Éowyn's first trip to foreign climes

Éowyn has done what it took me nigh on another 22 years to do: take a trip on an aeroplane.  My first flight was in 1996 at the age of 23.5, Éowyn took her first flight just before she turned 20 months old.  Friends of mine Simon and Stefania were getting married on the 18th June in Stefania’s home town of San Baronto in Tuscany, Italy.  We therefore decided to make a holiday around the event and, considering other events due this year, make it our big holiday for the year.

The holiday didn’t start in the most positive fashion.  Our flight was due out at 09:00 BST and so we decided to push the boat out and have tea (or dinner for you Southerners) at the Earlybird at the local Harvester restaurant.  We went with Nanny and Granddad as we do relatively often.   Both Lucinda and I decided that we fancied the scampi and chips and duly ordered said meal each.  It tasted lovely and thought no more of it, and what followed may or may not have anything to do with it.

Cue 02:00 BST Lucinda begins throwing up.  This took us back to when she was pregnant with Éowyn and  suffered food poisoning from a re-heated quiche.  That time we went to A&E and she was kept in for a few hours to monitor Éowyn.  We were told then that the blood supply of the baby is separate to that of the mother so that the baby should be fine however it was important to keep up her fluid intake for dehydration was the real issue.  This did become a concern as Lucinda developed diarrhoea.

Cue 04:00 BST and I began to feel ill.  I did not vomit (which in hindsight was probably a bad thing as you will discover later) and only suffered the secondary issue (pun intended).  So now there was no way we were going to be nipping off to hospital to get Lucinda and the bubba checked out before our flight (and for a while it looked like we were not going to be able to make the flight!).  Fortunately about 06:00BST everything seemed to settle for a while so we decided to head to the airport (thanks Granddad).

At the airport we felt rough but (due to many years of experience) managed to check in and get through security and find the gate.  Éowyn was being golden, and enjoyed looking around the shops.  She eventually took me into one of the many shops in T5 Heathrow for she had spotted a World Cup ball and wanted it.  As she was being so good I bought it for her for it was something else to keep her amused with, for airside we were both suffering new waves of diarrhoea.  Fortunately we were out of sync with each other and could take it in turns to look after Éowyn.

We got on board and the plane filled up.  It was going to be a full flight.  As we taxied to the runaway we though we would give Éowyn her bottle to help with equalising her ears on take off.  However we were foiled by the French!  French air-traffic controllers to be precise who had decided to go on strike, thereby delaying all flights across French airspace.  So we sat on the runaway, on a full flight, feeling rough with a 20 month old that rapidly drank her milk thinking things couldn’t be much worse.  It wasn’t a good start.

However after about a 45 minute delay it was our turn to take off.  We should have had no fear.  Éowyn sat on my lap shouting ‘Wheeeee!’ all the way down the runway and into the air.  She loved it.  She was so well behaved on the flight, we could not have asked for any more from her.  When we landed I felt incredibly bad and rushed for the toilet as we got off the plane.  Somehow we not only got through customs, collected our luggage and hired a car.  We managed to drive the 100km or so from Pisa airport to the Hotel Monti in San Baronto, check in before collapsing on the bed in the hotel room.

I stayed in bed for the next day and a half, unable to keep any food or drink down.  I wouldn’t like to think how much weight I lost in that time frame but I was 9lbs lighter on my return and I ate nothing but pasta, pizza, cakes, beer and ice-cream while I was there.  It was not much fun for Lucinda as she had recovered the next day and could not explore too far as I was the only one insured on the car and walking was out of the question as it was torrential rain for those first few days.  The holiday had not started well.

I did, however, flush the toxins from my body and although weak and gaunt looking was able to get out of the hotel on the third day.  Although I took it easy in order to save myself for the wedding, which was on the fourth day (Friday 18th June) of our holiday.  My friend Hami also arrived on the third day just as I was beginning to feel better.  Another good friend Sanjiv arrived late on the Thursday and caught up with him on the morning of the wedding.

The wedding was fantastic.  The ceremony was held in the Church in San Baronto and the reception in Villa Rospigliosi in nearby Lamporecchio.  Villa Rospigliosi is a 17th Century Villa built for Pope Celemns IX as a summer retreat from the Vatican.  It was a fabulous setting for the wedding, Simon and Stef have true style!

We were in Italy for 10 days in total and took full advantage of being in the middle of Tuscany.  We visited Florence, Lucca, Vinci, Empoli, Pistoia, Lamporecchio but missed out on Pisa (although we did see the learning tower from about a mile away as we headed to the airport on the way back home).

For Éowyn it was a holiday of many firsts:

  • First time she had used her passport
  • First time in the airport
  • First flight
  • First foreign country
  • First trip on a bus
  • First wedding
  • First trip on a coach
  • First trip on a train
  • First time she has used another language on a trio (Ciao and Grazie)
  • First Father’s Day spent outside of England

Highlights of the trip (apart from the wedding) would have to be meeting up with Simon, Hami and Sanjiv for me.  The trips to Florence, Lucca and Vinci and the fact that we got to spend a considerable amount of time together as a family.  Something that we very rarely do for any length of time.  During our trip Éowyn is now confident counting up to 10.  Can name a considerable amount of colours (her favourites being Orange and Purple) and can tell you the noises that animals make.

Funny moment of the trip goes to Sanjiv.  Searching San Baronto for somewhere to have lunch (not an easy task I can tell you) Sanjiv spots some women perparing tables in a restaurant, calling over he shouts, “Scusi,” at this point we are impressed, we did not know that Sanjiv spoke Italian.  Then Uncle Albert kicked in, “What-a time do you-a open?” he said, putting on an ‘Allo ‘Allo Italian accent.  It makes me laugh now, just thinking about it!  He should of course have said: “Scusi, Bootiful Lay-dees!  What-a time do you-a open?”  At least he gave it a go.  I suffer from that English disease of being afraid of getting it wrong that I forget to try.  I keep promising myself to learn another language but never get around to it.  Perhaps I will rectify that some day.  Sanjiv’s language skills narrowly beat the result of New Zealand v Italy game into second place, but as England were abysmal the least we say about the World Cup the better.

Returning home we had one more event before returning to work.  Nanny Fran’s belated 60th birthday present.  Due to her accident (she is still in plaster) our surprise trip to Rome has been cancelled and instead we took her to see The Sound of Music with Connie Fisher at Woking theatre.  I have to admit it was a fantastic show and it also gave Nanny Fran a chance to see Éowyn who she hasn’t seen for quite a while.

Now I feel that I have waffled far too much, so please find some photos below to enjoy.  I will be uploading a large number to Flickr in the next few days so keep your eyes peeled for those.  I also aim to write a more detailed account of the holiday and post it as a permanent page under Éowyn’s own page in the right hand column, so keep an eye on that too.

Peace and Love


A week in Dorset

We have just got back from a week in sunny (yes, sunny) Dorset (unbelievably for the end of October the temperature peaked at 20°C).  Every year (for the last 6 years) Lucinda’s family have hired Berwick Manor in Puncknowle, Dorset for a week as a big extended family holiday.  I don’t know of any other family that does such a thing and some of you maybe horrified by such a thought but it is actually very enjoyable and I think each of us very much look forward to it.  We were unfortunately unable to go last year (as we were waiting for the imminent arrival of Éowyn) and so we were looking forward to it more than usual.

The week is usually relaxed with trips to the coast and local towns confirmed in the morning depending on the weather and number of others who are interested, we are usually back as it gets dark and each family takes it in turn to cook an evening meal.  There are number of places that we usually go to and this year was no exception.  They include visiting Bridport market, Lyme Regis, Hive Beach, Weymouth and a number of walks especially along the Jurassic coast.

We did however journey further afield and one of the most memorable trips was organised by Lucinda’s cousin Adam and his girlfriend Lucy:  A ghost walk around Dorchester.  Alistair our guide for the evening (dressed in full Victorian regalia, including top hat and cloak) pitched the tone just right.  The bravado of the children was soon replaced by a healthy fear, but realising that he was actually getting to them he turned it round quickly so that they thought they were getting the upper hand on him.  If ever you are in Weymouth or Dorchester and enjoy a ghost walk I would highly recommend him.  Éowyn slept through the majority of the evening, although she was enthralled at Alistair’s voice at the beginning of the walk.  She was however, the only one that dressed up for the occasion in her fancy dress bat outfit.  What cruel parents we are!

Lucinda’s dad, John, is rapidly approaching his 70th birthday and realising that since most of the family would be in the same place at the same time Lucinda decided that it was a ideal opportunity to hold a surprise birthday party for him while we were at the manor.  To add to the party atmosphere Lucinda invited a number of his good friends to join us.  Amazingly he never caught wind of the party and it was a complete surprise and we were also pleasantly surprised that his friends made the long journey to join us.  He was truly touched and thoroughly enjoyed himself, and Lucinda was happy that all her hard work had paid off.

The week was also good for Éowyn, as apart from at her Granddad’s party she was centre of attention from all generations of the ‘Badger’ clan (everyone is either related to, or partner of someone related to, Lucinda’s Granddad Badger – although interestingly this year there was no one with the surname Badger at the manorhouse).  Her confidence in walking grew this week (taking at one point 32 steps – I will now stop counting) to the point where she now likes to walk alongside you holding your hand.  She especially liked playing with her cousin Finley who was very good with her, and knew exactly how to make her laugh.  She also has semi-learnt a new trick:  to blow a kiss.  However, she understands that you have to kiss your hand but as not yet blown that kiss to anyone.  I don’t blame her!

The week seemed to be over very quickly (especially with work for both me and Lucinda looming on the horizon) but to extend the holiday we decided to head to Monkey World on the way back.  Thoroughly enjoyed ourselves but made it a long journey back especially since it was heavy traffic all the way back.  And now we are back at work at seems to have faded into a distant memory – well there is always next year!

I will take my leave of you now but please enjoy the new photos.

Peace and love


It's been a while

Apologies to all the regular readers for the lack of update over the last 3 weeks or so.  I have been a tad busy.  IMG has won a couple of major contracts, namely Studio and live operations for the newly launched ESPN channel in the UK and the Football League show for the BBC.  Two prestigious clients but a lot of work to get them on the air and devise systems to integrate them into our current operations.  A lot of hard work but something that I really enjoy.  However, with my shift opposite on holiday, it has meant that more of the onus has been on me and in order to fully define the technical solution I have been doing long hours and extra days.  Hence the lack of time for updates (on this website anyway, myself and a colleague Jay Versluis have created one to impart information to our freelance staff.  If you are at all interested you will find it here).

Unfortunately this means that I have not seen that much of Lucinda or Éowyn either, in fact on some days neither of them were awake while I was in the house!

The month started with Éowyn’s nine month check up at the Health Centre.  Just a general check up to ensure that she is developing both physically and mentally.  The health visitor seemed quite happy with her development, her weight is in the 50th centile and her height in just above the 98th centile.  She can do all the things that they would expect a 9-month old should do:  grasp small objects, pass them from one hand to the other, clap, crawl, etc.  Without appearing to be boastful parents we did not have too much worries regarding her development, she appears to be quite precocious.

The next stage in her development is the fact that she has outgrown her first car seat.  After some consideration we opted for the Maxi Cosi Axiss due to the fact that it rotates on its base.  It will save our backs lifting her in at an angle, especially as she gets heavier.  She was unsure of it at first because it faces forward, she has always travelled backwards, and it is a different experience looking out the windscreen.  No doubt she will get used to it rather quickly.

To add to the lack of contact I have had with my wife and child this month, they left me for a week.  Not in that sense.  Lucinda’s parents took their grandchildren (and Lucinda) on holiday with their friends Mike and Sue (and their grand-daughter).  Mike and Sue have a holiday home, made from a 2 converted train carriages, in Selsey, the most southerly point in West Sussex.  Éowyn had a fantastic time, as did her cousins.  Éowyn is now of an age that she can play with the older children.  Obviously she can not do all the things that they can but she can interact with them and they enjoy teaching her things.

Éowyn also played in the sea for the first time.  It was not the first time that she had seen the sea.  When we stayed in Devon in May we had a day trip to Padstow and introduced her to the sea then, but as she was dressed in one of her posh dresses that day she didn’t get her feet wet.  Down at Selsey it was a different matter as the holiday home was just a short walk from the beach.  So Lucinda dressed Éowyn in her swimming costume and took her down to the sea.  She loved being in the sea, crawling on the sand after the outgoing tide and when she reached the sea, splashing and giggling.  She was enjoying herself so much that when Lucinda thought that she should take her in, the tantrums started and she hit Lucinda so hard that it made her nose bleed.

That wasn’t her first tantrum that happened a couple of days before the trip to Selsey.  Lucinda was tecting on her mobile phone when Éowyn decided that she wanted it.  Obviously, Lucinda didn’t let her have it and waterworks and lungs were turned on full effect.  We just looked at her in shock and little disbelief, which in a way was the right thing to do as we did not react to it and it soon stopped.  However, I think that it is only the precursor to another stage of development.  How we are looking forward to that one… not!

There has probably been a lot more incidences that I should retell but I think after a month of silence the only things that you are interested in are the new photos.  So who am I to carry on…

Peace and love