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.
This update comes to you a week later than I was planning. I had planned to update you all about the latest shenanigans of chez Bagnall at the end of the Easter break but somehow I haven’t managed to find time until now to bring you up to speed with our latest news.
After a heavy month at work, including working the Easter weekend I decided to use a couple of days earned in lieu and tagged them around rostered days off to spend a few days with the family in the second week of the Easter holiday break from school. Work is going to remain busy for the next couple of months so it was a good opportunity to spend some quality time with the family.
The Easter break from school was the usual fortnight. My break from work was the second week of that vacation so Lucinda had to entertain our children along with childminding wards for the first week of the Easter break. This included taking them all to Saville Garden to take part in their Easter Egg hunt. There were not real Easter Eggs to find but clues laid out throughout the gardens and a reward of golden chocolate coins for a completed task sheet . The cardboard eggs that they needed to collect via questions on said task sheet were not the traditional chocolate eggs that the children usually try to find at this time of year but Dragon Eggs for this was an Easter Dragon trail. It’s what Easter is all about!
It was also a good opportunity for our N.C.T. group to meet up. The usual place for meet ups recently is Saville Garden. It is convenient for all and the kids can pick up sticks and run around in the mud while the mums can amble and catch up. It is amazing how much the kids still get on with each, I suppose they have known each other for over seven years, even if they don’t see each other as regularly as they should. It is also amazing how much fun you can have with a stick, something that humans of one species or another have been doing for millions of years.
I missed out on those two events due to work commitments so we needed to make up for it in the second week. Therefore the first day of my mini-break saw the Bagnalls and Nanny heading south to visit Granddad’s brother and his wife, Uncle David and Auntie Sally in Middleton on Sea. A short trip East along the shore from Bognor Regis our only previous visit was when we spent a long weekend at Butlins four years previous, a year before Ezra was even born.
We arrived around lunchtime and Auntie Sally has prepared a lovely lunch which stood us in good stead for an afternoon on the beach, which is only a short walk from their house. Lucinda, Uncle David and I played in the sand with the Baguettes while Nanny and Auntie Sally sheltered from the wind in their Beach hut while getting the cake and tea ready for refreshments. We were lucky with the weather for despite the portentous dark clouds we only had one short sharp shower that wasn’t worth rushing for the hut.
It was a really fun afternoon doing simple things that kept the Baguettes occupied more than the screens that they are becoming increasingly addicted to. The bracing sea air really cleared the lungs and we all felt better after an afternoon of splashing in rock pools and building sand castles. Indeed the time when by so quickly that we were surprised how late it had become and after tea and cakes returned to the house for the journey back home. We will not leave it as long for our next visit!
The following day, Lucinda had two of her clients but we did not let it stop us from enjoying the day. Éowyn had a playdate at her best friend’s so we headed out with just four children to Ham House taking advantage of our National Trust passes. The National Trust have begun an initiative to encourage kids to rediscover the simple things of life and the things that kids of previous generations took for granted with their 50 things to do before you are 11¾. Ham House was helping with this initiative with a large pile of branches from which the kids were encouraged to make a den. That only entertained our wards for a short while, perhaps they were a little too young. However, they were more than entertained by one of the other activities, making a kite. It may have only been made with A4 paper, lollipop sticks and ribbon but the older children really enjoyed making it and then enjoyed running around the gardens attempting to make it fly. It wasn’t quite Mary Poppins but the look on their faces as we encouraging them to run so that the kites caught in the draft behind them. We only briefly toured Ham House playing and picnicking in the gardens, enjoying the relatively good weather (apart from one shower). I think that we will have to go back with Éowyn.
The following two days we had an extra ward so it was not so easy to travel far, but it didn’t stop us leaving the house. Indeed with a park at the end of the road we headed there to keep the children entertained and our of the house taking advantage of the break between the showers.
The week also saw Éowyn and Amélie having 0900 swimming lessons to try to boost their confidence in the water. Something that we desperately want them to have and so not only have they completed this week worth of lesson Amélie has been signed up for weekly swimming lessons on a Saturday morning (Éowyn is on a waiting list). This is really going to give Amélie a busy end to her week. For not only has she signed up for dancing lessons after school on a Friday, she then will be going to Rainbows later that evening only to have to wake up early on a Saturday morning to go swimming. She is going to be one fit little girl, who hopefully will want a lay in on a Sunday morning.
Ezra, too, has been taking strides forward in his development. For at long last he seems to have cracked toilet training. All other attempts have failed as he just didn’t seem to get the idea of going to the bathroom before he needed to. However with some persistence from both Lucinda and I and the incentive of a Paw Patrol toy he is now in big boy pants. For some reason however he insists on being completely naked from the waist down when he goes to the toilet (including his socks) but hopefully this is only a passing phase. It will be a little embarrassing at the urinals when he his 21!
The other great stage that my children have reached is the fact that they have now watched all three of the original Star Wars movies with Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi completing the hat trick. I now have the dilemma of whether to introduce them to the prequels.
Usually I would leave that there but I feel I have to share this little anecdote with you as I am worried about my son. While watching Return Of The Jedi, Éowyn cuddled up to me on the sofa saying that she was frightened of Darth Vader as he was scary. A fair comment I am sure you would agree. Not Ezra. He turned to Éowyn and said: ‘Darth Vader not scary, Darth Vader’s the good guy.‘ Now either Ezra is very astute and is looking deeply into the arc of the Star Wars universe or my son is edging towards the Dark Side. I am fearing the latter. Two further incidences are adding weight to that notion.
The next morning Ezra is rummaging in the musical instrument box (nothing fancy, just toy musical instruments) and picks out the old favourite: the recorder. He starts blowing into it and despite not really playing the instrument the overtones of the Imperial March were coming from him as he strode menacingly across the room. Then a couple of days later, we are looking through some Star Wars playing cards and Ezra said that he like it when Darth Vader killed the bad guy. I immediately thought that my son knew what he was talking about and thought of the scene on the second Death Star when Darth Vader despatched the Emperor. No. Ezra pointed to the duel in A New Hope between Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi. I am truly concerned!
Before I leave you, I feel that I have to mention that Friday was the funeral of my friend and colleague Terry Wood. I think he would have approved of his send off. A group of us met up at Piebury Corner for pie and mash before heading to Enfield Crematorium. The service was both moving and funny as I am sure he would have wanted (although the Birdy Song was nowhere to be heard) and it was good to meet his family, if only it could have been in better circumstances. It was a testament to the man that so many people made the journey on a Friday afternoon and I know a number of people that were devastated that they could not make it. The word legend is overused but Terry truly deserved that epitaph. Terry Wood you will be missed.
Peace and Love
So as we sit Janus-like at the start of his month I will take the opportunity to review 2012 and attempt a prediction of what is to happen over the next 12 months.
So firstly what did we learn in 2012, the year that the Olympics came to London and Britain became really good at sport (except Football)? The World didn’t end; we didn’t fall over a fiscal cliff and the best way of guaranteeing the wettest year on record is to issue a hose-pipe ban in March. From a Bagnall-centric point of view we discovered the joys of all-inclusive holidays and the holiday island of Tenerife. Éowyn had been asking to go on a ‘plane again throughout 2011 and Amélie had not had the joy. We, obviously wanted a family holiday that was easy and would be rain-free and therefore would be relaxing for us too and so we opted for all-inclusive (eliminates the worry of finding child-friendly meals). Tenerife seemed to be a good bet for weather and had the attaction of Loro Parque as well as being the third largest volcano in the world. Both girls were extremely well-behaved throughout the holiday and thoroughly enjoyed the ‘plane ride, the food and the pools. Éowyn discovered her burgeoning love of photography (behind the lens, she has fallen out of love with being the object of the photo) and the horrors of a camel ride while Amélie was content to take the experience in her stride.
Éowyn also discovered the joys of the cinema. She has been a film fan for a long time but going to the cinema is very different, especially when you are three years old. Her first film was The Muppets and she thoroughly enjoyed it, so I bought the soundtrack (on CD – I am still 20th Century when it comes to music) and it hasn’t been out of my car stereo since. Both of the girls request the album before I am even in the car and they know all the words to all the songs. The film therefore had to be bought (on Blu-Ray) and has been watched a number of times. It is a good job that I am a big Muppets fan and I think that it is something that the youth of today have definitely missed out on and I can not wait for the sequel.
The biggest lesson from 2012 however was all about the preciousness and fragility of life. The beginning of the year saw the passing of a number of friends and family members and without wishing to put one life over another possibly the most significant to me were my Dad’s brother, my Uncle Roy and my Nan’s brother, my Great Uncle Albert. And although we are sad at their passing the circle of life continues and in June we were delighted to find out that Lucinda had fallen pregnant for the third time. However our joy was somewhat tempered by the blood results at the 12 week scan, which indicated a high risk of chromosomal abnormalities. Both being of the mind that we needed to know we opted for Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) to know for certain. Fortune looked upon us and the results came back that we were expecting a healthy baby boy. Both of us feel that this now makes our little family complete.
Then in early October a second reminder was sent our way with Lucinda suffering from Appendicitis. She has put the initial pains down to pregnancy twinges but as the day continued the pain got worse. A trip to A&E confirmed the worse and Lucinda was rushed into theatre for an appendectomy. It was a close thing with the swollen appendix about to burst (it was already weeping) but she is now fully recovered (apart from a small scar) and it is but a memory and we will not dwell on the statistics regarding pregnant women, unborn children and burst appendicies.
And to end the year Nanny Fran has retired; therefore it is our mission to keep her as busy as possible and with 3 grandchildren she will not have time to put her feet up. As both Lucinda and I came from three child families and so for us it seems quite natural to have three children. However in the modern world that doesn’t seem to be the norm. Indeed, holidays, family tickets and even cars do not seem to have been created with three children in mind. The biggest of those problems is the fact that modern cars have not been made wide enough to fit three car seats across. When we were growing up that wasn’t a problem as there were no car seats. Indeed there were no rear seat belts! However the modern age dictates that a child should be in a child’s car seat (which it right and proper) however to fit three car seats into a car one has to opt for the seven seater, the MPV. At least should we opt for the Ford S-Max (which is our current favourite) then we can take Nanny Fran with us on our excursions!
It seems a bit of a moot question to inquire as to what we are looking forward to in 2013. A new car, a new house (if we can possibly find what we are looking for in our price range) or a change in work premises (yes, after 10 years in the current building we are moving from the surburban idyll that is Chiswick to the leafy business park that is Stockley Park)?
Obviously these are all totally eclipsed by the fact that we are expecting our third child and it is to be a son. With two kids already under our belt we are not entirely newbies to this parenting business but they have been girls. By all accounts the leap from two to three is not as big as either the jump from one to two or indeed zero to one but as Éowyn and Amélie have taught us, no two children are the same. Indeed Éowyn and Amélie are like chalk and cheese in some respects. So where will the latest edition sit? Or will he take the Bagnall children into a third direction. Whatever, as long as the little one is healthy, it will be a fun journey and give me even more reason to update you all via this medium (and, more likely, yet another reason why I will not have time to) and to fill the servers of this corner of the internet with more photos of the growing family.
It will also be a momentous year for our other children. Not only will they have to cope with another child vying for their parents’ (and grandparents’) attention and eventually playing with their toys and upsetting their games but they will have to move in together so that their little brother can have his own room. At the moment Éowyn and Amélie have separate bedrooms but as we live in a three bedroom house the sisters will have to move in together. Eventually they will be in the bunk beds that we have bought but until Amélie is a little older we will just move their current beds into the same room. Therefore there will be a whole learning curve of compromise that they will have to go through.
In addition, Éowyn will be going to school. Not pre-school, but actual full time education. We are obviously anxious that we have chosen the right school and that she will enjoy it. She will be going from being one of the oldest (and tallest) at her pre-school to being much further down the pecking order in a much bigger environment. Although she can be a little on the shy side I am sure that she will take it in her stride. Hopefully the fact that she will be in a more structured learning environment will be good for her.
When we know what school Éowyn has been accepted for, then it will determine which pre-school we will send Amélie to. We have delayed sending Amélie to pre-school only because we don’t want to end up causing ourselves issues with the girls being at completely different sites across the Staines-Upon-Thames (!) area. Hopefully it will not be long until we know the answer.
With a new baby, probably a new car, a new work environment and maybe a new house it is already gearing up to be a busy year. A year that will see visits from two bright comets. The first, Panstarrs will grace the skies around my birthday (and possibly my son’s birth) and the second will perhaps be the brightest comet of our generation, if not the century. Comet Ison is heading our way and should be visible to the naked eye for the last few months of 2013 and at its peak should be brighter than a full moon.
So as portents adorn the heavens and Lucinda and I complete 4 decades on this planet – don’t tell anyone – (I don’t think those two events are related) I leave you a little bit of trivia with which you can impress your friends. 2013 is the first year since 1987 where all four digits are different from each other. Do with that what you will.
And finally I hope that 2013 brings you love and wisdom; the strength to follow your dreams and to learn from your mistakes and the wonder of a child to appreciate the beauty of this World.
Peace and Love
PS: The photo below was taken on our Christmas trip to Chessington World of Adventures, at the Sealife Centre there, it was Yuletide so excuse the reindeer antlers!