Half term in Norfolk

It is mid-February, it is half-term, Lucinda has no childminding wards and I have the final few days of holiday accrued from last year to take so what better excuse was there for team Bagnall to spend the week together.  The girls’ half term break was actually a day longer than the usual week due to an inset day tagged to the Friday meaning that they actually broke up on the Thursday. Read more

A belated end to the Summer holidays

A second update (bisected by the obligatory ‘First day back at school’ post) to try to make amends for the dearth of updates over the summer.  This is the follow-up to The Pox, The Summer and a Trip to Nanny Fran’s which covered much of the six week holiday and fills in the gaps at the end of that break to allow me to show off the photos that somehow we have managed to take on the precious few days I had actually managed to be off with the Baguettes over the Summer.  This was meant to have been posted a couple of weeks ago but unfortunately with a long continuous stint at work this has been further belated to the third week of term, I am hoping that the 30 photos at the bottom will allow you to forgive me!

With a position that requires working at the weekend, it means that my ‘weekend’ moves to mid-week.  When the Baguettes are at school, that is a problem, however during the school holidays it matters not and indeed is a little bit of a godsend when planning days out.  So with two days off in a row (a rarity at this time of the year for me, especially so soon after a weekend off – I am being spoilt) we decided to take full advantage.

We woke on the first of those days to a cloudless blue sky.  Lucinda was working so her ward joined us on a trip to Bushy Park, near Hampton Court.  It appeared to be a very popular choice and we were extremely fortunate to find a car parking space.  Indeed, when we left there was almost a fight over our space.  Nevertheless we parked up and took a short walk across the park to the children’s play area.  Factor 50 had been duly applied and so we were good to spend time under the August sun.

The children’s play area in Bushy park is well equipped with the usual slides and swings but also has a hug sandpit.  Two adults with four children should be fine but the excitement of the such a large play area with so many different things to distract the attention, it took all our effort to shepherd them in pairs, two each.  They thoroughly enjoyed themselves playing on the various equipment, swings, slides and climbing frames. We took our picnic in the shade of a wall and while they all ate their picnic fittle we could see the other parents and childminders having the same battles with their wards as we had just had.  As they had all eaten well and had been relatively well-behaved it was only right and proper that we had an ice cream.  So we wandered into the park itself and spent a fortune at the local Mr Whippy Ice cream van.  Again, searching for shade we sat down under a large oak tree in an attempt to give the children enough time to eat them before they melted in the heat.

As Brits we should know that one should not rely on the British weather, even in the Summer.  The next day we decided that we would head to the seaside and meet up with Lucinda’s Uncle David and Auntie Sally in Middleton on Sea.  As we know we should not rely on the weather, equally we are not put off by it and so undaunted we headed South.  Uncle David and Auntie Sally live a short walk from the beach and with some uncertainty over the weather after a drink and the obligatory biscuits we headed to the beach.  The tide was in and it was amazing how little of the beach was left, just a ten or so metres of pebbles.  Nevertheless it did not stop us taking full advantage before heading back to Uncle David and Auntie Sally’s house for a spot of home-made lunch.

Despite signs to the contrary the weather brightened up in the afternoon so after lunch we headed back to the beach.  In the couple of hours that we were away the tide had gone out and revealed a couple of hundred metres of sand.  It was amazing the difference and the Baguettes took full advantage of the wet sand.  Indeed it was only for the promise of cakes and drinks that they would leave the beach for Uncle David and Auntie Sally’s beach hut.  It was only as we sat outside their beach hut eating Fondant Fancies and drinking tea (how very British!) that we realised the time.  It was definitely time to head back home if we were going to get back at a reasonable hour.  The day had just flown by and so we tidied and headed back to Uncle David and Auntie Sally’s to load the Baguettes back into the car.  We had a fantastic time and promised not to leave it as long next time.  We keep saying that to people, hopefully we can keep the promise.

The neighbour’s extension is nearly done.  They were hoping to have it done by the beginning of September and Cath’s 40th birthday.  Unfortunately, that deadline was missed however it did not stop the birthday celebrations and they had a fantastic party in their back garden to which we were invited.  We have also joined in the construction party with the erection of a Tiki Hut.  Officially it is a thatched wooden gazebo but the best description is a Tiki Hut.  We ordered it back in May, ostensibly for the Summer, so we are a tad disappointed that it finally got installed at the beginning of September.  Nevertheless it is an investment for the kids to play in and for us to entertain so it will get plenty of use, even in the winter.

We had a slight drama for a week or so when Lucinda was without her phone after throwing it down the toilet.  It wasn’t out of any form of frustration but one of those one in a thousand slips.  She had seen that one of the Baguettes had left the toilet lid up and went to close it, slightly lost her balance as she entered the bathroom and somehow threw her phone in the air.  It flew, in seemingly slow motion, and landed straight down the bowl.  Luckily the toilet water was clean but it did not stop it killing her phone.  A trip to the Genius Bar, a claim on our mobile phone insurance and a £50 excess and she has a new phone.

Once again I apologise for this post arriving nearly a month later that I expected it to, but the start of the Premier League season, and the unexpected arrival of UHD has meant that I have had precious few days off.  I now have nearly a week off so expect a couple of posts over the next week or so.  If you cast you memory back to the antepenultimate post you may remember that we decorated the girl’s bedroom while they were at Nanny Fran’s, you can see some of the photos of the fruits of our labour below.  The girls still love their room, even if the promise of keeping it tidy has long been forgotten.  There are lots of other photos of our recent activities on Flickr if you are bored, but for now…

Peace and Love

Baggie

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

Baggie