Welcome to 2014

As we teeter on the edge of (OK, toppled headlong into) a new year (a new year that will see Lucinda and I celebrate a decade together) it is traditional to look back on the year just gone and look forward to the next.  What a year 2013 has been!  Probably the single most eventful year we have known as a family.  Yes, other years have had big events: births, deaths, marriages, holidays, big birthdays, house moves and new jobs but this year has definitely has had them all (apart from the new jobs! – although work did relocate; does that count?)

At the start of 2013 I made some predictions of what we were expecting to look forward to this year and it was already looking busy; not only did they all come to fruition, fate threw a few more in for good measure.  Hence why this site has seen a record-breaking number of updates and a record number of visits, well I do have to keep you all informed don’t I?  And seemingly you are interested.  Or is it just the photos?

So what were the big events of 2013 and what have we learnt?

Obviously the biggest event of the Bagnall year was the birth of our third child and first son.  Ezra John (named after his Grandfathers) was born a week before my 40th birthday.  Now whether it is because he is a boy; or whether it is because he is a third child or whether simply it is because every child is different but he seems to be far more relaxed than either of his sisters.  Amélie had an excuse with her Milk Protein intolerance and we probably spoilt Éowyn, especially initially as we were learning to be parents (and still are!), but he has been the easiest to get to sleep, he cries the least and apart from an aversion to lumpy food has not shown any dislike to his meals.  And although it is a new skill for Lucinda and I to master, juggling the needs of three children, the most important detail is that all three of them are healthy.  Even Amélie’s milk protein intolerance has seemingly lessened.

So with three children our home in Stanwell Moor finally felt a little on the small side.  Thus we decided to make the tough decision to leave the moor, the village that Lucinda has lived all her life!  It did not take us too long to find a house that we both liked.  However the course of house buying ne’er runs smooth.  So let me give you a précis:

Found house made offer – offer rejected; Vendors found house so offered house at a lower price if we could proceed – we can’t proceed as we had no buyer;  We found buyers but so did our vendors and their new buyers offered more that we could afford – we proceeded with our sale; The new buyers chain began to fail so we offered an improved offer (though lower than the other buyers) – the vendors decided to proceed with us.

So far so good – then the twist began.  The government formed an Airports Commission to look into the requirements for expanding capacity at the UK airports and invited proposals from interested parties.  BAA operate Heathrow Airport and one (two) of their three (four) proposals for the expansion of the UK’s busiest airports involved the building of a third (fourth) runway over the village of Stanwell Moor.  This puts a bit of a dampener over the future of a new home and hence our buyers pulled out.

This left us with a dilemma: go back to square one, find a new buyer that didn’t care that their house may not be there in the near future or find a third alternative.  The third alternative was found and now we are the proud owners of a new house and landlords (with tenants!) of our old house.  That certainly wasn’t the plan at the start of 2013 but as we enter 2014 that is where we are.  Will we still be there in 2015?  More than probably, indeed we plan to be in our current abode until we retire and move to the seaside!

Both of those changes to Bagnall family life eclipse the other differences the year has brought: a new car (our 7 seater Ford S-Max) and a new place of work (same company just different premises).

It has been a very important year in the life of our oldest child.  Éowyn not only had the upheaval of moving home (and we kept both Éowyn and Amélie across the notion of moving from the onset including taking them around the house and asking if they liked it and which room they would like as their bedroom) but she also started full-time education.  It was confirmed in mid-april that Éowyn would be going to our first choice school, a decision that was fraught with conflicting emotions.  On one hand, it is a well equipped school, with a new head with lots of new ideas and has had a recent injection of cash; on the other it has a bad reputation and is now far from our new home.

The decision has been made and although we and not too obstinate that we would not consider moving Éowyn at the moment she is loving school.  She loves her teacher Miss Finbow, she has a new best friend and most important of all she is learning.  Her reading and writing is coming along in leaps and bounds and we, as parents, are actively encouraged to help as she gets homework twice a week.

2013 was a big year in Amélie’s development too.  Amélie started pre-school at a private nursery on the grounds of Éowyn’s school (makes dropping off so much easier – and a consideration if we are ever to move schools).  After a bumpy start and lots of tears (Éowyn was the same if you recall) she now runs down the path to school and sometimes forgets to give her dad a kiss before running into the classroom.  It is comforting to know that both of our children enjoy their respective places of education especially with Lucinda returning to work.  We just need to find somewhere for Ezra to spend those days.

2013 also reminded us of the circle of life.  At the beginning of the year we welcomed Ezra into our family and at the end of the year we said goodbye to my Nan.  She was the last of her generation and although she had been ill for a long time her passing was still a shock and obviously upsetting.  The comfort that we have is that she met her first Great-Grandson, that her close family were there in her final hours and her suffering is no more.  She has left us some great memories, more than a handful of quirks and a wardrobe of knitted jumpers!  Sleep well Nan.

One prediction that disappointingly didn’t come to pass was comet ISON.  Even in the days leading up to its perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) we were hoping for a spectacular astronomical display with possibly the brightest comet for a generation.  Unfortunately like an empyrean Icarus it flew too close to the sun and was destroyed and thus became possibly the only disappointment that 2013 brought.

So, all things considered, 2013 was a good year that brought many changes to this enclave of the Bagnall name.  (And I didn’t even mention the fact that both Lucinda and I celebrated our 40th birthdays!)  Hopefully after such a busy year you will find it in your hearts to forgive us if we hope for a quieter 2014.  Life will change to a new pattern in April when Lucinda returns to work but whatever else happens will be a surprise since the only other plan we have is to finally unpack all our boxes and settle into our new home.  I leave you with this toast to the coming year:

Here’s to the bright New Year
And a fond farewell to the old;
Here’s to the things that are yet to come
And to the memories that we hold.

Peace and Love


PS If you are into your geeky stats then this page is for you (click here).  Also, I have updated a few things in the background which shouldn’t affect you, my dear readers, but you will notice a couple of new widgets in the sidebar to the right.  So in addition to seeing the last three update titles and the current favourites there is a form to subscribe to the website so that you will receive an e-mail whenever there is an update.

The Bagnall Family - Christmas Tree Decoration
The Bagnall Family – Christmas Tree Decoration

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.