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





It has been a while

I am necessitous of absolution from you dear readers.  Apart from a slow start I have been updating this website with some alacrity this year but as we hit the halfway mark, nothing.  Nigh on four weeks and no news from the Bagnalls.  Now the reason for the lack of updates is nothing to do with a lack of news.  On the contrary there is perhaps a little too much news for one update.  No, the reason for the lack of updates is due more to the fact that we have been taking full advantage of the hiatus before my working life takes over family life for a month or so.  The fact that the UK is currently enjoying (or not – depending on your point of view) its first proper heatwave for 7 years also adds to the desire to enjoy the outdoors rather than sitting indoors on the computer (and if you look on our Flickr page you will see over 100 photos taken over the last three weeks or so).  So although I beg your forgiveness dear readers I make no apology for spending the time with the family!

The disadvantage of leaving four weeks between write ups is the fact that there is so much to tell you and yet I fear that I will bore you if I regale it all verbatim so this will be more a précis than usual.

On the last day of June, Staines-upon-Thames celebrated Staines-upon-Thames day.  So to show support to our local town (and because Ashford on the Map was so good) we decided to head down with the kids.  Unfortunately Staines-upon-Thames days was not a patch on Ashford on the Map and we were actually disappointed, the only highlight was a boat trip down the Thames.  It was then back home for the first of many barbecues.

With the approaching school holidays (and my approaching busy period at work) we decided to get a head of the game and spend a day at the seaside before it gets mobbed with schoolchildren.  We decided on Mudeford since we enjoyed our trip to Hengistbury Head and since we only passed through Mudeford we thought it would be nice to actually explore Mudeford for a day instead of just using it to catch the ferry.  Nanny and Granddad know Mudeford quite well and they joined us on our trip to the seaside.  The girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves, as did Lucinda and I and Nanny and Granddad.

The turn of the school year marks a big change for Éowyn.  No longer will she be at pre-school but will start full time education at Town Farm school in Stanwell.  The last few weeks saw Éowyn begin the transition and preparation for the move.  Lucinda and I had a tour and introductory chat with the staff; Éowyn spent an hour and a half at school (and although she was very teary when I left her there by all accounts she was on good form and was one of the more confident children) and then Éowyn’s teacher Miss Finbow paid her and us a visit at home.  It was something that surprised us but in a nice way.  It is good that Miss Finbow got to see Éowyn in her environment and she how she spends her time.  I think that Miss Finbow was a little overwhelmed with the greeting that she received.  The girls were both very excited to see her and Éowyn had drawn her a picture of a butterfly and wouldn’t leave her alone.  At least Miss Finbow is forewarned before she receives Éowyn in September.

Éowyn has taken the fact that she is going to ‘Big School‘ to heart.  She has stopped sucking her thumb (which is a massive achievement as she has been sucking her thumb since birth), begun taking showers and ventured in the realms of older children television programmes.  She has insisted that we teach her to read and has been practising drawing (drawings that actually look like something) and writing her letters and numbers.

Her choice of television programmes are interesting as they are the same ones that I used to enjoy when I was a child:  Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo.  In fact as I came home one evening I opened the door to hear one of the most delightful sounds there is.  Éowyn was giggling and Ezra was giggling too!  Éowyn was watching Tom and Jerry and thought it was one of the funniest things she had ever seen and Ezra was sitting there giggling at Éowyn giggling.  The small things in life are the best.

Ezra is also developing at a rapid pace.  He is now four months old but looks much older (he is a bit of chunk!).  He is still relatively placid only crying for a reason (hunger, nappy change, wind), however he now wants a little more entertaining.  He enjoys holding his toys and rattling the ones that make a noise.  He has also begun to roll over.  Therefore you have to be careful where you leave him and not only does he roll on to his belly and also rotates around so he can be quite far from where you left him.  As a consequence we have to be careful where we leave him unattended.  It probably will not be long before he begins to crawl – taking after Éowyn more than Amélie!

Let us not forget about Amélie, she, too, is growing up.  Unfortunately she is starting to go through the terrible twos.  Not quite as terrible as Éowyn’s terrible twos but because Amélie is so much of a cutey that the slight change in attitude is noticeable.  Again you have to look at everything in an holistic manner rather than in isolation.  Thus with unemotional attachment you can see that Amélie could be overcompensating for a perceived lack of attention with Ezra taking at lot of our time and obviously with Éowyn’s imminent change in school, Amélie could feel that she is being left out.  Obviously we are trying not to make that so but I think it will be the perennial problem facing us that there is always the possibility that one of the three will feel left out at some point.  So no doubt this will become a common, if somewhat unwanted, theme.

It probably didn’t help that I paid a flying (literally and metaphorically) visit to New York (well Stamford, Connecticut) for a meeting with one of our new clients for the Premier League, NBC.  As an important client it was an important meeting to have to ensure that we can provide the level of service that they expect.  We were only on the other side of the pond for 36 hours and the states were experiencing a heatwave every much as intense as ours.  I think that the girls (and Ezra) missed me but the little cuddly toys that I picked up at the airport more than made up for my absence!

The other big news of the last month is the fact that we have accepted an offer on our house.  It is in the region of what we wanted to accept and the couple that are buying it seem very nice and so we feel that we are handing it over to worthy custodians and at the same time not leaving the neighbours with someone that we wouldn’t want to live next door to.  We still haven’t found anywhere to buy ourselves though, so it could be that we could be homeless before the autumn (a caravan in Nanny and Granddad’s back garden could be an option!).  The only house that we have both fallen in love with is a little out of our reach but we have put an offer on the table and entered into a negotiation with our ability to move quickly the ace that we are trying to play over the higher offer that they have already accepted.  The joys of buying a house!  Let us see how that pans out.

Before I leave you to look through the photos there is just enough time for me to wish Lucinda a happy anniversary.  It has been 6 years since she said ‘I do’ and made me a very happy man.  We have squeezed a lot into the last 6 years but probably not as much as we will fit into the next 6 weeks, with a potential home move, a definite work move, Éowyn due to start school, Amélie due to start nursery and Ezra due to start crawling.  Thus, I am sure you can appreciate that the next few months are going to be somewhat busy so I apologise in advance for any perceived lack of news and any tardiness in relating it to you all via this medium but there are only so many hours in a day!

Peace and love


PS This must be the only website written on the 22nd July 2013 that hasn’t mentioned the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s son, our future monarch.  Damn!