The nights are drawing in

As the title alludes half the year has been and gone, the Summer (in the Northern Hemisphere at least) Solstice has passed and we are hurtling towards winter with ever shortening amounts of daylight.  That is the natural order of things and it is only of import to the Bagnall family because it means that the amount of electricity we can generate from our Photovoltaic cells has passed its maximum for the year.  Nevertheless we were fortunate with the elements around this solstice with fine weather and clear skies, thus plenty of electricity generated.

However, we are in a quandary with the weather now that we have a veg patch.  Yes, our experiment in growing our own produce is giving us some joy even if we probably will not have the most bountiful of harvests. That was never the main driving force for this year.  This year was to see if we enjoyed it and whether we could fit in enough time to look after our crops as well as introducing the girls to growing your own food, so they appreciate from where their food originates.

It is safe to say that we have definitely enjoyed the growing side, so much so that we have installed 3 water butts (enough for 520 litres of rain water) around the garden and have plans to expand the veg patch after harvest.  We have learned much from this year’s experiment (especially how potatoes can take over a veg patch) and are currently growing raspberries, pumpkins, potatoes, runner beans, tomatoes and sunflowers.  In fact we find it quite saddening when you go to check on your crops and there has been damage.  So far we have had attacks by slugs on a variety of crops (although there are at least two frogs in the garden so imagine the amount of damage without predators), a case of blackfly (need more ladybirds), both strawberry plants and one pumpkin plant were dug up (I’m blaming squirrels) and half my potato crop were sat on (I’m blaming the resident fox family). It is a good job that we are not relying on these crops to survive nevertheless it would be good to have a least a few meals worth.  It is with this in mind that in addition to expanding the extent of our veg patch, next year we also plan on trying to encourage natural predators as well as expanding our range of crops and that is even before we have harvested this year’s crop.

So our quandary is that we need the sun to generate electricity (and to grow our crops) but we also rejoice whenever there is a heavy downpour as it means that we do not need to water that evening and that our water butts are replenished.  It is amazing how quickly those butts are filled from each rain shower and just shows how much water is hitting our drainage systems; no wonder there were so many floods over the winter.  So can we have the best of both worlds with extremely sunny days but extremely wet nights?

The main topic of discussion on the streets and bars, for once, is the not the weather but more the sporting competitions that are going on in the world.  Wimbledon and the World Cup are dominating the television schedules in the UK and my work life.  Wimbledon has not really caught the girls attention but they have been intrigued by the World Cup.  Their interest was first piqued by the prevalence of St George’s Crosses bedecked many of the houses in the area.  Then, I introduced them to the perennial disappointment of being an England football fan.

Although the World Cup is one of major summer jobs (it is a hard job when you have to watch the World Cup) at work I still enjoy watching it when I get back home, especially when I have a fantasy footie team and some small bets on the outcome.  Éowyn has taken to sitting next to me on the sofa and feigning interest, mainly so that she can stay up a little later.  ‘Who are we?‘ she will ask.  Then you have to explain that we are neither of them and she can chose which one she wants to win.  Invariably she choses the referee for some reason, probably because he is the only one wearing whichever colour that FIFA have deigned will be the referee outfit for that match.  It was much easier in my youth:  Referees wore black.  That was it.  Football boots were black.  It is the natural order of things.  Nevertheless it is nice that she is taking an interest in the World Cup although at 5 she is a little young we will have to wait until 2018 and Russia to see if that interest is still there.

Football isn’t the main sport for the girls though, trampolining is the sport of choice.  Amélie has been trampolining for most of the year and has passed the her first two trampoline gymnastic awards.  Now Éowyn has begun going after school.  She has a little bit to catch up with her younger sister but I am sure she will be spurred on not to be in her sister’s shadow.

Their little brother will not be following them on the trampoline though, mainly because he is still not walking.  Éowyn was walking early, Amélie not so.  Ezra has until the 4th July to progress to bipedal motion earlier than his sister.  That is highly unlikely.  Especially since tomorrow is that date!  He was crawling quite early and has been cruising for a long time but he has not taken that next step (no pun intended).  He has decided that he can get from A to B quickly by crawling and if he needs to carry anything then he can get there on his knees.  He has the strength in his legs but he just doesn’t seem interested.  I think that once he decides to go for it he will be walking in no time.  He just needs to take the plunge and go for it.  As always we will let you know about his first steps.

There was another first for the Bagnall family this week: Éowyn had a friend over for a sleepover.  Éowyn and Amélie have had friends over the day, indeed every Friday is movie night which we alternate the hosting with our friends Emma and Martin, but their friends have always gone home at the end of the day.  As the girls get older they will inevitably want to spend the night at a friends so when we were asked if Éowyn’s erstwhile best friend Raine could spend the night to help her Mum out with baby sitting we thought it would be a good opportunity to take our first tentative step into the world of sleepovers.

At Playbox Éowyn and Raine were inseparable, unfortunately however before they moved into full time education Raine’s family moved from Staines, nevertheless we have made sure that the have remained in touch.  Therefore we know Raine very well, and more importantly she knows us, so she was comfortable stopping with us.  Éowyn was so excited, getting more so as the day came closer.  We made the spare bed up in the spare room so that they could sleep together without disturbing Amélie.  It was good choice as the girls were still up when Lucinda and I went to bed.  This was partly due to the excitement of seeing each other and partly due to the amount of sweets they had consumed for their ‘midnight’ feast.

Raine was extremely well behaved and indeed the actual sleepover was very easy as the girls kept themselves entertained and were very inclusive towards Amélie, which was nice.  It was more the aftermath.  Raine’s mum collected Raine just before lunch and left us with one extremely grumpy Éowyn.  The grumpy mood wasn’t due to the fact that Raine had left, moreover it was due the lack of sleep (Éowyn isn’t used to staying up so late) couple with a sugar come-down.

Éowyn was a little better after a good night’s sleep, just in time for the third annual Staines-Upon-Thames day.  Celebrating the town’s addition of the river suffix to its name the memorial gardens were packed with stalls, a music stage, a funfair while classic cars lined the High Street.  Nanny and Granddad parked at our house and we all walked into the town centre.  We turned up as it kicked off to take the first boat trip down the Thames (before the crowds turned up – something we learned from last year!).  The girls enjoyed the 40 minute journey, but it was just enough any longer and I think they would have got bored.

After disembarking we headed around the stalls, and the rides.  The girls encouraged Daddy to win a mermaid doll each on one of the stalls (which I did).  We sat and listened to some of the bands (well we sat Amélie danced – photos below) while we ate an ice cream and then they chose a couple of fairground rides to go on.  It wasnt long before the toll of the weekend was beginning to have an affect on the girls and so after a spot of lunch we left Nanny and Granddad to enjoy the fair in peace and headed home.

We were out of the country on the first Staines-Upon-Thames day but we did go last year (even though technically we were not living in Staines Upon Thames at the time) and in our opinion this year totally eclipsed the 2013 event.  There was plenty to do (and to spend your money on!) but it would have been nicer to have had more local produce to buy and more local businesses and societies peddling their wares.  Nevertheless the event is still in its infancy and perhaps after the success of this year maybe it will encourage more businesses next year.  The high turn out was probably helped by the fine weather (despite the forecast of showers) but we will not take that away from the organisation and obvious enthusiasm of the people behind the scenes.

I will leave you now but warn you that from now I am going to get very busy at work so there may be a few gaps between updates so I will not promise the quantity or quality of the updates as I will be relying more on Lucinda for stories and photos.  The joys of working in the Sports Television industry.  Meanwhile here is an impressive crop of photos, including plenty from Staines Upon Thames day 2014.

Peace and love





A visit from the Tooth Fairy

The trilogy is complete and the third update of the week lands at Baggie and Lucy dot com.  So after the epic write-up(s) of our family holiday to Tenby what could possibly have happened to warrant this update?

If you have not guessed from the title of this update the biggest news of the post-holiday period is that on Friday 6th June 2014 Éowyn lost her first tooth.  Yes, our oldest child has taken another step to remind us that they are only children fleetingly.  Unfortunately, this came as a bit of a shock to us and especially to Éowyn.   There was no warning, the tooth had not become wobbly, she was simply eating a corn on the cob and out it popped.  Therefore we were not mentally prepared for it (and hadn’t ever really spoken to Éowyn about it in any depth) and Éowyn certainly wasn’t mentally prepared for it.  I had not yet returned home from work and this probably made it worse, indeed she was inconsolable by Lucinda.

Éowyn always has been a daddy’s girl and whenever she is sad, or frightened or hurt it will always be me that she looks to for comfort.  With Lucinda unable to console her, I received a phone-call from Lucinda asking me to talk to Éowyn.  Therefore work was put to one side while I spoke to Éowyn.  Making her tell me what happened made her focus on talking instead of succumbing to hysterics and then I could ask her the important question: ‘Did she know what this meant?‘  Somewhat taken aback by a question, she thought about it for a while but couldn’t answer.  I replied that she would receive a visit from the tooth fairy, who would leave her shiny coins.  This perked her up, especially after I told her that she could spend those shiny coins on whatever she wanted, although I don’t think that she fully grasps the value of shiny coins and what she could purchase with them.  We also spoke about the fact that she was growing up and was a big girl.  By the end of the phone-call she had calmed down significantly and now was more concerned about what had happened to the tooth to ensure that she could put it under her pillow for the tooth fairy.

It seems that the current going rate for a first tooth is £2.  Unfortunately the tooth fairy did not have a two pound coin but did leave two shiny £1 coins (so shiny that it looked like that the had been cleaned with Cillit Bang!).  Éowyn was so excited the next morning when she woke to find the money and came running in to show me.  I asked her what she would like to use the money to buy.  ‘Can I buy two Kinder eggs?  One for me and one for Amélie?‘ How can you refuse that?

That Saturday was another big day.  As regular readers will know for various achievements both girls had been promised items from the Disney store and both had chosen Frozen related items.  Unfortunately the success of Frozen has not been reflected by the availability of the items in the stores and on the website.  So while we were on holiday we had charged Nanny Fran with a one week challenge to source an Elsa dress and doll for Éowyn and an Anna dress and doll for Amélie.  Nanny Fran is not one to shirk a challenge and came good on three of the four.  Only the Anna doll for Amélie had eluded her.  A stroke of fortune, however, meant that Lucinda found one in another store and so, at long last, we had a full complement to reward the girls.  Saturday was the first day that Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz had to come down and bring them.  As you can imagine the girls were beside themselves with excitement, both at the prospect of seeing Nanny Fran and their Aunties (for Auntie Mary was going to visit too), and the fact that they were going to receive their Frozen dresses and dolls.

You can imagine how excited they were when they opened their bags and took out their dresses.  They put them on immediately and after Daddy extracted the dolls from their respective boxes no other toys got a look in that day.  You will be happy to know that Ezra had not been left out.  When Nanny Fran had visited the Disney store there had been an offer on Muppet related merchandise, so Nanny Fran treated her Grandson to a Gonzo cuddly toy.  You can see from the photos below that not only were the girls were delighted with their presents Ezra was  quite happy with his.

Not that Ezra currently deserves a present.  That is perhaps a little harsh but the girls did receive theirs for their achievements while Ezra, though cute and an ideal baby from a sleeping point of view has not had any major achievements of late.  As he marks his 15th month he has not yet begun to walk.  His preferred method of locomotion is crawling but when that is an inconvenience (for instance when you are trying to run away with the TV remote control) he has resorted to ‘walking’ on his knees!  He will not even entertain the idea of walking and will not let you hold him up.  He will cruise along the furniture and even crawl to you and pull himself up on to his feet against your legs but he will not try to walk.

You may recall that Amélie was also a late developer when it came to walking, in complete contrast to Éowyn who was walking quite early.  Amélie, however, just decided one day to walk, getting up and completing a dozen paces or so; maybe Ezra will do that.  He has until the 4th July 2014 to beat his sister; we will watch this space.

He has, however, developed another habit, one that is not welcome.  He has turned into a bit of a biter.  It is obviously a developmental stage probably borne out of frustration and his inability to communicate or control his emotions.  They are not play bites though and his teeth are sharp.  He has left marks on both girls and myself and Lucinda.  It is a difficult one to deal with as he is a little young for the thinking step, but a firm ‘No’ and then if he persists to try and ignore him is our current strategy.  He is a little strange at times though, for if he is frustrated and he can not get hold of you to bite you he will bite himself.  You almost feel that it is better for him to bite you than hurt himself.  Hopefully this is just a phase that he will grow out of soon before he causes someone real damage.

There is one more first that I need to get you across before I leave you and that is Éowyn’s first Sports Day.  Yes, it is that time of year that schools up and down the country hold their annual sports day.  Éowyn’s class had been in training since their returned from half term and I regularly asked Éowyn how she was getting on.  Knowing that she is not the fastest (we Bagnalls are not build for speed) I was trying to cushion her from potential upset, explaining that as long as she did her best, then that is what matters.  It seems however, that the teachers had already wheeled out the perennial classic: ‘It is not the winning but the taking part‘.

Chatting with Éowyn, she seemed quite content with her ability and that she wasn’t the fastest runner, however she did say that she had come second in the obstacle race.  Therefore, on the way to Sports Day I thought I would give him some fatherly encouragement and told her that the obstacle race was the race for intellectuals.  Anyone can run in a straight line but running and negotiating puzzles takes a special person with special abilities.

The Sports Day was a big event with the day divided between the lower school (Nursery to Year 2) in the morning and the upper school (Year 3 to Year 6) in the afternoon.  Each year had three races so you can see why it took best part of half a day to complete all races.  The three races were a straight sprint, the aforementioned obstacle race and a relay race.

As suspected Éowyn did not perform very well in the straight sprint.  This was due in part to the fact that she is not a particularly fast runner and partly because she was not concentrating at the start of the race and had given the other children a five yard head start.  She was also slow at the start of the obstacle race.  The obstacle race is not about top speed though and she soon caught up and her princess training obviously paid dividends for she came out of the ‘balancing a bean bag on your head’ stage in the lead.  She increased that lead in the ‘pass a hula hoop over your body’ stage and so by the time she came to the slalom run she had a healthy lead and wasn’t caught.  Yes, Éowyn won a race and was so proud, as indeed were we.

We thought that she may have won a second winner’s sticker (no medals here, just stickers) in the relay.  Her team were winning with only a few legs to go.  Éowyn was running the antepenultimate leg but the boy who was running the leg before her (the preantepenultimate?) had a bit of an incident.  Half way down the track his trainer came off.  He never noticed until he was about 5 yards before the hand over, however instead of carrying on sans trainer he turned and ran back to retrieve the offending footwear, then sat down and put it back on (which took a while) before completing his leg.  In the mean time the other teams had completed a couple of legs and poor Éowyn was running against no one (as were the last two in her team).  It was quite funny to watch and Éowyn didn’t seem particularly upset by it.  It is just a shame that I wasn’t filming it, may have been worth £250 from ‘You’ve been framed!’

So, it has been another eventful week in this enclave of the Bagnall family and I leave you with this interesting fact:  today is Friday 13th June 2014 and it is a full moon.  So if you are selenophobic or friggatriskaidekaphobic you may want to stay in bed.  However I do beg you to bear in mind that this is the first time that this combination of superstitions has occurred since Friday 13th October 2000 and you will have to wait until Friday 13th August 2049 for the next one.  So when you look up at this year’s Honey Moon (June’s full moon has several names including the Strawberry Moon and the Rose Moon as well as the Honey Moon) appreciate this heavenly occurrence for you will not see it for another 35 years and 2 months.

Peace and Love