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


Another year begins and if any of the apocalytophiliacs are correct it will see the end of the world.  Pure poppycock but judging by the amount of books generated, television programmes produced and even films directed there are a lot of people out there who believe it.  For any of you that don’t know what I am talking about apparently the world will end around the winter solstice this year (2012).

What is this based on?  Well apparently the winter solstice 2012 marks the conclusion of a b’ak’tun (the 13th – which is probably why many Westerners have such an easy time believing something bad will happen), a time period in the Mesoamerican long count calendar equivalent to 5,125 years, (in truth the precise end of this b’ak’tun is in dispute as it is not a precise art to deduce when the b’ak’tun began).  So the Maya believed that this would mark the end of the world?  No.  There is no suggestion that they even viewed this more momentously than the turn of a year.  So where has the ‘Mayan 2012’ prophecy industry germinated from?  Probably it says more about our own Western Apocalyptic view of the world, with a Newtonian view of time as an arrow without any understanding of the meaning of time to the Maya or comprehension of their culture.

Maybe I am being a little dismissive.  There is one stele in the relatively obscure provincial town of Tortuguero that mentions (it is the only mention) of the end of the 13th pik (b’ak’tun) unfortunately there is a large chunk of it missing and so anything that anyone infers from the remaining words is open to a large dollop of conjecture.  If you actually read peer-reviewed translations of the stele, you get a completely different picture to most airport paperbacks. ‘[On] will happen, the witnessing/attending of the display of Bolon Yokté in the great impersonation (envelopment in costume and regalia).‘  For me this is reminiscent of a more contemporary source: ‘Say, say, two thousand, zero, zero party over oops, out of time.  So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s nineteen ninety nine.‘  Now Prince could be a time travelling Maya from the planet Nibiru come to save the world with his purply music (and if anyone sees a book on that in their local shop – that was my idea!) or perhaps you will still need to buy Christmas presents this year.

If you need any more convincing then there are many inscriptions mentioning future events and commemorations that would occur on dates beyond the completion of the 13th b’ak’tun.  On the west panel at the Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque refers to the 21st October 4772 A.D. another at Coba gives an impossible date that is 41 octillion years in the future (this date is 2 quintillion times the current estimate for the age of the universe).  So let us not get dewy-eyed over the infallibility of Maya prophecies and hope that the 1000 or so (I wonder if there are as many as 2012) eschatologists that have written about the 2012 apocalypse have put enough of their savings away to see them into their old age.  Then again, they maybe correct and if they are then there will be no one around to tell me ‘I told you so!’  Win/win for me then.

So what will 2012 bring for this little enclave of the Bagnall family? And what have we taken from 2011?

2011 has been an interesting year (and not in the Chinese curse kind of a way) we have adjusted to being a family of four.  We have learnt all about milk-protein intolerance.  We have survived the terrible twos (for the first time) and we have discovered the beauty of a Merlin Pass and the joys of Peppa Pig and Peppa Pig world.  We are still in the process of adapting to the four of us being in different places at the same time.  Which usually means Lucinda getting up at the crack of dawn to start her shift at the airport, then me getting the girls up and dropping one off at the childminder’s and the other at pre-school before heading into work.  With Lucinda doing the opposite after working her shift to pick them up and get an evening meal ready for when I arrive home (unless it is a late one for me, then Lucinda has to put them to bed).  It is something that countless other families do up and down the country and I, now, struggle to understand the amount of hours I must have wasted when I was single or when it was just Lucinda and me.  The amount that we (have to) manage to squeeze into a day (although we always need more time) is significantly more than before we had kids and it feels like work and chores tend to just get in the way.

We have also learned that no two children are the same – even (and some might say, especially) sisters.  Éowyn was much more forward than Amélie, crawling and walking much earlier than her younger sister.  Now this could be that Amélie had a bad start, for her milk protein intolerance wasn’t diagnosed very early (although much earlier than some – thanks once again to Kate our Health Visitor) and those first few months must have been agony for our little one.  For when every meal that you have is causing you so much pain that it prevents you from sleeping however the urge to eat overwhelms the memory that food will cause you pain, the last thing you feel like doing is exploring this evil place.  Then once this condition is recognised and now you can enjoy your food, Mum and Dad have the kitchen ripped out, followed by the flooring in the lounge and dining room so there is nowhere for you to practise your crawling.  Plus, what is the point in wasting valuable energy for all you have to do is cry and an attentive big sister will go and find something to entertain you.

Amélie is far more laid back than her sister and has never been as clingy as Éowyn was, and to some extent still is.  Whether this is because Éowyn had our undivided attention as she was exploring the world, while Amélie has always had to share us.  Or whether it is just as parents, we are more laid back with the experience of three or so years under our belts and subconsciously that relaxation is felt by our youngest.  Or maybe it is just in the genes perhaps we will see as she develops over the coming year.

The other major lesson learned in 2011 was how to diet.  Lucinda joined Slimming World and as a dutiful husband I agreed to support her with her dieting and so did the same regime.  However, the competitive side of my nature took over (which has actually been good for both of us) and we have lost nearly 6 stone (84lbs/ 38kgs) between us!  That is impressive in anyone’s book.  It has meant that we have both had to buy new wardrobes (clothes – not actual wardrobes that would just be silly).  So if you haven’t seen us in a while you might not recognise our new svelte figures.

So what can we expect from 2012?

Obviously, the macro-economic situation is going to dominate the news and global events and one hopes that it doesn’t have a direct affect on one’s own personal economic situation.  But that notwithstanding (and to be honest there is not a lot I can personally do about the possible breakup of the Eurozone and the unravelling of the debt mountain that the world finds itself in) it will (hopefully) be business as usual in the Bagnall household.  Éowyn will move to 3 days a week at pre-school at the start of the year and we may be thinking of introducing Amélie to pre-school at the end of the year.  We will be testing Amélie’s cow’s milk protein intolerance early in the New Year and hopefully she will have grown out of it, or we need to be prepared to accept it for longer (if not life).

Éowyn keeps asking about going on a ‘plane again and so we may pluck up the courage and take two toddlers on a plane.  It is not necessarily the act of taking them on a ‘plane; it is more the paraphernalia that one has to take on such a trip.  It also makes it all very expensive, with 4 tickets, something we are just going to have to get used to I suppose.  Interestingly, this year Lucinda and I will have been married for 5 years, which is traditionally celebrated with a wooden gift however the modern travel anniversary present is airline tickets so maybe it is a sign that we should pay a visit to Heathrow Airport (it is just round the corner after all).

A little personal project I have set up has been given its own website.  Baggies Projects will be a forum for me to explore a couple of things that I have been meaning to do for some time.  Now I am not saying that there will be useful insights, or even far reaching conclusions that will change your life when you read this new website.  That is not what it is about.  It is simply a channel (project zero if you like) for me to explore some of things that often crop up and are never allowed to bear fruit.  Some may develop and warrant a website all of their own, others may wither and die a forlorn (but public) death but at least they will all be given the same opportunity to flower.  Hopefully it may even inspire some of you to do the same.  Then again, Strictly-come-X-factor-in-the-jungle is on.

If, for any reason, either this website or Baggies Projects have inspired you to start your own website then may I recommend WP hosting as a medium for your projects.  They offer a simple one-stop shop for all your website needs.  Register your domain, WordPress install and hosting in one simple place.  Think it is too complicated then they can help too, either directly or with many self help tutorials on their support pages.  So go on, it’s 2012 what are you waiting for?  If I can do it…

So all it leaves me to do, it wish you all a Happy New Year and paraphrasing a traditional Irish Blessing: ‘May the 2012 bring the warmth of a home and hearth to you, the cheer and goodwill of friends to you and the hope of a childlike heart to you.

Peace and Love

The Bagnall Family

Happy New Year from the Bagnalls
Happy New Year from the Bagnalls

Off to school

So the decorations are down, Christmas is well and truly over and the New Year feels like the Old Year already.  January always feels like a long month.  Probably due to the fact that the weather is still awful, the nights are still long (although getting shorter) and there is nothing to look forward to; for February is just as bleak.  Also due to the hangover from the overspend at Christmas and the fact that we get paid early due to the Bank Holidays over the Festive period, pay day seems a long way away and you really have to make those pennies stretch.

The other side of the January period is that it is the last chance for me to use up the surplus holiday from the previous year’s entitlement.  Hence I have had a long weekend (5 days!) and will be off for another week before the end of the month.  I feel like a part-timer!

With the New Year comes a new adventure and a new step in Éowyn’s development.  She has begun playbox pre-school playgroup at the local primary school, Shortwood.  With everything that Éowyn does she took this new stage completely in her stride; more so than her Mum.  She is only booked for 2 mornings a week at the moment to ease her (and us) into the idea of going to school and she is still going to Jo, her childminder, three times a month.  This will give Lucinda more time with Amélie and allow her to give Amélie the attention that Éowyn received when she was that age.  With the added benefit of preparing Éowyn for the big wide world of school in a slow steady build up.

Shortwood (and Playbox Playgroup) has a high teacher to pupil ratio but it is under threat of closure and/or merger for that very reason.  There has been a campaign to save the school because it is deemed not to be economically viable in the area (although it is more economically viable than compared to other schools in other areas of the country).  The high staff to pupil ratio is one of the factors that attracted us to Shortwood.

We dropped Éowyn off, on her first day as a family (Lucinda, me and Amélie!).  There were a number of other parents there in the same boat with children whose first day was the same as Éowyn’s.  I think it was harder for Lucinda (and me) to leave Éowyn than it was for Éowyn and I think she picked up on our vibes and became very clingy.  Although in fairness it was also probably due to the fact that it had been a while since we visited Playbox and there was a lot of hubbub with parents saying goodbye to their children, and it was all a bit overwhelming (although she did have the presence of mind to give Amélie her monkey that she had brought along).  However, according to the staff when we picked her up she had been a bit teary for about 10 minutes but then forgot all about it and got involved with the activities.  When we came to pick her up, she didn’t seem bothered to see us and had sat down to lunch (which she is not entitled to, only being there for a morning session), she is a Bagnall after all!

Amélie, feeding is another matter.  She is still taking her concoction but we are still to be convinced about it’s effectiveness.  She still brings up a lot of milk, and will still, at times, struggle with her feeding.  Although she is clockwork with her hunger pangs, every 3 hours on the dot.  Which equates to not a lot of sleep!  After discussing with Kate (the Health Visitor) we will be getting her weighed tomorrow (Wednesday) and see how her weight is doing.  From that information we will see whether the medicines are helping keep enough food down to put on weight or whether we should now be taking the next step and see the paediatrician.  She is also hoping to bring the appointment we have with the dietician (mid-February) forward so that perhaps we can start weaning early.  As they say: ‘Watch this space’.

And it is there I will leave you with this week’s photos.  Although before I go just a quick story.  As I was putting Éowyn to bed last week she suddenly said:  ‘Knock, Knock.’  I replied ‘Who’s there?’ ‘Happy’ she said. ‘Happy Who?’ ‘Happy Birthday!’  Not sure who has been teaching her Knock, Knock jokes but the fact that she remembered it and thought it was funny took me aback.  Interestingly I have been trying to teach her other Knock, Knock jokes and she just looks at me as if I am stupid. ‘No, Daddy, it’s Happy!’

Peace and Love