The pox, the summer and a trip to Nanny Fran’s

Our trip to the Lake District may have heralded the start of the summer vacation for the Baguettes but August is a long month and all three were not due to return to school until September.  So, with Ezra peaking in terms of his chicken pox going to places with lots of other children would have just been bad manners therefore he was quarantined at Bagnall Manor.  Nevertheless, just because Ezra had the pox it shouldn’t mean that Éowyn and Amélie should miss out.  Lucinda saw that the local leisure centre had a week’s worth of trampolining lessons.  That would be ideal for the girls.  They both enjoy trampolining and Amélie used to attend trampolining lessons weekly before she started school, so to break the monotony for the girls they were signed up for the classes.

The trampolining lesson lasted an hour and Lucinda thought that would be good exercise for them and hopefully would wear them out as well as a way of breaking up the day.  An hour’s worth of trampoline with children taking turns would have certainly been good exercise however an hour’s trampolining lesson when the only children to turn up were Éowyn and Amélie was fantastic exercise.  It was the equivalent of a private lesson for a fraction of the price.  The girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves and thus were happy to go back every day that week.

Another week down and all of Ezra’s chicken pox spots had scabbed over and therefore was no longer infectious, that should have been a time for celebration that at long last the Baguettes can hit the town.  Unfortunately, despite having chicken pox previously, albeit an extremely mild case, Amélie succumbed to the disease, and arguably more seriously than Ezra.  Poor Amélie, she did look forlorn as she settled into the sofa, with a towel wrapped around her naked frame because her clothes were rubbing the spots.  Another week or so of quarantine for the Baguettes.  Poor Baguettes, but poor Lucinda too!  I could escape as work was extremely busy gearing up for the Olympics; the start of the Premier League season and the countless other things that are happening, Lucinda had to stay indoors, (or in the garden) on what was turning out to be an OK summer.  Where Lucinda was hoping to take the Baguettes on day trips it was replacing with refereeing arguments and telling Amélie not to scratch.

It was during this period that we decided (well Lucinda decided) that we would decorate the girls bedroom.  We invited the girls to tell us what they would like and they both decided on an underwater theme with mermaids.  Lucinda wanted to separate the girls clothes (they had been up to this point sharing a wardrobe) to prevent arguments over which dress belonged to whom and who was wearing which top.  An order was put in for wardrobes and chest of drawers from our favourite Swedish furniture store and Lucinda bought paint for the walls, ceiling and woodwork.

While Amélie was still infectious (and Ezra came down with slapped cheek – yes it is a disease) the girls’ room was emptied and they camped out with Ezra.  I was preparing for the impending season and Lucinda was refereeing, being nursemaid and painting their bedroom.

It was in this mælstrom of emotions and infections (and an absent father) that Éowyn became upset. Lucinda asked her what the problem was and she said that she was missing her friends and wanted to go back to school.  Six weeks of holiday is a long time when you are only 7 and especially when you can’t see your friends because your siblings are unclean!

Ezra, too, was no immune to this emotion and for a boy who is usually adverse to kisses and cuddles became, for a week or two at least, more affectionate.  He is usually very good at going to bed, indeed he often asks to go to bed, but during this period he would lie down and you would tuck him in as usual.  Then five minutes later he would creep out of his bed and ask for another goodnight kiss or simply say that he ‘needs more cuddles’.  How can you possibly refuse?

The second weekend of the season saw an opportunity for me to have a couple of days off work.  This coincided with Nanny Fran offering to look after the Baguettes in West Bromwich.  This gave us the perfect opportunity to finish the girl’s bedroom. So while the Baguettes were being spoilt (in a nice way) by Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz with trips to Funky Monkey’s, the cinema, Birmingham town centre and Sandwell Valley farm, Lucinda and I were putting up curtain rails and mirrors, building wardrobes and chest of drawers in addition to putting the finishing touches to the decoration including the mermaid stickers.  Have a look at the photos below to see the final masterpiece, before the toys moved back in and the girls had even stepped foot inside.

It was hard work and not exactly the relaxing weekend we were hoping for (I am working the next five!) but we could not have done it without Nanny Fran collecting the Baguettes and bringing them back allowing us to concentrate on the task in hand.  The hard work was worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears (I lied about the tears) when the girls came home.  We made them close their eyes before they entered the room but when they opened them (it was like a poor man’s episode of D.I.Y. S.O.S.) and their little eyes lit up and they gave us big cuddles I’m not sure who was happier, them or us.

Once the excitement of a newly decorated room had worn off the girls and Ezra were fit to busting to tell us all about the stories of their adventures with Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz.  Éowyn and Amélie thoroughly enjoyed the shopping trip to Birmingham (getting used to shopping trips a little too young!) while Ezra was most happy about the trip to Funky Monkey’s and meeting a Stormtrooper at the Disney store.  Unfortunately, Éowyn is now too big to go to Funky Monkey’s (too tall, even though she is still in the age bracket) so Auntie Liz took her to the cinema to watch Swallows and Amazons (set in the Lake District and we had seen some of the locations on our holiday, including the secret harbour on Coniston water).  It didn’t quite go to plan as Éowyn got freaked out by some of the trailers before the film had even begun and although Auntie Liz managed to persuade her to wait until the film began by five minutes in she was so freaked out they had to leave.  This is from someone who was happy to sit through Star Wars: The Force Awakens, surely far more scary than Swallows and Amazons.  My only thought is the fact that Star Wars is obviously fantasy while Swallows and Amazons is set in a familiar world and so she was unable to separate the fact from fiction.

A couple of days after her return from West Bromwich Éowyn was crying about something completely different.  As mentioned earlier at the beginning of the holiday she was upset because she was missing her school friends and wanted to go back to school.  This time she got herself upset because she didn’t want to go back to school because she was enjoying being off too much.  You can’t please some people!

Enjoy the photos and stand by for more updates in the next few days as I try to make amends for a dearth of updates over the last few months.

Peace and Love


Half term and a trip to Nanny Fran’s

A little belated, and nothing to do with the fact that this year is a little longer than the usual.  Normal service has resumed with a more traditional update, in contrast with the olympiad bissextus bonus of the previous post and Ezra’s pre-school inauguration prior to that.

So let me take you back a few weeks.  The first weekend of February saw the Bagnall family in the Bride valley at Berwick Manor celebrating Uncle Bill’s 70th birthday.  That was the weekend before half-term, hence we only spent the weekend in Puncknowle returning to Staines-upon-Thames on the Sunday evening for the girls still had four days of the first half of the first term of 2016 left.  But, I hear you cry, there are 5 days in a school week.  Yes, that is indeed correct except when an inset day is tagged to the start of a half term break.

We had decided, before the knowledge of the inset day, that we would take a journey north and visit Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz for that weekend.  The baguettes were excited, as they always are when visiting Nanny Fran, and when we asked them what they would like to do in West Bromwich there was a unanimous reply:  Funky Monkeys.  Funky Monkeys is UK wide company that provide indoor soft play areas for kids under 8, and as all kids (and some adults) our three love a soft play area.  Therefore, we decided that we would take advantage of the inset day and the extended half-term and visit Funky Monkeys on the Friday hoping that the schools in Sandwell had not decided likewise.

We arrived at Nanny Fran’s around lunchtime and after sating our appetite headed into the town centre.  Funky Monkeys is aimed at under eights but in addition there is also a height restriction of 4′ 5″ (135cm).  Now Éowyn may have only just turned 7 but she is barely an inch under the maximum height restriction, so this may be last time that she can legitimately go.  However, flat shoes and a slouch may help for at least another visit.

While the Baguettes were distracted in Funky Monkeys we left them under the watchful gaze of Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz and disappeared to book a big surprise for them, something that you dear readers will have to wait until December to find out yourselves.

The Bagnall five were not the only visitors to Nanny Fran’s.  There were two others in the car on the journey North, Nanny Fran’s grand-guinea pigs.  We didn’t really have anyone to look after Toffee and Frazzle while we were in West Bromwich, so we brought them with us.  It was nice for Nanny Fran to see them as it had been a couple of months and she could see how big that they had grown (and they are still growing!).

We only stayed at Nanny Fran’s for the weekend as I had a busy work week ahead of me and so did Lucinda.  Obviously, with Lucinda’s child-minding job requiring privacy for her clients, it is not discussed on this website, however I will mention that half-term saw Lucinda settle two new clients which when coupled with our children and the fact that I was at work made it a very busy week for her.  So when Amélie and then Éowyn were separately invited for playdates at friends’ houses, there wasn’t much of a decision to be made and the invitation was welcomed with open arms by Lucinda.

As regular readers will recall the return to school after the half-term break marked the start of Ezra’s education journey.  The UK government currently pay for all pre-school children to receive 15 hours of childcare per week.  They are entitled to this from the term after their third birthday.  With Ezra’s third birthday looming large on the horizon (next weekend to be exact) he will be entitled to this for the Summer term when the schools return after the Easter break.  Since Ezra has never been to school, to a childminder (for over a year) or indeed spent any amount of regular time away from Lucinda we have decided to use this half-term to ease him into the education system.

He has settled into Our Lady of the Rosary’s pre-school extremely quickly.  He is excited to go (and walks the entire way – which is a big step in itself) and doesn’t bat an eyelid when you leave him, he just finds the toys he wants to play with and starts playing.  The teachers have said that he has settled extremely well and just gets on with it.  Whenever you ask him about his day, he doesn’t really mention any of the other children or the teachers only that they have lovely toys.  At least he is happy and seemingly enjoying it.  He is only going for two mornings a week during this ‘easing-in’ period and so as a consequence it shouldn’t be too much for him, he shouldn’t get too tired but only time will tell if it will help and he will be ready for the ramp up to 15 hours after the Easter break.

Éowyn has started with an attitude to homework that we will need to change before it becomes a habit.  Her class had been learning about giraffes. Nothing too unusual about that, they often pick a subject and learn about it in-depth.  However, despite Lucinda and I both asking what she learned at school this week, giraffes were never mentioned.  As the week zoomed by without any warning at all it is nearly bedtime on Thursday when Éowyn informs us that she has to make a giraffe to take to school.  Thanks for the warning!

The combined creative juices of mum and dad sprung into action and we had a play.  A cardboard head and neck of giraffe using some packing materials from a recent delivery, some yellow paint and a sheet of brown wrapping paper.  The kitchen table, covered with newspaper, became the work bench and Éowyn’s bedtime was delayed.

An hour or two later and cardboard giraffe neck nearly 5 feet high was ready for school the next morning.  You can see the results of our handiwork can be seen in the photos below.  As you can appreciate it wasn’t the easiest of homework to carry to school on a blustery morning.

Thursday the following week was World Book Day and parents up and down the land were faced with the problem of acquiring a fancy dress costume.  Fortunately we have a large trunk of dressing up costumes and Amélie quite happily chose the Tinkerbell dress (and wings) for her character.

Éowyn was a little bit more creative.  She wanted to go dress as Summer Hammond from the Secret Kingdom series of books, and Starlight Adventure in particular.  The Secret Kingdom series introduces three girls: Summer, Jasmine and Ellie as a group of friends who find a magic box that teleports them to a fantasy land where they have magical adventures.  It is aimed at girls from around Éowyn’s age and a good way of encouraging girls to read for fun.

Éowyn looked through her wardrobe and put together an approximation of Summer’s outfit from the book’s cover.  I was proud of her being so original and not defaulting to wearing one of the many Disney princess dresses that we have or conforming to the social norms of the older kids and coming as one of the Harry Potter characters.

Again, however she left this homework to the last minute, not in the costume itself but a prop that she wanted to take.  If you look at Summer on the book’s cover (she is the one in the middle with the blonde hair – see the photo with Éowyn carrying the book if you don’t have it on your book shelf), she is carrying a golden lamp.  Fifteen minutes before we were due to leave for school she bemoaned the fact that we didn’t have a golden lamp for her to take.  Not sure where she expecting us to conjure one up from?  A five foot high giraffe is one thing and golden lamp is quite another.  As we said to her, if she had given us more notice we could have been creative and helped her make one but in this instance she would just have to go without.  As you can see it is a habit we are going to have to break.

With an early Easter looming that also means that there is an early Mother’s Day.  In the U.K. Mother’s Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, therefore with Easter Sunday falling on 27th March in 2016 it means that Mother’s Day is today.  Lucinda and I would thus like to say Happy Mother’s day to our maters and to mothers everywhere.  With three children of our own it means that I am going to have a busy day off helping the Baguettes look after their mum!

I will leave you know with a few more photos than usual to make up for the lack of photos in the previous update.  As always there are more on the flickr pages.

Peace and Love