A night at the Embassy and an Emmy win

And so another Premier League season draws to an end.  The first solely from Stockley Park and although it hasn’t been without incident on the whole it has been relatively successful.  Indeed not only successful for IMG but NBC, the rights holders in the United States.  They have raised the profile of football (or soccer) in the States and not only for their production standards but for the technical complexity of bringing Premier League games into the homes of the average American.  Indeed, on the 5th May 2015 in New York they won an Emmy, in the 36th Sports Emmy awards, for Outstanding Technical Team Studio.

If you look at the list of Technical Supervisors whose names are on that Emmy, you may recognise a familiar name.  NBC were gracious, not only to recognise the fact that my department assist them in their technological endeavours but to include me and a number of other IMG staff members on the official list of winners.  I was very touched by this kind gesture and NBC had no obligation to include us in their win nevertheless it means that I am an Emmy winner and entitled to say so in perpetuity.

Not a bad start to my new position at work.  Yes after 4 years as Head of Live Operations I am now Head of Engineering, MCR and Live Operations.  As part of a departmental restructure I have become a third of the Cerberus inspired, Head of Engineering role.  This is my 6th position, in my 19 plus years at IMG, a relatively unusual state of affairs in our modern world.

The new position brings more responsibilities and a further step away the coal face which has the added benefit that I will be working only one weekend in three, rather than every weekend that I do at the moment: a rebalancing of the work-life equation and more, quality, family time.

The streak of good fortune is continuing.  IMG are currently providing facilities to the BBC to produce the 60th Eurovision Song Contest.  The contest is being hosted in Vienna due to last year’s win by the Bearded Lady: Conchita Wurst.  In the spirit of the competition the Austrian Ambassador hosted a send-off party at the Austrian Embassy.  Along with the BBC personnel, four of us from IMG were invited to attend.  How can you refuse an invitation to an Embassy from an Ambassador?  Therefore, Tuesday saw the four of us head for Belgrave Square at the Austrian Embassy.

A grand building, as befits an embassy, the party was just getting going as we arrived; good timing from our point of view.  There was a steady flow of alcohol but disappointingly no silver platters of Ferrero Rocher.  After an introduction by Rufus Hound, Electro Velvet (the UK entrant) performed their song: ‘Still in love with you’ and there was an opportunity to grab a photo with the duo.

The icing on the cake, and the completion of the hattrick of wins, was yours truly winning the top prize in the free raffle.  Yes, I won flights to Vienna and two nights in a boutique hotel to be taken by the end of the year.  With Lucinda’s birthday less than a week away it was a good present to add to the 1 metre inflatable Austrian Airways jet that the tickets came attached to.

This website is not supposed to be hogged by me, merely written by me but I think they are worthy of inclusion in family news.  However, you are here to hear about the exploits of the baguettes so I will stall no longer.

Lucinda’s new venture, her new vocation, childminding is going well.  As mentioned I will not go into details on this website however suffice to say her regular care is settled and she has helped a neighbour out with two days of emergency childcare.  She has raised invoices and has been paid.  More importantly she has not had to wake up at 0345 and spend a day being shouted at by irate passengers.  She has been able to pick our children up from school and be there for them every day.

Even better than that, because as a registered childminder she has had to be DBS (CRB) checked (and consequently so have I by association) and therefore we have been able to register with Éowyn’s school as potential helpers.  Therefore, when the school asked for volunteers to help with the year 1 school trip to the Living Rainforest in Berkshire, Lucinda put her name down and was invited to assist.  So while Lucinda and Éowyn had fun at the Rainforest (not really fun for Lucinda looking after 6 children), I took the day off to look after Amélie and Ezra.  This is something that we would not have even considered in the past.  So although it was a difficult decision to leave the airport it is rapidly proving to be the correct one.

As school trips indicate Éowyn’s school year is rapidly coming to an end, just a half term left but there is still an awful amount to squeeze in to those few weeks.  She is enjoying her after school dancing lessons (taking after her aunties and cousins).  She has some end of year academic tests (personally I think that this is a little too young – let them be children!), however the biggest event will undoubtedly be Éowyn’s film role.

As I have previously mentioned her after school drama class are shooting a little film and all the children in the class have been given roles.  Éowyn has been typecast as the naughty girl.  She has a number of lines and hopefully is taking it seriously.  There will be a premiere and a red carpet event, something definitely to look forward to.  Could it be the start of an illustrious film career?  Are you someone from the future looking at this website for a background on the latest Oscar winner?

Éowyn isn’t the only one whose academic year is rapidly drawing to an end.  Amélie will take a big step in her life, leaving nursery and heading for full time education in September.  We have had Amélie’s school place confirmed and she will be attending the same school as Éowyn.  Unfortunately they will not be in the same campus for as Éowyn moves to year two so she will move further up the road to the bigger site.  It will be a further two years before they are on the same site.

Amélie currently attends the outstanding nursery at the school across the road from Éowyn’s new campus.  However, it seems that Amélie has misheard the name of her current school for she does not attend Our Lady of the Grocery.  In fairness, she does not really know what a Rosary is, the heathens that we are.  We are very impressed with Our Lady of Rosary nursery so much that we have put Ezra’s name down, even though he is not due to start for nearly a year: such is the envisioned demand the newly bestowed outstanding status will have.

Ezra is growing up though and his vocabulary is increasing daily.  Much of it revolves around food: ‘Pork Pie’, ‘Chocolate Toast’, ‘Cheese’ and the ubiquitous ‘More Please’ but there are the usual animals, colours and cartoon characters.  If he is out and about and he sees an animal he will point to it, name it and then make the sound associated with the animal.

Usually this is a dog, for as we take the girls to school we have to walk through the local park where many people walk their dogs.  He will point to the spaniels, collies and other various breeds and declare ‘dog’ followed by ‘woof, woof’.  However that wasn’t what he said when he saw an Old English Sheepdog.  He looked scared, pointed at the beast and muttered ‘Bear’.

‘No,’ I replied, ‘it is a doggie.’

‘No Daddy,’ came the answer. ‘Bear!’

I suppose to a two year old child an Old English Sheepdog would look like a bear and he, for one was not to be dissuaded.

Ezra’s new found love is jigsaws.  Not the electrically powered reciprocating saws but the multi-piece puzzles.  It is something that we are encouraging for it develops his eye to hand co-ordination, manual dexterity and problem solving at the very least.  Indeed he enjoys them so much he will sit on the floor after completing his current favourite, a 45 piece ‘In The Night Garden’ puzzle, and before you have a chance to congratulate him he will take it apart and start again.  We would prefer him to do this though, than sit with the iPad or watching television.  There is a hint of irony considering my career, or perhaps I have better appreciation.

So, with a full BBC crew producing the Eurovision Song Concert, semi-finals and final and preparations underway for 10 simultaneous matches for the last day of the Premier League season (can West Bromwich Albion end the season with a hattrick of their own, with wins against Manchester United – check – Chelsea – check and Arsenal – tbc); not to mention the last Football League shows produced by IMG for the BBC, and a couple of recruitment drives television is taking up a great deal of my time this week.  Therefore, I will bid you adieu and leave you to look at the latest batch of photos.

Peace and love



Ofsted inspection, Easter and a trip to Peppa Pig World

Regular readers will no doubt have been on tenterhooks since the last write-up wondering about the results of Lucinda’s Ofsted inspection, and as I have attempted to sit down and commence this write-up on a number of occasions in the past month without success, there is a lot to catch up with so without further ado, I will get you up to speed with not only the inspection, but the Easter holidays as well.

With somewhat unfortunately timing the Ofsted inspection had been booked for the first day of the Easter holidays.  To avoid Lucinda’s inspection as to whether she would be a fit childminder actually being sabotaged by children (and our own children!) I decided to take the children out of the house for the four hours (yes four hours!) of the inspection.  A quick trip to annoy the people at work (although a lot of the people who would like to have met them were not in for one reason or another – therefore another trip is planned, over the summer) and then onto the perennial safe house that is Nanny and Granddad’s.

It was almost exactly four hours before we received the phonecall from Mommy to say that the inspection was over and we could head back to Staines Upon Thames.  Lucinda said that it was tough.  The inspector looked over the entire house and garden and wasn’t just concerned that the house was safe.  Lucinda needed to have paperwork in place for all eventualities to be signed by the parents of the child that would be in her care.  She needed to demonstrate that not only that the toys in the toy boxes were safe and child friendly but what aspects of learning that each toy could be used for, and demonstrate to the inspector.  In fairness to the inspector, she knew that it was Lucinda’s first time, and could see that Lucinda knew what she was talking about even if she was a little flustered and didn’t elucidate clearly enough.  The inspector wasn’t there to ‘catch her out’, and was somewhat forgiving if Lucinda didn’t get the full meaning of the question first time.

There were some recommendations but overall she passed and is now a registered childminder.  She will not be rated until the next inspection which will be within six months of registration.  Her registration came through not a day too early for he first paying job started that very week.  For the privacy of the child that she is looking after and Lucinda’s professionalism this will not be discussed on this website.

Since the first day of the Easter holiday’s was taken up with Mommy’s inspection and to allow mommy to relieve some of the stress that had built up over the inspection we decided to take the baguettes to Peppa Pig World the next day as a treat.  Both girls have been there before but this was Ezra’s first time.  He is quite a fan of Peppa Pig (or Georgie Pig, as he prefers to call it).  We arrived a little later than we wanted, heavy traffic on the M3 and a detour to pick up an Ebay purchase (a scooter for Amélie) added to the journey time.

Peppa Pig World is part of Paulton’s Park and although we have been a number of times we have not really explored the vast bulk of Paulton’s Park, just the Peppa Pig corner.  However, the girls asked to go on the tea cup ride as we entered so the big reveal of Peppa Pig World was held back from Ezra.  Ezra could not believe his eyes (and ears) as we entered Peppa Pig World.  His eyes were wide open and he just kept exclaiming ‘Wow!‘  It is very impressive as an adult so it must be a magical sight to a two year old.

We arrived just before the meet and greet of Peppa and George.  So we queued for a quick ride on Grandpa Pig miniature locomotive before joining the queue to meet Peppa and George.  Without wishing to spoil anything for anyone but it isn’t the real Peppa and George but people dressed up in Peppa and George costumes.  However, this means that Peppa and George are close to 2 metres tall, and when you are only 95cm that is quite scary.  It would be like me meeting a 12 foot high bipedal pig!  And so it was too much for our little son who nestled himself into Lucinda’s shoulder trying to avoid eye contact with the porcine giants.  The girls loved it though and ran to hug them.

We had decided before we went that since Amélie was going to have a scooter, and we were awaiting a scooter for Éowyn (also from Ebay) that Ezra would have a present from the on-site shop.  We had hoped that we work ask for a replica of George’s favourite toy: Mr Dinosaur, but we were going to let him choose.  We were hoping to do this towards the end of the day but since he was so traumatised by Peppa and George we decided that we would distract him with the Peppa Pig Shop.

Still clinging on to mommy we entered the shop.  As soon as he saw the toys he struggled to get down and ran straight for the Mr Dinosaur display.  He picked one up and said ‘Mine!’  A decision had been made.  He clung onto the toy for dear life even while he looked at all the other toys in the shop.  He pointed to a lot that he liked but never put Mr Dinosaur down.  Indeed it had to be scanned with him still holding onto it.  In fact, he didn’t let go of it all day.  every ride he went on (and we went on most of them) he held onto Mr Dinosaur.  You don’t mind buying them a toy when they love it that much.

The girls were very happy around Peppa Pig world because both of them are now of a height which means they can go on the rides by themselves.  They felt all grown up.  Indeed Éowyn is not that far off being able to go on the more adult rides on her own, however she is more of a wimp than Amélie who has definitely got more of the adventurous spirit when it comes to roller coasters.

The remainder of that week saw me at work.  Football does not stop for Bank Holidays!  On the rare occasion that it does (there was no football on Good Friday) there is always another job that springs forward.  This time it was the Eurovision Song Concert.  Well not the Eurovision Song Concert (that is next month, and yes we are providing the facilities for the BBC for this prestigious event), moreover the 60th Anniversary Concert, that brought together past winners in a one-off special event.  It is definitely a change from sport!

The weekend remained sport-filled but Easter Monday saw me at home for a change.  Cousin Maddie had asked if we would like to go to Hounslow Urban farm for a day out.  The girls love being with their cousins so we said that we would take them.  We looked up reviews of Hounslow Urban farm and it said rough and ready but an excellent day out.  Maddie’s older sister Lauren asked if she could come too and so with all seven seats of the S-Max filled we headed around the airport.

The reviews were spot on, but the rough and readiness is part of its charm.  We arrived just in time for a meet and greet of the animals.  We sat on straw bales as the staff brought round a variety of animals.  The usual rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, rats, lambs.  Then more unusual animals such as ferrets, tortoises, stick insects.  Followed by snakes, water dragons and lizards.  I enjoyed it as much as the kids.

From there it was on to the pig racing, where you got to feed the pigs afterwards.  A spot of lunch and a bounce on the bouncy castle before the highlight of the day: the owl display.

As with everything at Hounslow Urban farm it was somewhat rough and ready and extremely hands on.  We were introduced a Barn Owl and a European Eagle Owl. They asked the children to stand in the middle of the farmyard and asked them to duck when the owl flew towards them.  Obviously everyone ducked.  Then with their backs to the owl they asked them to do it again and none of the children ducked.  This was to demonstrate the fact that the owl is a silent killer and its feathers have evolved in such a way as to eliminate any sound.  The children didn’t duck because they could not hear the owl swooping in behind them.

They then asked the kids to lie on the floor on their backs.  They then got the owl to fly low over them so they got a mouse-eye view of an owl gliding across the ground.  A fantastic experience for the girls but the best was yet to come.  Despite the fact that the European Eagle Owl is one of the largest species of owl with a wingspan of around 6 feet (1.8m), they were so confident in the bird’s docility that they let the girls hold it.  Amélie was first in line and quite confidently wore the glove, only the weight of the bird was causing her discomfit.  Seeing her little sister hold the owl, Éowyn too donned the glove.  After seeing her two little cousins bravely hold the devourer of rodents Maddie held the bird but Lauren (who had been caught by the wingtips of the owl during the display) decided that she wasn’t getting any closer to that particular strigine beast.

I really enjoyed the day at Hounslow Urban farm.  I like the fact that it is rough and ready and I think the kids like that too.  I like the fact that you can touch and handle the animals (under strict supervision of course).  But what I liked most about it was the fact that behind the fun and the dirt and closeness was the theme of education.  Education about the animals and the respect that we should have for the animals.  I would thoroughly recommend a day out there, but don’t wear your best clothes and take some handy hand-sanitizer.

Enjoy the photos below and the hundred or so new ones on the Flickr pages.

Peace and Love