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