment.  If we can’t rent it out or the void periods start adding up it could be a money pit that bankrupts us.  Life for the Bagnalls is never boring!

So it is goodbye Stanwell Moor, hello Staines-Upon-Thames (yes, this is its official name!).

Peace and Love


Settling into School

Another week, another write up.  I’m back in my stride.  I have a little more free time and there is plenty to write about.  You have had the two recent specials with Amélie going to Nursery and a week later with Éowyn going to school.  Momentous times in anyone’s life and although the first day can be frightening, exciting or a mixture of both it is when the realisation dawns that you have to keep going (and going) that the real stories begin.

Éowyn as you may recall was extremely excited about going to school; she couldn’t wait to put her school uniform on, pack her schoolbag and head off to the car.  This didn’t change the following day and neither did it the day after.  The only problem was the day after was a Saturday.  Éowyn was really upset that she didn’t have to go to school.  We tried to explain that Saturdays and Sunday were the weekend and you didn’t have to go to school at weekends.  She wasn’t convinced.  It probably doesn’t help that Daddy works weekends and so there is no point of reference.  I am sure she will get used to it.

Indeed the following week was her first five day week and by the Thursday she was bushed, ‘Do I have to go to school tomorrow?‘ Éowyn asked.  When we said that she did, she nonchalently shrugged her shoulders and conceded.  I think it was just a lack of an appreciation of how long a week actually was rather than wishing the weekend would hurry up and arrive.

Éowyn has come home almost everyday with a sticker for good work.  Whether that is helping to tidy up, or for demonstrating her knowledge she is proud of each one.  Sometimes she doesn’t understand why she got a sticker: counting to 20 for instance.  Éowyn has been able to count to 20 for quite a while, indeed she can count to 100 and Amélie who will be three at the end of the month is capable of counting as high, so Éowyn was surprised that not everyone in her class had the skill.  However her favourite sticker was one the states ‘I’m a genius‘.  She was given it on Monday for knowing that the date was the 16th September.  Lucinda and I were both surprised, a) because neither of us knew what the date was and b) we didn’t know that Éowyn was so knowledgable about the days of the month.

Amélie, on the other hand, is not nearly as excited about nursery.  Indeed, we have had tears most days.  We have also discovered how sly she can be too!  She is obviously upset with the change in her life.  She has always been either with Lucinda or at one of her grandparents’ homes and if she is anywhere else then she is usually with Éowyn.  Therefore, being on her own in a strange place is bound to be disconcerting if not downright frightening.  She is also picking up vibes from Lucinda who is probably as attached to Amélie as Amélie is to being at home with mommy.  Indeed there are few tears with daddy, more a questioning of whether she is going to school.  With Lucinda, however, there are tears and sobs and refusal to go.

It is up to daddy to be the bad guy.  I am quite happy with that.  It is something that needs to happen and if I am the one that needs to harden his heart to ensure that this transition happens then so be it.  Lucinda can be the good guy and pick her up and give her plenty of attention on the days she isn’t at nursery.  She is getting better and on Tuesday when I took her to nursery there were no tears.  Admittedly, neither were there cartwheels of joy but she held my hand and walked into the classroom then, after kissing me goodbye, ran over to one of the teachers to give her a cuddle.

In fairness, it can only get better.  The day after the first traumatic day she followed Lucinda around the house never leaving her side.  She was obviously afraid that Lucinda was going to leave her, in fact she did say to Lucinda on a number of occasions, ‘Mommy, you aren’t going to leave me, are you?‘  The day before she was next due to go to school she once again tried it on with Lucinda.  I was a work and Lucinda was bathing the girls when Amélie began to force a cough.  It was a very pathetic, obviously faked cough.  ‘Mommy,‘ she began, ‘I have a cough, I won’t be able to go to school tomorrow.‘  Nice try.

Amélie also confessed to a crime that we knew was her but neither had caught her in the act, nor got her to admit to it.  We have a wicker laundry basket and bits of it had be picked off and left on the floor.  We had asked both girls if it was either of them and neither of them had admitted to it.  Amélie, however decided that perhaps honesty was the best policy, either that or perhaps she was hoping it would be a bargaining tool to stop us sending her to school.  Whatever was the motivation she turned to Lucinda, completely out of the blue, ‘Mommy, I’m real sorry, you know the washing basket I pick it and when you ask me I say no but I do it all the time because I like doing it.  What can you say?

With two emotional girls, a pile of paperwork to catch up with for mortgaging both the house we are trying to buy and our current house that we will be renting out and the fact that I haven’t seen my family in about six weeks we made a decision not to go to one of the four weddings we  have recently been invited to.  With Amélie in such an emotional state and Éowyn having only just started school it just didn’t feel right to leave them for a night.  It was a decision not made lightly as both Lucinda and I were looking forward to a night away and obviously sharing in the celebration of our friends but as parents there are many sacrifices you have to make and this we felt was something that needed to be done.

So where are we at with our house purchase.  The good news is that our mortgage for our new house has been approved.  We are, however, still waiting for approval for our buy to let (or should that be ‘let to buy’) mortgage.  For those of you that have been in this position it can be a waiting game.  You answer the questions posed by the solicitors, the banks, and the estate agents then everything goes quiet before all of a sudden you have the keys to your new home.  That’s the plan.  Time will tell if that’s how the next few weeks develop.

It is not often though that the house that you are leaving is under threat of being demolished along with the entire village in which you have been raised.  That is what is facing Lucinda and her family not to mention ÉowynAmélie and Ezra.  Of the fifty or so proposals for expansion of London’s airports the South West Heathrow proposal will see the complete destruction of Stanwell Moor.  We have had two village meetings with representatives from BAA, HACAN, Gatwick, The London Mayor as well as political figures including our MP.  However, they have only outlined their proposals, a hard sell of their ideas if you will; nothing to address the blight that has affected the village (and this is not just a virtual blight but, for us, it is a reality).  In some ways it just makes you more frustrated with the situation as there is nothing that we can do at the moment.  Until the 50 or so proposals are whittled down to the 3-10 proposals that will receive greater investigation (mid-December for that decision apparently) and then, if we are still on the shortlist, until the actual proposal that gets the green light (mid 2015 at the earliest) we will be in limbo.  Obviously this is the same for residents of all the areas that are affected at each of the airports.  Not the nicest of positions to be in and we sympathise with all that are affected by this process.  I wonder if it does go ahead how much Éowyn will remember about her first home?

I will leave you there with the usual photos be warned though one of the below may move you to tears.

Love and peace


An offer has been accepted – but it is more complicated than that!

It is the midst of the busiest time of the year for me I am struggling to find time to do an update but as I always try to do one every month and I haven’t missed yet, 2013 isn’t going to be that year!  Therefore you will need to excuse the brevity of this write up, I will do better when the world has calmed down.

So what is going on?  Our new technical premises are coming on line and I am spending my time making things work as well as making sure that everyone is kept in the loop with the changes and new processes.  It is hard work and it is keeping me from my family, a necessary evil and although I am not happy about it, it is something that needs to be done – in the short term.  Therefore many of the following anecdotes are second hand to me.

Just before the madness at work started however, we did manage one last family date and that was the to the Frimley Lodge Miniature Railway.  Both Éowyn and Amélie enjoyed the Cockcrow Railway when they went in May (except Amélie didn’t like the spooky tunnel) and because Daddy missed out we decided to pay a visit to Frimley.  Nanny and Granddad joined us and I am not sure who had the most fun.  It was a very pleasant day – not as hot as it had been – and there were plenty of people with the same idea.  The queues looked huge when we got there but it is surprising how many people they can fit on one train and so you never had to wait long for a ride.

Just down from the railway was a children’s playground with the usual accoutrements one would expect with the addition of a zip wire.  Éowyn loved it and we had to keep launching her down the wire.  Éowyn was probably only just old enough to safely hang on and thankfully Amélie didn’t fancy it and I think we would have had tears when Daddy said no.

Amélie is certainly becoming more independent and is pushing the boundaries.  She has also taken to making up excuses but her imagination is a little too wild to make them believable.  You may recall that she had blamed the big bad wolf for stealing something from our bedroom and was a little surprised that we didn’t believe her.  Well that theme is continuing.  We always like to give the girls a little choice over what they would like to wear each day.  Lucinda was taking the girls out and wanted Amélie to wear a nice dress.  ‘How about this nice spotty dress, Amélie?

I can’t possibly wear that dress mommy.

Why not?

It makes my teeth fall out.

Lucinda, stifling laughter, ‘How about this one?‘  Pointing to an equally nice dress.

No Mommy, that one makes me sick!

She is quite funny though when she is trying to get something out of you.  If you refuse her request she will look you in the eye, smile and holding her forefinger and thumb close together (but not touching) say ‘Just a little bit.’  It is hard to refuse with her cute smile and cheeky face.

Éowyn is growing up far too fast, however there are still the vulnerabilities of a four year old.  She begun to enjoy watching Scooby Doo however she still has a vivid imagination.  So, in the darkness of her room late at night her imagination must of begun to kick in and she began to have nightmare about Mommy and Daddy being skelebones (as she called skeletons).  So after giving her a cuddle and telling her a story about princesses she eventually went back to sleep.  The next few nights she began to be scared to go to sleep in case she had bad dreams so Scooby Doo has been banned in the this house, at least for a couple of years and we make sure that the bedtime stories are about nice things.  However, we did complete the BFG and the idea of 54 foot giants snatching children out of their beds and eating them hasn’t upset her in quite the same way as Scooby Doo.

Ezra, too, has taken some large developmental steps.  He has outgrown his moses basket and been moved to a cot in his own room.  He has begun to take solid food, and had a bottle or two of formula milk (thereby freeing Lucinda up to go out without worrying too much about the next three hour feed).  He has slept through the night, twice (which isn’t as bad as it sounds – for me at least – as he doesn’t spend the night crying he just wakes about 0300, feeds and then goes back to sleep).  He has also begun to move.  Not so much crawling but ninja rolling is probably the best description.  You put him on his play mat on his back in the middle of the room and you turn your back for a second and he is the other side of the room on his front, rifling through Lucinda’s bag.  The girls are going to have to learn quickly that anything that they leave on the floor will soon be fair game to their little brother.  I wonder how long it will take them to learn.

So what is the title of this write up all about?  As you know we are trying to sell our house and we have found a house that we want to buy.  Surely it should be as simple as that.  As those of you that have bought and sold houses will know, it is never that simple and the emotional rollercoaster of buying and selling a house is not exactly what I need at the moment as we are in the middle of a move at work which is as equally stressful.  Nevertheless that is where we are and hopefully we are on the downward slope.

If I had managed to find time last week to complete this write up then that is exactly what I would have thought.  However there is always something that comes along and bites you on the bum!

So after having the initial offer on the house that we have fallen in love with rejected, accepted, gazumped and finally a higher and final bid accepted our buyers dropped the bombshell yesterday that they are pulling out citing the Heathrow expansion plans as the reason.  I can completely see it from their point of view and it is such a shame because not only were they a nice couple that I think would have fitted in with the neighbours (call us sentimental but we liked the idea of our house being handed over to nice people) they also loved the house and the village.  Unfortunately one of the Heathrow airport expansion proposals will mean that our village will become Stanwell No Mo(o)re and a third runway will be built on top of our house.  We need to come up with a cunning plan if the only house that we have seen that we like is going to slip through our fingers (indeed, potentially any hope of moving!) and we truly hope that this doesn’t mean that regardless of decisions regarding the Heathrow expansion (and that is still a couple of years off, mid-2015 – and even then the government of the day does not have to make any definite decision)  Stanwell Moor will be blighted (although not officially as they are no definite plans) in much the same way as Sipson, Longford and Harmondsworth are, and have been for some time.  Can anyone give me the 6 lottery numbers for this weekend please?

As ever I promise I will keep you up to speed with developments.

Peace and Love