365 project, Personal, Photography



Olivia’s sleeping habits do make me chuckle sometimes, the sleeping on her front is a new one, that’s only started in the last week or two, but today during her afternoon nap, she decided to roll her self round so she was lying across the cot instead of down it, feet touching one side and head touching the other! It can’t have been that uncomfortable, or she wouldn’t have been so fast asleep! It has been a day where the naps have been short, she’s been tired and a bit grumpy at times, and dinner was something to play with rather than something to eat. I still think she is teething, as she isn’t quite herself lately. She has generally been in a great mood for the most part today though, and we’ve had a lovely afternoon playing together, it really is a privilege to be off work and able to spend this time with my daughter, watching her grow up and learn new things. Her other new trick, which I noticed today, is that when I put her on the floor lying on her front, she has started shuffling backwards. She doesn’t appear to have a huge amount of control over it, but she knows she wants to move, and didn’t stop until she was backed into a corner. Its the first steps towards crawling which we totally didn’t think she was going to do, so on top of the bum shuffling to get herself around the living room, we now have the early stages of crawling, albeit backwards! Life has just changed all over again now!

I was hoping we could go out somewhere this afternoon, but sadly afternoon nap time put the brakes on that idea, and so in a bid to get some fresh air and some sun on my skin, we set out for a walk to the supermarket to pick something up for dinner, and then meet mommy off the bus on the way back, which she totally wasn’t expecting and put a big smile on her face as she got off the bus! I left Clare to give Olivia her bath at the end of the day while I set about working on some wedding photos I have to edit.

365 project, Personal, Photography



The end of a tiring day, and its fairly evident in my eyes. My bed is calling!

Its day two of Daddy Day Care and trying to see how I can squeeze various chores into my day, and it isn’t easy! I needed to take a trip out to Warwick to pick up some items and knew that it would be an hour round trip in the car. I couldn’t risk going after lunch as lunch itself could take a while and we had an appointment for Olivia’s one year check up that we couldn’t miss. So I decided to go in the morning after Olivia had eaten her breakfast and had her milk. She normally has a big nap in the morning about this time so I was hoping she’d sleep while we were in the car, although sadly this didn’t prove to be the case as she only slept for the last 15 minutes of the journey there, woke up as soon as I turned the engine off and then was wide awake for the whole journey back. What should have been a two hour nap was now just 15 minutes and didn’t bode well for the afternoon. After lunch we headed out to the appointment to see the health visitor, which we were almost late for as madam decided her nappy needing changing just as we were about to leave… well, madam didn’t decide, but I did! The smell gave it straight away, her timing was perfect! Thankfully, a quick pit stop and we were back on our way, and just made it in time. The health visitor was suitably impressed and soon sent us on our way after weighing and measuring madam. The whole thing took less than five minutes, so its a good job Clare didn’t waste half a day by taking the afternoon off work to come with us as she was planning to. The rest of the day was spent tidying and cleaning the house ready for my guests this evening who were coming to support me in my first launch party, showing off the new business to them. It all went well and everyone seemed to enjoy the evening, which I was pleased about, and I even made a little bit of money out of the night. I have, at this point, say thank you to my wonderful wife, who has continued to trust and support everything I do, regardless of how much she has or hasn’t understood it at the time, she has always been there regardless and trusted me to do the right thing for us as a family. I couldn’t ask for any more support, I really do have the best wife!

365 project, Personal, Photography



Today one of the real draw backs of being a stay at home parent, suddenly became quite obvious, the ability to spend an entire morning getting very little done. Most of my activity seemed to be focused around Olivia’s nap times, and its fair to say that my daughter likes her sleep, just like her mommy! The morning nap tends to be the most significant and can be regularly up to two hours long, and while it does give you the chance to do some bits around the house, it doesn’t really allow you to actually get out of the house much, at least not without disrupting her sleep pattern and resulting in rather a grumpy baby. Well, I say baby, I guess I need to get used to not saying that any more, she probably qualifies under the “toddler” heading now. Either way, I am a firm believer in keeping her sleep patterns fairly regular, and making sure that she gets her naps when she needs them. Yes, its restrictive, but her little body is telling her to sleep, and it knows far better whats going on than I do! So many changes, each day is an adventure learning something new, and continually growing as well, it must be exhausting, no wonder she needs to sleep a lot. I’m just going with it and making sure she gets a chance to put her head down when she needs to.

So when the morning nap is done, then its pretty much time for lunch, and this is another thing I don’t like to rush. I don’t especially like the idea of her lunch going cold, but I am keen to allow her the time to explore her food and not feel under pressure to eat it. I don’t believe rushing a child and forcing them to clean the plate is healthy or productive. I also want her, as much as possible, to try and feed herself, which on top of being a bit messy, can also be quite slow, but I still feel its important. The one thing I am guilty of, is often having the tv on while she eats, as she can sometimes refuse food for no good reason, other than not being interested, and the kids programmes on tv can distract her a bit if she’s in one of these kind of moods.

So, by the time lunch is done, we have a small window before she is ready for her afternoon nap, which can often be an hour long quite easily and take us close to dinner time. It really is amazing how the day flies by, and I’ve got so little done!

I popped out at the end of the day to collect some snacks from the local supermarket as I have friends coming round tomorrow to look at my new business, and I want to have something to offer them. Which is when I spotted todays photo and purchased it. It is a tree pruner, essentially a mini hand held saw with some really angry looking teeth. It cost me a grand total of £2 and when I got to the self checkout, there was no age restriction warning when I scanned it, and nobody checking I was old enough to be buying something so vicious. Okay, so I know its not exactly a knife or a sword or something, but this thing really does have some angry, sharp teeth on it and it could do some real damage, yet nobody seemed in the slightest bit interested. Obviously I didn’t just buy it for the photo, I have some bushes and roots that need removing i the garden, which have proved a bit of a challenge up until now, but hopefully this will help!

365 project, Personal, Photography


My daughter the minion!


So today was the first day of Daddy Day Care, and I managed to come out the other side of it having not broke the baby. I didn’t know what to do with the day, but Olivia having some really big naps in both the morning and afternoon, pretty much made the decision for us, ie we were going nowhere! It wasn’t a day of taking many photos, so today is yet again more of a journal shot, to record to journey of my wonderful daughter on her first year, which is now only a few weeks from coming to an end as her first birthday ticks closer. I want to take all these photos and create something special with them, such as a picture book, so at some point I will have to sit down and spend a couple of hours sorting them all out! While Olivia was having her big morning nap I managed to get out in the back garden and do a little maintenance, cutting the grass, planting some pumpkins and removing a few weeds. The seeds in the greenhouse are starting to shoot up already with the warm weather, they’re reacting really well to it, I just have to make sure I maintain all this progress by keeping everything well watered. We haven’t seen any proper rain for weeks now, which is really nice in one way, but everything in the garden would dry out and die in a couple of days if I didn’t stay on top of it.

365 project, Personal, Photography



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!

365 project, Personal, Photography, Weddings



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!

365 project, Personal, Photography



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!

365 project, Personal, Photography



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!

365 project, Personal, Photography



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!

365 project, Personal, Photography



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