When it snows, ain’t it thrillin’, though your nose gets a chillin’

I promised you a second update before the annual Bagnall message to the world, and here it is.  I always try to keep my promises.

It seems an age since I updated you about Ezra, for some reason he has received short shrift on the pages of Baggie and Lucy over the last few months, mainly due to the changes affecting his sisters.  Let me put that right.

As you may recall he has been walking since the end of August and so, as you can imagine, he is into everything.  He has worked out that if he moves his little step-up that he can grasp things out of his usual reach.  In that respect he is like Amélie in that he will acquire things.  His favourites tend to be kitchen utensils; it is not usual to find sieves, saucepans and the potato masher ‘hidden’ around the house.  However, it is not just kitchen utensils that he will swipe, I quite often find a variety of items (especially for some reason, mine) deposited around the house.  There are not enough places, that are completely out of his reach, it is amazing how far he can stretch when he puts his mind to it.

He is usually quite laid-back and relatively mellow, although he occasionally has his  moments.  Nothing like the terrible twos, but if he is determined to do something (or not to do something) then he is a ball of furious energy.  Thankfully, it is still quite rare although he has had to have timeout in his cot a couple of times.  He can also be disarmed by offering to read him a book.  His vocabulary is increasing daily and he seems to say a new word every day or so, but ‘book’ was one of his first words and certainly one of his favourites.

You can quite often find Ezra, sitting on the chair in his room ‘reading’ a book.  If he wants you to read a book he will point for you to sit down, he will pick up a book and then back up towards you, inviting you to pick him up, put him on your lap and read the book.  He knows what he wants and certainly has a way to make you do his willing.  This can work to your advantage though for if he is upset or on the verge of an episode, you can disarm him, if you are quick enough, if you offer to read him a book.  He will waddle off and fetch a book forgetting about whatever it was that was upsetting him two seconds earlier.  Never underestimate the distraction technique.

Reading books is probably helping to contribute to his vocabulary increase.  He knows his animals and the noises they make, especially when they have appeared in one of his books.  It is leading to some confusion though, for every bird is a duck and of course they ‘quack’, except, of course cockerels that ‘Cock-a-doodle-do!’  I will explain the Avian family tree when he is a little older.  His favourite book, however, is not about animals as such, although does have a cat, a dog, a frog and a green bird: Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson.  If you have not read it, I thoroughly recommend it; a classic!

Ezra, however, has missed out on a few events this past week or so.  Both girls have had their ‘nativity’ (or possibly more accurately: Christmas) plays.  Both had ‘named’ parts but far from starring roles.  Amélie was the 3rd Inn-Keeper’s wife while Éowyn was Narrator 16.

Amélie is still at pre-school so there is no need for them to remember lines but they did learn a lot of songs and the actions to those songs.  Amélie being one of the oldest of the class, was certainly one of the most vocal and also lead the actions.  Being a pre-school at a Catholic school this was the ‘traditional’ nativity story, the story of Jesus’ birth, hence the 3rd Inn-Keeper, who may have had no rooms to let but wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to make a little bit extra and capitalised on the situation by selling space in a stable to a heavily pregnant woman.  The true meaning of Christmas.

The pre-school were allowed to use the main school hall and as such there were plenty of seats for all the parents (and some grand-parents) indeed Nanny and Granddad managed to squeeze in with Mommy and Daddy to see their grand-daughter.

Éowyn’s play on the other hand was more secular, the story of Ralph The Reindeer.  ‘Ralph?’ I hear you cry.  Yes, Ralph the green-nosed freelance reindeer that steps in one Christmas when Rudolph has a cold.  It was very enjoyable and with nigh on 180 pupils across the two years  a serious amount of choreography had gone on to ensure that every child felt part of the production and at some point during the play was on stage.  Relatively, there were very few speaking parts so although Éowyn was Narrator 16 the five lines that she had been give was a significant percentage of the script.  Éowyn’s play had two performances to ensure that all parents had an opportunity to see their children, with Lucinda at work on the Thursday and Daddy looking after Amélie and Ezra, Nanny and Granddad went to the first performance while Mommy and Daddy waited until the Friday to see their eldest child’s performance.  We were all very impressed with her.  She pronounced her lines very clearly and although a little on the fast side – you could definitely tell what she was saying.

The other event that Ezra missed out on this last week, Daddy missed out on too, was the annual visit to the Pantomime.  Ezra because he is a little too young (so he stopped with Nanny) and Daddy because, surprise, surprise, he was at work at the weekend.  Last year Lucinda and Granddad took the girls to see ‘Puss In Boots’ performed by the Riverside Players at the Memorial Hall in Old Windsor.  Apart from Amélie being terrified of the baddie they thoroughly enjoyed it, so this year Lucinda decided to take them again.  This year’s pantomime was ‘Sleeping Beauty’.  Again Amélie spent the first acts cowering into Lucinda, scared of the pantomime baddie, asking if they could go home.  Éowyn on the other hand loved it and was enthralled by the story.

It is interesting how Amélie is fearless when it comes to things like roller coasters and scaling climbing frames, yet is terrified of pantomime baddies, yet Éowyn is the opposite.  She may not be a fan of adrenalin fuelled fears yet is not afraid of more psychologically orientated fears that you would find in films or, in this case, pantomimes.

Amélie hasn’t been the only one cowering behind Mommy’s skirts this week.  Lucinda took the kids to the local garden centre, Vermeulens, in Stanwell Moor.  Like many garden centres at this time of the year, business is a little slow so they encourage the customers through the door with a Santa grotto and a chance to visit Santa.  Lucinda thought as Daddy was at work that it would be nice to take them to visit Santa.  Fearing that the queues would be out of the door she didn’t build their hopes up too much.  She was completely surprised, however, that it was the exact opposite.  It seems that word hadn’t reached the good people of Staines that their local garden centre had a grotto and there was not a soul waiting for Santa.  The girls loved it and were more than happy to regale their list of toys that they would like, and apparently they are currently on the ‘nice’ list.  Ezra, however, wasn’t so enamoured with Old Saint Nick.  He cowered in fear but was still given a present and told he was a good boy.  I trust he will grow out of it by next year!

The other great Bagnall Christmas tradition has also been performed, namely the creation of handmade Christmas Baubles at Genevieve’s Gallery in Englefield Green.  This is the seventh year that we have been there to make at least one Christmas Bauble for our tree and one for Nanny Fran’s tree.  They have always been a hand-print of each child and then annotated by Lucinda.  That slightly changed last year as Éowyn’s hands have grown too large to decorate a bauble.  So last year Éowyn was given free rein to make her own designs.  Nanny Fran’s was an original Éowyn but she came up with a great idea for our tree: namely making a Mommy and Daddy bauble.  This year, due to time constraints she was only able to add one more to the family, namely herself.  Next year she will have to do one each to represent Amélie and Ezra.

Éowyn seems to be enjoying school a little more, maybe her first school disco helped, or maybe she is just settling down and making friends.  Hopefully, with a break for Christmas and then returning after all the excitement it will just become part of the routine.  I will take my leave of you here and as usual, ten sad points for you if you can recognise the Christmas ditty that the title of the update comes from.  No prizes, just the smug pleasure of knowing the answer and for me, the smug pleasure of knowing that you will be humming it all day!

Peace and Love


P.S. Four years ago our precocious first-born, Éowyn, demanded that we went to the shops to buy Toy Story 4, and it took a while to convince her that they had only made 3!  Well the bods at Pixar (John Lasseter et al) have listened to their audience and Toy Story 4 is in the planning stage (you can read about it here).  Personally, I am not sure that this is a good thing, the last movie ended the trilogy perfectly – indeed it is one of the best trilogies in film history with not a weak film among them – and to revisit that story feels wrong.  However my fears maybe allayed when the film is released (16th June 2017), and I can guarantee that there will be a least one family of five that will be going to the cinema to see it.


Gallery to be update but it starts off like this…

I don’t want to go to school

Once again I feel that I have to apologise for the paucity of updates and the hiatus between write ups.  The trio of updates at the beginning of the month were supposed to have been backed up with some quick fire write ups.  It is blatantly clear that did not happen.  Life, work and the death of my NAS conspired to prevent that from happening.  To somehow make up for this I am promising a couple of updates before the annual Bagnall Christmas message, that will appear on the Winter Solstice (already pre-written and scheduled).

So let me take you back before the last three write ups to the end of October.  The Badger Moot ended on Friday 31st October and we arrived back mid afternoon.  The more astute of you will recognise that corresponds to the beginning of the triduum of Allhallowtide, the eve of All Hallow’s day or more colloquially Halloween.  In recent years the British have followed the path of our American cousins popularising the festival.  Trick or treating and ‘guising’ (dressing up in Halloween themed costumes) has gained commonplace acceptance, indeed we were prepared with a big Halloween-themed bowl of sweets for the trick-or-treaters, of which there were at least half a dozen.  Another of the common Halloween traditions is the carving of a jack-o’-lantern.

At the beginning of the year Éowyn was given some pumpkin seeds from Auntie Sally, and as part of our vegetable growing we grew them.  Unfortunately, we suffered from a Pumpkin blight that killed off most of our crop, however one hardy individual survived and became the first jack-o’-lantern I have ever carved.  Éowyn designed the face, and indeed drew blood weeping from its ‘eyes’ but Daddy got to play with the big sharp knife.  I was quite pleased with it and as you can see from the photo below, it looked quite good lit with a tealight guarding our boundary.

The following weekend was the end of the half term holiday and thus marked the changeover between schools for our girls.  By a quirk of fate neither had to go to school on the Monday.  Amélie because it isn’t one of her days and Éowyn because her new school had an inset day.  Therefore, with Lucinda and I also not in work we decided to treat the girls to a day at Legoland.  With Ezra spending a day at Nanny and Granddad’s it gave us more freedom to enjoy the rides without having to worry about our little boy.

The weather was typical November drear, but relatively dry.  Nevertheless we didn’t fancy getting a soaking on the Log Flume or the Viking’s River Splash.  Without Ezra, Lucinda and I thought that we may be able to go on some of the bigger rides.  Amélie was in the same frame of mind but Éowyn wasn’t interested and so while Lucinda and Amélie braved the Dragon ride, Éowyn and I waited in the drizzle armed with a camera to try and take a photo or their experience.  Amélie loved the ride, she is so much more adventurous than her big sister, indeed Éowyn clung to me with fear on the Dragon’s Apprentice ride, which if you have ever been to Legoland you would realise is not exactly the scariest of rides.

Both girls thoroughly enjoyed their day at Legoland, Éowyn especially liked the fact that she was now old enough to join the driving school and drive an electric car around a more challenging course that the L-Drivers course that the younger children (Amélie included) have to negotiate.

The following weekend (I was at work – how unusual!) the family were invited to a firework party at Éowyn’s first best friend: Raine’s house.  Lucinda drove to High Wycombe with the kids armed with fireworks.  Unfortunately the weather had other plans and the rain threatened to put a literal as well as proverbial dampener on the evening.  A little bit of rain never stops the British from enjoying themselves though and eventually the fireworks were lit.  Lucinda could not enjoy them though because Ezra was clinging to her for dear life and Amélie who doesn’t like loud noises was nuzzled against her hiding from the explosions.  Only Éowyn stood and watched them and Lucinda was trying to keep an eye on her to make sure that she stayed out of harm’s way.

So after an exciting couple of weeks, of holidays, Legoland, Halloween and fireworks and starting a new school, life settled down into its new rhythm.  A drive to school across Staines and the A30 was replaced with a walk through the local park (as fate would have it enduring Autumnal rain-showers for the first few weeks) to their new seats of learning.  The first week went relatively well.  Amélie thoroughly enjoyed her new school while Éowyn remained indifferent, which was as good as we expected the first week.  Then things changed.

Éowyn started crying that she didn’t like her new school and wanted to go back to her old school.  This obviously upset Lucinda and I think Éowyn sensed this and played on it a little more.  It was time to be the bad cop and although sympathetic I had to encourage her to embrace her new school and try and make new friends.  She would always have her old friends, indeed we have been pro-active in setting up playdates with some of her old school friends, but it would be fun to make new ones.  As Éowyn was going through this transitional period the Ofsted report of her new school was announced and disappointingly it was grade 3 (requires improvement).  It started to look as if we had made a big mistake.

Then a couple of things happened to help settled Éowyn.  First, she moved up a level with her reading.  At her previous school she would have homework once a week and although as parents you were encouraged to read with your child they were not given a new reading book until the teacher or teaching assistant had read the book with them.  Her new school doesn’t give homework to younger children (which I am undecided whether it is a good thing or not) but they do read the comments that we make in her reading diary and give her a new book each day.  This is really helping her reading, which can only be a good thing.  The second thing that helped to settle her, was that she began to make friends and indeed was invited to her first birthday party.

It is now a month since they started at their new schools and Amélie is still enjoying her new school, in fact she says that she prefers it to her old school, which is great news.  Éowyn on the other hand would still prefer to be at her old school.  She is making friends and when we drop her off at school she seems very popular with a lot of the girls and they look for her.  However, her new teacher is not her old teacher and obviously teaching methods vary and I think that is part of the problem.  Not saying that either is right or the other is wrong, but Éowyn is having to deal with a different school ethos, different teaching styles as well as making all new friends.

It is horrible to think that your child is upset and not enjoying school but it has only been a month and these things take time.  She is obviously a charismatic character as she seems to make friends easily and other children seem to want to be around her.  She is clever, she has already earned a place in the gold book (a reward given out to the top pupils) but she is strong willed and that is probably holding her back from enjoying herself at her new school.  We will hopefully have a catch up with her new teacher in the week and see how she feels that Éowyn is getting on and if there is anything that between us we can do to help our eldest with the transition.  As always I will keep you across how it develops.

Well I think I have kept you long enough and I have to keep somethings for the next write up, so I will take my leave
Peace and Love


PS:  Another little funny from Amélie mishearing lyrics.  One of the bigger hits of the year has been ‘all about that bass’ by Meghan Trainor.  The lyrics are a little repetitive: ‘Because you know I’m all about that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble.’  Amélie, not really understanding what is meant by treble changed the lyrics to ‘Because you know I’m all about that bass, ’bout that bass, no cello.’  Not sure that she knows what a cello is either but maybe she has seen this smooth jazz version and added two and two together.