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What a wonderful way to end the weekend, in the company of good friends, family, and with a few drinks too! We had an unusually early start today, all three of us were up before 6:30am all because the tiniest Vokes in the household decided she didn’t want to sleep in any longer! It wasn’t a bad way to start the day, with my two favourite ladies, and allowed us a bit of time to just relax in front of the tv without feeling too unproductive. I took the opportunity to plant some more seeds, hoping to get some more flowers ready for planting very soon, ahead of Olivia’s birthday, still keeping my fingers crossed that the weather allows for a bbq, as we have invited nowhere near the amount of people that I wanted to, to Olivia’s first birthday party. The problem is, that if it does rain, we’ll struggle for space indoors, and we just can’t guarantee the weather. If the forecast closer to the day, is suggesting more dry weather like we’re currently having, then I’ll start putting the word out to more people, if we’re fairly certain we’ll be out in the garden. The flowers I have already planted are starting to look amazing, and for a novice gardener, I am really quite pleased with the one end of the garden. Now I have to work on the side where the new fence has gone up, as I had to leave it empty knowing that anything I planted would have been trampled on as the new fence was erected.

Once we were showered and dressed, it was time to head out to a christening, that of our friends little boy where we had been asked to be god parents, which is lovely and is the second time I have become a godparent. Its so nice to know people care enough to ask you, and so todays photo is a lovely family shot of our good friends who we very much enjoyed spending the afternoon with. The church was easy to find, and we’d picked up the in-laws on the way as they’d been invited too. The service was quite short and to the point, and it wasn’t long before the priest quite suddenly just vanished and we were making our way outside, looking at each other wondering if we were okay to go as no-one actually remembered seeing the priest disappear or tell us that he’d actually finished. We stopped for a couple of photos and then soon moved on to the next venue for drinks and food, which was actually a water ski centre… I didn’t even know these places existed inland! Still, the lake and the sunshine made a lovely setting to enjoy the afternoon, and while I’d driven there, the wife was to drive home so that I could have a few beers, whilst trying to ignore the tv showing the F1 Grand Prix that I was missing.

We were home in just enough time for me to get a lift from a friend to a meeting about our new businesses with some other members of our team. It was a fun meeting and I know I have to make a push to move things forward. The beauty of the business is the amount of support and encouragement we get, its like nothing I have known before. Like everything, it takes time, but I really can’t wait for it to start making a difference!

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A really unfortunate start to today, needing energy and focus for todays wedding, but was for some reason awake at 5:30am and unable to get back to sleep. Maybe something to do with the heat overnight, very warm and stuffy even with the bedroom windows open, but it could also be something to do with all the chinese I’d eaten and beer I’d drunk last night, after detoxing for a week and a half.

Still today was the day my friends Gareth and Donna got married, I was doing the photos, and tired or not, I needed to be up, showered and ready to get out of the house! The weather was on our side today, and the sun was shining down. Which does take a lot of pressure off the day. The day itself went well, although there wasn’t a huge amount of time for photos, but I did my best given the time available, and everyone seemed to have a good time. My legs and feet were very tired by the end of it, and I was glad to get home and rest them finally.

Weddings can be great days, but they can be long and demanding, and worst of all, I’ve missed my little girl today. She was in bed long before I got home. Extra cuddles needed tomorrow!

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Just a short post for Friday as I am well overdue on putting it up!

The morning was spent tending to plants and flowers in the garden to pass the time while the mobile hairdresser was doing Clare’s hair. It was another beautiful day out and so once Clare’s hair was finished we decided to take a drive out in the car to see my mom for a couple of hours. Olivia loves playing with both her grandads, and was so well behaved, as usual. Suddenly its time to head home and get ready for a night out with the wife, while the other grand parents babysit as its our wedding anniversary weekend and we were heading into Harborne for a meal. It was chinese, but not a regular takeaway, this was some fancy place where you eat in, but its not a buffet, the menu was small, but each item had clearly been thought out, and of course the price reflected that! In fact, its fair to say that its the most I’ve ever spent in a restaurant in the UK on just two people! The food was very good though, the service was excellent and the restaurant itself looked very tidy and modern on the inside. It was a very enjoyable evening!

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What a turnaround, yesterday I felt like death, a familiar feeling that I have had at least once a year for about the past six years or so, a virus. Usually I am bed ridden for two or three days, and often waking up soaked in sweat, yet here I am just 24 hours later, back out in the garden, doing some more gardening. I can only put this miracle recovery down to the Aloe Vera that I have been drinking, on top of which, I have got my sister on it now, and her IBS which has been almost a daily feature, has pretty much disappeared! To add more good news to the mix, I am now at the end of my Clean 9 detox programme, with today being day 9, and this mornings weigh in is giving me a 10lb weight loss, and the tape measure is telling me that 2 inches have gone off my waist too! I’m rather pleased, to say the least.

With the new fence up, and me not dying in bed and feeling sorry for myself, today it was time to get started in the garden. I wanted to get some weeds up and some plants in the ground. Whilst attacking weeds, I also got into a fight with some pretty nasty roots which have spread all across one side of the garden quite aggressively, and I was not going to quit! I don’t want to get rid of these superficially, put flowers down and then see shoots pushing through from the roots I didn’t remove properly. No, these had to come up, and they have to come up now! I want to be planting things ready for Olivia’s party and not have to touch them again. I’d rather do the job properly once, than do half a job and be tending to it again and again!

I took a break for a couple of hours with the in-laws were round as I don’t see them very often, although I am pretty sure they were here to see Olivia more than me and Clare. They were keen to see the new fence, and the effect it had one the garden, but when they were gone it was back to the grind. I won with the roots, and got rid of most of the weeds. I also got some new flower seeds planted and the flowers I grew from seed previously have really taken off! Hopefully we’ll have these beds looking nice by the end of the summer holiday! Madam was napping when the in-laws turned up, but was soon awake and full of energy. Recently she has really been developing a personality, and it has been lovely with us both having the week off together again to spend with her. I am so glad I get to spend the summer holidays with her, as she really is turning into a little girl now, gone are the days of calling her a baby, our baby is now a little lady!

This evening I went to visit an old work friend to talk about the business to her, as I know she’ll be great at it, and could do with the opportunity. I used to work with her many years ago, when she school we worked at was a very different place. The school has always been about change, and that’s not a bad thing, but with change has come expansion, and more staff. Now it seems that so few people get to know each other like we used to back when I started, as there are literally so many of of us now. I do miss the old days, they were good times!

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What should have been a wonderful day, with some lovely things planned, ended up being a bit of a disappointment. I woke up aching, thinking maybe a bit of sunburn had done that to me, but it got worse and worse as the day went on, everything started hurting. We went out anyway to make our first visit, which was my sisters new flat. It was lovely to see it, and I just felt really bad that I was spending the whole time trying to stay awake and generally not saying a lot. Next time we go round I’ll be able to appreciate it fully though. Our next visit was to see our friends Tracy & Richard, although we stopped at home on the way first, and came to the decision to cancel and stay at home as I was developing a bit of a temperature as well. It was a real shame as they’d changed their plans at the last minute to put on a bbq as well, but I was feeling dreadful at this point, and didn’t want to pass anything on. I was reluctant, I hate letting people down, but it was the right thing to do. An early night was the only thing that could help at this point. Another of my disappointments today was the fact that I wanted to do so much in the garden now that our new fence was up, but at least it is starting to look brighter and more colourful as some of the flowers have started coming out!

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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

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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!