Incredibly belated, indeed it is not just the end of the summer holidays as we are now, officially, in Autumn. I thought that last year’s summary of the summer holidays was late, I have surpassed myself this year. Genuinely, I had second thoughts as to whether I should continue with the write-up as some of the events described below happened nearly two months ago. However, I know, that a lot of my ‘readers’ are only here for the photos and there are some nice photos so I have decided that I would put the effort in and describe the events that lead to them. Read more
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
It doesn’t take long for a week off and a holiday in Turkey to fade in the memory as normality and the daily grind come back into view. The girls returned to school the next day, while I had an extra day off before heading back to the land of Sports Television. A land of Sports Television over a summer with none of the additional quadrennial events that tend to fill in the gaps between football seasons. Therefore, my working pattern over the summer resembles some form of normality with free weekends to spend with the family.
Not one to miss these opportunities Lucinda has booked up our weekends for the summer so that we can make the most of them. The first weekend off saw the family Bagnall head down the road to Windsor. To the Legoland Windsor resort, to be specific. Legoland is an ideal destination for the Baguettes since most of the rides and attractions are geared towards their age range. In addition it is about 9 miles from home, so takes next to no time (depending on traffic) to get there. It was with this in mind that we decided to use this year’s Tesco vouchers to buy an annual pass to Legoland. This allows us to ‘pop in’ whenever we like and not feel obliged to spend a whole day with tired children so that we don’t feel like we have not got our money’s worth.
We certainly got our money’s worth on our first visit though. We were there from just after the park opened until late afternoon. We were limited on rides though since the Baguettes are still of an age (or height) where they require an adult on the ride with them. When you have three children that poses some problems. However, Legoland have this sussed a little with ‘parent swap’. Effectively, either the parent stays on the ride and swaps children with the other parent, or alternatively the parents and the children swap to save double queueing. It works and with Ezra still a little too young to go on some of the rides it was very handy.
There were still a number of rides that we could go on as a family however and so we took full advantage of those even if the queues were a tad long at times but that is the problem of going places at weekends when the weather is nice.
June has been quite a pleasant month, weatherwise. The overall the temperatures have been below what one would expect for the summer month, but there has been little rain (in the South East of the UK at least). This is both beneficial and a hindrance to the Bagnall household. The sunshine is great, not just generally (who doesn’t like the sunshine) but also for our electricity generation. Having bright, sunny days when the days are longest is a definite bonus, despite the ever growing threat of the pigeons that have decided to nest under our panels.
I have always thought of pigeons as rather dumb birds, which is completely undeserved, they have passed many cognitive tests, but the ones nesting on our roof have demonstrated the exception that proves the rule. Obviously, they have demonstrated some form of intelligence by nesting under our photovoltaic cells, as it offers protection from the elements, and some warmth from the cells themselves. Nevertheless they have not yet worked out that laying ovoid eggs on a sloping roof is not necessarily a good idea and we have found many broken on the patio and driveway. More disgustingly that is not all that we have found splatted on our patio and driveway. So if anyone has a hawk that they would like to exercise over our house I would be very grateful.
The flip side of bright sunny days is the lack of rain, as our water butts can testify. I am happy for our lawn to change from green to brown however the vegetable patch is another matter. Our vegetables will not flourish without a daily watering and so we are having to resort to water from the tap. Even the thunderstorms of last night (110,000 lightning strikes in one night) haven’t replenished the water butts. What I wouldn’t give for a heavy downpour (sorry to all of you who are enjoying the weather) or a couple of days of rainy weather. I would have expected the heatwave (if you can call two hot days in row a heatwave, more a heatsplash) to have triggered more thunderstorms over chez Bagnall, apart from the night before’s mega-storm, as it is being labelled, nothing, just uncomfortable nights of sleep and the knowledge that the baguettes have seen the hottest UK day in their lives.
Since the football season has finished, Lucinda has been filling my weekends up. The first one saw us in Turkey, on holiday so that doesn’t really count. Then I was back at work for European Qualfiers! I thought that the football season had ended.
The following weekend saw Lucinda’s ex flat mate, Emma, celebrate her 40th birthday. She had reserved a room at a pub in Chiswick on the River Thames. This is where living next door to a baby-sitter and just a short walk from Staines train station comes in handy. A direct train from Staines to Kew Bridge and a five minute walk saw us at the pub. a good time was had by all and return by train although requires some time discipline is far cheaper than a taxi. I think Amélie must have missed us because at 0330 she crept into our bed, I think primarily to ensure that we hadn’t left for the weekend.
Then Lucinda took advantage of not only the fact that I was off at the weekend but also having holiday entitlement to use up and went away on Friday returning Sunday lunchtime. Not just Sunday but Father’s day but more of that later. I took the Friday off and took the girls to school, then it was a boys’ day for Ezra and dad. Nothing too exciting but it was nice to spend some time with him alone. Friday night is usually movie night but this had already been cancelled so after dinner, the Baguettes and I cuddled up on the sofa and watched Despicable Me 2.
I think the kids were aware of the lack of Mum, and although they weren’t particularly upset about it, it must have played on their minds. For at about 0200 I felt a little presence creep into bed. It was Ezra. Although Ezra has been sleeping in his bed, as opposed to his cot, for many months now he hasn’t really worked out that he could get out when he wanted to. The drive this night must have helped him realise and he found his way to Daddy. So while I was giving him a cuddle, before preparing myself to pick him up and put him back in his own bed, in wanders Amélie. So another child to comfort before finally getting back to sleep.
Before Lucinda had left on the Friday morning she has given Éowyn my Fathers’ day present and got her to write the card in preparation for not being there on the Sunday morning. Therefore as I put them to bed on the Saturday night, and remembering the night before I told them that as it was Fathers’ day that daddy would appreciate a lie in and no nighttime visitors. At 0700 É0wyn and Amélie come in with a card and presents and asked if it was too early. How can you refuse that?
With the approaching end of the academic year and the conclusion of after school clubs it means two things. The first is the perennial Sports Days. Éowyn’s school has adopted the new Sports Day standard where there are no individual races as such, it is all relay based races and you are competing for your house. Éowyn’s house won, so she was over the moon.
Amélie’s was probably even less competitive and every child received a medal – real plastic gold! Nevertheless Amélie was very proud of her medal, and rightly so.
Éowyn’s after school drama class is coming to an end and that means only one thing – shooting has begun. Last week Éowyn filmed the first of her scenes for the film that Sense Theatre are producing. There will be a quick turnaround in post production as the premiere is on Sunday 12th July and there are still scenes to shoot. Éowyn said it was a little daunting with the lights and the camera lens in view and it took her a little while to relax and deliver her lines. For anyone that has been in front of the lens I am sure that you can relate.
I can’t wait to see the finished film. Tickets have been bought for the premiere and the dvd has been pre-ordered. You never know it could be the start of a promising career.
Before I leave you, this month’s funny word comes from Amélie. Referring to her brother and sisters madly running around and came in complaining that they were acting like Lunar-pigs. I think she meant Lunatics but Lunar-pigs or should that be Lunapigs sounds so much better!
Peace and Love