Welcome to 2015

It is traditional for my first post of the year to look Janus-like at the year that has just been and one the one yet to come.  Who am I to stand in the way of tradition?

2013 was an extremely hectic year with much of what life can throw at you and so we were hoping for a more sedate 2014.  With 3 children life is never going to be sedate, neither however, was it hectic.  In 2013 life through many things at us including: births, deaths, marriages, holidays, big birthdays, and house moves and although my company relocated (and came under new management) there were no new jobs in the Bagnall household.  It seemed that life was not finished with the Bagnall household and does not conform to the convention of numerical years and almost before the Christmas decorations had found their way back into the loft and certainly before Lucinda had returned to work from maternity leave the news broke that she would have to find a new job.

2014 saw the opening of the new Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport and Air Canada, the company where Lucinda had worked for the past 16 years, was one of the Airlines that was due to make it their new home.  Air Canada though, took this opportunity to look at their accounts and decided to outsource ground control to the handling agency ASIG.  Lucinda therefore had two choices: transfer to ASIG or redundancy.  Since Lucinda had such long service it made sense to take redundancy and then apply to ASIG, hopefully be offered a similar position and try to negotiate favourable terms as an individual.

Thus the stress of returning to work after maternity leave was coupled with the uncertainty of redundancy and job applications.  Nevertheless, Lucinda took it in her stride, took the favourable redundancy package, applied for a position at ASIG and managed to retain her job share hours which ties in, as nicely as it can, with my hours.

My hours have just been ridiculous this year with the conclusion of the move from Chiswick to Uxbridge (doesn’t sound too exotic, does it?) and especially moving Premier League Productions and at the same time taking on another major client in the guise of European Qualifiers.  It is nice to know that we are busy (better than being the opposite) but it would be nice to spend some time with the family.  However 2015 is bring a new structure and hopefully this will free me from the coal face and move me to the management side of my role and thus free me from the shackles of weekend fixtures.

These upheavals in work life have obviously been coupled with the usual stresses of being the parents of three young children and the small matter of moving into a new home.  We had only owned our new home for two months before 2014 was upon us and with Christmas 2013 around the corner all we had time to do was unpack.  Therefore this year was the first chance we had to do anything major with the house.

The house felt homely when we moved in and rooms were allocated almost on our first viewing and a year on they haven’t changed.  Our furniture, however felt dwarfed in the bigger living space and although we didn’t want to clutter the space with furniture for the sake of it we have acquired a few new pieces including the extending table that was used to full effect for Christmas dinner.

We haven’t made too many changes to the house so far, indeed we have only really made three major changes:

  • The installation of photovoltaic panels
  • Painting of the exterior
  • New French doors

The installation of the photovoltaic panels was never a definite plan but something I have always been interested in, especially when I realised how much bigger the fuel bills were for a larger, older house.  When we investigated the various methods to acquire them and how much it would cost to buy an array and we decided that there was no better time than the present. We are earning about £800 a year from them, if this year is at all typical, and our dual fuel bill had dropped by £60/month.  At that rate they will have paid for themselves in less than 6 years (not including any energy price increases) and they are guaranteed for 20 years.  Could be a good little earner;  I’ll keep you informed.

The first thing that we noticed about the house when we came for our initial viewing was the colour.  The house is pebbledashed (something I am not too keen on) and was of the original mortar colour.  Not very exciting, it was a good job that the rest of the house was so good.  We decided as we stood in the driveway in those first minutes that if we  purchase the house that we would like to paint it.

After moving in, it seemed that painting the house was an unnecessary extravagance and we should just live with the colour.  Then the wettest winter in many a year hit (and parts of Staines Upon Thames became Staines up-in-Thames) and the one thing that we noticed (apart from the fact that we were not flooded apparently, we discover we sit on a 1,000 year flood plain) was that there were an awful amount of pebbles on the driveway.  The mortar was absorbing the rain and crumbling.  This then pushed us back to the idea of painting the house.  It would serve two purposes, the first brighten the exterior of the house but secondly and more importantly it would bond the mortar and pebbles and add an extra layer of protection against the elements.

It was about this time that Lucinda was made redundant as Air Canada outsourced ground operations at Heathrow Airport to the handling agency ASIG.  With a nice little bonus in the bank it seemed to be the right thing to do to invest some of it into looking after the house.  So the house is now a Country Cream colour and certainly looks a lot brighter as you drive down the road.

The third improvement has been the replacement of the old sliding patio doors to some modern French doors.  Again it was one of the features of the house that we disliked when we first looked round.  We initially wanted bi-fold doors but apparently our opening wasn’t big enough so we comprised on French doors.  They give us the bigger opening that we wanted, bringing the outdoors in, as the architects are fond of saying, (although not what we particularly want at the moment) but also additional security compared to the sliding style patio doors and additional insulation from the modern double glazing.

Not a bad haul for the first year in our new home.  There are still plenty of things to be done, the most pressing in the heating system.  Last year we had a power flush to try to make the system more efficient and allow the radiators to actually output the heat that they are rated for.  The fact that last Winter was so mild (damp and windy but mild) it had sort of fallen to the back of our minds.  However this winter has already had cold days, and even colder nights and with a lack of heating downstairs, this has become a level one priority.

From a non-expert point of view it seems that there is so much gunk in the system that the hot water can not circulate around the lower half of the system.  Therefore we have hot water and a relatively warm upstairs but no heat downstairs.  This is coupled with single skin walls and a lack of underfloor insulation meaning that it can be unbearably cold downstairs.  Therefore, we have employed oil-filled radiators and fan heaters to attempt to make sitting downstairs bearable, which is denting the savings we would be accruing from the photovoltaic cells installation.

We have a heating engineer coming round in the week to see what he can do.  It might involve new radiators and pipework.  Hopefully not a new boiler but if it is needed, then it is needed.  To help retain the heat in the house we will also be looking at underfloor insulation in the coming year but that is going to be a big job and probably involve new carpets (or floor covering of some sort).  That however, can wait until the spring and be in place for next winter.

This past year has also seen our first attempt at cultivation.  Not in a self-sufficiency kind of way but just to see if we enjoy it and to help teach the children where our food comes from.  We were relatively successful with runner beans (there are still some in the freezer), potatoes, tomatoes and raspberries.  Not so successful with strawberries (squirrels dug the plants up before they had a chance to grow) and pumpkins (only one survived until Halloween).  The main thing was that we enjoyed doing it and managed to eat our produce so let’s see if we can do better next year.

The first event of last year that I would like to mention was the fact that in moving home we were further from Éowyn’s school but only a short walk to another.  Therefore, we made the decision to move sc

hools.  This was confirmed by the local education authority at michaelmas half term.  There have been tears and she is not enjoying it as much as she was at her old school, but we are confident that it will not take her much longer to settle it, especially with everyone returning after the Christmas break.

Amélie, on the other hand, is positively enjoying her new pre-school and looks forward to going to her ‘new school’.  The fact that both schools are a short walk from home and they can ride their scooters their, we think is a huge positive too.  There are also around 4 or 5 other families in the street with children of the same age so we feel more part of a community than we ever did at the previous school.  If only Éowyn’s best friend and favourite teacher were at this school then there would not be a problem, but life is not like that.

2014 has been another interesting year in the Bagnall household and I am sure that 2015 will just as interesting. Plans that we have will come to fruition and I am sure that this will be coupled with unforeseen obstacles that life will throw at us that will need to be overcome.  No doubt some things will go smoothly and others will be more bumpy; some things will fall into place without too much planning while others will fail despite being planned to the nth degree, and on that note I would like to leave you with this thought from Neil Gaiman:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Peace and Love


PS.  2013 saw disappointment surrounding Comet ISON which strayed too close to the sun, denying us a promised ‘Comet of the Century’ experience.  January brings us, not a ‘Comet of a Century’ but with luck and the benefit of a dark sky you maybe lucky enough to see Comet Lovejoy that should become visible to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere from the 9th January reaching perihelion on Friday 30th January 2015.  Keep those eyes peeled.

PPS.  Geeky web stats for 2014 can be found here.

Happy New Year from the Baguettes
Happy New Year from the Baguettes

Easter eggs and a trip to the Seaside

Once again I feel that I have to apologise for the lack of updates through 2014.  At this point last year you would have had 17 updates, this is only this year’s 8th!  In fairness, last year was busier than usual mainly due to the birth of Ezra but you have to admit I am normally more prolific than I have been this year.  I have always said that this is a window into our world and it is more important for life to get in the way of this website than vice versa.  There have been plenty of jobs to do around the house and garden, it has been the traditional end of the season business and there has been something that has been overhanging the family (or not overhanging the family – a little joke that you may understand when you read about it) over the last six weeks but more about that in the next update.  Ah well, there are the excuses on with the update!

So what has been going on the in the Bagnall household?

Easter has come and gone since the last update and with it school holidays.  Yes, Easter marks the end of the second term and a fortnight break from school for both of the girls.  This came at an opportune time for Éowyn as she was beginning to get a little tired and was in need of the break.  It is hard enough as an adult doing a full week of work, week after week without a break (I know I have not used an of this year’s annual leave as yet!), it must be ten times as hard for a five year old.  Unfortunately we could not take full advantage of this hiatus from school because Easter is also a traditionally busy time in the football calendar and thus it is difficult for me to take time off work.  (It has to be said that the busy points in my work calendar:  Christmas, Easter and August unfortunately coincide with the term breaks and thus school holidays, that’s what you get for being the Head of Operations of the World’s largest independent sports production companies!).

A week off work was therefore out of the question but a tip to the seaside was still in order.  The weather hadn’t truly warmed up but nevertheless this has not stopped the Bagnalls in the past and it certainly isn’t going to stop the Bagnalls in the future.  So the S-Max was packed, a DVD loaded to keep the girls entertained and we headed to one of Lucinda’s favourite places, in probably her favourite county:  Hengistbury Head in Dorset.

We arrived in good time and parked the car at Mudeford Key before heading across Christchurch harbor on the ferry to Hengistbury Head.  Our arrival coincided with a heavy downpour and unfortunately we were on the open top ferry when it hit.  As you can see from the photo below there was nothing we could do except grin and bear it.

It was no surprise then that we didn’t head straight to the beach, but rather the cover of the beach café and lunch.  The rain clouds blew away while we were indoors and we headed to the beach; if not in bright sunshine at least it was more ‘cloudy with occasional breaks for the sun to peak through’.

The girls love playing on the beach (as I am sure that most kids do) and they do not feel the cold as much as adults.  While Lucinda and I barely took our coats off they wanted to strip off (thankfully managed to dissuade them from that!) and paddle in the sea.  Despite Daddy trying to convince them that the sea would be cold (it has barely had chance to warm up since the winter) it wasn’t until they had run in that they believed their Daddy.

Despite the weather, fun was had by all and three very tired kids reluctantly were convinced to return to the car for the journey home.   Éowyn and Amélie both protested the return but both (indeed Ezra too) were asleep before we made it to the M27 and the journey home.

The Easter holidays also saw a visit from Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz.  Nanny Fran’s birthday fell on Easter Sunday this year (a day that both Lucinda and I were working!) and so she came down on Good Friday to stay for the weekend.  Her visit wasn’t just to get her present and deliver Easter Eggs.; it was to finally take advantage of last year’s present a ride over London in a helicopter.  This was, if memory serves me correctly, the third time that she had tried to take to the skies.  The previous two times the weather had put pay to the experience. This time however it was successful and she had a great time viewing the sites of our Capital City from an unusual vantage point.

Before we let her take to the skies though both she and Auntie Liz had to be roped into an Easter egg hunt.  You may recall that a couple of years ago Lucinda and I organized an Easter Egg Hunt around Lucinda’s parents’ garden for our friends children, unfortunately without having weekends off and not quite the time to prepare that remains the first and only time (so far) that we have managed to organize such a big event, however that doesn’t mean that Éowyn, Amélie and Ezra should miss out.  Therefore, while we were talking to Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz, Lucinda nipped outside and hid Easter Eggs around the garden for the girls to find.

With Éowyn paired up with Nanny Fran and Amélie with Auntie Liz they headed into the garden armed with Easter baskets.  All but one of the eggs were found (I am sure the local foxes will have found it by now) and divided evenly – you have to be fair!  These were then added to their, not too unreasonable, hoard of eggs and other assorted chocolates.  I would like to know whose idea it was to associate Easter with chocolate; I don’t recall Jesus telling us all to eat chocolate in memory of his resurrection.

As you may have guessed from the above, the Easter term break also saw Lucinda’s return to work.  Not great timing on our part but she has had nearly 14 months off and you can’t put off the inevitable.  As avid readers and friends will know this return was going to be more emotional than her previous returns as the end of April saw Air Canada cease ground control of their flights at Heathrow Airport, responsibilities now undertaken by ASIG a general handling company.  Therefore Lucinda returned for her half a dozen or so last shifts for Air Canada.

Change is sometimes good and sometimes beneficial.  Time will tell if this change is good, but it has certainly been beneficial with Air Canada offering V.S.P. (redundancy for want of a better phrase – which Lucinda took) and ASIG requiring a large influx of staff trained in Air Canada procedures (which Lucinda obviously is – if a little rusty).  Thus redundancy was taken and a new job at ASIG applied for and got.  A little Brucie Bonus that doesn’t happen very often in life and thus one that should certainly be taken advantage of when the opportunity arises.  It neatly concludes where 2013 left off, with new house, car, child etc.

So with Lucinda returning to work and with me in full time employment we are in need of an alternative child care facility when grandparents are in need of a rest and when we can’t manage between ourselves through holidays and shift swaps.  This makes it difficult to arrange child care.  Most nurseries and child minders want a set number of hours a week and set days, then they can plan other children around the slots in availability that they have.  This is understandable but very frustrating from our point of view.  However, a friend of ours uses a child minder literally around the corner from us, someone who only wants a few extra days a month.  An ideal scenario.

After meeting her we took Ezra around for a one hour taster session to see how he got on.  He was fine, thoroughly enjoyed himself and so we were happy to book some dates with her.

Lucinda’s shifts tend to be earlies.  This can be anything from a 0500 start!  This means a few things.  Lucinda needs to go to bed not long after the kids in order to get a decent amount of sleep.  Lucinda has to get up about 0345 (at the latest) in order to get ready and out for work.  This means that I have to rise a little earlier in order to get myself and three kids washes, dressed and fed. Bags packed and out the door ready for three different drop-off points before heading to do a full day’s shift at work. Indeed I feel like I have done a full day’s shift before I get there.  It doesn’t help with the little inter-sibling squabbling that tends to happen and when your youngest starts to cry and try and hold on to you when you drop him off at the child minders for the first time.  By all accounts he soon settled down and was fine for the rest of the day (and in that respect was no different to Éowyn or Amélie on their first days too!) but when your enduring image is of your little one in floods of tears reaching out to you it doesn’t set the day up very well.

Ezra is still tending on the lazy side (Lucinda would disagree).  He crawls at lightning speed and is on his feet whenever there is something to support him but he still is not interested in walking.   If you encourage him to take a few steps he immediately sits down.  Legs are for standing so that your arms can stretch to reach whatever it is that you are not allowed to have.  They are also useful for climbing.  He has been able to climb the stairs for a while but now his little mind has worked out that if there is something shiny out of reach that climbing may just help.  He started off by pushing his walker or Lego table towards the settee and using it as a ladder to climb higher.   Now anything that gives him a little extra lift is fair game.  Indeed Lucinda left him in his high chair momentarily to find upon her return Ezra sitting on the kitchen table.  He had seen the biscuit barrel on the table and thought to himself while there is no one around I’ll have a couple of those.  For that is exactly how Lucinda found him, sitting crossed legged on the table with two malted milk biscuits!

That is a bit of an epic but there a few more stories I would like to regale so pop by in the next few days for another snippet (or two) on our world.  In the meantime enjoy some of the photos of the past month or so.

Love and Peace


We would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Olivia Lynn Eccles to the world,the first child of my 2nd cousin Charlotte and her husband Paul.  Congratulations to them both.

I would walk 500 miles

Another month draws to an end which means that we have already had a quarter of 2014.  How did that happen?  As John Lennon said: ‘Life is what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans‘.  This update is a little overdue and has had to be rewritten a number of times so apologies for those of you that have been waiting with bated breath for the latest instalment of Baggie and Lucy dot-com.

As 2013 taught us, life has a habit of throwing things at you, both expected and unexpected and 2014 has started in a similar vein.  As regular readers know this is about the time that Lucinda should have been happily returning to work after an extended maternity leave.  That is still true, in a fashion, but not quite the full story.

As regular readers and close friends will know Air Canada are outsourcing ground staff at Heathrow Airport to the handling company ASIG.  This handover coincides with Lucinda’s return to work, consequently just as Lucinda was preparing herself to enter the grown up world of work there have been a number of very grown up decisions to be made.  Those decisions have been made, the relevant applications have been filled in and verbal confirmations have been given however we are still waiting for the definitive written contract (in the case of the job offer from ASIG) and in the case of VSP (Voluntary Separation Package – a form of redundancy) from Air Canada the cheque.  A brave new world beckons.

So what else has happened since the last update?

I have celebrated another birthday.  A week after Ezra’s first birthday, I celebrated my forty-first complete orbit of the sun.  I think that the girls were more excited that it was my birthday than I was.  For the second Thursday in a row I managed to leave work early and returned home in time to go to the local pizza restaurant for a birthday meal.  The girls enjoy pizza and doughballs and with a discount afforded to me by virtue of my tastecard, Pizza Express seemed like a good choice.  Éowyn was so excited that she kept whispering to the waiter than it was her daddy’s birthday, so when my dessert arrived (tiramisu – if you really must know) it was adorned by a lit candle and accompanied with the waiter (and then the family and certain other patrons of the restaurant) singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me.

Happy Birthday isn’t the only song that Éowyn has been singing of late.  The girls’ musical tastes have been somewhat influenced by a combination of the Disney films that they watch and Lucinda’s choice of euterpean delight.  Current favourites include ‘Let it Go’ from the Disney film Frozen, a couple of Katy Perry songs: Firework and Roar and a variety of other Disney songs (thankfully no One Direction!).  There have been a few that I have been responsible for:  Shake Your Tailfeather by Ray Charles, Think by Aretha Franklin and The Candy Man by Sammy Davis Junior.  Then there have been a number that Éowyn has heard on the radio and quiet liked, Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin and Thank You For The Music – ABBA.  Another can now be added to that list: I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers.

I had picked Éowyn up from school and as usual the radio was on in the background while I asked Éowyn about her day.  The opening bars of I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) began and Éowyn’s ears pricked up.  ‘Daddy, can you turn the radio up please.‘  So I turned the radio up and she attempted to sing along.  ‘I like that Daddy, can we have it on when we get in the house?‘  I have played it a number of times for her now and showed her how to dance like a mad loon around the kitchen and she is not the only one that likes it.  Amélie tries to sing along and joins in the dancing and even Ezra will sit in his high chair tapping his foot in rhythm.  I am most pleased.

Éowyn however is not completely in the good books.  At school they have a traffic light system for behaviour.  Green – good behaviour, Yellow on a warning, Blue – Several warnings and Red – bad behaviour.  Éowyn has always been in green (as to be expected) and I had promised her a special gift if she stayed in green all year (still waiting for the Disney store to receive some more Frozen dresses to pay the promise of collecting 5 superstar certificates in one term).  I was prepared for perhaps a one-off or even occasional foray into yellow depending on the strictness of the teaching but was disappointed when Éowyn came home all upset to tell me that she had been on red.  I asked why she had been put on red and she told me that she had pushed Aaliyah (her best friend).  In Éowyn’s favour, she did not try to justify it, she just stated the facts.

Miss Finbow had no choice but to put Éowyn on red and so when Lucinda picked her up from school she was taken aside and told of the day’s events.  Miss Finbow explained that it was completely out of character for our eldest but had to give her the red card.  She also said that Éowyn was beside herself, extremely upset and there were lots of tears.  However, she somewhat redeemed herself by apologising straightaway and then later in the day with some outstanding writing which helped her to climb back into green.

I could see that Éowyn was upset and somewhat fearful to tell me, however she did and that in itself demonstrated some courage.   There was no point in shouting or getting angry, I just told her that I was disappointed and that she was never going to do it again.  I asked her why she had done it and you could see from her expression that she realised that it was trivial.  Apparently Aaliyah had something that Éowyn wanted, Aaliyah wouldn’t give it to Éowyn so Éowyn pushed her.  At least she had the maturity to realise what she had done was immature, something I wish some grown-ups had the foresight to realise.

Éowyn is still of the age where the term is probably just a little too long as so getting up for school everyday takes its toll.  You can see it on all their little faces that at the end of term they are ready for a holiday to recharge their batteries.  Éowyn’s Easter break could not be more ill-timed from a Bagnall viewpoint.  The first week of this Paschal festivity coincides with Lucinda’s return to work.  That could have worked out better.  Fortunately I work Wednesdays to Sundays and Lucinda only works two days in six and for Lucinda’s first two weeks back at work I can take one day’s holiday (which is actually a day owed in lieu for extra days worked) and be off with the kids for those days.  There are advantages to working weekends (sometimes!).

There will be days that we need to rely on family members and child minders but that is still in the future and we have no fully come to any decisions about that.  That might sound a tad unorganised but with Lucinda’s employment situation and the change of employer she is unsure of her shift pattern after the beginning of May.  That makes organising ad-hoc child minding a tad difficult.  Fortunately I should be able to take some holiday at the beginning of summer (although from July onwards a day-off yet alone a day’s holiday may be a rare and precious thing) to cope with her shifts.  We will see how that goes.

Éowyn still has a fascination with graveyards and death in general.  Every time we pass a cemetery she will ask to go in and have a look at the graves.  Passing one with Lucinda, Éowyn begun to tell Amelie that it was the place that they bury people.  This triggered a question: ‘Mommy, why do they bury people?‘  Lucinda explained that is what they do when someone dies.  This did not satisfy Éowyn.  ‘But why don’t they just leave them out on the ground?‘  Lucinda tried to explain that when we die we our bodies shrivel and rot like fruit and that wouldn’t be very nice.  Éowyn seemed nonplussed as if she wouldn’t mind if that was the tradition of this country in the manner of Zoroastrian religions such as the Parsi of India.

I have kept you long enough and now I am sure that you want to see the photos.  I hear my audience and here they are.

Peace and Love