Category Archives: Journal

The 365 moves towards Autumn: days 243 – 255

Back to the blog, and back to the 365 project, it has been a couple of weeks and I wanted to make Sunday night my regular blog night, but so far it hasn’t worked out that way, although there is still time to work on that for remainder of the 365 project. Its never too late to give up! We’re back into regular routines now that I’m back to work from the summer break. Accepting that it was time to go back was a little hard, I’ve had such a lovely time off with the wife and my two daughters. It has been fun, relaxing and a bit of a lazy summer break in some aspects, we didn’t go very far, or do very much, and my to-do list isn’t much smaller than it was when I started the summer break back in July! One thing I was keen to get back on top of was the running, and I’d even thought hard about hitting the training a bit harder and signing up for the Birmingham Half Marathon again this year, that was until an injury forced me to abandon the idea completely. A blister halfway round because of my worn out trainers should have been no big issue, but it meant I had to run the last 2.5 miles awkwardly to compensate for the painful blister instead of running with a more natural stride, doing unnoticed damage to my knee until I’d finished running. Harumph, that was my one chance to run the Birmingham Half Marathon gone!

So the summer break is over now, regular service is resumed, and its pretty much a countdown to autumn when the weather begins to change and the evenings get dark much earlier. Those evening runs with my friend are going to have to be done in the dark until closer to easter next year. We have half term to look forward to, plus bonfire night which is one of my favourite nights of the year, and then christmas which is now less than 100 days away.

243: Catching up from where we left off last time, and we’re up to September 5th now, which is Olivia’s birthday. After a weekend of celebrating, her actual birthday happened to be a Monday, the first day back to work for me sadly. We still had a lovely evening, which happened to be bath night for this cheeky lady.

Day 243 - Sep 5th

Day 243 – Sep 5th

244: A second day of intensive training at work, and so was looking forward to a drink at home that evening, which was made easy as one of my sisters was coming round for dinner with her other half to drop off Olivias card and present.

Day 244 - Sep 6th

Day 244 – Sep 6th

245: A hot day, of which there have been many lately, and along with the joys of the summer sunshine and rare warmth that allows us to leave the doors and windows open, one problem we seem to have is flies in the house, doing laps of the ceiling lights for some unknown reason. Fly spray isn’t very nice for everyone around, especially children, on top of the fact that it can be tricky to catch them all unless you treat the entire room and leave the house for at least an hour, so we went for a more old school method and hung up some fly paper, and it worked a treat. That’ll teach the little buggers!

Day 245 - Sep 7th

Day 245 – Sep 7th

246: The first day of the kids being back in school didn’t go so badly, but it soon became obvious that we were starting to lose the daylight a lot sooner than we we’ve been recently used to. I love the light evenings and mornings in the Summer, but we have to face that Autumn is knocking on the door, and temperatures are going to be dropping soon. Its a disappointing time of year for someone who cycles to work, as you begin to spend longer on the road in the dark. I have spent a some good money on bike lights and over winter they get used heavily!

Day 246 - Sep 8th

Day 246 – Sep 8th

247: Thankfully the end of the week, and as I was home early from work it gave us some options for what to do with our evening. After talking a lot lately about how to best deal with her redundancy payout, we’d agreed that it was about time for clare to upgrade her phone any buy a new handeset… the flashy iPhone 6 plus, and so after deciding not to wait in for delivery, it was into the car and off to the Apple Store for a family trip out! We even stopped off at the Build-A-Bear shop to treat the girls.

Day 247 - Sep 9th

Day 247 – Sep 9th

248: Saturday and Clare is out for lunch with friends, and I can’t pretend I don’t feel a little bit more under pressure. I am used to the support of having the wife around to make sure I don’t break one of children or something stupid. I know she’s perfectly used to having them on her own by now, she’s a pro at it having been off work for so long with each of them, but its unfamiliar territory for me. She knows all their routines, where their spare clothes are, all the little details I miss out on when I am at work, and consequently I am not used to this level of responsibility very often! I soon get over it and decide to distract myself by setting up a flash and get some nice portraits taken of the girls while I have the chancel

Day 248 - Day 10th

Day 248 – Day 10th

249: Sunday and a visit to the mothers house, where I find an opportunity to capture a still life. I like getting over to see my mom with the girls when I get chance, as they no longer have a car anymore, and public transport to ours is limited. There are always fresh flowers there, but it takes a bit of effort to try and find a different way to shoot them.

Day 249 - Sep 11th

Day 249 – Sep 11th

250:The weaning process is in full swing and going very well with Chloe now, we seem to have the feeding routine fairly well established. She’s still has her off days when she just doesn’t seem hungry, and there is no getting any food past those pursed lips! It was even worth trying to fool her by giving her a spoon of her own, and trying to get the food in while her mouth was open. This had limited success. Sometimes they’re just not hungry and there’s nothing you can do about it!

Day 250 - Sep 12th

Day 250 – Sep 12th

251: One of those days where the camera is a bit of an after thought, and doesn’t get brought out until I am off to bed and realise that I had totally forgot. This shot at least reminded me that it is time to swap the tinted lens on my cycling glasses, which are a very useful addition to the commuting cyclist. Far from being just a fashion accessory and nothing else, they keep wind, rain, bugs and flying stones out of my eyes while I am moving at speed.

Day 251 - Sep 13th

Day 251 – Sep 13th

252: After recently purchasing my ticket to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers in December, which I am very excited about as its my first time seeing them in over 20 years of being a fan, I have been annoying the wife by playing this album on repeat, which is one of my favourite albums. I caught up with my friend at the pub on Saturday, who is also a big fan, and to my horror doesn’t have this album, and so through the magic of the mobile phone and amazon, sat in the pub with my beer I ordered him a copy which arrived today!

Day 252 - Sep 14th

Day 252 – Sep 14th

253: Today I woke up to a rather foggy start to the day, very beautiful but the kind of scene that makes a commuting cyclist a bit nervous. Thankfully I was fairly confident that my lights would be up for the job of keeping me visible. They are one area that I didn’t want to skimp on, as they are one of the most important parts of my bike. I’d sooner have good lights than any hi-viz clothing or even a helmet!

Day 253 - Sep 15th

Day 253 – Sep 15th

254: Home alone with my girls again as the wife heads out with friends to see the new Bridget Jones film at the cinema with her friends. I treated myself to a pizza and a few beers in front of a more manly film, and then remembered the home made wine kit in the garage that should be ready by now… although sadly it wasn’t quite, but I did get to taste some and it tasted good. I just need to leave it another week or so to settle before I bottle it.

Day 254 - Sep 16th

Day 254 – Sep 16th

255: Saturday is finally here and I’m off to shoot another wedding today. The couple are two lovely people who are both widowed and remarrying, but still wanted a classic wedding day. The weather was on our side, an overcast but not cold day, making some great light for photos. Even though I was driving all the way from Birmingham to Coventry I realised that the reception venue was a hotel I’d already been to twice before! It was a very relaxed and easy day, but I was still glad to be home at the end of it.

Day 255 - Sep 17th

Day 255 – Sep 17th

Project 365 over half way there: Day 187 – 196

Catch up time on the photos, one a day for a whole year, and here is another batch.

187: Time to cut out a few of the snacks and start eating sensibly, and I come home to find the wife being a bit creative and cooking something a bit different. Its easy to get into a bit of a routine and end up cooking the same things week in, week out, so its nice to try something new once in a while!

Day 187 - Jul 11th

Day 187 – Jul 11th

188: There is something that I find quite poetic about the sight of a wilting flower. This wasn;t my best shot, as the light was beginning to fade, but I still think its a nice shot. This week proves to be a bit of a busy one, and so its nice to slow down and take a moment to appreciate whats around you.

Day 188 - Jul 12th

Day 188 – Jul 12th

189: The first event that I had to photograph this week was the leavers prom at work. Some of the pupils have been at our school since a very young age, so its always sad to see them go. Whilst I was setting up my lights and backdrop I asked a colleague to step in for a test shot, but it was so good I decided to keep it!

Day 189 - Jul 13th

Day 189 – Jul 13th

190: The weather is starting to look up, and everything in the garden is growing at a real pace. last year I planted some onion seeds, and now we have some onions in their place, although I believe that they may not be any good once they’ve flowered. Oh well, we’ll find out soon enough!

Day 190 - Jul 14th

Day 190 – Jul 14th

191: Friday night is not exactly an early finish for me, as I have to race home from work, collect my photography gear and head off to cover another school leavers prom. I’m loving my new white vinyl backdrop, which I’ve had for months, now I’ve finally got some clamps big enough to hold it up. After the shoot its straight off to Solihull to catch up with some friends for yet another 40th birthday celebration.

Day 191 - Jul 15th

Day 191 – Jul 15th

192: And the birthdays continue, this time a 4th birthday for a friends boy at a local play activity centre that I had no idea even existed! It was a lovely place, and Olivia loved it, and even managed to get her face painted.

Day 192 - Jul 16th

Day 192 – Jul 16th

193: Yet more parties, this time a princess themed 5th birthday party for some friends that we don’t see very often. Olivia was in her element dressed up like a princess, and was over the moon to have her picture taken with some real princesses!

Day 193 - Jul 17th

Day 193 – Jul 17th

194: Bath time becomes family time now that we have a seat to help Chloe sit up, and the two sisters can bath together. Of course this means both me and the wife have to get involved to bath them both at the same time, as the little one can be a bit of a wriggler.

Day 194 - Jul 18th

Day 194 – Jul 18th

195: The summer sun has been blessing us for a few days now (unless you have hayfever, like me!) and I wanted to get a photo of Chloe, on her front, as she is spending so much of her time at the moment, and then figured I would try something different with the editing. Not sure I like it, it makes my baby look quite angry!

Day 195 - Jul 19th

Day 195 – Jul 19th

196: I’ve really not got on top of my growing this year, I do have some flowers in the garden and some tomatoes in the greenhouse, but its otherwise been a quiet year. The wife did buy a special flowerpot for olivia, shaped as some boots, and so we set about filling the pot up with compost and planting some seeds together. She may not even remember it when she’s older, but its time spent together like this that makes me happy!

Day 196 - Jul 20th

Day 196 – Jul 20th

More 365 photos: days 180 – 186

Right, not letting the 365 slip away from me quite as much as it has recently! Must get stricter with myself and post this at least once a week, or I end up forgetting why I took some of the photos in the first place!

We now move into July, the longest day of the year has been and gone, and we have to start looking ahead. We have a 3rd birthday party to plan, a christening that clearly isn’t going to organise itself, and well… we’ve already got new years eve sorted!! Do I even mention Christmas yet??

At the moment life is fairly quiet, we have to start tightening the purse strings now we only have one regular income coming in, as the wife’s new official job title is “housewife”! A redundancy can seem terrifying at first, and it is very sad when people who have worked together for so long know that they will never get to again, so the wife has been attending various nights out and leaving parties. If a redundancy has to happen though, for us it has happened at possibly the best time it could. With the wife currently on maternity leave and due to be going back in a couple of months, at least now she can stay at home with the girls and a healthy payout will at least take care of the bills for a while, allowing us to spend more time together as a family, and give the wife a lot longer off than she could ever have hoped for! Obviously it won’t last forever, but we have a while before we have to start panicking about CVs and interviews!

In the meantime, the 365 isn’t going to reflect on a wild lifestyle and holidays in the sun, its going to be an honest look at life with one income!

180: Work doesn’t seem so bad when you realise how close you are to the summer holidays, even if your day does end up being a bit rough. Yes, working with children with special needs can be rewarding, but at the same time, coming home with scratches, bite marks and torn clothing, you don’t always appreciate it! Thankfully on Monday I was able to take to the streets with my friend and go for a bit of a run to forget all about it!

Day 180 - Jul 4th

Day 180 – Jul 4th

181: “Long day at work Daddy? Just cycled home Daddy? Most of it was uphill and cycling into the wind Daddy? Oh well, don’t sit down just yet, I want to play outside!”. No, my daughter isn’t quite that fluent in her language skills yet, but it feels like this is what must be going through her mind sometimes! I love that the girls love to be outdoors though, and want to do all I can to encourage it. Yes, they will become teenagers, and yes they will discover mobile phones and social media, but I don’t want that to be all that life is about. Learning to “unplug” and not rely on devices almost seems to be a skill in itself these days! “Yes, you’re right honey, Daddy is tired, but lets go outside and play anyway!”

Day 181 - Jul 5th

Day 181 – Jul 5th

182: Siblings don’t always get along, me and my sister were proof enough of that as we were growing up. I was already a teenager when my second sister arrived, so thankfully we had none of the fighting that I had with my other sister! One thing I do hope for though, is the fact that these two are going to get along and be fantastic friends to each other. Creating life is amazing, but creating two little beings that become friends seems like the ultimate blessing!

Day 182 - Jul 6th

Day 182 – Jul 6th

183: I guess everyone expects the photographer to have thousands of images of his children, its a bit of a cliche really. While I wouldn’t say I have thousands, I sure do have a few. Every now and again though, one jumps out at me, and I think to myself “you’ve just nailed it on that shot!”. There aren’t quite so many of those, and that’s what makes them that bit more special!

Day 183 - Jul 7th

Day 183 – Jul 7th

184: The wife does her best to entertain the girls on wet days, and on Friday afternoon I came home to find that there had been some baking going on, and Olivia was now in the process of decorating some home made biscuits. I have to say, they tasted GOOOOOD!

Day 184 - Jul 8th

Day 184 – Jul 8th

185: This was a day of several parts, it started with a 3 mile run in the rain. Usually I run much further than 3 miles, but I am helping a friend prepare for a 5km charity run, so there was no opportunity to duck out because of poor weather! After the run we were off to the shops to get feet measured and buy some new shoes for the little lady. The Mothercare shop we visit has its very own soft play area, where the kids can burn off a bit of steam. It came as no surprise that this little lady was asleep in the car before we even got home! The day ended with my sisters coming over for pizza and deadpool. Sadly it wasn’t the night I’d hoped for as a really bad stomach ache became a huge distraction, and Chloe’s teething kicked in and left us with a screaming baby that we couldn’t ignore!

Day 185 - Jul 9th

Day 185 – Jul 9th

186: Our only commitment for Sunday was to visit my mother, and for me to meet some friends in the evening to discuss their wedding plans. Sadly after a pretty rough nights sleep, my brain was unconcerned with decisions I needed to be making or conversations I needed to be having, and even simple questions resulted in my brain doing this… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsNaR6FRuO0

Day 186 - Jul 10th

Day 186 – Jul 10th

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

Turning Forty

The countdown had to end at some point, the “days until I am forty” could simply not last forever! So here I am, forty at last. The only people who say it isn’t really a big deal are the ones that are already over forty anyway, the ones that look at you like you may as well get planning your funeral before you start anything else, are generally those under forty.

Its not to say that I woke up on my birthday and everything had changed, far from it, physically I felt very much the same, just a day older. In the grand scheme of things the earth was still round, planes had not fallen from the sky, the dead had not come back to life, and generally the end was not nigh! Mentally it was a slightly different story though, I guess in my mind I had crossed a threshold. I knew I was no longer a thirtysomething and I was already missing it. Being a thirtysomething meant you had only just left your twenties behind, and twenties were young, right?! Now, the only way I will be called young would be if I was found dead! The even more depressing thing about being a fortysomething is that the next big milestone birthday is fifty! FIFTY!!

Still, its here, and I need to start getting used to it.

One thing that turning (or even approaching) forty does to you is make you reflect on things a bit, a primary one being your health and physical condition. I would certainly not consider myself to be unfit, although I do still have a few pound to lose, but my fitness levels are definitely up there. I am cycling 11 miles a day, five days a week, I am now running three days a week as well, and its fair to say that I am far fitter now than I ever was in my twenties!

All this can change in a moment though, and you never know when you health can suddenly fall away. Previously I have run a number of half marathons and raised money for cancer charities, only this year I am doing something a bit different… I am hanging up the running shoes (for now anyway) and jumping on my bike to cycle from London to Brighton raising money for the British Heart Foundation.

Heart disease is still one of the biggest killers in the UK and cruelly took my grandad from us on Christmas day when I was just 13 years old. It was a very dark christmas day.

I knew he was ill, but I had never fully understood the gravity of it, and I had certainly not expected him to die, at least not yet anyway.

I still remember a lot about the day, it had been a nice morning unwrapping presents with my sister, my mom had been busy cooking the christmas dinner for lunchtime, and had just served it up and called me and my sister to come and sit down to eat, I was very much looking forward to it. I took a bite of my first roast potato and heard a knock at the door. Where I sat at the table meant I was closest to the front door, so I got up to open it, to find two of my uncles outside looking very sombre. I was caught off guard and so just let them in without questioning their lack of festive greetings, as they walked into the kitchen and just looked at my mom without saying anything. It was a delay of about two seconds, and she just knew, about five seconds later it hit me too.

My uncle Geoff is also a keen cyclist, and he talked me into doing this ride, he was one of the uncles stood on the door that christmas day to deliver the news. So we’re both pretty passionate about this cause. As I turn forty, I begin to wonder if I have done enough to keep healthy and keep this dreadful disease away. I have been actively doing cardio exercises for a number of years now, and intend to carry on for as long as I can. I need to keep my heart healthy and strong for my two little girls now, as well as for myself.

So I am writing this to ask for a little support for my ride, help me hit my humble target of £250 towards British Heart Foundation by clicking on the link and heading over to my Just Giving page here. If you can spare £1, great. If you can spare more, even better. If you can’t spare anything at all, then can you just spare 10 seconds to share my page and encourage your friends to support me.

Thanks
A.

365 project: days 117 -126

So the final countdown begins for the big four zero. There’s a party to plan for and I intend to make it a week of celebrations! I can’t pretend I am looking forward to the day when I can no longer say that I am still in my 30s, but I may as well push through that barrier with some acceptance and embrace the positive of what I do actually have around me. I know its just another day, and I technically won’t wake up and feel any different, but that landmark just says to me “Nothing else significant, and no other special celebrations now until you’re 50!”. In fact the only way I can be considered young by anybody now is if I was dead! Oh joy!

Ah well, on with the photos, and I am now up to day 126! Mini celebration, kinda means I have this thing under control and theres a very real chance I will make it through until the end!

117: The May day bank holiday Monday is traditionally a rather wet affair, as if the rain clouds are pre-booked in advance every year. We decide to spend the day at home and have our friend coming to visit with her little boy, so decide to make the best of staying in and get the kids to make and decorate some biscuits, which kept them entertained for a while.

Day 117 - May 2nd

Day 117 – May 2nd

118: One of those days with very little to report, except for the fact that the scaffolding that went up for a small job fixing a window four weeks ago is still up. The window was done in an afternoon, but the scaffolding is still here and beginning to anoy me!

Day 118 - May 3rd

Day 118 – May 3rd

119: I was lucky enough to be invited to a bloggers only evening to help promote the launch of a new chocolate store in the jewellery quarter. If you check back a couple of posts you’ll find the article I posted on the evening. It was a lovely evening and I was grateful to be a part of it. I learnt a thing or two about chocolate, got to taste some fancy new ones and even got to make my own!

Day 119 - May 4th

Day 119 – May 4th

120: Olivia has become a fantastic big sister and really looks after her new little sister, giving her lots of kisses and cuddles, and now has taken to including her when it comes to playing with accessories, including headbands.

Day 120 - May 5th

Day 120 – May 5th

121: Its BBQ Friday! The weather forecast is looking up for the weekend, and so I get the BBQ cleaned and light it up, throwing on some of the food I’d thought ahead and purchased the day before. Friday night meant burgers and beers for me. What a way to spend a Friday evening, at home and with my ladies, cooking meat over fire… RAAHHHH!!

Day 121 - May 6th

Day 121 – May 6th

122: The wife can’t help herself while she’s off work, passing the time with online shopping! This time for our daughter, buying her a mini trampoline. I was planning on saving this for her birthday, but to be honest, anything that stops her jumping on the sofa and our bed at the moment, is a bonus! With the afternoon turning into a bit of a downpour, we had at least something to keep her entertained indoors too!

Day 122 - May 7th

Day 122 – May 7th

123: Sunday showers us with more sunshine, and although the forecast is for a thundershower at some point late in the afternoon, the day starts warm and bright and so we make the most of it. Out comes the BBQ (again!) and out comes the gazebo also, along with the paddling pool. It was a lovely afternoon in the sun, and to make things even better, no rain arrived whatsoever! Good old fashioned fun in the garden!

Day 123 - May 8th

Day 123 – May 8th

124: I figured it had been a few weeks since my last proper portrait of Olivia, and I like to keep these up regularly. My favourite portrait lens is the 85mm f/1.8 lens, very popular with portrait photographers. It takes a wonderful flattering picture, and a little bit of sunshine finishes the photo!

Day 124 - May 9th

Day 124 – May 9th

125: This little lady is becoming an absolute delight in the last few weeks. The days of screaming just because she’s awake seem to have completely vanished, now she is spending most of the day happy, smiling and even laughing, only having a whinge or a few tears when she’s hungry, needs a clean nappy or can’t get to sleep, all easily fixable! Its the smiles and the laughing that do it for me though, they are so heart warming!

Day 125 - May 10th

Day 125 – May 10th

126: The godo weather can’t last, but the rain does leave behind a certain fresh quality to the air. Sadly the big downside is that heavy rain gives the cherry blossom trees that line the road a real battering and they lose a lot of their petals. The cherry blossoms did seem to start flowering early this year, and normally the flowers are gone within a couple of weeks, although this year they seem to be hanging on and on!

Day 126 - May 11th

Day 126 – May 11th

365 project: days 111 – 116

As we approach the end of April, we look at heading into my birthday month and the imminent arrival of my 40th birthday, which continues to approach like a speeding train heading towards a car stranded on a level crossing! Still, on a plus note we are looking at Chloe finally having the harness off her legs, providing her hips are now as they should be, although the consultant, as nice as he is, seems very wishy washy in his diagnosis. I want to hear things like “Yes, this isn’t right, lets fix it with this” not things like “well, I’m not sure, would you like to try this just to be on the safe side?” The onus should not be on the parents to make a decision when you have been referred to, waited weeks for, and travelled to the childrens hospital for a specialist consultant to assess and diagnose. Still, if its coming off then the appointment is on my actual birthday, what a present that would be!

111: Its time for a change in the kitchen and the red that the wife initially thought was a terrible idea is now up and she loves it, and so do I. Sometimes you have to take a bit of a gamble!

Day 111 - Apr 26th

Day 111 – Apr 26th

112: An unscheduled Ofsted inspection at work causes the day to be a little stressful, but at least I have my girls to come home to. I loved this shot, our little angel is now 3 months old and growing at quite a rate, and getting noticeably heavier by the day too! All too soon those little hands won’t be so little any more!

Day 112 - Apr 27th

Day 112 – Apr 27th

113: The term April showers was part of the proverb “March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers”, first recorded in 1886. This year it has been more evident than ever, as most days have featured at least one or more showers. It makes taking the little ones out to the park a bit of a gamble!

Day 113 - Apr 28th

Day 113 – Apr 28th

114: April showers, as it suggests often means that between these rain showers there can be periods of beautiful sunshine, and with bluebells popping up all over the place its starting to get very colourful outside. The upcoming bank holiday weekend is the annual bluebell walk at a local farm, which we’re sadly unlikely to make.

Day 114 - Apr 29th

Day 114 – Apr 29th

115: Staying on the weather theme, we decided to stretch our legs and get some fresh air by taking a walk to the local supermarket. As Olivia decided she also wanted to head to the park, we opted to take the car instead. We hadn’t even finished strapping the girls into the car when some black, end-of-the-world type clouds drifted over, it started to go very dark and a giant rumble of thunder unleashed a 15 minute hail storm, making it look like it had been snowing outside. In my 39 years on this planet I’d never seen anything like this before. As quickly as it started, it was over, and out came the blue sky and sunshine!

Day 115 - Apr 30th

Day 115 – Apr 30th

116: Our quiet weekend at home was continuing, which suited me around lunchtime as it was the Russian F1 GP today. We did at least manage to make it out to the park today, although Olivia wasn’t really herself and so we didn’t stay long. After a film and a few drinks in the evening with the wife, we were both ready for bed, as those early mornings can take their toll, but we still had to stay up and make sure Chloe had her last bottle of the day. Its definitely worth leaving it as late as possible as she is starting to do really well at sleeping through until the morning now. We have been really lucky with these two, and we are so grateful for it.

Day 116 - May 1st

Day 116 – May 1st

More of the 365 project: days 102-110

A damp and windy April is beginning to draw to an end, and my birthday month is almost here, the big 4-0 is creeping closer and we have actually begun making plans for a party to celebrate it. I don’t know why i’m bothered about leaving my 30s behind and entering into my 40s, I didn’t have this concern on the transition from 29 to 30. I do have to put things into persepctive and appreciate that I have everything I could possibly hope for by the time I’d reached this age… a wonderful wife, two beautiful daughters, a house, a nice car a great circle of friends. I guess its just getting used to the mentality that for most of my life, like most people I guess, I have considered 40somethings to be “a bit old”. Yeah let’s face it, I am not 21 any more. While I can’t fool myself into believing I am still some kind of spring chicken or peter pan, the grey hair certainly removes any doubt about that!

So on with the 365 anyway, what have the last few days been about…?

102: The day after an unexpected mid-April snowfall, and I find myself out walking in the sun in just a t-shirt. The wife had suggested abandoning the idea a cooked Sunday lunch, and heading out for a carvery. Thankfully the closest is within walking distance, and so we took advantage of the sun, and left the car at home. One of the big attractions of living where we do, was the lines of cherry blossom trees running along the local roads, which look amazing for a few weeks each year.

Day 102 - April 17th

Day 102 – April 17th

103: After climbing off my bike at the end of a Monday, the thought of putting my feet up is a very tempting one, that is until my daughter runs at me with her arms open shouting “I do painting, I do painting!”. Its hard to say no, she loves it so much, its easy to clean up, and she’s usually done within 20 minutes. I like her to get her hands messy and feel the paint, and make the marks that can’t be undone with a delete button. There are so many apps for my iPad where she can paint, colour in, make pictures and not get in any mess, but its no subsitute for the real thing!

Day 103 - April 18th

Day 103 – April 18th

104: Charging up the helmet camera that has been a useful addition to my cycling. What I don’t want to become is part of the helmetcam vigilante brigade, a few who take it too far, and what most drivers think cyclists who wear cameras are! There are so many idiots on the road though, and so many who hold no regard whatsoever for the life of anyone who decides to climb onto two wheels instead of start the engine of four. Our lives seem to be worth significantly less when we climb onto our bikes, but this helmet camera has helped to give me a better chance of getting home alive to see my family. It has been useful in capturing bad and dangerous driving where a van driver was reported to their company, but primarily I want it to act as a deterrent. I’d rather people see it, and think better of a close pass, giving me more room to continue my journey safely.

Day 104 - April 19th

Day 104 – April 19th

105: There is something especially satisfying about riding home in the sunshine, knowing that the winter is well behind you and the weather can only get better. When I got home, I noticed how beautiful everything looked at the clouds parted once more and everything was covered in the light of the setting sun.

Day 105 - April 20th

Day 105 – April 20th

106: On returning from work, I find that the wife has been busy in the daughters room, with a new set of wall stickers, to which the daughter is delighted. Gone are the unisex animals and leaves, now replaced with fairy princesses and a castle. Even better than the satisfaction she gets from it is the beautiful portrait it makes.

Day 106 - April 21st

Day 106 – April 21st

107: Gotta love that Friday feeling, the end of the working week. Its even nicer when you can spend it with family, and so I had my two sisters and their partners over for dinner and drinks. A lovely way to spend an evening, and something we don’t do often enough. I managed to cook up my signature risotto and it went down a treat, and no meal is complete without wine and a candle on the table!

Day 107 - April 22nd

Day 107 – April 22nd

108: Saturday is one of those elusive days that can disappear in the blink of an eye if you don’t have a plan. Its sometimes nice to slow down after a week at work and do very little, so we spent the morning having a little fun around the house, before the wife thought it was a good idea head out to the shopping mall at the busiest time during the week! We had to go toy shopping for birthday presents, but at least got to treat ourselves to a little lunch while we were out, I guess I can cope with a few crowds for a tasty lunch.

Day 108 - April 23rd

Day 108 – April 23rd

109: Sunday morning and time to go swimming, the bonus is meeting our friend with her little girl, and the double bonus is Clare coming along with Chloe to watch Olivia in the pool, as previous swimming sessions have been a bit of father/daughter time and Clare has missed out on how well Olivia is getting on in the water. Swimming is followed up with a visit to Boo Boo Coffee shop across the road, as they have a fantastic menu and even a childrens area. We missed out on soft play with some more friends because of Olivia’s need to nap after a busy morning swimming, but at least we caught up with them later on. All in all a weekend well spent!

Day 109 - April 24th

Day 109 – April 24th

110: The joy of being back to work on a Monday, but at least the nights are getting lighter, although a confused two year old is still questioning why she has to go to bed when “its daytime”. Once she was asleep in bed it was time to grab myself some dessert, as dinner had left a spot needing to be filled by something sweet!

Day 110 - April 25th

Day 110 – April 25th

365 project update: days 95 – 101

So its back on the myfitnesspal app again for me, and today was all going so well… cycling into work, followed by a 2 mile run on the treadmill as soon as I get to work, before I hit the shower. I even pack a sensible lunch, and all is going well… until that is, I get home and discover the daughters home made biscuits and weaken!

Its no secret, my 40th birthday is edging closer and closer and there is simply no hiding from it. I was really hoping that when it finally landed I could at least feel slightly better about things by being at least a few pounds lighter, but that has really not worked out very well so far. I was doing especially well with the half stone head start after my recent bout of gastroenteritis, but think I’ve probably put all that back on now. My failing is not in my lack of exercise, its clearly my weakness for food! Still, at least I am back into the running again now, and there is still hope, one slip up does not mean the war has been lost!

At least one thing I have been able to keep up successfully is the 365 project, and I have even managed to break through the 100 days barrier, which feels like quite a landmark event.

95: A birthday party to go to, and Olivia is ready in her pretty dress. She still needs her afternoon nap, and this particular party was right in the middle of nap time, so we had to push through, but she made it, and had a wonderful time dancing!

Day 95 - Apr 10th

Day 95 – Apr 10th

96: Practising with a little off camera flash, which I always think makes for a more pleasing portrait, and this little lady is changing daily. The endless screaming everytime she is awake has virtually disappeared now, unless of course she is either hungry or super tired, and she is making some lovely faces and cooing noises, but even better is her tracking and the way she actually watches you and turns to look at you.

Day 96 - Apr 11th

Day 96 – Apr 11th

97: A black and white abstract perspective shot, something a bit different. Sometimes you need to be stuck for a photo at the end of the day to force you to see something normal in a different way.

Day 97 - Apr 12th

Day 97 – Apr 12th

98: A little bit of warm weather and Olivia can’t wait to get into the garden, she loves being outdoors. Part of todays excitement was the watering can and the plant spray, any excuse to play with water. After repeatedly watering the weeds for me, she discovered the joy of spraying everything, including herself!

Day 98 - Apr 13th

Day 98 – Apr 13th

99: Nothing is cuter than a sleeping baby shot, and even though she is spending longer and longer awake, Chloe is still sleeping for huge portions of the day. I went for a slightly desaturated look in this shot, taking some, but not all of the colour out of it. She is growing at a rate of knots at the moment, and I don’t think this moses basket will be big enough for much longer. Best get that spare room sorted asap!

Day 99 - Apr 14th

Day 99 – Apr 14th

100: Yes! 100 days of not missing a shot, even if some of them have been a bit rubbish along the way. I love this close up shot of Chloe the focus was more on the hand, but it hasn’t made the eye look especially out of focus. When doing portraits, usually it is a priority to get the eyes, if nothing else, in focus. Typically it is one of the rules of photography, but once you have learnt the rules, you can start to break them.

Day 100 - Apr 15th

Day 100 – Apr 15th

101: The middle of April, and all we want is a bit of sunshine to break up the rainy days… so what on earth is happening when we throw open the curtains on Saturday morning to see snow everywhere? I spotted on the video monitor that Olivia was awake, and as soon as she was up and saw outside, she wanted to be out in the snow. So we got dressed and headed straight out and got some snowballs on the go! I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed when the whole lot had melted by midday! It was fun while it lasted!

Day 101 - Apr 16th

Day 101 – Apr 16th

To Facebook, or not to Facebook…

Like several hundred million others around the globe, I am well connected to social media, including the most famous of them, Facebook.

Recently, after some chronic battery issues with my iPhone which I have thankfully managed to fix, I was left in a position where I had no choice but to erase everything on my phone and frustratingly set it up as new again. When I began looking into the battery issue, it made me realise what a battery drain the Facebook app was on my phone, and when it came to reinstalling all my apps, I was left with the dilemma of whether or not to bother putting the Facebook app back on my phone.

It does seem a little silly that such a simple app has even become the subject of such dilemma for me, and that my thoughts about whether or not I should even have it on my phone have even become a talking point. I have a couple issues stopping me from putting the Facebook app back on my phone just yet, the first one being the issue with the battery usage, due to the app itself being open and the huge screen using power. The second and most important one being the massive distraction that Facebook can be. I find myself picking up the phone far too frequently, to literally check that nothing amazing and life changing has happened in the last five minutes that I might have missed. Its almost akin to smoking, the act of just doing it without thinking and subsequent cravings when its gone.

So how am I finding this Facebook free period of the day? Well I now have no way to access it while I am at work, and yes, the practical upshot is that my battery life has improved massively, and I am not picking up my phone just for the sake of it any more, like it is some kind of comfort blanket… but I can’t help feeling a little annoyed at what feels like a huge inconvenience.  I have always said that facebook, far from being a place to whinge, air your dirty laundry, or just show off about how great your life/children/partner is, is actually a really useful tool for staying in touch with your friends and family, its why so many of us are literally hooked on it, and likewise one of my old college friends who still refuses to sign up to any kind of social media misses out on so much of what is happening with everyones lives.

So is it just withdrawal symptoms? I know in reality that I am probably not missing out on that much during the day, especially when I get home from work and pick up my iPad, only to find just a couple of notifications for something I am really not that interested in anyway. Will it just get easier if I just try and push through it and leave facebook at home solely on my iPad, or will I continue to become annoyed with what feels like a huge inconvenience and crack? 

The truth is, yes, I will most likely end up putting it back on my phone at some point. The battery on my phone is good enough to not suffer too much, and I just have to learn that all things are good in moderation, including facebook!

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