Babies, Personal

Life moves up a gear, the next big announcement…

Anyone who knows me, or is at least friends with me on facebook, will have already heard this news by now. It has so far had a massive response from friends and family, and Clare and myself are over whelmed and very excited by it all.

After what has felt like an eternity, we can finally leave it up to our daughter to reveal our (not very well kept) secret…


Yes, that’s right, in case you hadn’t guessed, she is going to be a big sister in around 28 weeks time! We went in for our 12 week scan yesterday and can confirm that we have one apparently healthy and very active little wriggler in there! The wife was adamant that there was either a) a problem or b) twins, and we are very happy to say that neither of these is the case.

So yeah, if you thought you’d already seen enough baby photos on one blog to last you a lifetime, then you may want to unsubscribe or stop reading this… there are far more to come!

I’d like to thank all my friends, especially all those who have shared their love on facebook, as the response was immense. Your support has been truly appreciated, and Jr will be happy to meet you all when they get here in February!

Life is about to get hectic all over again!


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Woosh! Week one of the six week holidays is gone in a flash, like a getaway car at the scene of a robbery, its left nothing but a trail of dust behind it!

I had, and still have lots of grand plans to make the most out of the holidays, to see lots of people, and be uber productive… yet a week has gone by already and I feel like I have done so little! Still, the importance of planning is not to be overlooked here, and anyone who knows me will know how much I love making lists. Lists are the only guaranteed way I will get things done, and done in a timely fashion. Without them I am prone to missing dates, deadlines and sometimes forgetting things altogether! The wife has already sought out chores for me to do, most of which I had plans to get done anyway, but now with the addition of a dry wipe white board in our kitchen, there is a never ending list of chores that gets updated anytime I complete anything off the list. It appears that I will not be without jobs to do over this six week break! I still need to make sure I find a little time for myself, just to put my feet up and relax, as I don’t tend to be very good at this and can end up feeling burnt out, sometimes I just forget to stop! I’m pretty sure the wife would disagree wholeheartedly on this one, but when I say I am “busy” its not necessarily doing housework or jobs that she had planned for me, it can be any number of things, editing photos, or emailing people about photos, working on the website, prepping my camera equipment for a shoot, or a hundred other things that clearly aren’t related to housework that the wife is probably blissfully unaware I even do! Trying to find the time to keep this blog updated is another very time consuming activity, and even though I started it for something completely different, I soon saw the benefits of keeping it up, even if I am now only posting once a week instead of the twice a week that I originally intended to. I can’t just type this blog up in 20 minutes, and I like to make sure I don’t miss anything out especially now I am only posting once a week. Its also virtually impossible to update the blog while I am looking after my daughter, she is almost two years old now and demands an increasing amount of attention. She can’t just be left to amuse herself with shiny, noisy things! I can usually pacify her for 15 minutes or so with an episode or three of Peppa Pig on the TV, unless she’s really tired and she may sit for a bit longer, but otherwise I have to do this thing called ‘parenting’ and apparently try to entertain the little person! I don’t always like to blog while the wife is still awake, as I feel a little antisocial sometimes, especially as I often haven’t seen her all day if we’re both at work. As she is often in bed before me, this gives me a small window of opportunity to get some typing done, although I do have to make sure I am distraction free, leaving the tv on is often enough to stop me from focusing on what I am supposed to be doing! Just lately I seem unable to focus properly beyond 10:30pm which is a little odd for a night owl like me, but my brain just begins to shut down and trying to formulate any kind of flowing thought which I can type up into something worth reading feels something like this…

So what has been happening in the last week? Well, there was a fantastic start to my holiday when we all met our good friends in Cannon Hill park with our little ones so they could run around and play together while we had a catch up. These were friends we had met at our antenatal meetings, and so our girls are only a few weeks apart. We had a slow stroll around the park,  and enjoyed the sunshine with the little ones taking in some fairground rides, before moving on to the Garden Tea Rooms for a rest in the sun, a quick drink and a bite to eat. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and we ended up staying for a few hours, longer than we’d originally anticipated, and with nap time rapidly approaching we had to get Olivia home before she fell off the cliff and the inevitable exhaustion fuelled melt down started, not uncommon when nap time is late.

Sunday we had a 3rd birthday party to go to, and with the mixed weather we’ve been having, it felt like a stroke of luck that we were able to enjoy another day of sunshine for it! Thankfully I still managed to squeeze a morning run in before it with my friend, and it was good to get out and pound some tarmac again as we haven’t run for a number of weeks and I’ve really missed it! All in all, a great start to the day, and a lovely afternoon with the party, but of course, as always Olivia’s nap time means we had to head home and let madam get her much needed sleep.

Then around rolls Monday again, as its the holidays there is no alarm clock thankfully, but the wife decided to unleash her chores list on me. I made no promises, even if Olivia was still in nursery two days a week! Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, the first week is over, its all done and dusted. I’m not quite sure how it went so fast, if it had been a regular half term and only one week off I’d have been crying! Thankfully with five weeks still left to go, I can begin to unwind and appreciate the time off. With the second weekend already upon us, we have a day out planned courtesy of Olivia’s nursery, at Ash End House Farm. With our admission pre-paid, all we had to do was turn up and have fun! The day stayed warm and sunny, a huge blessing, and we got to enjoy a picnic outside at lunchtime. Olivia loved seeing the animals and  moved onto the playbarn afterwards, where she got to run around and let let off a little steam. After leaving red faced and a little warm, she certainly slept well that night!

Sadly the luck we’d had with the weather over the previous seven days didn’t last for us, and unfortunately on the one day we’d actually planned a bbq for some friends, it rained… ALL day! There wasn’t even a break in the rain where we could sneak outside and get the bbq on. We had no choice but to remove the problem of bad weather and cook everything indoors. Its not what you want when you’ve planned a bbq, but grilled burgers are better than no burgers at all!

So that was the first week of the holidays done, its gone in a flash and I am not sure where.

Exciting news to come soon, big announcement due. I’ll leave you guessing for a little while though!


Another year draws to a close

Yet another summer term ends, and while we still have one more day tomorrow, it is for staff only as the pupils get to start their holiday at the end of today.

It has been a year full of trials and difficulties, some challenging pupils and some difficult staff issues too, and I will be very glad to see Friday afternoon roll around. At the same time it will be quite sad as our headteacher of some 25 years finally retires. I’ve known him myself for almost 20 of those years, which is actually over half my life, and quite a crazy way to think of it! It really is the end of an era, and he is leaving behind some pretty big boots to fill, a rather daunting job for any new potential head teacher!

So what is the summer holidays actually going to look like in the Vokes household? Well, we’re keeping Olivia in nursery for her two days a week, as we have to pay for those anyway. It gives me an opportunity to get other things done, plus she enjoys it anyway and gets a great deal out of it, so why deprive her of that? She is starting to make friends and learn social skills with the other children, a valuable lesson that she just can’t really learn at home, no matter how much I try to teach her. The other three weekdays it’ll be just me and little missy, so I am hoping to take her out to see friends and family, or go for some walks as she loves being outdoors… but for those rainy days where we have to stay at home I intend to but some kids paint and let her have fun painting and get totally messy! Kids need to explore, they need to be free to make a mess without worrying about consequences, and this is exactly the reason we had laminate wood floor put in when we were sorting the house out before we moved in, rather than carpet downstairs. Pretty much everything, including the sofa, can be wiped clean with little effort!

Then of course I am lucky to have Clare off work for a week and our trip to Torquay planned! I am very excited about Olivia’s first holiday, it’s going to be great, even if the British weather does treat us to a downpour, I am fairly confident we won’t care that much!

What has been happening more recently? Well there was the leavers prom that I always attend around this time of year. The kids looked fantastic and all the parents were keen to get their hands on some prints!

I have been going for a few years now, and have taken some nice photos along the way, but I knew I was on a time limit this year, and had to get back home as early as I could. So it was a case of rattling through the photos and trying to make the ones that I took really count. With my 85mm lens and a beautiful yellow flowered bush conveniently located on the school grounds, it all came together pretty well. Thankfully, the practical upshot of this was that I did not need to put up my background and lights this year, which saved me a lot of time and meant I was able to get home to the wife, who wasn’t feeling well, and be able to put Olivia to bed instead of her doing it.

The weekend was a busy one, and I had been asked to photo graph my friends little girl who was almost seven months old, and naturally I was delighted at the opportunity! As she was still only in the sitting stage, and not moving very far, this gave me an instant advantage, it meant I could be more flexible and move around to get a better shot. Just before we finished, we took the shoot outside and got a few photos in the natural light, under the shade of a tree in a local park.

Having such a cute little model always helps to make things easier though, and after a big snooze and a feed just before we started, she was in a fantastic mood and didn’t complain once about the camera being all up in her face either! I can’t wait to capture her again at 12 months and see how she has changed. These are the kind of photos I want to be doing more of! They are far less time consuming and far more stress-free! Of course I still do weddings, but I keep it low-key until friends ask me to help out, which I am always happy to do.

Of course, the blog wouldn’t be complete without a new portrait of my beautiful little daughter. I have taken so many of her since she was born, it was easy to get carried away, but now its time to start taking some proper portraits, especially as she has learnt to at least pause and look at the camera briefly now. I am not trying to get her to pose, or turn her into some kind of child model, but these are memories we will treasure when she has grown up and moved out. That day may seem like a long, long way off… but it will be here one day!


You’re not held up by people cycling – you’re held up by other people driving (and yourself)

A great piece on why cyclists aren’t your problem!

As Easy As Riding A Bike

Imagine a street that carries 14,000 cyclists a day, on the street itself. That equates to around 1,500 people cycling along the street per hour, or 25 every minute.

Imagine driving down that street. Surely a nightmare for any self-respecting driver who wants to make progress. A miserable experience. You’d never be able to overtake, what with all the cyclists trundling in front of you, often two or three abreast, taking up the whole road.

Well… no. Actually overtaking in a car on this street is pretty easy.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.09.47

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.10.34

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.09.08

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.10.46… It’s even easy to overtake with people cycling two abreast, in both directions.Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.10.17Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.10.58Even a very wide three abreast doesn’t present a significant problem.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.10.04This doesn’t compute, surely!

How on earth can it be easy to overtake when there are so many bloody cyclists in the middle of the road?

The answer is quite simple – the reason drivers can overtake easily…

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