The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Unbelievably we are in June, not that you can tell from the weather.  However the British people are not easily dishearted and thus the unseasonably cold weather and persistent rain did not put a dampener on the Diamond Jubilee celebrations however  Lucinda and I feel like we need to apologise to the Queen about the weather.  Now I am not saying that we are rain gods (although it does feel like that sometimes) but on our return from holiday it looked like summer had arrived so we decided to buy a gas powered barbecue.  A purchase that has been long overdue unfortunately since it has taken residence at chez Bagnall it has done nothing but rain.  So, to the people of the UK we would like to apologise for the fact that the jetstream has moved south bringing the autumnal, nay wintry weather with it.

It may seem like a long time ago but the week started off with temperatures in the mid 20’s which was a good way to acclimatise after our holiday in Tenerife.  Nestled between returning from holiday and returning to work I managed to tick off one from my to-do list: a day’s falconry.  I have always fancied the idea of falconry (perhaps it was something to do with watching Kes when I was younger) but have never managed to organise a date.  Then a couple of weeks prior to my holiday a ridiculously cheap offer via groupon appeared in my e-mail inbox.  It was too good an offer to miss, so myself and Andy booked ourselves up for our trip up the A1(m).

The Birds of Prey centre at Old Warden Park near Biggleswade was the venue of our experience.  We started the day with an introduction to a couple of chicks yet to fledge, a tawny owl and a Turkmenistan eagle owl, the latter of which decided that it would try and undo my shoe laces.  So while the falconer, Graham, begun the introduction to all things raptorial I had a ball of feathers sitting on my foot picking at my shoe laces with a beak evolved to rip rabbits apart.  Frustratingly (for the owl) I had double tied my shoe laces and he couldn’t undo them so begun nibbling my leg (I was wearing shorts).  Not sure what to do and not wishing to annoy him I just ignored him and hoped that he didn’t try to eat my leg.

I wasn’t the only one of the group to have a closer than expected encounter.  After being introduced to a number of adult owl species we were taken to the visit the eagles.  Obviously these are the superstars of the raptor world and we were allowed to handle and 4 year old bald eagle.  Still classed as immature (they do not get the iconic white head until the age of seven) he was nevertheless fully grown.  Andy volunteered to hold him first and gingerly held him at arm’s length.  ‘Don’t stroke him,‘ Graham explained, ‘For he will bite your finger, but you can hold him closer to your face for he will not peck your face.‘  So Andy brought the eagle closer to his face and without warning the eagle plucked at his beard.  ‘That one is nesting.‘  Epilated by an eagle.

After the introduction we were allowed to fly a number of species.  A barn owl, an Turkmenistan eagle owl and a Harris Hawk all of which were brilliant but they paled into insignificance when we flew the final bird: the bald eagle we were introduced to earlier.  The sight of a bald eagle flying across a field to you is a magnificent and awe-inspiring vision and you thank the deity of your choice that you are not a rabbit and something that will stay with me for the rest of my days.  It is a day I would wholeheartedly recommend and feel free to view the very many photos I took that day on our flickr site.

That was the first Monday back from our holiday and it was Éowyn’s first day back at school.  Unfortunately it was not such a good day for our first born, the teachers called Lucinda’s dad (who was picking her up for us) into the class to say that she had been particularly naughty striking three different children during the course of the day.  So we needed to have a serious talk to her.  We are not sure why she did it and even if we did there there obviously would be no justification for it.  We can only assume that she was struggling to acclimatise to being back to school after being on holiday but we explained to her that it was wrong and then attempted to get her to relate to how the other children felt and how she wouldn’t like it if it happened to her.  It must have sunk it because for the remaining days of the term she was apparently a delight at school.  However, there were only two more school days left for her before the half term holiday begun.  She is back to school this week so we will see how well she behaves next week.

Obviously the big news of the last week or so has been the Diamond Jubilee of our current monarch Queen Elizabeth II.  I can vaguely recall the Silver Jubilee and obviously it has only been a decade since the Golden Jubilee but this is only the second ever diamond jubilee of a UK monarch (the other being that of Queen Victoria) so a very special event.  The British weather decided that it wasn’t special enough to bestow a typical June day moreover one more befitting February, the month she actually ascended to the throne.  Although extremely fitting for an anniversary of the coronation for the weather was also unseasonably cold and wet on that date too!

Two public holidays were granted to the UK public turning the first weekend of June into a four day weekend.  However with Lucinda being a shift worker she was actually working on those days and with the wintry weather myself and the girls contented ourselves to watching the flotilla on the television.  Apparently there were 10,000 street parties over the weekend however Stanwell Moor did not join in with a street party but held a tea party at the village hall.  Unfortunately it did not have the atmosphere one would hope for such an event.  However there was a competition to guess where the Queen has lost her crown and one had to pick a postcode for where it could be.  We duly entered and thought nothing more about it.  We stayed about 40 minutes or so then headed back home when we received a phone call, we had won the top prize a big cuddly dog.  We headed back and collected the prize so it wasn’t such a bad party after all!  And something that worth more than a lottery win according to Éowyn for when I expressed disappointment that we had not won the lottery she said ‘But at least we won the doggy!‘  Wise words!

Éowyn and Amélie are becoming closer with Amélie idolising her older sister, following her about and copying her actions.  I think that Éowyn quiet likes this most of the time however as with all of us, it can get annoying.  Amélie was following Éowyn around the other day constantly shouting ‘ÉowynÉowynÉowynÉowyn!’  Suddenly Éowyn snapped and hid in her room shouting ‘Amélie you are winding me potty!‘  It has rapidly become our favourite phrase and obviously a mixture of ‘winding me up‘ and ‘driving me potty!

I will leave you there and trust that you all enjoyed the Jubilee celebrations for it is likely that we will not see another.

Peace and Love



The snow, it’s bin and gone and ‘ay come again!

We are midway through February (frightening isn’t it?) and since the last update the fortnight seems to have been filled with many events but without a lot happening too.  I can see a lot of quizzical looks at that apparent oxymoronic statement.

I took the last of the last year’s holiday entitlement on the first Friday of February to give myself a long weekend.  Thus I decided to go and pick Éowyn up from playbox.  I am waiting outside with the other mothers when the door opened and I was beckoned inside.  Éowyn had been misbehaving all day, culminating it her hitting another child with a wooden piano across the head.  I felt like a child who had been summoned into the Headmaster’s office and sat there mortified at what she had done.  Éowyn can be wilful and determined but this was a step into uncharted territory and something that we obviously need to nip in the bud.

Children’s behaviour is very rarely an isolated change in their personality but more a response to an external situation however trivial that it seems to those around them (probably true of adults too!).  The trick is identifying it and neutralising it, but not allowing the crimes to go unpunished either.  (That is what we are attempting anyhow, we’ll let you know in 20 years if it works.)  So what are the stimuli that are causing Éowyn to behave the way she is.  It is her little sister.  Not directly but the attention that Amélie receives and encouragement she is getting for doing things that Éowyn can easily do is probably the first and foremost reason.  This is not to say that Éowyn does not get any attention but she has to share that attention.  So therefore when she wants the attention and she is not getting the attention she requires immediately then she is naughty: for then she gets the attention.   It might be Mommy or Daddy telling her off but it is attention and more importantly Amélie is not getting any while we are pre-occupied with her.  Knowing the psychology is easy, putting it into practise when you have two screaming kids running around; you need to get the dinner ready; you are not feeling well and the telephone is ringing is a different matter.  So stricter and fairer and more conscious of how we are treating them both is the regime going forward.

The weekend gave a good excuse to have some Daddy and Éowyn time: it snowed.  It was the first dump of snow that the South East of England had seen this winter and although it wasn’t a fall of snow that I recall from my childhood it was certainly enough snow to build a snowman.  Unfortunately Lucinda was at work and since it was cold (not as cold as it has been across Europe, where record lows were being recorded) and I wanted it to be a special time for Éowyn we had to wait until Amélie had a mid morning nap.  This meant that a number of the neighbours had already build their snowmen by the time that we got out and, also the day had warmed and then cooled so that the snow wasn’t as light and fluffy as it had been first thing.  Nevertheless, relatively happy with our snowmen (look at the photos below) and Éowyn thoroughly enjoyed making them (the heads we solely her creations).  It was amusing that the following day the temperature had warmed such that all the lying snow melted and all that was left was a scattering of snow zombies as the snowmen’s features slowly melted during the day then refroze at night.  It then turned bitterly cold for nearly a week and no further melting took place.  We then received a second (smaller) fall of snow that re-coated everything before the temperature has returned to more usual February temperatures and only the carcasses of the snow zombies remain (although I do not give them very more days of survival in these conditions).

Amélie is still resisting the complete transition to bipedal locomotion.  Her attempts are more frequent and she can totter around for quite a while before gravity wins the argument but she still prefers the racing crawl method or shuffles about on her knees.  She is such a lazy tyke.  She gets away with it because she has a big sister that will do things for her and she has such a cheeky grin when she wants to get her own way.  We will have to see what we can do to encourage the full move, but at least it is a step in the right direction (see what I did there?).

Thursday 10th February was Uncle Albert’s funeral.  I had been asked to say a few words (the first time I had been asked to speak at a funeral) and in a strange way I was looking forward to it.  However fate had other ideas.  Éowyn had been under the weather for a couple of days and didn’t really think too much of it as kids are always feeling grotty as their immune systems encounter attacks for the first time and busy themselves creating defences.  However on the Tuesday Lucinda began to feel ill and then on the Wednesday I was knocked for six.  So much so that I went home early from work on Wednesday (I never go home ill) and on the Thursday could only drag myself out of bed to lie on the sofa (and Lucinda the same).  Fortunately I had the wherewithal on the Wednesday night to call Mom to tell her that we wouldn’t be attending (the funeral was at 1000 and that would mean leaving at 0700 and with all the will in the world even if I fell 100 times better there was no way it was going to happen) the fact that we were worse the next day justified that decision.  It was sad that we never managed to say goodbye to Uncle Albert (although I am sure he understood) and hello to a lot of relatives that we don’t see very often.  Uncle Albert’s death has left my Nan as the sole living representative of her generation on either side of our family.

Éowyn has taken a big step forward in growing up.  She decided last Saturday night that she didn’t want to wear a nappy to bed any more.  She has been nappy free in the day for many months but has always wanted the confidence of a nappy on at night.  Not any more.  She said that she didn’t want it so we didn’t put it on her.  We put her potty near her bed so she didn’t have to go too far in the night and prepared ourselves for wet pyjamas and changing the bedclothes.  We need not have fretted she has made the transition effortlessly so far.  She was obviously ready and waited until she knew herself that she was ready and that was it.

To reward this, and to give me an excuse to go and see it too, I took Éowyn to the cinema for the first time.  It is half-term so there are a number of films out aimed at kids (and big kids) and there are special early showtimes too.  When I was a little older than Éowyn is now, one of my favourite shows was The Muppet Show.  I own a number of DVDs of The Muppets and Éowyn has seen some of them so when I heard that the new Muppet movie was out for half term the choice of which film to go and see was made easy.  I think Éowyn was over-awed by the whole cinema experience although overall she seemed to thoroughly enjoy it (probably not as much as her dad did!).  She didn’t think much of popcorn and was frustrated by all the adverts and trails for other films (aren’t we all).  The little Toy Story short before the film was a bonus and she sat as good as gold for the entire length of the film.  I would quite happily take her to see another film again, and knowing my love of the cinema and of ‘children’s movies’ it would be no great hardship.

Anyhow, I will leave you with that (go and see the movie if only for a barbershop quartet rendition of Nirvana’s ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ – you have been warned).

Peace and Love


Flaming June! We have movement!

Apologies for the language in the title but it is doubly apt, both in terms of the weather we have been promised for this month and the fact that it is June!  May flew by so quickly and as you regular readers will have noticed I only managed one update all month.  Very remiss of me, you will be going off and reading other websites if I am not careful!

As you will know May is quite a busy month at work with the end of many of the sporting seasons that we cover. Not saying that June and July are empty but let’s just say that the freelancers are picking at bare bones during those months at mediahouse.  This we hopefully allow me to spend a little more time with the family and take precious days off to take advantage of the weather (and the Merlin passes!).

With all this time between updates no doubt you will be expecting a plethora of anecdotes (is that the collective noun for a group of anecdotes?) and a gallery of photos (again?) unfortunately you may be a little disappointed.  I have been a busy boy!

The biggest news of the last few weeks is that Amélie has begun to move.  I hesitate to use the word crawl, she kind of creeps.  Not in a commando elbow over elbow kind of creep more by sheer willpower and energy-sapping full body motions.  But it is movement.  Like her big sister this initial movement has primarily been in reverse.  It is that Goofus bird syndrome all over again.  Amélie however is still not rolling over on her own accord.  I think it is because she has learned that if we put her on her back and she cries loud enough, we will either roll her over or pick her up, or Éowyn will go over to her and see what the matter is and entertain her.  Éowyn is very good like that.  She seems to know exactly what to say or do to make Amélie laugh.  Amélie will quite often have complete giggling fits when her big sister makes strange noises, or pulls silly faces at her,  and Éowyn seems to revel in the adulation from her little fan.  Thus I don’t believe it to be laziness, the lack of desire or the inability to roll but merely an extreme manifestation of tool use; where other members of her family are the tools!

Amélie has had a bit of a torrid time of late with her teeth.  Not that any have come through yet but she is definitely feeling the pain of teething.  Her little cheeks are red, she is dribbling and anything that is within reach is stuffed into her mouth and given a good chew.  If you put yourself in their little booties, it must be an awful pain and not knowing what it is must make it worse.  Although it is something that we have all been through and it hasn’t affected us that badly.  However teething certainly affects the parents.  With Amélie is so much pain she finds it hard to sleep.  Understandable.  However that in turn means that Mommy and Daddy aren’t allowed to sleep either.  Three days of sleep depravation is difficult.  We had forgotten how difficult it was.  I don’t think that it is helped by the fact that we now also have Éowyn (in a nice way).  For when Éowyn was going through the same at least we only had to care for her.  Now we need to be fully compos mentis with her during the day after we have been up all night with Amélie.  Also I was on shift work so it wasn’t a case of no sleep but I only need to get through one more day at work.  Now it is no sleep for three day and I still have 4 more days at work!

Éowyn is using the slight perceived weakness and the fact that Amélie is seemingly getting more attention to push the boundaries again.  She knows the pattern of how we ask her to do things.  Nicely at first, then more firmly, then more firmly then a three second count to punishment (naughty step, quiet time, telly off, etc).  She is now waiting until 2 of that countdown before even moving to do what we have asked her to do, when previously it was rare that we would even begin to count.  She is a little minx and it can be very frustrating on less than 3 hours sleep. 

She has also has begun to bite.  We were warned about this but other friends that about the age of 2 ½ years that kids find that they can hurt each other with biting.  Well, Éowyn has discovered that too!  However I think that may have been cured.  She had bit Lucinda a couple of times but had not bitten me.  Not until the other night.  She bit me on the arm and it hurt (in fact it drew blood!).  In a mixture of pain and anger I shouted quite loud (louder than I normally shout, although still relatively calm) at Éowyn  and told her that she was naughty.  Unfortunately not only did my voice come out louder than usual, it also came out deeper than usual (and for those of you than know me that could be quite scary).  It did scare Éowyn and she was quite frightened to come to me for a while.  In fact I had to sit with her and give her a cuddle to make her feel a little less scared.  I did explain that the reason Daddy shouted at her was because she had bit him and that it was naughty to bite and that she was not to bite anyone again.  It seems that although it wasn’t the method that I would have chosen it has worked, for she has not bitten since.

Apart from the biting, Éowyn has been a joy (as always).  She picked up a cardboard roll (from the centre of the toilet roll) out of the recycling bin the other day, put it to her eye and said ‘Ah-arr Captain!‘ in her best pirate voice.  We then had to be pirates for the rest of the night.  Not that I am complaining, it was great fun.  I have also introduced her to the delights of my favourite show when I was a child, The Muppet Show.  I have a number of Muppet Show DVDs and so we sat a watched one together (to try and wean her off CBeebies and Toy Story 3).  I wasn’t sure that she enjoyed it, although she did sit there and watch it.  The next day, however, she said, ‘Daddy, can we watch Kermit the Frog again.‘  That’s my girl!

Continuing the pirate theme we took her to Legoland (those Merlin passes are wonderful things) to see the Pirate show they put on (which as an aside is very well coreographed and well worth watching if you are there).  We explored a little more of the park that we hadn’t visited last time (although again we had chose half-term and it was quite packed), but because of the number of people we didn’t get to go on many things.  However she completely surprised us by asking to go on a ride on her own.  It was one of those ride where a swing is suspending on a carousel.  We explained that if she went on it, that she wouldn’t be able to get off until the ride stopped.  She was happy with that.  She we sat her in a swing on the inside of the ride (so it didn’t go as fast) and was delighted to see how much she enjoyed it.  In fact she was swinging the seat from back to front to try and make it go faster.  No fear!

Before we visited Legoland we had decided to measure Éowyn, to find out how tall she was.  So we got her to stand against the wall and we made a little mark with a pencil on the wall and measured it to the floor.  She is 98cm tall (just over 3 foot 2 ½inches in old money) which for a 2 ½ year old is quite tall.  Unfortunately we didn’t factor in the barrier this broke.  So while Lucinda was on the phone to her Mom and Éowyn was desparately vying for her attention a little light must have go off in her head.  She picked up the very pencil we had used to mark her height and went over to the same piece of wall and drew all over it.  I suppose we deserved that one!  Fortunately in light of the kitchen upgrade we had already decided that we were going to redecorate the remaining downstairs living areas and so that has just cemented that decision.  Thanks Éowyn!

We have some sad news in the past week, Lucinda’s parents West Highland Terrier Harvey was put to sleep.  He was an old dog that had lived a good life but he was in a lot of pain and there was nothing that the vets could do.  It doesn’t make the decision any easier and it doesn’t make the pain any easier to bear knowing it was the right thing to do, especially for Lucinda’s dad.  We have tried to explain to Éowyn but she is a little too young to understand and with probably just forget that he isn’t there any more, which will be a shame as she would quite often lie on the floor next to Harvey.  He will be sadly missed.

I will leave you with a few photos and a promise not to leave it so long before the next update.

Peace and love