So my resolution to keep updating this website regularly is still falling by the wayside.  No real reason but life is busy at the moment and these updates have the lowest priority.  We have two young children and we are trying to prepare the house for a third, so ‘computer time’ is at a premium.  You may, therefore, expect this update to be full of witty anecdotes and amazing adventures.  You maybe disappointed.  Indeed this is probably one of the shortish write-ups for many a long month, however I am attempting to write two updates in a week so please forgive me.

The girls have been, on the whole, fairly well behaved lately (hopefully that hasn’t put the collybosh on that!) and both have continued to sleep through the night which is probably going to make the return to sleepless nights, that no doubt will arrive with Baguette number three, so much harder.  However they both still have their moments.

Éowyn is growing up fast (and so too is Amélie) and she is certainly becoming more worldly wise and, obviously the way you do that is by asking questions.  Unfortunately she has entered the phase where the question is ‘Why?‘.  I am sure all parents have children that have gone through that phase and I am sure all children start with the first ‘why?’ in an earnest quest to understand the problem at hand.  However the next 7 ‘whys?’ are just there to see how far they can push their parents.  And so it is with Éowyn.  I like to pride myself on knowing a fair bit about a wide spectrum of topics and so I am slightly guilty of encouraging ‘why?’.  I try to answer each why with a sensible and honest answer.  However, there are more ‘whys?’ then answers and after the seventh ‘why?’ I begin to run short of replies.

Not only is Éowyn growing up cerebrally but also physically. She insisted on being measured a week or so ago and so with tape measure in hand I got her to stand up against the wall to measure her: 115cm (3 feet 9 inches) which is, for those of you in the know, slap bang on the 99.6th centile line.  To put it another way there will very few 4 year old girls that are taller than her.  We didn’t manage to measure Amélie but I wouldn’t have thought that she was far behind.  She is nearly as tall as one of Éowyn’s friends (two years older than Amélie) and taller than a friend’s daughter who is a year older than Amélie.

Éowyn, however, does have a delicate constitution.  One of her friends (name withheld to protect the innocent) came to dinner after school and thought it was hilarious to burp.  Éowyn politely asked her to stop belching which for a four year old was like pouring petrol on a fire and so she continued louder than before.  Éowyn then pleaded saying that it was making her feel sick.  The burping continued and so Éowyn completed her side of the bargain and vomited in the kitchen.  A one-off you may think.  Not so.  A couple of days later the Éowyn and Amélie were sharing their nightly bath when Amélie’s milk protein intolerance made its presence felt on her digestive system and she passed wind.  ‘Mum!Éowyn shouted, ‘Amélie’s farted, and it’s disgusting!‘  Lucinda obviously found this extremely amusing but then the humour changed. ‘Mum!  It stinks! It’s making me feel sick!‘  Remembering the previous incident Lucinda tried to react but not quick enough and Éowyn vomited in the bath.  Not quite as funny now.

So as you may have guessed Amélie still has milk protein intolerance.  However, it does not seem as bad as it was and we are gradually introducing her to more and more foods with cow’s milk protein.  Unfortunately, every now and then she has a bit too much and it leaves her with an upset stomach and noxious flatulence are the usual results.  Poor girl, I hope she continues to grow out of it.

Amélie is a a cutey and more of a girlie-girl than her big sister.  After playing with her older cousins she has developed a liking for nail varnish.  Not that we endorse it as such and we try and keep her away from Lucinda’s collection.  Unfortunately that isn’t always possible and I came downstairs last week to Amélie greeting me with outstretched fingers.  ‘Look Daddy, I have pretty nails.‘  From her second knuckle down her fingers were purple, the tabletop was purple and there was a stench of nail varnish in the air.  Fortunately it was nowhere else and was still wet and so could be cleaned up with relative ease.  The nail varnish is now under lock and key!

Lucinda’s bump is still growing (2cm bigger than average) and our son is a little wiggler.  I don’t think he gives Lucinda much rest and I hope that this isn’t the pattern that is going to continue into his first few months of life.  He doesn’t like his environment being restrained at all.  If Lucinda puts anything on her bump, he will kick it off.  If you put your hand on her bump he will give you a good kick.  We have encouraged the girls to touch Lucinda’s bump and Amélie will kiss the bump while Éowyn will put her hand on the bump.  When she receives the obligatory kick she doesn’t get upset, she just says that is him saying hello.  Which is a nice way of thinking about it.

So the countdown enters it’s final phase and still Lucinda’s bag is not packed and the house feels far from ready to accept a fifth inhabitant, so I will leave you here (with a very poor number of photos) and get on with the list of tasks that I have been given.

Peace and Love


Center Parcs: A Winter Wonderland

Well I haven’t started 2013 very well have I?  It is nearly the end of January and there has not been an update since just after Christmas.  I must pull my finger out if I am going to top the 30 update mark for this year, especially since it is going to be a very busy year.  So what have we been doing this year?

January is usually about getting back into routine after the build up to and holidays around Christmas and this January has been no different.  The new Christmas toys have found their places among the other toys that the girls own.  Éowyn has returned to pre-school after the Christmas break and my work has returned to ‘normal’ after the foreign leagues’ winter breaks and the busy Premier League period.

The countdowns to the arrival of baguette number 3 and the move of my work’s premises are rapidly drawing to their conclusions and there is still a huge amount of work to do for both.  With the former in mind and the fact that I still have some days left from last year’s annual leave to use up we decided to take our last break as a family of four.  But where to go?

January in the UK isn’t usually the most inspiring of times and so we decided to head to Center Parcs at Longleat Forest,  The reasoning being that if the weather was particularly poor that there would be plenty of indoor fun with the sub-tropical pools being the biggest draw.  And so Monday we headed West to the Wiltshire/ Somerset border and the delights of Center Parcs.

We need not have worried too much about the weather because for a change the weather was typically wintry with snow lying on the ground.  That may sound like an oxymoron and I am not sure if I am the only one but whenever the weathermen forecast snow I get as excited as I did when I was a child.  I know that it is only crystallised rain but snow has the ability to make everywhere look pretty, especially when it decorates the denuded deciduous trees and covers the unkempt lawns of suburbia.  However it is amazing how poor the UK reacts to any lying snow.  The papers are full of the big freeze, blankets of snow and how public transport has ground to a halt.  Other countries must look incredulously at our ineptness.  Temperatures of 0ºC isn’t really a big freeze (OK, technically it is freezing – but only just), an inch of snow isn’t really a blanket (more a sheet) and because we don’t really experience these conditions very often (although they do seem to be getting more regular) it really isn’t worth the large scale investment in equipment to ensure we can completely cope (although I thought we coped a lot better this year than we have in recent years).

Fortunately there were a couple of days of little or no snow and although the temperatures had not crept high enough to melt the lying snow the roads were clear and so our journey across country was not overly affected by the snow.  When we arrived at Longleat we were greeted with a winter wonderland.  Center Parcs is set in a pine forest and the snow on the branches and on the forest floor made us feel like we were on a skiing holiday in Canada or Scandanavia, the wooden chalets adding to the effect.  We could not have picked a more perfect week to spend at Center Parcs.

For those of you that have never stayed (or even heard of Centre Parcs), it is a holiday park set among woodland with various sporting activities that you can get involved in.  There are swimming pools, boating lakes, horse riding, fencing, archery, tennis courts, badminton courts, squash courts, snooker tables, zip-wires, adventure playgrounds, bowling lanes, in fact nearly any sport that you care to turn your hand to.  The accommodation are multi-bedroom self-catering chalets (or villas as they call them) set so that you are not overlooked by your neighbours and, apart from unloading and loading, no cars are allowing in the complex, they must all be left in the car-park.  The breaks are Monday to Friday or Friday to Monday and so cars are only allowed on Mondays and Fridays.  It works well.  Each of the houses come complete with a log burner which really adds to the atmosphere when there a snowstorm blowing outside.  We hired a two bedroom villa (the girls shared a bedroom for the first time) for a Monday to Friday break.

You are not allowed into the villas until 1500 and the cars have to be back in the car-park by 2300 but you are allowed to park up and head into the complex on foot and take advantage of the amenities prior to check-in and so we did.  There seemed to be a complete rush to attempt to get the cars in at 1500 and we were not prepared to fight the wave and so wandered around until a little later before heading to the car park and moving in.

There was more snow Monday night and so the forest looked even more magical when we woke Tuesday morning.  Lucinda had a mum-to-be massage booked for Tuesday morning so she tottered off to the other side of the complex while I looked after the girls.  Half way between our chalet and the Aqua Sana Spa was The Pancake House and so we decided that it would be a good place to meet up after Lucinda’s treatment.  So after getting the girls wrapped up against the cold we headed out to explore.  However the exploration was not to last too long and we never got the pancakes.  Partway to The Pancake House we passed though the Village and in the Village there was a wishing well and pond.  Éowyn asked for some coins to throw into the wishing well and so both girls fleeced Daddy for some money (I had better get used to that!).  They threw the money in, made a wish and then asked for more to make another wish.  That did not work with Daddy and so the girls begun to play in the snow and headed off in two different directions.

Wary of the pond I told Éowyn to keep away and not to venture too close and she appeared to be heeding me.  Suddenly Amélie began to scream.  She was standing in an inch of snow shouting ‘Daddy, I’m stuck!‘  I turned to comfort her and try and explain that she was not stuck when I heard a splash and a scream.  Éowyn had obviously not been listening and had fallen into the frozen pond.   With my heart in my mouth I ran over a dragged her out.  She was soaked and shivering so I loaded them both into the pushchair and rushed back to the villa.  Fortunately the villa was very warm and the inferno-like towel rail had warmed our towels to body temperature (and probably beyond) so I stripped her and wrapped her in a bath towel to warm her back up.  As you can imagine I was a maelstrom of emotions but what it did highlight was the fact that neither of our girls can swim and so with the opportunity that we had at Center Parcs it was something that I wanted to remedy.

Center Parcs, Longleat Forest has a sub-tropical swimming complex with a number of different pools, with various slides and a wild water rapids.  One of the pools is a heated outdoor pool which with subzero temperatures and falling snow was quite magical. Éowyn thoroughly enjoyed it and it was the pool that she made a bee-line for each day.  The water was about 1.4 metres (4 feet or so) deep and so was considerably out of her depth and bedecked with arm-bands she made significant progress over the week going from clinging on to me with all four limbs to confidently treading water and doggy-paddling refusing to allow me to touch her while she was  swimming!  It made the holiday for Lucinda and me and was worth the money that we spent on the holiday alone.  We now just have to keep going and ensure that the confidence does not wane, because she thoroughly enjoyed the freedom it gave her and even in the big pool with the wave machine on full power she bobbed confidently telling me how much fun it was.

Amélie, did not enjoy the pools as much, she was like some kind of monkey-limpet (what do you mean there is no such animal?) clinging on to you with all four limbs.  We could occasionally prise her off us and get her to float, which she would happily do until she realised what she was doing then would return to the vice-like tetrapodal embrace.  We will have to work on that one!

With more snow falling throughout the week many of the outdoor activities were cancelled (the boating lake for instance was frozen) so were concentrated on swimming, soft play, air-hockey (Éowyn was particularly good at this) and eating!  Longleat Forest has a land train to save you some of the longer journeys and so we took full advantage and completed a circuit of the complex onboard the miniature locomotive (as Grandpa Pig would say).

So all in all it was successful mini-break with Éowyn gaining confidence in water and both girls sleeping from 1930 to 0730 each night.  Now whether that was because they were completely worn out with the day’s activities, the country air or because they enjoyed the comfort sharing a room (a precursor to something that they will have to get used to very soon) or some combination of all three we can not tell but we are not complaining.  As you can guess we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Center Parcs and I am sure that the fact that there was very little mobile phone coverage and that we got undisturbed sleep were factors it was probably more because there was a thick sheet (not quite a blanket) of snow on the ground throughout our stay which made it feel that we had gone on holiday somewhere magical.

Obviously there have been a number of other minor incidents over the last few weeks but I don’t wish to detain you any longer than necessary and you are only here for the photos but our thoughts are with Lucinda’s dad who had knee-replacement surgery on Thursday.  He was discharged on Saturday and all has seemingly gone well but he now has the healing process to go through but hopefully he will be back on his feet (literally) soon.

So you may have had to wait a while for it, but I have kicked off 2013 with an essay and a half and a promise not to leave it as long next time, now here are the photos and there are plenty on our Flickr page, feel free to peruse.

Peace and Love



Welcome to 2013

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!

The Bagnalls at the end of 2012
The Bagnalls at the end of 2012