Welcome to 2014

As we teeter on the edge of (OK, toppled headlong into) a new year (a new year that will see Lucinda and I celebrate a decade together) it is traditional to look back on the year just gone and look forward to the next.  What a year 2013 has been!  Probably the single most eventful year we have known as a family.  Yes, other years have had big events: births, deaths, marriages, holidays, big birthdays, house moves and new jobs but this year has definitely has had them all (apart from the new jobs! – although work did relocate; does that count?)

At the start of 2013 I made some predictions of what we were expecting to look forward to this year and it was already looking busy; not only did they all come to fruition, fate threw a few more in for good measure.  Hence why this site has seen a record-breaking number of updates and a record number of visits, well I do have to keep you all informed don’t I?  And seemingly you are interested.  Or is it just the photos?

So what were the big events of 2013 and what have we learnt?

Obviously the biggest event of the Bagnall year was the birth of our third child and first son.  Ezra John (named after his Grandfathers) was born a week before my 40th birthday.  Now whether it is because he is a boy; or whether it is because he is a third child or whether simply it is because every child is different but he seems to be far more relaxed than either of his sisters.  Amélie had an excuse with her Milk Protein intolerance and we probably spoilt Éowyn, especially initially as we were learning to be parents (and still are!), but he has been the easiest to get to sleep, he cries the least and apart from an aversion to lumpy food has not shown any dislike to his meals.  And although it is a new skill for Lucinda and I to master, juggling the needs of three children, the most important detail is that all three of them are healthy.  Even Amélie’s milk protein intolerance has seemingly lessened.

So with three children our home in Stanwell Moor finally felt a little on the small side.  Thus we decided to make the tough decision to leave the moor, the village that Lucinda has lived all her life!  It did not take us too long to find a house that we both liked.  However the course of house buying ne’er runs smooth.  So let me give you a précis:

Found house made offer – offer rejected; Vendors found house so offered house at a lower price if we could proceed – we can’t proceed as we had no buyer;  We found buyers but so did our vendors and their new buyers offered more that we could afford – we proceeded with our sale; The new buyers chain began to fail so we offered an improved offer (though lower than the other buyers) – the vendors decided to proceed with us.

So far so good – then the twist began.  The government formed an Airports Commission to look into the requirements for expanding capacity at the UK airports and invited proposals from interested parties.  BAA operate Heathrow Airport and one (two) of their three (four) proposals for the expansion of the UK’s busiest airports involved the building of a third (fourth) runway over the village of Stanwell Moor.  This puts a bit of a dampener over the future of a new home and hence our buyers pulled out.

This left us with a dilemma: go back to square one, find a new buyer that didn’t care that their house may not be there in the near future or find a third alternative.  The third alternative was found and now we are the proud owners of a new house and landlords (with tenants!) of our old house.  That certainly wasn’t the plan at the start of 2013 but as we enter 2014 that is where we are.  Will we still be there in 2015?  More than probably, indeed we plan to be in our current abode until we retire and move to the seaside!

Both of those changes to Bagnall family life eclipse the other differences the year has brought: a new car (our 7 seater Ford S-Max) and a new place of work (same company just different premises).

It has been a very important year in the life of our oldest child.  Éowyn not only had the upheaval of moving home (and we kept both Éowyn and Amélie across the notion of moving from the onset including taking them around the house and asking if they liked it and which room they would like as their bedroom) but she also started full-time education.  It was confirmed in mid-april that Éowyn would be going to our first choice school, a decision that was fraught with conflicting emotions.  On one hand, it is a well equipped school, with a new head with lots of new ideas and has had a recent injection of cash; on the other it has a bad reputation and is now far from our new home.

The decision has been made and although we and not too obstinate that we would not consider moving Éowyn at the moment she is loving school.  She loves her teacher Miss Finbow, she has a new best friend and most important of all she is learning.  Her reading and writing is coming along in leaps and bounds and we, as parents, are actively encouraged to help as she gets homework twice a week.

2013 was a big year in Amélie’s development too.  Amélie started pre-school at a private nursery on the grounds of Éowyn’s school (makes dropping off so much easier – and a consideration if we are ever to move schools).  After a bumpy start and lots of tears (Éowyn was the same if you recall) she now runs down the path to school and sometimes forgets to give her dad a kiss before running into the classroom.  It is comforting to know that both of our children enjoy their respective places of education especially with Lucinda returning to work.  We just need to find somewhere for Ezra to spend those days.

2013 also reminded us of the circle of life.  At the beginning of the year we welcomed Ezra into our family and at the end of the year we said goodbye to my Nan.  She was the last of her generation and although she had been ill for a long time her passing was still a shock and obviously upsetting.  The comfort that we have is that she met her first Great-Grandson, that her close family were there in her final hours and her suffering is no more.  She has left us some great memories, more than a handful of quirks and a wardrobe of knitted jumpers!  Sleep well Nan.

One prediction that disappointingly didn’t come to pass was comet ISON.  Even in the days leading up to its perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) we were hoping for a spectacular astronomical display with possibly the brightest comet for a generation.  Unfortunately like an empyrean Icarus it flew too close to the sun and was destroyed and thus became possibly the only disappointment that 2013 brought.

So, all things considered, 2013 was a good year that brought many changes to this enclave of the Bagnall name.  (And I didn’t even mention the fact that both Lucinda and I celebrated our 40th birthdays!)  Hopefully after such a busy year you will find it in your hearts to forgive us if we hope for a quieter 2014.  Life will change to a new pattern in April when Lucinda returns to work but whatever else happens will be a surprise since the only other plan we have is to finally unpack all our boxes and settle into our new home.  I leave you with this toast to the coming year:

Here’s to the bright New Year
And a fond farewell to the old;
Here’s to the things that are yet to come
And to the memories that we hold.

Peace and Love


PS If you are into your geeky stats then this page is for you (click here).  Also, I have updated a few things in the background which shouldn’t affect you, my dear readers, but you will notice a couple of new widgets in the sidebar to the right.  So in addition to seeing the last three update titles and the current favourites there is a form to subscribe to the website so that you will receive an e-mail whenever there is an update.

The Bagnall Family - Christmas Tree Decoration
The Bagnall Family – Christmas Tree Decoration

A New Addition to the Family

Sorry, I got your hopes up then didn’t I?  No we are still waiting for his arrival, the new addition to the family of which I speak is the new car.  Bertie Beast (as the girls have named it) is now a part of our family.  Nellie Bug (Lucinda’s Nissan Micra) has been replace by Bertie Beast (Lucinda’s new-ish S-Max).  It was a sad day to see Nellie Bug emptied of all personal possessions and left on a strange garage forecourt.  This was tempered by actually driving the Beast away and playing with all the gadgets that it has.  It took a while to make the decision as to which MPV (7-seater) to buy; we decided that the S-Max was the best fit.  It then has taken a while (Lucinda’s appendicitis put pay to the first attempt at buying a car) until we found the actual car with all the extras that we wanted for the price that we could afford.  We are very pleased with our new arrival.

It was the first time that the girls experienced such a change in their lives.  Lucinda and I have both had the same cars for the girls’ lives and thus it must be quite a strange experience for them to see something that has been quite a big part of their lives left at a strange place while we drive off in a new car.  Éowyn has experienced hire cars (and vans) and so leaving our car behind to drive off with a new one wasn’t a novel idea but not taking it back and picking up ‘our‘ car most certainly is.  Éowyn is obviously a little older and so we can explain the situation to her and she takes it on board, comprehending a new experience.  Amélie, on the other hand, isn’t really old enough to completely grasp the notion.  It must have been playing on her mind because a couple of days after we had picked up the Beast she said ‘Mommy, I really miss Nellie-Bug.‘  It nearly broke Lucinda’s heart.

As I mentioned in the last write up the girls are now sharing the same room, in bunk beds.  This is quite a change for both of them.  Éowyn now sleeps five feet (1.5 metres) off the ground and needs to climb a ladder to go to sleep (or descend it to go to the toilet).  Amélie has moved from a cot (with sides) to the bottom bunk of a bunk bed, a full sized bed.  They both have to adapt to sharing a room and the disturbances that this brings.  So far it has not been too bad.  Initially they kept themselves awake talking and shining their torches at each other, but since this beginning the novelty has worn off they go to bed and for the most part of it go to sleep quite quickly and stay asleep until dawn.

That is not to say they have slept through the night every night, but then neither did they do so when they had separate rooms.  Amélie, especially has woke us a number of times recently crying and visibly upset although she has been very much asleep.  This, we think, is because she has started to dream vivid dreams, her subconscious attempting to make sense of the day’s experiences.  Éowyn went through a very similar stage at about the same age and although they are very much reduced in frequency she still has them occasionally, then again so does Lucinda.

Although both girls have seemingly adapted to sharing a room quite quickly it would be nice, especially when they get older, for them to have separate rooms.  Not that three bedrooms is a bad thing but we live in a terraced house and so the communal rooms aren’t massive either and so we are on the look out for a larger house, ideally four bedrooms, but anything with more space and room to expand into.  Unfortunately, houses that fit that description in the areas we want for the price that we can afford are few and far between.  Unless one has a bottomless pit of money there is always compromise whenever you buy something.  For instance the S-Max was a compromise as it was a year older than we would have preferred (to be honest I would have preferred a new one but that was completely out of the question) and silver (not the colour that Lucinda wanted) but ticked the remainder of the boxes.  With houses there are more boxes that need ticking and although we have been to see a number of houses lately the compromises that they have are just too great at the moment.  This will probably have to be put on the back burner until junior is a little older as he will be unashamedly (and rightly) hog our attention for the next few months.

However the challenge over the next few months will be to get the balance correct and share our time with the girls.  This onus will probably fall on me more than Lucinda as she will be taking more of the bulk of baby care.  Not that I am a shy of doing my share and I am sure that regular readers of this website will testify.  Every now and then though Lucinda will throw me by changing the goal posts.  This happened at breakfast last week.  I asked the girls what they wanted for breakfast and Amélie asked for ‘Crocodile feet‘.  I laughed because I thought she was being funny.  Now that sounds precocious for a two year old but the girls play a game where they pretend to be waitresses and take a food order from all the adults in the room.  They pretend to write the order down and then return with the order a short while later.  It is a good game to test their memories and I like to push the boundaries so instead of the more usual ‘ham sandwich’ or ‘spaghetti bolognese’ I try to gross them our with items such as ‘Rhinoceros Toenails’ or ‘Camel eyelash sandwiches’ which the girls find hilariously funny. Thus when Amélie said ‘Crocodile feet’ I thought she was doing the same.  However when I opened the cupboard with the cereal boxes in I found a new cereal in the coco pops family called Croc prints which are crocodile feet shaped chocolate covered cereals.  She knew what she wanted.

Before the snow returns (yes really!) at the weekend we have had a couple of vernal days with temperatures hitting 17ºC and so I took full advantage performing the first mow of the year.  Thus the garden is ready for the next new arrival even if the house isn’t fully there yet.  At least Lucinda’s bag is packed and the S-Max is fully fuelled, let’s just hope that the snow that is forecast isn’t too deep or brings the traffic to a standstill at the wrong time!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there and let us see if the little one will appear on his due date.  So stand by for I believe that the next write up will be the one you are after until then

Peace and Love


Not many photos but here are the girls saying goodbye to Nellie-Bug

Amélie’s Second Birthday

So a couple of weeks after we announced to the world that we are expecting our third child, our second child celebrated her second birthday.  Yes can you believe that Amélie is 2 years old.  This time in 2010 we were on the way to St. Peter’s hospital and thankfully the road conditions were not the same as they were this year as there were road closures and heavy traffic around the area and I can’t imagine trying to battle your way through heavy traffic with a wife in the latter stages of labour!

As a modern father I have (so far) managed to be off work on all of my children’s birthdays and Amélie’s second one was no exception, in fact I managed to organise myself the entire weekend off.  Amélie’s birthday was last Friday and on Fridays Éowyn goes to pre-school and this Friday was no exception.  However before we took Éowyn to pre-school she helped Amélie to open her birthday presents.  Amélie obvious wasn’t entirely sure why she had presents but didn’t care too much as her big sister opened a Peppa Pig treehouse and nothing else then mattered.  We did manage to wrestle it from her grasp so that we could take Éowyn to school before heading out for the day’s adventure.

With the impending third baguette due in March we have come to realise that Lucinda’s Nissan Micra is not going to cope with three car seats.  In fact, most cars have difficulty fitting three car seats in, hence the proliferation of MPVs on the market.  Unfortunately most MPVs simply replace the boot (trunk for my American readers) with two seats.  This obviously is handy and does allow extra car seat space, unfortunately it usually means that there is no boot (or trunk) space, which when you have pushchairs and the general accoutrements that goes with children is a real disadvantage.  Not all MPVs are made equal though and the balance is to find one large enough to accommodate the three car seats and the progeniture paraphernalia without feeling that you are driving a van (especially when you have been used to driving a Micra) and, possibly more importantly, without breaking the bank.

The model that seems to tick the majority of the boxes is the Ford S-Max (not only does it have seven seats and boot space but it is wide enough to get three car seats across the middle row meaning that as a family of five we could keep the back two seats down turning it into a very large estate car). So it was with this in mind that we took a trip to Car Giant in Shepherd’s Bush to look at their current crop. Unfortunately none of the ones that they had in seemed to be right and when you are spending that kind of money it needs to be right.  There was one that had caught our eye when we looked at their internet site but unfortunately in real life this particular individual did not inspire love and affection from either of us so we decided that we would walk away and keep looking there are plenty more S-Maxes in the sea.

Returning back home, we picked Éowyn up from pre-school and then Amélie completed her birthday day at home playing with her new toys with her big sister.  It is probably the first time that Amélie has things that Éowyn really wanted and I think that Amélie realised this and suddenly became very possessive of her presents.  Time for a lesson in sharing, for both of our children.

A relaxed Friday afternoon melted into an equally relaxed Saturday morning.  However there was a big family outing planned for the evening.  Hollycombe Working Steam museum, near Liphook in Hampshire is, as the name suggests, a working steam museum with an Edwardian steam-driven fairground alongside the obligatory steam train and traction engines.  It is open all summer long and although it closes for the winter in September and October it opens for evening admission which, with the autumnal dark nights, adds a magical element to the fairground.  It is somewhere that Lucinda’s family try and visit each year but unfortunately we have not been able to make it for the last three years for one reason or another, in fact the last time we visited Éowyn was a baby.

We arrived at Hollycombe about an hour or so before it opened and Lucinda’s dad fired up the camping stove and cooked us all sausage and bacon sandwiches.  We provided desert with Amélie’s birthday cake (a cake that she was unable to eat because it contained milk – so she had her own chocolate brownies that Lucinda made especially for her) before buying our tickets and heading into the museum.  As we entered the museum we noticed that the steam train was running.  This was the first time it had been running on an evening that the family had visited and therefore it was too good an opportunity to miss, so we paid our £2 and climbed onboard.  This really whetted the girls’ appetites for the fair and so after disembarking we headed to the full size carousel.  Again both girls thoroughly enjoyed it and Amélie didn’t want to get off.  Fortunately there were plenty of children’s rides for them, a junior roundabout, juvenile dobbies, austin cars and the children’s chair-o-planes and they enjoyed all four.  We were unsure how they would react to the chair-o-planes but we need not of feared, they loved it!  In fact it was a bit of a struggle to get them off each ride and more than once they were the only children on the ride and made the operator send them round twice.  I would thoroughly recommend a night trip to Hollycombe for kids, young and old and imagine what it must have been like for your great-grandparents visiting one of these at the turn of the 20th Century.

We ended the weekend in style at the Village Centre in Englefield Green at a joint 4th birthday party for Éowyn and the other children from our N.C.T. group.  It was just coincidence that is was 2 days after Amélie’s birthday, it was planned to be somewhere in the middle of the span of the N.C.T.’s group’s birthdays.  The Village Centre was a great venue for the party and was just the right size for the group that we had invited, it felt cozy without feeling too crowded and had plenty of room for games.  Sharing a children’s party certainly takes the pressure (and the expense) off one family.  We all had responsibilities for different aspects of the catering and we all organised one mass participant game each.  As a consequence of sharing these responsibilities it meant that the stress was reduced (or at least shared across six sets of parents) and thus as a parent you could actually enjoy your child’s party.  There were tears (it wouldn’t be a children’s party without them) but on the whole the children were very well behaved and we keep them entertained long enough to prevent any serious altercations.  It was good to meet up with our N.C.T. group even though it was difficult to sit down and chat for any length of time,as a parent that is something that is now second nature.

Now work beckons and my mini break is over, the wide world of sport stops for no man, but before I leave you just an update on Éowyn’s quasi corporeal companions (imaginary friends to you and I).  Dizzy, it seems, it a naughty boy but no bad deed goes unpunished.  The other day Éowyn calmly informed us that Dizzy was in hospital.  He had tiptoed out of the house and got squished by a car.  Do not fear he is alright but it seems that his place in Éowyn’s affections has been relegated slightly and now there is a new brother called Connor.  Connor it seems looks like an old man in a paper hat.  When I suggested that Connor was an old man I was rebuked, ‘No Daddy, he just looks like an old man.‘  So now you know.  He also will only wake up if you speak to him in Russian.  Éowyn’s quasi corporeal companions are not limited to people, Russian or otherwise, she currently has a cat called Stephanie and a dog called Giggly.  Either she has a fantastic imagination or she can see things that are hidden to us cynical adults.

Peace and Love