Photography

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Its fair to say that christmas is well and truly out of the way now, and the focus is firmly on the new year. We have our plans for new years eve set out, although I cant currently say much at the moment on here, as although I doubt the person involved even reads this blog, our plans will involve a bit of a surprise for someone! Its fun making plans and preparations all the same, even if the person involved is blissfully unaware.

Today we’d arranged to meet up at Scotts house for an hour in the afternoon, for a bit of a play date for the children, but the first stop of the day was a shopping trip to Mothercare, we were getting Olivia her first pair of shoes!

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The trip was a success and Olivia loved them, the start of a lifelong passion between a girl and her shoes I guess!

365 project, Personal, Photography

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Half way through my week off already, how fast these holidays go! After taking a couple of weeks off the cycling and the running to rest my lungs a bit, in an attempt to clear this pesky cough that would not disappear, I decided that I was tired of eating like some kind of food clearing machine, and was tired of watching my waist grow bigger, and bigger, and bigger… it was time to get those running shoes back on, and head out to the reservoir! I met my good friend and running partner Rob at the usual spot, at the usual time and we set out in the frosty -1Âșc air on a 6 mile run. We were both feeling a few twinges here and there, but neither of us had done much exercise for a couple of weeks, and I personally feel that with the air being so cold, we should have perhaps done a bit of a warm before we started. Cold muscles, on a very cold morning, are much more prone to injury. We took it slowly, and carefully, listening to our bodies, and the niggles didn’t get any worse, so we kept going and treated our first lap like a bit of a warm up to get the leg muscles relaxed and working. It was a very pleasant way to start the day and it was good to get some fresh, germ free, air into my lungs instead of being stuck in a room with the heating cranked up and the windows closed, like I have for most of December so far!

After the run we decided that Clare and Olivia could do with a little fresh air as well, as we’d missed our family boxing day walk due to inclement weather, and with today being sunny, with a bright blue sky, it seemed too nice to waste it! We fixed Olivia some lunch and then headed out to a local park to meet my friend Scott and his little boy Ewan so they could all get some fresh air and the kids could play on the swings, which they both thoroughly loved, even though poor Olivia’s fingers were starting to go a bit blue with the cold. At that point we left the swings and went to stretch our legs with a bit of a walk around the park. It was so nice, we need to be doing this more often!

Our evening plans for today had changed, as I had agreed to baby sit for some friends of ours, who at the last minute had to change their plans, with only one of them going out, meaning my services were no longer necessary, and so with our evening in together there was only one thing for it, order in a chinese takeaway before the January diet blitz and sit down for the Big Fat Quiz Of The Year on tv!

365 project, Personal, Photography

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The holidays have proved to be quite busy so far, and today certainly didn’t prove to be any different, it was the 21st birthday celebrations of my cousin, a family gathering at my aunt and uncles house, and it was looking like we expected most of the family to make it. Over the years we don’t have many events where the family get together any more, unlike when I was growing up and we used to get together for parties and celebrations all the time and none of the family had actually fallen out, so for me the fact that a lot of us were getting back together again meant it was a great afternoon! The family have drifted away from each other a little bit over the years, which is sad, and has meant that only on very rare occasions do we actually get together, and there are always a few that don’t make it. Even my own wedding day wasn’t enough for all the family to put the past behind them for one day and just turn up, I have a number of aunts, uncles and cousins, but part of the family, my aunt and two of my cousins totally didn’t bother, not only did they not bother attending my wedding at all, but also didn’t bother with a present, or even a card, not even an apology for not being able to make it because they’d chosen not to… and all of this all because my aunt had fallen out with, not me, but my mom. I mean, really… what does THAT have to do with me or my new wife, or our big day?? But then, that’s families for you, you certainly can’t choose them! Still, even though this particular aunt turned up at todays party, which I was very surprised about, I didn’t let it bother me, I just ignored her and we had a lovely afternoon with the rest of the family. I was a little annoyed with myself that I had actually taken my camera and left it in the car, so the only photo I ended up taking all day was one of two of my cousins little girls playing, on my iPhone.

365 project, Personal, Photography

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Boxing Day, a day that everyone in the UK celebrates, its a day off work, so why wouldn’t they?! But no one actually knows why it has this name, or what boxing day is even all about. Why is it called Boxing Day? Why are there so many different theories, and no one likely scenario? A facebook friend of mine did recently make me chuckle by confessing that whilst drunk at a christmas party he’d managed to successfully convince a bunch of americans that in the UK we actually put on boxing gloves and beat each other senseless! Priceless! I can see myself using that one in the future!

Our actual plans for boxing day, thankfully, did not involve boxing gloves or any attempt to knock each other out, they were far tamer than that. Traditionally we gather at the in laws house with the rest of Clare’s family in the evening for some food and drinks, although we had decided that we’d spent enough time indoors over christmas already and wanted to go for a boxing day walk to blow out a few cobwebs. By the time Olivia had woken up from her morning nap and had lunch, it had started raining outside and I was the only one with a decent rain coat, so braving the weather and heading out anyway wasn’t really an option. This weather had been forecast, but arrived sooner than we were expecting, and the forecast also suggested heavy snow as well. Like always, with the snow forecasts, I say that I’ll believe it when I see it. I asked Clare if she thought we’d actually see any at all, to which she replied “naaahhhhh!”… it promptly started snowing two minutes later!

The walk had been abandoned, but we still had to get to the in laws house. Its a short walk, but the temptation is to take the car, especially when we have to take Olivia and the weather isn’t good. The dilemma was that the snow meant we may have to walk back anyway, and we would probably also leave the car there and walk back if we both wanted a drink… so I made the decision to walk there. Clare wasn’t thrilled, but it made sense as it meant the car would be at home in the morning, plus I had to consider that Olivia had never seen snow before, and I thought it would be nice to walk round and let her watch the snow and feel it falling on her face. It was a pleasant evening as always, and Olivia got to play with her cousins, even if the newest arrival isn’t quite as delicate as Olivia and sees her as a bit of a climbing frame. This doesn’t go down well with Olivia! I’m sure as they get older they’ll begin to play properly together, but for now I think Olivia is just keen to keep a little bit of distance between the two of them!

365 project, Personal, Photography

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A very merry christmas to everyone who is reading this! Its Christmas day 2014 and although there is no snow and its not very white outside at all, it is still a day to celebrate and we even get to start the day with a little bit of a lie in…. well, I say a lie in, and yes managing to stay in bed until 9am sounds nice, but it is only in fact because, as has become the norm recently, Olivia has woken up again during the night. In a sense we don’t feel like we’re actually getting much benefit from the days where we sleep in a bit, in reality we’re actually just playing catch up!

We knew to take advantage of the calmness of today, as next year Olivia will have a much greater understanding of what is going on, and will very probably go on some mad present opening frenzy at a little after 4am, although thankfully that obviously isn’t the case for us today as she is much more reserved. She doesn’t understand exactly what it is that is different about today or this time of year, but she is loving all the lights. She has been quiet lately anyway because she hasn’t been sleeping properly and is waking up every night almost as part of a routine now. Like most mornings, she is back down again for her first nap of the day, and this gives me a chance to get to work on starting to cook the christmas dinner while Clare goes out to collect my mom and her other half. I was hoping to do the driving myself, but as we were already running a bit late, which in honesty was only made worse by my decision to cut my hair at the last minute in an attempt to look a little tidier for christmas dinner and a little less like Dr Emmett Brown from Back To The Future fame, and really there was no way I could get out and get back in time to look after the dinner properly. I did offer to drive instead, but it was made quite very clear that dinner was most definitely my problem and not Clare’s!

Eventually, once Clare had returned and her parents had arrived too we got dinner served up, and everyone tucked in. It seems a shame that the time taken to finish christmas dinner always seems to be a disproportionately brief affair considering the time taken to prepare it, cook it and get it on the table. I’m sure many who go through the lengthy process of preparing christmas dinner for multiple people feel the same way, especially when they have spent time peeling, chopping, planning oven space, working out the timing, carving, serving… but its definitely all worth it!

Once the kitchen was cleaned up and the dishwasher full and everything else washed up, it was time to sit down, put a christmas film on and relax. My sister and her boyfriend joined us after we’d eaten, bringing with them an assortment of presents for Olivia, which made her already vast collection even bigger. In fact both myself and Clare were surprised at how many presents Olivia had actually received, and were glad that we hadn’t spent any more money on her than we did. Its not that we didn’t want to spend the money, as our little angel is worth every penny spent on her, however we knew she would receive other gifts, on top of which her birthday was only a few months before where she’d also done quite well, and then there was the fact of finding room for everything afterwards, a tricky task in a house that’s already fairly small. Between me and Clare we figured we’d leave the bigger presents until next christmas, when Olivia will be able to understand them a little bit better. There is also the expectation of others, what will they think if we don’t spend a fortune on christmas? I spent a little while going through facebook and came across various photos from over excited parents exclaiming “He’s been!!” with a photograph of a gazillion presents filling half of their living room. For me, that is spoiling the child and setting even higher expectations for the following year. There is a saying that if you want your child to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money, and I firmly believe this!

Eventually the masses left, and we were able to put Olivia to bed and relax with our feet up, some chocolates and a few drinks.

Christmas 2014… done!

365 project, Personal, Photography

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A day of panic for some, of thankful relaxation for others, and speed wrapping for parents, Christmas Eve arrives and today we have a very specific agenda, squeezing in a few of our lovely friends along the way. Sadly Olivia and myself had to watch Clare disappear off to work, although happy in the knowledge that by lunchtime she’d be finished again and we could go and pick her up from the city centre. The traffic was quiet and sure it wouldn’t have taken her much longer to get back on the bus like she normally does, but it’s Christmas Eve, and we to give her something to look forward to while she was stuck at work for the morning! Once home we had to tidy the house and clean the kitchen before we could start work on prepping vegetables for tomorrow’s dinner, I’m sure we’re probably amongst the many who do this, but we want Christmas dinner to be as little effort as possible on the day , and quite literally anything that can be done the night before will be done so that we can just focus on the cooking on Christmas Day. The less time spent in the kitchen, the more time spent with our family.

We couldn’t start straight away as we only had a short time before our first guest arrived, Millie and my godson Noah. Sadly a rather short visit as they had other places to be, but lovely to see them all the same, and time to swap presents and catch up over a hot drink before they were gone. Better a short visit than none at all! There was a little window of opportunity where we could get a few bits done before our next guests arrived, Tracy and Richard and their little boy Oliver. They were running a little late, as is commonly accepted when you have children, which meant it was dark by the time they got to us, and after swapping some gifts and catching up over a hot drink, I noticed the time, and it was almost time for the International Space Station to be flying over. It was a clear sky and someone on facebook had suggested that all the parents of young children take them outside to see ISS and tell them that it’s Santa flying over! While Olivia was a little too young to understand, Oliver was clearly quite excited at the prospect, it was lovely to watch, and according to facebook afterwards, there were many parents whose children extremely excited to have seen Father Christmas fly over in his sleigh!

Eventually the guests had gone, so with a slightly tired and grumpy Olivia, I stayed at home while Clare went off to christmas mass at the church with her parents. It would have been nice to take Olivia, but she hasn’t been herself lately, and she wouldn’t have sat through it. She needed a bath, a bottle and then bed, which was exactly what I did while Clare was out.

With church eventually out of the way, Olivia in bed, the table all set for tomorrow, and all the preparation for Christmas dinner done, we settled down and decided to create a new tradition for ourselves, the Christmas Eve takeaway!

365 project, Personal, Photography

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Christmas eve eve gave us the dilemma of whether or not to pack Olivia off to nursery for the day, and as it turned out she slept much better, her temperature had come down and she seemed much happier, so it was a fairly easy decision. I had no real reason to try to free up my day, but I know she enjoys it there and I thought she may as well have a day with her friends doing nice things and it gave me the chance to do a few chores around the house.

Rather than walking round to pick Olivia up from nursery, I took the car today and arranged to meet Clare there once she had got off the bus on the way home from work, so we could go straight out to visit Trevor and Tanya and see their new baby. It is always a bit emotional when friends have a baby, especially when its their first one, and even Olivia was excited to meet this one! We were really caught off guard though, when Olivia decided to draw a little more attention to herself by starting to walk!! Yes, that’s right, its taken a while getting there, but our little lady decided she had waited long enough to attempt walking and took a number of steps, and even looking fairly steady while doing it. We were all very excited and it really made… well, not just our day, but our christmas! I just hope we see more of it sooner rather than later!