Friday is here at last and I waste no time in leaving work and heading home. It always feels nice being home just after 4pm, still plenty of time to play with the girls before they go to bed, or even need their bath!
One thing that has become quickly apparent this week, especially today, is how much Chloe is walking everywhere now. She still has a bit of a wobble, and hasn’t given up on dropping to the floor to crawl somewhere if she wants to get somewhere quickly, but its nice to see the walking actually becoming something of a preference! It means a lot for so many things, like going out for walks as a family, sure it may slow us down a little to have Chloe attempting to do part of it on foot, but at least we can now wear Chloe out a bit too, rather than just carry her everywhere. Not having to put the buggy or carrier in the car means we’ll have so much more space for other things!
Friday is bath night for the girls, and its our goal to get them in and out of the bath, and into bed nice and early so we can settle down and put a film on. We can’t start films too late these days, or I end up watching them on my own. We’d agreed on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo for tonight, I’d bought the Blu-Ray a while back and as I hadn’t had time to watch until now, it was only this evening that I realised I’d bought the original version ie in swedish with english subtitles! Just my luck! Thankfully the english version happened to be on Netflix, so all was not lost! Now to kick back and enjoy the start of a long bank holiday weekend!
Today I decided to have a little play with my macro lens and go for a slightly different close up shot, without resorting to flowers again, as they’re always such an easy target. After getting home from work, I had been to collect Olivia from nursery when she spotted one of these dandelion seed heads close to home on the way back, like most kids would be, she was straight in there, grabbing it from the ground and blowing the seeds into the air. I asked her if I could take a quick photo before she finished it off, and being as polite and obliging as she is, she said yes! She’s such a well mannered little girl, it makes me very proud.
I picked up a macro lens shortly after getting into photographing weddings, for things like ring shots, and close ups of the flowers and dress details. It has been used far more then I ever imagined outside of weddings as well, especially on previous 365 projects, and on the girls too, as it makes a wonderful portrait lens.
Welcome back! Its nice to see people returning. It has me wondering, what is it that people come back for? Are you here for the daily photo, or are you feeling compelled to read my ramblings?
Well, Wednesday means hump day, the next weekend is now closer than the previous one, and Monday morning is almost a distant memory. We’re a step closer to a long weekend, but what to do with a bank holiday? The weather forecast isn’t looking great, but we should probably try and make a few plans anyway. It would be nice to get out somewhere that I could take some nice photos, somewhere a little scenic with the girls.
Todays photo was taken in the afternoon sun, outside the house, in fact just in my neigbours front garden. Bluebells seem to have spread like wildfire down our road in the last week or so, and even into our back garden. Such a pretty sight! I am really hoping we can go on a bluebell walk at some point, as we missed out last year.
On a totally unrelated issue, one thing happened to me today that caused me to stop and give some consideration. As I was browsing through facebook, which I often do several times a day, I was looking through my friends list, with the intention of having a bit if a clearout. Nothing significant, just a bit of spring cleaning, people I’d had little or no interactions with, when I came across someone on my friends list who had died in recent weeks. I was now faced with what is a fairly new moral dilemma, a sign of the times you could say, of trying to figure out what the correct etiquette is in this new, modern situation. The person in question happened to be a work colleague that had only added me as a friend a few weeks before he passed away, and although he seemed to be a pleasant chap, I can’t say I really knew him at all, or had even had a single conversation with him. I couldn’t even really say that we were actual friends, I only really accepted his friend request out of politeness, as he seemed fairly harmless and we’d seen each other around the place for long enough to know who each other was.
It was, of course, very sad when he passed away, it was very unexpected and the news came out of the blue, as a complete shock to everyone, and clearly a lot of the staff knew him a lot better than I did, he seemed to be quite a popular person. Of course, this doesn’t detract from the fact that we still barely knew each other. Instead of just ignoring this point and leaving it, the direct result of being connected via facebook was that I now kept getting daily posts from his bereaved family appearing on my page, expressing their sorrow. Yes, of course it was all very sad, but these are still posts from people I don’t know about someone (with all respect to him) that I barely knew at all.
Yet I still felt a pang of guilt when I hit the ‘unfriend’ button, but why? I had no reason to remain connected, it will serve no purpose, even though I still have other people on my friends list that have passed away, people I knew much better, but I don’t have the heart to unfriend them yet, even though it has been a few years. So what is the right thing to do in this situation? What would you do?
Hello there, almost 40 days in and you’re still reading this? I’m touched!
Here in the UK we’re used to the odd bit of freakish weather at various points through out the year, and here we are at the end of April, and the weather forecast is including the word snow in it?? Well, not the first time we’ve seen snow in April, in fact we have some just last year! Thankfully the threats didn’t really come to much, and the sun was still shining as I parked the motorbike up, turned around and headed back out on foot to pick Olivia up from nursery. I always enjoy the walk home from nursery with her, and on the way back we talked about playing outside the front of the house again, like we did yesterday with all the blossom petals, but as we walked back I looked up and saw some ominous dark grey clouds threatening to ruin our fun. Its only a short walk between the nursery and home and it wasn’t long before we got back, still dry, but we’d only been in the house a short while before those grey clouds arrived and very quickly seemed to turn day into night. It had gone so dark outside that I had to turn lights on inside the house, and then came the rain, then some snow, swiftly followed by hail.
After a short while of tutting and mumbling about the fact it was April and that the weather shouldn’t be like this… the sun came back out, the clouds vanished and the sky turned blue again. Crazy weather! Sadly none of this did a lot for my photographic inspiration today, the only thing that grabbed me was the contrast of this tree that was still basking in the light of the sun, against the dark clouds.
That’s the first day at work out of the way, things didn’t go too badly, and it fills me with a bit of hope for the remainder of the summer term. There is a sense of relief when the school is empty, you didn’t lose or kill any pupils, and your only job now is to get home and see your family.
Outside the front of our house we have a cherry blossom tree, and around this time of year it looks especially beautiful as it comes into bloom. Then, all of a sudden, the petals begin to fall one by one, until a slight breeze moves the branches and it looks like a pink snow storm is in full effect. I’d love to get a good photo of this, but its a tricky one. As I pulled into our road on my motorbike, I start to the the pink all over the grass verges and pooling on peoples driveways. As I pull my bike onto our drive, I see petals everywhere, and its not long before Olivia is outside to greet me. Then the fun ensues, its like running outside to play in the snow, but not needing gloves or a hat and scarf!
I’m just home from work, and would love nothing more than to collapse on the sofa and relax for a little while, but the girls have been waiting for me, and are excited to see me. They don’t care that I am a bit tired and want to sit down, its their time to spend with dad, and they’ve got other ideas… and so in the spirit of being a good dad, I have to give them the attention they deserve. In fairness, they are the reason I rush home from work each day, so its a small sacrifice really, but y’know… who doesn’t want to crash out on the sofa and put their feet up at the end of the day?! Having come out to greet me, Olivia is keen to stay outside playing with the fallen cherry blossom petals, and we run around throwing handfuls at each other. I do manage to take a brief moment to run inside and grab my camera so that I could get todays photo, which turned out exactly as I hoped it would. Just such a shame that within a week all this will be gone!
So, its over. The end of two lovely weeks off, and we ended it with a BBQ and some family time. With the parents and one of my sisters dropping in, the girls had a lovely afternoon. As the sun came out a little later in the afternoon, and the family had all gone home, we headed out to enjoy a little sunshine and clear away the toys. Sunday afternoon in the garden was fun, especially now Chloe is crawling about, exploring and trying to walk on the grass. She is also trying to copy her big sister by walking UP the slide, and not doing a bad job of it for someone who is only 14 months old! Her expressions are priceless, and I know I take too many photos of them, but one day, when they are both grown up and have moved out, these will be priceless to me, and will bring back many happy memories and lots of smiles, and quite possibly even a few tears. I’m a sentimental old fool!
Then the girls are in bed, the house has gone quiet, and its Sunday evening. Many people speak of that dreaded “Sunday night feeling”, not particularly a whole bunch of fun after the weekend, but even less fun after two weeks off. I tried not to think about Monday at all, just put the thought right out of my head. Obviously I can’t ignore it that much that I neglect turning my alarms back on, or give some consideration to the following days lunch, but other than that, I am otherwise ignoring the fact that its back to the grindstone in the morning. I intend to sleep well tonight, not tossing and turning like I used to on a Sunday evening.
Of course, this isn’t to say that I hate my job, far from it, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I do quite enjoy my job for the most part. Its rewarding, fun, and the hours aren’t bad. Sure, its tough at times, challenging, and harder when changes are implemented that you don’t necessarily agree with, but I can deal with all that in the morning when I get there. For now, I certainly don’t want to sacrifice any family time with my girls by worrying about Monday when its still only Sunday. They deserve my full attention while I am at home.
As the end of my two week break creeps closer, the weekend arrives to what would normally be a cheer, but at best all I can work up for it is a sigh. We’ve had a good run, it has been two weeks of spending time together, and getting out seeing people. There has to be a time to relax at home though, its something I am not very good at remembering, I am all too eager to try and make arrangements to get out and do things or see people. I know Clare is always grateful for a day at home where we can either just relax or get things done around the house that we don’t have time for when we’re out seeing people.
So today was one of those days, and not going anywhere was helped by the fact we didn’t have a car for the morning, due to it being in for an MOT and new brakes. I don’t like or trust the local garages, and have been using the same mechanic for a number of years now. Originally a friend of a friend, and preferable to use as he was a mobile mechanic. It didn’t take me too long to see how efficient, reliable and thorough he is, on top of the fact his prices are impossible to beat. He now owns a workshop, which isn’t exaclty on our doorstep, but is definitely worth the trip to make sure the car is properly looked at. The only problem with this is getting home again when I have to leave it with him. What do other people do? Does everyone just get taxis all the time? Do people just use the closest garage and hope for the best?
I have been ripped off by enough garages now to know how cheap and lazy they are. I’ve had shoddy work done, incorrect parts put on my car, cheap parts used, and personally would be very happy if I never had to use a different garage ever again. Just before christmas we had a problem with the car, where the door handle broke onthe drivers door. We could get in, but not get out again without lowering the window and using the outside handle, not ideal in a crash or emergency, and the wife wanted it fixed urgently. She was right, it needed doing quickly, and my mechanic is often too busy to see us without at least a couple of days notice, so the wife took it to the garage around the corner from where we live. They needed one part, a cable, and said they’d order it and get back in touch. Ten days later we rang them again to be told they still didn’t have it yet and would chase it up. Four weeks had passed without a word, we had heard nothing, and so I called up my mechanic. Not only did he quote us half the price that the garage did, he had it fixed (even though he had to order the same part) in five days, and then informed us about the mess the garage had made of our door when they took the inside off to have a look at it, and how he’d done what he could to sort it out once the handle was fixed. So not only had they tried to fleece us, they failed to order the part, failed to call us back, and made a mess of our door panel. This is why I dislike garages, and then they even had the nerve to send us an MOT reminder in the last couple of weeks, I snorted with derision, and tossed it straight in the bin!
I’d decided for this particular garage visit that I’d be sticking my bike in the back of the car and riding home once I’d dropped the car off. I could just as easily throw the bike back in the car once I’d gone back to pick it up. It was a sunny morning, and I needed the exercise after all!
The sun stayed out all day and so we spent some time in the garden, doing a little gardening, and entertaining the girls. It was a good way to spend a day. Good, honest old school fun, no tv or electronic devices required. Just a bit of fresh air, vitamin D, and exercise. If we can have more days like this in the summer I will be very happy.
If you exclude the weekend, here we have the end of the easter holidays… poof…. gone in a flash! Two weeks done, but we have had a lovely time, it has been two weeks with my wife and girls, catching up with family and friends.It feels like we’ve done a lot, although there are so many people we still didn’t get to see!
Friday was one day that we had no arrangements to see anyone, and so we opted to visit Sheldon country park, theres the cafe, the play area and a lovely walk up to the end of the runway where the park meets Birmingham International Airport. It wasn’t particularly warm or sunny, meaning that at least the car park wasn’t full, but it was still pleasant enough for a walk. I always enjoy watching the planes take off and land, it reminds me of when I used to do it as a child when we used to go for a Sunday lunch time drink with my parents at a social club under the landing path of the runway, and me and my sister would play outside. We got so excited as the planes flew close overhead and the engines roared past us. Olivia is used to the noise now, but apparently Chloe was somewhat caught off guard by this and got quite upset each time a plane went overhead. With some lunch at the cafe thrown in, a walk around to see the few farm animals they had and a run around the play area, it was time to head home with two very tired girls in the back of the car!
My attempts at getting to bed early recently have been stalled, as we have a new surge of teeth coming through with Chloe and her sleep has been a little tempremental. Thankfully, any waking up and crying seem to be before we go to bed anyway, and so is easily resolved with a cuddle and a dummy. Plus we have also started getting Olivia up recently, just before I go to bed so she can use the toilet, in an attempt to keep her dry through the night as she is now finally out of pull ups. She’s generally pretty good anyway, but she’s such a heavy sleeper that she doesn’t always wake up when she needs to go, and me staying up a bit longer to take her as late as possible before I hit the sack is a better alternative than being woken at 4am by either a “daddy I need a wee!” or the worst case scenario “daddy my beds all wet!”
Today had been a quiet kinda day, Olivia was at nursery, and Clare was out for lunch with friends, so it was just me and Chloe for the afternoon… that was until she decided it was nap time. Then it was just me! There was a ton of things I could be getting on with, but you just never know how long nap time is going to last, and I didn’t really want to start something I couldn’t finish… although that to-do list isn’t getting any shorter! Where does the time go?
Catching up with friends has been what this easter break has been all about, although we’re almost at the end of it and we haven’t caught up with nearly enough people! Today we were catching up with one of Clare’s school friends and her family, and as we hadn’t seen them properly for a while, we decided to make a bit of a day of it in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
We met up close to the river, and a short walk led us nicely up to lunch time. Our first restaurant was especially expensive, in hindsight we should have checked the menu BEFORE we sat down and ordered drinks, and with a limited menu the noise from the building work going on next door did little to make us want to stay. After paying for the drinks and moving on we found a great place to eat, and really enjoyed lunch before trying to walk it all off again taking a stroll along the river side.
We crossed the river and headed back up, stopping off at Shakespeare’s burial place, before finally heading to the play area where they children let off a little bit of steam after a somewhat slow and leisurely amble along the riverside.
Todays photo was a shot I grabbed of an elderly couple who seemed completely lost and entirely happy with feeding the swans on the side of the river. More birds kept arriving, but the couple took it all in their stride. Whenever they were born, whatever they had done with their lives, it had all brought them here, to this moment. Together. And they looked happy because of it. I just hope I am still out walking along the river, feeding the ducks with my wonderful wife when I am that old.