Ezra’s first haircut!

Another update?  I can tell that you are not used to so many updates from me, especially at the beginning of the year.  Well, it is a new look to the website so I am going to try to fill it with new content, and I will keep up the momentum and as long as life allows me.  I always find that the part of writing this blog that falls down is just the effort required to take the time and begin to write.  Obviously our lives are not that interesting that they warrant a bi-weekly update, but there are times that updates are missed because I never begun the process of sitting down at the keyboard.  Therefore, this year I will try to amend this, however, you will probably find by Easter that I have fallen by the wayside but at least I have begun in the right vein.

So what can warrant an update mid-term in mid-winter?

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Mommy and Daddy time: A trip to Vienna and a dinner dance

Regular readers of this website may recall that I have been fortunate enough to have had a trio of wins this year.  There has been the Emmy (yes, I thought I would throw that one in again), the signed Rugby World Cup ball (thanks England for being the first host team to be eliminated at the group stage heavily deflating any value that it has) but the first, and arguably the best, was the trip to Vienna.

For those of you that can’t quite remember the details: IMG provided facilities to the BBC to produce the 60th Eurovision Song Contest for transmission on BBC 1.  The 2015 contest was hosted in Vienna due to the previous year’s win by the Bearded Lady: Conchita Wurst.  Apparently this hasn’t happened before but it is in the spirit of the competition the Austrian Ambassador hosted a send-off party for the UK entry at the Austrian Embassy.  Invitations were strictly ‘invite only’ and along with the BBC personnel, four of us from IMG were invited to attend.  As we entered the Embassy we were given a raffle ticket.  Never say no to a free raffle ticket:  the top prize being two return flights to Vienna on Austrian Airways and two nights in Das Triest Hotel (and a 1 metre inflatable Austrian Airways jet).  This is what I won.

We decided that we would like to visit Vienna as the winter drew in and the Christmas markets begun.  Therefore, we originally looked for availability at the hotel so that we could visit Vienna at the beginning of December.  We also needed to arrange child minding, which would not only include two night, three days of care but taking them to school, picking them up and also taking Éowyn to her first ever brownies meet.

The first part of the equation seemed the easier of the two, however it was not to be.  The hotel, Das Triest, despite its 72 rooms, had no availability for the early weekends in December.  With my new role I only work one weekend in three, thus I was attempting not to book on the weekend that I was due to work.  Therefore, it took a little toing and froing but eventually we managed to book a room for the weekend of the 14th November.

The second part of the equation was much simpler as Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz came to the rescue, driving down on the Friday and leaving on Tuesday afternoon they settled in for the weekend at chez Bagnall.  Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz came to pick the girls up from school (they needed to know where to take them on Monday morning) and we showed them the church hall when the Brownies meet.  They knew the way into Staines town centre, despite Lucinda’s map from the last time they visited, so all was set for us to leave nice and early the next morning.

We had booked an early flight to take advantage of the majority of the weekend and had prebooked taxis to take us to the airport and pick us up in Vienna to take us to the hotel.  We were only away for a couple of days so those extra minutes and piece of mind were all important.  So we left the house before any of the Baguettes woke, heading off sans children for the longest time we have been on our own since Éowyn was born seven years ago!

We arrived at Heathrow Airport terminal 2, the home of Lucinda’s previous job and she still knew quite a few people who worked there, so it was a good chance for her to catch up with them.  After a good old natter we breezed through security and into the shopping mall that is the modern terminal building.  I asked Lucinda and if she missed the airport.  She didn’t have to think about the answer: she missed the way it was but not the way it is now and although it would be nice to be P.A.Y.E. she wouldn’t want to go back.

We landed at Vienna airport in good time and quickly found our taxi driver.  Not only did we make the right decision in organising a cab for convenience the taxi driver was also very friendly and erudite, illuminating us with the history of Vienna and pointing out landmarks along the way.

We arrived at the hotel in good time, indeed before the room was ready and so we dropped off our bags and headed out in Vienna.    The hotel was a short walk from the city centre and so we were able to take in the city without having to rely on public transport.

Initially, we had planned on a lazy weekend, taking advantage lie-ins and no disturbed nights from little nocturnal visitors but we decided that would be a waste of visiting such a beautiful city, therefore we researched the attractions to visit and in doing so found out that there was an exhibition of Edvard Munch at the Albertina.  Edvard Munch is most famous for his 1893 painting, The Scream and is one of Lucinda’s favourite artists, therefore the list began.

Saturday, therefore became a day of exploration.  We found the lay of the land, including a couple of the early Christmas markets. We also took a boat trip down the Danube canal.  This was probably our one mistake of the weekend.  The Danube canal was a former arm of the River Danube and a trip down the river Danube sounds may sound like we would be in for a scenic trip.  However, the Danube canal is somewhat different.  The arm of the River Danube was turned into a canal to protect the city of Vienna from flooding in the late 16th century and since that time has attracted the more industrial side of Vienna.  Hence, the trip though nice was far from scenic, unless you like looking at the back of industrial cities.

With no matutinal visitors we eased ourselves into Sunday morning.  A leisurely breakfast was a precursor to the only full day we had in the city.  Unfortunately, the weather luck of the Bagnalls was in full force.  We had hoped that the weather in Vienna would be cold and snowy, or cold and clear, or indeed warm and clear.  Unfortunately what greeted us on Sunday morning was typical London weather, somewhat mild (for the time of year), low cloud and persistent rain.  We had planned on visiting the Danube Tower to take in the view of the city but with such weather conditions we decided to head straight to the Albertina and the Edvard Munch exhibition.

We had found the Albertina, on our stroll around the city on the previous day and so we could take a direct path and thus avoid getting completely soaked in the process.  Now I am not the greatest art lover in the world and do not appreciate it as much as Lucinda but I think I nailed it on the head when I said that Edvard Munch is the ‘Smiths’ of the art world.  I appreciate his technique, lots of lithographs and woodcuts and I liked a number of his works and the hidden symbolism but overall it is quite depressing and an exhibition was just a little too much.  I can hear the wails of outrage in the art world but that is my view.

We left the Albertina and looked for another place to shelter – a nearby coffee house replete with Austrian cake aplenty.  Well it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it?

After filling ourselves with Hot Chocolate and Strudels we again required somewhere else to hide from the rain.  The nearby Schmetterlinghaus or Imperial Butterfly house attracted us in.  The building itself was very reminiscent of Kew Gardens and perhaps it was the time of year but there didn’t seem to be as many butterflies as in other butterfly houses that we have visited.  Nevertheless it was well worth the visit.

The rain eased off in the afternoon and we managed to find the remaining Christmas markets including the Vienna Magic of Advent Christmas Market at Rathauplatz.  This was the biggest one that was open while we were there and only not completely magically because of the weather, it really needed to be cold and crisp, with crunchy snow underfoot.  Nevertheless it was still a good excuse to get some soup in bread.  Yes, it is what it sounds like, a round loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with Goulash soup.  Delicious and you can eat the loaf/bowl afterwards.

We had until the early afternoon the following day before having to find our way back to the airport.  I am more a fan of natural history museums than art museums and since we visited the Albertina the previous day we decided to take in the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien (or the Natural History museum of Vienna).  Along with the usual dinosaur bones and ubiquitous taxidermological menagerie it also house the Venus Von Willendorf the oldest known representation of the human form.  As someone with an interest in anthropology it was incredibly interesting to see this tiny carved figure.

So after a cultural and relatively relaxing weekend it was time to head back.  We arrived back to Staines on the Monday evening so Ezra was asleep, Amélie was in bed, nearly asleep and Éowyn was awake waiting our return.  They had had a fun filled weekend with Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz and couldn’t wait to tell us all about it.  It seems that they hadn’t missed us too much while we were away which bodes well (Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz willing) for more weekend breaks for Mommy and Daddy.

Two weeks later we took advantage of the other member of the Bagnall family, Auntie Mary.  Lucinda and I had been invited to the R.T.S. Christmas Dinner Dance by suppliers of mine at work and so Auntie Mary came over for baby sitting duties.  It was a black tie event and it was very nice to dress up for an occasion – something that Lucinda and I rarely do these days.  It was an excellent event with good food, John Lloyd as an after dinner speaker and entertainment, including pyrotechnic acrobats, scalextric, video games and dodgems.  What was particularly good about the evening was that the fact that the other guests of the same supplier and thus sitting next to me on the table was my erstwhile flatmate and good friend Richard and his wife Salma.  We whiled away the night catching up on the missing 12 years and promised not to leave it quite as long next time!

Before I leave you with some photos of our mommy and daddy time, the competition winning luck is rubbing off.  At the R.T.S. Dinner Dance there was a raffle and I mentioned to the people on the table my luck at competitions this year.  Didn’t think much about it but out of 50 ish tables and 10 prizes our table won 2 – an Apple Watch and a Panasonic Camera.  No, it wasn’t me but you have to share the luck around – that’s how it works!

Peace and Love




Reluctant Landlords

I am spoiling you this week.  You have just had a special for Amélie’s first day at nursery, and now a second in a week.  Even disregarding the bonus write-up it is has not been quite as long between ‘actual’ write-ups as one would usually expect.  Not that it has become any less busy this past fortnight but my workdays have not been quite as long so I can squeeze in a little time for you dear readers.  The stress at work is still quite high bedding in a new season, coupled with a new technical facility, coupled with new clients and a new delivery system and all the associated issues blending these together.  At home, the stress is different but equally as high, with our blighted home and attempting to purchase a new home coupled with raising three children under the age of five.  How Lucinda and I are both so young looking, I’ll never know!

The children are not helping during this stressful time, Amélie especially.  With Éowyn not at pre-school (and not yet at school proper) the girls are spending a lot of time together, winding each other up in only the way sisters can.  Amélie as you may recall is a little bit of thief and, in the past, has earned the name ‘Swiper’.  However, she has been relatively good of late.  Therefore, last Thursday when Lucinda and I were getting ready to head to our first wedding of the season (Jon and Taryn – congratulations guys) and Lucinda couldn’t find her purse, Amélie was least in our minds.

Lucinda looked in every bag and everywhere else that she may have put it and came, quite reasonably to the conclusion that it must have fallen out of her bag the previous night after she had paid for her groceries at the supermarket.  She called the supermarket, it hadn’t been handed in and so to add to the stress that we are under, Lucinda began to cancel all of her credit and debit cards that were in that purse while I drove to Braxted Park in Essex for the Dodds’ wedding (photos here).  Fortunately nothing had been added to (or taken from) the cards, so they hadn’t been used nefariously, which was good; however as most of them are joint cards it meant that my mine were also compromised and so had to be cancelled too, which was bad.

Nevertheless, we put it out of our minds and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at the wedding with the Baguettes (our nickname for the little Bagnalls) safely in the care of Nanny Fran.  Nanny Fran had thankfully driven down from West Bromwich the day before to look after her grandchildren while we celebrated in Essex.  It was an excellent wedding, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves ‘East of London’, and we wish the Dodd’s all the best for their future lives together.

Ezra, however was not quite as well behaved as he usually is and gave Nanny Fran a little trouble.  Ezra doesn’t normally take bottled milk but I have managed to give him a bottle on a couple of occasions when Lucinda has been out but he wasn’t going to have it from Nanny Fran.  Éowyn however was full of good advice for her Nanny.  When Ezra was fussing and refusing the bottle, Éowyn calmly said, ‘Nanny, there is no other way, you are going to have to get your boobs out.‘  Nanny Fran explained that only a mommy can feed a baby to which Éowyn replied, ‘But you are a mommy.‘  There is no denying the logic from our eldest.  Poor Nanny Fran.

Ezra is no longer solely relying on milk but taking solids and thoroughly enjoying them.  Indeed, he is not content until every scrap of food has been scraped from the bowl.  Definitely a Bagnall!  He probably needs the extra food for he no longer sits or lies still but is moving around the house quite well.  He isn’t crawling as such, although gets himself into the crawl position (and sometimes ‘the plank’), but as mentioned in a previous update tends to ninja roll across the floor and then moves backwards until a wall or a piece of furniture stops his progress.  I don’t think it will be long before he is chasing his big sisters around the house.

I will use that as a segue into our big story of the last few months:

As regular readers will know we have found a house that we love and have had our offer accepted.  We had found buyers and we had accepted their offer.  Mortgages had been arranged and the chain was complete, it seems that everything was going well.  That was mid-July.  Two days later BAA announced their proposals for a possible expansion of Heathrow airport, namely the building of the third runway.  One of those proposals involves the complete destruction of our village, Stanwell Moor.  Even though this is but one proposal, regarding one airport, it has effectively blighted our sale and our buyers pulled out specifically citing those proposals as a risk they are not willing to take.  I can completely sympathise with their decision, but what does that mean for us?

We had two options:

  1. Pull out of our sale knowing that it would be unlikely that we would be able to move until the proposals are confirmed
  2. See if we could keep our current home and still buy

We had already consigned ourselves to moving and once we had made that decision, no matter how much we love our current home and Stanwell Moor, there was not going to be any turning back.  So option 2 was pursued.  After a heavy discussion and consulting a financial adviser, we had an option: rent our current house and become reluctant landlords.  So that is what we are doing, the mortgage applications are in and soon we will be in a frightening amount of debt, but we will have a home that is big enough to accommodate our growing family, let’s hope that we can get tenants or it is going to be a very short experiment!

Money is going to be tight and so knowing where your purse is quite important.  Lucinda was still wondering where her purse had gone the day after the wedding.  It hadn’t been handed in at the supermarket, it hadn’t fallen out of her bag in the car and it seemingly wasn’t in the house.  She was sure she had brought it home but the evidence seemed to point to the contrary.  None of the cards had been used so it appears it hadn’t been stolen.  The girls have a wooden kitchen that is positioned just inside our dining room.  Lucinda, tidying up some of the girl’s toy foods, opened one of the cupboards in their kitchen to put them away only to see her purse stuffed at the back.  Glad she had found it but obviously wanted to know what had happened.  Sensing the fingerprints of Swiper, Lucinda asked Amélie if she had moved Mommy’s purse.

No Mommy, it was Éowyn.‘  Lucinda disbelieving the incumbent thief asked if it was truly Éowyn.  ‘No Mommy, it was the fairies.‘  It is hard to be cross with her and the only thing you can say is that Amélie really needs to work on her lies.  Therefore, although it was annoying that Lucinda had cancelled her cards at least her purse had been found and thus so had all the other accoutrements that are found in a lady’s purse, of which one does not speak.

Tuesday was Amélie’s second day and first full day at nursery.  This wasn’t quite as smooth as the previous Thursday.  All morning Amélie was saying that she didn’t want to go to school and got herself quite upset.  Lucinda was getting emotional herself and was close to not letting her go.  Time for Daddy to be the baddie.  It was always the plan that I would take her, so not showing any emotion I tried to distract her, giving her a special assignment that she had to tell me the names of three people from school when I picked her up.  This stopped her crying and the Muppets soundtrack in the car on the way to Tiny Tots cheered her up and she quite happily held my hand and walked to school.  However as she stepped into the classroom the tears started again.  The staff were great and picked her up and just encouraged her to move from the door and go and play.

She was a little upset when we picked her up but the staff said that she had been fine during the day and even had got a sticker for sitting nicely and listening (wish she would do that at home!).  It is going to take her a while to settle in, as it did with Éowyn but I doubt it will take very long, we just have to be strong as parents, that means you Lucinda!

I have actually just had a couple of days off work (the first two days in a row for a month or so) and so with Éowyn starting school later this week (standby for another special) I have had an opportunity to spend some quality time with the family.  Therefore there hasn’t been the usual choice of photos but I will leave you with some knowing that it will not be long before you are back here for the second special and third update in a week.  I am spoiling you aren’t I?

A quick mention (forgotten in the rush of the previous update) for Lucinda’s mum and dad on celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on the 17th August (the first day of the Premier League season – so someone was missing).  Congratulations and I truly hope that in 2057 Lucinda and I will be celebrating our golden anniversary.

Peace and love