November; Crows are approaching – Wounded leaves fall to the ground

Now that you are fully up to date with the annual Badger Moot, it is probably a good time to update you with a mid-term or, to be strictly accurate mid-half-term (if I am allowed to double hyphenate) write-up.  Unusually, this half-term began life back in October, Halloween to be exact.  It is more usual for half-term to bridge the end of October and the beginning of November.  Thus trick and treating (the UK seems to be embracing this North American of events) took place on the first day back at school.  Monday, however was also the first day back at Brownies (for Éowyn) and Daddy was working late covering the Premier League match so the Baguettes could not go door to door until 1900 and thus being so late to the party they only received the dregs of sweet bowls.  There is always next year!

The first of November marked the third anniversary of moving to Bagnall manor and it introduced itself with the beginning of a slightly cold spell – definitely colder than it has been but not necessarily cold – which carried through to the following weekend.  We decided that since we had been in Bagnall manor for three years, and that Amélie then Éowyn has celebrated birthdays that it was probably time to measure the Baguettes and mark it on the wall, something we have been doing since we moved here, which will hopefully (and in some ways already is) an interesting record as they grow.  As expected the Baguettes are all approaching the 98th gentile for their respective ages.  Éowyn tops 137.5cm (4 feet 6 inches in old money) and thus no longer needs a booster seat, four years before it becomes dictated by age.  She is the height of an average 10-year-old and thus when we buy her clothes we have to bear this mind.  Amélie is 123.5cm, just over four feet tall (by half an inch) and again she is in age 7-8 clothes.  While Ezra is no shrimp standing at 107cm in his stocking feet (3 feet 6 inches).  As mentioned before our kids were never going to be small with me topping 190cm and Lucinda 175cm, I think the girls could be taller than her and Ezra taller than me – we will wait and see.

The following weekend was Bonfire Night.  We had been treated to a number of displays around the area that we were able to watch from the comfort of our home but it is not the same as standing in a freezing cold field with hundreds of other people trying to ignore the smells of frying onions or deeper fried donuts.  The local rugby club had a display on the Sunday night (the day after the 5th for some reason – not sure why they didn’t arrange the display for the Saturday which was the 5th perhaps they were not allowed to or the organisers were double booked – doesn’t really matter just curious) and so we decided that we would take the Baguettes.  Uncle Michael, Auntie Cristina and the Baguettes’ cousins Lauren and Maddie also decided to come to watch the fireworks.

The weather had certainly turned a little chilly so we dressed up warmly and, because we had walked into Staines earlier in the day, we allowed Ezra to let the pushchair take the strain – probably his last ever ride in a pushchair.  There was a small fair with rides, hook a duck and food stalls; all extortionately priced.  Nevertheless, we still indulged, well all except Ezra who was snuggled under his blanket in his pushchair and had fallen asleep.  Having quickly become bored (and broke) by the entertainment on offer we found a prime spot from where to watch the fireworks.  Ezra doesn’t like loud noises and we were concerned that he wouldn’t like the fireworks, so we had put ear muffs on him and being asleep we thought we would be safe.  Not a chance.  As soon as the fireworks began he woke and got upset, so Daddy took him away from the main viewing area to watch them from a safe(r) distance – maybe next year.

The following weekend was Remembrance Day and since Éowyn is a Brownie she was invited (along with the rest of her Brownie pack – Rainbows were not invited so Amélie didn’t take part) to take part in the Staines-Upon-Thames Remembrance Day Parade.  Éowyn wasn’t the only member of the family involved in the parade: cousin Finley was there too, for he has recently joined the Army Cadets.  It was fantastic to see such a turn out for the parade and seeing your daughter part of that parade gave Lucinda and I a real sense of pride to have been a part of it.

The girls have had a relatively successful month at school.  Éowyn started the success by attaining Gold.  As I may have mentioned before, the girls’ school employs a traffic light system for behaviour.  Each child begins the week on Green and good behaviour can push you up through Bronze, Silver and Gold.  Equally unacceptable behaviour can pull you down through Blue, Yellow and Red.  Gold is thus attained rarely and only for exceptional behaviour and it merits a visit to the headmaster to write your name in the ‘Gold Book’ and to be called forward in assembly to receive your Gold Leaf.  Éowyn moved up through Bronze and Silver before reaching Gold and the final stage, Silver to Gold, was attained for selflessly helping someone in class who was having difficulty with his work.  So not only were we proud that she had attained Gold but doubly proud in the reason for the award.

Back down to Green for the start of the week, Éowyn finished Monday on Bronze and Tuesday on Gold.  A brace of Golds was a definite possibility, surely unheard of, an opportunity to set a precedent.  Lucinda was confident (more confident than I) that the school wouldn’t allow her to get two Golds in a row and so she said to Éowyn that if she got Gold by the end of the week she would buy her the Monster High Mansion (a doll house taller than Éowyn!).  Lucinda had three days of concern but her confidence was well placed and Éowyn never made that final step from Silver to Gold.   Nevertheless, an excellent achievement by our first born.

Not to be outdone by her older sister the following week Amélie also achieved Gold.  Amélie thrives when she receives attention and sitting in her sister’s shadow for the previous fortnight was forgotten when she was the star of the week.  She wasn’t only just the star of the week because of her Gold Leaf but literally the star of the school.  Not for her work but for her starring role in the school prospectus.  A new school prospectus has been produced to attract new parents to the school for children starting school in the next academic year (something that we have done for Ezra).  In the prospectus there are lots of photos of the children at work and at play, many we, obviously, recognise.  However, they are all relatively small photos not like the photo that greets you on the penultimate page.  A full page photo of Amélie running in the playground.

Unfortunately, Amélie is a sensitive soul and despite the above successes Lucinda found her sitting alone, a little upset.  Lucinda asked her what was wrong and through tears she said, ‘Wishes don’t work.’  Lucinda pressed her and she explained that she kept wishing that she had fairy wings.  Lucinda replied that she had a Tinkerbell outfit with wings and other dressing-up wings.  That wasn’t good enough, Amélie wanted to be a real fairy, with real wings so that she could fly.  Lucinda was as comforting as possible while explaining it was not possible.  The joys of parenting.

Amélie wasn’t our only child that has been upset over something that may seem trivial to non-parents.  Ezra came into our bedroom one morning complaining that his duvet has stopped working.  He is still in his child bed (supposedly large enough for a 7-year old) but is rapidly outgrowing it.  Equally he had a mini-duvet for the bed, which only seemed right and fitting except fitting was exactly what it wasn’t doing.  His 3 foot 6-inch frame coupled with his fidgetiness in a bed that is gradually feeling too small resulted in various parts of his body becoming exposed due to lack of duvet.  Not the best time of the year to wake up with parts of your body uncovered we decided we would get him a full-sized duvet and dispose of the duvet that no longer works.

Ezra has also proved his worth in the garden.  It is that time of the year when wounded leaves fall to the ground, resulting in piles of brown, yellow, red and gold blown across the lawn and patio.  To help with this clearing operation I bought some ‘helping hands’ – a pair of green leaf collectors that facilitate collecting large piles of fallen foliage.  Ezra saw me racking the leaves into a pile and using the helping hands to pick the leaves up.  ‘Hulk Hands,’ he said.  I agreed.  ‘Can I have a go?‘ he asked.  So I gave them to him and he didn’t stop.  He collected all the leaves and we filled the wheelie bin up for collection.  This wasn’t a one off either.  A couple of weeks later when the garden was once again covered by the trees’ discarded autumn gowns Ezra volunteered to ‘Hulk Smash’ the leaves.  Now, that is what I call a ‘Dad win’.  In the words of Mary Poppins: ‘In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game.

Peace and Love


Éowyn’s Seventh Birthday

Somewhat belated, but considering the previous post I am sure that you can understand.  Yes as the title suggests, our eldest, Éowyn turned seven on the 17th October.  However, as you can imagine it wasn’t the birthday that we had hoped for her.

We knew for sometime that I was working that weekend, and with a heavy Premier League fixture list and Rugby World Cup Semi-Finals that weekend it wasn’t possible to take it off.  Therefore Lucinda decided that she would take the baguettes to Nanny Fran’s and celebrate Éowyn’s actual birthday in the Black Country, and we would have a family celebration in the week.  Éowyn had planned to go to the big softplay in West Bromwich with everyone and then she would ask Auntie Liz to take her to the cinema to watch Hotel Transylvania 2, in the afternoon and then back to Nanny’s for cake.

Unfortunately with Granddad’s deteriorating health we decided that Lucinda shouldn’t be 120 miles away (the right decision it turned out) and we asked Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz to, once again, make their way down the M40 and visit us.  I had to leave for work before they made it down, but had hoped that if everything was going well, that I may be able to leave slightly early and see my daughter before she went to bed.  However, this day wasn’t going to plan.  I arrived at work to find that the supervisor that was rostered on had phoned in sick so I had to step back to the frontline and take his place.  There was no getting out early for me today.

Éowyn’s other parent, Lucinda, left almost as soon as Nanny Fran worked through the door (just enough time to give Auntie Liz directions to the nearest cinema – Éowyn still wanted to go – and Nanny Fran general instructions) to help with the transport of Granddad to the Princess Alice Hospice.

So poor Éowyn, on her birthday was abandoned, along with her siblings by her parents.  For noble reasons, admittedly, and not completely abandoned they were left in very good hands.  The memory I have from my seventh birthday was my birthday party being cancelled because there was a heavy fall of snow (my birthday falls on the vernal equinox and thus the last day of the astronomical winter) and no one could make it.  So I can sympathise with my eldest.

Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz kept the baguettes entertained for the day and Auntie Liz and Éowyn certainly didn’t get lost on the way to the cinema.  It wasn’t just Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz, however, that came for a visit and kept the baguettes entertained for they brought with them the school guinea pigs that Auntie Liz looks after at weekends.  Conkers and Truffles (the guinea pigs) were a big hit with all three, and all three loved to hold them.  Living at Auntie Liz’s school the guinea pigs are used to being held by small hands and so were quite content to being handled inexpertly by the baguettes.

The day didn’t go all smoothly for Nanny Fran.  The breakers tripped at home plunging the downstairs into darkness.  I had to show Nanny Fran how to reset the RCD and flick the current breaker via the wonders of FaceTime while wrestling with problems at work.  Then, as Nanny Fran was cooking dinner, Amélie felt unwell and managed to redecorate the bathroom,  Poor Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz, while they were cleaning and comforting Amélie, she burned the dinner.  It was one of those days!  Fortunately it just seemed to be one of those things she didn’t have a temperature and was much better the next day.

I didn’t manage to leave work before Amélie and Ezra had gone to bed but Éowyn (with special birthday privileges) was cuddling Nanny Fran on the sofa watching Strictly Come Dancing.  I gave Éowyn a big birthday cuddle before heading off to join Lucinda at the hospice.

Lucinda spent the night at the hospice and since Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz had to return to West Bromwich on Sunday afternoon I checked that my supervisor was feeling better and would be in work I decided that I was better off at home.  I could sort a few work things out at home, and with the wonders of modern technology I could send the emails that I was hoping to do on the Saturday so Lucinda could spend as much time as she could with her dad, without the worry of having to come home.

Nevertheless, Sunday morning saw me getting up to take Nanny to the hospice and spending Sunday morning with Granddad and the family while Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz looked after the baguettes.  Lucinda and I returned at lunchtime to have lunch and have a belated birthday cake with Éowyn before Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz had to return.  Lucinda, also took this opportunity to have a bit of a rest before she headed back to the hospice for the nightshift.  Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz begun their return journey and I was left alone with the kids.  As it was a school day the next day, we had reading and spelling tests and baths before bed.

As those of you that have read the previous post will know Granddad passed away the next day, so although it seemed unfair that we abandoned Éowyn on her birthday, it was without doubt the correct decision and she had a great time with Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz anyhow.

With a week of sorting things out and it being the last week at school before the half term break we planned to extend Éowyn’s birthday into the next weekend.  As you may recall we are, as a family en masse, proud owners of annual Legoland passes.  At this time of the year Legoland hold firework displays at weekend evenings so it seemed a good excuse to head over to Windsor and have an afternoon at Legoland and stay until the evening’s firework display.  As an added bonus the UK returned to GMT in the wee hours of Sunday, meaning an extra hour in bed (yes, that doesn’t exist when you have small children!) and potentially more importantly it would be darker one hour earlier, all good for fireworks.

For a Sunday in late October the weather was unseasonably mild, in addition it was the first weekend of the half term break and so as a consequence Legoland was packed.  Every ride had an above average wait and the concession stands were rammed.  Nevertheless we managed to go on a number of rides and find a relatively good place to watch the Ninjago Firework display from the harbour area (for those of you that know the layout of Legoland).

The fireworks were very good, with the occasional fireball that you feel the heat from across the lake although I’m afraid that I did not fully feel the power of the masters of Spinjitzu,  Neither did Ezra,  We thought that he may be scared by the loud noises and so took headphones to help cover his ears, they did not work the poor little mite was still scared.  However, his big sister came to the rescue and covered his ears with her hands for the entire display while I held his hand.  It was very touching to see Éowyn act the carer and look after her little brother, especially since it meant that she could not fully enjoy the fireworks herself.

To complete Éowyn’s alternative birthday celebrations, and as an extremely belated birthday party for Amélie too, we headed to Build-A-Bear workshop in Uxbridge for a birthday party for a select group of friends.  Éowyn asked to take Aaliyah and Kavya (her best friends) and Amélie asked to take Georgia (her best friend) and thus Lucinda and I shepherded (imagine shepherding cats) 6 youngsters to Build-A-Bear via a McDonald’s lunch treat.  The birthday party meant that each of them could build a bear of their own and buy an outfit for it.  Somewhat ironically none of them built a bear. Georgia built a cat, the remaining girls built ponies and Ezra built Kevin the Minion to add to the (non-Build-A-Bear) minions of Bob and Steve that he already owns.

And so Éowyn’s final birthday celebration drew an emotional week to a close with her closest friends, her siblings and Mommy and Daddy.

Before I leave you I would like to tell you about the Muchloved site that we have set up in Granddad’s memory.  It is in its early development stages but please feel free to pop by and light a candle or leave a memory (click here).  I will leave a permanent link in the column on the right hand side of the site, in case you want to go there in the future.

Peace and Love


I don’t want to go to school

Once again I feel that I have to apologise for the paucity of updates and the hiatus between write ups.  The trio of updates at the beginning of the month were supposed to have been backed up with some quick fire write ups.  It is blatantly clear that did not happen.  Life, work and the death of my NAS conspired to prevent that from happening.  To somehow make up for this I am promising a couple of updates before the annual Bagnall Christmas message, that will appear on the Winter Solstice (already pre-written and scheduled).

So let me take you back before the last three write ups to the end of October.  The Badger Moot ended on Friday 31st October and we arrived back mid afternoon.  The more astute of you will recognise that corresponds to the beginning of the triduum of Allhallowtide, the eve of All Hallow’s day or more colloquially Halloween.  In recent years the British have followed the path of our American cousins popularising the festival.  Trick or treating and ‘guising’ (dressing up in Halloween themed costumes) has gained commonplace acceptance, indeed we were prepared with a big Halloween-themed bowl of sweets for the trick-or-treaters, of which there were at least half a dozen.  Another of the common Halloween traditions is the carving of a jack-o’-lantern.

At the beginning of the year Éowyn was given some pumpkin seeds from Auntie Sally, and as part of our vegetable growing we grew them.  Unfortunately, we suffered from a Pumpkin blight that killed off most of our crop, however one hardy individual survived and became the first jack-o’-lantern I have ever carved.  Éowyn designed the face, and indeed drew blood weeping from its ‘eyes’ but Daddy got to play with the big sharp knife.  I was quite pleased with it and as you can see from the photo below, it looked quite good lit with a tealight guarding our boundary.

The following weekend was the end of the half term holiday and thus marked the changeover between schools for our girls.  By a quirk of fate neither had to go to school on the Monday.  Amélie because it isn’t one of her days and Éowyn because her new school had an inset day.  Therefore, with Lucinda and I also not in work we decided to treat the girls to a day at Legoland.  With Ezra spending a day at Nanny and Granddad’s it gave us more freedom to enjoy the rides without having to worry about our little boy.

The weather was typical November drear, but relatively dry.  Nevertheless we didn’t fancy getting a soaking on the Log Flume or the Viking’s River Splash.  Without Ezra, Lucinda and I thought that we may be able to go on some of the bigger rides.  Amélie was in the same frame of mind but Éowyn wasn’t interested and so while Lucinda and Amélie braved the Dragon ride, Éowyn and I waited in the drizzle armed with a camera to try and take a photo or their experience.  Amélie loved the ride, she is so much more adventurous than her big sister, indeed Éowyn clung to me with fear on the Dragon’s Apprentice ride, which if you have ever been to Legoland you would realise is not exactly the scariest of rides.

Both girls thoroughly enjoyed their day at Legoland, Éowyn especially liked the fact that she was now old enough to join the driving school and drive an electric car around a more challenging course that the L-Drivers course that the younger children (Amélie included) have to negotiate.

The following weekend (I was at work – how unusual!) the family were invited to a firework party at Éowyn’s first best friend: Raine’s house.  Lucinda drove to High Wycombe with the kids armed with fireworks.  Unfortunately the weather had other plans and the rain threatened to put a literal as well as proverbial dampener on the evening.  A little bit of rain never stops the British from enjoying themselves though and eventually the fireworks were lit.  Lucinda could not enjoy them though because Ezra was clinging to her for dear life and Amélie who doesn’t like loud noises was nuzzled against her hiding from the explosions.  Only Éowyn stood and watched them and Lucinda was trying to keep an eye on her to make sure that she stayed out of harm’s way.

So after an exciting couple of weeks, of holidays, Legoland, Halloween and fireworks and starting a new school, life settled down into its new rhythm.  A drive to school across Staines and the A30 was replaced with a walk through the local park (as fate would have it enduring Autumnal rain-showers for the first few weeks) to their new seats of learning.  The first week went relatively well.  Amélie thoroughly enjoyed her new school while Éowyn remained indifferent, which was as good as we expected the first week.  Then things changed.

Éowyn started crying that she didn’t like her new school and wanted to go back to her old school.  This obviously upset Lucinda and I think Éowyn sensed this and played on it a little more.  It was time to be the bad cop and although sympathetic I had to encourage her to embrace her new school and try and make new friends.  She would always have her old friends, indeed we have been pro-active in setting up playdates with some of her old school friends, but it would be fun to make new ones.  As Éowyn was going through this transitional period the Ofsted report of her new school was announced and disappointingly it was grade 3 (requires improvement).  It started to look as if we had made a big mistake.

Then a couple of things happened to help settled Éowyn.  First, she moved up a level with her reading.  At her previous school she would have homework once a week and although as parents you were encouraged to read with your child they were not given a new reading book until the teacher or teaching assistant had read the book with them.  Her new school doesn’t give homework to younger children (which I am undecided whether it is a good thing or not) but they do read the comments that we make in her reading diary and give her a new book each day.  This is really helping her reading, which can only be a good thing.  The second thing that helped to settle her, was that she began to make friends and indeed was invited to her first birthday party.

It is now a month since they started at their new schools and Amélie is still enjoying her new school, in fact she says that she prefers it to her old school, which is great news.  Éowyn on the other hand would still prefer to be at her old school.  She is making friends and when we drop her off at school she seems very popular with a lot of the girls and they look for her.  However, her new teacher is not her old teacher and obviously teaching methods vary and I think that is part of the problem.  Not saying that either is right or the other is wrong, but Éowyn is having to deal with a different school ethos, different teaching styles as well as making all new friends.

It is horrible to think that your child is upset and not enjoying school but it has only been a month and these things take time.  She is obviously a charismatic character as she seems to make friends easily and other children seem to want to be around her.  She is clever, she has already earned a place in the gold book (a reward given out to the top pupils) but she is strong willed and that is probably holding her back from enjoying herself at her new school.  We will hopefully have a catch up with her new teacher in the week and see how she feels that Éowyn is getting on and if there is anything that between us we can do to help our eldest with the transition.  As always I will keep you across how it develops.

Well I think I have kept you long enough and I have to keep somethings for the next write up, so I will take my leave
Peace and Love


PS:  Another little funny from Amélie mishearing lyrics.  One of the bigger hits of the year has been ‘all about that bass’ by Meghan Trainor.  The lyrics are a little repetitive: ‘Because you know I’m all about that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble.’  Amélie, not really understanding what is meant by treble changed the lyrics to ‘Because you know I’m all about that bass, ’bout that bass, no cello.’  Not sure that she knows what a cello is either but maybe she has seen this smooth jazz version and added two and two together.