You have had to wait for the first proper update (website upgrade notwithstanding) for a few weeks but that is not unusual where this website is concerned. Indeed 2017 is no different to 2016 or any of the previous years of this website and probably no different to any of those to come. I think, like most of us, the start of the year tends to be a little on the quiet side. Homes have been robbed of their clinquant decorations, Christmas is but a fading memory and normal business resumes with dark nights, morning frosts and Spring a distant reward.
Welcome to 2017 and the first post of the new year. This is my traditional Janus-like post where I look back upon the year just gone and the one that lies before us.
Now that you are fully up to date with the annual Badger Moot, it is probably a good time to update you with a mid-term or, to be strictly accurate mid-half-term (if I am allowed to double hyphenate) write-up. Unusually, this half-term began life back in October, Halloween to be exact. It is more usual for half-term to bridge the end of October and the beginning of November. Thus trick and treating (the UK seems to be embracing this North American of events) took place on the first day back at school. Monday, however was also the first day back at Brownies (for Éowyn) and Daddy was working late covering the Premier League match so the Baguettes could not go door to door until 1900 and thus being so late to the party they only received the dregs of sweet bowls. There is always next year!
The first of November marked the third anniversary of moving to Bagnall manor and it introduced itself with the beginning of a slightly cold spell – definitely colder than it has been but not necessarily cold – which carried through to the following weekend. We decided that since we had been in Bagnall manor for three years, and that Amélie then Éowyn has celebrated birthdays that it was probably time to measure the Baguettes and mark it on the wall, something we have been doing since we moved here, which will hopefully (and in some ways already is) an interesting record as they grow. As expected the Baguettes are all approaching the 98th gentile for their respective ages. Éowyn tops 137.5cm (4 feet 6 inches in old money) and thus no longer needs a booster seat, four years before it becomes dictated by age. She is the height of an average 10-year-old and thus when we buy her clothes we have to bear this mind. Amélie is 123.5cm, just over four feet tall (by half an inch) and again she is in age 7-8 clothes. While Ezra is no shrimp standing at 107cm in his stocking feet (3 feet 6 inches). As mentioned before our kids were never going to be small with me topping 190cm and Lucinda 175cm, I think the girls could be taller than her and Ezra taller than me – we will wait and see.
The following weekend was Bonfire Night. We had been treated to a number of displays around the area that we were able to watch from the comfort of our home but it is not the same as standing in a freezing cold field with hundreds of other people trying to ignore the smells of frying onions or deeper fried donuts. The local rugby club had a display on the Sunday night (the day after the 5th for some reason – not sure why they didn’t arrange the display for the Saturday which was the 5th perhaps they were not allowed to or the organisers were double booked – doesn’t really matter just curious) and so we decided that we would take the Baguettes. Uncle Michael, Auntie Cristina and the Baguettes’ cousins Lauren and Maddie also decided to come to watch the fireworks.
The weather had certainly turned a little chilly so we dressed up warmly and, because we had walked into Staines earlier in the day, we allowed Ezra to let the pushchair take the strain – probably his last ever ride in a pushchair. There was a small fair with rides, hook a duck and food stalls; all extortionately priced. Nevertheless, we still indulged, well all except Ezra who was snuggled under his blanket in his pushchair and had fallen asleep. Having quickly become bored (and broke) by the entertainment on offer we found a prime spot from where to watch the fireworks. Ezra doesn’t like loud noises and we were concerned that he wouldn’t like the fireworks, so we had put ear muffs on him and being asleep we thought we would be safe. Not a chance. As soon as the fireworks began he woke and got upset, so Daddy took him away from the main viewing area to watch them from a safe(r) distance – maybe next year.
The following weekend was Remembrance Day and since Éowyn is a Brownie she was invited (along with the rest of her Brownie pack – Rainbows were not invited so Amélie didn’t take part) to take part in the Staines-Upon-Thames Remembrance Day Parade. Éowyn wasn’t the only member of the family involved in the parade: cousin Finley was there too, for he has recently joined the Army Cadets. It was fantastic to see such a turn out for the parade and seeing your daughter part of that parade gave Lucinda and I a real sense of pride to have been a part of it.
The girls have had a relatively successful month at school. Éowyn started the success by attaining Gold. As I may have mentioned before, the girls’ school employs a traffic light system for behaviour. Each child begins the week on Green and good behaviour can push you up through Bronze, Silver and Gold. Equally unacceptable behaviour can pull you down through Blue, Yellow and Red. Gold is thus attained rarely and only for exceptional behaviour and it merits a visit to the headmaster to write your name in the ‘Gold Book’ and to be called forward in assembly to receive your Gold Leaf. Éowyn moved up through Bronze and Silver before reaching Gold and the final stage, Silver to Gold, was attained for selflessly helping someone in class who was having difficulty with his work. So not only were we proud that she had attained Gold but doubly proud in the reason for the award.
Back down to Green for the start of the week, Éowyn finished Monday on Bronze and Tuesday on Gold. A brace of Golds was a definite possibility, surely unheard of, an opportunity to set a precedent. Lucinda was confident (more confident than I) that the school wouldn’t allow her to get two Golds in a row and so she said to Éowyn that if she got Gold by the end of the week she would buy her the Monster High Mansion (a doll house taller than Éowyn!). Lucinda had three days of concern but her confidence was well placed and Éowyn never made that final step from Silver to Gold. Nevertheless, an excellent achievement by our first born.
Not to be outdone by her older sister the following week Amélie also achieved Gold. Amélie thrives when she receives attention and sitting in her sister’s shadow for the previous fortnight was forgotten when she was the star of the week. She wasn’t only just the star of the week because of her Gold Leaf but literally the star of the school. Not for her work but for her starring role in the school prospectus. A new school prospectus has been produced to attract new parents to the school for children starting school in the next academic year (something that we have done for Ezra). In the prospectus there are lots of photos of the children at work and at play, many we, obviously, recognise. However, they are all relatively small photos not like the photo that greets you on the penultimate page. A full page photo of Amélie running in the playground.
Unfortunately, Amélie is a sensitive soul and despite the above successes Lucinda found her sitting alone, a little upset. Lucinda asked her what was wrong and through tears she said, ‘Wishes don’t work.’ Lucinda pressed her and she explained that she kept wishing that she had fairy wings. Lucinda replied that she had a Tinkerbell outfit with wings and other dressing-up wings. That wasn’t good enough, Amélie wanted to be a real fairy, with real wings so that she could fly. Lucinda was as comforting as possible while explaining it was not possible. The joys of parenting.
Amélie wasn’t our only child that has been upset over something that may seem trivial to non-parents. Ezra came into our bedroom one morning complaining that his duvet has stopped working. He is still in his child bed (supposedly large enough for a 7-year old) but is rapidly outgrowing it. Equally he had a mini-duvet for the bed, which only seemed right and fitting except fitting was exactly what it wasn’t doing. His 3 foot 6-inch frame coupled with his fidgetiness in a bed that is gradually feeling too small resulted in various parts of his body becoming exposed due to lack of duvet. Not the best time of the year to wake up with parts of your body uncovered we decided we would get him a full-sized duvet and dispose of the duvet that no longer works.
Ezra has also proved his worth in the garden. It is that time of the year when wounded leaves fall to the ground, resulting in piles of brown, yellow, red and gold blown across the lawn and patio. To help with this clearing operation I bought some ‘helping hands’ – a pair of green leaf collectors that facilitate collecting large piles of fallen foliage. Ezra saw me racking the leaves into a pile and using the helping hands to pick the leaves up. ‘Hulk Hands,’ he said. I agreed. ‘Can I have a go?‘ he asked. So I gave them to him and he didn’t stop. He collected all the leaves and we filled the wheelie bin up for collection. This wasn’t a one off either. A couple of weeks later when the garden was once again covered by the trees’ discarded autumn gowns Ezra volunteered to ‘Hulk Smash’ the leaves. Now, that is what I call a ‘Dad win’. In the words of Mary Poppins: ‘In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game.‘
Peace and Love