Amélie’s Fourth Birthday

I think it catches me by surprise every year how rapidly September comes around and thus how quickly the year turns and also how quickly my children are growing up.  As you can probably guess from the title of this update, my little girl Amélie turned 4 last Sunday.  Due to the fact that the start of the academic year, in the UK, is the 1st September this makes her one of the oldest still at nursery.  This is despite the fact that she, like Éowyn before her, is probably more than ready for reception and full time education.  Nevertheless another year at Mini Tots looms for her.

Amélie’s birthday sits in the middle of a busy birthday period.  Not only is it just under three weeks before Éowyn’s birthday and the day before Auntie Liz’s birthday it also sits in the middle of our N.C.T. group’s crop of birthdays.  As many people in the same situation do, when we were expecting our first child Éowyn we joined an N.C.T. group and although that was six years ago we are still in touch with 5 of the other couples.  We may not meet up as often as we used to as a group (individually we often see each other) but in an attempt to keep the group spirit alive we arrange a joint birthday party for the kids, somewhere in the middle of their birthdays.  As a coincidence this year’s N.C.T. birthday party fell on Amélie’s birthday.

A stroke of luck in part due to a busy European week for our Premier League big boys and in part due to the Ryder Cup (go Europe!), the bulk of the Premier League games were on the Saturday and the Super Sunday game was my beloved West Bromwich Albion v Burnley.  Not a game with a large interest from foreign broadcasters even I will admit, therefore I decided that my (work) team could safely handle this one by themselves and I could start to claw back the days work owes me, by being off with Amélie on her birthday and attending the N.C.T. birthday party for the first time in years!

Not only was I off work but Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz decided to come down for a few days.  Again, a little bit of a coincidence with Auntie Mary buying Auntie Liz tickets to see Kylie Minogue at the 02 for (and on) her birthday.  Therefore Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz had double the excuse (not that they need one) to come for a visit.

The venue for last year’s celebration was deemed a success and so Alice Holt was once again chosen as the venue for the party.  Alice Holt, a few miles outside of Farnham, is a woodland managed by the Forestry Commission.  In addition to the woodland, it has a Go-Ape adventure playground and this year has been home to the Gruffalo Trail.  Indeed, Lucinda took the kids on the Gruffalo trail during the summer holiday, so it is somewhere we know quite well.

We parked close to the wooden chalet that would be the venue for the party and were surprised that we were the second family to arrive, especially since we had to wait for Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz to drive down from West Bromwich (an early start for them).  Thankfully with the trusted S-Max we could squeeze Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz in the car save them driving any further.  We unloaded the car (kids and party food) and had a look around the chalet.  It appears that we had been upgraded from the chalet we had hired last year (not that I know!) and this one was much bigger, with its own toilet facility and resident fox and badger (stuffed you’ll be glad to know, taxidermied, if that is indeed, the proper term).  Not the best taxidermy for the fox looked like it was quite surprised when it died, or at least when it was stuffed!  The badger on the other hand seemed to be smiling, perhaps he saw what happened to the fox!

It seemed to be a shame not to take advantage of the Indian summer we were experiencing (indeed the temperature peaked at 25C, not bad for the end of September) so we decided to tackle the Gruffalo trail en masse. It was a good walk to build up an appetite for the party food.  The kids were all well behaved but perhaps a little bored with looking for the Gruffalo characters in such a large group.  The most fun they had was when they found a branch across a dried up creek.  They it was a bridge over boiling lava and they all took it in turns to walk across it.  Who says that kids today have no imagination.  It is amazing the fun you can have with a fallen tree branch.

So after party food, some party game and even a birthday cake (baked by Claire) we headed back home to celebrate Amelie’s birthday.  Regular readers may recall that at the beginning of September Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz flew to New York for a mid-week trip.  Éowyn and Amélie were so excited about Nanny going to America because there are some toys that are available in America that are not available in the UK (a demonstration of the power of the internet that they even know that) and Éowyn had handily written a list so that Nanny Fran wouldn’t forget.

As usual Amélie was truly spoiled with the presents that she received (including the ones from America!) and as usual Daddy spent more time extracting them from the packaging than Amélie did unwrapping them.  Thank you all for your presents.  I think that Éowyn was as excited as Amélie about the presents that she received and we had to stop her hogging them before Amélie had got a chance to play with them.  Amélie (and Éowyn when her birthday comes around) is going to have her first proper bike for her birthday from Mum and Dad.  We know it is the wrong time of year but there should be some fine days over the winter, and so hopefully by Spring they will both be confident on two wheels.  You will have to keep popping by to see how that goes.

I will leave you there, as if I manage to find the time there should be a veritable plethora of updates over the next month or so.  Again you will have to keep popping by to see how that goes!

But before I leave you there is one thing left to say: ‘Happy Birthday Amélie, love from Mum and Dad’

Peace and Love


PS West Bromwich Albion made it three wins in 8 days with a 4-0 defeat of Burnley.  Maybe it will be a good season after all.


Éowyn’s Fifth Birthday

This was meant to have been posted before we went on holiday, but life got in the way and so this post is very belated.  Apologies, but it will mean that you will possibly have 3 (if life doesn’t get in the way again) updates in the next week or so.

The second and third weeks of October were emotional, pivotal, exciting and to top it all, the week that our oldest child celebrated her fifth birthday.  Yes, five years ago we became parents when Éowyn came into our lives.  I probably write this every year and will do for years to come, but it does not seem like five minutes ago that I first held her in my arms.  So, need I explain the first sentence a little more?

Emotional – obviously with the passing of my Nan at the beginning of the week.

Exciting – My 40th birthday present and the track day in the Ariel Atom.

I have missed one haven’t I?

Pivotal – The most pleasant of the big news stories of the last couple of weeks is that we have exchanged on our new home.  The remortgage on our current home is through and so the monies can be transferred and the 10% deposit paid and the contracts can be exchanged.  We complete on the 1st November and the 5 months of an emotional rollercoster is easing into the station.  Yes, there will be the small matter of making the new place a home, no to mention the packing, moving and unpacking that we are yet to face but positive moves are afoot and we can let ourselves believe that it is actually going to happen!  But the gory details of the move will be a subject for another update what have we missed since the last update about the Bagnall household?

As you may recall from the write up entitled Amélie’s Third Birthday Éowyn’s N.C.T. group 5th birthday party was held at Alice Holt but unfortunately due to work commitments I was unable to go.  Therefore with an rare Sunday off we decided to head to Alice Holt for a family day out.  To make it a little bit more fun we told my university friends Charlie and Mel hoping that their boys and our girls would have someone new to play with.  When we woke that Sunday morning the heavens had opened and it was heavily raining.  Undaunted we still headed to Alice Holt and so, too, did Charlie and Mel.  Thus the two families trudged through the rain and the mud, with wellies and waterproofs, you have to be prepared.  We headed to Charlie and Mel’s for coffee and cake before heading back home with two very tired girls.  It was good to see Charlie and Mel and hopefully we will have better weather next time we meet up.

Éowyn’s actual birthday was a little subdued.  Being a weekday she was at school.  Unfortunately we may have set a bit of a precedent with taking cakes and sweets (Éowyn’s insistence) for her classmates.  Although I was at work, I managed to get out a little early and headed to Nanny and Granddad’s for a birthday tea with Uncle Michael, Auntie Cristina and Lauren and Maddie in addition to the Bagnalls and Nanny and Granddad.  As ever she was spoilt with presents and thoroughly enjoyed her birthday cake that Nanny Fran had sent down with me earlier in the week.

Nanny Fran had planned to surprise Éowyn and come down on her birthday and stop the night.  Unfortunately with Nan’s (Great Grandma’s) passing on the Monday before Éowyn’s birthday, Nanny Fran was unable to come down as she had a lot of organising to do and Nan’s affairs to put in order.  As Éowyn didn’t know that Nanny Fran was coming down, she was not disappointed but nevertheless Nanny Fran was and so will have to make amends in a couple of weeks.

Éowyn has grown up considerably over the last couple of months and this is obviously due to school.  With half-term approaching her love of education is not diminishing.  It probably helps that she is one of the oldest children in the year and she is also gregarious and quite clever.  She has received a number of stickers for good work and two certificates for being a ‘superstar‘ the first with explaining what a repeating pattern is and the second for reading.  Yes, our little girl can now read (one of the first in the class to progress to reading – very proud parents).  She also received a certificate for perfect attendance.

This information is not just second hand, we have received it first hand from Éowyn’s teacher when we had our first ‘proper’ parents’ evening.  Miss Finbow spoke very highly of Éowyn, she said that not only is Éowyn academically bright but that she brightens the room with her presence.  She will organise games with the other children and has learned to share and think about the other children, something she has demonstrated on a number of occasions.  Miss Finbow said that there was nothing we needed to be worried about but just to continue the things we do with Éowyn to help develop her reading.  We told Miss Finbow that we would be moving shortly and so we are concerned that it may affect Éowyn and she said that she would keep a close eye on Éowyn and report if she thinks that it is having any adverse effects on our eldest.  She did say a nice thing in reply to our news though, almost pleading with us not to take Éowyn out of the school as she would miss her.

It is a shame that Amélie isn’t quite as well behaved.  She has been a little naughty (although still cute with her naughtiness) of late.  It is probably due to the upheaval in her life at the moment.  She is no longer the baby of the family, Ezra has taken that accolade.  She is going to school but only twice a week while Éowyn goes everyday.  Also Éowyn is getting a lot of praise with her school work, she has a birthday and then three weeks later Éowyn has a birthday.

This culminated in Amélie having a poo on the bathroom floor.  Not sure why she didn’t go to the toilet, or indeed the potty that was in her room but when we asked her why she had done it, she denied that it was her.  Not only did she deny that it was her but blamed an imaginary friend, not her imaginary friend but one of Éowyn’s!

In Amélie’s defence, she has been very well behaved at school (nursery) and is enjoying going which is a great turnaround considering at the beginning of September she was nearly apoplectic with the notion of going.  Now, she positively runs up the path eager to spend the day at TinyTots.

Before I leave you for the day a quick update on Ezra.  His crawling has gone from Ninja rolling to crawling backwards to zooming around the house getting under your feet.  He has also started to pull himself up on the furniture; not quite to his feet but to his knees, somehow I doubt it will not be long before he will progress to standing – then the trouble will begin.

Not the greatest selection of photos below, for which I apologise but rest assured there will be plenty uploaded to Flickr in the next week or so.

Peace and Love


Amélie’s Third Birthday

The fourth quarter is upon us, the nights are drawing in and the girls have completed their first month at school.  In the last write up Éowyn was enjoying school while Amélie was in tears and begging us not to take her to nursery.  So is that still the case?

Éowyn is still enjoying school and has got use to the fact that it is five days a week.  It has not, however, been completely plain sailing since the beginning of September.  There were a few days when Éowyn became upset and said that she didn’t want to go to school.  Sensing that something had happened at school, Lucinda asked her what the matter was and had anyone upset her.  Lucinda’s fears of something from school were soon allayed, it was something much closer to home: me.  To be exact the lack of me.  It has been a very busy period at work and I have spent long hours away from home.  Although for Éowyn’s (and Amélie’s) first week or so at school I’d managed to trim the hours a little (a dark weekend helped – a dark weekend is a weekend with no Premier League football) the hours had begun to creep back.  With Éowyn spending every weekday at school, and me working into the evening and at weekends, the girls were only seeing me in the morning.  Not exactly what one might call quality time as it is all about shepherding them through breakfast, getting dressed for school and eventually out the door and into the car.

That was a wake up call and although it is difficult I have to strike the correct work/life balance and make the time I do spend with the girls special.  With that in mind I asked Éowyn if there was something that she wanted to do with Daddy when she got out of school.  Her first choice was to go the cinema – result!  Unfortunately there were no suitable films showing at our local picturehouse (Vue Cinema, Staines).  So it was the back up plan:  baking some cakes.  Therefore, armed with ingredients and a large mixing bowl we entered the kitchen and did not leave until we had made some fairy cakes.  A simple gesture but it seems to have worked wonders; she is much happier.  I can not rest on my laurels however and it was serious kick in the butt.  With an imminent house move in the mix it is going to be a very stressful time for all the family and we can’t take our eye off the effects it is having on the children.

Amélie on the other hand, has gone from hating school and crying whenever we dropped her off to running into school.  We are not entirely convinced that she is loving it but she knows that she has to go and is quite happy to go.  There are still the questions about whether we are taking her to school but at least there are no tears when we tell her that she is going.  Definitely a big step forward and just in time for her birthday.

Yes, the big news of the inter-write-up period is the news that Amélie has turned 3!  Saturday saw our middle child’s third birthday.  Unfortunately weekends are my busy days and so although I could push back the time I started I still had to go into work so I was unable to spend the whole day with her, which was upsetting.  I was there when she opened her presents however, and was tasked with the job of extracting the toys from the packaging – not the easiest of tasks especially when you are trying not to damage the toys or indeed your own fingers!  So although I wasn’t there for the bulk of the day I don’t think that she missed me too much as she had the distraction of a small family party around Nanny and Granddad’s with her cousins Lauren and Maddie.  She was still awake when I got home from work (a little late – but it was her birthday!) and was full of excitement with the presents that I hadn’t seen and the fact that she had been playing with her cousins.

It was her second birthday party.  The week before she had had a pirate themed birthday party around Nanny Fran’s with Nanny Fran’s other adopted grandchildren.  Lucinda and I were not at the party however for we were taking advantage of Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz leaving our brood with them while we were approximately 60 miles away.  One of my university friends Neil was marrying (I think the official term is entering a civil partnership – but I prefer marrying) his partner Paul and therefore when we received the invite to their big day, Nanny Fran’s services were booked.   We had a great time, catching up with my university pals which was good as I rarely get to catch up with them, even the ones that live quite close.  Unfortunately again the pull of work was strong and we had to leave early the next morning – before we had managed to say goodbye to them – the joys of working in television!  I drove back to Nanny Fran’s, dropped Lucinda off and headed straight to work.  Lucinda then drove back later with the girls.

Although it was Amélie’s birthday last Saturday, Sunday saw a third birthday party in just over a week, but not a third one for Amélie, but an early one for Éowyn.  As regular readers of this website may recall Éowyn was the last of our NCT class to be born and the group of us that still keep in touch try to organise a joint birthday party for them some midway point between the beginning of September and Éowyn’s birthday on the 17th October.  As fate will have it, this is usually around Amélie’s birthday, so I am sure that in her mind it is also for her.  This year the venue chosen was Alice Holt.  Run by the Forestry commission, Alice Holt is a few miles south of Farnham and excellent venue for the kids with plenty to do.  The girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves and were full of stories of the giant woodpeckers and owls in the habitat trail.  Again the call of work meant that I wasn’t able to go, but not only were the girls full of praise for the woodland so was Lucinda, so when work calms down and we have a fine day I think a trip to Alice Holt is in order.

With all work and not a lot of play when my friend Andy saw an offer for a half-day’s Owl and Eagle experience at the Birds of Prey Centre in Old Warden I jumped at the chance to do something for me!  This was our second time, we took advantage of a similar offer last year, and again thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  It is great to be so close to such beautiful creatures and the only disappointment was that it wasn’t a full day’s experience.  There are plenty of photos on our Flickr site including the moment that a moody female Bald Eagle decided to give Andy a little nibble.  Well, he probably deserved it!

So before I leave you, just a quick note to say that the house move plods on but it now looks like all of our finances are in place and we could be exchanging before the next write up.  That probably means there will not be a write up until November! (I am joking!)

Enjoy the photos and keep your fingers crossed for a smooth house move.

Peace and Love