The Guinea Pigs went on holiday too!

I truly feel like I am spoiling you at the moment.  Two large write ups covering our holiday in Europe (and no, not the decades of EU membership) and now a third in just over a fortnight.  You should feel blessed.

So what brings the keyboard out again so soon?  Bookends of stories surrounding the holiday that I thought best sat outside the holiday write up itself.  With work being manic before I went on holiday (and indeed has been doubly so on my return, hence the delay in this triptych of essays) there was not time to squeeze in an update before we left, so let me make amends.

So last we spoke of more mundane activities the football season had just drawn to end and I was hoping that work would calm down.  There was a lot to do before going on holiday and I knew that would mean some long hours but was hoping for some quality sleep.  All three children are relatively good at sleeping.  Ezra may wake early, and then go into his sisters’ room and tries to wake one of them up (usually Amélie, because she sleeps on the bottom bunk) but the nights are usually undisturbed.  That first night after the final day of the season (or not the final day of the season as it turned out, due to a bomb scare at Old Trafford) I only managed half the amount of sleep that I usually get.

We put the children to bed as usual but around 2100 we heard Ezra crying.  He doesn’t usually cry so I went up to see what the problem was but couldn’t rouse him.  Thinking it was just a bad dream, tucked him back in and came back downstairs.  As we went to bed Ezra was crying again, Lucinda went into him and he woke complaining of a tummy ache.  We tried to calm him and gave him some Calpol but it wasn’t comforting him.  Then he looked me in the eye and said, ‘Daddy, you take me to the doctors please.‘  There was such a level of earnest pleading in his voice that I could not refuse him.  It broke your heart to hear him pleading.  All sorts of horrible things went through our minds and so I wrapped him up and took him to the walk-in clinic (there is no local A&E any more it has been replaced by a walk-in clinic).  When I got there it was closed.  It is only open 0800-2200 and by this time his was experiencing bouts where he was screaming in pain.  So I got him back into the car and hot-tailed it down the motorway to our nearest A&E.

St. Peter’s hospital in Chertsey is where all three of the Baguettes were born and the nearest A&E department.  In addition to the standard A&E department St Peter’s has a separate paediatric A&E department.  I was surprised how busy both A&E departments were when we arrived but in fairness we saw a triage nurse very quickly but it was a couple of hours before we saw the doctor.  Ezra was much calmer in the hospital, he had occasional bouts of pain but was probably a little tired not to mention over-awed by the occasion.  We were directed to a cubicle to wait for the doctor so I popped Ezra on the bed and as the doctor came in to ask me what the symptoms were, Ezra had fallen into a deep sleep.  This allowed the doctor to give him a full examination and thankfully it was nothing that was part of the many scenarios that had been running through my mind.  He simply had constipation which had caused his bowel to go into spasm.  So painful yes, but some paediatric laxatives would cure the issue.  It was nice to know that it was nothing major but I could have done without 3 hours of sleep at the start of such a busy week!

Midweek it was a ‘Stay and Play’ opportunity with Amélie’s class.  Since Lucinda had her wards on a Wednesday I took the opportunity to spend the first 30 minutes of the school day with Amélie and her class.  It was a good opportunity to see what they get up to at school and have a detailed look into the things that they are doing and have been doing recently.  There were the usual toys for them to play with (including Lego and Stickle Bricks – I haven’t seen Stickle Bricks for ages and remember playing with them at school when I was about the same age) as well as a table to learn maths, a shop and a table set up as an Indian restaurant, where they had a taste test the previous week.  The 30 minutes seemed to go quite quickly and I said goodbye to Amélie before reluctantly rejoining the adult world.

The first weekend after the end of the football season and the last before our holiday was quite busy.  It was Lucinda’s birthday mid-week and so we decided to have a little get together for some of her closest and oldest friends (oldest as in, known the longest rather than physical age!).  We had planned on this being a barbecue but as per the summer of 2016 so far it was threatening rain and relatively cold, so the barbecue was left in the shed and we made do with a buffet.  It was also the day of the F.A. cup final and so after an afternoon on genial chat we gravitated into three separate groups.  The kids were all off playing upstairs, rehearsing shows that they put on for us later that day; the boys were huddled around the television watching the football and drinking beer while the ladies sat in the garden drinking wine and catching up with gossip.  A good time was had by all and we decided that we do not host enough get togethers and have promised (to ourselves) to try to rectify this in the future.

The next day saw mommy left at home while Daddy and the Baguettes heading north up the M40 to West Bromwich and Nanny Fran.  We were obviously going on holiday, the next weekend and so needed someone to look after the guinea pigs.  Unfortunately, no one in the area could come round and look after them in situ, so we asked Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz if they would look after them, and they thankfully said yes.

The plan was that all five of us would head up to nanny Fran’s in the S-Max and it would all be nice and easy.  However, the S-Max decided that it would display an engine malfunction light and was booked into the garage for the following day, therefore it was down to the trusted Civic to make the journey.  Now a Honda Civic is a mid-sized car but the guinea pig cage is anything but and it was only just possible to squeeze the cage, their food, sawdust and hay, the guinea pigs themselves and the Baguettes in.  There was no room left for Lucinda.

It really was a flying visit with a drop off and a couple of hours rest and refuelling (us, not the car) before heading back home.  We had a week before our holiday began but Toffee and Frazzle were on theirs.

We returned from holiday on the Monday and thus were unable to go and collect the guinea pigs off theirs until the weekend.  The week saw the girls return to school, what would have been my dad’s 70th birthday and my return to work and over 4,000 emails.  I had deliberately not looked at any of my emails while on holiday (and I had informed everyone that I was doing that) hence why my inbox had bloomed.  It was a wise decision despite the pruning that is still required because it meant that I wasn’t tempted to keep checking my phone every five minutes and getting frustrated that I wasn’t there.  I wasn’t completely out of touch though and I had told everyone that I would be taking phone calls and text messages – which I did on every day (bar one) that I was in Italy.  That sounds bad but a quick phone call is so much easier to deal with than the saga that an email chain can become.

The weekend quickly came and Saturday saw the five of us in the S-Max heading to Nanny Fran.  We stopped at our friends in High Wycombe on the way for lunch and a catch up.  It may seem weird to say but I actually think that the guinea pigs missed the hustle and bustle of the family and the Baguettes had missed their pets.  It was some much more comfortable heading back down the motorway with the guinea pig cage in the S-Max than it had been on the way up to Nanny Fran’s in the Civic.

Life’s now settling into its usual routine for the Baguettes for the last few weeks of the academic year and as this update is a little belated there will be another in a couple of weeks to get you up to speed with more recent events.

Before I leave a quick shout out to my Auntie Margaret who is waiting for heart surgery to repair her aortic valve.  Get well soon and when you are up to it we’ll come down for a visit.


Peace and Love


The Book Fall

Coinciding with the quiet period at work, I am trying to make amends regarding the paucity of updates on this web site so far this year.  I have always been acutely aware that the website will always play second fiddle (well fourth or fifth fiddle, or second oboe; whatever the orchestral hierarchical equivalent is) to family life and actually creating the memories in the first place.  Nevertheless, I am also acutely aware that many of you enjoy reading about our family life which makes the effort of these updates a little easier.

The end of the academic year is looming into view, so as Éowyn leaves year 1 and Amélie says goodbye to pre-school there are all the end of year activities to enjoy.  The most important of these was the Hollywood Première screening of the film that Éowyn’s after school drama club have been working on for the past term.

Magna Carta Arts Centre in Staines presented the first showing of ‘The Book Fall’ and myself and Éowyn had tickets for the showing; poor Mommy elected to stay behind and look after Amélie and Ezra.  The Sense Theatre had sent out a letter encouraging parents and pupils alike to dress up to try to bring a sense of glamour to the proceedings.  They had laid a red carpet and there was popcorn.  Unfortunately not everyone took it in that spirit.  I was only one of three dads that I could see in a suit and the only one wearing a tie.  The majority of the children had dressed up though, which was nice to see.

The premise of the film is that a school teacher challenges her pupils to read as many books as they can over the summer holiday, a prize given to the pupil that reads the most books.  There are two groups of pupils the swotty, nerdy types who are challenging each other as to how many books they will read, and the non-swotty types who think that reading is boring.  To try to convince the non-swotty types that reading books is fun, the swotty pupils read to the non-scotty pupils and as they begin to read so those sections of the books are acted out by other children.  The books that were filmed were children classics, modern books like Mr Stink to the real classic like The Hobbit, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 5 Children and It, Oliver Twist and, the book that Éowyn was in, Naughty Amelia Jane by Enid Blyton.

I am not sure how many schools were involved in total but it was a nice idea.  Each group of children could concentrate on a small section of the film which acted as a stand alone play within the overall narrative.  Considering the time constraints, the lack of budget and the fact that it was probably the first time that the majority of the children, had ever acted yet alone acted in front of a video camera I think we have to praise Sense Theatre.  Unfortunately with so many children the 2 hour running time only allowed most children a couple of lines and, if I am being honest, at times it was quite painful.  Nevertheless the children were very excited to see themselves on the big screen and Éowyn’s eyes lit up when she saw herself.

Now I can understand that 2 hours is a lot of film to watch especially when you are only there to see perhaps 20 seconds, the 20 seconds that your child is on-screen, however it is the height of bad manners to whoop and holler while your child is on-screen and then disturb everyone as you leave immediately your child’s last lines have been uttered.  This wasn’t just a select few, out of an audience of close to 250 less than 25 remained at the end.  However, if any of you are desperate to see the complete film we purchased the DVD.  I don’t think that I’ll be sitting through the entirety again, although if Éowyn ever becomes a famous actress it will be come part of the archive video footage.

With the end of the academic year looming into view there is one eye on the next.  To prepare for the next step in their educational progress both girls had an opportunity to spend a morning in their new classes.  For Éowyn, that is a new teacher at a new site but with the same classmates; for Amélie however it is full-time education, at a new school with a completely new set of classmates.  Amélie’s teacher, Miss Snow, seems very friendly but her biggest challenge will be to make new friends.  Fortunately our friend’s girl, Natalie, will not only be at the same school but in the same class.  Therefore Amélie will have one friend in the class.

Unusually Amélie was upset the night before, so we sat down to talk to her thinking that the thought of going to the big school was disturbing her.  It developed that it wasn’t the thought of going to big school per se that was upsetting her but the fact that she wanted to take a packed lunch.  She takes a packed lunch to nursery but every child in full-time education up to the age of 7 is entitled to free school meals in the UK.  Therefore, Amélie (and Éowyn) will both enjoy free school meals this coming school year.

We convinced her to try her school dinner and we would then think about it for when she goes to school in September.  To her credit she happily went to school the next morning.  When we picked her up that afternoon we asked her what she thought of her new school.  She was full of praise saying it was the best day ever and that the best thing was the school dinner which was sausage and mash.  One less thing to worry about!

Sometimes fate gives opportunities at exactly the right time.  Last week was Natalie’s birthday and she had a party at Spelthorne gym.  Since Natalie goes to the nursery at Amélie’s new school many of the pupils and Natalie’s friends will be in her class.  Therefore, it was a good opportunity for Amélie to get to know some of her new classmates, as well as have fun at Spelthorne gym (and it is fun) and celebrate Natalie’s birthday.  It was good to sit and observe Amélie and from watching our second daughter I don’t think that she will have any problems making friends.

The end of school party at Éowyn’s school was slightly unusual, for they had invited Festival Circus to put on a show (3 showings of the same show!) in a big top on the school playing field.  I took the day off work and took the girls while Lucinda stayed behind looking after Ezra and her child-minding ward.  The show was excellent , not completely polished but that was part of the charm. The girls were enthralled and both had different favourites: Éowyn the gymnastic displays on the ropes and Amélie the girl who could simultaneously hula 10 hula hoops.

Lucinda is now on the P.T.A. and as soon as her working day was over she headed over to the school (we had already returned to look after Ezra) to help sell refreshments and tidy up.  The early indications are that it was roaring success and all had a good time.  Hopefully this is the start of turning the school around at least in terms of uniting the P.T.A. and staff into a common goal.

It seems that this write up is all about the girls so it is only fair to regale a couple of stories of our son.  He is on the whole very well-behaved but he does have a couple of cheeky habits.  One is jumping on mommy and daddy’s bed, a game he calls 4,5,6.  Not sure what happened to 1,2,3 but he stands at one end of the bed and shouts 4,5,6 before launching himself forward.  Not something that we want to encourage but it is quite amusing.

He other little quirk that he has at the moment is the nicknames that he has given the girls.  Éowyn he calls ‘A’ (pronounced as the capital – Ay), which is understandable as that is the first syllable of her name.  Therefore if Éowyn is called ‘A’ what do you think Amélie’s nickname is?  ‘Bay’.  So it is ‘Goodnight Ay, goodnight Bay‘ before he totters off to bed.

I will bid you adieu and leave you with the photos, there are plenty of the circus on our Flickr pages if you are interested.

Peace and love