Half term in Norfolk

It is mid-February, it is half-term, Lucinda has no childminding wards and I have the final few days of holiday accrued from last year to take so what better excuse was there for team Bagnall to spend the week together.  The girls’ half term break was actually a day longer than the usual week due to an inset day tagged to the Friday meaning that they actually broke up on the Thursday. Read more

A week in The Lake District

The start of the summer holiday that marks the boundary between the end of one academic year and the start of the next saw the Bagnall family decide to take a week break before the football season starts and daddy gets busy at work.  We decided to go somewhere new to the family and so headed north rather than south, which is our usual wont for our UK based holidays.  A caravan park in Flookburgh, Cumbria was the destination.  Situated on the Cartmel peninsular on the Northern shore of Morecambe bay Lakeland Caravan Park lies just outside of the largest National Park in England and Wales: The Lake District and thus made it an ideal base to explore the area.

It is quite a journey from Staines Upon Thames to South Cumbria, and the direct route via the M6 motorway takes us passed Nanny Fran’s.  Fortuitously the girls’ schools both broke up early on the Friday and our caravan wasn’t booked until Saturday afternoon therefore it seemed like a non-brainer to get ahead of the traffic and spend the night in West Bromwich.  The Baguettes could therefore spend some time with Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz and we could cut the journey into a more manageable chunk.

After taking advantage of Nanny Fran’s hospitality we headed north on the M6.  A couple of stops for convenience breaks and a bite to eat and we arrived in good time to pick up the keys to the caravan.  The caravan was not quite as luxurious as our previous caravan hires, however it did have 3 bedrooms so that Ezra could have a bedroom of his own.  The trouble with the third bedroom was the space that it inevitably takes from the footprint of the living space.  However this was no excuse for the size of the television that they had decided to supply in the lounge area, I have seen laptop screens that are bigger!

The caravan site was pleasant with a 350 metre long lake however there was no easy path to the sea.  This is in no small part to the £4 million pounds that has been spend on sea defences to protect the caravan park from flooding.  On balance I would rather have my path to the sea blocked than wake up floating across the caravan park.

We woke up on the first day, Sunday, and decided to take it easy.  We stopped off at a local car boot sale before popping out to the ‘local’ supermarket for supplies.  When I say local it was in Barrow-in-Furness and was a 30 minute car drive away!  At least we decided to take the scenic route along the coast road to Barrow and enjoy the trip out.  We also took a bit of time to explore the area and popped in to Haverthwaite train station to inquire about train times for a trip to Lakeside (not the big shopping complex in Essex) and a boat journey across Windermere.  We were told that the first train in the morning was looking quite empty but you could only books tickets on the day of travel so best to come back 30 minutes before departure tomorrow morning.

We, therefore, had a plan for our first day trip.  We were among the first to arrive at Haverthwaite station.  We booked a return ticket on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway and combined it with a return ticket to Bowness onboard a Windermere Steamer.  Since we were a little early we could have a look around (and take photos of) some of the stock that they have.  Interestingly there were two engines out on the track, one was called Princess and the other Victor and they were both made by W.G. Bagnall, so it seemed apt to visit and enjoy the ride.  Éowyn had brought her camera along and enjoyed taking photos of the stock, including steam rollers (and diesel rollers), there are a number of her photos on our Flickr site and see what you think of her first efforts.

Ezra was quite excited about going on a choo-choo train and couldn’t wait to climb onboard, however was a little nervous sitting in the carriage before the journey began.  Lucinda and I sat with Ezra while the girls sat at another table so that they could feel a little independence and Éowyn could take some photos through the window.  However Amélie came running to us as the train went through a tunnel.  The darkness and the fact that the steam swirled around the carriage windows freaked her out a little and she needed the comfort of her parents to tell her that everything was going to be fine.

The train pulled into Lakeside and we jumped off the train and onto the steamer Swan for our trip across Windermere.  Windermere is the largest natural lake in England formed after the glacial retreat at the end of the last ice age.  Technically it is not a lake but a mere.  Indeed there is only one lake in the Lake District: Bassenthwaite Lake, now don’t say I never teach you anything.

We got off the Swan at Bowness-on-Windermere and straight into a heavy downpour.  The Lake District isn’t a green and pleasant land without help from the plentiful rain that falls in this corner of the land.  Except for the first couple of days in July (when the warmest July day was recorded) the weather in the UK hasn’t been very good, with some parts of the country receiving 2.5 times of the average rainfall and temperatures below normal throughout the land, indeed by the end of the month the record had been broken for the coldest July night!

Therefore it wasn’t a surprise that it was raining, however in fairness it was the only time that we got caught in the rain.  Indeed some of the days were quite pleasant and although sun block wasn’t required neither were heavy coats.  The weather at Bowness-on-Windermere however curtailed our exploration of the town and we decided to return after a couple of hours.

So after a trip that was more interesting for Mommy and Daddy than the children we decided on a different venue for our next trip.  We headed west along the A590 toward Dalton-in-Furness and the South Lakes Safari Zoo.  Not sure what to expect of a zoo away from major population centres, we were pleasantly surprised.  For a little extra money you were given a bad of feed and allowed to join in with all the feeding times.  We used the feed for the ducks and geese, the wallabies and the Emus (one of which gave Éowyn a little nip when she wasn’t quick enough with the food) and then were allowed to feed lemurs and giraffes at the organised feeding times but gave feeding the penguins a miss.

The zoo holds many of the Bagnalls’ favourite animals.  Éowyn loves jaguars and they had two.  Amélie likes Snow Leopards and they do have a breeding pair, however the female hasn’t ventured out with her progeny leaving the male to amuse the visitors.  Unfortunately there were no Ooo-wees for little Ezra.  What is a 000-wee I hear you ask, it is an elephant of course.  It is the sound an elephant makes when you are 2 years old especially while you pretend to use your right arm as an elephant truck while you are making the sound.  However they did have tortoises, which probably edge the ooo-wees ever so slightly.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day at the South Lake Safari Zoo, it is a magnificent zoo and would recommend it to anyone in the area.  It is not that often that you can get so close to so many animals as you do there.

The next day we decided to return to Bowness-on-Windermere, this time by road, to further explore the area and primarily to visit a tribute to the Lake District’s most famous daughter.  The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction is, as the name suggests, an attraction based around the books of Beatrix Potter.  Sadly, and perhaps somewhat ashamedly, we have none read the works of Beatrix Potter, I think I read some them as a child but we haven’t read any to the children.  Nevertheless there is still something about her work that naturally appeals to all children and our three were no exception.

Since we were the east side of Windermere we decided to go for a drive and headed as far as Grasmere, marking the furthest North the Baguettes have ever travelled, not that they were too impressed with that.  To finish the day off we decided to go for cream tea at one of the country’s finest tea-houses:  Gilliam’s tearoom in Ulverstone.  Well, we were on holiday!

The following day we ventured further into the national park and came across Muncaster Castle.  It was one of the attractions that we had considered but we weren’t specifically heading there.  However, when we saw the castle from the road we decided that was going to be the destination for the day.  There was so much to do at the castle that we didn’t have to time to do all of it.  Muncastle Castle isn’t just a castle, it has a hawk and owl centre, with daily bird of prey shows, has a meadow vole maze and a children’s playground.

We enjoyed the bird of prey display.  Éowyn and Amélie sat at the front to get a better view while Lucinda and I sat with Ezra somewhere near the back.  Unfortunately Ezra was a little tired and so he wanted the display to be over quite quickly and quite loudly kept repeating “Good night owls, good-bye!”  Éowyn and Amélie enjoyed the show though, with Éowyn taking photos throughout.  Indeed it wasn’t until the hooded vultures were released and one decided to sit next to her that she decided that she wanted to sit with mommy and daddy.

In addition to the bird of prey display there was also the feeding of the herons.  With Scarfell as the backdrop wild herons head for a snack by the castle’s cannons at 4pm each day and as Éowyn’s new class when she returns to school in September will be Herons we decided to stick around and watch them fly in.

The meadow vole maze was an attraction were you had to pretend that you were a meadow vole avoiding all their many predators.  Every dead end ran into another predator in the shape of a floor to ceiling face of the predator with glowing eyes.  This freaked out poor little Ezra who squeezed me tight saying, ‘Daddy, I’m scared!‘ The poor little mite.

With so much to explore in the grounds (and the baguettes got their money’s worth just on the playground!) we never got a chance to explore the castle itself.  Lucinda and Éowyn had a quick look around, but we will have to go back to explore it properly.  it is claimed to be one of the most haunted buildings in the UK and to take advantage of this claim they often run all night vigils, perhaps the Baguettes are a little young for that!

This update is a little belated due to a medical affliction that stuck me down at the end of the holiday.  On the drive back from Muncaster Castle my eyes started to feel a little itchy and I put it down to the air conditioning in the car and thought not a lot about it.  When we got back to the caravan I thought that perhaps I was succumbing to the conjunctivitis that was going through the family and that would be it.  Friday morning however, I woke up and physically couldn’t open my eyes, they were glued together with discharge.  I washed it out but still couldn’t open my eyes wide, they felt extremely painful and were constantly watering.  Lucinda took the kids to their usual swimming lesson that they had had all week and on return saw how painful they were looking.  As she said there was no white left of my eyes they were just red.  I was now having problems opening my eyes and the refraction caused by the water in my eyes was causing me problems with light. So Lucinda drove off to the nearest pharmacy to see if she could get some drops for me.

The pharmacist wouldn’t sell Lucinda drops without seeing me, which is fair enough however this being the country they were going to close at 12:30 on Friday for a couple of hours for lunch.  So Lucinda drove back to the caravan picked me up and we headed back to the pharmacy with only seconds to spare.  The pharmacist took one look at me and her eyes started to water with sympathy.  She quickly diagnosed acute bacterial conjunctivitis, indeed more accurately acute bacterial keratoconjunctivitis (conjunctivitis with keratitis – inflammation of the cornea) and said that it was probably the worst case she had seen and gave me some antibiotic eye-drops to be taken every 2 hours while awake and some cream to use at night.  Not a pleasant experience and one that prevented me from not only driving back the next day (poor Lucinda had to drive the whole way back) but even returning to work on the following Monday.  If you want to see a photo click here.  Thankfully the drops and cream did their job and all is back to normal.

Apart from the above we thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the Lake District and will be returning.  If you want to see photographic evidence of our holiday there are just shy of five hundred photos here.

Until the next time

Peace and love


Bongo, bongo stylee

After an early hat-trick of updates at the beginning of November this site has been a little quiet.  Three weeks into our new home I thought it was perhaps times to rectify this and give you a little insight to the life of the Bagnalls in the new Bagnall manor.

November was always going to be a busy month.  A wave of productions were due to relocate from Chiswick to our company’s new base at Stockley Park and a number of these involved Live Operations (and hence me and my team) including the Football League Show.  Therefore if there was one month I didn’t want to move home it was November.  Unfortunately fate conspired against me and so a busy month at work coincided with the move.  With no opportunity to take leave, the relocation of the family was done on days off and hence we are still mainly in boxes.

Although I, personally, have not had much time to settle into the new abode it does feel like home.  Again that is despite the fact that we still have dozens of unpacked boxes and the heating isn’t working.  Yes, the biggest problem that we have faced is the fact that the temperature has dropped close to freezing point over night and the heating has serious issues.  We have had heating engineers around who both have confirmed that the system is full of gunk and thus the hot water is not filling the radiators.  The good news is that the boiler works as does the pump, however that hot water is not reaching the radiators and thus downstairs, especially, is barely warmer than outside.  Unfortunately due the design of the hot water system it is not the easiest of systems to service and that design is part of the issue, there are lots of turns and u-bends where gunk can gather.  Fortunately phase one has begun and now the radiators take the chill out of the room (I wouldn’t say it is tropical but at least it is a step in the right direction) and hopefully the chemicals in the system carry on dissolving the gunk and allow the hot water to do its job.

Apart from the heating, we are as much in love with the house now as when we first looked round it. There are only a couple of minor annoyances that we hadn’t noticed when we looked round: a)  the kitchen light switch is located behind the door, so as you walk into the room, you have to then close the door before you can switch the light on.  Why do people do that?  It is so annoying, surely when you are designing a room you automatically place the light switch on the opposite wall to the door hinge so that you can open the door with one hand while simultaneously turning the light on with the other and b) the hot water tap in the downstairs shower room (hark at us – downstairs shower room!) opens clockwise and closes counterclockwise which is the opposite direction to every other tap in the house including the cold water tape on the same sink.  These are minor annoyances and the kitchen light switch will be changed when we manage to scrap enough spare cash together to redesign the kitchen.

The girls have settled in well too.  They do not notice the cold (something that we have to watch for as they wander downstairs with no dressing gown or slippers on).  They do not seem even to miss the old house, which is nice.  They have settled in quite quickly and both are happy to use the extra space that the house offers to run around and play hide and seek.  Their playroom is coming together and now we have just got to encourage them that their toys live in there (or in their bedroom) and are to be put away each night in the new boxes we have bought them.  Let’s see how that goes.

So while I have been busy at work, the girls have been busy at school.  Éowyn, especially has been excelling at school, she has begun to read and write and is brilliant at breaking words into their letter and then blending the sounds together.  It is great to sit with her and see how excited she is when she reads a sentence.  It is quite exciting for her parents too!  She also has a line in the Christmas play, but more of that in the December write up.  Needless to say there is plenty of practising  She knows it off by heart and now we are working on projection.  Éowyn wants to take it one stage further though and has started making up some actions to help emphasise the words, building her part up!  We have a little diva.  There is no truth in the rumours that her rider includes 23 orange smarties and a bunch of daffodils.

Although it has been a busy month at work, there was one ‘dark weekend’ and my friend and colleague cleverly chose that weekend to get married.  John and Sara have lots of friends that have small children so their wedding was organised with children in mind and as a consequence my invite also included an invite for Éowyn, Amélie and Ezra.

John and Sara were married at St John’s the Evangelist in Blackheath and therefore the shortest (it turned out not to be the quickest route) was to drive through the centre of London.  It was a great opportunity to point out the Natural History Museum, Buckingham Place, The Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London.  There were colouring books and pencils to keep the children entertained during the ceremony and afterwards there was cake and bubbles.  Then it was on to the reception at Devonport Hotel at Greenwich.  This is where the beauty of the S-Max comes into its own.  One of my colleagues, Matt, was going to have difficulty getting from one venue to the other, so with our seven-seater beast we could offer him a lift.

Now, Éowyn and Amélie have started to make up their own language and phrases.  Bongo, bongo Stylee is one of them (it means something that is very good), others are more nonsensical.  One day going to school they were talking to each other in one of these made up languages so I started to join in and they thought it was one of the funniest things that they had ever heard.  So now they will ask me to talk in my made-up language.

So on the way to reception the girls requested that I spoke my made up language.  So I strung together a line of vowels and consonants into an amusing set of words and they started laughing.  Matt thought that he would join in and copied what I had done.  Amélie, however turned to him and said, ‘Matt, you’re not even funny!‘  Put into your place by a three year old, how we laughed!

Ezra, too can be amusing and seems to be a ladies man.  He is forever trying to catch the eye of the ladies and with his blue eyes and cheeky smile he tends to melt their hearts.  Sometimes he is not content with just a smile though.  In a restaurant a week or so ago, he had caught the eye of a couple of ladies and they were cooing over him.  However they turned away from him and begun talking to each other, Ezra was not happy.  He started calling out to them, getting more and more agitated.  When they turned to see what he was doing, he immediately stopped shouting and just looked at them and gave them a big blue-eyed smile!  He is going to break hearts if he continues like that!  His latest smile is even cuter as he screws his eyes up as he grins.  I will try and get a photo.

Unfortunately we have all been fighting a winter cold.  Éowyn was the first to succumb, although we were not convinced at first.  The Bagnalls are the kind of family that do not stop for a mere cold, so when Éowyn had a bit of a cough we gave her some cough syrup, wrapped her up warm and sent her to school.  We were surprised when Lucinda received a call on a Tuesday afternoon to say that Éowyn had vomited and would we collect her.  Lucinda asked her why she had vomited and Éowyn told a different story, namely that she had accompanied one of her friends to the toilet and (I quote Éowyn directly) ‘She did a smelly poo and it make me sick.‘  Therefore thinking that there was nothing in it, we sent her to school the next day.  School must have thought that we were bad parents and immediately called Lucinda to collect her again, saying that when a pupil had vomited they needed to be off school for 24 hours.

Thursday morning came and we sent her to school.  Her cough had got a little worse but nothing too much to worry about.  However at lunch Éowyn had a coughing fit while eating and once again vomited.  So the bad parents were called back and they requested that Éowyn stay at home the next day.  Thus Éowyn will not receive a 100% attendance certificate for the next half term.

So as we settle into our new home we haven’t had many visitors (we are still in boxes and it is a little cold) but the first of my friends to visit has one of the longest journeys.  Sanjiv, was over in England for a couple of weeks from his home in New Delhi (India for those of you with an F in geography) and we managed to meet up (for the first time in ages) and he came round to look at our new home and also to meet the family.  Éowyn was a baby the last time he met them, now we have Amélie and Ezra – how scary is that?  It was good to see him and it illustrates how we let life get in the way of living, years seem to pass so quickly and before you know it, friends’ children are going to university.  Surely I am not that old?  Although I have just ‘celebrated’ 18 years at IMG.  I can now employ people that were not born when I started at IMG in November 1995!

With those thoughts I will leave you and see you in December!

Peace and Love


PS Apologies for the lack of decent photos, have been a little busy, I will try harder for the next update.