Not the Pox you are looking for…

With renewed determination another update appears.  The key, I have come to the conclusion, is not to wait for something interesting to happen and then write about it; rather write about what happened and try to make it interesting.  That may seem like just semantics to you but it is actually a complete change in direction.  Let us see how it works in practise. 

Following the great kitchen upgrade, we have decided that the dining room and lounge are in need of some TLC.  With a quote for flooring under our belt, we have decided that before the new flooring goes down the walls (and ceiling) need a lick of paint.  One job leads to another though and in order to paint the walls, the furniture needs to be moved; in order for the furniture to be moved, they need to be emptied of stuff.  The big question is where do you put the stuff.  That is where we are at.  Plastic boxes of stuff with furniture in the middle of the room, with newly painted walls.  All this while entertaining two small children and still doing all the things that one has to do (go to work, cook meals, go shopping, etc). 

Fortunately, we thought, Éowyn is at school and so with some fortune, Amélie will be asleep and we can crack on with it.  However, those plans were scuppered before they could be put into action.  Friday morning Lucinda took Éowyn to Playbox, as usual, however it wasn’t long before she received a phonecall.  They had noticed that Éowyn had a rash across her chest and abdomen and were concerned that it was Chicken Pox.  Lucinda was asked to collect her and keep her at home for the next couple of weeks.  Obviously concerned it was Chicken Pox we stocked up on Calamine lotion and waited for the spots to scab over and the itching to start, not to mention worrying about whether Amélie was about to come down with it too.

We kept an eye on the spots but when they did not develop as we expected our concern changed and with our doctor’s surgery closed for the weekend we phoned NHS direct.  After going through Éowyn’s symptoms it seems that she has still avoided Chicken Pox and was diagnosed with a non-specific viral rash.  Very common (and something Éowyn has had before – but not on the scale she had at the weekend) among toddlers (in fact a child of a friend of ours, also had one over the same weekend!) it was just that Playbox were duly concerned and the rash seemed to emulate the initial symptoms of Chicken Pox (i.e. similar looking spots, in the same areas that Chicken Pox begins).  The spots began to fade by Wednesday (as we were told they would) and so Éowyn is still waiting for her first childhood illness and we have an unopened bottle of Calamine lotion.

With Éowyn (and Amélie) in the clear Lucinda and I could take advantage of an offer I received with my car insurance.  In order to retain my custom, my car insurance firm offered me a night in a hotel to be taken by the end of July.  Unfortunately most of the hotels in the scheme did not include weekends, however we found a hotel in Didsbury in Manchester.  I spent three years in Manchester (at university) and so thought that this was a fortuitous coincidence to show Lucinda my old stomping ground.

Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz kindly agreed to look after Éowyn and Amélie so we could have a child free night!  Therefore we headed up to West Bromwich after I finished work so that we could spend one night with Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz before abandoning the kids!  Éowyn was extremely excited about seeing Nanny Fran and tried to stay awake for the car journey.  However, we told her that we would wake her when we arrived at Nanny Fran’s so she would drop off.  That placated her and she duly fell asleep.  There was no need to wake her when we arrived at West Bromwich for as soon as we came up the ramp at junction 1 of the M5 a little voice in the back piped up, ‘Are we at Nanny Fran’s?

We had one errand to do before leaving for Didsbury, which was to open a bank (well building society) account for Amélie.  This took longer than we expected but found ourselves on the road for about 1130.  Coincidentally one of Lucinda’s university friends, Ruth, was getting married.  She lives on the outskirts of Chester so we had toyed with the idea of dropping off her card and pressie and spending the afternoon in Chester before heading across country.  However, fate intervened and plans had to change.  A lorry jack-knifed on the M6, shedding its load and closing the motorway.  Our route north was blocked and the surrounding A roads were congested.  After sitting in traffic for 90 minutes we happened across a pub and decided to refuel (ourselves) and take a break.  An hour later we rejoined the congestion and finally arrived in Didsbury over 5 hours later, a journey that should have taken just over one hour.  Not a great start.

We checked into the hotel and headed to the room.  Imagine our disappointment when we opened the door to find the pokiest little room this side of Europe!  After the journey from hell it was the last thing that we wanted.  So we headed for reception and inquired about an upgrade.  Twenty pounds was the fee to change and aren’t we glad we did.  The room we were upgraded to didn’t even look like it belonged in the same hotel as the first: a spacious room with a four poster bed and a generous bathroom.  A score well spent!

We decided that we would spend our night of freedom having a meal and a night at the cinema, simple pleasures that are usually denied to us due to requiring a babysitter.  We wandered into Didsbury and found a promising looking Thai restaurant (The Laughing Buddha – would highly recommend if you are in the area, we thought that the service was excellent and the food divine) and not too far from the cinema where we booked tickets to see Transformers 3 (in 3D) – not the most intellectual of films but good fun nonetheless.

Saturday morning we took the number 43 bus into Manchester City centre.  The route took us down Wilmslow road into Oxford Road, through Withington, Fallowfield, Rusholme (the curry mile) and the University itself, my aforementioned stomping ground.  Obviously this is out of student term time so the hustle and bustle of those areas was missing but it brought back memories even though there are a number of new buildings that have sprung up in the intervening decade(s)!  Lucinda was impressed with Manchester City Centre and even begun talking about going back for another visit.  It has changed since my days but there was enough that remained (of the layout and my memory) for us to explore without getting too lost!  We ended up in the closing down sale of Habitat (one of those retailers that have gone to the wall in 2011!) and there were four oak dining chairs.  With the dining room upgrade very much on our brains and such good quality chairs going for a bargain we ended up parting with our hard earned cash. 

So a quick bus journey back to Didsbury to pick the car up and then we drove into Manchester City Centre to pick them up.  Thankfully we didn’t have the kids in the car, else they would not have fitted.  So, I can see the question that is forming, how did we gt them back home?  The answer is not yet.  After an uneventful journey back to West Bromwich (it really only takes just over an hour) via the Trafford Centre (just for a look!) we parted company with the chairs (thanks again Nanny Fran!) and swapped them for the children! 

While we were in Manchester Éowyn and Amélie had a whale of a time with Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz.  They went to visit their Great-Grandma, this really cheered my Nan up and thoroughly enjoyed holding Amélie however Éowyn was not so compliant and acted all shy around her ancestor, refusing to go and sit with her.  She can be shy and she so rarely sees her Great-Grandma so perhaps it is understandable.  Something we will have to try and rectify.  Nanny Fran then took Éowyn for a haircut, well trim at her local hairdressers and a treat with a trip to Sandwell Valley Farm.

Although Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz enjoyed looking after the youngest members of the Bagnall family, they were undoubtedly glad to hand them back so that they could get some rest.

Although the trip wasn’t as relaxing as it should have been (over 5 hours in a car to complete a journey that was going to take just over one hour); we didn’t get to surprise Ruth and on the journey back to the Moor noticed I had a slow puncture, so have had to fork out on new tyres we want to thank Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz for giving us the night off and a lie in!  We had a really nice meal and got to go out together (without children) for the first time since Amélie was born.  So thank you.  (and thank you for storing our chairs until we get our dining room sorted!)

Enjoy the photos and hopefully update you soon

Peace and Love