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






Back to work

So as most of you are looking forward to speaking some time with your families and taking a break from work I, somewhat contradictorily, am heading back to work after spending a fortnight with mine.  Yes my paternity leave has come to an end and it is time to leave Lucinda to look after the kids alone (at least during the day) and enter the adult world again.  In one of those coincidences that seem to belie an innate consciousness or at lease fortuitous planning the end of my paternal leave coincides with Easter Weekend.

Easter is quite often associated with April, although of course it can occur at any time between 22nd March and 25th April.  (Easter is the only major holiday in the Western world that is moveable since it is defined as the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox.)  So although this Easter is on the early side, although it is only 5 years ago that we saw one of the earliest Easter Sundays on the 23rd March 2008 (and we will have to wait until 2285 until there is one even earlier than that – 22nd March) the weather is far from paschal.  Not only is it cold but the wind is bitter and cuts right through you.  Our corner has missed the major snow event that has hit other parts of the country, with only disappointing snow flurries that barely make it to the ground but last Easter we were on the tail end of an impressively hot March and had organised the first (and so far only) Great Bagnall Easter Egg hunt.    There will be no repeat of it this year, with me at work and Lucinda coming to terms with looking after three children all on her tod in addition to the threat of a White Easter.

So what have we done with these final days of family time?  Not a lot is the honest answer.  I have been fighting some unspecified virus that has knocked me off feet a little.  It is one of those viruses that gradually works its way around you body so you feel awful all over.  Fortunately I seem to be coming out of the other side of it with only a hacking cough as the battle scar.  Unfortunately Lucinda’s mum now has succumb to the same virus, so we wish her a speedy recovery.  Obvious she is blaming me but I am blaming Amélie who has something similar last week.  We are hoping that neither Lucinda, Éowyn or Ezra fall victim.  However, Ezra has been fractious for the last day or so and although he is barely two weeks old this is out of character, so we hoping he is just having a bad day rather than he has the virus or worse still that it is a change in behaviour.  We will keep you up to date.

So with the combination of illness and bitterly cold weather we have stayed in and let people come and visit us.  So although we have been cooped up inside we have not been lonely.  We have had a number of friends pay us a visit over the last week and it has been nice to see so many of our friends that we haven’t seen in a while.  It is one of the fantastic things about a new child, they bring friends and relatives together.  It must be some kind of deep ingrained instinct that predates human civilisations that still has the power to bring communities/ tribes/ collective noun of your choice/ together.  A very powerful force indeed.

The only non-friend visitor of the week has been our first visit from the Health Visitor.  She was a very friendly lady and in addition to being very pleased with Ezra’s progress she was amazed at Amélie’s elocution and could not believe that she was only two and a half.  In fact because the Health Visitor wanted to check Ezra’s hearing and needed silence to do so, I had to invent a task to encourage Amélie to leave Ezra with Mommy and this strange lady and help me collect something from the car.  We timed it just right and the hearing test was successfully conducted (and Ezra successfully passed).  The next major test was another weigh in for Ezra and he topped the scales at 4.14kgs (9lbs 2 oz).  So he has zoomed passed his birth weight in his first fortnight, the boy (and let us not forget Lucinda’s part in this) is doing well!

When I said that we have been effectively bunkered down for the last week, that is not quite strictly true.  Éowyn has still had her last pre-paschal week at school.  It has been nice for the last fortnight taking and picking Éowyn up from school.  I quite often drop Éowyn off at school but it is rare that I pick her up.  I think that she has enjoyed this little bit of extra father and daughter time too.  It is nice to have a bit of time to chat in the car both before and after school looking forward to the day and then reflecting on what has happened.  It is also a time for her to ask questions and on a bright morning it will quite often be, what kind of bird is that daddy?  We are blessed with a number of the more unusual bird species in the village: Ring Neck Parakeets, Kingfishers, Red Kites and Herons rub wings with the more usual Collared Doves, Magpies, Chaffinches, Blue Tits and Mallards but the bird that caught her eye this week was a new visitor: a Little Egret.  I mentioned that we saw one on the day that Ezra was born.  It was looking a little tired and I feared that a fox might get it if it wasn’t too careful.  Now it is flying quite strongly, it is obviously feeding and more than that it is one of a pair.  Yes we have a pair of little egrets.  I wonder if they are raising little little egretlets (I don’t think that is the technical name – but it should be!).

Obviously now that I am back at work the frequency of the updates that I have been spoiling you with will drop back to a more usual once a fortnight (if you are lucky) and for that I make no apology however I promise to post lots of photos.  Also if you are at all interested and I didn’t bore you too much earlier in the update the latest Easter can be is the 25th April.  This will next occur in 2038 so although my children may have missed the extremely early Easter in 2008 (although it was about the time that we announced that we were pregnant with Éowyn) with good fortune we may all see the latest possible Easter occurrence (assuming we all survive the year 2038 problem).  Don’t forget to put your clocks forward at the weekend and I will see you in April.

Peace and Love



Daddy’s birthday

The Vernal Equinox marks not only the day that there is equal day and night; that an egg can be balanced on its end, (apparently) but more importantly my birthday!  However at least one of those statements is untrue, and after 30-odd years of believing that equinox (which derives from the Latin equal, night) meant that the day and the night were equal I find out that is a lie.  The equinox is more accurately defined as the point at which the centre of the sun crosses the celestial equator, and as such is a defined point in time.  Due to the fact that the sun is not a point in the sky and there is a defined amount of time for the sun to dip below the horizon (not to mention the refraction of sunlight through the atmosphere adding to amount of ‘day’) the day (in the UK) of the Vernal Equinox was actually 12 hours 10 minutes long.  Now the day that the ‘day’ and ‘night’ was equal was actually a couple of days before the equinox on 18th March (in the UK) this year.  This is more accurately known as the Equilux (equal, light).  Now for the pedants among you who want to include the effects of twilight (civil twilight that is, not your nautical or astronomical twilight) then the equilux was around the 1st March.  That was quite interesting wasn’t it?

As I mentioned in the ramble above (I know, I lost you) Sunday marked my birthday.  My first as a father of two (pas de deux? – bad joke I know!) and first since Éowyn has really been able to comprehend, though not necessarily what a birthday is but at least that it is a special day.  She even sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me.  It was a real step forward in her development because although she has already accepted having a birthday herself, the fact that other people can have birthdays too is a big step.

Fortunately my birthday fell in the middle of a set of three ‘off’ days and therefore I could spend a bit of time with the family and to make it extra special Nanny Fran and Aunties Mary and Liz came down on Saturday for a flying visit too.  Éowyn was so excited about seeing the Bagnall side of the family (for she only regular sees them via Skype) and was constantly asking where Nanny Fran was.  Unfortunately Nanny Fran was stuck on the M40 which was temporarily closed due to an accident and instead of the 2 hour journey it took over 5 hours!  It was good to see Nanny Fran as it has been nearly a year since she last came down due to her knee injury.  Although her leg is still not 100% she can now drive and has been in a phased return to work (after 45 weeks of being on the box – as we say in the Black Country) for the past month or so.

Nanny Fran certainly noticed the difference in both Éowyn and Amélie and in return Éowyn loves seeing her Nanny Fran and Aunties.  So much so that she asked if she could go back with Nanny Fran.  That was quite a turn up for the books, and with Amélie now sleeping through the night, there is a strong possibility that could happen – Nanny Fran willing!

Amélie is also still sleeping through the night.  She has seemingly reached the weight or size where she can keep enough food in her body to last the seven hours or so.  It is amazing how much better you feel for night’s worth of uninterrupted sleep.  Although before children I would not consider six to seven hours of sleep a full night’s sleep.  How quickly what is accepted as the norm changes when you become a parent.

You will be pleased to know that Amélie’s eye injury is healing nicely.  It has faded to a faint line and I thoroughly expect it to disappear in the next few days.  It is amazing how quickly little ones heal, I suppose their bodies are in overdrive and hence cellar repair is happening at an advanced rate as they grow and mature.   She is putting on weight nicely too.  She currently weighs in a 7.37kgs (16lbs 3.5oz) and is sitting comfortably on the 50th centile.  As you may recall she started out on the 75th and dropped to just below the 25th so it is good news that is is back up to the 50th!  Her length is 67cm which places her on the 75th centile, she is going to be a tall one like her sister.  She has also started to giggle out loud.  It is still my favourite noise.  Yes, I like it when they learn to say ‘Daddy‘ and ‘Mommy‘ and ‘I love you‘ but for me there is no better sound than a child laughing uncontrollably.

This week we also saw real joy on Éowyn’s face, probably for the first time.  You may recall that we had promised her a Gruffalo (for remembering to say her pleases and thank-yous) and a mouse (for ten wees on the potty).  This week we decided that she has earned them and so gave them to her.  The joy on her face was astounding, probably because it was the first time that she has had to earn something and had been looking forward to it for nigh on a month (which is a long time when you are only 2! – the equivalent of six months for a twelve year old;  a year for a 24 year old; etc.).  She is very proud of them (possessive too!) and we gladly tell you that she earned them for the reasons above.  So as you can surmise the potty training is going well.  Although Lucinda tried a day without a nappy on Sunday and it wasn’t too successful but the carpet needs replacing anyway!

As I was putting Éowyn to bed one night she asked me if we could see a tiger.  I said that we can go to the zoo and see a tiger.  Again she upped the ante, ‘And a giraffe?‘ And a giraffe I agreed.  So it is a trip to the zoo for us one day – brilliant.  I enjoy a trip to the zoo even though I am in two minds as to whether they should exist (although on balance I think they do more good than harm).  Hey, I have even been a zoo-keeper for the day!  It was a fantastic experience and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in animals!  I think tigers may be Éowyn’s favourite animal at the moment.

I dropped Éowyn off at Jo’s the other morning, and her little friend James greeted her at the door as he does most times.  This time he was carrying two toy animals.  ‘Dinosaur‘ he said holding the toy dinosaur up (no, he is not Peppa Pig’s brother!) ‘Lion‘ he said holding the tiger in his other hand.

No, James.Éowyn said, ‘It’s a tiger!

Lion.‘  He replied.  Éowyn re-iterated the fact it was a tiger and again he insisted: ‘Lion‘.

No, tiger.  Stripes!‘  She said dismissively and pointing out the main (no pun intended) difference between the two.  James looked at me and if to say, back me up.  Unfortunately I had to confirm my daughter’s observations!

I left them waving me off on the doorstep.  Éowyn said ‘Bye Daddy‘ and James repeated the phrase.  ‘No, it’s my daddy!‘ she argued as I walked out of ear-shot.  They are like a little married couple at times.

I will now leave you with the latest crop of photos and see you all in April!

Peace and love