The Book Fall

Coinciding with the quiet period at work, I am trying to make amends regarding the paucity of updates on this web site so far this year.  I have always been acutely aware that the website will always play second fiddle (well fourth or fifth fiddle, or second oboe; whatever the orchestral hierarchical equivalent is) to family life and actually creating the memories in the first place.  Nevertheless, I am also acutely aware that many of you enjoy reading about our family life which makes the effort of these updates a little easier.

The end of the academic year is looming into view, so as Éowyn leaves year 1 and Amélie says goodbye to pre-school there are all the end of year activities to enjoy.  The most important of these was the Hollywood Première screening of the film that Éowyn’s after school drama club have been working on for the past term.

Magna Carta Arts Centre in Staines presented the first showing of ‘The Book Fall’ and myself and Éowyn had tickets for the showing; poor Mommy elected to stay behind and look after Amélie and Ezra.  The Sense Theatre had sent out a letter encouraging parents and pupils alike to dress up to try to bring a sense of glamour to the proceedings.  They had laid a red carpet and there was popcorn.  Unfortunately not everyone took it in that spirit.  I was only one of three dads that I could see in a suit and the only one wearing a tie.  The majority of the children had dressed up though, which was nice to see.

The premise of the film is that a school teacher challenges her pupils to read as many books as they can over the summer holiday, a prize given to the pupil that reads the most books.  There are two groups of pupils the swotty, nerdy types who are challenging each other as to how many books they will read, and the non-swotty types who think that reading is boring.  To try to convince the non-swotty types that reading books is fun, the swotty pupils read to the non-scotty pupils and as they begin to read so those sections of the books are acted out by other children.  The books that were filmed were children classics, modern books like Mr Stink to the real classic like The Hobbit, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 5 Children and It, Oliver Twist and, the book that Éowyn was in, Naughty Amelia Jane by Enid Blyton.

I am not sure how many schools were involved in total but it was a nice idea.  Each group of children could concentrate on a small section of the film which acted as a stand alone play within the overall narrative.  Considering the time constraints, the lack of budget and the fact that it was probably the first time that the majority of the children, had ever acted yet alone acted in front of a video camera I think we have to praise Sense Theatre.  Unfortunately with so many children the 2 hour running time only allowed most children a couple of lines and, if I am being honest, at times it was quite painful.  Nevertheless the children were very excited to see themselves on the big screen and Éowyn’s eyes lit up when she saw herself.

Now I can understand that 2 hours is a lot of film to watch especially when you are only there to see perhaps 20 seconds, the 20 seconds that your child is on-screen, however it is the height of bad manners to whoop and holler while your child is on-screen and then disturb everyone as you leave immediately your child’s last lines have been uttered.  This wasn’t just a select few, out of an audience of close to 250 less than 25 remained at the end.  However, if any of you are desperate to see the complete film we purchased the DVD.  I don’t think that I’ll be sitting through the entirety again, although if Éowyn ever becomes a famous actress it will be come part of the archive video footage.

With the end of the academic year looming into view there is one eye on the next.  To prepare for the next step in their educational progress both girls had an opportunity to spend a morning in their new classes.  For Éowyn, that is a new teacher at a new site but with the same classmates; for Amélie however it is full-time education, at a new school with a completely new set of classmates.  Amélie’s teacher, Miss Snow, seems very friendly but her biggest challenge will be to make new friends.  Fortunately our friend’s girl, Natalie, will not only be at the same school but in the same class.  Therefore Amélie will have one friend in the class.

Unusually Amélie was upset the night before, so we sat down to talk to her thinking that the thought of going to the big school was disturbing her.  It developed that it wasn’t the thought of going to big school per se that was upsetting her but the fact that she wanted to take a packed lunch.  She takes a packed lunch to nursery but every child in full-time education up to the age of 7 is entitled to free school meals in the UK.  Therefore, Amélie (and Éowyn) will both enjoy free school meals this coming school year.

We convinced her to try her school dinner and we would then think about it for when she goes to school in September.  To her credit she happily went to school the next morning.  When we picked her up that afternoon we asked her what she thought of her new school.  She was full of praise saying it was the best day ever and that the best thing was the school dinner which was sausage and mash.  One less thing to worry about!

Sometimes fate gives opportunities at exactly the right time.  Last week was Natalie’s birthday and she had a party at Spelthorne gym.  Since Natalie goes to the nursery at Amélie’s new school many of the pupils and Natalie’s friends will be in her class.  Therefore, it was a good opportunity for Amélie to get to know some of her new classmates, as well as have fun at Spelthorne gym (and it is fun) and celebrate Natalie’s birthday.  It was good to sit and observe Amélie and from watching our second daughter I don’t think that she will have any problems making friends.

The end of school party at Éowyn’s school was slightly unusual, for they had invited Festival Circus to put on a show (3 showings of the same show!) in a big top on the school playing field.  I took the day off work and took the girls while Lucinda stayed behind looking after Ezra and her child-minding ward.  The show was excellent , not completely polished but that was part of the charm. The girls were enthralled and both had different favourites: Éowyn the gymnastic displays on the ropes and Amélie the girl who could simultaneously hula 10 hula hoops.

Lucinda is now on the P.T.A. and as soon as her working day was over she headed over to the school (we had already returned to look after Ezra) to help sell refreshments and tidy up.  The early indications are that it was roaring success and all had a good time.  Hopefully this is the start of turning the school around at least in terms of uniting the P.T.A. and staff into a common goal.

It seems that this write up is all about the girls so it is only fair to regale a couple of stories of our son.  He is on the whole very well-behaved but he does have a couple of cheeky habits.  One is jumping on mommy and daddy’s bed, a game he calls 4,5,6.  Not sure what happened to 1,2,3 but he stands at one end of the bed and shouts 4,5,6 before launching himself forward.  Not something that we want to encourage but it is quite amusing.

He other little quirk that he has at the moment is the nicknames that he has given the girls.  Éowyn he calls ‘A’ (pronounced as the capital – Ay), which is understandable as that is the first syllable of her name.  Therefore if Éowyn is called ‘A’ what do you think Amélie’s nickname is?  ‘Bay’.  So it is ‘Goodnight Ay, goodnight Bay‘ before he totters off to bed.

I will bid you adieu and leave you with the photos, there are plenty of the circus on our Flickr pages if you are interested.

Peace and love




It doesn’t take long for a week off and a holiday in Turkey to fade in the memory as normality and the daily grind come back into view.  The girls returned to school the next day, while I had an extra day off before heading back to the land of Sports Television.  A land of Sports Television over a summer with none of the additional quadrennial events that tend to fill in the gaps between football seasons.  Therefore, my working pattern over the summer resembles some form of normality with free weekends to spend with the family.

Not one to miss these opportunities Lucinda has booked up our weekends for the summer so that we can make the most of them.  The first weekend off saw the family Bagnall head down the road to Windsor.  To the Legoland Windsor resort, to be specific.  Legoland is an ideal destination for the Baguettes since most of the rides and attractions are geared towards their age range.  In addition it is about 9 miles from home, so takes next to no time (depending on traffic) to get there.  It was with this in mind that we decided to use this year’s Tesco vouchers to buy an annual pass to Legoland.  This allows us to ‘pop in’ whenever we like and not feel obliged to spend a whole day with tired children so that we don’t feel like we have not got our money’s worth.

We certainly got our money’s worth on our first visit though.  We were there from just after the park opened until late afternoon.  We were limited on rides though since the Baguettes are still of an age (or height) where they require an adult on the ride with them.  When you have three children that poses some problems.  However, Legoland have this sussed a little with ‘parent swap’.  Effectively, either the parent stays on the ride and swaps children with the other parent, or alternatively the parents and the children swap to save double queueing.  It works and with Ezra still a little too young to go on some of the rides it was very handy.

There were still a number of rides that we could go on as a family however and so we took full advantage of those even if the queues were a tad long at times but that is the problem of going places at weekends when the weather is nice.

June has been quite a pleasant month, weatherwise.  The overall the temperatures have been below what one would expect for the summer month, but there has been little rain (in the South East of the UK at least).  This is both beneficial and a hindrance to the Bagnall household.  The sunshine is great, not just generally (who doesn’t like the sunshine) but also for our electricity generation.  Having bright, sunny days when the days are longest is a definite bonus, despite the ever growing threat of the pigeons that have decided to nest under our panels.

I have always thought of pigeons as rather dumb birds, which is completely undeserved, they have passed many cognitive tests, but the ones nesting on our roof have demonstrated the exception that proves the rule.  Obviously, they have demonstrated some form of intelligence by nesting under our photovoltaic cells, as it offers protection from the elements, and some warmth from the cells themselves.  Nevertheless they have not yet worked out that laying ovoid eggs on a sloping roof is not necessarily a good idea and we have found many broken on the patio and driveway.  More disgustingly that is not all that we have found splatted on our patio and driveway.  So if anyone has a hawk that they would like to exercise over our house I would be very grateful.

The flip side of bright sunny days is the lack of rain, as our water butts can testify.  I am happy for our lawn to change from green to brown however the vegetable patch is another matter.  Our vegetables will not flourish without a daily watering and so we are having to resort to water from the tap.  Even the thunderstorms of last night (110,000 lightning strikes in one night) haven’t replenished the water butts.  What I wouldn’t give for a heavy downpour (sorry to all of you who are enjoying the weather) or a couple of days of rainy weather.  I would have expected the heatwave (if you can call two hot days in row a heatwave, more a heatsplash) to have triggered more thunderstorms over chez Bagnall, apart from the night before’s mega-storm, as it is being labelled, nothing, just uncomfortable nights of sleep and the knowledge that the baguettes have seen the hottest UK day in their lives.

Since the football season has finished, Lucinda has been filling my weekends up.  The first one saw us in Turkey, on holiday so that doesn’t really count.  Then I was back at work for European Qualfiers!  I thought that the football season had ended.

The following weekend saw Lucinda’s ex flat mate, Emma, celebrate her 40th birthday.  She had reserved a room at a pub in Chiswick on the River Thames.  This is where living next door to a baby-sitter and just a short walk from Staines train station comes in handy.  A direct train from Staines to Kew Bridge and a five minute walk saw us at the pub.  a good time was had by all and return by train although requires some time discipline is far cheaper than a taxi.  I think Amélie must have missed us because at 0330 she crept into our bed, I think primarily to ensure that we hadn’t left for the weekend.

Then Lucinda took advantage of not only the fact that I was off at the weekend but also having holiday entitlement to use up and went away on Friday returning Sunday lunchtime.  Not just Sunday but Father’s day but more of that later.  I took the Friday off and took the girls to school, then it was a boys’ day for Ezra and dad.  Nothing too exciting but it was nice to spend some time with him alone.  Friday night is usually movie night but this had already been cancelled so after dinner, the Baguettes and I cuddled up on the sofa and watched Despicable Me 2.

I think the kids were aware of the lack of Mum, and although they weren’t particularly upset about it, it must have played on their minds.  For at about 0200 I felt a little presence creep into bed.  It was Ezra.  Although Ezra has been sleeping in his bed, as opposed to his cot, for many months now he hasn’t really worked out that he could get out when he wanted to.  The drive this night must have helped him realise and he found his way to Daddy.  So while I was giving him a cuddle, before preparing myself to pick him up and put him back in his own bed, in wanders Amélie.  So another child to comfort before finally getting back to sleep.

Before Lucinda had left on the Friday morning she has given Éowyn my Fathers’ day present and got her to write the card in preparation for not being there on the Sunday morning.  Therefore as I put them to bed on the Saturday night, and remembering the night before I told them that as it was Fathers’ day that daddy would appreciate a lie in and no nighttime visitors.  At 0700 É0wyn and Amélie come in with a card and presents and asked if it was too early.  How can you refuse that?

With the approaching end of the academic year and the conclusion of after school clubs it means two things.  The first is the perennial Sports Days.  Éowyn’s school has adopted the new Sports Day standard where there are no individual races as such, it is all relay based races and you are competing for your house.  Éowyn’s house won, so she was over the moon.

Amélie’s was probably even less competitive and every child received a medal – real plastic gold!  Nevertheless Amélie was very proud of her medal, and rightly so.

Éowyn’s after school drama class is coming to an end and that means only one thing – shooting has begun.  Last week Éowyn filmed the first of her scenes for the film that Sense Theatre are producing.  There will be a quick turnaround in post production as the premiere is on Sunday 12th July and there are still scenes to shoot.  Éowyn said it was a little daunting with the lights and the camera lens in view and it took her a little while to relax and deliver her lines.  For anyone that has been in front of the lens I am sure that you can relate.

I can’t wait to see the finished film.  Tickets have been bought for the premiere and the dvd has been pre-ordered.  You never know it could be the start of a promising career.

Before I leave you, this month’s funny word comes from Amélie.  Referring to her brother and sisters madly running around and came in complaining that they were acting like Lunar-pigs.  I think she meant Lunatics but Lunar-pigs or should that be Lunapigs sounds so much better!

Peace and Love


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