With the weather forecast looking, well, toasty for want of a better word, we decided it was time to hit the beach. I was fully expecting the motorways to be chaos and full of traffic jams… but no, none of that! We headed down to Barry Island in South Wales, for several reasons. Firstly, it was where the series Gavin and Stacy was filmed, and Clare was very excited about seeing it. Secondly, of all the welsh beaches, it is one of the closest, and a full hour closer than the one I originally wanted to visit. Lastly, I was hoping that other beaches such as Weston, Swansea, and the south coast would have taken the brunt of tourists today, leaving Barry a bit quieter in the summer heat. It turns out I may have been right, we found spaces in the car park, even at midday, and room on the beach to relax! The drive down was pleasant, until I noticed the fuel light getting dangerously close to empty. Well, to be honest it was on empty for the last couple of miles, I had no idea if we’d even make the beach or not. I was confident we had plenty before we set out, clearly I was wrong! I’m not sure if the welsh people have cars that run on fairy dust or something, but there wasn’t a single petrol station for miles! Finally, as the miles on the satnav ticked down to single figure numbers and we finally got to Barry, we found a petrol station at last and were able to fill up. We soon found a spot on the beach and set up Olivia’s new sun tent, to keep the sun off her skin, which was bigger than I imagined, but thankfully quite easy to set up. I was so pleased to be able to take Olivia for her first splash in the sea, which she enjoyed, although sadly the sea was a little too far from where we were based on the beach for Clare to be able to get up and leave all our valuables and come and take a photo of her. The sea was surprisingly warm and pleasant, and made introducing Olivia to it all the easier. I could have quite happily stayed in there much longer, but I was conscious that even though Olivia was covered in sun cream, we were quite exposed out here! We had our little picnic on the beach, in the hamper I had bought Clare for her birthday, and after a little while, decided to head somewhere a little cooler as the heat was getting too much. We soon found a coffee shop and settled down to cool off for a while. Clare tucked into an ice cream, although I couldn’t as I am still on my Clean 9 detox and I am limited to calories for a couple more days. As it was really too hot to do much, especially with a toddler, we decided that we’d take a walk along the peninsula for a bit of a breeze and some lovely views before heading back to the car and putting the A/C on while we headed in the direction of home and looked for somewhere to stop and give Olivia her dinner. I was a wonderful day out and as Olivia had missed some of her naps due to the heat, she slept well in the car on the ride home with the A/C cooling her down. A quick bath to remove any last traces of sand and she was off to bed, leaving mommy and daddy to cover each others rather red skin in Aloe Vera. 7










Well I simply couldn’t have got through today without the immense help I got from my sisters partner Leigh. He worked like a machine all day long to get my new fence put up, along with concrete posts, down the full length of the garden. He took a short break for lunch, and an equally short break for dinner. I tried to help him where I could, and even with that we still only just finished before it became properly dark! So todays photo, is my nice new fence, but in the dark! It has totally transformed the garden and now means I can move forward with getting the garden ready for Olivia’s first birthday in a few weeks time. In between helping Leigh I did get some more flowers planted, so hopefully they will start to bloom in a couple of weeks time, and the garden will look amazing, but what else do you do for a first birthday party? We have a bbq at the ready, a gazebo, music… we should probably include some garden games for the kids, while I think about it. We still have weeks to get all those details sorted though!

After that I sat down with my sister and gave her some information about some of work I am doing from home with the amazing company I work with, to see if she might be interested in it. It went fairly well, and she is keen to come to the business presentation to find out more about the business model, which could be a double bonus as I haven’t managed to visit one myself.

Tomorrow is Tuesday, which means a day at the seaside for the Vokes family. I’ve made up a checklist, but not sure if I’ve remembered everything, probably best that I get the wife to check it as well! We need to leave on time, which is fairly early, no excuses. Bucket and spade at the ready!



Usually we say that Sunday is a day of rest, but today was definitely not one of those days. I started the day meeting my friend at the local reservoir for a Sunday morning 10k run. Although it was 9am when we met, it was still warm and pleasant already, but with enough cloud cover to stop us from overheating. As soon as I was home and showered we were back out together to go shopping for a new mattress. It was a short trip as we didn’t have a fortune to spend, and the prices of new mattresses can quickly escalate to some crazy numbers. I am sure that experts can argue the merits of such expensive purchases, and as much as I am sure they would give us an awesome nights sleep, we just don’t have the money at the moment. So hopefully we will be able to see an immediate benefit in the new mattress. The process of buying the mattress was quick, simple and pain free, although their upselling seemed a bit brutal. £39 for delivery, and then a further £39 to take the old mattress away followed by £25 for an extended guarantee. So all in, an extra £103 on top, which is 52% of the original price of the mattress alone! I think the guy serving us saw our jaws drop and felt a little guilty and very quickly offered to drop the delivery price to £20, still a little steep for the 2 mile journey back to our house, but cheaper than hiring a van. We decided against the removal of the old one as I was pretty sure the council would collect it for free, or for a minimal charge. Once done with the mattress shopping it was then over to a nearby retail park to pick up a sun shelter and a bucket and spade for Olivia for when we take her for a day out to the seaside on Tuesday.

Todays photo was taken just before we left for our little shopping excursion, Olivia loves being on her feet, although can’t get on them alone and still needs lots of support when she’s up, but in the last couple of weeks has started taking more and more steps with increasing confidence whilst her hands are being held. I don’t know when she’ll start walking, and we’re certainly not concerned about comparing her to other children, as each one is different and we know she will learn to walk in her own good time.

After sitting down to watch the German Grand Prix today, my sister turned up to ask me to help her put her car online to sell it. So with a few photos taken for her, and sticking it on a couple of free sites initially, that was ticked off, just in time for my friend to turn up with his wife to be, to discuss the details of their upcoming wedding next weekend. I am really looking forward to it, and driving between venues should be a minimum for a change, which will be nice.

I did find a few minutes to get in the garden and dig a few weeds up, and was thrilled to find some Italian Plum Tomatoes starting to grow. I can’t wait to turn some of these into a soup, especially as we have basil growing in the garden too!


What an inspiring day Saturday was! Up early for a drive to Cheltenham race course for a success day to celebrate the achievements of some hard working and determined people, including my two friends who have strived forwards in their own business and inspired and supported others around them to do the same, including myself. There aren’t many companies who will put on this much of a celebration to recognise the hard work that people put in to make things work. When I worked in Retail for Tesco, recognition was a word that was virtually unheard of. You were no more than a number, and completely expendable. Working in retail showed the brutal reality that companies will go to, to make profits, at the expense of its staff. I wouldn’t go back to that environment if it was the last job on earth! Now I find myself working with some fantastic people to build my own part time business, which could lead who knows where in the future! Help, support, encouragement, success and recognition are all a part of it.



199 days out of 365… how did THAT happen? It only seems like five minutes ago that I was wrapping up the last years 365 project on new years eve! Well apparently it has happened, we’re well over halfway through the year and it continues to fly by. Today marked the end of term and the beginning of the six weeks holiday, which means that we’re on the countdown to Olivia’s first birthday and by the time the term starts again, our little lady will be 1!! The garden is still in need of some TLC and next week will be the start of it, with our new fence panels being put up after they were damaged by this years storms earlier on in the year. Our neighbour has already thankfully started taking the old ones down, which I will no doubt be burning later in the week. Once the panels are in place then I will have to fill up the empty flower beds with some flowers.

This morning also marked the start of my Clean 9 nutritional cleanse program where I get to do my first weigh in, and I have lost an impressive 6lb, which is really inspiring. Days 1 & 2 were tough, I knew they would be, but it was still hard. Today got a bit easier though, I felt like I had a lot more energy and got to tuck into some delicious fajitas this evening, and hence todays photo! I was still faced with more temptation though, cream cakes, more chocolate and even beer! I managed to turn them all down and made myself feel better by taking my share, putting them aside and saving them for later. That way I don’t feel like I am missing out so much.

Right, now time for bed, early start in the morning!



So what is Thursday all about then? Well it was the last day for the pupils at work, they have finished for the holidays meaning only staff are in tomorrow, with potentially a very busy morning ahead of us, as a lot of staff are moving classrooms. An annual ritual that no-one enjoys, but its something we have to do, and we’ll soon be settled in new rooms before we know it. Today has also been a day of particularly warm weather, the sun has been out all day and cycling home was a total sweatfest, although thankfully I have been drinking plenty of water due to the Clean 9 programme, and so didn’t become dehydrated. The weather forecast for tomorrow is suggesting extreme high temperatures across the UK, especially in London and the Midlands. I could cycle it, but as it happens I need to bring a few bulky items home from work, and so I will be taking the car tomorrow. With the high temperatures comes the challenge of keeping my plants healthy in the garden. The weeds seem totally unfazed by the heat, whereas the tomatoes are very over dramatic, a little bit like a football player who throws himself to the floor at the slightest tackle! Still, I do have tomatoes growing now, which I am quite excited about, I can’t wait to make some soup and pasta sauce out of them. Speaking of food, today has been Day 2 of my Clean 9 nutritional cleanse plan, and it was as difficult as people said it would be. The main problem is that in day 1 & 2 you feel lethargic and a bit hungry, but I have been told that by day 3, which is tomorrow, I can expect a turnaround and should start to feel more energetic and the hunger should start to disappear. Tomorrow is also my first weigh-in day since I started this, so hopefully I will see some encouraging results. Very much looking to tucking into some tasty fajitas tomorrow night, I can almost taste them now.

It was good to get home tonight, after cycling through the heat, and even feeling tired and hungry I still made the journey in good time. It helps having my daughter waiting at home for me, I get such a lovely smile when I walk in, its all the inspiration I need to get on that bike and pedal hard, no matter what. With the wife being late home from work again due to traffic and faulty traffic lights, it was down to me to think of something for Olivia for dinner. She is now eating so much better, although being frequently distracted by Peppa Pig on the tv, as seen in todays photo. I decided to make her my delicious Pizza Toast, which I was so very tempted to steal a few pieces of, but as I’m not allowed it on the nutritional cleanse, it meant dinner was quite safe for her.

Right, bed for me, lets just hope that having the windows open has cooled the room down a bit, its going to be a hot and sticky night!



I can’t keep my eyes open tonight, so I am going to keep this short. Normally my Aloe drinks have kept my energy levels up, but today I started the Clean 9 programme, a 9 day detox and weight management system. This consists of Aloe gel drinks, shakes, and supplements, but in the first couple of days, most people report a lack of energy, until it starts to surge around day three. I certainly felt this lack of energy today, and cycling home was a bit of a mission. I have frequently felt a bit hungry, but nothing compared to what I thought I would, and the shake I had at lunchtime was delicious too! So I’ve made it through day one, and while my hunger has been kept under control, it hasn’t yet stopped my cravings, and I have been trying not to torture myself with things I cannot eat.

In other news today, we now own our new fence panels which were delivered today, ready and waiting to be fitted on monday, so that we will eventually have a gorgeous looking garden. Once the new fence is in place we can get plants down on that side of the garden without fear of them being trampled on when the fence is being put in. That’s the plan anyway!