A trio of wins

Although you have had three updates this month it seems an awful long time since I have given you a detailed summary of life in chez Bagnall.  Let me see if I can put that right.

September has been dominated by the return to term-time routine for Éowyn and the start of full time education for Amélie.  For Éowyn this means a new teacher, in Miss Bernath and a change of campus.  It is also a slightly earlier start and 20 extra minutes at the end of the day.  She still seems to be enjoying school but now there will be more homework.  In addition to the mathletics and reading homework, she will, from next week, have a weekly spelling test.  This is probably her weakness at the moment.  She finds maths relatively easy (or at least the maths that she has at the moment) and her literacy is very good and is always praised for her imaginative writing, however her spelling is awful.  It will be interesting to see how this improves as she receives more spelling homework.

Amélie on the other hand is no longer enjoying school.  That is not exactly true.  She enjoys it when she gets there and speaks fondly of it when she comes home but is getting herself upset when she is thinking about have to go to school.  Indeed in a morning, and on occasion before she goes to bed, she has been crying saying that she doesn’t want to go to school, because she has no friends and it is too small.  It is true that the classroom is smaller than she was used to at pre-school, but I think it is the former that is more the issue.  Amélie is not backward in coming forward in introducing herself to people but most of the class have come through nursery together and so have already formed friendships that Amélie is not party to.  This will take time but we have no doubt that it will happen but it is not easy to see your daughter so upset.

The school have always employed a traffic light system for behaviour.  Everyone starts on green and depending on your behaviour then you can be put on blue, yellow or red depending on how badly you have behaved.  This is good for making the children think about their disruptive behaviour but doesn’t reward children for good behaviour.  There have always been stickers for good work (and both girls have received a number of stickers for good work so far this term) but nothing for good behaviour or sustained good work.  Hence the school has introduced bronze, silver and gold for good behaviour or good work.  I like this and am pleased to let you know that not only have our girls remained on green they have both been awarded bronze level so far this month.

The girls are not the only ones who have received a reward for good work.  As I mentioned earlier this year,  NBC (the Premier League rights holders in the United States won an Emmy in the 36th Sports Emmy Awards for Outstanding Technical Team Studio.  NBC were gracious, not only to recognise the fact that my department assist them in their technological endeavours but to include me and a number of other IMG staff members on the official list of winners.  I was very touched by this kind gesture and NBC had no obligation to include us in their win nevertheless it means that I am an Emmy winner and entitled to say so in perpetuity.  However, just saying it isn’t enough and as an Emmy winner I am entitled to buy a statue, so I did.  This has now arrived and sits with pride of place in the lounge.  It also means that I have become the second person in the world to be the proud owner of an Emmy and a Blockbusters dictionary – Stephen Merchant being the other – a very elite group.

The second weekend in September sees the annual Broadcast convention at the RAI in Amsterdam.  This is the chance for techie people of television to see the new gadgets that will hopefully become industry standard in the coming years.  I flew in on the Friday morning and caught the flight back home on the Saturday evening and the majority of the time in between was filled with meetings.  At many of the stands there were pots in which to put your business cards for draws for various company related prizes.  I usually toss one in and think nothing more about it, and so it was when I threw one into the SIS draw for a Rugby World Cup official ball, signed by the England squad.

Imagine my surprise when I received a call a week later to say that my business card had been drawn and I was the proud winner of the ball, complete with plastic display case.  A fine addition to the Emmy (and Blockbusters dictionary)!  This completes a trio of wins for this year with the trip to Austria that I won in the raffle at the Austrian Embassy at the Eurovision Song send-off party.  An impression triumvirate of prizes that I would swap in a heartbeat for things of more importance.

Since I was away from the familial bosom for an evening it seemed only right and fitting that I should return with pressies, especially since, because my flight was delayed, I had some time to kill at the airport.  A trip to the toy shop and 40 euros later the girls had a ‘Fright-Mare’ each and Ezra a cuddly minion.  Unfortunately my minion knowledge isn’t great so I was unable to definitively pick out his favourite (Bob) from the shop, so just randomly picked one.  I need not of worried for the reaction from Ezra was priceless.  I pulled the minion out the bag and his bright blue eyes lit up and he whispered in awe, ‘A minion for me?‘ took it off me and gave it a big powerful hug and took it to bed – this is highly unusual as Ezra doesn’t usually take toys to bed, unlike his sisters where there is often so many toys in their bed that they can’t stretch out.  Ezra’s reaction was worth the total and indeed it doesn’t matter how much things cost when you get a reaction like that.  The girls were also delighted with their Fright-Mares which took pride of place among their toys.

All their toys, however, pale into insignificance compared to the iPad.  The favoured toys of the early 21 century is a constant feature in the baguettes lives.  They come down downstairs in a morning to play games or watch cartoons via Youtube.  We have drilled into them the importance of looking after such expensive items and they are very good with them.  This is usually because of the fear of dropping them and the screen smashing, we did not realise how they can be used a weapon.

Éowyn was carrying the iPad horizontally and walking downstairs to show the others something that she had found.  Ezra heard Éowyn’s excitement and came running out of the lounge.  Unfortunately the height that Éowyn was carrying a horizontal iPad and the height of Ezra’s eye was equal and the corner of the iPad took a chunk out of Ezra’s cheek just under his eye.  In Éowyn’s defence she was extremely upset and in Ezra’s defence his didn’t really cry despite blood pouring from the wound.  You can see from the photos below that he had a significant injury and it developed into an impressive shiner.  It had healed well but he still has a bit of a scar, hopefully it will fade in time, but nevertheless it will remain an impressive war-wound for future stories.

Ezra is going through a rapid growing phase.  His speech is coming along extremely well and is progressing well with his potty training.  He is always proud of himself when he does something on the potty and wants to show you.  He was particularly proud of his first potty poo.  Unfortunately he was less than impressed with Lucinda when she flushed it down the toilet.  He threw a tantrum (a rare event) bemoaning the loss of his poo.  How could his mother do such a thing?

He is also now refusing to have an afternoon nap on some days.  When he refuse a nap it does have an effect on his behaviour as he is tired and grumpy by the end of the day.  He also used to sleep in each morning.  That is no longer the case and, in addition, to the occasional night visits he will wake at 0600 and want to go downstairs.

He is normally pretty good at going to bed although recently he has been taking advantage of his good relationship with his oldest sister.  We will put him to bed and go downstairs.  You then hear little feet across the landing and then bigger feet in the opposite direction.  Ezra will have gone into Éowyn and Amélie’s room and asked Éowyn to read him a story.  It is not something that we are going to stop.  Éowyn enjoys reading to him and it is good practice for her, Ezra enjoys the stories when she reads them to him and we don’t have to walk up the stairs and tuck him back into bed.  Everyone’s a winner!

Everyone may be a winner in that scenario but if the latest doom and gloom eschatologists are correct then there is not long left for the world!  The latest line in nonsense warnings from people who really need to get out more is that tonight’s lunar eclipse, which will occur as the moon approaches perigee, will herald earthquakes and a rain of fire ushering in the apocalypse.  This is, they say, because it is the last of 4 ‘blood moons’ (because during a lunar eclipse the moon appears reddish) over the last 18 months and we have had a blue moon (see below for a definition) this year.  Amazing scientific reasoning!

They really should do a little research before spouting such balderdash, it is possible to have as many as 7 eclipses (a mixture of solar and lunar) in one year!  Indeed this last happened in 1982 and will happen again in 2038, when 4 of them will be lunar eclipses.  If you are lucky enough to still be around in 2132 there will again be 7 eclipses, 5 of which will be lunar eclipses.  So 4 lunar eclipses in 18 months is nothing to concerned about.  Neither is the fact that we have had a ‘blue moon’.

The definition of a ‘blue moon’ has changed over the latter part of the 20th century.  The original definition of the term ‘blue moon’ came from the fact that the lunar and calendar months are different. Folklore named each of the 12 full moons in a year according to its time of year, therefore the occasional 13th full moon that came too early for its season was called a ‘blue moon’, so the rest of the moons that year retained their customary seasonal names.  Thus the third moon in a four moon season was the ‘blue moon’.  However, with an increasing amount of the population divorced from the farming traditions and reliance on the changing seasons it now has come to mean the second full moon in a calendar month.  This is not as uncommon as one would be lead to believe, a ‘blue moon’ occurs once every 2 years 261 days (or thereabouts) yielding a frequency of 1.16699016 x 10-8 hertz.

I’ve lost you haven’t I?

Let me just say if you are awake at 01:10am tonight and you happen to have clear skies look towards the moon and it should begin to turn red as it finds itself in the Earth’s shadow.  That is it, there will be no earthquakes, fire rain or horsemen of the apocalypse.  However, a blue moon followed by a blood red moon mixed together would make a purple moon, so maybe, just maybe, Prince, the time travelling Maya, with his purply music has saved the Earth once again from the planet Nibiru.  It makes about as much sense.

I will leave you now to have a nose at the photos below and maybe get a nap in so that you can still be awake in the early hours to witness such a beautiful astronomical event.

May I also send congratulations to Matt and Sharon who got married on Saturday, trust that you had a fantastic day and are looking forward to beginning your married life together.

Peace and love




November’s sky is chill and drear, November’s leaf is red and sear

As Autumn strengthens its grip on the land the leaves are changing colour contrasting against the uninspiring greyness that has been the colour of the sky for the last couple of weeks allow the Bagnalls to bring a little colour into your life.  We find ourselves sitting pretty between the girls’ birthdays and Christmas and for such a dull and usually monotonous period of the year it has been far from humdrum in the Bagnall household.

In the British calendar Halloween is closely following by Guy Fawkes night (or Bonfire night) on the 5th November. A date which commemorates an unsuccesful attempt at regicide and mass terrorism by Robert Gatesby and his fellow plotters, including the eponymous Guy Fawkes who was caught readying himself to light 36 barrels of gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament by a team lead by Lord Thomas Knyvet. (As an aside Lord Knyvet is quite reknown around our corner of the world, as he was granted the Manors of Stanwell and Staines and his effigy is in the chancel of Stanwell Parish church).   Bonfire and firework displays are put on throughout the country and we decided that we would try and see one this year.  Unfortunately as I was working at the weekend we had to find one that was planned for the actual date which fell on a Monday this year.

Cleves School in Weybridge appeared to be the closest display and so my friends Andy and Al joined us on a trip to Weybridge.  Hats and scarves were the order of the day as the November chill had begun and positioned ourselves at the edge of the school playing field to watch the display.  There was entertainment beforehand with halloween themed stilt-walkers and band knocking out covers of 80’s and 90’s rock favourites.  The display was not disappointing either and lasted at least half an hour.  We were very impressed, although Amélie was a little scared by the loud bangs.  There are quite a lot of firework related photos here.  I would definitely recommend Cleves School display if you are looking for a firework display next year.

It appears that holiday to Puncknowle has had two positive effects on Amélie.  The first, which in fairness was already well on its way, is the fact that she is now sleeping through the night.  This means that Lucinda and I will have 6 months of uninterrupted sleep before baguette number three makes an appearance.  It is amazing how much better you feel one you can get a good night’s sleep.  The second is a big step forward and all off her own back.

On our return from Puncknowle we decided to buy Amélie a potty and to make her involved in the decision we encouraged her to pick one, a dinosaur potty was her choice.  We put it in the lounge and thought no more.  Then Monday morning she came downstairs and refused to have a nappy on.  That was it.  No more.  Nappies in the day time are a memory.  Yes, there have been a couple of accidents but to be honest the transition to nappy-free days has been rather painless.  Yes, we do have to clap her everytime she goes for a wee, and she has even begun to take a bow when she receives the applause.

Lucinda is now back at work returning from her appendectomy and holiday.  She had to see the company doctor and has been given a gradual restart with reduced hours.  These return days have co-incided with my days off.  So with our days out of sync it means no requirements for childcare, which has been doubly useful with Amélie potty training and the fact that she has come out in spots.  Lucinda took her to the walk-in clinic (no appointments at the doctors) and the diagnosis came back as chicken pox.  Fortunately both Lucinda (and it is not good if a pregnant woman gets chicken pox) and I have both had it as children.  Éowyn has not had it so we feared the worse with both children going through it at the same time.  However, Amélie’s case has been extremely mild (thankfully) and Éowyn has not succumbed to the pox.  We have got away lightly.  This unsynchronised days off occurs in six week patterns so the next time it will happen will be Christmas week.  We both have jobs where public holidays mean nothing to whether we are at work and so it is with Christmas.  Lucinda will be working on Christmas day itself and I will be working throughout the yuletide with the exception of Christmas day.  The glamour of television.

Not that this will worry the girls too much.  Amélie is too young to understand and Éowyn will have her imaginary parents and imaginary brother to look after her on Christmas day.  Yes, Éowyn’s entourage of quasi-corporeal companions is still growing.  As mentioned above she now has imaginary parents and when they are in the room Lucinda and I become Auntie and Uncle.  As you can probably guess her imagination is well developed and her play is quite imaginative and quite regularly makes games up and even songs.  She loves to hear stories and will ask you to tell her stories about when you were a child in addition to stories from books.  Obviously she is a child of the 2010’s (whatever you call this decade) and so enjoys DVD’s and television programmes too and they all help to fire her imagination.

You may recall that in February I took Éowyn to the cinema for the first time to see the Muppets.  Like her father before her she instantly became a fan.  So not only do we own the film on DVD but also have the soundtrack on CD.  This CD is permanently in the CD player in the car and whenever Éowyn is in the car she requests the Muppets.  Not only does Éowyn now know all the words to all the songs, so does Lucinda, and I quite often find myself whistling ‘Life’s a Happy Song’ or bursting into ‘Me Party’ at inopportune moments.  Now the fourth member of the family is hooked.  ‘Daddy, Muppets please,‘ is the first thing that Amélie will say as you put her into the car.  Although I love the Muppets and think that the soundtrack is excellent I think I have to try and find another soundtrack or album that they enjoy as much so that I can have some variety on my CD player in my car!

Julia Donaldson is rightly the Children’s Laureate and the girls enjoy many of her books, indeed Lucinda and I enjoy reading her books too. For those non-parents (and especially non-UK non-parents) her most famous book is probably The Gruffalo (a book I could probably recite by heart) which has made a successful leap to video with a 30 minute animated film.  Another of her books has taken a leap into another medium: Room on the Broom , another of our favourites had been turned into a stage show.  It is the story of a witch that allows a dog, a frog and a parrot join her and her cat on her broom.  Doesn’t sound too interesting?  Well there is a twist in the tale and you will have to buy the book to find out what happens.

We thought that Amélie was probably a little too young so we just bought tickets for Lucinda, me and Éowyn for the Sunday show at the Rose Theatre in Kingston-Upon-Thames with the other families of our NCT group.  Unfortunately work is extremely busy for me at the moment and it is difficult for me to take weekends off so disappointingly I was unable to go.  Rather than see the ticket go to waste we asked Éowyn who she would like to accompany her and mommy to the theatre.  Her cousin Megan was the lucky recipient of the spare ticket.  Éowyn was extremely excited to be going to the theatre (although I think she thought it was going to be the cinema).  The show was excellent and Lucinda, Éowyn and even Megan thoroughly enjoyed it which made me even more disappointed to have missed it.  The other members of our NCT group also enjoyed it and all of the children were well behaved throughout the show, which is nice to think that there are alternative ways to entertain our youngsters that does not rely on 21st century technology.

So since Lucinda is at work and it is time for some Daddy time I will leave you with a small selection of photos while I pretend to be a monster.

Peace and Love