I am spoiling you with the continued frequency of updates this year although I was secretly hoping to write a few more as March is traditionally a busy month with birthdays for the boys of Team Bagnall and Mothers’ Day. In addition, to those known events there have a couple of other significant events that I am sure you will find of interest. Read more
October update and a weekend in Bath to celebrate a Silver Anniversary
The three week gap between Amélie’s and Éowyn’s birthdays is usually barren on this website unless there is a major event (and there have been a small number of such instances over the last eight years). This year I thought I would treat you to a bonus update because I am feeling generous, however time has crept upon me so it doesn’t actually bisect but has been snuck in just before the birthday update, and just before the half term holiday.
So, as half term looms into view it is probably a good time to reflect on the school term so far. Both girls still thoroughly enjoy school, although the new school year has taken them both a little time to settle in. Amélie because, as mentioned in a previous post, as you enter year 1 you have to leave the childish ways of Reception behind and become much more disciplined in your learning. So, instead of learning through play and breaking up the working day with unscheduled play breaks, year 1 is much more regimented in lesson structure and it wasn’t just Amélie that was struggling with the change in regime.
Éowyn struggled in the first few weeks for a completely different reason. The school had decided to completely mix up the classes of her year as they moved from year 2 to year 3. Unfortunately for Éowyn, nearly her entire circle of friends were split up (probably because they all talk too much!) and she had to forge new friendships as she entered junior school.
Nevertheless we have just had our first Parents’ evening of the academic year and both girls are doing well. They have no problems with Éowyn’s work and she is an intelligent, enthusiastic girl who always wants to take an active role in lessons, however she is prone to bouts of silliness and talks too much! We will work on that! Amélie, on the other hand is top of her class in everything, exceeding expectations in everything and is a ‘delight’ to teach. I think Lucinda and I are both guilty of thinking that Éowyn is the clever one (and she is naturally very clever and is very questioning, it is just that she has a tendency to laziness mainly because she doesn’t need to try so hasn’t developed the tools to motivate herself to learning) while Amélie is just quiet and gets on with it. Amélie means ‘hard-working’, and Iris means ‘angel’ and she is our hard-working angel!
It is not just school that starts up afresh in September. Both Éowyn and Amélie are part of the Girl Guide movement. Éowyn is in Brownies and Amélie attends the local Rainbow group. They both thoroughly enjoy their respective evenings and neither are ever in a rush to leave the respective church halls at the end of the meetings when we come to collect them. There must be something in the blood both Lucinda and her mum loved Brownies while Nanny Fran was a Brown Owl and a Rainbow leader.
It is not just school that Amélie has had to get used to but as you may remember she is now bespectacled. None of our fears of bullying or resistance from Amélie to wearing her glasses have materialised which is a worry off our mind and we now have a confirmed appointment for the ophthalmologist to start the treatment for her amblyopia. Lucinda did have to do some negotiations with the hospital bookings team however as the first date given coincided with the special something that was alluded to in the post Half term and a trip to Nanny Fran’s but you will have to wait to find out exactly what that is. She was initially told that if she couldn’t do the date given we would have to go back not he waiting list but she explained why we couldn’t make it and they relented giving us an appointment for the following week. Well done Lucinda!
It hasn’t just been school, swimming and girl guides though. Those of you that know me, know that I read Electronic Engineering at Manchester University in the early 1990’s (I, know, I don’t look old enough!). In my final year I shared a house in Longsight with four other lads. We have kept in touch through the years attending each others’ weddings, however that excuse to meet up has dried up and so if we don’t make an effort then the years will pass us by and before you know it a decade or more will have passed.
Life is busy and it can be difficult to arrange these meet ups but inertia is the biggest obstacle. Once the notion has been sown we are all happy to become involved, we just need someone to take the upper hand and start the ball rolling. Up stepped Karl and Sara (in fairness to Karl, mainly Sara) who set up a WhatsApp group, found suitable accommodation and donned the cloak of debt collector to ensure that we all managed to pay on time.
The choice of location was the town of Box, just outside of Bath, in a lovely luxury home called Shockerwick Lodge. Four bedrooms in the main house with a fifth in a log cabin in the garden, it fitted the criteria perfectly. A large lounge and an equally large kitchen completed the layout with the added bonus of not just one but a pair of hot tubs!
We hired the house for two nights and could take ownership on Friday afternoon and had to vacate by Sunday lunchtime, so to make the most of the time I decided to take holiday on the Friday so that we could head down the M4 as soon as the girls left school. This meant that the girls could not attend their Friday after-school clubs and Amélie could not go to Rainbows. In addition they missed their Saturday morning swimming lessons but all were a small price to pay for a weekend of fun, or at least we hoped it would be for the children as much as it would be for me.
The decision to leave as soon as the girls left school was a good one. We missed the heavy Friday night London traffic and it meant that we arrived at the house while it was still light. We were the first ones to arrive and so had the choice of bedrooms and we had the opportunity to explore the house and garden before night fell. Gradually the house filled and the weekend celebrations began.
Although we do not see each other that often it wasn’t long before we were all chatting and mickey-taking as though we were 20 years old. Indeed we sat up until the early hours discussing Brexit, Trump and reflecting on our time in Manchester. I crawled into bed around 03:00 leaving some of them still putting the World to rights.
There was no lie-in for the Bagnalls on Saturday morning though, not with Ezra! So, we were first up and washed and dressed and gradually we all arose proving that we still have the stamina to drink to the wee hours and be up and functioning at a reasonable hour. Which I think surprised us, as much as you dear readers!
A fairly relaxed day followed with the kids getting on extremely well. Éowyn and Amélie got on extremely well with Andy’s eldest daughter, while Ezra latched on to Charlie’s youngest mainly because he had lego and a lightsabre. This definitely puts him high in Ezra’s estimation especially since the lightsabre was modelled on Kylo Ren’s lightsabre replete with the cross beams. (Although Ezra’s current favourite Star Wars character is Darth Maul – I am concerned about my youngest!). Advantage was taken of the hot tubs – mainly by the children but we didn’t just stay in the house. Karl had done some research and found that we were not too far from the Avon and Kennet canal and so we headed in convoy the couple of miles or so for a pleasant walk along the canal looping back to a pub (it would be rude not to!). Then we headed back to house for a repeat of the previous night of drinking and chatting.
Again, we were woken early by Ezra and got up and begun the tidying and packing ready for leaving the house. Éowyn was extremely upset to leave her new friends and we have promised that we will meet up soon, especially since Andy and his family only live a dozen or so miles from us. It is nonsense really that we don’t meet up that often – but,as this website is testament, life can just be a little busy.
Andy and Máire had to leave to get back home but the rest of the party decided that we would try and find somewhere for the remaining 8 adults and 5 children to have Sunday lunch. That proved to be a little difficult, nevertheless we found somewhere along the way and so decided to take a punt. I think it was probably the worse Sunday lunch, if not Pub grub that I have ever had. We waited for what seems like an eternity to receive our food after we ordered it (in reality it was probably close to two hours!) and when it arrived it really wasn’t worth the wait. We were all so hungry that it didn’t matter I think we all managed to eat it and Ezra invented a new favourite. His garlic bread was so dry and hard he dipped it in the gravy boat. Garlic bread and gravy – a winning combination!
We first met 25 years ago and we have all done pretty well for ourselves putting our degrees to good use and I truly believe that we will since be friends in another 25 years we just have to keep this momentum up and not leave it too long before the next Manchester Alumni Moot.
Before I leave you just a quick funny from Ezra. When you are getting him ready for bed he has a tendency to hide, usually under the bedclothes. So the game commences and you loudly province ‘I wonder where Ezra is?‘ And then you eventually discover him under the giggling lump of bedclothes and he thinks it is brilliant. I was playing this game the other night and I loudly pronounce ‘Who is this under the bedclothes?‘
‘Not me!‘ came the reply. I am not entirely sure he has got this hiding malarkey down to a tee yet!
Stand by for an Éowyn birthday write up and see you soon
Peace and Love
Ezra’s 2nd Birthday
No signs of triskaidekaphobia or indeed friggatriskaidekaphobia on Friday 13th March 2015, for this auspicious day saw our son celebrate his second birthday. Ezra was born on the 13th March 2013 weighing 8lb 13oz, with all those 13’s there is no way he can be superstitious about that prime integer. Not that at two years old he has any inkling of the nature of superstitions or indeed that it is even his birthday. There is no doubt he will get used to the idea of having a birthday on a Friday 13th, indeed he only has to wait for 5 years and 2020 for it to happen again.
Unfortunately I was unable to take the day off work and both Éowyn and Amélie were at school, Ezra spent the majority of his birthday with his mum, but even his mum wasn’t able to spend the full day with him. This is because she has an even more pressing arrangement: an invitation to Éowyn’s Mother’s Day concert at school. Therefore while Lucinda spent an hour at a concert in her honour Nanny came to look after her youngest grandson.
We could not let Ezra’s day pass that easily though, could we? So I left work early arriving back home at 16:00 just in time to look after Amélie and the birthday boy while Lucinda picked up Éowyn and her friend Billy from Spanish after school club. Our neighbour’s boy, Blake, then joined us to make it a little more of a party atmosphere. Yes, they were both ostensibly Éowyn’s friends but both are boys and they know Ezra very well and to be perfectly honest Ezra hasn’t really got any friends.
When you have you first child you join the local N.C.T. club and meet new parents in the same situation, forge friendships and the children naturally become friends. Indeed Blake and Billy are children of friends that we met through our N.C.T. class. This is not the case with the second child, although there some from our N.C.T. group have gone on to have a second child giving Amélie a ready-made friend, but it is certainly not the case with the third. Thus Éowyn has had ready made friends since her birth, Amélie and, even more so, Ezra are going to have to go out into the big wide world and make their own friends.
Éowyn and the boys were a little hyper after a long week at school and so we had to mould that energy into games. Lucinda had set up a treasure trail for them, with clues pointing to the ultimate prize. With a bit of prompting they solved the clues and retrieved there Red-Nose Day related prizes. Yes, not only was Friday 13th March 2015 Ezra’s second birthday it was the 30th anniversary Red-Nose Day, a day that saw them pass the £1,000,000,000 mark.
After a rest for a party meal musical statues and musical bumps were the next focus for their energy with more prizes, this time in the form of sweets and before you knew it Ezra’s party was over. There was just time for him to blow out the 2-shaped candle on his birthday cake before bed and a well-earned rest for Mommy and Daddy.
It was not, however, Ezra’s only birthday party. The weekend prior to his birthday, was an F.A. Cup weekend (although less said about West Bromwich Albion’s performance the better) and as such there was no Premier League football (not strictly true as there was one errant match that had been rescheduled to take advantage of both teams lack of interest in the F.A. Cup). Usually this would mean a weekend off for me, however IMG doesn’t like me taking weekends off. This weekend saw the start of our latest acquisition Major League Soccer. Since this is the start of a contract and not really sure what we were going to get or exactly what we were doing with it, I went in to shepherd the first weekend.
Now for those of you for who the letters MLS or indeed Major League Soccer mean nothing, it is the United States version of the Premier League (although without being too unkind the standard is some way off the latter). So with evening kick-offs on the West Coast of the United States this meant overnights for yours truly. It has been a long time since I have done overnights and although in themselves it wasn’t too bad, I have felt jet-lagged ever since.
Nevertheless this did mean that although the day time was for sleeping, with three little ones this wasn’t going to happen that easily (although I did pretty well on the Saturday), we could do something during the day. Therefore we invited Nanny Fran, Auntie Liz, Auntie Mary, Great Uncle Michael and Great Auntie Yvonne for a celebration of Ezra‘s birthday.
Lucinda’s mum and dad were away for the weekend in the Isle of Wight else we would have made a bigger event, although with hindsight the fact that I had only had 3 hours sleep did start to take its toll and so I was glad there were only 5 guests.
I think Ezra enjoyed being the centre of attention although being the 3rd sibling he wasn’t the centre of attention for that long. His sisters hogged the limelight as much as they could. However, they were not the one getting presents and since it was his party we let him open the presents that we given him. He was very excited with his Peppa Pig Weeble set. As mentioned previously it is his favourite programme (although he insists on calling it Georgie Pig) so having his own Peppa Pig characters that his sisters have to ask him to play with gives him a little more power. He also received some more wooden track and a new train for his train set. Now he can play choo-choos with a bigger tracks and even had points so he can have a second route.
With all the new, boy-related, toys that he received for his birthday the toys that he has taken to bed and played with the most was, somewhat predictably, the cheapest. While buying Ezra’s birthday present Lucinda saw the first edition of a collectible magazine set. With all those collectible magazine sets, the first edition is 99p to entice you in. This magazine set was aimed at young children and was about my favourite subject as a small child, dinosaurs. With the first magazine you received an adult triceratops and a baby tyrannosaurus rex. We thought he might like them but did not foresee the fact that he will not put them down and they would take precedence over his weeble George.
With the advent of Ezra’s second birthday comes the next health care check up. When you have your first child you look in the books and the guidelines to make sure that your little one is meeting all the targets (or in Éowyn’s case exceeding them all), this becomes less important as the second and third come along. Nevertheless when a letter comes from the doctors wanting you to make an appointment to check on your third child’s development you start to look at the list of targets and mentally tick them off.
Ezra is meeting and exceeding them all except the target number of words. By a child’s second birthday they expect them to know 50 words. When we received the letter we though about all the words that Ezra says and could not make it passed thirty. Slightly concerned about this I jokingly said to Ezra that he needed to pull his finger out and start saying a few more words. He has taken that chiding to heart and is seemingly coming out with a new word or two everyday and stringing them together. We haven’t seen the health worker yet but Ezra now knows his fifty words and all is good.
Two days after Ezra’s birthday was Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday, whichever you prefer. As usual it wasn’t much of a rest for Lucinda as I was at work but, as mentioned above, there was a celebration at Éowyn’s school on the Friday before (Friday 13th, Ezra’s birthday and Red-Nose day – what a busy day). The Mother’s day concert started with songs sung by the children followed by cakes and cup of tea for all the mums. Not exactly relaxing considering everything else that was going on, but it is the thought that counts.
I will leave other family related news to the next update and let Ezra have an update all of his own for his birthday (well, nearly all of his own).
Peace and Love