The Partial Eclipse

Who wants a jaffa cake?!

Did you all see the partial solar eclipse last Friday? did you? was it not the most A-maz-ing awesome life changing experience ever?……just me then.

(my Sun photos were taken through eclipse lenses which is why they look like the moon, but I promise its the sun!)

solar eclipse, athl


Friday 20th March 2015 was an important day for me, because firstly it marked Maxi’s 7th birthday and secondly because my mum and I were together to see the partial solar eclipse. In 1999 my mum was a newly separated single mother to 14 year old me and my 9 year old sister. In what has been hailed by my sister as a ‘psychotic episode’ my mum packed Katie and I into the back of our Rover (literally into the boot with the seats pushed forward so we had a bed made out of all our duvets, pillows and beanie babies) and drove the 7 hours down to Torquay in Devon so that we would be in the zone of totality and see the moon cover the sun completely. For the entire drive down we listened to Pink Floyds dark side of the moon and my Mum sang/laughed/cried. At the time I thought she was a bit of a massive weirdo, but now I know myself how demented husbands and children can drive a woman I think ‘right on mother’.




I remember the 1999 eclipse vividly, looking at it through the partial cloud, and the moon’s shadow rolling steadily towards us and engulfing us in complete darkness. I remember the birds coming in to roost in the cliffs we were on top of and the eerie silence as we all watched the corona of sun rays shine from behind the dark circle, the feeling of ‘oh lord what if this is the end of the world and the sun never shines again’ too shared by the people there, and probably my mum, then the huge cheer as we saw ‘the diamond ring’ and ‘baileys beads’ appear in reverse and the sun reappear. Not the end of the world after all, but an amazing experience that would never be forgotten.




So when we read that our patch of Ireland would be seeing up to 95% of the sun covered up it was a no brainer that on the morning of Maxis birthday we would obviously be late to school and go somewhere to this watch this happen. Somewhere turned out to be the event hosted by the Midlands Astronomy Group at Athlone Castle. I’ve taken the kids to Athlone Castle numerous times before and LOVED it, and the buzz there on Friday morning was really cool. There was no castle entry so Daddy missed out on that this time, but we all loved standing in the courtyard and viewing the sun through the special glasses provided there and have promised to go back soon as a whole family.




While we didn’t get to have a look through the huge telescopes there we did see loads as the cloud broke and generally got to soak up the atmosphere. Im shocked at how few of the mums I know took advantage of this completely free event right on our doorstep. We were one of only a few young families there (kudos to the class teacher who took her whole 1st year group though). The more I get to know my mum and see her through my own ‘mummy’ eyes the more I see how I have inherited her sense of YOLO (you only live once). My mama invented YOLO by doing stuff like taking a baby to Chichinitza, driving from coast to coast in America with me in the back, taking me to the Sahara desert, driving through the night in Florida to see a rocket launch, making us go and stand on a street corner to watch the Queen Mothers funeral cortege pass and all manner of other stuff that 90% of people with kids just don’t do.  I’m the same, and this inherent yoloness has led me to taking my kids up to London to see parades, going to the Olympics, numerous road trips to see ‘important stuff’ or ‘witness history’ and now dragging the kids out of bed at 7am to go and see the eclipse. Long live YOLO is what I say.




Bravo Athlone Castle for being a stellar location for some awesome Clev family YOLOing. The kids loved it, the boys were fascinated and it has sparked a whole load of space related interest (“mum were you alive when the man went to the moon, it was in the olden days” from Maxi the other day!), Amelie liked the excitement, and Vivi was in it for the chance to get her mits on my oversized sunnies. I even took paper plates to recreate an eclipse with and made a pinhole projector so I could explain to my kids the magnitude of what they were seeing. I also took cake and candles so we could sing happy birthday to Maxi as the moon passed over (that kind of didn’t work so well but the thought was there). There is a small chance I had ‘dark side of the  moon’ in my head that morning too.  I have officially started turning into my mother. See proof below…




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