A year in our new home

Just a quickie of an update before the epic that will be the Badger Moot update sits proudly on the splash page.  As you can probably guess we have owned our new home for one year.  The actual completion date was the 1st November 2013 but due to being a Friday and the fact that I was working that weekend – sport never stops, even for house moves – we did not actually move in until the 5th November 2013.

As some of you may remember and if not, you can read all about it here, the purchase of our house, as can be in many cases, was a bit of a saga but that seems like a distant memory and we are settled into our new home as our tenants are in our old one.

The house felt homely when we moved in and rooms were allocated almost on our first viewing and they haven’t changed.  Our furniture, however felt dwarfed in the bigger living space and although we didn’t want to clutter the space with furniture for the sake of it we have acquired a few new pieces including a very large extending table that will come in handy at Christmas.

I suppose to the house we have only made three major changes so far.

  • The installation of photovoltaic panels
  • Painting of the exterior
  • New French doors

The installation of the photovoltaic panels was never a definite plan but something I was interested in, especially when I realised how much bigger the fuel bills were for a larger, older house.  When we investigated the various methods to acquire them and how much it would cost to buy an array we decided that there was no better time than the present and went for it.  They seem to be paying for themselves and should pay for themselves (at the current rate) in 6-7 years, notwithstanding energy increases.

The first thing that we noticed about the house when we came for our initial viewing was the colour.  The house is pebbledashed (something I am not too keen on) and the original mortar colour.  Not very exciting, it was a good job that the rest of the house was so good.  We decided as we stood in the driveway in those first minutes that if we  purchase the house that we would like to paint it.

After moving in, it seemed that painting the house was an unnecessary extravagance and we should just live with the colour.  Then the wettest winter in many a year hit and the one thing that we noticed (apart from the fact that we were not flooded and many roads around the area were) was that there were an awful amount of pebbles on the driveway.  The mortar was absorbing the rain and crumbling.  This then pushed us back to the idea of painting the house.  It would serve two purposes, the first brighten the exterior of the house but secondly and more importantly it would bond the mortar and pebbles and add an extra layer of protection against the elements.

It was about this time that Lucinda was made redundant as Air Canada outsourced ground operations at Heathrow Airport to the handling agency ASIG.  With a nice little bonus in the bank it seemed to be the right thing to do to invest some of it into looking after the house.

The third improvement has been the replacement of the old patio doors to some modern French doors.  This gives us a bigger opening, bringing the outdoors in, as the architects are fond of saying but also additional security and additional insulation.

Not a bad haul for the first year in our new home.  There is still plenty of things to be done, the most pressing in the heating system.  Last year we had a power flush to try to make the system more efficient and allow the radiators to actually output the heat that they are rated for.  The fact that last Winter was so mild (damp and windy but mild) it has sort of fallen to the back of our minds.  However the first cold spell this Autumn and the heating failed to work completely.  Therefore, it has become a level one priority.  It has been patched up, hopefully to last us through this Winter but the system needs to be looked at.  We will at the same time use the engineers to move some of the radiators to more sensible locations.  This will most likely be in the Spring.

To help retain the heat in the house we will also be looking at underfloor insulation but that is going to be a big job and probably involve new carpets (or floor covering of some sort).  That can possibly wait another year.

So, now I have bored you with boiler talk, I will take my leave of you and end this unusual of posts.  I deem it unusual because it is not centred on Éowyn, Amélie or Ezra, the primary reasons for the existence of this website and neither is it about a person, whether they are part of our family or not.  Despite this and despite the fact that none of the children were born while we lived in this house, without doubt all of them will regard this as home.

Peace and Love





7 years and nothing itches

It has been a while, hasn’t it?  I thought I would take the opportunity to try and squeeze in a quick update before work became the dominant force in my life as the football seasons kicked off and IMG Studios at Stockley Park was tested to capacity.  That didn’t happen, work crept up and slapped me in the face with a wet fish (metaphorically speaking) before I managed to sit down and regale the latest Bagnall adventures.  Therefore, firstly accept my apologies for the hiatus between updates and secondly for any discrepancies or omissions that will undoubtedly occur.  It has been nearly seven weeks!

So let me take you back to the end of June and Staines upon Thames day.  One of the many stalls was run by the local estate agents ISIS (named after the stretch of the River Thames above Iffley Lock, not the Egyptian goddess, AVID storage or the Islamic State militant group).  We bought our house through ISIS and were very pleased with their assistance in the purchase so we thought we would pop over and say hello.  After collecting a number of ISIS branded freebies we decided to enter their competition.  An ISIS branded Smart Car was filled with helium-filled balloons; 50p entitled you to have a guess at the total number for a chance to win £100.  With a combination of back of a fag-packet calculations and a stab in the dark I put my guess on the entry form and thought no more of it.

A week later I received a phonecall from ISIS to let me know that, not only was I the closest, I had got the number spot on and had won the prize money.  ISIS asked if we would pose of a photo with one of those oversized cheques for promotional material, to which we agreed.  However, with the Managing Director on holiday that has not yet materialised.  Nevertheless a cheque for £100 duly arrived in the post the following week and has been cashed!

Although it seems a little strange to be saying it this week (with overnight frosts in some parts of the country and a weather warning in force for Bank Holiday Monday) July and the beginning of August have been blessed with warm weather and dry days.  Indeed, ideal days for exterior painting.  Yes the second big job to personalise the house has been completed.  The first was installation of photovoltaic cells to provide electricity; the second was to paint the exterior of the house.

One of the few things that we didn’t particularly like about the house when we saw it was the dull colour of the pebbledash render.  We thought about painting the house as soon as we moved in and initially we just thought that this was just an aesthetic choice on our behalf.  The winter of 2013-2014 was extremely wet and although we escaped fairly lightly in terms of damage, it was evident by the number of pebbles that worked loose from the render that something needed to be done to the exterior to prevent further damage before winter returned to finish the job.  One of the solutions to help protect the render is to paint it with a suitable weatherproof paint.

After receiving a variety of quotes we settled on a company that was both reasonable and had good on-line reviews.  The next decision was which colour.  Éowyn was disappointed that we chose the neutral ‘Country Cream’ rather than a shade of her favourite colour: pink.

Since this was the first time the house had been painted it makes the job a little more difficult as the render absorbs much of the first coat. I have to say that even after the first day the house looked completely different.  Indeed I almost drove past the house on my return from work.

It is satisfying to know that not only does the house look so much better but that the paint is protecting the render and hopefully will be saving us a hefty repair bill should the weather win the war against the pebbledash.

We are hoping to make one more major alteration to our home before the end of the year.  Will we manage to make it happen? You will have to keep popping by to find out.

But what has else has been happening in the Bagnall household?

July is the traditional end of the academic year and this July saw Éowyn’s first school year come to an end.  Éowyn has thoroughly enjoyed going to school and has done extremely well in her first year.  Her reading and writing has developed quickly.  Indeed she doesn’t just write sentences she makes books.  Her spelling might need a bit of work (she tends to write phonetically) but she is very good at capturing her imagination in the written word.

Éowyn’s strength has been her personality, she can be strong willed and determined but that makes her a good leader and thus seems to be the centre of fun in the classroom. This made an impression on her teacher Miss Finbow, who spoke very highly of her and her leadership skills. This has also lead to her having many friends but more importantly she has made two very good friends.  Unfortunately, one of these friends has moved to Hastings over the summer holiday and the other has been out of the country for the entire summer vacation.  Therefore she has to rely on her little sister for entertainment over the holidays.  So it will be interesting to see what happens when she returns to school in September.  A new teacher and one less friend: I am sure she will cope.

Before work became the main force in my life we tried to squeeze in a few family days.  It may have been a couple of years since we have had a Merlin Pass but those days were not wasted and it has given us a good knowledge of the attractions in the area and Legoland in particular.

For our first day out we decided to head to Windsor.  The girls are getting bigger (and bolder) and so were more interested in going on the rides.  Realising this, and also looking to have a little fun ourselves, we decided to leave Ezra with Nanny and Granddad.  It was a little strange being a family of four but at the same time it was a little liberating not to have the pushchair and not have to try and entertain a baby as well as keep an eye on young children.

We let the girls choose rides to go on and Lucinda got to choose a ride too:  The Viking River Splash.  I don’t think that Éowyn forgave mommy for at least an hour.  Éowyn doesn’t like getting wet!  Despite the soaking on the first ride, the girls thoroughly enjoyed their day at Legoland and enjoyed the freedom of not having their little brother distracting their parents. It gave Lucinda and me a glimpse of the near future when Ezra is a little older and we can finally ditch the pushchair and the associated paraphernalia that a baby or toddler requires.

Ezra is still ‘walking’ on his knees, he still hasn’t taken that bold step (forgive the pun) and begun truly solo bipedal motion.  Nevertheless there has been a development:  Ezra has begun to walk with his walker, or one of the girl’s pushchair.  You can tell that he has the strength and probably the balance for he will swing the walker around to change direction but seemingly wants the reassurance of something to hold onto.  Another indication of the strength that he has in his legs is demonstrated by the distance he walks with it.

At the end of our road is an entrance to Staines (Commercial) park.  Lucinda took the kids to the park for a quick and easy day out.  Ezra indicated that he wanted to take the pushchair while the girls grabbed their scooters.  Lucinda thought he would walk partway and that she would end up carrying him and the pushchair.   indicated that he wanted to take the pushchair while the girls grabbed their scooters.  Lucinda thought he would walk partway and that she would end up carrying him and the pushchair.  Ezra had other ideas.  He walked all the way to the park.  Walked around the park, played with the girls and then walked halfway back home.

With this adventure you would think that maybe it would give him some confidence but no.  However, I am determined that he has avoided walking for too long so I am trying to encourage him as much as I can.  He is more determined however not to walk and so far he is winning.  Nevertheless, there has been a little breakthrough with his eldest sister.  With a little encouragement, we can get him to his feet and holding Éowyn’s hand he will walk forward as she walks backwards.  Hopefully it will not be long before our little boy is truly bipedal.

I am going to stop here and let you enjoy the photos below.  Fear not there is a lot more to tell and I am back in the writing frame of mind.  For those of you that haven’t guessed the title of this update alludes to the fact that on the 20th July Lucinda and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary, only a month or so late but ‘Happy Anniversary’ darling.

Peace and Love




The nights are drawing in

As the title alludes half the year has been and gone, the Summer (in the Northern Hemisphere at least) Solstice has passed and we are hurtling towards winter with ever shortening amounts of daylight.  That is the natural order of things and it is only of import to the Bagnall family because it means that the amount of electricity we can generate from our Photovoltaic cells has passed its maximum for the year.  Nevertheless we were fortunate with the elements around this solstice with fine weather and clear skies, thus plenty of electricity generated.

However, we are in a quandary with the weather now that we have a veg patch.  Yes, our experiment in growing our own produce is giving us some joy even if we probably will not have the most bountiful of harvests. That was never the main driving force for this year.  This year was to see if we enjoyed it and whether we could fit in enough time to look after our crops as well as introducing the girls to growing your own food, so they appreciate from where their food originates.

It is safe to say that we have definitely enjoyed the growing side, so much so that we have installed 3 water butts (enough for 520 litres of rain water) around the garden and have plans to expand the veg patch after harvest.  We have learned much from this year’s experiment (especially how potatoes can take over a veg patch) and are currently growing raspberries, pumpkins, potatoes, runner beans, tomatoes and sunflowers.  In fact we find it quite saddening when you go to check on your crops and there has been damage.  So far we have had attacks by slugs on a variety of crops (although there are at least two frogs in the garden so imagine the amount of damage without predators), a case of blackfly (need more ladybirds), both strawberry plants and one pumpkin plant were dug up (I’m blaming squirrels) and half my potato crop were sat on (I’m blaming the resident fox family). It is a good job that we are not relying on these crops to survive nevertheless it would be good to have a least a few meals worth.  It is with this in mind that in addition to expanding the extent of our veg patch, next year we also plan on trying to encourage natural predators as well as expanding our range of crops and that is even before we have harvested this year’s crop.

So our quandary is that we need the sun to generate electricity (and to grow our crops) but we also rejoice whenever there is a heavy downpour as it means that we do not need to water that evening and that our water butts are replenished.  It is amazing how quickly those butts are filled from each rain shower and just shows how much water is hitting our drainage systems; no wonder there were so many floods over the winter.  So can we have the best of both worlds with extremely sunny days but extremely wet nights?

The main topic of discussion on the streets and bars, for once, is the not the weather but more the sporting competitions that are going on in the world.  Wimbledon and the World Cup are dominating the television schedules in the UK and my work life.  Wimbledon has not really caught the girls attention but they have been intrigued by the World Cup.  Their interest was first piqued by the prevalence of St George’s Crosses bedecked many of the houses in the area.  Then, I introduced them to the perennial disappointment of being an England football fan.

Although the World Cup is one of major summer jobs (it is a hard job when you have to watch the World Cup) at work I still enjoy watching it when I get back home, especially when I have a fantasy footie team and some small bets on the outcome.  Éowyn has taken to sitting next to me on the sofa and feigning interest, mainly so that she can stay up a little later.  ‘Who are we?‘ she will ask.  Then you have to explain that we are neither of them and she can chose which one she wants to win.  Invariably she choses the referee for some reason, probably because he is the only one wearing whichever colour that FIFA have deigned will be the referee outfit for that match.  It was much easier in my youth:  Referees wore black.  That was it.  Football boots were black.  It is the natural order of things.  Nevertheless it is nice that she is taking an interest in the World Cup although at 5 she is a little young we will have to wait until 2018 and Russia to see if that interest is still there.

Football isn’t the main sport for the girls though, trampolining is the sport of choice.  Amélie has been trampolining for most of the year and has passed the her first two trampoline gymnastic awards.  Now Éowyn has begun going after school.  She has a little bit to catch up with her younger sister but I am sure she will be spurred on not to be in her sister’s shadow.

Their little brother will not be following them on the trampoline though, mainly because he is still not walking.  Éowyn was walking early, Amélie not so.  Ezra has until the 4th July to progress to bipedal motion earlier than his sister.  That is highly unlikely.  Especially since tomorrow is that date!  He was crawling quite early and has been cruising for a long time but he has not taken that next step (no pun intended).  He has decided that he can get from A to B quickly by crawling and if he needs to carry anything then he can get there on his knees.  He has the strength in his legs but he just doesn’t seem interested.  I think that once he decides to go for it he will be walking in no time.  He just needs to take the plunge and go for it.  As always we will let you know about his first steps.

There was another first for the Bagnall family this week: Éowyn had a friend over for a sleepover.  Éowyn and Amélie have had friends over the day, indeed every Friday is movie night which we alternate the hosting with our friends Emma and Martin, but their friends have always gone home at the end of the day.  As the girls get older they will inevitably want to spend the night at a friends so when we were asked if Éowyn’s erstwhile best friend Raine could spend the night to help her Mum out with baby sitting we thought it would be a good opportunity to take our first tentative step into the world of sleepovers.

At Playbox Éowyn and Raine were inseparable, unfortunately however before they moved into full time education Raine’s family moved from Staines, nevertheless we have made sure that the have remained in touch.  Therefore we know Raine very well, and more importantly she knows us, so she was comfortable stopping with us.  Éowyn was so excited, getting more so as the day came closer.  We made the spare bed up in the spare room so that they could sleep together without disturbing Amélie.  It was good choice as the girls were still up when Lucinda and I went to bed.  This was partly due to the excitement of seeing each other and partly due to the amount of sweets they had consumed for their ‘midnight’ feast.

Raine was extremely well behaved and indeed the actual sleepover was very easy as the girls kept themselves entertained and were very inclusive towards Amélie, which was nice.  It was more the aftermath.  Raine’s mum collected Raine just before lunch and left us with one extremely grumpy Éowyn.  The grumpy mood wasn’t due to the fact that Raine had left, moreover it was due the lack of sleep (Éowyn isn’t used to staying up so late) couple with a sugar come-down.

Éowyn was a little better after a good night’s sleep, just in time for the third annual Staines-Upon-Thames day.  Celebrating the town’s addition of the river suffix to its name the memorial gardens were packed with stalls, a music stage, a funfair while classic cars lined the High Street.  Nanny and Granddad parked at our house and we all walked into the town centre.  We turned up as it kicked off to take the first boat trip down the Thames (before the crowds turned up – something we learned from last year!).  The girls enjoyed the 40 minute journey, but it was just enough any longer and I think they would have got bored.

After disembarking we headed around the stalls, and the rides.  The girls encouraged Daddy to win a mermaid doll each on one of the stalls (which I did).  We sat and listened to some of the bands (well we sat Amélie danced – photos below) while we ate an ice cream and then they chose a couple of fairground rides to go on.  It wasnt long before the toll of the weekend was beginning to have an affect on the girls and so after a spot of lunch we left Nanny and Granddad to enjoy the fair in peace and headed home.

We were out of the country on the first Staines-Upon-Thames day but we did go last year (even though technically we were not living in Staines Upon Thames at the time) and in our opinion this year totally eclipsed the 2013 event.  There was plenty to do (and to spend your money on!) but it would have been nicer to have had more local produce to buy and more local businesses and societies peddling their wares.  Nevertheless the event is still in its infancy and perhaps after the success of this year maybe it will encourage more businesses next year.  The high turn out was probably helped by the fine weather (despite the forecast of showers) but we will not take that away from the organisation and obvious enthusiasm of the people behind the scenes.

I will leave you now but warn you that from now I am going to get very busy at work so there may be a few gaps between updates so I will not promise the quantity or quality of the updates as I will be relying more on Lucinda for stories and photos.  The joys of working in the Sports Television industry.  Meanwhile here is an impressive crop of photos, including plenty from Staines Upon Thames day 2014.

Peace and love