365 project, Personal, Photography



Todays plans to get out and do something were hampered yet again by that pesky teething problem. Yet again Olivia had been up in the night, and had taken a while to settle and so was a bit tired and pale today, needing lots of sleep to catch up at nap time. By the time we had got naps and lunch out of the way there wasn’t much time left before we were due to go to my sisters anyway, so we kinda gave up on doing much before that.

My sister had originally agreed to baby sit for us tonight as we were planning on going to the surprise 40th birthday party of my friend, but with Olivia teething and being up and down so much all week, there was no guarantee she’d sleep properly after we went out, so Clare, still not feeling great herself anyway, decided that she wasn’t going to come to the party. It came as no surprise really, as we’d known all week that this would be a possibility. I know how keen my sister always is to see Olivia though, so we decided to visit her so she could still see Olivia, she had agreed to give up her Saturday evening after all. Going to my sisters also served a second purpose, as the 40th birthday party was actually only 5 minutes from her flat and it meant that if Clare dropped me off at the party before heading home, then it would save me a taxi fare, and throwing money at taxis is something I never enjoy doing.I rarely get black cabs as they always seem far more expensive, and although the private hire taxis seem a slightly cheaper alternative, I feel like I always have to be on my guard to make sure they’re not ripping me off. Their prices always seem to fluctuate for the same journey, and also depending on how much you’ve had to drink! If they think they can get away with charging the drunk guy a bit extra as they think he won’t notice, then they’ll give it a go! It is quite handy though when, on asking how much we owe at the end of a journey, they ask “how much do you usually pay?”, it always feels like an opportunity to get one back on them, whilst in my head I’m looking like some kind of cartoon villain rubbing my hands together and and smiling with an evil bad guy kind of grin. Its a very careful balance of chancing how much you can get away with, without them refusing and demanding much more than that anyway!

We had a lovely couple of hours at my sisters, before we left and I was dropped at the party. Clare had her wine, pizza and X Factor, which she was more than happy with for a Saturday night especially as I tend to refuse such tv drivel when I am in at the weekend. I’d sooner sell the tv than have to sit through all the X Factor, Celebrity jungles and Gogglebox rubbish thats literally melting peoples brains at the moment! It feels like we have taken a step backwards in the evolution of mankind with this kind of garbage on tv! If anyone hasn’t yet seen the film Idiocracy, then I’d suggest watching it, and you’ll see what I mean! Going back just over 10 years we saw the introduction of reality tv with Big Brother hitting our screens, and whatever your opinions of Big Brother, it did well and made a number of people very famous indeed. It also spawned a new era of television with more and more reality shows popping up, and ramped up the publics weird obsession with celebrities taking on various challenges or competitions or vote-me-off programmes. Personally it baffles me that anyone even takes this stuff seriously, yet my own wife is hooked on this stuff. Maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t get it! I know its going to make me sound old, but tv really was better when there was just four channels! There was definitely more thought given to what was actually put on air, whereas now it seems that all you need is a camcorder and a word in the ear of the right person! Look at me, on another rant about how desperate tv has become, I mean to be fair its not all bad. Having so many channels increases the amount of truly awful stuff that we can now sit and watch while our brains turn into mush, but it also means that once in a while you find a little gem out there. So what makes me sit down and actually watch tv for a while, well I personally believe that tv was invented purely for Family Guy to be aired, everything else is just a bonus. I’ve enjoyed a few series such as 24, Heroes, and Prison Break and you can’t beat a bit of good guys catching the bad guys in Road Wars! Anything with the word “celebrity” in the title, requires people to be voted off, or is deemed a “talent” show (if you can is generally never going to be on the tv when I am sat in front of it! Still, while people continue to watch it, they will continue to make it!

365 project, Personal, Photography



When you look forward to a Friday and it doesn’t quite work out how you expected… sigh!

The plan was perfectly simple, put the little lady to bed and then sit down for a delicious dinner with the wife, before a trip to the supermarket for wine, beer and snacks, and then both of us sitting down to a good film. Dinner was a success, although I wanted to get some music playing through the tv while we sat and ate, rather than have something actually on the tv that would be too distracting, as its nice to sit down and talk when you’re eating, and a bit of background music would have been nice. I was having an issue with technology this evening though, it did not want to play ball. I gave up and we moved on to trying to find a film to watch. Oh dear, this was a bit of an oversight, and something we should have looked at earlier. There was simply nothing that inspired us whatsoever. We went through the entire dvd/blu-ray collection, and couldn’t find anything that jumped out at us. We sat and went through Sky Box Office and couldn’t find anything we wanted to rent. We went through Netflix, and felt even more deflated as I am paying to watch movies on demand from them and couldn’t find a single film that we wanted to watch together, in fact I’d say that 60% of the films on there I hadn’t even heard of! Netflix really need to sort it out, or I’ll definitely be cancelling my subscription. I mean, yes I know £6 a month isn’t much, but when you sit down on a Friday evening with your film and can’t even find ONE film you may want to watch, then what is the point? They have had some good films on there previously, and then due to licensing issues, they have pulled down hundreds of titles from their catalogue. I even had a free trial of Amazon Prime a couple of months ago, and as they had taken over LoveFilm I thought they may have a better catalogue of films. That was also a little disappointing, and even more so when we found a film to watch and I end up getting charged for it, as it turns out that not all the films are free! Fair play to Amazon for their amazing customer service and refunding me straight away, although needless to say I didn’t take up the Prime membership after the trial.

I just have to ask myself, how hard is it to find a decent film to watch on a Friday night? It felt like a mission impossible last night. In the end we settled on a film neither of us knew much about, that was part of a Danny Boyle boxset, it was called Sunshine, about a mission to send a nuclear bomb into space to reignite a dying sun. Sounded right up my street, and Clare was even keen to give it a go.

Worst film ever!

1hr 40mins of my life I will never get back!

Up to half an hour in and we were both a bit confused, I was going to change it, but Clare was tired and looking to go to bed early anyway, so I figured that I would persist and see the film through to the end as the reviews weren’t that bad on Imdb. The end was just as disappointing as the rest of the film. I can safely say that it is one film I will never be watching again.

I was going to stick on another film after that, one that was easy to find as it was just for me. Clare had gone to bed, and the challenge of finding a film we’d both like was no longer an issue. I thought I’d give the new Robocop film a chance… that was until Olivia decided to wake up.

After a fantastic night of sleep the night before, I thought the teething issue may have been subsiding and we could get back to normal sleep, which just goes to show how unpredictable toddlers can be. I tried to settle Olivia with all the usual tactics, clean nappy, drink of water, a dose of calpol, some cuddles. and even though she went back down, it lasted all of 10 minutes before she was up and making noise again. This went on all the way through to 1:40am whenI decided that Robocop was not going to happen, and neither was my last bottle of beer, and this blog was certainly out of the question! I may have cancelled my Saturday morning run, but I was still going to be tired in the morning!

Oh well, I love my little princess, and wouldn’t change her for the world. Nights like this are just one of those unavoidable things in the long process of bringing up a child. There will be other nights the same, and there will be harder nights than this to come, but they are par for the course. You can’t appreciate the good days quite as much without days like this.

365 project, Personal, Photography



I have been sat with the computer in front of me most of the evening and still managed to leave it to the last minute to type anything on here!

Teething has reached a climax now and our poor little lady has had a full night of misery. We took in in turns to get up to her and spend time with her. There was no quick fix, and there wasn’t much we could do that seemed to help her. She was in a lot of discomfort with her big back teeth coming through, and all we could do was keep her cool, make sure she had enough water to drink and give her cuddles to reassure her. Eventually Clare had to miss a day of work as she was feeling tough anyway, so it seemed to make sense at this point to leave her to look after Olivia as I needed to at least get a few hours shut eye if I was going to be going into work. I’d already been up for a while with her and done my bit, but it soon became clear that sleep was going to be a bit of a luxury and we were trying to keep Olivia comfortable and relaxed rather than getting her back to sleep. When I left for work Olivia went back down for a nap, and Clare took the opportunity to catch up on a bit of sleep herself. By all accounts they spent most of the rest of the day cuddled up on the sofa in front of the tv, which at least meant that Olivia wasn’t crying any more. I kept checking in with text messages throughout the day, and was at least pleased to hear that Olivia had started to find a little more energy in the afternoon, even though she’d barely eaten a scrap of food all day! Leaving work isn’t a quick affair for me when I am cycling, as I have to get changed into my cycling gear, make sure my backpack is packed properly, and then unlock my bike and lock the gates behind me before I can head off on my journey. Tonight I was ready to go, changed and loitering by the door ready to bolt as soon as it was time to leave, I wasn’t hanging around. By the time I got back I could see that dinner was already in the oven, and so I took over looking after Olivia while Clare carried on with serving dinner up. I think she was just a bit glad, by this point, to be able to hand a whingy baby over to someone else, and distract herself with some cooking!

I’m not going to drag this blog out tonight, there is plenty I can type and I’d love to write more, but its getting late and I am already tired after last nights episode with Olivia, especially considering that I can’t rule out more of the same tonight! Todays photo is a similar shot to yesterday, I had left the flash on, and the lightsphere, and my trusty 50mm lens on that creates that beautiful out of focus are behind Olivia. I couldn’t resist, especially with her crazy hair, which always makes me smile. Clare always wanted a baby with curly hair, and we got one! Some of our friends have babies that are now over a year old and still almost bald. Thankfully there appears to be a fairly strong gene on my side of the family that keeps my hair curly, and seems to have passed down on to Olivia. I know that she’ll still hate her hair as she grows up, she’ll curse not being able to do anything with it if its all straight and a bit limp, but then if it ends up being curly and wild she’ll still curse it equally as much, and she’ll convince herself that she can’t do a thing with it and that just attempting to straighten it will be a long slow process. In the meantime, while she doesn’t complain about hair, mommy and daddy love her curls!

365 project, Personal, Photography



Decided to try something a bit different with todays photo, as I grabbed a couple of shots of Olivia I realised the lamp light wasn’t going to be enough, and using the flash from the camera would just create an effect I’ve already used countless times, so I decided to add my Gary Fong Lightsphere attachment, otherwise known as the Fong Dong, to my flash to spray the light around the room a bit, as it doesn’t get much use these days. There has also been an element of Photoshop been used to play with the contrast and colours, in case you couldn’t tell, in the form of a bunch of presets known as Totally Rad Actions. An ‘action’ is a sequence of preset adjustments used to create a specific effect, these can be varied in intensity and combined to create new and unique effects. Basically they save me many hours of trying to modify photos, which was key to me when I started my 365 journey. A photo a day is one thing if it takes you 5 minutes, its another if it takes you an hour to edit the photo to create a specific effect. I have no objection to actually learning photoshop, in fact I think its the right way to do things, but when I am covering a different photo every single day, and creating many different effects, you can only learn so many tricks. There are some that I have done the hard way, and only actually ended up using once and then promptly forgot how to do them again, which questions the value of learning it in the first place. Still, this 365 journey has been fun, even for the second year, and even considering how I have struggled for inspiration and images on some days. The persistence has paid off though as I am about to enter my final month of the year now, we are just a few days away from December, and it is nice to look back on all the images.

I think I will definitely be doing a review of the years photos on New Years Eve, especially as I very much doubt we will end up going anywhere again. I think it might be a while before we see much NYE action as a number of our friends have babies, toddlers or small children at the moment. I am much more of a fan of New Years Eve than Clare is anyway, she doesn’t see the point or get remotely excited about it, whereas I have always loved New Years Eve and enjoyed making a big song and dance about it. I have previously taken Clare to house parties where she has admitted to having at least a little bit of fun, and kind of got into it a bit, which is better than nothing! I actually didn’t mind staying in that much last year, for several reasons, firstly I was in with my two favourite people in the world, my wife and daughter, secondly I knew that most of my friends were also having a quiet night, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much, and thirdly, I am definitely getting lazier in my old age! I do love a good night out, but sometimes I just think it is such an effort that I’m not even sure if I have to motivation to blow all that money and feel like a car crash the next day! Hangovers aren’t what they used to be! Rather than a bad head in the morning, they can be a day long event now! I have to admit that on the very occasional previous night out, not all the time you understand, just once or twice, here and there, where I’ve just thought to myself “can I actually really be bothered? The waiting in queues, 20 minutes at the bar just to get a drink, waiting for taxis, thinking I am floating round the house like a butterfly when I get home, only to be told I sounded like an epileptic elephant the morning after, rude door staff, fights in the street, the hangover from hell, knowing how much money I blew and then finding debit card receipts on top of that!”. My 30 year old self would be purely disgusted with me for even thinking such things! Life has changed, with both the imminent threat of turning 40 charging at me like an iceberg on the still and lifeless ocean as I hurtle towards it like the titanic, combined with a change in priorities after Olivia arrived on the scene and made me look at absolutely everything differently!

Speaking of Olivia, we are in full on teething mode at the moment, those big back teeth are coming through and she isn’t happy about it. She has been off her food one day, then a monster eating machine the next, then back to not wanting a bite of even her favourite foods the day after. She is waking up regularly throughout the night for no other reason than needing to be picked up and cuddled. We often take the opportunity to give her a drink, change her nappy and wipe her nose, although it can still be up to an hour later before she settles again! Its horrible to see her not well, but the cuddles are a nice by-product! I just hope she has a better nights sleep tonight as she is back in nursery tomorrow. She’s already passed her germs on to her mommy who took the day off form work as she wasn’t feeling great and wanted to take Olivia to the doctors just to look at her nasty cough. Turns out its nothing, just teething, winter, and nursery germs!

365 project, Personal, Photography



Todays photo is a portrait shot of a work colleague of mine. He is responsible for the school website at work and asked me to bring my camera in to get some proper photos of certain staff members to go on the website, one of which being himself. Its a bit of a pain bringing the camera in, partly because of the cost and the worry, carrying it on the back of the bike itself is a huge risk, and then I have to make sure its safe all day at work too, but the biggest problem by far is the weight! The camera and lens combo that I take in adds a significant weight to my backpack when I am cycling, especially considering I’d thrown a couple of flashguns in there too, and my poor little legs struggle enough on the hills first thing in the morning, especially on days like today when my muscles are colder than normal, seeing as it was a nice, fresh -0.5ºc when I set out this morning. I was a little concerned about the bike staying underneath me, regardless of whether I am carrying a camera or not!

Anyway, the journey was fine in the end, the camera was safe all day at work, and the photos came out fine. The only downside is that three of the staff I needed to photograph today weren’t available for one reason or another, which means taking the camera in for a second day. Not an ideal situation, I am much happier when I can just leave the camera at home. Still, I said I’d do it now, and I don’t like to let people down, so I really have to finish the job!

Back at home we still have Olivia not quite herself at the moment, although this is mostly limited to bed time, aand she is generally fine during the day. She is still teething and we have her big back teeth coming through at the moment, which is causing her a few problems with sleeping. I know the teething thing is a long, slow process and the teeth can be causing problems for months. Olivia seems to have taken most of it in her stride, but she is not totally immune to the discomfort, and night time is when it seems to be at its worst. Last night we had numerous issues where we were barely getting an hours sleep between the noises from the next room that kept waking us up. Tonight has started out a little better, but it turned out worse than I expected! Clare had gone to bed early to make up for last nights lack of sleep, and I heard several Olivia type noises coming from upstairs, so I went to investigate knowing full well she’d be awake, which she was. I’d beat Clare to it, and she stayed asleep for now, what I didn’t expect though was how hot Olivia would be, a full on high temperature. I stripped her down a bit and gave her a cold drink, and Clare came in to help me give her some medicine. Her temperature had hit 39.5ºc which I was a little concerned about, but we stayed calm and continued to cool Olivia down, and eventually her temperature came back down to around 38ºc which was much more reassuring. Lets hope she sleeps a bit better tonight.

365 project, Personal, Photography


Ah Monday never seems quite as bad when you still have the sweet taste of the weekend in your mouth. The weekend is something to be treasured, for me anyway, I have certainly rekindled my love of the weekend after leaving my previous job in retail. As I have said before, probably on numerous occasions, I certainly don’t dislike my job, but I do love not being there when it means I have the weekend to spend with my wife and daughter. Last weekend I got to spend plenty of time with them, but as everyone was coughing and snotty and generally not feeling 100%, it didn’t feel like quite as much fun! This weekend was definitely much more fun, having the family over on Saturday for dinner, and then spending Sunday afternoon with a good friend of mine taking in the joys of the final Formula 1 race of the year, the championship deciding title race in Abu Dhabi, all in the comfort of Aprés bar, on the big screen with a beer and some food in front of me, and a crowd of like minded people behind me, all cheering on the same guy… Lewis Hamilton, who turned out to be the new 2014 F1 world champion! Its certainly better than cheering to myself from the solitude of our living room when I’m at home as no-one wants to watch the race with me! At least here I can feel like I am not the only F1 fan in the world!

So with the weekend out of the way, its time to start planning for December, as there are plenty of things coming up that I’ll need to be checking the calendar for. There are numerous 40th birthdays (for some reason, sign of the times?), meals out with friends, christmas cards to write and send and not leave until christmas eve like I did last year, various photo shoots, a visit to the german market, and a whole bunch of other stuff! Its a fun month, but its a busy month, and I just know it will all be over in a flash, I just need to make sure I am on top of things and don’t go forgetting anything important! And not forgetting anything means diaries and lists, I must have lists! If its not written down, there is every chance its not getting done! That’s my motto, and in my defence, I am consistent with it!

Monday has been a fairly standard and run of the mill kinda day, and as with most days, the last five minutes before work I always get a little excited, at the thought of heading home on my bike, as fast as my little legs can carry me, to see Olivia. Of course at this time of year, the journey takes on a darker and more ominous aspect, the shorter days mean that I am cycling home with absolutely zero sunlight to help the drivers see me, and I am relying on making myself stand out, with the super bright lights I have added to the back of my bike, the hi viz coat I am now wearing, and also making sure I am not rattling around in the gutter and in fact take up a good portion of the road, forcing the drivers to take notice and attempt to pass me properly leaving ample space, instead of skimming past without indicating or even moving out of the same lane. These tactics have served me well so far, and it is always a relief to get home in one piece, as the roads seem to have become a very uncaring, ruthless place for anyone on two wheels! I do have one more set of lights on order from Amazon, these have been likened to “being like car headlights” and even come with their own battery pack. Unfortunately I ordered them from a chinese company and I am still waiting for them seven weeks later! I was told they should have been with me by now, and so an replacement has been sent out, although who knows how long I’ll have to wait for this! I need it for the dark nights… and I ordered it before the dark nights were a problem… now its really dark out there, and they’re a problem! Where are my damn lights??? One of the downfalls of ordering online I guess, I just hope they are worth waiting for, as there is absolutely nothing of comparison in any of the bike shops, just horrible, cheap, feeble lights with hardly any power behind them! Why do none of the bike shops, especially the likes of halfords, sell any decent bike lights? I’ve never quite understood this.

Anyway, its now time to put the bread machine on so that we can wake up to the smell of fresh bread again in the morning, and then I am off to bed! Good night internet!

365 project, Personal, Photography


There may be no better way to start a Sunday than with cuddles on the sofa with the little lady, where today’s photo was taken. It took a little bit of engineering with the lighting to get it to turn out this way, especially as it was a bit of a dull start to the day, but thankfully I have the knowledge to get some good looking photos that we can look back on and appreciate in years to come. A clever use of a bit of flash in the right place makes all the difference.

There is also one thing that is bothering me slightly recently, which is the use of mobile phones and how they have started to replace people’s main cameras. Now while it can’t be denied that this is hugely convenient for everyone, as we all have our phones on us pretty much all of the time, the simply fact is that a lot of people are getting poor quality photos out of them. I know that in the years since my first iPhone, smartphone cameras have leapt forward massively in their capabilities, and they can capture some truly wonderful images, but like most things, you kinda have to know what you’re doing to get the most out of them. These camera phones will take great photos in most condition, especially with sufficient light levels, but are often not very good in low light or indoors, and yet this is where a lot of people will use them. I tend to see a lot of pictures on Facebook that friends have taken of their children, and while I am never going to criticise or judge other people’s photography (even though people seem to assume I’m going to!) it does make me a bit sad to think that a lot of the babies and small children I see photos of, are only ever going to have their pictures taken on a phone. This presents several issues for me, they will potentially only have poor quality baby photos to look back on when they grow up, the photos will most likely never get printed, and very likely will never get backed up, which creates another problem when you think how easy it is to lose a mobile phone, especially if it is the only place all your precious photos are stored!

My dad was always our photographer, so when my parents split up when I was a young child, looking back I see a distinct drop off in the photos of me when I was growing up, and particularly in the quality. My mom did her best, but she was busy bringing up two children, and on a budget too, so cameras and photos naturally weren’t a priority. The benefit this does have is that I do treasure each and every photo of me as a child, and know pretty much all of them. There is something to be said for taking less photos and making each one worth more.

365 project, Personal, Photography


Starting the weekend again with another run, this time in the rain. Sadly it was another week where I didn’t make the usual 10k distance, only this time it was my running partner who was tapping out early. I didn’t put up much of a fight, as I was keen to get home and dry out.

My goal for today was a day at home with family around me, I’d invited my mom and stepdad over and my sister too, plus her boyfriend when he finished work, and had put the bread machine on so that there would be a fresh loaf of bread ready for lunch! Sausage sandwiches all round, can’t beat proper sausages, and none of the supermarket rubbish either!

Olivia loved having all the extra faces round to play with her and entertain her, and it was nice to see her so happy and everyone else so pleased to see her. She certainly is a popular character when the families gather, and its great to be able to just sit back and watch her have fun. I’d like to say that this helped when it came to making dinner for everyone, but I can’t deny that Clare just took over and pretty much provided for everyone all day. She really is a wonderful wife, there’s no denying it. I barely had to lift a finger, a fact I was well aware of as I was beginning to feel a bit lazy. Still, I was very grateful for all that she did, and everyone had a great day, especially when we all sat down to tuck into Clare’s home made lasagne, including Olivia who is not only joining us at the table, but eating the same food as us too. So she was tucking into lasagne and garlic bread with is, and very much enjoying it too. I can’t wait to see her sat at the table and tucking into some turkey with both sets of grandparents for christmas dinner, especially now we have a booster seat so she can sit on a normal chair with us rather than in her high chair.

We ended the night with a film after everyone had left and my sister had very kindly taken my mom home for me, to save me the journey as I’d already picked her up to bring her over earlier in the day. At the weekend the wife and me will quite often sit and watch a film together, and Clare sometimes stays awake to the end, but then sometimes will nod off half way through. Either way, she’ll usually be in bed well before I am ready, but as its the weekend and I like to make the most of it, I’ll generally stay up and put something else on, possibly even another film, whilst tucking into another drink. Often I don’t always recognise when I should be giving in, calling it a day and going to bed, and often convince myself its a good idea to indulge perhaps just one more drink and maybe take in another film. It could well be a sign of me not being 21 any more I guess, but tonight I could suddenly feel myself falling asleep in front of the tv and then suddenly jolting myself awake, and on checking the time, very much expecting it to be around 2am as it often is when I realise I’ve nodded off and can’t tell how long for, and was quite surprised to see that it wasn’t even midnight yet, so I threw in the towel and decided to get myself to bed while I still stood a chance of getting a good few hours sleep for a change! I always ruin myself on a Friday or Saturday night by going to bed in the early hours, then getting up the following day at the same time as normal.

365 project, Personal, Photography

325.365 – 40 days to go!


Can I get a “whoop” and a “holla” for the weekend?!

Oh there really is nothing quite like that Friday feeling at the end of the week, especially when you can get out of work that bit earlier to head home. The forces of nature were against me, as yet again, my Friday ride home turned into a deluge. The rain started soon after I set off and was very quickly becoming heavier and heavier making it a very wet ride home, although the benefit combining that Friday feeling on top of the fact I was heading home and would soon see my daughter meant that even this amount of rain couldn’t dampen my spirits!

I picked up Olivia from the in-laws as she’s normally dropped home by the mother in law but was having her afternoon nap by the time I’d got home. It gave me time to get changed into something dry before I went round and with time to spare decided to stay for a cup of tea. Its so nice to have such wonderful in-laws, as I know not every body gets on with theirs. Clare’s parents have helped us out so much, with the wedding, the house and of course with Olivia, and its great having them just around the corner. While Clare was pregnant, we did wonder if Clare’s mom would be popping round all the time once Olivia was born, but she has given us plenty of space and time to ourselves, which is very much appreciated. So it was nice to actually have in-laws where I can feel perfectly comfortable in staying for a cup of tea even when Clare isn’t there! It seems like a little thing, but these little things are noticed and do make a difference. I know some of my friends have very different relationships with their parents and in-laws, so a simple cup of tea and a biscuit, for me, is a good thing!

Eventually Clare was also home from work and our little family was together again. Olivia had clearly slept well over night and had some good naps today, and so was on fantastic form, we had a wonderful few hours until bed time, and…

BIG announcement time…

Olivia even took her very first step!!

It was just the one, and she soon lost her balance, but she did it. Very proud mommy and daddy!! I’d made a bet with Clare that Olivia would be walking by the end of the month, and while it looks likely that she may not quite be there yet, at least she is on the way and will almost certainly be walking by christmas… and I should think so too, the lazy little thing!



Right, I am NOT going to let this be a late night! I am typing this as I wait for a loaf of bread to finish baking and it has about 25 minutes on the clock. Once the loaf is done, I want to take it out of the bread maker, cover it over with a cloth and leave it overnight to cool down, ready to slice in the morning, then I can head to bed! I have had two nights in a row of getting to bed far too late, and although it hasn’t actually stopped me getting up and cycling to work in the morning, it just makes it harder and has definitely meant that I am crawling out of bed a few minutes later than normal, and inevitably leaving the house a few minutes later than normal and then getting to work with barely enough time for a shower and a change of clothes. The shower is a must, it can get a bit sweaty keeping up with rush hour traffic, so I definitely need a bit of a freshen up, but its also nice to get a bit of heat back into me after cycling through the cold, especially my feet, they always feel it when the temperature drops. The rest of me is pretty well covered up, enough to retain a bit of heat from the house as I leave, until my body temperature takes over once I’ve hit got going! Choosing the right clothing when autumn kicks in and the outdoor temperature drops, can be a tricky balance, too much clothing will leave you toasty as you head out of the house, but it won’t be long before you over heat and become distracted on the road. For me its normally a case of just putting on a couple of thin layers and gritting your teeth for the first couple of minutes. By the end of the journey I am frequently feeling plenty warm, regardless of how cold the weather is, and very much looking forward to that shower!

With today being Thursday, it means we now only have one day left before the weekend. Friday is almost here and hopefully the weekend will be a little more eventful than the last one was! I’m hoping we can find time to visit my mother on Saturday as not only will she love to see Olivia again, but my sister will be there too, and I know she gets very excited about seeing Olivia. I don’t think we have any plans, but it still needs the thumbs up from the wife first, just in case she has anything planned that I didn’t know about, or “have definitely been told about but managed to forget or plain just didn’t listen in the first place” as she puts it. I don’t know where she gets this idea that I don’t listen from, its just not true. She did try to explain it to me, but I just heard blah blah blah!

What else is happening this weekend? Well, one thing really. Its ALL about one thing. The final and championship deciding race of the Formula 1 2014 season, and what a season it has been! I watched the opening race from Australia at a blurry eyed 6am with my good friend Duncan, in the company of a bunch of other F1 fans at the Aprés bar in Birmingham city centre where each race is shown live, and that is how I intend to end the year, although thankfully with this race being in Abu Dhabi, it starts at a much more sociable 1pm. I am fairly positive that most people reading this couldn’t give two hoots about F1, sundays race or the fierce championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, but you’re here now, so settle in for a minute! It has been another mind blowing year in F1 with some fantastic races, some amazing overtaking, some awful crashes including the unfortunate Jules Bianchi who is still in a bad way after a severe head injury several weeks ago. There have been some real eye opening battles between drivers that we weren’t expecting, especially with the rule changes and new engines and after four years of Red Bull dominating each race, the tables have finally turned and we have a new monster on the track, the Mercedes cars of Hamilton and Rosberg who have been virtually untouchable since the first race back in Adelaide in March. They have literally left everyone else standing in their dust, unable to provide an answer to their epic pace. This Sunday is guaranteed to have people sat on the edge of my seat, and it could go either way, and anything can happen. Either way, a Mercedes driver WILL be the new world champion, but which one is not going to be decided until that chequered flag goes down on the final lap of the final race of the year! The last time it was this close and exciting was 2008 in Brazil and it was down to Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton, and with Hamilton down in 6th place on the last lap, Felipe Massa crossed the finish line in 1st place giving him enough points to become the world champion… for a total of 38 seconds, before Hamilton managed to somehow catch and pass a slowing Timo Glock. This change of position gave Hamilton the extra point he needed to steal the championship from Massa on the last corner of the years final race to give Lewis his first ever world championship title.

Well that’s pretty much me wrapped up for today, a quick run out earlier to drop off a bottle of wine and a birthday card for my friends wife, and with my loaf of bread now cooked its bed time. Todays photo, one of the chilli’s I have been growing this year, a cayenne chilli turning from green to red, which will be going into tomorrow nights Chili Con Carne! A dish I never used to eat when my mom made it, until I realised that it didn’t have to be made with the dirty baked beans she used to add, and in fact the humble kidney bean was much more accepted. Don’t ask me why I eat kidney beans but can’t stand dirty baked beans, its just one of those things. I was a ridiculously fussy eater as a child, and some things have just stayed with me!