Bipedal Motion and the Return to School

Once again the update has been delayed and the gap between write-ups has widened further than I would prefer.  As per the last few months the shadow of IMG casts long over Team Bagnall and so I have been unable to put fingers to keyboard and regale to you the tales of our corner of the world.  I will attempt to remember the past month and so you will have to forgive any memory lapses or curtness of writing over the next thousand words or so.

As you can perhaps guess from the title it has been a momentous month, even if I have not been there to share it with the family that often.

But first let me take to back to the last Thursday in August.  Friends of ours Kerry and Dave were due to be wed the following day (Friday 29th August 2014) and so we needed to find babysitters for our brood.  Unfortunately both Lucinda and I were due to work Saturday and Sunday so we were looking for at least three days of babysitting in a row, a tall order for anyone.  Up stepped Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz which was very nice of them and the girls were very excited, however it did mean that we had to drive to West Bromwich to drop them off.  The girls are always excited to see Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz but there was an added edge to this visit but more of that later.

Unusually (ahem), I was at work on the Thursday so Lucinda packed them in the trusty S-Max and drove the 120 miles to West Bromwich.  With Kerry and Dave’s wedding the next day she stayed in West Bromwich just long enough to rest and have some lunch before saying goodbye and heading back home.  She was slightly concerned about leaving Ezra as we had not left him that long before and she was concerned how he would react.  She need not of worried as he simply waved her off.  Not only was he not bothered but to rub salt in the wounds of the separation, he decided that being 120 miles away from Mum and Dad was the perfect opportunity to take he first steps!  Yes, the little blighter decided that genicular locomotion was no longer in vogue and decided to totter to his feet and begin the usual plantigrade locomotion favoured by humans.  So, disappointingly, both Lucinda and I missed this huge developmental stage.

Lucinda arrived home Thursday evening and when I got home from work we both commented on how empty the house felt, even though all of the kids would have been asleep there was still a sense of emptiness.

The next day was the Wedding; the venue Random Hall.  Random Hall is 16th Century cottage (somewhat extended) set in the Sussex countryside a short trip outside of Horsham.  As this is within shooting distance of Staines Upon Thames (about an hour away) we decided that we would drive there and back and not look to stay.  This meant that one of us needed to be the nominated driver and as Kerry is ostensibly Lucinda’s friend and many of Lucinda’s (and Kerry’s, obviously) work colleagues would be in attendance.  For those of you that think that the internet is an evil place and no good can come from it, Kerry and Dave met on the same dating website as Lucinda and I, so good things do happen in cyberspace.

Random Hall was an excellent, one stop venue and a fantastic day was had by all.  Kerry looked beautiful and Dave passed muster!  The only slight downer was the fact that we were both semi-conscious that we would be working the next day, it would have been nice to have been able to take advantage of a sans-child weekend and really let our hair down.  No such luck.

A weekend of work followed and before we knew it Monday morning arrived and we were heading back to West Bromwich to relieve Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz and collect the Baguettes!  We left early because Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz had a big day the next day and was the cause of the excitement from Éowyn and Amélie.  Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz were leaving early the next morning to catch a flight to New York.  Yes, Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz had booked themselves a short trip to the Big Apple.  Now why would Éowyn and Amélie be excited that Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz were going to America?  The power of the internet unfortunately.

The girls have discovered, on Youtube, an American lady who plays with dolls and films herself doing so.  She is either in the employ of the toy manufacturers or is just slightly crazy and has lots of spare cash, or some combination of all three.  She always has the latest dolls and makes little stories with them, much to the delight of the girls.  I have to stop them watching her and actually encourage them to put the iPad down and actually go and play with the dolls themselves.  Whoever she is, it works.  The girls are always interested in the new dolls that she has bought and we had always managed to put them off wanting it by telling them that they were only available in America (which in fairness, they quite often are).  Therefore imagine their delight when Nanny Fran announced she was going to America!  Éowyn began writing a list for her and Amélie so that Nanny Fran could load up with presents.  The upside of this was that we had warned them before going to Nanny Fran’s that if they misbehaved that Nanny Fran wouldn’t buy them anything.  To be honest they didn’t need that (they wouldn’t dare misbehave for Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz) but it was a good warning nevertheless.

The weekend also threw up another of Éowyn’s misheard lyrics, this time Ghost by Ella Henderson.  The actual lyrics are: ‘I keep going to the river to pray‘;  Éowyn instead sang: ‘I keep going to the river to play‘.  Coming from a non-religious household, I can understand where she was coming from and a more enjoyable way to spend time by a river in my humble opinion.

The second part of this update is the fact that September marks the advent of the academic year.  Éowyn has begun year 1 while Amélie still has a year before she starts full time education.  Both girls have had a little shock going back to school.  Éowyn, because there is much more focus on work this year and she no longer has free-time in which she is allowed free reign to discover her talents; Amélie because a lot of her friends have left Mini-Tots to embark on their education journey, leaving Amélie as the oldest at Mini-Tots.

Although this has been a bit of a shock for the girls, it will no doubt all be forgotten in a few weeks.  Amélie is making lots of new friends and Éowyn is thriving on the work focus and it is good for her.  She is racing through reading books at the moment and has already progressed through one level and the next level is in her sights.  There has been an improvement in her writing and she has already earned one ‘Magic Moment’ (the reward system employed by her new teacher Mrs Harris).  It is safe to say they are settling in.

Éowyn’s imagination is developing and will stand her in good stead if she pursues her latest career choice: author.  She enjoys writing and will quite often write books for us.  Yes, books, not stories.  She will fold sheets of paper and loosely bind them into a book before crafting her story.  Her stories are quite good and have a defined beginning, middle and end.  She carries this imagination into her play and some of her character names are quite impressive.  My particular favourite is Sharon Von Poopenwrench.  Have no idea where she got that from!

Ezra, too, is a cheeky little fellow at times.  I was playing with him and pretending to be a sleep replete with comic snoring noises.  As Ezra crept nearer and I suddenly ‘woke up’ and surprised him.  He thought it was the funniest thing that had ever happened and was positively chortling.  So I did it again.  Again, he thought it was a riot and encouraged me to do it again.  After about the tenth time it was becoming a little tiresome, for me at least.  Ezra had other ideas.  When he realised I was not going to do it again he put his head down and started the fake snoring.  So I put my head down and did it a few more times.  The next time I refused to do it, Ezra once again put his head down but still I refused to do it.  So he grabbed my head and pushed it down, he was a tenacious little monkey.

So with Amélie’s birthday a few short days away and Éowyn’s just under three weeks later I will leave you with the knowledge that I have to update you sooner otherwise two of the biggest events of the year will have been missed.

Peace and Love




7 years and nothing itches

It has been a while, hasn’t it?  I thought I would take the opportunity to try and squeeze in a quick update before work became the dominant force in my life as the football seasons kicked off and IMG Studios at Stockley Park was tested to capacity.  That didn’t happen, work crept up and slapped me in the face with a wet fish (metaphorically speaking) before I managed to sit down and regale the latest Bagnall adventures.  Therefore, firstly accept my apologies for the hiatus between updates and secondly for any discrepancies or omissions that will undoubtedly occur.  It has been nearly seven weeks!

So let me take you back to the end of June and Staines upon Thames day.  One of the many stalls was run by the local estate agents ISIS (named after the stretch of the River Thames above Iffley Lock, not the Egyptian goddess, AVID storage or the Islamic State militant group).  We bought our house through ISIS and were very pleased with their assistance in the purchase so we thought we would pop over and say hello.  After collecting a number of ISIS branded freebies we decided to enter their competition.  An ISIS branded Smart Car was filled with helium-filled balloons; 50p entitled you to have a guess at the total number for a chance to win £100.  With a combination of back of a fag-packet calculations and a stab in the dark I put my guess on the entry form and thought no more of it.

A week later I received a phonecall from ISIS to let me know that, not only was I the closest, I had got the number spot on and had won the prize money.  ISIS asked if we would pose of a photo with one of those oversized cheques for promotional material, to which we agreed.  However, with the Managing Director on holiday that has not yet materialised.  Nevertheless a cheque for £100 duly arrived in the post the following week and has been cashed!

Although it seems a little strange to be saying it this week (with overnight frosts in some parts of the country and a weather warning in force for Bank Holiday Monday) July and the beginning of August have been blessed with warm weather and dry days.  Indeed, ideal days for exterior painting.  Yes the second big job to personalise the house has been completed.  The first was installation of photovoltaic cells to provide electricity; the second was to paint the exterior of the house.

One of the few things that we didn’t particularly like about the house when we saw it was the dull colour of the pebbledash render.  We thought about painting the house as soon as we moved in and initially we just thought that this was just an aesthetic choice on our behalf.  The winter of 2013-2014 was extremely wet and although we escaped fairly lightly in terms of damage, it was evident by the number of pebbles that worked loose from the render that something needed to be done to the exterior to prevent further damage before winter returned to finish the job.  One of the solutions to help protect the render is to paint it with a suitable weatherproof paint.

After receiving a variety of quotes we settled on a company that was both reasonable and had good on-line reviews.  The next decision was which colour.  Éowyn was disappointed that we chose the neutral ‘Country Cream’ rather than a shade of her favourite colour: pink.

Since this was the first time the house had been painted it makes the job a little more difficult as the render absorbs much of the first coat. I have to say that even after the first day the house looked completely different.  Indeed I almost drove past the house on my return from work.

It is satisfying to know that not only does the house look so much better but that the paint is protecting the render and hopefully will be saving us a hefty repair bill should the weather win the war against the pebbledash.

We are hoping to make one more major alteration to our home before the end of the year.  Will we manage to make it happen? You will have to keep popping by to find out.

But what has else has been happening in the Bagnall household?

July is the traditional end of the academic year and this July saw Éowyn’s first school year come to an end.  Éowyn has thoroughly enjoyed going to school and has done extremely well in her first year.  Her reading and writing has developed quickly.  Indeed she doesn’t just write sentences she makes books.  Her spelling might need a bit of work (she tends to write phonetically) but she is very good at capturing her imagination in the written word.

Éowyn’s strength has been her personality, she can be strong willed and determined but that makes her a good leader and thus seems to be the centre of fun in the classroom. This made an impression on her teacher Miss Finbow, who spoke very highly of her and her leadership skills. This has also lead to her having many friends but more importantly she has made two very good friends.  Unfortunately, one of these friends has moved to Hastings over the summer holiday and the other has been out of the country for the entire summer vacation.  Therefore she has to rely on her little sister for entertainment over the holidays.  So it will be interesting to see what happens when she returns to school in September.  A new teacher and one less friend: I am sure she will cope.

Before work became the main force in my life we tried to squeeze in a few family days.  It may have been a couple of years since we have had a Merlin Pass but those days were not wasted and it has given us a good knowledge of the attractions in the area and Legoland in particular.

For our first day out we decided to head to Windsor.  The girls are getting bigger (and bolder) and so were more interested in going on the rides.  Realising this, and also looking to have a little fun ourselves, we decided to leave Ezra with Nanny and Granddad.  It was a little strange being a family of four but at the same time it was a little liberating not to have the pushchair and not have to try and entertain a baby as well as keep an eye on young children.

We let the girls choose rides to go on and Lucinda got to choose a ride too:  The Viking River Splash.  I don’t think that Éowyn forgave mommy for at least an hour.  Éowyn doesn’t like getting wet!  Despite the soaking on the first ride, the girls thoroughly enjoyed their day at Legoland and enjoyed the freedom of not having their little brother distracting their parents. It gave Lucinda and me a glimpse of the near future when Ezra is a little older and we can finally ditch the pushchair and the associated paraphernalia that a baby or toddler requires.

Ezra is still ‘walking’ on his knees, he still hasn’t taken that bold step (forgive the pun) and begun truly solo bipedal motion.  Nevertheless there has been a development:  Ezra has begun to walk with his walker, or one of the girl’s pushchair.  You can tell that he has the strength and probably the balance for he will swing the walker around to change direction but seemingly wants the reassurance of something to hold onto.  Another indication of the strength that he has in his legs is demonstrated by the distance he walks with it.

At the end of our road is an entrance to Staines (Commercial) park.  Lucinda took the kids to the park for a quick and easy day out.  Ezra indicated that he wanted to take the pushchair while the girls grabbed their scooters.  Lucinda thought he would walk partway and that she would end up carrying him and the pushchair.   indicated that he wanted to take the pushchair while the girls grabbed their scooters.  Lucinda thought he would walk partway and that she would end up carrying him and the pushchair.  Ezra had other ideas.  He walked all the way to the park.  Walked around the park, played with the girls and then walked halfway back home.

With this adventure you would think that maybe it would give him some confidence but no.  However, I am determined that he has avoided walking for too long so I am trying to encourage him as much as I can.  He is more determined however not to walk and so far he is winning.  Nevertheless, there has been a little breakthrough with his eldest sister.  With a little encouragement, we can get him to his feet and holding Éowyn’s hand he will walk forward as she walks backwards.  Hopefully it will not be long before our little boy is truly bipedal.

I am going to stop here and let you enjoy the photos below.  Fear not there is a lot more to tell and I am back in the writing frame of mind.  For those of you that haven’t guessed the title of this update alludes to the fact that on the 20th July Lucinda and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary, only a month or so late but ‘Happy Anniversary’ darling.

Peace and Love




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