365 project, Personal, Photography

Day 334/365 The final month beckons

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”


This morning was the morning where, as previously mentioned, I was very grateful for the wife getting up with Olivia and leaving me to snooze for an extra hour this morning. A bit of a slow start to the day, but nice to spend some time with my two favourite girls. Clare took Olivia out for a walk with her mom, and I got a few bits ready to go to the tip. I was very much hoping to visit my nan today so that Olivia could see her great grandmother, but sadly there was no answer on the phone. Unfortunately, its not really possible to plan these visits anymore as my nan is struggling to remember things on a day to day basis, often not even sure if she’s spoke to you on the phone that day or not. So I just had to take a chance that she’d be in and that we’d be able to visit. Oh well, another time!

Tonight we have a charity evening to attend, organised by the wife of one of my oldest friends Dave. Their little boy was born with cystic fibrosis, which I didn’t know much about before he was born, and although he looks like one of the happiest and healthiest little boys you could ever wish to meet, its only through the care and diligence of his parents in looking after him. CF is still being heavily researched, and is making constant progress. If I had been born with it in the 70’s, I’d have been lucky to see my first birthday! Thankfully, nowadays, CF suffers are extremely likely to reach middle age and even withdraw their pension! Its only through fundraising that this research continues to go on, which is why I opted to raise money for it when I ran the silverstone half marathon earlier in the year, and one of our mutual friends Ed took on mount Kilimanjaro to raise thousands for the charity! The event tonight is at a local social club, so we’re going to take a walk down later and leave the car at home, meaning we can both have a drink, although we’ll have to wrap up as its already fallen to 4ºc even though the sun has only just gone down! It was a beautiful sky this evening as the sun set, and as I have almost completed this years 365 project without swamping it in sunset photos, I thought I’d include tonights colourful sky!

365 project, Personal, Photography

Day 333/365

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”


So my desire to keep posting each day has frequently outweighed my natural instinct to go to sleep. There have been numerous times where I have been nodding off with the macbook on my lap, and woken up to realise that the last few lines of text are just gibberish. I have had to go back, delete it, and rewrite it, which was something I had to do last night, only instead of rewriting it with what actually happened I completely fabricated our christmas day! My wife picked up her phone this morning, read my blog and said “well THAT never happened!”, and in my half asleep state I’d somehow forgotten quite how big christmas day actually was! So I’d like to apologise to everyone who read yesterdays blog and now is my chance to correct it. Last year WAS our first married christmas, this much is true, and we did eat christmas dinner together at home, but we actually had the in-laws over to join us. They normally had Clare’s nan join them for dinner, but as her nan is unfortunately no longer with us, we invited them to ours so they weren’t on their own. We knew we had some significant news to tell both parents, and so tried to make sure Clare’s parents were still at ours when mine came over with my sister and her boyfriend. While we were all together, Clare and I announced that we were expecting a baby! It was a fantastic occasion and we’d already got a bottle of champagne on ice, although Clare obviously only got to hear about how good it tasted! How I failed to remember this last night, is still beyond me!

Tonight is another late night post, but I don’t mind as I can turn my alarm clock off with it being Friday. I have no reason to get up early in the morning, well, that is until Olivia decides to wake up and start babbling and cooing in her moses basket. I had to drop Clare into town this evening as she was meeting friends for food and drinks, which meant I was on daddy care duty at home. On the way home, I stopped off to pick up our turkey we’d ordered for christmas dinner, and also at our local indian restaurant so I could grab some dinner. If my wife is tucking into unlimited chinese buffet and wine, i’ll be damned if i’m putting up with cheese on toast! I managed to feed Olivia and watch a film before I had to go back out and pick up Clare, no point paying for a taxi if we don’t need one this side of christmas, there’s better things we can be spending £20 on! Still we’re home now, I’ve managed to watch the F1 2013 season review that I’d recorded on Sky+, the wife and daughter are now in bed and I have a jack and coke in my hand. Its a good start to the weekend! Not the Friday nights of 10 years ago, but life is different now, better, complete! I was talking to a friend this week who is dating a girl much younger than him, and we are under no disillusion that we’re not 21 any more! We still have a few good nights up town left in us yet, just not as frequent as they used to be! Still, we have a busy weekend ahead, catching up with friends on Saturday and Sunday for a couple of really nice days.


Day 332/365

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”


Today was nearly a self portrait, i’ll admit, although I did have ideas to make it a cool one. Then my daughter, acting all cute, caught me off guard. In the last couple of weeks she has discovered hands, now she can’t keep them out of her mouth! It was late and I had nothing else on my camera for today, so I had to capture that cuteness, especially as I want a lasting memory of this time, the time she began sucking on her fingers and making a slobbery mess all over her chin! I love all the little details of how she is changing and growing, and I still need to go through all the photos I have taken so far, I like to keep my photos in some sort of order, as I don’t see the point in taking them in the first place if I can’t refer back to them, or find them when I need them! My desktop is particularly organised, I have been organising photos into folders on there for years, but my macbook still needs a bit of a spring clean, I have some folders in place but I’m not even confident that I have all the images off my memory cards as I have four cameras that I use and a multitude of cards! It permanently seems to be a job for “tomorrow” at the moment!

So yet again, this is another past midnight blog post, I so wanted to get a photo early doors, get this typed up and get to bed at a sensible time. I just want one morning where I am NOT struggling to get out of bed, so I am very thankful that tomorrow (well, today now I guess) is finally Friday, and the weekend is ahead of me, and within reach. Later on today, if we’re calling it Friday now, I will be picking up the christmas turkey and hoping I can find some freezer space to keep it fresh. I am really looking forward to Christmas dinner this year, we’ll be having both sets of parents over, and I have volunteered to do the cooking, an idea I may regret on the day! To be honest, I am just glad we have not got to drive anywhere. Last year was our first married christmas, so we agreed to have dinner together and then go our separate ways in the evening, to the respective parents! This year, however, I’ll just be glad to not be going anywhere. I’m mostly going to have a drink next to me while I am cooking, and probably eating. If people want to see Olivia then they’re going to have to come to us this year! The more the merrier to be honest, I love having people round, its half of whats makes christmas for me! This weekend also marks the start of christmas in the vokes household, and the tree will be going up straight after we have met friends for lunch, and watched the brand new blu-ray of the snowman, which arrived from amazon this week! Then a week on Saturday we are meeting more friends and their little toddler at the Frankfurt Christmas market where I am really looking forward to getting some nice photos!

Now my eyes can’t stay open, I’m outta here! Have a great day!

365 project, Personal, Photography

Day 331/365

“A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.”


These late night posts really must stop, it has been a week of typing this up after midnight and cursing myself each time, for yet another late night! I am leaving myself thoroughly exhausted in the morning, and struggling to get out of bed. I know the weekend will be slightly slower, although I am not going to get much of a lie in with Vokes Jr waking up nice and early for us. Although I do know that if I was truly running on empty, I could count on the wife to give me an extra hour in bed while she got up and took Olivia downstairs.

Todays photo was one of our favourite gifts from when Olivia was born, off a good friend of ours. It was a great find, and worth every penny! It is made out of one piece of wood and all the letters and stars are carefully carved out! We’ve had it a few weeks, trying to decide where to put it, and thankfully it ended up where I originally suggested, on the mirror of her wardrobe door! It looks lovely, and will really finish the room off perfectly, when I’ve got all the spare clothes, bags and boxes from there up in the loft!

Nice to have a catch up with friends again tonight, looking forward to a proper night up town with them again very soon, for our traditional birthday/xmas celebrations! Too many things have got in the way of nights out and this year has seen a sharp decline in our celebrations, not just for myself, but for everyone! Still, babies, weddings and house renovations will do that to you!

365 project, Personal, Photography

Day 330/365

“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”


A pretty standard day by all accounts, Tuesday is normally a bit of a busy day for me as I am not home for long after work before I have to turn around and head again out to Jujitsu training. It only gives me a short time with my daughter while she is awake, but at least I came home to lots of smiles. Thankfully, having spoke to my Sensei tonight, it looks like we won’t be grading for our next belt until the new year, which means a few more weeks to practise! Next Tuesday will be slightly different as I won’t be training like normal, I am off to see Jason Manford live with the wife, and I can’t wait! The last time we saw Jimmy Carr, who is incredibly funny, but equally offensive and not for everyone!

I know todays photo is yet another one of my sleeping daughter, but it was my goal to try and get a photo a day, or near enough during her first year, and I haven’t taken one for a couple of days. Tut tut, bad daddy! My little princess is growing up so fast, and is changing everyday, so these photos are essential!

365 project, Personal, Photography

Day 329/365

“I love you like a fat kid loves cake!”


Back to work after a fantastic weekend, and quite enjoyed this mornings ride in. It was chilly, but I was wrapped up enough not to care, the bike was feeling great after its recent service and new back wheel. I just hope the winter of death that has been forecast, and the accompanying snow is still a while away from us, those razor thin wheels aren’t going to stand a chance!

Unfortunately with all the excitement of the christening yesterday we forgot to put in our online shopping order with Asda and so don’t have our usual monday shopping delivery. We decided to switch to having the shopping delivered from actually going into the store ourselves just so the wife didn’t have the fuss of getting Olivia ready and struggling to see around the trolley once the car seat was balanced on top of it, on top of timing it to fit in with her mild feeds! Its easy enough when there is two of us, but even I struggle a bit to see around the car seat when its on the trolley! A great offer on delivery means we pay once for three months and all deliveries are free during that period, and quite honestly, having all the groceries dropped to the door is fantastic, I could get used to this!

So tonight, while struggling for a photo, (its a difficult time of year as its too early for christmas decorations and too late to photograph outside after work) I decided to capture a slice of the christening cake that was left over. This cake was something else, as Clare made it entirely herself. We initially looked at it, picked it up and felt the weight, and wondered when the hell we were all this cake, even with 60 people coming! The cake was a huge hit though, every one complimented how great it looked and tasted, consequently I’m happy there were a few slices left.

365 project, Personal, Photography

Day 328/365

“Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.”


The day of our daughters christening started with me crawling out of bed, feeling a little delicate after the previous nights drinks catching up with the dads from our antenatal group. It was a lovely evening though, but I really should have had a bigger dinner before I started drinking. After throwing myself through the shower I felt a little better, and tea and toast certainly helped with the recovery! I managed to rope a friend into helping us to move all the buffet food first thing this morning, to the venue we were going to use after the church, and having an extra pair of hands meant we were home again in no time! Having put the buffet together ourselves with very little experience in this area of catering, I was just keeping my fingers crossed we had bought enough food for everyone. Once the room was ready, we headed home to give Olivia a bath and get ready for the church, my new suit was looking good and fitted well, considering how little it had actually cost me, Clare looked lovely and Olivia’s dress was gorgeous! We got to the church and were a bit surprised to find that we had it to ourselves. Initially we thought it was going to be a double christening, but apparently the other family got the hump with sharing the church and backed out! Our side of the church filled out nicely as people poured in, and the service went really well. I was very grateful to my friend for taking some photos where I was unable to, obviously being up the front of the church and a key player in the service! One photo I did want to get was todays image, three generations of women, Olivia, Clare and our two mothers, I really wanted four generations, but my nan wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t make it. We moved onto Benjamins, the venue we’d booked for after the church and had a lovely afternoon catching up with lots of people we really need to be seeing more of. We can’t keep waiting for weddings, funerals, and christenings to be the only excuse for meeting up! Everyone was extremely impressed with the cake that Clare had made, and to be fair it looked fantastic and tasted delicious, and Olivia’s shoes also proved to be a bit of a talking point amongst the ladies! All in all it was a great day, which was only made better by getting to watch the Brazilian Grand Prix on the Sky+ when I got home. The cards and presents we received were amazing and people have been very kind and generous, we were pretty overwhelmed with them, especially with the money she was given. Its a good job we opened a childrens ISA for her!

Now I am very much looking forward to crawling back into my bed! Monday morning beckons!

365 project, Personal, Photography

Day 327/365

“Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy. Remember that.”


Woke up this morning to a beautiful mist outside and knew straightaway that I needed to try and get it in a photo before it disappeared, partly because it looked lovely, and partly because I knew I’d be out for drinks tonight and so my photo would have to be an early one. There is no leaving in until the last minute today! I also had to head out early to get supplies from the supermarket for the christening buffet tomorrow, so I jumped out of bed, threw myself through the shower, grabbed my wallet and camera and headed for the car. I grabbed this shot at a beautiful, local spot known as Warley woods, even though Warley as a district technically no longer exists. The woods are connected to a park, and together make a gorgeous place to go out for a walk. Several of my shots for this year have been taken there, although its hard to spot which ones unless you’ve been there. After I got the shot, it was straight off to Asda and I grabbed the shopping in record time before it got busy there, I hate supermarkets at the weekend, especially having worked in one for a few years! Once the shopping was dropped off at home, I went to pick up my Mom who was going to help make all the sandwiches with us while Olivia was entertained by her Grandad! My bike has had to go back to the repair shop again for a new back wheel, but I should be able to pick that up in time before I have to go out later with the dads from our antenatal group, two of which I have to go and pick up in a bit so we can all share a taxi into Harborne from mine. I’m missing two things tonight, first is the Neds Atomic Dustbin concert I was looking forward to, a favourite indie band from the 90’s who originated just down the road from here, and secondly was a night out with my friends who have decided to head up north to Chesterfield for my friends birthday, which normally wouldn’t have been a problem, except for the fact that they are all staying over and I wouldn’t be able to get back in time for the christening, even if you didn’t take into consideration the preparation of the room we’ve booked, before we have to head to the church tomorrow.

But for right now… its qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix!

365 project, Personal, Photography

Day 326/365

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”


Finally its Friday. Its not been a bad week, and before I know it, its over! I remember when we talked about getting Olivia christened, and now its only two days away, it has come around so fast and tomorrow is going to be a whole lot of cooking things in the oven and getting sandwiches ready. Hopefully this won’t take the entire day as I’ll be going out on the night! There will be help from the mothers, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

I was very much looking forward to tonight as, not only was it the end of the week, but we were having a take away with our good friends Tracy & Richard, who always look after us, even to the point of turning the tv off when we get there so we can talk properly! A lovely evening, and Olivia was fairly well behaved for us too, as always! When I did actually get in from work tonight though, the above photo is the sight that greeted me, the wife reading stories to Olivia, so cute! After the story, and with Olivia occupied by the tv, I took the clippers out and with the help of the wife, had a haircut to get myself looking a bit smarter for sunday!

Right plenty to do in the morning, I’m struggling to stay awake at the moment, so I’m off to bed!

365 project, Personal, Photography

Day 325/365

“Being a father, being a friend, those are the things that make me feel successful.”

Now just 40 days away from the end of this project, and quite proud of myself for not giving up, even when there are some days when I have really struggled, although I am very much going to enjoy looking back on this project when it has finished, especially considering what a big year it has been for the wife and me.

The week has gone quickly so far, but at the same time it still feels like it should be Friday. What I’d do for a bit of a lie in tomorrow. I have a nice weekend coming up though, worth waiting for. Saturday we’ll have the mothers helping us prepare the buffet for the christening on Sunday, and once all the food is ready I’ll be heading out into Harborne for a dads night with the other fathers we met at our antenatal group. The moms have all met up for coffee and cake, as well as cinema mornings out and walks, its about time the dads did a bit to catch up, so a burger and a beer (or five) sounds like it will do the trick!

It was nice pulling onto the drive tonight, on the bike, after battling the rush hour traffic, only for my phone to ring and finding out that I have to turn around and head back to work (this time in the car!) as my colleague left his car keys in the cupboard I locked before I left. Harrumph! Still, coming home to delicious fajitas lovingly cooked by the wife is enough to make me forget all about it. Although it wasn’t long again before I headed back to out to drop a card off for my friends wife, making sure not to overstay my welcome and let their takeaway go cold.

Had an idea for tonights photo, and could have polished it a little more, but it didn’t come out too bad. A few attempts with a packet of sparklers and a tripod turned out close to what I had imagined. At least with sunset being so early now, I had the chance to make the most of the dark!