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

A New Addition to the Family

Sorry, I got your hopes up then didn’t I?  No we are still waiting for his arrival, the new addition to the family of which I speak is the new car.  Bertie Beast (as the girls have named it) is now a part of our family.  Nellie Bug (Lucinda’s Nissan Micra) has been replace by Bertie Beast (Lucinda’s new-ish S-Max).  It was a sad day to see Nellie Bug emptied of all personal possessions and left on a strange garage forecourt.  This was tempered by actually driving the Beast away and playing with all the gadgets that it has.  It took a while to make the decision as to which MPV (7-seater) to buy; we decided that the S-Max was the best fit.  It then has taken a while (Lucinda’s appendicitis put pay to the first attempt at buying a car) until we found the actual car with all the extras that we wanted for the price that we could afford.  We are very pleased with our new arrival.

It was the first time that the girls experienced such a change in their lives.  Lucinda and I have both had the same cars for the girls’ lives and thus it must be quite a strange experience for them to see something that has been quite a big part of their lives left at a strange place while we drive off in a new car.  Éowyn has experienced hire cars (and vans) and so leaving our car behind to drive off with a new one wasn’t a novel idea but not taking it back and picking up ‘our‘ car most certainly is.  Éowyn is obviously a little older and so we can explain the situation to her and she takes it on board, comprehending a new experience.  Amélie, on the other hand, isn’t really old enough to completely grasp the notion.  It must have been playing on her mind because a couple of days after we had picked up the Beast she said ‘Mommy, I really miss Nellie-Bug.‘  It nearly broke Lucinda’s heart.

As I mentioned in the last write up the girls are now sharing the same room, in bunk beds.  This is quite a change for both of them.  Éowyn now sleeps five feet (1.5 metres) off the ground and needs to climb a ladder to go to sleep (or descend it to go to the toilet).  Amélie has moved from a cot (with sides) to the bottom bunk of a bunk bed, a full sized bed.  They both have to adapt to sharing a room and the disturbances that this brings.  So far it has not been too bad.  Initially they kept themselves awake talking and shining their torches at each other, but since this beginning the novelty has worn off they go to bed and for the most part of it go to sleep quite quickly and stay asleep until dawn.

That is not to say they have slept through the night every night, but then neither did they do so when they had separate rooms.  Amélie, especially has woke us a number of times recently crying and visibly upset although she has been very much asleep.  This, we think, is because she has started to dream vivid dreams, her subconscious attempting to make sense of the day’s experiences.  Éowyn went through a very similar stage at about the same age and although they are very much reduced in frequency she still has them occasionally, then again so does Lucinda.

Although both girls have seemingly adapted to sharing a room quite quickly it would be nice, especially when they get older, for them to have separate rooms.  Not that three bedrooms is a bad thing but we live in a terraced house and so the communal rooms aren’t massive either and so we are on the look out for a larger house, ideally four bedrooms, but anything with more space and room to expand into.  Unfortunately, houses that fit that description in the areas we want for the price that we can afford are few and far between.  Unless one has a bottomless pit of money there is always compromise whenever you buy something.  For instance the S-Max was a compromise as it was a year older than we would have preferred (to be honest I would have preferred a new one but that was completely out of the question) and silver (not the colour that Lucinda wanted) but ticked the remainder of the boxes.  With houses there are more boxes that need ticking and although we have been to see a number of houses lately the compromises that they have are just too great at the moment.  This will probably have to be put on the back burner until junior is a little older as he will be unashamedly (and rightly) hog our attention for the next few months.

However the challenge over the next few months will be to get the balance correct and share our time with the girls.  This onus will probably fall on me more than Lucinda as she will be taking more of the bulk of baby care.  Not that I am a shy of doing my share and I am sure that regular readers of this website will testify.  Every now and then though Lucinda will throw me by changing the goal posts.  This happened at breakfast last week.  I asked the girls what they wanted for breakfast and Amélie asked for ‘Crocodile feet‘.  I laughed because I thought she was being funny.  Now that sounds precocious for a two year old but the girls play a game where they pretend to be waitresses and take a food order from all the adults in the room.  They pretend to write the order down and then return with the order a short while later.  It is a good game to test their memories and I like to push the boundaries so instead of the more usual ‘ham sandwich’ or ‘spaghetti bolognese’ I try to gross them our with items such as ‘Rhinoceros Toenails’ or ‘Camel eyelash sandwiches’ which the girls find hilariously funny. Thus when Amélie said ‘Crocodile feet’ I thought she was doing the same.  However when I opened the cupboard with the cereal boxes in I found a new cereal in the coco pops family called Croc prints which are crocodile feet shaped chocolate covered cereals.  She knew what she wanted.

Before the snow returns (yes really!) at the weekend we have had a couple of vernal days with temperatures hitting 17ºC and so I took full advantage performing the first mow of the year.  Thus the garden is ready for the next new arrival even if the house isn’t fully there yet.  At least Lucinda’s bag is packed and the S-Max is fully fuelled, let’s just hope that the snow that is forecast isn’t too deep or brings the traffic to a standstill at the wrong time!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there and let us see if the little one will appear on his due date.  So stand by for I believe that the next write up will be the one you are after until then

Peace and Love


Not many photos but here are the girls saying goodbye to Nellie-Bug

A week at Nanny Fran’s

A second update in just over a week, I’m trying to make amends for the lack of activity in 2013 thus far.  So what warrants this activity?  In a word (or two) half-term.  The first half term of the year was the first half term since Nanny Fran’s retirement and the last break before Baguette number three makes his arrival.  Nanny Fran therefore kindly offered to look after both girls for the week.  Obviously we asked the girls if they wanted to go to Nanny Fran’s for a sleepover and the answer was an overwhelming, yes.  Indeed they were excited for the entire lead up to their Black Country adventure and spoke of it constantly for at least the week beforehand.  Thus, Sunday morning while Lucinda was completing her antepenultimate day of work before thirteen and a half months of holiday and maternity leave kick in, I drove the girls up the M40 and their home for the next 5 days, West Bromwich.

As is the norm these days ‘Muppets – Soundtrack’ CD was fired up and before Starship’s ‘We built this city’ had begun both girls were asleep and so I could continue with Daddy’s choice of music.  As we approached West Bromwich they awoke and as I pulled up outside my childhood home both girls got out of the car all excited to see Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz and quickly made themselves at home.  Since they were so settled I decided that I would head back home after lunch.

And so a week away from the girls (and a week off work) began.  It was a very strange feeling and the house seemed very empty (and quiet) without them, however it did allow us to get on with all the jobs that we felt needed to be done in order to prepare the house for Baguette number three’s arrival.

So what did we do?  Task one was to move the girls in together.  We had decided that we wanted to move the girls in together to free up the box room ready for the new arrival, and although the need for that bedroom is at least three months away (he will be in our room for the first few months), we wanted to move them in together prior to his arrival.  The reasoning behind this was to prevent his arrival being associated in the girls’ minds with a change in circumstances. Life is going to change enough with their little brother’s arrival without the loss of their individual freedoms.  So, what was, Éowyn’s room was emptied and bunk beds were built and then furniture returned.  This also gave us the opportunity to deep clean the entire room and organise their many toys.  The beauty of the bunk bed arrangement means that they have a lot of floor space on which to play.

Although this sounds like a relatively quick job, it did take best part of the day.  However we did finish early so that we could take advantage of an evening without child responsibilities and go out for a meal and actually relax in each other’s company without entertaining small ones at the same time.

The second day we spent out of the house primarily looking at cars.  As previously mentioned the imminent arrival of number three means that Lucinda’s Nissan Micra was a little too small.  We spent sometime researching cars back at the tail end of the summer and we poised to make the decision until Lucinda’s appendix interrupted the process.  Now we had the opportunity we decided to see what was on the market.  We knew the type of car we wanted: A second-hand Ford S-Max.  We knew the specification that we were having, the price range we were willing to pay and the extras we expected to get.  Not expecting to see the exact car we wanted we headed to a Ford dealership that we knew had a large selection of S-Maxes to put our names down and give them the specifications we were after.  We looked at a number of S-Maxes and then amazingly we found one that fitted our requirements.  A test drive and conversation later we put our deposit down and arranged a pick up for the following Tuesday.

Lunch beckoned and then time to make another purchase.  This one not as expensive but just as important: a new mattress.  After an hour or two of trying out mattresses across a number of bed showrooms before we found the one that we both felt was the most comfortable and again a conversation later we had made our purchase and we had a second successful day had been completed.

Excited about our purchase (the car) and thinking that it would be nice for the girls to talk to their parents we decided to ‘Facetime’ (other videtelephony software is available) the girls.  Unfortunately that was a bad idea and one we will not repeat should they stay with Nanny Fran in the future.  Both girls became very upset and insisted they wanted to come home.  This in turn upset us, even though we knew that they were fine, but their upset continued into the night which caused Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz to have less sleep than they are used to.

The remainder of the week was spent getting plastic boxes of new born clothes and toys out of the loft and cleaning the house from top to bottom.  Lucinda is in full nesting mode something that is very difficult to accomplish when there are small ones running around and preventing full nesting behaviour.

Friday was Lucinda’s penultimate day at work and the day that I picked our little ones up and they got to see their bunk beds for the first time.  But more of that in a later write up.  But what did the girls get up to in West Bromwich?  If you ask Éowyn then it was nothing.  Whenever Éowyn has been anywhere and you ask her about it and what she has done the answer is always nothing. ‘Éowyn, what did you do at school today?‘ ‘Nothing.‘  ‘Éowyn, what did you do with Mommy today?‘  ‘Nothing.‘  So we found out off Nanny Fran.

As I mentioned at the start of this write up Éowyn and Amélie ran into Nanny Fran’s house all excited on the Sunday morning.  They made themselves at home almost immediately getting their toys out and settling in for the week.  Then Amélie put her toys and they she went up to Auntie Liz and asked for her nails to be painted.  Auntie Liz obliged and so I was surplus to requirements.

The next day Auntie Liz had taken the day off work and so the four of them headed off on an adventure to Hatton Adventure Farm at Hatton Country World.  They spent the best part of the day there playing in the various playgrounds and visiting the farm animals.  There is even a petting zoo and the girls got the chance to hold a Guinea Pig.  Amélie was apparently the more bold of the two, volunteering to hold the rodent but Éowyn took some convincing, and would only stroke it so as not to allow her younger sister the upper hand.

Tuesday saw Auntie Liz at work and so Nanny Fran had them both to herself.  So Tuesday’s adventure was contained to the town of West Bromwich.  They paid money into their bank accounts and headed to Nanny Fran’s erstwhile workplace.  Again the girls were very well behaved but again Amélie was more bold than her elder sister greeting all of Nanny Fran’s ex-colleagues and even kissing them good bye as they left.

Auntie Liz took Wednesday off so Nanny Fran had support for the second day of the week and more adventures were had including a trip West Bromwich’s Dartmouth Park.  So Éowyn’s summary of ‘nothing‘ as you can see was somewhat misleading.  In addition to the adventures there were visitors to Nanny Fran’s house and visits to various friends in West Bromwich including a trip to see Great Grandma.

I am not sure who enjoyed the trip to West Bromwich the most the girls or Nanny Fran.  Neither am I sure who was the most tired after the week in West Bromwich the girls or Nanny Fran.  It was unfortunate that the weather particular wintry (it is winter) which meant that there weren’t too many attractions open and also it was a little too cold to spend too much outside (for Nanny Fran as much as the girls!). Therefore when it warms up a little and Nanny Fran has had a chance to recover the girls will have to go up for another extended visit.  This will appease the girls since they were very upset to leave Nanny Fran’s and didn’t particularly want to come back home (that’s a nice thing for us to hear – we are only their parents!).

So Lucinda is now on maternity leave and the countdown is nearing its conclusion therefore stand by for the big news in the next week or so.

Peace and Love