Daddy’s birthday, a Solar Eclipse and Lucinda leaves the airport!

A week after Ezra’s 2nd birthday, Daddy celebrated his 42nd!  Yes I have made 42 orbits of the sun (to be technically accurate the solar system’s barycentre) but enough of that until later.

As, I am sure that you can appreciate, the last write up was primarily about Ezra’s birthday, however that meant that there was some news and snippets from chez Bagnall that slipped through the net.  I will try to make amends for that before the big news of the year.

With the first weekend of the Easter holidays upon us (where has that time gone, it only seems five minutes since the last holiday), it is probably a good time to reflect on Éowyn’s last half term.  This half term saw Éowyn’s class assume various responsibilities.  Each class takes its turn and the roles vary from assisting at lunch or in assembly or, as in Éowyn’s case, register monitor.  Éowyn and her friend Jessica had the responsibility to collect the registers from the main office and deliver them to each class.  She seemed to enjoy the responsibility and it also cemented her friendship with Jessica.

Her biggest achievement of the half term though was to perform well enough to be entered into the ‘Gold Book’.  This is the book for outstanding achievement and this was her third entry.  This meant that she had earned a Gold Certificate!  A rare achievement and even more outstanding considering the fact that she only started this school in November and it took her a while to settle.  It is a feat that she is, rightly, proud of and something that Lucinda and I are very proud of, too.

The end of term also saw the end of Éowyn’s after school clubs:  Spanish and Drama.  Unfortunately, Éowyn hasn’t enjoyed Spanish.  Lucinda and I were hoping that she would take to a new language because it is a skill that neither Lucinda nor I have and we were hoping that we could encourage our children to become bi-if not multi-lingual.  Perhaps it is something that she will take to later in life and perhaps if Amélie or Ezra take an interest in a language it will encourage their older sister.  We wait and see.  Therefore, there will be no Spanish lessons next term.

Drama, on the other hand, she as loved.  This is probably no surprise to anyone that knows her, and although she got a fit of the giggles for the first of her performances she made amends as the show went on.  As an incumbent member of the Drama group she was offered an early bird chance to sign up for the next term.  Obviously she wanted to and so we paid the subs.  It maybe the best money spent as there is an added spice to next term’s group.  They may be involved in a feature film, which, should it go ahead, would see our little one on the big screen and will a chance to go to a premiere.  Fingers crossed that this comes off and Éowyn Bagnall gets her own entry on IMDB.

As I have already alluded the 20th March 2015 saw my 42nd birthday (the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything – according to Douglas Adams).  It also saw the Vernal Equinox and more interestingly a Solar Eclipse. The path of totality lay far to the north of the globe with the only land masses that saw a total eclipse being the Faroe Islands and Svalbard; not the easiest of places to visit.  The whole of the UK was treated to the potential to witness a partial eclipse though, with the South East forecast to see the moon cover 85% of the Sun (the further north you were, the greater the coverage.

This was the first chance to see a solar eclipse in the UK since 11th August 1999.  Then the path of totality clipped the South West of the UK (Cornwall) before heading across the channel and into mainland Europe.  Myself and three friends headed to France to witness totality, rather than struggle into the peninsular country of Cornwall.  A somewhat, haphazard, unplanned trip found us in Barfleur in Normandy, sitting on a promontory jutting into the English Channel (or la Manche as the French call it) watching the wall of darkness approach across the water.

If you have never experienced totality, I would seriously recommend making the effort.  It is truly a magical, nay eerie and unsettling experience.  Your core being knows that something is not quite right.  The temperature drops, a wind picks up and the light goes out.  It is completely different to the way that the light level drops at dusk.  For at dusk the sun falls towards, and then drops below, the horizon.  As it falls, shadows lengthen and the light turns reddish.  During a total eclipse the light levels drop (and towards the end, very quickly) but there is no change in colour or shadow length.  It is like a dimmer switch on a lightbulb.  The sun simply goes out.  This seems completely alien to our rational minds.  I can see why some people become shadow chasers and follow eclipses around the world.

Interestingly, and there seriously was no planning on our part, it turns out that Barfleur was the port that William the Bastard (although you probably know him better as William the Conqueror) departed with his Norman troops in 1066.  It is also twinned with Lyme Regis, one of Lucinda and my favourite places.

Disappointingly, the eclipse of 2015 was, in the South East of England at least, completely obscured by low cloud cover.  Nevertheless, there did seem to be a drop in temperature and a sense of gloom over the land, nevertheless was not even a glimpse of the astronomical delights happening in the heavens above.  The UK only has to wait until 12th August 2026 for the next partial eclipse of the same level of coverage.  I will need to live to be 117 to see the next total Solar Eclipse visible in the UK.  5 days before Amélie’s 80th birthday (23rd September 2090) Cornwall will once again be treated to totality.  Therefore I think I will have to chase the shadow to experience totality again.

Thus, what seemed like a celestially bestowed birthday present was somewhat of a let down.  Unlike my actual birthday present from my wife.  I have mentioned one of my favourite authors (Douglas Adams), another of my favourite authors is Philip Pullman.  In fact his ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy is probably my favourite set of books.  One of his latest projects has been to re-image 50 of the fairy tales that were collected by the brother’s Grimm.  With this project he returned to the darker side of the fairy stories, closer to the original transcriptions by Jacob and Wilhelm.

Lucinda saw that Philip Wilson had adapted 6 of these fairy stories into an ‘Immersive Play’ that was at the Bargehouse in the OXO tower wharf and bought two tickets.  The Grimm Tales was described as ‘An Immersive Fairytale’ and that is exactly how it is.  The Bargehouse is an old industrial barge house which added to the atmosphere of the fairytales.  The actors performed 5 of the 6 stories and each story was told/ performed in a different room within the building with the actors encouraging you to follow them between stories.

Incredibly atmospheric and completely enthralling, I fully recommend going for a visit to the South Bank (of the Thames) and listening to a number of fairy stories while drinking a pomegranate and gin cocktail.  An excellent birthday present, thank you Lucinda, and thank you to a combination of Nanny and Granddad (and Lauren) and Uncle Michael for looking after the Baguettes so that we could leave the house after dark!  If you are interested there are still tickets available and the run has been extended until the 11th April.  You will not be disappointed.

As interesting as Solar eclipses, birthdays and potential film parts are they are put somewhat into the shadow of (eclipsed by, if you will) the decision that Lucinda (and I – it is a partnership after all) have recently made.  As you may recall last year as Lucinda returned from maternity leave, the company that she had worked for, for over 16 years, decided to outsource her position and thus a month after returning to work she was made redundant.

This wasn’t as bad as it could have been, as there was a redundancy package (that in addition to the monetary aspect consisted of retaining the flight privileges – a big bonus even though we haven’t used that privilege for many a year) and Lucinda managed to secure a job for the company that her position was outsourced to.  However, juggling a shift based job with three children and a husband whose job involves working weekends has been beginning to take its toll on both of us.  To ensure that Lucinda was home in time to pick Éowyn and Amélie up from school she was forced to take the early shifts at the airport.  That meant that her alarm was set for 0345.  This meant that she needed to go to bed early the night before thus affecting another family day.

It also had an knock-on effect on me, for every day that Lucinda worked meant that I would then assume childcare responsibility.  This would be fine on my days off, for it would mean that there could be daddy-days!  However, on days when I was working it would mean that I would have to wake earlier than usual, get myself ready for work, and get all three children fed and dressed; drop Éowyn, Amélie and Ezra off at three different places before driving into work and starting my day.

This was how it was for the last 12 months and although it was something that we could, and did, do it was taking its toll on both of us and more importantly on the children.  Coupled with this, Lucinda wasn’t enjoying her job and so we discussed the idea of change.

Since being been blessed with motherhood, Lucinda has enjoyed looking after children and children seem to respond well to her and so Lucinda decided that she would like to pursue the idea of childminding.  This would be something that she could do at home and thus still be there for our own children.

And that, my dear readers, is where we find ourselves at the end of March 2015.  Lucinda has completed her training and is nervously waiting for her Ofsted inspection (on Monday 30th March – details to follow in the next write up). Once registered she can begin her new career, which will not take long to begin for she has a client waiting in the wings once that registration is official.

Exciting times await.

And with that I will bid you good-bye and hope that you join me soon to find the results of our Ofsted inspection.

Peace and Love






I would walk 500 miles

Another month draws to an end which means that we have already had a quarter of 2014.  How did that happen?  As John Lennon said: ‘Life is what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans‘.  This update is a little overdue and has had to be rewritten a number of times so apologies for those of you that have been waiting with bated breath for the latest instalment of Baggie and Lucy dot-com.

As 2013 taught us, life has a habit of throwing things at you, both expected and unexpected and 2014 has started in a similar vein.  As regular readers know this is about the time that Lucinda should have been happily returning to work after an extended maternity leave.  That is still true, in a fashion, but not quite the full story.

As regular readers and close friends will know Air Canada are outsourcing ground staff at Heathrow Airport to the handling company ASIG.  This handover coincides with Lucinda’s return to work, consequently just as Lucinda was preparing herself to enter the grown up world of work there have been a number of very grown up decisions to be made.  Those decisions have been made, the relevant applications have been filled in and verbal confirmations have been given however we are still waiting for the definitive written contract (in the case of the job offer from ASIG) and in the case of VSP (Voluntary Separation Package – a form of redundancy) from Air Canada the cheque.  A brave new world beckons.

So what else has happened since the last update?

I have celebrated another birthday.  A week after Ezra’s first birthday, I celebrated my forty-first complete orbit of the sun.  I think that the girls were more excited that it was my birthday than I was.  For the second Thursday in a row I managed to leave work early and returned home in time to go to the local pizza restaurant for a birthday meal.  The girls enjoy pizza and doughballs and with a discount afforded to me by virtue of my tastecard, Pizza Express seemed like a good choice.  Éowyn was so excited that she kept whispering to the waiter than it was her daddy’s birthday, so when my dessert arrived (tiramisu – if you really must know) it was adorned by a lit candle and accompanied with the waiter (and then the family and certain other patrons of the restaurant) singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me.

Happy Birthday isn’t the only song that Éowyn has been singing of late.  The girls’ musical tastes have been somewhat influenced by a combination of the Disney films that they watch and Lucinda’s choice of euterpean delight.  Current favourites include ‘Let it Go’ from the Disney film Frozen, a couple of Katy Perry songs: Firework and Roar and a variety of other Disney songs (thankfully no One Direction!).  There have been a few that I have been responsible for:  Shake Your Tailfeather by Ray Charles, Think by Aretha Franklin and The Candy Man by Sammy Davis Junior.  Then there have been a number that Éowyn has heard on the radio and quiet liked, Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin and Thank You For The Music – ABBA.  Another can now be added to that list: I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers.

I had picked Éowyn up from school and as usual the radio was on in the background while I asked Éowyn about her day.  The opening bars of I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) began and Éowyn’s ears pricked up.  ‘Daddy, can you turn the radio up please.‘  So I turned the radio up and she attempted to sing along.  ‘I like that Daddy, can we have it on when we get in the house?‘  I have played it a number of times for her now and showed her how to dance like a mad loon around the kitchen and she is not the only one that likes it.  Amélie tries to sing along and joins in the dancing and even Ezra will sit in his high chair tapping his foot in rhythm.  I am most pleased.

Éowyn however is not completely in the good books.  At school they have a traffic light system for behaviour.  Green – good behaviour, Yellow on a warning, Blue – Several warnings and Red – bad behaviour.  Éowyn has always been in green (as to be expected) and I had promised her a special gift if she stayed in green all year (still waiting for the Disney store to receive some more Frozen dresses to pay the promise of collecting 5 superstar certificates in one term).  I was prepared for perhaps a one-off or even occasional foray into yellow depending on the strictness of the teaching but was disappointed when Éowyn came home all upset to tell me that she had been on red.  I asked why she had been put on red and she told me that she had pushed Aaliyah (her best friend).  In Éowyn’s favour, she did not try to justify it, she just stated the facts.

Miss Finbow had no choice but to put Éowyn on red and so when Lucinda picked her up from school she was taken aside and told of the day’s events.  Miss Finbow explained that it was completely out of character for our eldest but had to give her the red card.  She also said that Éowyn was beside herself, extremely upset and there were lots of tears.  However, she somewhat redeemed herself by apologising straightaway and then later in the day with some outstanding writing which helped her to climb back into green.

I could see that Éowyn was upset and somewhat fearful to tell me, however she did and that in itself demonstrated some courage.   There was no point in shouting or getting angry, I just told her that I was disappointed and that she was never going to do it again.  I asked her why she had done it and you could see from her expression that she realised that it was trivial.  Apparently Aaliyah had something that Éowyn wanted, Aaliyah wouldn’t give it to Éowyn so Éowyn pushed her.  At least she had the maturity to realise what she had done was immature, something I wish some grown-ups had the foresight to realise.

Éowyn is still of the age where the term is probably just a little too long as so getting up for school everyday takes its toll.  You can see it on all their little faces that at the end of term they are ready for a holiday to recharge their batteries.  Éowyn’s Easter break could not be more ill-timed from a Bagnall viewpoint.  The first week of this Paschal festivity coincides with Lucinda’s return to work.  That could have worked out better.  Fortunately I work Wednesdays to Sundays and Lucinda only works two days in six and for Lucinda’s first two weeks back at work I can take one day’s holiday (which is actually a day owed in lieu for extra days worked) and be off with the kids for those days.  There are advantages to working weekends (sometimes!).

There will be days that we need to rely on family members and child minders but that is still in the future and we have no fully come to any decisions about that.  That might sound a tad unorganised but with Lucinda’s employment situation and the change of employer she is unsure of her shift pattern after the beginning of May.  That makes organising ad-hoc child minding a tad difficult.  Fortunately I should be able to take some holiday at the beginning of summer (although from July onwards a day-off yet alone a day’s holiday may be a rare and precious thing) to cope with her shifts.  We will see how that goes.

Éowyn still has a fascination with graveyards and death in general.  Every time we pass a cemetery she will ask to go in and have a look at the graves.  Passing one with Lucinda, Éowyn begun to tell Amelie that it was the place that they bury people.  This triggered a question: ‘Mommy, why do they bury people?‘  Lucinda explained that is what they do when someone dies.  This did not satisfy Éowyn.  ‘But why don’t they just leave them out on the ground?‘  Lucinda tried to explain that when we die we our bodies shrivel and rot like fruit and that wouldn’t be very nice.  Éowyn seemed nonplussed as if she wouldn’t mind if that was the tradition of this country in the manner of Zoroastrian religions such as the Parsi of India.

I have kept you long enough and now I am sure that you want to see the photos.  I hear my audience and here they are.

Peace and Love







Ezra’s first birthday

Spring is nearly upon us and the weather has certainly got a vernal disposition at the moment, temperatures up to 18°C not bad for what is still, technically, winter (despite what the Met Office tell you).  It has been nearly three weeks since you last had your fix of the Bagnall family, so what has been happening in sunny Staines Upon Thames?

It has actually been quite a momentous time for three of us in chez Bagnall.  Firstly, and most importantly Ezra has celebrated one circuit around the Sun.  Yes, our little baby is one year old, how quickly time flies.  His actual first birthday fell on a Thursday (a very difficult day – especially at the moment – to get the day off) but by a stroke of fate the Sunday before his birthday was a ‘Dark‘ Sunday (a Sunday without any Premier League games, due this week to various Premier League teams still on active duty in the F.A. Cup).  This meant that I didn’t need to go into work and we could have a party!

Taking advantage of our four bedrooms we invited Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz down from West Bromwich for the weekend, so that they could be part of Ezra’s big day.  It was also an opportunity to invite the greater Badger Clan to our home for the first time.  So a quick tidy and delivery from Sainsbury’s later we had enough food to feed the masses and a chair delivery from Nanny and Granddad and we had enough chairs for everyone to sit.  If we had known that the weather was going to be so glorious (18°c!) we would have dug the barbeque out of the shed and fired it up for burgers and sausages from the local butchers.  Unfortunately we were not so trusting of the weather reports and decided that a buffet was a safer option.

Not sure that Ezra quite understood why so many people were in his house and why he wasn’t allowed to launch himself out of the patio doors into the garden.  Éowyn and Amélie, however were beside themselves with a visit from their cousins and spent most of the day playing nicely with the girls or chasing Finley around the garden.

Overall it was a successful first party (although we did host a smaller gathering for the Cathrall clan on Christmas Eve) and a worthy celebration of our son’s first birthday and it was especially nice that all of his grandparents were down for his party.

We did not let Ezra’s actual birthday pass without a celebration though.  I managed to leave work early (although the West London traffic was still a nightmare) to get home in time for dinner with the family and Nanny and Granddad.  Ezra had a second birthday cake of the week and was centre of attention (more even than usual) for the second time that week.

It hasn’t all been about Ezra though.  Amélie has taken a big step forward too.  Amélie has been dry (i.e. hasn’t worn a nappy) in the day for a long time, but at night she has worn either a nappy or a pull-up nappy.  Recently she has been waking up in the night to relieve herself and becoming a little distressed in her confused state to try and take, especially, a nappy off.  Then the finger of fate intervened, we ran low of Amélie’s nappies (usually we have a packet in reserve) and instead of buying a new packet we asked Amélie if she wanted to try and go to sleep without a nappy.  She was very keen to try and be a big girl, like Éowyn and so we jumped at the chance to encourage her into this brave new world.

Not that she needed it but as a reward for her to aim for, we said that when she managed 7 dry nights (we are not naïve to think that there would not be ‘accidents’) that she would earn a reward from the Disney store.  We (or more accurately, I) still owe Éowyn an Elsa dressing up dress from the film Frozen as a reward for receiving 5 superstar certificates from school and Amélie has decided that she wanted the Anna dressing up dress from the same film.  Fortunately, for me, unfortunately for the girls both dresses are currently out of stock at the Disney store, but I am true to my word so they will get them.

The third person going through a momentous time is Lucinda.  As regular readers will know Air Canada is outsourcing ground operations at Heathrow Airport to ASIG.  By the end of next week we will see a conclusion to the decisions that Lucinda has been wrestling with over the last month or so.  Without overplaying the situation it is an emotional decision.  As someone that has worked for 16 years for the same company it is hard to believe that your job (as you have known it) no longer exists.  Obviously the work still exists but it will not be the same.  The realisation, which is difficult for us creatures of habit to accept, that things change, and let us face it businesses have to in order to remain profitable, and that you are powerless to prevent that change takes a while to sink in.  Although the decision is relatively easy from a logical point of view, emotions and a hankering for the ‘way it was’ cloud that decision and you really have to explore all options before you accept the inevitable.  Choice is an illusion.

We will keep you all in touch with twists and turns in Lucinda’s career that are probably still to come between now and the end of April.  This will only be three weeks after she returns to work after maternity leave.  Life is never boring in the Bagnall household.

Mowing the garden is not going to be boring again either.  Not now that I am the proud owner of a self-propelled petrol lawnmower that makes light work of the increased lawn size that the new house has.  It takes a bit of getting used to and I would be afraid to use it with the kids in the garden as I need a little bit of practise with it to become comfortable.  And that is not the only gardening I have been doing!  Our little veg patch now has potatoes planted and the ground has been prepared for runner beans and pumpkins.  The strawberry plant and herbs are next and we are going to have a sunflower growing competition too. This must be a sign of growing old, excitement over a lawnmower and gardening, I’ll be discussing boilers and zonal central heating systems next.  Too late!

So with the sun shining (and let us hope that this is a template for the rest of the spring and summer, especially with our newest acquisition but more of that next time) and the garden beckoning I will be you adieu and leave you with the latest crop of photos.

Peace and Love