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“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

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Todays quote, patience, I sometimes feel like I have quite a lot of it, some days though, usually when I am tired and/or hungry, I seem to have none of it. Today I have needed patience, especially with some people more than others. The day didn’t start exactly as I’d planned to highlight my point, after stopping by the Royal Mail Sorting Office to collect some parcels I missed, I made an hour long round trip to a friends house to collect something, only to find they weren’t in, even after saying “come over and collect it in the morning!”. Harumph!

Things quickly picked up at midday when we headed out to see our friends Kat & Andy, who are Olivia’s godparents, along with their two boys. We met at Pizza Express for lunch, and had some lovely food, Andy and myself naturally opting for the spiciest pizza they had, before moving on to the National Sealife Centre a short walk away. Originally we’d debated the sealife centre option, as its entrance fee is simply extortionate for the length of time you can actually realistically spend in there and what they actually have to see. Its certainly no Seaworld! Thankfully Kat & Andy had annual passes which allowed them to buy guest tickets at significantly discounted prices and we were very glad to have not paid full price to get in, as even taking a very slow, leisurely amble around, stopping to look at all we could, we were still done in only an hour and a half! We had to say goodbye to Kat & Andy so we could head home to feed our relevant babies. I had a little time to spare where I managed to get a load more seeds planted and in the greenhouse, if we have some good weather and a bit of luck then we could have a really good harvest in a few months time. So far we have growing, carrots, onions, leeks, tomatoes, chillies, pumpkin, butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower, parsnips, beetroot, salad leaves, sweetcorn and a bunch of herbs, and we can’t forget the potatoes which are already planted on the allotment! I am really looking forward, not only to the sense of achievement, but also a whole bunch of really tasty food (it does taste better when you grow your own!) and also being able to feed Olivia with something truly organic that we’ve grown ourselves!

This evenings jujitsu session went well, the hour flew by, and we got to pick up our new belts which puts me at the first stage of brown belt, meaning I have completed a percentage of the syllabus for this belt. To get the full brown belt, I have a few more things to achieve on the syllabus which is known as the 1st Kyu which is the highest level of belt before moving onto the black belt dan grades. Each martial art has a slightly different grading system, and in jujitsu we start with white belt for beginners and after a couple of months, move onto the yellow belt, 6th kyu, then working our way up through the colours from 5th kyu (orange) through to 1st kyu. My current ranking is 1st Kyu shoden, signifying I have yet to achieve the full belt, which could be months away, and almost certainly won’t be this year. It could easily be another 2-3 years before I am considered ready to go for black belt, as the gaps between each belt gets greater as you progress up through them! I guess you could also look at this as being ultimately patient!

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On the way home a phone call proved to be my final and most trying test of patience, and although I am not going to go into details, whilst living with depression is one thing, dealing with people close to you who have it can also be hugely difficult and testing. Its not always easy for everyone to understand it, and often people don’t. Those with depression can be seen as difficult, or spiteful, even intentionally awkward, when in reality they have no more control over this than an old person with dementia does over what they can remember! It has made for a difficult few days though and having to think carefully about what I say and how I say it. Some days are worse than others, some days you’d never even know it was there, but knowing when to spot the signs is key to being able to react appropriately and not just flying off the handle in response to certain comments. Easier said than done, but patience really does make all the difference.

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“Promise me you’ll never forget me because if I thought you would, I’d never leave.”

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Oh how good a monday morning feels when you’re not woken up with an alarm clock!

Unfortunately I do feel like my blog has suffered this weekend, whilst I have got some nice photos over the last couple of days I have struggled with staying awake to fill in all the text. I seem to spend most of my day trying to hoard ideas to blog about when I get chance to sit down, and when I actually get this keyboard in front of me, I seem to go into total meltdown and can’t think of one thing I was going to type about. On top of which I find myself literally nodding off in front of the keyboard and waking suddenly feeling confused, not knowing what I was typing and find strange random words on the screen that don’t fit in with the rest of the sentence!

Anyway, today was quite a simple day and was generally about just two things, meeting our friend Sanj and a couple of her friends for some photos was this mornings task. Sanj was one of the mothers-to-be we met at our antenatal classes in July last year, one of the lovely couples we got to know. She has two very close friends, one of which is Australian and returning to Oz after living in the UK for 11 years and gaining a husband and two children out here. They have photos of each other, but none together, and asked me to take a few for them! It was only a brief visit to the gardens, but the weather was lovely and we got done what we needed to quite quickly. In the afternoon we were visiting the in-laws again to drop off cards and presents for the father in law. While Olivia was taking a nap, I grabbed the opportunity to pop out to Wilkinsons to buy a few bits for the often, and ended up getting a little carried away!

Late afternoon was all about planting my very own apple tree, with a few of the bits I’d bought from Wilko’s and it meant that because of the time, Clare would have to bath Olivia instead of me bathing her, and that dinner would be slightly late, but once I had a few tasks to do and I’d left them to the last minute after Olivia had fallen asleep on me. Once the tree was planted I then had to replant my pumpkins which are doing very well at the moment and I have high hopes for after last years failed attempt where I really didn’t have the time to look after them properly! I certainly have found my green fingers this year though and have a whole lot more seeds to plant in the morning before we head out for the day. Can’t wait to get some of this stuff on the allotment! It’s going to be a good year!

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“The first half of our lives is ruined by our parents, the second half by our children.”

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The weekend of birthday celebrations continues, today it was for the father-in-law who turns 65 tomorrow, and we were going out to meet Clare’s parents and her brother with his wife and children for lunch at a lovely carvery pub in a quiet little village. The pub I’d been too once before, and it is a lovely place with fantastic food, and some very friendly staff, they really made a difference. The sun even came out for us today and shone down on us, although it would have been nice if it was a little warmer, but it was still far more cheerful than the grey, dull weekends we’re more often used to, even though suggesting that summer is still a way off yet! After eating we all went back to the in-laws house, with me and Clare stopping off at home to pick up the surprise cake that Clare had made for her dad!IMG_4420

I made sure to take lots of photos today, especially as Olivia got to see her two cousins again, with one of them being the most recent addition to the family, which is why I picked a photo of the three of them as my photo of the day! We enjoyed a few hours there, and eventually headed home as it was nearing Olivias dinner time, on top of which me had my sisters other half coming over at 6pm to quote us on new fence panels and post as I didn’t realise he does landscape gardening and the fitting of fence panels. He may or may not be cheaper than anyone else, but I’d rather give the money to someone I know over someone I don’t know! When he had gone, I promised my friend Dave I’d join him and help him on the allotment for a while and so made the five minute walk round there, rather than being lazy and taking the car. We managed to get some strawberries and several rows of potatoes down, and I have a number of things still growing in the green house that will soon be ready for planting out! Hopefully we’ll have a nice bumper crop of fast, free and organic vegetables nearer the winter! The next thing to be taken from the greenhouse and planted on the allotment will be the peas, beans and the brussel sprouts which will hopefully be ready in time for this years xmas dinner!
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Right, I am off to the land of nod and will be making sure to turn my alarm off too! Good night all!

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“Planting a flower’s like opening a book, because either way you’re starting something. And your garden’s your library.”

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Nothing feels as good as a Saturday morning… well, unless you count a Saturday morning when you’ve gone to bed on the Friday night at a sensible time and having not had several beers, very much unlike my Friday night as it happens! So not surprisingly I woke up instantly regretting staying up late, especially as my now very awake daughter was reminding me that a Saturday morning lie in was well and truly out of the question! I do sometimes like some bacon and sausage on a Saturday, I can’t lie, I sometimes think that’s what Saturday mornings were invented for, but after last nights mexican I wasn’t quite ready for that yet, and having had porridge all through the winter, I just couldn’t handle another bowl of it. The weather outside was mild, and it wasn’t raining, so in an effort to wake myself up a bit I thought I’d take a walk to the local shop to grab some cornflakes instead!

Just before midday we set out for the city centre to meet some friends for lunch, my two school friends Andrew & Richard and their respective wives and daughters, at the new Birmingham library, which has quite a controversial exterior, some people likening it to a wedding cake! We turned up a little early so that we could feed Olivia in the cafe before the others arrived. The cafe, considering the amount of money spent on the library, appeared to be a somewhat overlooked feature of the library. There wasn’t a great deal on the menu, and there were nowhere near enough chairs for people to sit on, so we gave up on lunch at the library and headed to a local family friendly bar for some food. After we’d eaten we headed back to the library for a walk around, as we were in the area anyway it seemed a shame to not have a look round it. One of the features of the new library was the rooftop view across the city on the top floor, and just below that on the 7th floor, the secret garden.
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It was a little windy, but warm enough to head outside to we took a little walk around the rooftop garden, which felt a little surreal, but made for a very pleasant experience. On the way out, the interior of the library looked equally impressive.

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When we were done we all took a walk down to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as they have a much better cafe where we could sit and chat over some coffee and cake for a while. It was a very relaxed, civilised afternoon, and great to see our friends.

We made sure we were home in time to feed Olivia, and give her a bath before bed, as we may not have much time tomorrow morning before we are up and out for an early lunch with the in-laws. She has been such a good girl today, we couldn’t have asked for a better baby! Right now I am off to meet another school friend, my good mate Dave, its his birthday today and it would be rude not to have a few pints with him, but I’d better move, I’m running late!

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“Isn’t it nice when things just work”

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Its finally here… Friday arrives at last!

What a day it has been too… the kids must have sensed us dropping our guard and just decided to give us a day to remember, plus I have scars to prove it! I managed to make the journey to and from work on my bike as well, but boy did my legs let me know about it on the way home!

I had just over an hour to rest and spend with Olivia and Clare, as I was due to go out this evening and spend a few hours with work friends and was being picked up. We had a table booked at a mexican restaurant, and our class teacher was also turning 30 this weekend. We enjoyed some lovely food an had a great evening, but as I was the only one drinking out of the five of us, it wasn’t an especially late night.

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We had a lovely time and I was even home a lot earlier than I had planned, so I decided to take a quick walk to the local One-Stop for a few beers and a weekend crisp treat for Clare as she has been avoiding all the snack foods all week It didn’t take long before I was on my own though as Clare being the early-to-bed kind couldn’t stay up or keep her eyes open. I knew I wanted to get this blog finished and be off to bed, but damn it, they put The Bourne Identity on tv, and although I already own the trilogy boxset on Blu-Ray, I had to stay up and watch it! One thing I did do before Clare went off to bed was capture tonights photo, a not especially exciting shot of the moon partially obscured by a tree, but what I did want to capture was the halos around the moon. I think the general consensus is that light high level cloud is the most likely cause! I tried my best to capture it, although in the end I had to play around with it for a little while in photoshop to try and bring out the contrast!

Better luck tomorrow!

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“There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.”

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Its still not Friday is it?

Damn it!

The week is drawing to an end finally though, and while it hasn’t been a difficult week at work I have struggled through it. I never like to wish away time, but it has just felt like a really long week. On a plus note, the weather has been fairly good and has made cycling nice and easy, very little rain and nice temperatures for outdoor exercise! The only question is, have my poor little legs got enough steam in them for one more day, or do I take the car, especially as I have a laptop and folders to bring home which are too heavy for the bike? I do fortunately have an alternate plan for the laptop and folders if I do decide to cycle, although it requires favours from work friends who I haven’t asked yet.

I came home tonight to the wife and daughter stood in the living room window waving at me, which was lovely. They had both been out today into town to meet the wife’s work friends for lunch, and our little girl had behaved herself so well, being passed around, eating her dinner properly, and even put her thumb in her mouth and fell asleep on one of the wife’s bustier friends, who seems to think her “natural pillows” did the trick! Its fair to say that she is definitely napping less during the day than she used to, and struggles from 6pm onwards, which is when the yawning starts. So it was up to daddy to sort out bath time again, its wakes her up a bit between 6pm and her bedtime bottle, and makes part of a nice bedtime routine for her. I’d love to make story time part of the whole bedtime routine, but she keeps falling asleep during her last bottle of the day, and doesn’t wake up even when she is taken upstairs to bed! There is no rush for story time though, we have many years to worry about that just yet! Bath time is a nice thing to do though, as its a really nice bonding time for us, time to spend together that isn’t just me sticking a bottle of milk in her mouth!

Another thing I have to look forward to, on top of being off work and time with the family, is that my littlest hobo friend Alan is back from his travels around the world, for a while at least!

If you grew up in the eighties, you may remember this programme, and the theme tune was perfect, this ones for you Alan…

There’s a voice that keeps on calling me
Down the road is where I’ll always be

Every stop I make, I’ll make a new friend
Can’t stay for long, just turn around and I’m gone again.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down,
Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on.

Down this road, that never seems to end,
Where new adventure, lies just around the bend.

So if you want to join me for a while
Just grab your hat, come travel light – that’s hobo style.

The sad truth is, he’s probably too young to even remember this programme, although I loved it and still know a bunch of people who will remember it, and they’ll get it! Anyway, in keeping up with his facebook (or trying to!) I know he’s had a blast and is going to struggle to re-adjust to life in the UK, the weather and the grumpy people, but I am looking forward to catching up over a beer and some food very soon, and little Olivia is looking forward to meeting her uncle Alan! I don’t think I’ll go through all his pics though, I’ll be bleary eyed and on my ninth can of Red Bull at 5am in the morning and still won’t be finished!!

Well, tonights early night is now officially out of the window, no surprise there, but I’d better hit the hay soon if I want to stand any chance of dragging my ass out of bed in the morning!

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“And Now for Something Completely Different”

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I came home tonight with a real Friday feeling going on, that “Ahh let’s crack open a beer and turn off the alarm clock” kinda feeling.

Its not Friday is it?

Its not even Thursday!

Wednesday? How is it only Wednesday?!

I don’t normally complain about the week dragging, and rarely does it feel like it actually is, especially lately, but I just think I have run out of steam this week. My batteries are empty! Still, a mere two days left, and then its the holidays. I need to plan a few days out to make the most of it. Either way, I am sure two weeks will be gone in a flash, but sitting around the house through choice just feels like so much of a waste when there is so much we could be seeing and doing. Even if it raining, I would love to catch up with people we haven’t been able to see for a while, of which there are plenty! I am sure we will have enough dry weather to have a few nice days out, and it isn’t really too important what we do as Olivia is too young to remember it, and the main goal behind it is just spending time together as a family. Ideally it would be walks along the beach and picnics, days out walking through forests, going to the zoo, walking up hills and through country parks, not caring about whether or not there was a phone signal. I guess what is really important is giving Olivia the chance to explore nature, to get messy, and not just to see her sat around in front of the tv, or glued to a laptop/iPad and utter those dreaded words… “I’m bored!”. Kids need to play and explore, they need to take risks and hurt themselves sometimes, its all an important part of learning. I look back on the tough job my one sister had with her two girls, very little money to spend on fancy toys or holidays, but two children that still needed entertaining regardless, and so she used to take them out, walking, visiting, camping, exploring and they loved it and became better people because of it, I reckon! What I also need to consider at the same time is not hiding all this magical technology away from Olivia and being overprotective, worrying that “she won’t develop properly if she’s glued to some sort of screen!”. Technology is the way forward, and kids need to learn it, for those that don’t will be left behind! I guess the trick is finding the right balance! If she ends up being able to edit a mobile phone video before she knows how to make friends properly, then I haven’t done a very good job of being a parent! There is a time and a place for technology, but it can’t come between real learning, like what does it feel like to roll down a hill, what does it feel like to put on some wellies and jump in a puddle, what will I find if I lift up this rock, I wonder if that group of children will play with me, how do I make a sandcastle? I could go on, but I think I have made my point! My parents didn’t have much money when I was growing up, but i’ll always remember that I had a lot of fun exploring things and learning about things, staring up at the night sky through a telescope, trying to catch stickleback fish in a net in the local stream, playing games in the street, my fingers freezing as I built a snowman. My mom was so behind the times with technology that we didn’t even have a video recorder until I was 15 years old, and we only had four channels on the tv then, so apart from a couple of hours of kids tv after school, there wasn’t a huge amount to watch!

Oh how things have changed though, I would consider myself fairly tech savvy now, and loev my gadgets (as the wife would agree with) although sometimes I have to remember to put it down and switch it off, because life is happening and I don’t want to miss it because I was too busy glued to a screen going on and on about how my daughter shouldn’t be! How ironic would THAT be?!

Incidentally, todays picture was taken and edited completely on my iPhone 5 using the snapseed app.