A trip to the seaside and a barbecue at work!

August is traditionally a busy time for me at work.  It is the start of the football seasons, especially our biggest client:  The Premier League, and so my days off are extra special.  Therefore, as this is the only month that the Baguettes do not go to school there is a lot of pressure on Lucinda to be the sole carer for our children, while I spend an inordinate amount of time at work.  As a consequence, Lucinda is keen for us to book trips so that we can have some quality family time together.

As fate would have it, I had the first two days of August off and so days out were planned, although as you will see I did not leave work behind for both days. Read more

A belated end to the Summer holidays

A second update (bisected by the obligatory ‘First day back at school’ post) to try to make amends for the dearth of updates over the summer.  This is the follow-up to The Pox, The Summer and a Trip to Nanny Fran’s which covered much of the six week holiday and fills in the gaps at the end of that break to allow me to show off the photos that somehow we have managed to take on the precious few days I had actually managed to be off with the Baguettes over the Summer.  This was meant to have been posted a couple of weeks ago but unfortunately with a long continuous stint at work this has been further belated to the third week of term, I am hoping that the 30 photos at the bottom will allow you to forgive me!

With a position that requires working at the weekend, it means that my ‘weekend’ moves to mid-week.  When the Baguettes are at school, that is a problem, however during the school holidays it matters not and indeed is a little bit of a godsend when planning days out.  So with two days off in a row (a rarity at this time of the year for me, especially so soon after a weekend off – I am being spoilt) we decided to take full advantage.

We woke on the first of those days to a cloudless blue sky.  Lucinda was working so her ward joined us on a trip to Bushy Park, near Hampton Court.  It appeared to be a very popular choice and we were extremely fortunate to find a car parking space.  Indeed, when we left there was almost a fight over our space.  Nevertheless we parked up and took a short walk across the park to the children’s play area.  Factor 50 had been duly applied and so we were good to spend time under the August sun.

The children’s play area in Bushy park is well equipped with the usual slides and swings but also has a hug sandpit.  Two adults with four children should be fine but the excitement of the such a large play area with so many different things to distract the attention, it took all our effort to shepherd them in pairs, two each.  They thoroughly enjoyed themselves playing on the various equipment, swings, slides and climbing frames. We took our picnic in the shade of a wall and while they all ate their picnic fittle we could see the other parents and childminders having the same battles with their wards as we had just had.  As they had all eaten well and had been relatively well-behaved it was only right and proper that we had an ice cream.  So we wandered into the park itself and spent a fortune at the local Mr Whippy Ice cream van.  Again, searching for shade we sat down under a large oak tree in an attempt to give the children enough time to eat them before they melted in the heat.

As Brits we should know that one should not rely on the British weather, even in the Summer.  The next day we decided that we would head to the seaside and meet up with Lucinda’s Uncle David and Auntie Sally in Middleton on Sea.  As we know we should not rely on the weather, equally we are not put off by it and so undaunted we headed South.  Uncle David and Auntie Sally live a short walk from the beach and with some uncertainty over the weather after a drink and the obligatory biscuits we headed to the beach.  The tide was in and it was amazing how little of the beach was left, just a ten or so metres of pebbles.  Nevertheless it did not stop us taking full advantage before heading back to Uncle David and Auntie Sally’s house for a spot of home-made lunch.

Despite signs to the contrary the weather brightened up in the afternoon so after lunch we headed back to the beach.  In the couple of hours that we were away the tide had gone out and revealed a couple of hundred metres of sand.  It was amazing the difference and the Baguettes took full advantage of the wet sand.  Indeed it was only for the promise of cakes and drinks that they would leave the beach for Uncle David and Auntie Sally’s beach hut.  It was only as we sat outside their beach hut eating Fondant Fancies and drinking tea (how very British!) that we realised the time.  It was definitely time to head back home if we were going to get back at a reasonable hour.  The day had just flown by and so we tidied and headed back to Uncle David and Auntie Sally’s to load the Baguettes back into the car.  We had a fantastic time and promised not to leave it as long next time.  We keep saying that to people, hopefully we can keep the promise.

The neighbour’s extension is nearly done.  They were hoping to have it done by the beginning of September and Cath’s 40th birthday.  Unfortunately, that deadline was missed however it did not stop the birthday celebrations and they had a fantastic party in their back garden to which we were invited.  We have also joined in the construction party with the erection of a Tiki Hut.  Officially it is a thatched wooden gazebo but the best description is a Tiki Hut.  We ordered it back in May, ostensibly for the Summer, so we are a tad disappointed that it finally got installed at the beginning of September.  Nevertheless it is an investment for the kids to play in and for us to entertain so it will get plenty of use, even in the winter.

We had a slight drama for a week or so when Lucinda was without her phone after throwing it down the toilet.  It wasn’t out of any form of frustration but one of those one in a thousand slips.  She had seen that one of the Baguettes had left the toilet lid up and went to close it, slightly lost her balance as she entered the bathroom and somehow threw her phone in the air.  It flew, in seemingly slow motion, and landed straight down the bowl.  Luckily the toilet water was clean but it did not stop it killing her phone.  A trip to the Genius Bar, a claim on our mobile phone insurance and a £50 excess and she has a new phone.

Once again I apologise for this post arriving nearly a month later that I expected it to, but the start of the Premier League season, and the unexpected arrival of UHD has meant that I have had precious few days off.  I now have nearly a week off so expect a couple of posts over the next week or so.  If you cast you memory back to the antepenultimate post you may remember that we decorated the girl’s bedroom while they were at Nanny Fran’s, you can see some of the photos of the fruits of our labour below.  The girls still love their room, even if the promise of keeping it tidy has long been forgotten.  There are lots of other photos of our recent activities on Flickr if you are bored, but for now…

Peace and Love


Easter Holidays

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