Christmas in our new home

Christmas is over and I trust that the festive period has been good to you.  After a hectic year we were determined to make this a good Christmas.  The tenth Christmas that Lucinda and I have celebrated together and the first in our new home is reason enough for it to be a good Christmas.  Add to the mix that it was our first Christmas as a family of five and we were truly blessed.  The fact that Lucinda’s parents were cooking Christmas dinner and that neither Lucinda or I were working (we both work in industries where that is a possibility) added to the fact that this was a good year. The only black cloud on the horizon was the fact that I had to work on Boxing Day (there were 10 Premier League games scheduled), but that was a minor blip.

Football stops not for man nor beast and indeed the Christmas period is one of the most hectic periods for Premier League football and the remainder of the English Football League.  Hence the 10 days to a fortnight that many of you enjoy does not apply to me or my teams at IMG.  However, I was fortunate that I had both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off and the 27th December.  So a little semblance of normality could descend upon the Bagnall household for those days.

One of the Bagnall Christmas traditions is to create a Christmas bauble at Genevieve’s in Englefield Green.  This started when Éowyn was a baby with a simple handprint and each year since we have created a bauble with a hand print of each of the children.  This year though Éowyn asked if she could design her own, to which we agreed.  Not sure what we were going to get we let her loose with the paints.  We were very surprised when she decided that she would paint mommy.  It was brilliant, we were very proud of her.  However there was a pang of guilt in our first born and she conspired along with mommy to go back to Genevieve’s and make one of daddy as a surprise for me.  It was extremely thoughtful and again brilliantly executed.  These will now always have pride of place on our tree (there is a photo below).

Friday night is movie night in the Bagnall household and the girls take it in turns to choose a DVD to watch.  The Friday before Christmas we decided to invite Emma’s (our new neighbour and friend from NCT) kids over to give her a bit of a break and to repay her for the help she has given us over the last month or so.  Five children (and I) sat down to watch Arthur Christmas (very good by the way, thoroughly recommend it) for the last movie night of the year.  They were all very well behaved and it made us all feel Christmassy putting us in the mood for the yule.

The weather wasn’t exactly Christmassy, indeed the strong wind and heavy rains have spoilt many Christmasses around the country.  We got off lightly with the only damage a couple of fence panels that have blown down.  Fortunately the fence is our neighbour’s responsibility and so we will have a chat with them after the Christmas period about the repair – there is no rush.

Lucinda’s parents were cooking Christmas Dinner so we decided that we would do our first bit of entertaining in Bagnall manor by inviting the Cathrall Clan to our house for a pre-Christmas buffet on Christmas Eve.  Before our guests arrived we need to complete a little bit of shopping.  Not for that much food (Lucinda had completed the food shop a couple days previously, with only the perishables to be bought) but for a couple of last minute presents.  The most important being a Barbie Mariposa doll that Éowyn had asked Santa for a week or so ago but had only let her parents know the weekend before Christmas.  Obviously she had told the most important person but it would have been nice for us to be aware of what Santa needed to provide, hence a slight detour into Staines on Christmas Eve morning to ease Santa’s burden by picking up the reserved doll that was sold out across the area.

So with the final presents, spare lightbulbs, fresh bread and the Christmas Radio Times bought, it was time to prepare the meal.  Thankfully it was a minimum amount of cooking, just preparation.  It was good to test the entertainment potential of the house and it was the first time that Lucinda’s brother Steve and his family had visited.  The difference in size between our old house and our new home was ably demonstrated by the fact that it didn’t feel at all crowded with 8 adults and 7 children where it would have been standing room only in Stanwell Moor.

The girls were excited as ever playing with their cousins and showing them their new home and their toys, and we let them stay up late to play.  We allowed them to open their presents from Uncle Steve and Auntie Zoe since they would not be at Lucinda’s parents on Christmas day.  So the pre-Christmas came to a close and after the girls had been put to bed and we had tidied up we eventually crept into bed at 00:30, fearing an early morning wake up call.  Fortunately the previous day’s excitement had obviously worn them out and they did not surface until 08:00.  Amélie was the first to wake (as usual) but had just come into our room without checking to see if Santa had been.  It was the encouragement from us and Amélie crashing about the room that had woke Éowyn up.

They were both unbelievably delighted that Santa had been and were jumping around the house and that was even before they opened their presents.  Imagine their faces when they realised that Santa not only had been but had brought them all the things that they had asked for, including the Barbie Mariposa Doll.  We had two very happy little girls and neither seemed too bothered that their brother didn’t seem to have a lot of presents to open.

As anyone with little children can testify, the packaging that modern toys are locked into requires a modicum of engineering knowledge and nerves of steel.  I was fully prepared this year with my trusted Leatherman on my belt (other multi-tool devices are available).  The knife, screwdriver and pliers were all useful at one stage or another to extricate various toys from razor sharp plastic, cable ties and a thicket of cardboard.

After persuading them to eat some breakfast and get dressed they played with their new toys (while Daddy built some of their other ones) until it was time to leave for Nanny and Granddad’s.  Nanny and Granddad were cooking Christmas Dinner for eleven: the Bagnalls, Lucinda’s brother Mike and his family and themselves.  After sating ourselves with traditional festive fare it was time for a third round of present opening.

After such an exciting day it was inevitable that the girls started to wane.  So after presents were opened and played with and the discarded wrapping paper readied for recycling all were herded into the car.  The journey between Lucinda’s parents and our home is less than 10 minutes but 2 of the 3 kids were asleep by the time we had pulled into the drive.  Only Éowyn managed to keep awake.

The following day is known as Boxing Day in the UK and is traditionally a big sporting day so as Head of Live Operations for the World’s largest independent sports production company I was to spend the day at work.  Lucinda and the kids were not to spend the day on their own.  Lucinda’s Auntie Sally and Uncle Bill had invited the family over for a Boxing Day buffet.  Unfortunately before I left for work I had to be ‘bad’ Daddy.

We have had an on-going battle with Éowyn sucking her thumb for comfort.  We have tried many things and none has yet worked and we are getting concerned that it is affecting her teeth so we have renewed our efforts to put a stop to it.  In the lead up to Christmas, we had threatened to call Santa and tell him, but after Christmas Éowyn thought that she could get away with it.  She was wrong.  She had promised me that she wouldn’t suck her thumb so to highlight the importance of a promise when she blatantly sucked her thumb on front of me, I told her that she had to give me something that was important to her.  She tried offering me chocolate or one of Amélie’s toys.  Clever, but not quite what I had in mind.  Eventually I got her to give me her favourite toy:  The Barbie Mariposa doll.  She was distraught and to be fair I felt really bad about taking it but if she is going to understand the importance of a promise and at the same time break a bad habit it had to be harsh and something that was important to her.

After five days she got the doll back (as she did not suck her thumb – even at night! – again).  She does know, however, that if she sucks her thumb again it will be 10 days of no thumb-sucking before it is returned; then the next time it will be 20 days and that will be her final chance.  After that she will lose her doll.  We have said that we will help her but she has to make the effort and that promises are important things.

It feels really bad to do that, especially at Christmas, but we have to break the habit and if we are to highlight the importance of a promise then when we promise to do something then we have to follow through too.  Doesn’t make one feel any better about taking your daughter’s favourite present off her.

With my work schedule leaving me with Friday 27th off it seemed an ideal opportunity to have a second (third) Christmas with Nanny Fran and Aunties Mary and Liz.  However, as that was my only day off I didn’t really want a round trip of 250 miles added to a hectic schedule.  Therefore Nanny Fran came down and took advantage of the bigger house and stayed overnight heading back Saturday afternoon.

The girls were over excited as usual when their Bagnall relatives came down, mainly I think because they do not see them that often.  They were spoilt with presents once again and even seemed happy when they opened presents containing clothes.  However, they were more interested in Ezra’s presents.  Isn’t that the way it is always will be?

So with three very happy children and a new home built for entertaining Lucinda and I can happily say it was a very successful Christmas and we are looking forward to 2014.  I trust that you all had a great time over the yuletide and trust that you will all keep popping back for the latest updates in the Bagnall household.

Peace and Love


Merry Christmas 2013

To all our Friends and Family, and casual readers of this blog

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your Love and Support throughout what has been an incredibly busy year: a new car, a new home, a work move and of course a new Bagnall!

May the road rise to meet you and the wind be always be at your back.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Love from

Baggie, Lucy, Éowyn, Amélie and Ezra.

Merry Christmas from Éowyn, Amélie and Ezra
Merry Christmas from Éowyn, Amélie and Ezra

A ray of hope flickers in the sky, a tiny star lights up way up high

I bet you had all thought that I had forgotten about you.  It has been three weeks since an update so what has happened?  To be frank not a huge amount.  I have been using up my annual leave and taken weekdays off but with Éowyn at school and boxes to unpack we haven’t done anything exciting apart from settling into our new home and getting the house ready for Christmas.

As quite often happens when you have been very busy and suddenly get some time off, the body waves a little white flag and all the bugs it has been fighting suddenly take their opportunity and you fall ill.  That is exactly what happened to me.  Nevertheless we are finally getting boxes emptied, furniture placed arranged and pictures hung.  There is still a lot to do but there has been progress and the Christmas tree can take pride of place in the lounge.

The time off has also given me time to write Christmas cards, go Christmas shopping (mainly, it has to be said, through the medium of the internet) and attend the girls’ Christmas plays.  The first was Éowyn’s.  In these days of political correctness gone mad, in order not to offend non-Christian religions the school is unable to put on the traditional nativity.  Absolutely nuts you have to agree.  Indeed, one of the mothers of the other children (who happens to be a Muslim) said that she is more offended that they don’t put on a Nativity play because they think that she would be offended.  Anyhow it is what it is and let us not get too distracted from the fact that the children and the teachers put a lot of hard work into the performance.

So, if it is not the Nativity what was the play?  It was based around the Nativity but the main protagonists were the stable boy and a talking shrew.  The stable boy was being advised by the talking shrew to ensure that the hay in the manager that the unnamed baby was to be lain in was soft so that the baby wouldn’t cry.  The usual suspects were there:  Shepherds, Angels, Wise Men and Cowboys (!).  Éowyn was a cowboy (cowgirl) and had a line to deliver ‘Joesph tried to find them a safe place to stay.‘  We were both very proud of her because she delivered her line with a real projection such that you could hear every word of her line and in addition, she also put some intonation into the line so that it wasn’t flat – way above her tender years.  Obviously we would say that.  The play was actually very good and all the children performed well, especially considering they were 4 and 5 year olds.  There were plenty of songs (none of which I knew) and they all sang well, it was actually thoroughly enjoyable.

The Christmas play also explained Éowyn’s Christmas song that she had composed.  I was putting them to bed one night when Éowyn said that she had written a Christmas song and would I like to hear it.  I thought this is a good idea, Slade apparently rake in £800,000 per year for Merry Xmas Everyone.  It is something that I have thought about myself, indeed I have written lyrics to a Christmas song, just need a musician to make it work and you never know.  So I sat in eager anticipation for Éowyn’s song.  It started off really well with stars and presents and snow but then deteriorated into cows in a field (not an animal traditionally associated with Christmas) pooing and there was poo everywhere, then the traditional hero of Christmas – no not him, or him, or them, or him, i am obviously talking about the stableboy who cleaned up all the poo and put it in the poo dustbin.  A few sleigh bells and maybe a glockenspiel solo and we may just have a hit on our hands.  There have been worse Christmas songs.

Amélie may not have written a Christmas song but she was in a Christmas production of her own. Amélie’s Christmas play was a week later and was the more traditional nativity story.  Amélie was an angel and was one of the few children to have a speaking part.  ‘They all bowed down before the baby Jesus‘ was the line she delivered with aplomb (for a three year old).  Again a lot of effort was put in by all the children (and the adults!) and the encore to the play was a toddler mosh to the song of 2013 (if you are three years old): What does the fox say?

We returned home (after a quick cup of tea and a mince pie around Nanny and Granddad’s) to decorate the Christmas tree.  A little later than usual but we wanted the house to be sorted before we decorated for the yuletide.  We are very happy with our new home but we probably need a few more now that we are in a bigger house.

Although happy with the how this year has turned out there was a slight disappointment that happened at the end of last month.  All year I had been looking forward to the arrival of a comet.  It was in this update that I was hoping to write about comet ISON, the heavily body that was going to be ‘the’ comet of our generation.  I was even hoping I could take a good photo of it and post it on the website.  Unfortunately comet ISON was a sungrazer and on the cusp of being big enough to survive the close encounter with our star.  As it approached the sun there was a day or so of confusion over whether it had been destroyed or simply lost its charge (earthing or more accurately sun-ing itself in the sun’s corona).  It became known as comet ISON, ISOFF, ISBACKON, ISDEFINITELYOFF.  There are still a couple of comets in the sky indeed the past few weeks have been an unusually active time for comet watchers as four comets were visible simultaneously with binoculars: ISON, Lovejoy, Encke, and LINEAR. So as the title of this post states (and the Christmas song lyric quiz for 2013 – award yourself 10 points if you have got it) a ray of hope flickered in the sky, unfortunately a tiny star did not light up way up high (not without binoculars anyhow).  However regardless of that a child was definitely born this year.

Ezra’s obviously a little young for a Christmas play but his time will come.  He is content with pulling himself up on his legs when there is something to grab hold of.  Then stretching those arms of his, Mr Tickle-like, until he can find the exact thing that you don’t want him to have.  Anything he can find that is smaller than his mouth will be chewed.  He is quick, too.  Put him on the floor and he will be exactly where you don’t want him to be before you have a chance to turn around.  He is still very well behaved though.  He only cries when he is hungry or needs a nappy changed.  He goes down at 1900 and will sleep through tip 0500 before his stomach wakes him up.  Then he will go down for a nap at 1000 for an hour or so. He still has his cute smile and when I come home from work, the one thing that can be guaranteed is a smile from Ezra.  What more does a dad need?

So with the Christmas tree up, the annual trip to the cinema to see the Hobbit done and presents bought, it only leaves the wrapping to do and the food to buy.  I will leave you a paltry set of photos and remind you that the annual Christmas message is due up on the website on the Northern hemisphere’s shortest day: 21st December.  There will also be a write up sometime between Christmas and New Year so stop by and for those of you that I will not see: Merry Christmas.

Peace and Love


PS.  I am not allowed to post any of the photos from Éowyn’s nativity but there are some of Amélie as an angel and some from our annual Christmas card photoshoot.