365 project, Journal, Personal, Photography

The 365 project: Days 157 – 167

Catching up with another bulk of 365 photos, from day 157 up to day 167. I can’t understand how I’d fallen so behind, but here we are. We’re getting close to the half way point now, which gives me some encouragement. Its feels like the days are rushing past, and I can hardly keep up with them!

157: Time to spend a little time with the girls before I head out for drinks with some old school friends. It had been a while since some of us last saw each other, and a few of us got a little carried away. In my drunkeness I managed to drop my phone onto solid concrete and shattered the screen. A little irresponsible, and very unlike me to be so careless, but it was done. So todays photo of Chloe makes me feel a bit better and remember what really matters when I look at my damaged phone screen and feel grumpy.

Day 157 - Jun 11th
Day 157 – Jun 11th

158: In between looking after my friends little boy in the morning, and the Canadian Grand Prix in the afternoon was a chance to enjoy a little more weekend time with the family. Olivia had taken the chance to get a little artistic, I find it lovely to watch although when asked what she is drawing it has always been a tiger for about the last four months. Now she has started to draw people and faces!

Day 158 - Jun 12th
Day 158 – Jun 12th

159: I finally got around to putting up the bird feeder and this cheeky little chappy decides to have a go at it, although somewhat unsuccessfully.

Day 159 - Jun 13th
Day 159 – Jun 13th

160: At long last Chloes bedroom is finished! The walls are painted and the cot is put back together ready for the little lady to switch from the moses basket that she has outgrown to something a little bigger. The first time we did this with Olivia was somewhat traumatic, at least for the wife anyway, but this time was definitely much easier.

Day 160 - Jun 14th
Day 160 – Jun 14th

161: I figured (and without anything to apologise for) that I don’t buy Clare enough flowers. It used to be a regular thing, and it still should be, she deserves it..

Day 161 - Jun 15th
Day 161 – Jun 15th

162: The rain, the relentless rain! It has been a crazy summer, sunshine one minute, flashfoods the next. Some days the rain just doesn’t seem to quit!

Day 162 - Junn 16th
Day 162 – June 16th

163: At last, an appointment at the Apple store to get my phone fixed in the morning. The last night with this horrible screen driving me crazy. Learnt my lesson the hard and expensive way!

Day 163 - Jun 17th
Day 163 – Jun 17th

164: Changes happening every day. As Chloe approaches five months old we are noticing so many things starting to happen. One of the latest is the fact she is now reaching out to grab and touch things that are within reach, exploring her surroundings rather than just observing.

Day 164 - Jun 18th
Day 164 – Jun 18th

165: After a very early start, its off to London with my Uncle to ride our bikes from Clapham Common all the way down to Brighton for British Heart Foundation. A fantastic day with some beautiful scenery and wonderful weather. A stark contrast to just using the bike for commuting to work, I really enjoyed the day and was rewarded with this view after a heart attack inducing hill climb towards the end of the route.

Day 165 - Jun 19th
Day 165 – Jun 19th

166: Each year I swear to start working on the garden earlier and still end up leaving it until the middle of summer before I work on it properly. The one thing I haven’t had to touch is the strawberries I planted last year, which has come back even more prolific than last year. Just hope they grow in size quickly as Olivia is keen to pull them off and stick them in her mouth!

Day 166 - Jun 20th
Day 166 – Jun 20th

167: One thing we never got for this house was a patio table, yet our daughter has her very own. On a sunny Monday evening she wants to take her snacks outside to eat Al Fresco, firmly pointing out “I want table, Daddy!”. Daddy sighs and puts up no fight.

Day 167 - Jun 21st
Day 167 – Jun 21st
365 project, Photography

365 project – Days 147 – 156

Man Alive! I really have fallen way behind in my posting! How did I let this happen? Well thankfully I have still been taking the photos, and so rather than put them all in one post, I am going to split them across two.

So we start the photos on this post during the half term holiday, meaning a week off work for me, and time at home with the family. We had a number of things planned for half term, its a chance to finally get done those things which you’ve been putting off for weeks as you just haven’t had the time. Unfortunately its easy to put off too many things until half term, and then feel swamped. Suddenly seven days off work doesn’t feel quite so long!

147: Back in the early days of the internet, when all was innocent and the possibilities that lay before us were endless, I decided I wanted to find out more about the world and found a few email penpals around the world to correspond with. Over time these began to fade out to just a couple of people, one of which was my good friend Lynda from New York, who I finally got to meet while she was over visiting London with friends and family, and we got to spend a lovely (if slightly damp) day in Oxford with her and her mother. Hopefully the next time we catch up will be in NYC!

Day 147 - Jun 1st
Day 147 – Jun 1st

148: I started off the day looking after my friends little boy for the morning, and in contrast to yesterdays grey and damp weather there was sun on my skin and just a few clouds in the blue sky. It reminds me of the need to get home and take my own children out more!

Day 148 - Jun 2nd
Day 148 – Jun 2nd

149: Our little lady is growing at a rate of knots and learning new things all the time. She is really building up her muscles trying to wriggle about on her mat, but also keeps trying to sit up when ever she gets a chance, so we dug out the bumbo that was given to us by a friend for when Olivia was trying to sit up. Chloe took to it very well, and loved being able to see about properly, the nosey devil!

Day 149 - Jun 3rd
Day 149 – Jun 3rd

150: One thing I had been putting off for a while was painting the spare room ready for when Chloe is too big for her moses basket, which was a time fast approaching! After some initial prep work and choosing a new colour, I finally made a start and got the room done. I’m no decorator, but I didn’t do a bad job!

Day 150 - Jun 4th
Day 150 – Jun 4th

151: In keeping with my desire to capture frequent portraits of the girls, I have tried to do something a little different. I have tried my hand (without reading up on it too much) on the skill of off-camera flash outdoors in bright sunlight. There is a very specific look I am going for, and while I didn’t get it with this shot today, there is always next time!

Day 151 - Jun 5th
Day 151 – Jun 5th

152: I took this photo a couple of weeks ago, and it sat on my memory card inside my camera until recently when I dug it out, dusted it off and gave it the processing treatment with the free Nik Collection from Google, a complete editing suite free from google to edit photos in. I went for a super contrasty black and white look here.

Day 152 - Jun 6th
Day 152 – Jun 6th

153: At the end of your work day you feel tired and ready to collapse, but you didn’t take the car, you cycled. So you ride home again, mostly uphill, and sweating and exhausted you stumble off your bike… only to find your daughter immediately wants to spend time her daddy having a picnic in the front garden before I have even taken my bag or cycling shoes off! In the distance we can see dark grey clouds approaching and hear numerous rumbles of thunder, but my daughter is determined and will not be giving up that easily. Say no to spending time with my daughter? Not likely! So picnic it was!!

Day 153 - Jun 7th
Day 153 – Jun 7th

154: Quite simply, its Apple Watch day! It has arrived! Excited!!

Day 154 - Jun 8th
Day 154 – Jun 8th

155: I get a new Apple Watch… the wife gets a new kettle/toaster combo, and gets equally excited about it. How times have changed! What happened to our lives?!?

Day 155 - Jun 9th
Day 155 – Jun 9th

156: Our little lady is getting closer and closer to rolling onto her tummy, so in preparation we spend a little time lying on our front and see how those neck muscles are coming along to help her keep her head up.

Day 156 - Jun 10th
Day 156 – Jun 10th

And so that is days 147 – 156 covered. Any comments? Fire away!

365 project, Parenting, Personal, Photography

Where’s the 365 update?

I don’t know where the days have gone! May has vanished in a flash and June doesn’t seem to be hanging around. I am falling well behind with updating these photos, but here goes!

127: One very pleased wife as our new double buggy arrives, meaning more freedom for her to get about during the day while I am at work. Olivia hasn’t used her buggy for months, but on some days, where a lot of walking is involved, sometimes she wants to be picked up and carried. Not so easy when you’re on your own, but now no longer a problem!

Day 127 - May 12th
Day 127 – May 12th

128: Upon losing our allotment last year I turned to growing some veg in the back garden. The broccoli flowered before I could pick it and it was no good then. As I didn’t remove it over the winter it has flowered again this year. It has to go at some point, but it does look very bright and its a lovely place for the bees to land until we get some proper flowers in the garden!

Day 128 - May 13th
Day 128 – May 13th

129: Olivia’s new fascination is having her nails painted. She is always watching mommy put her face on in the morning and likes to try a bit of it herself. The finger nails just weren’t enough, and so out came the jelly shoes when the toes were done too!

Day 129 - May 14th
Day 129 – May 14th

130: A bit of sunshine in the garden and the weeds are taking a firm hold, and it sometimes seems a shame to pull up some of the prettier ones, but they can be a nuisance. This one always looks pretty when you get close-up, and its always fun blowing them!

Day 130 - May 15th
Day 130 – May 15th

131: The year so far has seen a mix of weather, and not just sunshine and showers, but a frustrating mix of cold, grey, wet days and some absolute scorchers. Todays photo is just an appreciation of some blue sky when all we tend to see is clouds a lot of the time.

Day 131 - May 16th
Day 131 – May 16th

132: Its birthday eve, my last night of my 30s, a sad day for me. My sister in law came to visit with a card and a nice present. I can’t lie, it was opened before midnight! Bye bye 30s, you were very good to me!

Day 132 - May 17th
Day 132 – May 17th

133: Today I turned 40. I always enjoy birthdays, but still feel a bit sad that I am now into my 40s. Many of my friends already are, and they don’t seem to have gone grey and wrinkly overnight. I keep getting told that life begins at 40, and really just need to relax and appreciate everything that the last decade gave to me. The biggest thing about this day though, was not my birthday, but the great news that Chloe’s hip harness is finally off!!!

Day 133 - May 18th
Day 133 – May 18th

134: The harness is gone, and now our little girl can have proper cuddles again, and best of all enjoy a bath with her big sister!

Day 134 - May 19th
Day 134 – May 19th

135: Olivia has taken on the role of big sister so well, she really does love her little sister and often helps mommy to give her a clean. I think these two are going to get on just fine.

Day 135 - May 20th
Day 135 – May 20th

136: Its official, we have a thumb sucker! The dummy still rules, by a long way, but she’s worked out how to get that thumb in, so maybe the dummy has a limited shelf life?

Day 136 May 21st
Day 136 May 21st

137: Starting the day with a walk over Lickey Hills and making the most of the sunshine. I often take my friends little boy over here when I look after him, and need to remember to bring the family, its a great place for a walk!

Day 137 - May 22nd
Day 137 – May 22nd

138: This guy looks suspicious! Its a “got no photo, lets take a selfie” kinda day!

Day 138 - May 23rd
Day 138 – May 23rd

139: Usually the wife collects Olivia from nursery, but today its my turn. Its only a short walk, and made easy when there is a lovely sunset to look at. I grabbed this cheeky little weed growing out of the front garden wall as I went past.

Day 139 - May 24th
Day 139 – May 24th

140: There is definitely a distinct difference between bringing up a little boy and bringing up a little girl. All of my friends who have boys are run ragged by them, they have endless amounts of energy and don’t care about throwing themselves around or whether they injure themselves. In stark contrast bringing up a girl has been a walk in the park, and this little lady is often happy to take a little time out and just sit watching her favourite shows or films on tv.

Day 140 - May 25th
Day 140 – May 25th

141: What would you expect of a photographers daughter? To have her own camera of course! I found a bargain on ebay and was pestered daily until the damn thing arrived!

Day 141 - May 26th
Day 141 – May 26th

142: There’s something about clouds that appeal to the eye searching for a shot, when the sun hides behind and streams out, I am sold!

Day 142 - May 27th
Day 142 – May 27th

143: So now I am starting to accept having turned 40, I finally get to celebrate properly with a party thanks to my amazing wife. I picked an awful weekend with so many friends on holiday, but I was touched by all those who made it and helped me to have a fantastic night. It was even better to have some old school friends there too. I’ve known these guys for almost 30 years, as if I didn’t already have a reason to feel old!

Day 143 - May 28th
Day 143 – May 28th

144: After dinner we decided that a lovely way to spend a nice warm evening would just be to put our shoes on and head out for a walk together. This little lady doesn’t need much of an excuse, she may love her tv, but she’s even happier outdoors!

Day 144 - May 29th
Day 144 – May 29th

145: Bank holiday Monday, and rather than sit at home cursing the traditional bank holiday rain, we’re our celebrating the 40th birthday of another school friend who moved out to California a few years back and was home to celebrate with his friends and family. It was a lovely afternoon, and in a break of tradition it was actually sunny!

Day 145 - May 30th
Day 145 – May 30th

146: The birthday month is at an end, May is over, but we are lucky enough to see our friends, up for a few days from Devon. The girls love playing together and its a shame we don’t see them more often. We finished the day by heading out for food together at Cafe Rouge in the Mailbox. Hopefully we will see them again pretty soon!

Day 146 - May 31st
Day 146 – May 31st


A rare and hidden gem in the city centre

Recently a small group of some blogger friends and myself were granted access to Birminghams one and only, new and exclusive members only club.

Based in the city centre, located in a grade 2 listed building, built in 1870, this venue is virtually hidden from the street and draws no attention to itself, but then it doesn’t need to. Even though it only opened this year, there is already a waiting list for its very limited membership.

I was thankfully given very clear and precise directions on how to find the entrance to the club, but was lucky to find my friend Suzie already waiting outside when I arrived anyway, who directed me inside where I was greeted, and guided to the main bar. I met up with the rest of our group who were already admiring the luxurious surroundings and taking in all the details that had clearly all been given a great deal of thought.

Our group was initially given a tour of the club and its facilities, comprising of three main rooms. The main bar room with its stylish decor and impressively stocked bar was where most of the action happened. The bar wasn’t impressive because of the amount of stock it was carrying… once you stopped and looked properly, it was the quality of the products. This is not a venue where you’d find Smirnoff on the vodka or Gordons on the gin, these were epicurean ingredients sourced from specific companies for their unique and characteristic tastes.

Our tour continued and we were then guided into the conference room, originally a wine cellar, this made a snug conference room for up to ten people and looked like the ultimate place to host a dinner party. The original brickwork made it feel quite special.

Our last room on the tour was the study, which looked like a cross between a university library and a hotel bar. There are two clear functions for this room, work during the day, and socialising the evening, but the two never mix! During the day, between 10am and 5pm the room is silent. No chatting, phones on silent, and only headphones permitted for any music. The layout and 22 powerpoints with USB sockets dotted around the room enable business users to go about their work without any distractions during office hours. There are even lights set up to replicate daylight. As soon as 5pm arrives the multizone music playing throughout the club is turned back up in the study, the lights go down, and and the bar is free to open.

Its fair to say that we were all impressed by the venue so far, but the best was yet to come. You don’t pay for a years membership to an exclusive club just because the chairs and wallpaper are nice! We were introduced to cocktail expert Anna, who was going to be mixing the drinks for us this evening and sharing her vast and extensive knowledge into the drinks, their origins, ingredients, and even the family run businesses behind them, as well as why they have sourced the particular products that they stock. She was showed us some classic cocktails made up with her own personal touch and spin and additional ingredients added to them.

I wasn’t really prepared for the following hour. Anna worked with such precision and focus, and didn’t miss a single detail in preparing some of the most amazing drinks to have ever passed my lips! When I was originally told “cocktails” I expected a few bog standard Sex On The Beach or Long Island Iced Tea type drinks, but Anna had taken a handful of classic cocktails, deconstructed them, and put them back together in her special own way, combining selected ingredients in specific ratios to perfectly complement each other. The first cocktail served up was amazing and we were all genuinely surprised at how nice it was. Soon to follow was Anna’s twist on a sangria, which being such a simple drink I didn’t see how she could do much with it… but she did, and it turned out to be probably one of my favourite drinks to date… period!


Even some of our group get a chance to practise their skills!
Even some of our group get a chance to practise their skills!

At the end of the night, along with the others, I was very grateful to have had the chance to sample, and soak in this wonderful experience, and discover some truly fantastic drinks. The staff were very friendly, welcoming and knowledgable, with a particular eye for detail. Their desire to please and create a relaxing environment was obvious. Membership isn’t cheap, but this club is not aimed at the “two pints of lager and a packet of crisps” type crowd, this is a highly refined experience and is aimed at a particular type of crowd, those who want and expect the best.

If you want something a bit different and a bit special, you can find out more about The Colmore Club here.