Welcome to 2014

As we teeter on the edge of (OK, toppled headlong into) a new year (a new year that will see Lucinda and I celebrate a decade together) it is traditional to look back on the year just gone and look forward to the next.  What a year 2013 has been!  Probably the single most eventful year we have known as a family.  Yes, other years have had big events: births, deaths, marriages, holidays, big birthdays, house moves and new jobs but this year has definitely has had them all (apart from the new jobs! – although work did relocate; does that count?)

At the start of 2013 I made some predictions of what we were expecting to look forward to this year and it was already looking busy; not only did they all come to fruition, fate threw a few more in for good measure.  Hence why this site has seen a record-breaking number of updates and a record number of visits, well I do have to keep you all informed don’t I?  And seemingly you are interested.  Or is it just the photos?

So what were the big events of 2013 and what have we learnt?

Obviously the biggest event of the Bagnall year was the birth of our third child and first son.  Ezra John (named after his Grandfathers) was born a week before my 40th birthday.  Now whether it is because he is a boy; or whether it is because he is a third child or whether simply it is because every child is different but he seems to be far more relaxed than either of his sisters.  Amélie had an excuse with her Milk Protein intolerance and we probably spoilt Éowyn, especially initially as we were learning to be parents (and still are!), but he has been the easiest to get to sleep, he cries the least and apart from an aversion to lumpy food has not shown any dislike to his meals.  And although it is a new skill for Lucinda and I to master, juggling the needs of three children, the most important detail is that all three of them are healthy.  Even Amélie’s milk protein intolerance has seemingly lessened.

So with three children our home in Stanwell Moor finally felt a little on the small side.  Thus we decided to make the tough decision to leave the moor, the village that Lucinda has lived all her life!  It did not take us too long to find a house that we both liked.  However the course of house buying ne’er runs smooth.  So let me give you a précis:

Found house made offer – offer rejected; Vendors found house so offered house at a lower price if we could proceed – we can’t proceed as we had no buyer;  We found buyers but so did our vendors and their new buyers offered more that we could afford – we proceeded with our sale; The new buyers chain began to fail so we offered an improved offer (though lower than the other buyers) – the vendors decided to proceed with us.

So far so good – then the twist began.  The government formed an Airports Commission to look into the requirements for expanding capacity at the UK airports and invited proposals from interested parties.  BAA operate Heathrow Airport and one (two) of their three (four) proposals for the expansion of the UK’s busiest airports involved the building of a third (fourth) runway over the village of Stanwell Moor.  This puts a bit of a dampener over the future of a new home and hence our buyers pulled out.

This left us with a dilemma: go back to square one, find a new buyer that didn’t care that their house may not be there in the near future or find a third alternative.  The third alternative was found and now we are the proud owners of a new house and landlords (with tenants!) of our old house.  That certainly wasn’t the plan at the start of 2013 but as we enter 2014 that is where we are.  Will we still be there in 2015?  More than probably, indeed we plan to be in our current abode until we retire and move to the seaside!

Both of those changes to Bagnall family life eclipse the other differences the year has brought: a new car (our 7 seater Ford S-Max) and a new place of work (same company just different premises).

It has been a very important year in the life of our oldest child.  Éowyn not only had the upheaval of moving home (and we kept both Éowyn and Amélie across the notion of moving from the onset including taking them around the house and asking if they liked it and which room they would like as their bedroom) but she also started full-time education.  It was confirmed in mid-april that Éowyn would be going to our first choice school, a decision that was fraught with conflicting emotions.  On one hand, it is a well equipped school, with a new head with lots of new ideas and has had a recent injection of cash; on the other it has a bad reputation and is now far from our new home.

The decision has been made and although we and not too obstinate that we would not consider moving Éowyn at the moment she is loving school.  She loves her teacher Miss Finbow, she has a new best friend and most important of all she is learning.  Her reading and writing is coming along in leaps and bounds and we, as parents, are actively encouraged to help as she gets homework twice a week.

2013 was a big year in Amélie’s development too.  Amélie started pre-school at a private nursery on the grounds of Éowyn’s school (makes dropping off so much easier – and a consideration if we are ever to move schools).  After a bumpy start and lots of tears (Éowyn was the same if you recall) she now runs down the path to school and sometimes forgets to give her dad a kiss before running into the classroom.  It is comforting to know that both of our children enjoy their respective places of education especially with Lucinda returning to work.  We just need to find somewhere for Ezra to spend those days.

2013 also reminded us of the circle of life.  At the beginning of the year we welcomed Ezra into our family and at the end of the year we said goodbye to my Nan.  She was the last of her generation and although she had been ill for a long time her passing was still a shock and obviously upsetting.  The comfort that we have is that she met her first Great-Grandson, that her close family were there in her final hours and her suffering is no more.  She has left us some great memories, more than a handful of quirks and a wardrobe of knitted jumpers!  Sleep well Nan.

One prediction that disappointingly didn’t come to pass was comet ISON.  Even in the days leading up to its perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) we were hoping for a spectacular astronomical display with possibly the brightest comet for a generation.  Unfortunately like an empyrean Icarus it flew too close to the sun and was destroyed and thus became possibly the only disappointment that 2013 brought.

So, all things considered, 2013 was a good year that brought many changes to this enclave of the Bagnall name.  (And I didn’t even mention the fact that both Lucinda and I celebrated our 40th birthdays!)  Hopefully after such a busy year you will find it in your hearts to forgive us if we hope for a quieter 2014.  Life will change to a new pattern in April when Lucinda returns to work but whatever else happens will be a surprise since the only other plan we have is to finally unpack all our boxes and settle into our new home.  I leave you with this toast to the coming year:

Here’s to the bright New Year
And a fond farewell to the old;
Here’s to the things that are yet to come
And to the memories that we hold.

Peace and Love


PS If you are into your geeky stats then this page is for you (click here).  Also, I have updated a few things in the background which shouldn’t affect you, my dear readers, but you will notice a couple of new widgets in the sidebar to the right.  So in addition to seeing the last three update titles and the current favourites there is a form to subscribe to the website so that you will receive an e-mail whenever there is an update.

The Bagnall Family - Christmas Tree Decoration
The Bagnall Family – Christmas Tree Decoration

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