To patch or not to patch III – back to the orthoptist

This write-up is centred around events that seem an age away.  I have always caveated this website with the fact that life will always trump this blog and over the last month life has certainly got the way, and no, I am not going to apologise for it.  I will, however, attempt to make up for the lack of updates with several over the next couple of weeks as I get you up to speed with the latest news from chez Bagnall and although I am not going to apologise for the lack of updates, I will apologise in advance for the rushed nature of this and the following updates and any grammatical errors that you may notice. Read more

A week in St Ives

It is that time of year again, the Bagnall summer holiday.  You may recall that last year the four of us headed to the Canary island of Tenerife, this was to erase the memory of a rather wet Kent from the year before.  With Ezra only three months old and not in possession of a passport a return to Tenerife (which is something that  we would like to do as we thoroughly enjoyed our week there last year) was not on the cards.  Thoughts therefore turned to the UK and after eliminating some worthy resorts we opted for St Ives Bay Holiday Park and a six berth static caravan.  Somewhat misleadingly (but nevertheless geographically correct) St Ives Bay Holiday Park is not in St Ives itself but Hayle on the eastern side of St Ives bay.

Lucinda and I have previously visited St Ives, although not since 2005, and St Ives was the Bagnall exotic holiday (every three years or so) when I was a child so it is a place we (especially me) know quite well.  Cornwall is a peninsular county in the South West of the UK usually warmed by the Gulf Stream, the warm Atlantic current that keeps the UK warmer than its latitude should dictate, therefore, it seemed a good bet to provide the best weather for a UK bound holiday, especially since the week we chose didn’t coincide with Wimbledon or Glastonbury.  However, as seems to be new paradigm for the 2010’s (what is this decade called?) this summer has so far proven to be cold and wet would it be for our week away?  More of that later.

Our holiday started on Saturday and the early start that we had planned went by the wayside.  Trying to usher three children into a car with all the associated paraphernalia is tantamount to herding cats and so we left two hours or so later than we had wanted.  St Ives is close to 270 miles (435km) from Stanwell Moor and so with three small ones there was a need for a major pit stop. Rather than 20 minutes or so at a service station we decided on a familiar haunt:  Lyme Regis.  It is a town we know quite well and coincidently approximately halfway.  This, in turn, dictated the route we would take to Cornwall.

We didn’t quite make it to Lyme Regis.  The weather was poor, Ezra was crying (he was hungry), the girls needed the toilet and we had been caught in heavy traffic so with another familiar haunt five minutes away we took the detour to Hive Beach café in Burton Bradstock.  A stretch of the legs, a refuelling and a walk along the beach that certainly blew the cobwebs away we were back on the road next stop Hayle.  We arrived in Hayle at around 1800 and after checking in and unpacking there was only time for dinner before turning in.

We awoke to heavy rain, caravan technology has certainly improved since I last spent a night in one for in the older style one would have heard every single drop.  It was also Father’s day but with the poor weather we decided not to head too far and instead headed to the local supermarket for supplies and scope the surrounding area.  Driving through Hayle we spied Salt, a restaurant/ café/ bar that Lucinda had seen on t’internet that had received rave reviews.  Father’s Day dinner was sorted and we headed there early.  On our return to the holiday park we decided to check out the entertainment:  Mr Bamboozle the balloon magician.  The girls enjoyed it especially receiving a balloon creation at the end of the performance.

The weather was still poor Monday morning, so we decided to take advantage of the on-site swimming pool.  However there was a break in the persistent rain in the afternoon so we decided to venture further afield and headed to Penzance.  Not the prettiest of Cornish venues but the journey through the Cornish countryside certainly made up for it.

Tuesday was altogether a little brighter, not exactly blue skies but the rain did hold off and so we headed into St Ives.  Now for those of you that have never been to St Ives, it is a beautiful seaside town that grew up as a medieval fishing village (the Sloop inn claims to date from 1312) but expanded in the late Victorian age due to the St Ives branch line from St Erth.  It was this branch line that proved to be the most convenient way for us to arrive at St Ives.  Medieval fishing villages were not built with cars (especially S-Maxes) in mind, hence with the car parked as Lelant Saltings station we took the scenic route (the railway line runs along the coastline and has to be one of the prettiest views from a train line, certainly in the south of England).

With buckets and spades we spent most of the afternoon building sandcastles and running into the sea (it was freezing), then as the skies turned threatening (although it still didn’t rain) we went for an obligatory ice cream and a mooch around the shops.  On our return to the holiday park we decided to check out the facilities and after Éowyn challenged me to a game of table football and air hockey we tested out the adventure playground.  It was there that Éowyn met her new best friend Lila (not sure that I have spelt that correctly).  They were inseparable and played together most nights for the rest of the holiday.  Indeed the next day we decided not to venture too far from the park just down to the beach so that if Lila was about Éowyn could play with her.  Unfortunately we didn’t meet up with them until the evening, we had somehow been missing each other all day for Lila’s parents had had the same notion.  When we were at the club or adventure playground they were at the beach; and when we were at the beach they were at the club.  It was possible we were both on the beach at the same time but with over 3 miles of golden sand it would have probably been more luck that judgement that we would have bumped into them.

We did however leave the park for an hour or so to go for a cream tea at Green Pig farm.  Half way between St Ives and Penzance it not only served a fantastic cream tea (and ice cream for the kids) but from its lofty position you could see St Michael’s Mount and the Lizard peninsular.

The weather forecast for Thursday was for heavy rain so we looked for something close that would entertain the kids yet at the same time provide shelter should we need it.  Paradise Park in Hayle seemed to fit the bill.  A wildlife park specialising in birdlife, mainly parrots, penguins and birds of prey with the added bonus of the Jungle barn a huge indoor softplay area for kids of all ages!  We arrived just in time for the bird of prey display which was excellent.  The Eagle Owl flew between the rows of seats not more that a foot (30cm) off the ground (as you can see from the photo below).  Amélie and Éowyn were both fascinated with them and when they asked for volunteers to hold a barn owl both wanted to but were disappointed not to be picked, I promised them that when they are older that we will do it (any excuse for me to do it again!).  As we were leaving the arena they had bought a male Bald Eagle for a close up photo opportunity, Amélie had other ideas: ‘I want to hold it‘.  I explained that it was bigger than her but she was very insistent, so I took her as close as I dared for fear that she would try to stroke it and the eagle may have an unscheduled snack of her fingers.  There seemed to be a mad rush at the end of the performance for places at the café and so to avoid the rush we walked around the mini farm and the girls fed goats and sheep.

In hindsight it was the correct decision for after lunch we headed into the Jungle Barn.  We thought that we would be there for an hour or so and then finish off walking around the rest of the enclosures.  No chance, the girls loved it that much that it was about three hours later before we left with two very tired girls straight into a downpour.  Seemingly as soon as we had entered the Jungle Barn it had begun to rain and hadn’t stopped all the time that we were in there.  Amélie was so tired in fact that she fell asleep in the car and didn’t wake until the next morning (good job she had had a large lunch).  Éowyn on the other hand woke when we returned to the caravan and wanted to go and play with Lila.  So after something to eat Lucinda took Éowyn to find Lila while I looked after a sleepy Ezra and a completely zonked Amélie.

Unfortunately Lila was not about but instead of returning to the caravan Lucinda and Éowyn decided to check out that evening entertainer: Wishy-Washy the magician.  I am not sure that Wishy-Washy was entirely glad that they had.  Wishy-Washy needed an assistant and Éowyn was the first to put her hand up and volunteer and so was picked.  She thoroughly enjoyed being a magician’s assistant and thought that Wishy-Washy was hilarious and I think that Wishy-Washy was enjoying having such an euthusiastic assistant, indeed when she wanted to go to the toilet he paused the show so that she wouldn’t miss anything.  Éowyn got so engrossed in the role that when she thought that Wishy-Washy was being too silly she would smack him on the bottom with his magic wand that he had entrusted her with – much to the embarrassment of Lucinda.  Unfortunately they could not stay to the end of the show (they did leave at 10pm) as Ezra was due a feed.  Éowyn was full of her role as a magician’s assistant and told me every little detail on her return, I think she was quite enamoured with the glamour of the limelights.

Our final full day came far too quickly and we decided that we would return to St Ives.  We decided on a change of plan and that was to park at St Ives train station and spend the day on Portminster beach in the shadow of the train station.  Unfortunately, the car park was full and so plan two was put into action, catch the train into St Ives again and then head to Portminster beach.  This time however we parked at Carbis Bay train station.  As we parked I decided to contact my mom’s school friend Teresa who lives in the area, to introduce my family and arrange to meet up in St Ives. By sheer coincidence we didn’t need to go too far for she only lives a stone’s throw from Carbis Bay train station and quickly walked down to meet us.

Friday was probably the best day of the week and we all thoroughly enjoyed another day building sandcastles and splashing in the sea.  Again the girls were completely worn out and Amélie fell asleep in the pushchair as we walked into town missing out on an ice-cream;  Éowyn had the good sense not to fall asleep until after she had eaten hers.  Even though both girls were very tired Éowyn was determined to go to the adventure playground to see if she could see Lila for one last day and give her a picture that she had drawn for her.  Fortunately Lila was of the same mind and the girls played together for one last time and both were upset that they would probably never see each other again.  I am sure that Éowyn (and Lila) will get over it (as Éowyn did over Brooke who was her best friend that she met in Tenerife) but it was quite upsetting that she got so upset about leaving her friend and wondered if we returned next year whether Lila would be there.  Bless.

We had to leave the caravan by 0900 Saturday morning, so most of the packing was done on Friday night and we were only 30 minutes late (well within the one hour grace period).  Again to break up the journey we decided to head to Lyme Regis for we thought it would be nice to see Lyme Regis in the summer.  To be honest I would prefer to see Lyme Regis in the autumn!  There was a gale force wind (maybe a slight exaggeration there) blowing and it was bitingly cold, the British summer!  After a brief stop and a bite to eat we were back on the road home and the holiday was over.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Cornwall and I am sure that we will return, possibly even to St Ives Bay Holiday Park for caravaning has certainly changed in the 30 years since I last caravaned.  I think I have bored you enough (if you thought the last update was long this one is 20% longer!) so I will leave you with a selection of photos.

Peace and Love

Baggie

That was the Christmas that was

And so Christmas is done for another year (unless you are looking forward to the Epiphany) and so indeed is another year!  Yes 2012 seems to have flown by and after surviving the Apocalypse that never was we stand at the threshold of 2013.  There will be another update looking back at 2012 and looking forward to the new year so tune in later in the week for that one.

So how was the Bagnall Christmas?  Well let me take you back a dozen or so days before the big day.  Peter Jackson’s eagerly awaited first film in the Hobbit trilogy was released.  For those of you not in the know the Hobbit is the prequel to the events that culminate in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  That ‘first’ trilogy was released each December of the first three years of the millennium. For each of the films myself and a group of friends went to see the first UK public performance of the film at the Odeon Leicester Square (London).  Therefore it seemed right and proper to do the same for these films and so the tradition has been re-ignited.  Therefore Thursday 13th December 2012, around noon saw 15 of us waiting in the chill air at the eastern side of Leicester Square before hurrying inside for the 12:10 showing ready to renew the tradition, this time with my wife in tow (someone I didn’t even know when the last in the films (The Return of the King) was released – hasn’t it been an exciting decade!).

The next day was Éowyn’s last day at school and the obligatory Christmas concert.  Éowyn had been practising the Christmas songs for weeks and had really been looking forward to it.  The weather had changed from cold and clear the day before to overcast and heavy rain (the weather pattern that has settled over this corner of the globe for the last two weeks) and so the parents (and grandparents for Nanny and Granddad came too) were a little on the soggy side by the time we headed indoors.  Nevertheless the concert warmed us all up.  The children were all in costume (Éowyn was dressed as the Virgin Mary with a little baby Jesus doll) and they sang their hearts out and afterwards there were mince pies.  To complete the concert morning there was the raffle draw.  Éowyn won the first of the teddy bear raffle and so was able to take her pick of the soft toys on offer.  So guess which one our first born picked?  Yes, that’s right the biggest one there, a life-size dog! (A smallish dog but a dog nonetheless).

The inclement weather stopped us doing anything of note that afternoon, it was just too wet!  The weather continued in the same vein over the weekend (which I was working so it wasn’t too intrusive!) but there was a break in the rain on the Monday and so we took full advantage.  Our Merlin Passes have been underused this year (mainly due to the fact that it has been one of the wettest years on record) but Chessington World of Adventures and Christmas opening seemed like the perfect opportunity to use them for the final time in 2012.  Yes, Chessington World of Adventures opened it’s zoo doors (and a couple of the rides) and welcomed Santa in the lead up to Christmas day.  As we had not managed to take the girls to visit Santa is seemed to be custom made for us to take the short trip around the M25.

We arrived in time for the first Santa show of the day and decided to head there straight away.  A little show was put on before the arrival of the man himself, who told the gathered children a little story about a little Christmas tree before handing out Christmas chocolates.  The girls enjoyed themselves and wanted to go and see the reindeer straight afterwards.  We then headed to the Bubble Works ride before wandering around the zoo.  For free it was a perfect day out but if I was being critical it was not as good as the Santa grotto at Peppa Pig World.  I wonder where we will see him next year?  Definitely going to see him in Lapland when the girls (and the boy) are a little older.

The Christmas schedule over the last few years has been a meal around our house for the family and then everyone around Lucinda’s parents for Christmas dinner.  However Lucinda’s mum was concerned that if her Dad had had his knee replacement that they were hoping would happen before Christmas that he would not be able to help her prepare the day (due to various norovirus outbreaks at the hospital his operation will now happen early 2013).  Thus to take that worry off her and because Lucinda’s brother Steve and his family were unable to make it on Christmas day we volunteered to host Christmas day at Chez Bagnall for Lucinda’s parents and Mike and his family.  Steve and his family were, however, able to make it on Christmas Eve and because our house is a little on the small side (and we were hosting Christmas day) Lucinda’s brother Mike volunteered to host Christmas Eve.  It was good to see the family together at Christmas and it was nice to see all the cousins together under one roof.

I was at work for the lead up to Christmas however I did manage to get Christmas Eve and Christmas day off!  Unfortunately Lucinda didn’t!    Oh, the joys of shift workers!  Indeed she was working from 0530 Christmas day and so would miss the girls opening their stocking presents.  Thanks to modern technology she didn’t have to completely miss it.  A video camera and a tripod and strategically placed children meant that she could relive joy on their faces as they opened present after present.  Lucinda’s dad popped round mid-morning to take the girls so that I could concentrate on preparing Christmas dinner and the house for our dinner guests.  I am pleased to report that the dinner went well and everyone went home sated.  I have to say that after everyone left and we had put the girls to bed myself and Lucinda turned in.  We were both knackered.

Boxing Day is traditionally a big day for football in the UK and this year was one of the biggest, indeed if it wasn’t for the tube strike putting pay to the Arsenal v West Ham United game it would have been a full house.  As the Premier League is my biggest client I was therefore back in work, no rest for the wicked!  The upside of the fact that it was a busy Boxing Day was the bonus that there were no football games on the next two days and so I took advantage of that hiatus to take a couple of days off work.  I wasn’t going to put my feet up though, there was the small matter of seeing my mom.

As I have been working every weekend and my mom only has weekends off, I haven’t seen much of my mom this year.  However 2012 is to be the last year my mom will be working as she has decided that she would hang up her work shoes and retire.  She may be retiring from work but with a third grandchild on the way we will no doubt keep her very busy.  And so we did on the Thursday.  It was  one of those flying visits driving up on the morning, spending the day with mom and my sisters and then getting the girls ready for bed and heading back down the M40 in the evening.

Éowyn and Amélie enjoyed seeing the Bagnall side of their family as they don’t see them that often.  Éowyn loves seeing her Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz but Amélie’s favourite is definitely her Auntie Mary.  Maybe it is some kind of middle child kindred spirit that they share but whenever we say do you want to go and see Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz, Amélie will say: ‘And Auntie Mary?‘ Hopefully they will see more of their Black Country family in 2013.

Football and televised football stops for no man (or woman) and thus neither does work for me and so with galleries beckoning I will bid you adieu and just take time to wish you all the best for the New Year and hope that 2013 brings you love, luck and happiness.

Love and Peace

Baggie