365 project, Parenting, Personal

Photo highlights of 2016

So now the 365 project is over, or 366 as it turned out to be, I have been less inclined to jump on the computer and create another blog post. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had the thought that I could bring together some of my favourite pictures from the 2016 project and talk about why I like them. I won’t lie, the thought process behind this was minimal, and the list is by no means exhaustive, the photos were chosen in a very small space of time, and I have not put these in any particular kind of order.

[1] I love autumn, its a beautiful colourful time of year, and with a beautiful daughter happy to pause and pose for a moment (only a moment mind, make sure that camera is ready and those settings are correct…) the elements come together and something fantastic appears.

Day 270 - Oct 2nd
Day 270 – Oct 2nd

[2] This was the day after I passed my Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) and went to collect my first ever motorbike. Feeling very proud and very nervous all at the same time. I had a 20 mile ride home from the dealers just one day after I’d first climbed on a motorbike! Oh well, nothing like being thrown in at the deep end!

Day 277 - Oct 9th
Day 277 – Oct 9th

[3] Its no secret that I am a sucker for a good sunset, and we had a few this year, as well as some very pretty sunrises, but this one stood out a bit as the clouds just went crazy! It was one of those moments where you just stand at the window in awe at the beauty of nature, just grateful that you were there to see it.

Day 265 - Sep 27th
Day 265 – Sep 27th

[4] Olivia’s 3rd birthday, and for me a bit one. Now whilst three years old doesn’t sound much, this was the first birthday after Olivia had become a big sister, and she really seems to have grown up. The toddler in her has disappeared, and a little girl has emerged, a little girl who can have a full conversation with you, reason with you, show compassion, and most of all make us laugh every day! On this day we were lucky to have both sets of grandparents visit on the same day, and a request from nursery for a family photo had forced me to pick up the camera and take a photo that I should have thought to take ages ago!

Day 242 - Sep 4th
Day 242 – Sep 4th

[5] It may not seem like much to a lot of people, but I do love watching the airplanes take off and land. When we discovered there was a park, with a cafe, and a farm area, where you could also walk up to the bottom of the runway, I was delighted! We have been a few times, but my one goal was to watch the airbus A380 taking off, and with a little research I could put myself in the right place at the right time!

Day 219 - Aug 12th
Day 219 – Aug 12th

[6] Our wedding anniversary, and the one sad thing about it is that we have never really been able to make a big deal about celebrate it, which saddens me a bit. I have found a wonderful woman who agreed to be my wife and I want to celebrate the anniversary of our big day. Now we are parents, there are very different priorities, but we must still remember who we are as people at the end of the day and not lose sight of what it is we like, what brought us together and how to be a couple, as one day the girls will be grown up, the house will be empty and it will just be the two of us again. For the moment, I can think of no better way of celebrating our special day than being with the three most important women in my life. There’s plenty of time for Vegas!!

Day 203 - Jul 27th
Day 203 – Jul 27th

[7] Waiting for a baby to arrive can feel like forever, when they are finally here you do all you can to slow things down and stop them growing up so fast. I was keen to photograph Chloe properly, and so while I had the chance one afternoon, out came the lights and the backdrop and I had a chance to use my newborn photography training for my own benefit.

Day 35 - Feb 10th
Day 35 – Feb 10th

[8] Of course, with one sleepy model photographed, I still had my lights up and had another beautiful model who would be willing to sit for a while. I was very pleased with the result, and it will be an image I will look back on fondly for many years to come!

Day 38 - Feb 13th
Day 38 – Feb 13th

[9] These shots are just as important to me, a reminder of how small and fragile this little lady was once. She currently is impossible to keep in one place and apparently has zero sense of danger, a far cry from being “fragile”! I love the contrast in size between my fingers and Chloes.

Day 112 - Apr 27th
Day 112 – Apr 27th

[10] After cycling to and from work for almost five years, you can get a bit bored of cycling, so I was glad I had the opportunity to take part in the London to Brighton bike ride in aid of the British Heart Foundation with my uncle. It was a lovely day, even after a super early start. The weather was perfect and it was a very well managed route. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride right up until we got to Ditchling Beacon, the third-highest point on the South Downs! At the top we were rewarded with some fantastic views.

Day 165 - Jun 19th
Day 165 – Jun 19th

[11] This was also the year I turned 40, and the one great idea my wife had was a tattoo of the girls names as a present for my birthday, and I am chuffed to bits with it, although it has reignited my passion to get more!

Day 272 - Oct 4th
Day 272 – Oct 4th

[12] Chloe’s first ever christmas, and with her on the move so much, and being such a nosey little devil we knew the tree was at serious risk of either being pulled over or having its decorations removed. Thankfully neither seemed to be the case, and apart from messing with the tree a little here and there, it was generally left alone and stayed upright and decorated over christmas.

Day 330 - Dec 1st
Day 330 – Dec 1st

[13] With Olivia seeming so much more grown up this year, it was no surprise that she really got into christmas, and for the first time really seemed to understand what was going on with the whole santa thing.

Day 340 - Dec 11th
Day 340 – Dec 11th

[14] Over the winter we looked out of the window and just gave in some days, the weather did not inspire us to go anywhere, although I still think I should have put more effort into putting on the waterproofs and just getting out there! Olivia loves being outside, even if its a bit cold and wet, but if she can’t get out then clearly she can find other ways to entertain herself. Finally she is finding a little bit more courage after being such a careful little toddler.

Day 352 - Dec 23rd
Day 352 – Dec 23rd

[15] Obviously, it goes without saying, the single biggest part of 2016 was the arrival of our beautiful daughter Chloe. This time it was a planned caesarian section, and although we’d been frustratingly made to wait all day, the little lady was finally airlifted out just before 7pm. It is such an honour and a privilege to become a parent, and holding your baby for the first time still knocks me sideways with emotion!

Day 28 - Feb 3rd
Day 28 – Feb 3rd

[16] After finally ditching the cot, Olivia moves up to a big girls bed. Its raised sides help, and we only had a couple of moments where she rolled out, although thankfully not falling far.

Day 70 - Mar 16th
Day 70 – Mar 16th

[17] As soon as the meningitis vaccine became available to children, Clare was keen to get Olivia in there. It was expensive, but Chloe had already been done in her first jabs, and so we didn’t want Olivia being left out. The chances of catching it may be extremely slim, but the consequences can be life changing, if not fatal! Olivia was very brave about it, and so we treated her to a ride into and out of town on the buses as she’d been asking to have a go for a while.

Day 292 - Oct 24th
Day 292 – Oct 24th

[18] Olivia has gone from toddler to little girl in what seems like no time at all, and has now progressed on to “big sister” and is loving the role, as she is keen to help Chloe where she can.

Day 302 - Nov 3rd
Day 302 – Nov 3rd

[19] After waiting all through the summer, we finally got Chloe christened in November, pretty much two years to the same weekend that we had Olivia done. She was really good an I was just a little sad that we could have the same priest who did Olivia and married me and Clare. The new priest, as pleasant as he is, actually forgot all about us and didn’t turn up until he was reminded!

Day 319 - Nov 20th
Day 319 – Nov 20th

[20] Up there as one of the best photos I think I have taken for personal use, this shot of my two girls together was not planned. We had gone out for a walk over Leasowes park to get some fresh air, and blow out a few cobwebs. The autumn leaves were still on the ground and some contrasting oranges and green made the season almost jump out of the photo. It comes as no surprise that this ended up on a canvas!

Day 332 - Dec 3rd
Day 332 – Dec 3rd

And so that is my top 20 photos of 2016, now just to decide on what to do next with the camera and the blog!

365 project, Photography

The final post of the… wait, WHAT? Its a project 366?!?

So here we are at the end of the project, the final post, and I have suddenly realised that this has actually been a project 366 and I completely overlooked the fact that 2016 had been a leap year! How did I not notice?? I even did a photo for February 29th and was still oblivious, although in my defence we did have a three week old baby in the house when that date rolled around!

Anyway, the end is here now, and what a hell of a year it has been. The photos I’ve put on here aren’t going to win me any prizes, but they have been representative of my day for the most part. We’ve had the arrival of Chloe, Olivia’s birthday, Chloe’s Christening, my new motorbike, several weddings. Looking back on them has been fascinating, maybe I should save my favourites for the next blog post.

357: Clare is out visiting at the hospital again, and I have the job of looking after the ladies. Still very grateful for naptime and Chloe giving us at least an hour in the morning to focus on other things. This gives me the time to get the sandwich toaster out, and introduce Olivia to the wonderful world of toasted sandwiches. They’re a hit!

Day 357 - Dec 28th
Day 357 – Dec 28th

358: Its another lazy day at home. When its cold and grey outside, sometimes you just don’t feel like going anywhere, and with Clare still popping out at the hospital at least once a day, there aren’t many chances to do anything when you are stuck at home with two little girls in their pyjamas, no car and nothing much in walking distance! Still, my two little ladies keep me entertained, and this one is really starting to develop a personality now!

Day 358 - Dec 29th
Day 358 – Dec 29th

359: The problem with two weeks off work is that I don’t have work to get up for in the morning, meaning I am all too tempted by a “few drinks before bed”! I was lucky enough to get a bottle of JD from father christmas, and the biggest challenge is making it last during the festive period. I didn’t do very well at this part!

Day 359 - Dec 30th
Day 359 – Dec 30th

360: 2016 draws to an end, although it is not the end of my 365 366 project, as I had started a few days into the year. This year sees us marking the end of the year, and my friends wife’s 40th birthday with a party. Not the party we’d planned, as that had to be cancelled at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances, so a house party had to do.

Day 360 - Dec 31st
Day 360 – Dec 31st

361: With Clare staying at home and going to bed early on New Years Eve, which she genuinely prefers, we had our own mini celebration the following night with a big bottle of fizz given to us as a present. I’m very disappointed to say that we didn’t finish it!

Day 361 - Jan 1st
Day 361 – Jan 1st

362: Two weeks has gone so quickly! Damn! Thats christmas and new year all wrapped up, so we’re off to make the most of bank holiday monday by visiting some friends so our girls can play together. It was getting dark as we left, and I thankfully had my camera with me, and managed to grab this shot. I love the fact that you can not only see the dark side of the moon, but you can also see Venus below and to the right, and Mars above and to the left! Great for nerds like me!

Day 362 - Jan 2nd
Day 362 – Jan 2nd

363: First day back at work, not ideal as our class teacher is off, and we had to bumble our way through the day. Then I get home to find all the christmas decorations down and ready for the loft. The house looks bigger and tidier, but I do miss having everything up. Normally it feels like we’ve had the stuff up for ages when it finally comes down, but this year it feels like we’ve only just put it up and suddenly its all down again, even though we’d put it up a week early!

Day 363 - Jan 3rd
Day 363 – Jan 3rd

364: The garage, still a mess, and a stark reminder of what I didn’t get done over the holidays. The to-do lists seem to be more of a gesture these days, as crossing anything off them is a cause for celebration!

Day 364 - Jan 4th
Day 364 – Jan 4th

365: The things that happen while you’re out at work! Today we had our new smart energy meters fitted. I am liking the display box showing how much you’re using. It certainly makes you think about leaving things on!

Day 365 - Jan 5th
Day 365 – Jan 5th

366: The final post of the project, and it kinda reflects the unknown destination of the journey ahead. With a 365 project (or 366 in this case) you focus on a single year and look at it on a day to day basis, but even when you think you have things all sewn up, life can still throw you a curve ball. So be ready for anything and enjoy each and every day. Its always important to plan for the future, try not to dwell on the past, but most of all don’t forget to live for the moment!

Day 366 - Jan 6th
Day 366 – Jan 6th


The end is in sight: the 365 project – days 343-356

In what is likely to be the penultimate post for this 365 blog, a reflection of the last year and all that has gone on. It has been a fairly dramatic year with many ups and down, with things really kicking off early on in February with the arrival of the fourth member of the Vokes clan, our beautiful daughter Chloe, and ended on somewhat of a lower note with a member of the family being rushed into hospital. With many visits to the hospital going on, it has been tricky to plan things and get out as much as we’d like, but we did what we could and made it through christmas. It was a very different Christmas and Boxing day than we were used to, but it didn’t seem to affect the kids too much, and as much as I love this time of year, it really is for the kids after all. So moving on, here are some of the last few photos of this 365 project, with the final ones coming soon.

343: The school autumn term is drawing to a close, but wouldn’t be complete without the annual carol service, although this year broke with tradition and turned the service into something a little different. We were still at the same church, where we have been going every year for as long as I can remember, and it really is lovely inside!

Day 343 - Dec 14th
Day 343 – Dec 14th

344: Good times! he christmas holidays are almost upon us! Bad times! The thought of someone close becoming very sick still plays heavily on my mind. So I decided to raise a glass to them both!

Day 344 - Dec 15th
Day 344 – Dec 15th

345: Not usually a nursery day for Olivia, but Clare took her in today anyway as they were having their christmas party for all the children, where they got to play games, dance and meet santa. It all seemed a little much soon after we’d got home, and it turns out that those mid afternoon naps haven’t completely gone!

Day 345 - Dec 16th
Day 345 – Dec 16th

346: The mothers birthday, and whilst I would be heading out that evening for a meal with her and my sisters, I wanted the girls to see her during the day too! Olivia loves visiting her grandparents, especially when they give her ice lollies!

Day 346 - Dec 17th
Day 346 – Dec 17th

347: Little Gracie turns two and we’re off to her birthday party at a soft play centre. A frozen themed afternoon of fun, party food and dancing.

Day 347 - Dec 18th
Day 347 – Dec 18th

348: Chloe is getting so close to standing on her own, she keeps giving it a go, and will happily stand for a few seconds each time… but this girl likes to be on the move, and without being able to walk yet, the act of standing leaves her a little stranded, so she soon gives up quickly and drops to the floor to crawl again… on all fours she can move!

Day 348 - Dec 19th
Day 348 – Dec 19th

349: The one thing about christmas is that there is always junk to eat in the house, and I get used to satisfying the cravings on demand once they start, but when the snacks have all gone, you have to go back to the one thing that never fails… Cheese on toast with a drop of brown sauce and/or worcester sauce. Nom!

Day 349 - Dec 20th
Day 349 – Dec 20th

350: The holiday hasn’t been two weeks of me putting my feet up just because I am off work, with the wife visiting in hospital daily, trying to get anything done between all the naps and dinner for both of the little ones has been tricky to say the least. Thankfully I did find an hour to help a friend out with a few headshots for their business page and website. The feedback was fairly positive, and they were very generous in thanking me with a nice bottle of bourbon!

Day 350 - Dec 21st
Day 350 – Dec 21st

351: Last day of nursery before Christmas, and while I am off work it is usually me that takes Olivia to nursery in the morning. She loves to walk there, as it is only a few minutes from home, and so even in the cold weather we wrap up and enjoy the crisp, winter air. Of course, these days we seem to be doing everything on the scooter, which we happened to buy last christmas, but has only recently apparently become one of her favourite things! We don’t actually need to send Olivia to nursery during the holidays, especially while we are both at home at the moment, but she loves seeing her friends there, and doing the activities she may not get to do at home, as well as giving us a chance to wrap presents, tidy the house etc. So its a win/win for everyone!

Day 351 - Dec 22nd
Day 351 – Dec 22nd

352: Christmas eve eve, and you can tell someone hasn’t been out enough recently. Early evening is often about slowing down, putting a film on the tv and chilling out a bit. Not today apparently, we’re doing stuntman dives from her step onto the sofa! I had to do a bit of prep to get this mid jump shot, not too difficult as she was repeatedly jumping, but totally worth it!

Day 352 - Dec 23rd
Day 352 – Dec 23rd

353: Finally, we reach the end of the advent calendar, Christmas eve is here and the big guy in red is due tonight. He got his letter and Olivia got her reply, she’s definitely on the “nice” list, so now its a case of final preparations before bed. Carrot for reindeer – Check! Mince pie and red wine for Santa – Check! Right, lets do Christmas!!

Day 353 - Dec 24th
Day 353 – Dec 24th

354: There was lots happening on Christmas day, and I didn’t get chance to take many photos with unwrapping presents and cooking dinner, but I did capture this shot of a lovely gift from one of my sisters, which will now definitely make its annual showing every christmas as it looks lovely and reflects my thoughts on Christmas, which is all about family and being together. The gifts are a nice bonus, but its about who is around the tree, not what is under it!

Day 354 - Dec 25th
Day 354 – Dec 25th

355: The afternoon naps may have been dropped a while back, but this little lady still gets tired easily, especially during the winter it seems. About to visit relatives and we need to wake this one up first!

Day 355 _ dec 26th
Day 355 _ dec 26th

356: While the wife is out at the hospital visiting again, Olivia has chosen to play with the fake snow while Chloe sleeps (can’t do it while she’s awake!!) and enjoys getting lost in it for a while. It comes as no surprise that this stuff is all over the floor by the time we finished!

Day 356 - Dec 27th
Day 356 – Dec 27th