A trip to the seaside and a barbecue at work!

August is traditionally a busy time for me at work.  It is the start of the football seasons, especially our biggest client:  The Premier League, and so my days off are extra special.  Therefore, as this is the only month that the Baguettes do not go to school there is a lot of pressure on Lucinda to be the sole carer for our children, while I spend an inordinate amount of time at work.  As a consequence, Lucinda is keen for us to book trips so that we can have some quality family time together.

As fate would have it, I had the first two days of August off and so days out were planned, although as you will see I did not leave work behind for both days.

There is no better way to spend an August day off than by the British seaside.  Even if the weather is not perfect, the smell of the brine (or decaying seaweed) and the feel of the breeze (or indeed force 7 gale – OK for the pedants a force 7 is a near gale, or just simply high wind) brings a delight to city dwellers and a welcome relief from the constant background hum and cocktail of petrochemical byproducts carried on the still air.  With this in mind, we arranged to meet up with Lucinda’s Uncle David and Auntie Sally (Lucinda’s dad’s brother and his wife) and headed to their home in Middleton-on-Sea.

The weather throughout July and August (so far) has been a far cry from the mini heatwave (of five days) that we experienced in June.  Some days have been positively autumnal and we even contemplated lighting a fire in mid-July!  We managed to herd the Baguettes out of the house on time and swung by to pick Lucinda’s mum up, as she was joining us on the trip down south.  As we left Staines Upon Thames the weather wasn’t looking too promising.  The sky was leaden, with an apprehensiveness of rain, and sitting in the traffic on the M25 wasn’t a great start to the day.

However the drive down wasn’t too bad, apart from trailing a slow-moving lorry for most of the journey and we arrived in Middleton-On-Sea only a little later than planned.  As we approached Uncle David and Auntie Sally’s we were very pleased to see that the weather on the coast was much brighter than the weather we had left behind 50 miles further north.

After a fantastic lunch made by Auntie Sally, we headed to the beach.  Uncle David and Auntie Sally have a beach hut, filled with lots of goodies for a day spent at the seaside.  Sandcastles were built, waves were jumped and fun was had by all.  We took a little break and headed back to the hut where Amélie and Éowyn spied a bodyboard balanced across the rafters in the roof of the hut.  Uncle David go tit down for them and we headed back down to the sea.

Amélie quickly got bored with it, but Éowyn thoroughly enjoyed surfing the waves.  She gradually got braver and braver, heading further into the surf and then biding her time until a nice big wave, worthy of the effort to get out there, came along and she would ride it back to shore.  I think we have a budding surfer in the family.

The Baguettes were ready for their beds when they got home.  A combination of the sea air and all that running about on the beach sapped them of their energy.  I would have thought that Uncle David and Auntie Sally would have been ready for their beds, too, as the Baguettes would have sapped them of their energy.

The fun wasn’t going to stop there.  For the past few years IMG Studios has held an annual barbecue for the workers over the summer, as a thank you for the hard work over the year.  Each year it has become more and more involved, moving from just burgers and beer to include activities to enjoy while you wait for your turn in the queue, or to avoid talking to your colleagues.  This year, the decision was made to make it a real family affair and the invitation was extended to include partners and children.

The Baguettes love to visit Daddy’s work, and I am not sure it is just because of the number of ‘tellies’.  So, when I mentioned that Daddy’s work were going to have a barbecue and there would be fun things to do, there was no way that they were not going to go.  Therefore, on a day off, I found myself at work with Lucinda and the Baguettes.

Unfortunately, the good (and that really is pushing it a little) weather from the previous day was a distant memory and heavy rain greeted the day and continued throughout the duration of the barbeque.  Nevertheless, it did not dampen the spirits of the many people who turned up, or indeed stop the fun that there was to be had.

There was a bouncy castle (which was a little wet and therefore unoccupied until towards the end of the afternoon, when many of the parents thought that they would let their kids get wet and enjoy themselves, knowing that they would be going home and could get them dry and warm), and bucking bronco.  There was a band, a magician and a face painter.  In addition to the barbecue food or chips, burgers and hotdogs, there was candy floss and an ice cream stand, not to mention sweets that were being handed out.  However, one of the best things that was organised was the chance for the children to be filmed in a studio against a green screen and read the IMG Kids News off a teleprompter (or autocue, if you prefer), their final output being presented to them on a usb stick.

There was so much for them to do, that they didn’t know where to go first.  I volunteered them both for the new reading, but due to the popularity of that event they were among the last to go, having to wait until the 4.30pm slot.  Not that was an issue, there was so much for them to do.  Amélie was a little more adventurous than her older sister.  She was one of the first to go on the bucking bronco and then after an electronic horse race and food we joined the queue for the face painter.

My one, ever so slight, criticism was the face painter.  She was excellent and the faces that she painted looked fantastic, however, there were a lot of children who wanted their faces painted and only one of her and she was putting so much effort into the painting that it was taking a very long time.  We waited over an hour for the Baguettes to have their faces painted.  She could have done a much sloppier job and I don’t think anyone would have minded.

Fortunately, the queue for the face painting was next to where the magician was performing, so the Baguettes left the parents in the queue while they sat and watched the magician.  He was very good and kept the children entertained and when there were calls for a volunteer, Amélie, once again, was the adventurous one and put her hand up to help him on stage.  As the magician ended it was time for the Baguettes to have their faces painted and 40 minutes later we had a rabbit, a monkey and a snow leopard.

The face painting finished just in time to head to Studio B for the news reading.  Due to the popularity, they were running a little late, but both Éowyn and Amélie decided that they wanted to read the IMG Kids News.  It is not an easy skill, to read a script you have never seen on an autocue in front of strangers while looking down a camera.  I was very proud of their efforts, especially considering that Éowyn is eight and Amélie is only six!  There were a few tricky words for them both so the read wasn’t as smooth as it could have been but nevertheless a fantastic effort and they both have the recording for prosperity.

Unfortunately, they both have now been let into some secrets of television.  The first is that the newsreaders are reading from an autocue and therefore do not have to remember all the words.  The second really confused Amélie.  While Éowyn was taking her turn, Amélie and I sat at the back of the studio looking at an off-air monitor.  Suddenly, Amélie looked at the monitor and then looked at Éowyn and then looked back at the monitor.  She was completely amazed by how the background behind Éowyn in real life was green, but on the monitor, it looked like there was a whole bustling newsroom behind her sister.  I then had to explain the secret of chroma keys to my six year old.  Hopefully, the magic of television is still strong and this experience only enhanced it.

After, their debut there was still time for ice cream and to collect an IMG T-shirt and water bottle.  They thoroughly enjoyed their family barbecue and a big thank you to all my colleagues who organised such a fantastic event and looking forward to next year’s, if everyone has the stomach for another.

Amélie is so chuffed with her newsreading performance that she has been telling her friends that she is famous because she has read the news.  She may have the performing bug!

I think I am not fairly up to date with news from the Bagnall household, you may have to wait a couple more weeks for the next update, but as Augusts go, this has been a fairly prolific one.

If the photos below have whet your appetite remember there a plenty more on the Flickr page.

Peace and Love