I think it catches me by surprise every year how rapidly September comes around and thus how quickly the year turns and also how quickly my children are growing up. As you can probably guess from the title of this update, my little girl Amélie turned 4 last Sunday. Due to the fact that the start of the academic year, in the UK, is the 1st September this makes her one of the oldest still at nursery. This is despite the fact that she, like Éowyn before her, is probably more than ready for reception and full time education. Nevertheless another year at Mini Tots looms for her.
Amélie’s birthday sits in the middle of a busy birthday period. Not only is it just under three weeks before Éowyn’s birthday and the day before Auntie Liz’s birthday it also sits in the middle of our N.C.T. group’s crop of birthdays. As many people in the same situation do, when we were expecting our first child Éowyn we joined an N.C.T. group and although that was six years ago we are still in touch with 5 of the other couples. We may not meet up as often as we used to as a group (individually we often see each other) but in an attempt to keep the group spirit alive we arrange a joint birthday party for the kids, somewhere in the middle of their birthdays. As a coincidence this year’s N.C.T. birthday party fell on Amélie’s birthday.
A stroke of luck in part due to a busy European week for our Premier League big boys and in part due to the Ryder Cup (go Europe!), the bulk of the Premier League games were on the Saturday and the Super Sunday game was my beloved West Bromwich Albion v Burnley. Not a game with a large interest from foreign broadcasters even I will admit, therefore I decided that my (work) team could safely handle this one by themselves and I could start to claw back the days work owes me, by being off with Amélie on her birthday and attending the N.C.T. birthday party for the first time in years!
Not only was I off work but Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz decided to come down for a few days. Again, a little bit of a coincidence with Auntie Mary buying Auntie Liz tickets to see Kylie Minogue at the 02 for (and on) her birthday. Therefore Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz had double the excuse (not that they need one) to come for a visit.
The venue for last year’s celebration was deemed a success and so Alice Holt was once again chosen as the venue for the party. Alice Holt, a few miles outside of Farnham, is a woodland managed by the Forestry Commission. In addition to the woodland, it has a Go-Ape adventure playground and this year has been home to the Gruffalo Trail. Indeed, Lucinda took the kids on the Gruffalo trail during the summer holiday, so it is somewhere we know quite well.
We parked close to the wooden chalet that would be the venue for the party and were surprised that we were the second family to arrive, especially since we had to wait for Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz to drive down from West Bromwich (an early start for them). Thankfully with the trusted S-Max we could squeeze Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz in the car save them driving any further. We unloaded the car (kids and party food) and had a look around the chalet. It appears that we had been upgraded from the chalet we had hired last year (not that I know!) and this one was much bigger, with its own toilet facility and resident fox and badger (stuffed you’ll be glad to know, taxidermied, if that is indeed, the proper term). Not the best taxidermy for the fox looked like it was quite surprised when it died, or at least when it was stuffed! The badger on the other hand seemed to be smiling, perhaps he saw what happened to the fox!
It seemed to be a shame not to take advantage of the Indian summer we were experiencing (indeed the temperature peaked at 25C, not bad for the end of September) so we decided to tackle the Gruffalo trail en masse. It was a good walk to build up an appetite for the party food. The kids were all well behaved but perhaps a little bored with looking for the Gruffalo characters in such a large group. The most fun they had was when they found a branch across a dried up creek. They it was a bridge over boiling lava and they all took it in turns to walk across it. Who says that kids today have no imagination. It is amazing the fun you can have with a fallen tree branch.
So after party food, some party game and even a birthday cake (baked by Claire) we headed back home to celebrate Amelie’s birthday. Regular readers may recall that at the beginning of September Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz flew to New York for a mid-week trip. Éowyn and Amélie were so excited about Nanny going to America because there are some toys that are available in America that are not available in the UK (a demonstration of the power of the internet that they even know that) and Éowyn had handily written a list so that Nanny Fran wouldn’t forget.
As usual Amélie was truly spoiled with the presents that she received (including the ones from America!) and as usual Daddy spent more time extracting them from the packaging than Amélie did unwrapping them. Thank you all for your presents. I think that Éowyn was as excited as Amélie about the presents that she received and we had to stop her hogging them before Amélie had got a chance to play with them. Amélie (and Éowyn when her birthday comes around) is going to have her first proper bike for her birthday from Mum and Dad. We know it is the wrong time of year but there should be some fine days over the winter, and so hopefully by Spring they will both be confident on two wheels. You will have to keep popping by to see how that goes.
I will leave you there, as if I manage to find the time there should be a veritable plethora of updates over the next month or so. Again you will have to keep popping by to see how that goes!
But before I leave you there is one thing left to say: ‘Happy Birthday Amélie, love from Mum and Dad’
Peace and Love
PS West Bromwich Albion made it three wins in 8 days with a 4-0 defeat of Burnley. Maybe it will be a good season after all.