A year in our new home

Just a quickie of an update before the epic that will be the Badger Moot update sits proudly on the splash page.  As you can probably guess we have owned our new home for one year.  The actual completion date was the 1st November 2013 but due to being a Friday and the fact that I was working that weekend – sport never stops, even for house moves – we did not actually move in until the 5th November 2013.

As some of you may remember and if not, you can read all about it here, the purchase of our house, as can be in many cases, was a bit of a saga but that seems like a distant memory and we are settled into our new home as our tenants are in our old one.

The house felt homely when we moved in and rooms were allocated almost on our first viewing and they haven’t changed.  Our furniture, however felt dwarfed in the bigger living space and although we didn’t want to clutter the space with furniture for the sake of it we have acquired a few new pieces including a very large extending table that will come in handy at Christmas.

I suppose to the house we have only made three major changes so far.

  • The installation of photovoltaic panels
  • Painting of the exterior
  • New French doors

The installation of the photovoltaic panels was never a definite plan but something I was interested in, especially when I realised how much bigger the fuel bills were for a larger, older house.  When we investigated the various methods to acquire them and how much it would cost to buy an array we decided that there was no better time than the present and went for it.  They seem to be paying for themselves and should pay for themselves (at the current rate) in 6-7 years, notwithstanding energy increases.

The first thing that we noticed about the house when we came for our initial viewing was the colour.  The house is pebbledashed (something I am not too keen on) and the original mortar colour.  Not very exciting, it was a good job that the rest of the house was so good.  We decided as we stood in the driveway in those first minutes that if we  purchase the house that we would like to paint it.

After moving in, it seemed that painting the house was an unnecessary extravagance and we should just live with the colour.  Then the wettest winter in many a year hit and the one thing that we noticed (apart from the fact that we were not flooded and many roads around the area were) was that there were an awful amount of pebbles on the driveway.  The mortar was absorbing the rain and crumbling.  This then pushed us back to the idea of painting the house.  It would serve two purposes, the first brighten the exterior of the house but secondly and more importantly it would bond the mortar and pebbles and add an extra layer of protection against the elements.

It was about this time that Lucinda was made redundant as Air Canada outsourced ground operations at Heathrow Airport to the handling agency ASIG.  With a nice little bonus in the bank it seemed to be the right thing to do to invest some of it into looking after the house.

The third improvement has been the replacement of the old patio doors to some modern French doors.  This gives us a bigger opening, bringing the outdoors in, as the architects are fond of saying but also additional security and additional insulation.

Not a bad haul for the first year in our new home.  There is still plenty of things to be done, the most pressing in the heating system.  Last year we had a power flush to try to make the system more efficient and allow the radiators to actually output the heat that they are rated for.  The fact that last Winter was so mild (damp and windy but mild) it has sort of fallen to the back of our minds.  However the first cold spell this Autumn and the heating failed to work completely.  Therefore, it has become a level one priority.  It has been patched up, hopefully to last us through this Winter but the system needs to be looked at.  We will at the same time use the engineers to move some of the radiators to more sensible locations.  This will most likely be in the Spring.

To help retain the heat in the house we will also be looking at underfloor insulation but that is going to be a big job and probably involve new carpets (or floor covering of some sort).  That can possibly wait another year.

So, now I have bored you with boiler talk, I will take my leave of you and end this unusual of posts.  I deem it unusual because it is not centred on Éowyn, Amélie or Ezra, the primary reasons for the existence of this website and neither is it about a person, whether they are part of our family or not.  Despite this and despite the fact that none of the children were born while we lived in this house, without doubt all of them will regard this as home.

Peace and Love





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

Christmas in our new home

Christmas is over and I trust that the festive period has been good to you.  After a hectic year we were determined to make this a good Christmas.  The tenth Christmas that Lucinda and I have celebrated together and the first in our new home is reason enough for it to be a good Christmas.  Add to the mix that it was our first Christmas as a family of five and we were truly blessed.  The fact that Lucinda’s parents were cooking Christmas dinner and that neither Lucinda or I were working (we both work in industries where that is a possibility) added to the fact that this was a good year. The only black cloud on the horizon was the fact that I had to work on Boxing Day (there were 10 Premier League games scheduled), but that was a minor blip.

Football stops not for man nor beast and indeed the Christmas period is one of the most hectic periods for Premier League football and the remainder of the English Football League.  Hence the 10 days to a fortnight that many of you enjoy does not apply to me or my teams at IMG.  However, I was fortunate that I had both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off and the 27th December.  So a little semblance of normality could descend upon the Bagnall household for those days.

One of the Bagnall Christmas traditions is to create a Christmas bauble at Genevieve’s in Englefield Green.  This started when Éowyn was a baby with a simple handprint and each year since we have created a bauble with a hand print of each of the children.  This year though Éowyn asked if she could design her own, to which we agreed.  Not sure what we were going to get we let her loose with the paints.  We were very surprised when she decided that she would paint mommy.  It was brilliant, we were very proud of her.  However there was a pang of guilt in our first born and she conspired along with mommy to go back to Genevieve’s and make one of daddy as a surprise for me.  It was extremely thoughtful and again brilliantly executed.  These will now always have pride of place on our tree (there is a photo below).

Friday night is movie night in the Bagnall household and the girls take it in turns to choose a DVD to watch.  The Friday before Christmas we decided to invite Emma’s (our new neighbour and friend from NCT) kids over to give her a bit of a break and to repay her for the help she has given us over the last month or so.  Five children (and I) sat down to watch Arthur Christmas (very good by the way, thoroughly recommend it) for the last movie night of the year.  They were all very well behaved and it made us all feel Christmassy putting us in the mood for the yule.

The weather wasn’t exactly Christmassy, indeed the strong wind and heavy rains have spoilt many Christmasses around the country.  We got off lightly with the only damage a couple of fence panels that have blown down.  Fortunately the fence is our neighbour’s responsibility and so we will have a chat with them after the Christmas period about the repair – there is no rush.

Lucinda’s parents were cooking Christmas Dinner so we decided that we would do our first bit of entertaining in Bagnall manor by inviting the Cathrall Clan to our house for a pre-Christmas buffet on Christmas Eve.  Before our guests arrived we need to complete a little bit of shopping.  Not for that much food (Lucinda had completed the food shop a couple days previously, with only the perishables to be bought) but for a couple of last minute presents.  The most important being a Barbie Mariposa doll that Éowyn had asked Santa for a week or so ago but had only let her parents know the weekend before Christmas.  Obviously she had told the most important person but it would have been nice for us to be aware of what Santa needed to provide, hence a slight detour into Staines on Christmas Eve morning to ease Santa’s burden by picking up the reserved doll that was sold out across the area.

So with the final presents, spare lightbulbs, fresh bread and the Christmas Radio Times bought, it was time to prepare the meal.  Thankfully it was a minimum amount of cooking, just preparation.  It was good to test the entertainment potential of the house and it was the first time that Lucinda’s brother Steve and his family had visited.  The difference in size between our old house and our new home was ably demonstrated by the fact that it didn’t feel at all crowded with 8 adults and 7 children where it would have been standing room only in Stanwell Moor.

The girls were excited as ever playing with their cousins and showing them their new home and their toys, and we let them stay up late to play.  We allowed them to open their presents from Uncle Steve and Auntie Zoe since they would not be at Lucinda’s parents on Christmas day.  So the pre-Christmas came to a close and after the girls had been put to bed and we had tidied up we eventually crept into bed at 00:30, fearing an early morning wake up call.  Fortunately the previous day’s excitement had obviously worn them out and they did not surface until 08:00.  Amélie was the first to wake (as usual) but had just come into our room without checking to see if Santa had been.  It was the encouragement from us and Amélie crashing about the room that had woke Éowyn up.

They were both unbelievably delighted that Santa had been and were jumping around the house and that was even before they opened their presents.  Imagine their faces when they realised that Santa not only had been but had brought them all the things that they had asked for, including the Barbie Mariposa Doll.  We had two very happy little girls and neither seemed too bothered that their brother didn’t seem to have a lot of presents to open.

As anyone with little children can testify, the packaging that modern toys are locked into requires a modicum of engineering knowledge and nerves of steel.  I was fully prepared this year with my trusted Leatherman on my belt (other multi-tool devices are available).  The knife, screwdriver and pliers were all useful at one stage or another to extricate various toys from razor sharp plastic, cable ties and a thicket of cardboard.

After persuading them to eat some breakfast and get dressed they played with their new toys (while Daddy built some of their other ones) until it was time to leave for Nanny and Granddad’s.  Nanny and Granddad were cooking Christmas Dinner for eleven: the Bagnalls, Lucinda’s brother Mike and his family and themselves.  After sating ourselves with traditional festive fare it was time for a third round of present opening.

After such an exciting day it was inevitable that the girls started to wane.  So after presents were opened and played with and the discarded wrapping paper readied for recycling all were herded into the car.  The journey between Lucinda’s parents and our home is less than 10 minutes but 2 of the 3 kids were asleep by the time we had pulled into the drive.  Only Éowyn managed to keep awake.

The following day is known as Boxing Day in the UK and is traditionally a big sporting day so as Head of Live Operations for the World’s largest independent sports production company I was to spend the day at work.  Lucinda and the kids were not to spend the day on their own.  Lucinda’s Auntie Sally and Uncle Bill had invited the family over for a Boxing Day buffet.  Unfortunately before I left for work I had to be ‘bad’ Daddy.

We have had an on-going battle with Éowyn sucking her thumb for comfort.  We have tried many things and none has yet worked and we are getting concerned that it is affecting her teeth so we have renewed our efforts to put a stop to it.  In the lead up to Christmas, we had threatened to call Santa and tell him, but after Christmas Éowyn thought that she could get away with it.  She was wrong.  She had promised me that she wouldn’t suck her thumb so to highlight the importance of a promise when she blatantly sucked her thumb on front of me, I told her that she had to give me something that was important to her.  She tried offering me chocolate or one of Amélie’s toys.  Clever, but not quite what I had in mind.  Eventually I got her to give me her favourite toy:  The Barbie Mariposa doll.  She was distraught and to be fair I felt really bad about taking it but if she is going to understand the importance of a promise and at the same time break a bad habit it had to be harsh and something that was important to her.

After five days she got the doll back (as she did not suck her thumb – even at night! – again).  She does know, however, that if she sucks her thumb again it will be 10 days of no thumb-sucking before it is returned; then the next time it will be 20 days and that will be her final chance.  After that she will lose her doll.  We have said that we will help her but she has to make the effort and that promises are important things.

It feels really bad to do that, especially at Christmas, but we have to break the habit and if we are to highlight the importance of a promise then when we promise to do something then we have to follow through too.  Doesn’t make one feel any better about taking your daughter’s favourite present off her.

With my work schedule leaving me with Friday 27th off it seemed an ideal opportunity to have a second (third) Christmas with Nanny Fran and Aunties Mary and Liz.  However, as that was my only day off I didn’t really want a round trip of 250 miles added to a hectic schedule.  Therefore Nanny Fran came down and took advantage of the bigger house and stayed overnight heading back Saturday afternoon.

The girls were over excited as usual when their Bagnall relatives came down, mainly I think because they do not see them that often.  They were spoilt with presents once again and even seemed happy when they opened presents containing clothes.  However, they were more interested in Ezra’s presents.  Isn’t that the way it is always will be?

So with three very happy children and a new home built for entertaining Lucinda and I can happily say it was a very successful Christmas and we are looking forward to 2014.  I trust that you all had a great time over the yuletide and trust that you will all keep popping back for the latest updates in the Bagnall household.

Peace and Love