Day 266 – You wait ages for one party then two come along

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Day 266 – Dec 9th

A double party day, meant we were up early on the Saturday for the party of my friends son on a party bus. It was a cold day out, but the kids managed on the bus as there was plenty of jumping around and dancing going on. The bus itself was parked up on the car park of a pub that my friend had taken over, and so most of the parents could stay inside in the warmth, with us all taking turns to supervise outside.

From there it was onto a different kind of party, it wasn’t actually a celebration of any kind, but our antenatal group were meeting up again. We always meet up at christmas, and for the first couple of years went for food, although this year it was as much for the kids as the adults and one of the group had booked a venue that I’d never heard of before. Instead of the usual soft play, this was a brand new imaginary play centre. An old pub had been converted into a children’s play area, on one side was a shop area, a construction area, a doctors area, a kitchen area and a dressing up area, and on the other side was a cafe and seating area for the adults. I chatted briefly with the owner and would certainly look to go back in the future. We managed to grab a nice photo of the kids before they chose their secret santa gifts, although by now most of them have either a brother or sister and so it may well be a bigger group photo in the future!

We had two more things to do on the way home, firstly if everyone else was taking this snowfall tonight seriously then maybe we should too, so we stocked up on a couple of essentials like bread and milk in case we couldn’t go far for a couple of days. Secondly by the time we were actually heading for home it was too late to cook, and so the final stop of the day was the chip shop for tea!

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Day 265 – Sometimes you will get surprised

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Day 265 – Dec 8th

It was time. The alarm had gone off, it was Friday morning and the truth of whether or not the forecasters had been right was about to be revealed…

Yup, there had been snow, but nothing like we’d been promised… no shock there then! I’d planned to cycle to work and it still seemed like the best way to get there. The motorbike could easily go over due to its weight, and the car could get caught up in the inevitable traffic chaos that was likely to go with a sprinkling of snow.

As it turned out, the school was closed to pupils and with the threat of more snow on the way, we were pleasantly surprised that staff were also being sent home at lunchtime.

It was so nice to be home by 1pm on a Friday, the girls were over the moon to see me. With Chloe heading up for her afternoon nap, I took Olivia out to the local nature spot of Warley Woods to run about in the snow and throw a few snowballs at me. Its a huge gathering area for local people when it snows due to a gentle slope that is perfect for small children to slide down.

It was just enough snow to enjoy for an hour, although it hadn’t caused any real problems on the roads, and so there was virtually no disruption because of it. The real threat was the forecast for a real heavy snow shower on Sunday night, and people were starting to take this one a bit more seriously!

Day 264 – I’ll believe it when I see it

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Day 264 – Dec 7th

The talk of snow is increasing, everyone seems to think we’re going to finally get some tonight. Most people love a bit of snow, it looks so pretty and makes everything feel a bit more festive when it falls anywhere close to christmas, but we see so little of it, particularly living in the midlands. It has always been the same, most of the country seems to get it at some point throughout the winter, but it always seems to bypass us here, I guess its just the geography of the land.

We have had numerous forecasts over the last couple of years suggesting the possibility of a flurry here or there, and inevitably nothing has turned up, so I am holding judgement on whether we’ll actually see any tonight at all. People seem very certain on this one, but I’ll believe it when I see it. I have really missed seeing some of the white stuff on the ground over winter, the girls have never really experienced snow properly, apart from Olivia enjoying some briefly on a random morning in April last year where some settled for a couple of hours.

Day 263 – Tribute to Dixie

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Day 263 – Dec 6th

One thing I don’t do is watch a great deal of tv, its just not me. I like to keep myself busy in the evening once the girls are in bed, working on the blog, the website, facebook page, various photography projects such as editing wedding photos, and I barely seem to find time for those those things as it is. I see tv as a way of passing time when you have time to fill. Although occasionally I will let myself slow down and spend a bit of time in front of the tv once I have found something specific to watch, rather than just flicking through the channels trying to find something doesn’t suck.

One of the few things I will make time for is Road Wars, a reality programme following the officers from various police forces around on their shifts. The show ran for a few years, but always followed the same few forces and officers, and so after a while they almost became famous to those watching.

Some sad news came out today that one of the officers James Dixon, known as Dixie to his colleagues and on the show, was sadly killed whilst on duty on his police motorbike, in a collision with a car. Anyone who was a Road Wars fan will remember him, and enjoyed watching his true professionalism. It is a stark reminder to us all that if someone as highly skilled as him behind the wheel of a car, or on the back of a motorbike with all his advanced training can come unstuck, then we all need to think a bit more and take a moment to be more careful on the roads. Having spent 20 years driving, and even longer cycling on the roads, on top of now being a motorbike rider for over a year, I feel that I have watched driving standards on the road continue to deteriorate, as drivers attitudes have become more and more aggressive and far less tolerant of our fellow road users. Everybody’s sense of self importance and their need to be at their destination “five minutes ago”, on top of cars becoming safer and ever more powerful, means that people are literally seeing themselves as invincible on the road, and more important than everyone else. I can’t pretend that it doesn’t worry me a bit, as my daily commute to work only ever involves being on two wheels, making me quite vulnerable. I definitely feel that having a motorbike has made me a bit safer as its easier to keep up with the traffic and move when you need to, but when you hear about the highly skilled likes of Dixie, we have to remind ourselves of the importance of looking out for one another.

Day 262 – Is snow really on the way?

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Day 262 – Dec 5th

Catching up on the blog, after falling way behind, something I hate doing but I for one reason or another I am falling further and further behind and actually putting off writing because the job is growing bigger and bigger.

I was lucky that today was another booking for wedding photography, my offer is starting to get noticed a bit more and bring some interest in, which I always see as another chance to further improve my portfolio as well as bringing in some much needed funds to help with the new motorbike. My portfolio isn’t bad, I’ve got some lovely images in there, but I have been and always will continue to be my worst critic, and so I am always looking to make things a bit better than the last time. The way I see it, if I am not learning from it then its time to give up and hang up my boots. Photography is a constant learning curve, and I will always be learning. I would like to see 2018 as the year I begin sharing some of that knowledge and start making a little money from teaching it too.

In other news this week, everyone so far is starting to get a little excited about the weather forecast at the weekend suggesting snow, but I’ll believe it when I see it! We have had numerous forecasts for snow that have been wildly exaggerated or even completely wrong, but people seem to be taking this one a bit more seriously. We will see.

Day 261 – Some days will just be quieter

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Day 261 – Dec 4th

A quiet kinda day, nothing much to report. Enjoyed a nice ride into work on the new motorbike as the weather had been a little milder for a couple of days. The risk of ice on the road is the biggest deterrent. I don’t mind braving the elements, and won’t shy away from adverse weather as long as its safe, I certainly wouldn’t call myself a fairweather rider. My big concern is hitting some ice and not being able to keep the motorbike upright, which could mean not only damage to the bike, or damage to myself, but potentially damage to another vehicle or even another person in the worst case scenario. The big problem with this bike is its size and more so its weight, a full 100kg heavier than my previous 125cc motorbike weighing in at a whopping 240kg!

Thankfully my commute is a fairly safe affair, especially in the good weather, and it made it quite enjoyable… but the best part of my day is always getting home to see the girls. Nothing beats the look on their face when I walk through the door.

Day 260 – We’re not the only ones preparing for christmas

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Day 260 – Dec 3rd

With the weekend landing we didn’t have any plans for Sunday, and by Saturday night it is pretty much laid out before us. We start the day with a visit to my mothers so that she can see the girls, and I can see her after a couple of weeks.

Sadly it was a short visit and then straight off to the park to meet friends, as we’d thrown Olivia’s bike in the boot of the car so she could ride around with our friends little girl who is the same age and had also taken her bike. It actually turns out to be a nice calm walk as the girls don’t make it very far before they stop and want to get off again. There was plenty of screams as we stopped to feed ducks and the angry geese chased both of the girls sending them into a frenzied panic. Part of me wanted to laugh a little, but a part of me also wanted to send the damn geese flying with a punt from my size nines! In the defence of the geese, if the girls hadn’t run off holding a big piece of bread, they geese may not have chased them quite so much!

We did spot a few squirrels hoarding a last few nuts before settling down for their winter snooze. I have never been able to get a decent squirrel shot as the little buggers always disappear up a tree, which most of them were doing today, until I found the little fellow in todays photo who seemed a little twitchy, but was more intent on filling his face instead of running for safety.

So without the day being too crazy, we felt like we’d spent our time well and enjoyed ourselves. That evening I even managed to get a load of christmas presents online, which is my preferred method of buying presents, so that was a bit of pressure off, as it meant we were a little more prepared for christmas now.

Only two more weeks at work!

Day 259 – The most important job of the season

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Day 259 – Dec 2nd

This is the day that the wife and I had agreed several weeks ago that we would be putting up the christmas tree and decorations. I don’t think that either of us were feeling especially festive at this particular moment, there was no urgency to throw everything up like we felt last year. Its not that we didn’t want to decorate the house, just that the festive bug hadn’t quite hit us yet, but I was sure it would.

So after the usual Saturday morning dance class for Olivia, it was back home and straight up in the loft so that we could get everything christmas related down and ready to put up before Chloe went up to bed for a nap, and being the light sleeper she is, would have definitely got woken up by the loft hatch being opened and closed.

With everything down and after untangling and testing lights, letting the girls explore all the shiny, sparkly things that we pulled out, the actual putting up of the tree and decorations took significantly longer than we anticipated. Eventually we had to gave up for the day with a few jobs still left to do, as we needed to tidy up a bit and get the girls ready for bed. The tree was up, which was the main thing, the rest could wait until tomorrow. Olivia has been responsible for putting the star on the tree for the last couple of years, not sure how that will go down when Chloe is old enough to care about it, but we’ll worry about that when the time comes!

There was also the fact that I was heading out for drinks that evening with some old school friends, and so wouldn’t be around after the girls had gone to bed to help tidy up. It didn’t take long to put everything away, and it wasn’t long before I had a glass of wine in my hand and was ready to catch up with friends.

December is here, and christmas has started!!

Day 258 – There’s a new elf in town

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Day 258 – Dec 1st

So we’ve joined the Elf on the shelf club, I have committed myself to a month of headaches trying to find different things for this elf to do each night! I think the worst part about it is remembering to do it in plenty of time before bed so that you’re not scrabbling around at the last minute trying to find something that won’t take too long just so you can get to bed! Thankfully I found a list of ideas that are going to prove useful, and now all we have to do is see if the girls are even remotely interested… can I make it believable enough?

Anyone else getting sucked into this new trend?

Day 257 – Baby it’s cold outside

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Day 257 – Nov 30th

Back before the girls were born, before we’d moved into the house, the wife and I lived together in her flat, which I guess you could say eventually became our flat after we were married.

It was a lovely little place, perfect for us as a childless couple, and even though there was no proper heating system it never really got cold in there as we had a flat above and below insulating us. Some nights we’d put a film on and light a few candles, very romantic, but the practical upshot of this was that the flat, due to its size, got very warm after a while.

I loved lighting up a load of tealight candles for a cosy night in, especially on the colder nights, and it is something we haven’t done much since moving into the house as we were only in here for a few weeks as a couple before our first little baby arrived and suddenly we were parents. Early on into the parenting thing we were too distracted to think about romantic nights in front of the tv, and now the girls are at least sleeping well every night we just don’t like to have candles out at any point with those inquisitive little hands exploring, and tend to forget by the time they have gone to bed. Still, I am keen to teach them the importance of not touching things when they have been told, and they stayed well away from these candles when we lit them up the other night. I didn’t stray far from the candles while they were lit, and it was as much an experiment to see how they’d behave around them as it was for the pretty light and any heat they’d give off. It went well, they didn’t get too close and listened when we told them not to touch.

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