The Football Season draws to a close

Again, this update has been delayed due to life (and work) getting in the way.  Time is precious and the weather has been glorious (for three days at least) and so many things get pushed to the sidelines, and one of those things is this website.  However, nigh on a month is far too long to keep you, dear readers, waiting for a debrief of the latest shenanigans of the Bagnalls, so I shall keep you no longer.

The last time I sat down to regale you with our news the children were yet to return to school from their Easter holiday break, and now we find ourselves a few weeks shy of the half term break.  So, what have we been doing and how are Baguettes enjoying the final term of this school year?

It has to be said, that we have not been resting on our laurels, indeed the girls have a more active social life that either Lucinda or me, and probably a more active life that I have ever had (cue the violins!).  This is in no small part due to the fact that the girls’ school has a plethora of after (and pre-) school clubs that cover a wide variety of interests.  At the start of each term you put your name in the hat against the clubs that you are interested in and with luck you will get into the club that you want.  We gave the girls a full choice of clubs to join, put their names against them and fortunately they both got the clubs that they wanted to join.

The first club of the week is non-school related, however, for it is the joys of Brownies for Éowyn at the local Church hall.  She thoroughly enjoys Brownies even though none of the other girls that attend actually go to her school; it is therefore a completely different circle of friends which we think is good for Éowyn, as it develops her social skills, not that they need too much honing.  Most of the girls attend the local Catholic school where Ezra attends pre-school.  It is quite nice that when we drop Ezra off there that some of the girls that go to Brownies are really excited to see Éowyn.  It is a busy start to the week for Éowyn; Brownies finishes late on a Monday evening and Tuesday mornings before school is her first school club of the week: Choir.  Yes, choir.  Anyone that knows our first born will know that she has inherited her delicate, dulcet tones from her father and so it is quite surprising that she has managed to hold on to her place.  Can’t wait for the feedback at the end of term.

There is then a bit of a gap before both girls attend then next school clubs on a Friday afternoon.  Éowyn at performing arts (much more fitting to her personality and inherent skills) and Amélie at dance.  Indeed, as the beginning of the week is busy for Éowyn so Friday afternoon is the start of a busy twenty four hours for Amélie.  After dance she returns home for a quick bite to eat before her third clothing change of the day and from her dance outfit to her Rainbow uniform.  Seeing how much Éowyn enjoys Brownies Amélie has followed big sister’s footsteps into the world of guiding.  Amélie, who is not old enough to join Brownies (she has another 18 months or so to wait) has joined the local Rainbow pack.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Girl Guiding world, Rainbows is the first step into that world.  Girls aged 5 to 7 can become a Rainbow before joining Brownies (at the age of 7) and then the Guides (at the age of 10).  We had attempted to get Éowyn into Rainbows before she joined Brownies at the end of last year, but unfortunately all the places had been taken and so we learned from this and had Amélie’s name down ready for the first available place.  That place became available as the Easter holiday ended and therefore we were quick to ensure that Amélie went for her taster session.  As we thought she loved it and so subs were paid, uniform is on order and she is now a fully fledged Rainbow and thus both girls are members of the Girl Guiding sorority.

Amélie’s busy end to the working week doesn’t stop with Dance class after school and Rainbows after Dance but continues on Saturday mornings with a short walk to the local leisure centre for swimming lessons.  She is going to be one fit little girl.

The girls’ week of exercise doesn’t end there either.  The local leisure centre runs a Roller Disco every Saturday night.  With a shift pattern that gives me two weekends off out of every three, we have headed through the park to the leisure centre to introduce the girls to the world of rollerskating.  Ungainly and ill-balanced at first the girls have taken to it very well and although they still resemble Bambi on ice they are growing in confidence and thoroughly enjoy skating around the gym.  The first week Lucinda and I were fully engaged in helping them stay upright while Ezra sat on the sidelines, however he didn’t want to be left out and all week asked if he could rollerskate the following Saturday.  All for equally opportunities the following Saturday we obliged.

He didn’t take to it in the same way as his older sisters.  He didn’t like having the skates on (even before he tried to stand up).  I took him to one side of the gym and tried to give him confidence on his wheels, as I had with Éowyn the week before.  He didn’t like it.  He kept saying that he was going to fall, despite my reassurances that he couldn’t fall because Daddy was holding him.  Nevertheless this did not fully reassure him and he got a little more upset crying out ‘Daddy, I’m going to die rollerskating!‘  After stifling a laugh, I thought that perhaps he was not quite ready for rollerskating and carried him to the side of the gym and took his rollerskates off.  We will see if his interest in rollerskating is piqued next time we go.

Ezra seems to have something about dying at the moment.  He said to me one morning, ‘Daddy, I don’t want you to go to work.‘  I explained that I had to go to work and he replied, ‘But Daddy, if you go to work you will die.‘  I asked him why he thought I would die if I went to work.  With his nascent interest in the dark side of the force I am not sure whether his reply was a warning or a threat. ‘Because if you go to work, you will have a car accident and they will not find you because you will fall down a hole.‘  I have been checking my break cables recently.

This may have come from the fact that Ezra has also returned to school and is now doing two full days (plus a half day on a Wednesday).  Thus life is changing for our son.  He is becoming more independent, he is walking everywhere now, rather than being the lazy tyke that he sometimes was and insisting on sitting in a pushchair.  He is interacting with older children at school and although he is used to sharing his space with other children being at school is a different experience.  Nevertheless we are proud of how well he is adapting to full days at school.

The weather since the last update has been a little unpredictable to say the least.  The weekend after the update there were snow showers, followed the weekend after with 27°C (80°F – for our American cousins) and thus the first barbeque of the season.  Indeed we had three very nice days in a row but now the weather has returned to the usual inbetween vernal average.  Regardless, the barbeque has had an airing and therefore will be a regular sight at Chez Bagnall.

With summer weather and Ezra’s new found enjoyment in walking, new shoes needed to be bought.  As anyone with small children will realise, kids shoes are expensive (especially when you need to buy three children shoes at the same time) and they grow out of them so quickly.  All three children were measured for shoes and all three of them a grown so much that new shoes were a necessity.  Let’s hope they last over the summer – I’m not banking on it.

As usual around this time, work is busy.  It is the culmination of many of the sporting seasons, including our biggest client the Premier League.  It has been a fantastic season for the neutral with Leicester City winning the title, and equally fantastic as a West Bromwich Albion fan with Aston Villa relegated.  It is amusing but there is a genuine fear that it will take Aston Villa a long time to regain their former glory, something that in all honesty one doesn’t really want to see for any club.   Villa’s season was poor but I don’t think Spurs’ fans will wish to be reminded about the last day of this season either, however I feel that life long Gooner, Terry Wood, will be smiling from that North Bank in the sky tonight.  (OK, pedants, with Manchester United’s game postponed due to a suspect package it technically wasn’t the last day of the season but it was certainly the last day for the other 18 clubs!)

Coupled with the end of season mania we have had the BBC in the house producing their transmission of the World’s biggest non-sporting live event: The Eurovision Song Contest for the second year running.  Unfortunately, there were no parties at an embassy (unlike last year), no raffles and thus no weekend trip to European cities.  Let us not forget that we are launching two new channels before the end of May and preparing all the upgrades, connectivity and new installs that will occur over the summer.  It is going to be a busy one and you may not see too much of me! (I will get my excuses in now!)

I am not the only one with busy weeks ahead.  Éowyn is in the middle of her Year 2, Key Stage 1, SATS.  KS 1 SATS test the children’s ability in English and Maths.  The English exam is comprised of four tests:  Grammar and Punctuation, Spelling and two Reading papers; while Maths is comprised of an arithmetic and a reasoning paper.  The results of which, are scaled, graded and then rated against the national average, all under the pretence of highlighting where your child might need extra help.  I don’t think that I have ever met a teacher that doesn’t know where the children in their care need extra help.  This is just a way of rating school but all it is doing is putting young children under pressure.  Education is not about passing exams it is about teaching children a variety of skills to help them to find their place in the world.  Performance tables can only give you a narrow view of a child (or a teacher, or a school), luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.  Thankfully, Éowyn’s school have been fairly relaxed with these exams and thus Éowyn has not felt any pressure and we certainly have been playing the importance of these exams down.  Éowyn has been doing really well at school lately, moving up levels in maths and keeping up her record of 10/10 in every spelling test; her hand writing is neat and her reading is fine so whether she can identify if the verb tense is a present perfect or present progressive or what 75% of 60 is, kind of falls into insignificance compared to whether she can identify why someone is upset, why racism is dumb (her words) and inventing games for her and her friends to play.

Éowyn is not the only one who is moving up levels of achievement at school.  Amélie has gone up another level at reading and is now the highest level reader in her class.  Fantastic news of which we are very proud, however, other levels of her education made need some assistance.  Lucinda’s birthday is just around the corner and Amélie decided that mommy might like some Vanish Gold as a present.  I was not ready for the suggestion when she proposed it and let forth a laugh.  This upset Amélie.  I tried to comfort her while I explained that mommy may not appreciate washing powder as a present but her reasoning was not without justification:  it comes in a pink and gold package, so it looks nice and it makes the mommies on the telly happy.  You can not deny the logic!

Logic is not something that can be assigned to the following nugget that may have passed you by.  The Grim Reaper has added a number of beloved personalities to his toll since the last update and the most prominent of which is arguably Prince.  Four years ago I, tongue-in-cheek, suggested that Prince was perhaps a time travelling Maya from the planet Nibiru come to save the world with his purply music, when the 2012 apocalypse did not happen.  Well, if this individual is to believed, that was but a reprieve for Prince’s death heralds the end times.  What is it with religious apocalyptics?  Perhaps they should go back to school and do their SATS!

I think I have preoccupied your time for long enough and I am sure that you are more interested in the latest crop of photos, and there are few hundred extra on the Flickr pages. Therefore, I will bid you adieu and unless I have a car accident and my car falls down a hole I will see you on these pages shortly.

Peace and Love


Superstar and new shoes!

So you hadn’t had an update for weeks and then, in the manner of buses, three come along in a short time.  See, I am trying to make up for my poor showing in 2014 as well as regale the happenings of the Bagnall clan.  I hope that this meets with your approval.

If you cast your mind back to before the solar panels write up to the first of this trilogy of write ups you will recall that it was Easter holidays.  You also may recall that at the beginning of last term I made a promise with Éowyn.  She would receive an item of her choosing from the Disney store (an Elsa dress that we are still waiting for stock in her size to return to the Disney store) if she managed to achieve superstar status five times during the term.  She made that target before half term and so as a Dad of my word she will receive an Elsa dress, assuming that Disney ever manage to restock.

I was not foolish enough to make the same deal for the last term and I am glad that I didn’t!  Éowyn returned to school on a Tuesday.  In the four days of that first week she achieved superstar status every day and topped it all with the weekly award that she received in morning assembly before the entire school.  It was confirmed with a note in the school newsletter and a certificate.  I could not allow that achievement to go unrewarded and so there is yet another trip to the local Disney store planned to choose another prize.  Actually it will be the same trip, she will just pick up two prizes.  Not sure how long this encouragement can go on, either Éowyn will get bored and the incentive will no longer work, or I will be bankrupt.  Buy Disney shares!

Éowyn’s superstar statuses this week were based on reading and writing.  She moved up a level with her reading and is now where the majority of reception class children should be at the end of their first school year and her writing is coming along in leaps and bounds.  She is encouraged to write and not to worry about the spelling at the moment, it is all about getting the ideas down.  An approach many adults still have judging by their Facebook statuses.  Éowyn’s class have recently been learning about ‘People who help us’.  This has included firefighters, nurses, police officers and vets.  Then they have to write about the people who had come into see them.  So for the police officer she wrote a report about a thief that had been apprehended, so far so normal, but that was part one, he then absconded from gaol and was eventually recaptured.  She is finally using the imagination she uses everyday to make up games in her writing.

For the subject of her nurse story she related she relied more on memory than imagination.  A couple of weeks ago she decided that she would try a lift AmélieAmélie wriggled and Éowyn lost her balance and fell backwards.  Amélie landed on Éowyn’s head and there were tears.  After the usual cuddles and checks to see if they were OK, Éowyn complained that her ear hurt.  There was nothing obvious so we slightly dismissed it.  However as the evening drew on the pain was getting more intense and she began to cry with the pain.  Thinking that she may have done so serious damage I took her to the walk-in clinic in Ashford.  After a short wait the on-duty nurse looked into her ear with anotoscope and said that she could see some swelling but nothing to be concerned about.  She asked if Éowyn had a cold, which she had, and said that the impact had probably bruised the one side of her ear while the cold was putting pressure on the other side.  She suggested that we Calpol her up and wait for the swelling to go down and to return if it wasn’t becoming less painful.  Éowyn received a sticker for being brave and returned home fine.  The Calpol did its job and the incident gave Éowyn inspiration for her nurse’s story.

Éowyn is not the only one who has received a sticker for being brave at the nurses.  Both Amélie and Ezra have had stickers in the last week or so.  Both were due booster jabs so as Lucinda and I were both off we decided to get them both done at the same time.  I would hold Amélie and Lucinda would hold Ezra.  As with Éowyn two years before we forewarned Amélie that the injections would feel like a scratch and may hurt a little but if she was a brave girl she could choose something from the Disney store (I did tell you to buy shares!).  As an added incentive Ezra would be in the same room and she would have to be brave for him.  I know what you are thinking cruel parents!

Amélie was incredibly brave, she didn’t cry, only winced when the first one went in and whimpered a little on the second one.  In complete contrast to Éowyn who screamed the place down when she had hers.  After receiving her stickers (one for each arm) we said that it was Ezra’s turn.  Amélie then said that she didn’t want to see Ezra have his so I took her back to the waiting room, while Lucinda held Ezra.  Again Ezra was brave (he must have seen how brave his sister was).  He didn’t make a sound on the first, whimpered a little on the second but the third was a bit of a shock and then he cried but not for long.  So the girls are now inoculation free until secondary school while Ezra will have his last set in about two years time.

So what else has been keeping me from this website?

There have been a lot of housey things.  With the recent fine weather we have been able to get into the garden and use my new toy (a self propelled petrol lawnmower).  We have also begun our new hobby (if you can call it that) growing our own vegetables.  Three rows of potatoes are growing nicely, as is a double row of green beans (because I don’t get enough of them at work!).  Unfortunately my strawberry plants have been dug up and taken by culprits unknown (although my suspicion lies squarely with the local squirrel population).  We have a row of herbs starting to grow and our pumpkin plants are nearly ready to make the move outside.  We also have some bunny tail grass and sunflowers for decoration and half a dozen tomato plants.  Not exactly the self-sufficient lifestyle à la Tom and Barbara but it is a start with relatively low maintenance crops that even we should be able to get something.  It is also nice for the girls to see where food comes from and give them more reason to eat the produce when we come to harvest.  Fingers crossed that they will taste nice too.

The other addition to the garden is the wendy house from the last place.  It is actually about 11 years old bought by Nanny and Granddad for Lauren (and Maddie).  They have outgrown it so we inherited it and not only has it lasted pretty well for the decade or so it has been built three times (by Granddad) so it is doing well.  Just needs a lick of paint and it is good to go, not that has stopped them so far.  Even Ezra has been inside.

Ezra has also had an eventful time he has increased his vocabulary by one word: ‘that’.  This word is used ubiquitously in conjunction with the pointed index finger.  If he sees something that he wants, anything that he wants, even if he knows he is not allowed to have it, the finger straightens, he looks you in the eye and ‘that’.  It is the only word he needs.  We have tried to get him to say ‘ta’ when he is given something.  Not interested.  ‘That!’  He has also learned to wave goodbye, whether you are going or not.  Probably linked to not giving him ‘that’.

We have also bought him his first pair of shoes.  He was spending so much time on his feet holding against things, that we thought that if we bought him some shoes it might encourage him to walk.  When standing he also tends to tiptoe.  Primarily so that it gives him a little more reach to get hold of ‘that’, but it is also one of the stages that little go through before they start to walk.  So we also hoping that with the shoes he would not be able to tiptoe so easily and encourage him to use the whole of his foot.  We are still waiting.

Amélie also had new shoes (a trip to Clarks cost us a fortune!).  Her feet had grown very quickly up over two sizes, how she had managed to squeeze her feet into those shoes for so long we will never know.  It will be Éowyn’s  turn next with new school shoes a must over the summer.

So another season draws to a close, West Bromwich Albion survived (just) and now the hard work of the Summer begins.  Usually the off-season is quite quiet for me, last season that was not the case and neither will it be this season.  The  Summer will see the transfer of Premier League Productions under the bosom of Stockley Park and all the testing and installation to go with that.  There is also a World Cup (of men’s football), Wimbledon and The Open Golf Championship.  I have got to try and squeeze in some vacation among all that.  Hopefully I will have enough time to keep you abreast of our little family unit.

Hopefully you have enjoyed this trilogy of updates and I promise not to leave it so long next time.  Don’t forget to have a look at our Flickr page (link on the right hand side) there are a few hundred new photos.

Peace and Love



Back to school, back to reality

It has been a little while since the last update and for that I apologise but there are extenuating circumstances that will be hopefully become clear in the next few weeks. As an appetiser I thought I would do a quick update just to bring you up to speed with the current goings on at chez Bagnall.

September has started in a similar manner to how August ended for me, i.e. extremely busy at work.  It is the start of the football seasons and with new clients on board my department is busier than ever, so work has be leeching my time therefore any spare time has once again been directed at family rather that cyberspace and this website, which I am sure you will agree is a much better use of my time!

September is also the start of a new school year, Éowyn’s last at pre-school (Playbox) and, come January, Amélie’s first, the family is growing up!  In fact Éowyn is growing up as well as getting older.  She is about 3 feet 7 inches (108cm) which puts her about the 95th centile on the UK height chart and as such is rapidly growing out of her bed.  We bought her a cot bed when she was born that should last until she was 7 years old (according to the blurb).  However when Éowyn lies down, there is no longer a great deal of room for her toes.  With this is mind we are going to buy her a new bed in the next couple of months.  We are trying to decide whether to buy her a normal single bed, a bunk bed (for her and Amélie) or a cabin bed with storage underneath.  Since Éowyn is the one that is going to have to sleep in it (and probably from many years) we asked her for her input.  The conversation went something like this:

If you had a new bed, what kind of bed would you like?

Daddy, if I had a new bed I would like a monster bed.

What’s a monster bed?

It is made of bones, with skeleton heads and ghosties on it.

Sounds cool, but why do you want a bed like that?

So that when my friends come round they will see my bed and be scared.

It seems that unwittingly I am raising a goth, a Satanist or possibly an evil scientist or some combination of all three.  It could be possible that she is being influenced by her quasi-corporeal companion, for he is still around although I have not yet found out what he looks like.  Dizzy (as you may recall is his name) doesn’t sound like a particular nice character, for the other day he was scaring away all of her other ‘pretend friends‘ (as she calls them).  ‘How many pretend friends do you have?’ I asked.  ‘Hundreds’ she replied.  A very popular girl is our Éowyn.

Last weekend was my first weekend off since June and by some miracle the weather was glorious (a sign surely that the kids are back at school).  So we organised a picnic on Barnes common with friends of mine from university Andy and Máire and their children.  It was the first time that our two oldest girls (they were born within a couple of weeks of each other) had really had a chance to play with each other, for we do not meet up that often despite the fact that we do not live that far apart.  Considering they do not know each other they are still of an age where they do not have that reservation that older kids and adults have and just get on and play with each other.  Perhaps not bosom-buddy well and with half an eye their own possessions but nevertheless it was good to see them play together and even more so when we returned to Andy and Máire’s house and Éowyn and Amélie could really investigate other children’s toys.  We can all relate to that!

As I mentioned above, Wednesday, saw Éowyn’s first day back at pre-school for what will be her last years before starting school proper.  It was a family outing to take her to school on her first day.  Myself, Lucinda and Amélie all stood with Éowyn in playground waiting for the school doors to open.  As more and more of Éowyn’s friends turned up Éowyn left the three of us and ran off to play with her friends. Now, the games of three year olds can sometimes be a little incomprehensible to those that have left childish ways behind, but many of you will recognise the running around and screaming game.  At 08:55 this seems to be a very popular game in the school playground and Éowyn and her friends were thoroughly enjoying themselves.  Unfortunately, Amélie, does not know the rules of this game and did not seem to realise that it was actually a game and became defensive of her big sister.  So when Éowyn ran to the safety of Mommy and Daddy’s legs and strange children were chasing her and screaming Amélie got all aggressive, misinterpreting the game and hugged her big sister with all her strength shouting at the other children, ‘No! My Éowyn!‘  It was very cute to see such sororal love reaffirmed to both of us that we have less worries about sending Amélie to pre-school as we did when we first sent Éowyn.

With a new term came the realisation that both girls needed new shoes.  So a trip to Clarks was called for and the preparation of parting with a serious wodge of cash for something that they grow out of so quickly.  Nevertheless it is something that is obviously very important and not to be treated as a luxury moreover a necessity.  So we headed off to Kingston and one of the larger Clarks shoe shops in the area.  With hindsight probably not the best time to shop for children’s shoes.  The shoe department was overrun by people with the same idea.  We took our ticket and waited in line.  Éowyn and Amélie looked through the shows to see what styles they liked and Amélie tried on the biggest pair of shoes that she could find and wandered around the shop!  When it finally came our turn Éowyn measured a 10G and Amélie a 7F, both considerably bigger than their current footwear.  We indicated the styles that we liked and waited for the assistant to return with the shoes.  Not only did they not have the shoes that we wanted in either of the girls’ sizes, they didn’t have any shoes in those sizes.  None of the nearby shops had shoes in those sizes either – the school rush had obviously denuded the stock of children’s shoes in the vicinity.  So an order was placed and the girls will have to squeeze their feet in their current shoes for another week or so.

The family beckons so I will leave you here, with an apology for the paucity of photos below I promise to make amends in the next write up.

Peace and Love