Category Archives: Personal
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.
 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.
 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!
 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.
 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!
 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!
 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!!
 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.
 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!
 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.
 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.
 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!
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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!
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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!
 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!
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!
Feel like I am finally getting into a little bit of a routine with the 365 now, although it does still feel like a bit of an effort to keep getting these posts up! We’re flying through September, and it has been a busy month along the way, its good to take some slower days sometimes, just to relax, spend time with the family and appreciate what you have around you.
The last couple of weeks have also been quite exhausting as we have a little one who is waking up every night at the moment, maybe teething related again, who knows?! We can’t seem to find a reason for it, and the first night we tried using some teething gel that had been recommended by a number of people, Chloe was back off to sleep in 10 minutes!
256: The growing adventure continues, and the little landmark achievements still continue to amaze us, even though we’ve already been through this all once before with Olivia. On top of happily sitting up by herself now, Chloe has also taken to drinking from a beaker as well, and clearly loves to guzzle some water back in between bottles. Olivia has always been a good drinker, and I’m hoping Chloe is too!
257: Ah y’know, some days you just don’t have much going on and you forget all about the photos, today was one of those days. Suddenly its late, you’re tired, and you know that even though you’re fresh out of inspiration, ya gotta take that photo!
258: So in keeping with the recent post about achievements, our little lady has a new favourite past time… standing up! She loves it! Its very early days, she is very wobbly on her feet, even with support, but she just loves being on her feet and seeing the world from a different angle. Some days its the only way we can get her to stop being grumpy!
259: Some days your only photo is unintentional. This pen was something we brought home from a hotel that we stayed in whilst out in California on our honeymoon four years ago. It has been a pleasant reminder of our wonderful stay in the golden state, but sadly this pen has reached the end of its life. I took a photo to stick on the hotels facebook page, to thank them, and the following morning I realised its the only photo I’d taken all day! Thank goodness for Hipstamatic on the iPhone!
260: Not learning my lesson of making the effort to take a photo, this was another last-minute-just-before-I-went-to-bed type shot. I was feeling very tired due to the afore mentioned disrupted sleep due to the little one waking up crying and not wanting to go back to sleep. It feels like these two things, the dummy and the bottle are the only things stopping her from being grumpy sometimes. She’s a lovely baby really, full of smiles, but when she’s grumpy, you know about it, and the bottle and the dummy can be your best friends!
261: I love Fridays for so many reasons, but one of them being that I get to finish work an hour earlier and spend longer at home with my girls before they go to bed. This Friday was a little different as they wife was going straight out to meet friends in town, and so the survival of the children depended entirely on me! Pressure!! Its times like this that you really respect the single parents and all that goes into bringing up little ones with no-one else to rely on, just doing it for a few hours is enough! My wife does so much, and goes through this every day when I am at work, but I am less used to it, as she is always around. I managed to get them fed and in bed without breaking them, but captured this quick shot of Olivia as she watched tv and just thought how old she was starting to look. You have to enjoy it while they are little, as it doesn’t seem to last five minutes!
262: After a 1st birthday party for a friends little girl, we headed home to relax for a bit, but I had other things on my mind. Me and Olivia headed out in the car to StreetBike, as I wanted to look at helmets. Yes, I have put in for my CBT and will be buying a motorbike in the next few weeks. No, not a midlife crisis, just something I have wanted to do for a long time that I never thought I would get the chance to do. Going from having a car each to becoming a one car family has not presented too many difficulties, especially as I have been commuting to work by bicycle for four and a half years, but there are times when I am feeling tired or run down and just dont want to cycle, but then don’t want to deprive the wife of a car, while I leave it sat in the car park at work. Plus I have a number of friends with motorbikes and would love to go on a few rides out with them!
263: Looking after my friends boy again for the morning, and another walk over Lickey Hills. Its easy to get nice wide angle landscape shots, but I had my camera with its 50mm lens on today, which is not a wide angle lens, and it often best suited for portraits and head shots, so it forced me to think a little differently. I took this shot as I like it all the lines of the trees and as soon as I saw it on the back of the camera, I knew it was going to be black and white!
There are so many World This Day’s and World That Day’s that I tend to ignore mostly as everyone and his dog have put some cause forward for a “world day” of some kind, but I couldn’t let World Photography Day without jumping on board. Considering how many photos I must have taken in the last 8 years alone since I brought my first DSLR camera, it is so hard to pin it down to just one favourite photo. Two of my absolute photos are of my wife in hospital holding each of our daughters just after they were born, but as beautiful and significant to me as these images are, they are not something that would jump out at most people, to the passer by they’re “just another baby photo”.
So I decided to throw this image up for today…
This one I took a couple of years back for my first 365 project, and as I left for work as the sun was coming up, I noticed that the sky had gone a crazy colour, reds, oranges and yellows… it literally looked like the sky was on fire, and to add some perspective to the shot, a bird fly into scene just as I was about to shoot. I won’t pretend I didn’t edit this photo, as I edit ALL my photos, but this was a bit of minor tweaking of contrast and saturation as the camera sensor doesn’t always capture the colours very well. What you see here is pretty much what I saw when I looked up that morning.
What about you? Have you got one image that you’re especially proud of?
I seem to fall further and further behind with this, and now I have photos backing up. Rather than post all, I am going to put up a week of photos tonight, and the rest tomorrow. So here are days from 197 through the 200 mark and up to day 203.
197: Its a Thursday night and I feel like I have earned myself a beer as it is almost the end of term, and the last day of kids at work as the following day is a training day. This academic year has had its ups and downs, and I am not even thinking about next term, I have whole summer break to go yet! I thought I’d treat myself to a bottle of Sam Adams that was on offer this week, taking me back to memories of my honeymoon in California!
198: End of term, and I left the bike and car at home today so that I could catch up with some work colleagues for a few drinks at the end of the day, in particular this guy, Tim, who leaves in just a few days for a position in Abu Dhabi. It sounds like an amazing opportunity, and he will be missed, so we made the most of seeing him off. It was a long night and I barely remember the journey home, it didn’t feel quite so big and clever the next morning!
199: This was mostly a day of being hungover and not achieving much at all. Painkillers were the order of the day, but I did get out into the garden to enjoy a little sunshine and the beautiful flowers that are growing with some amazing colours on show!
200: The Hungarian GP race, and a bbq with the in-laws, its almost a perfect Sunday. This little lady was in a fantastic mood and has been for a while now, most of the whinging and complaining seems to have faded away, and we’re literally only getting any crying when she’s either tired or hungry, even the teething seems to have subsided a bit!
201: The first day of the holidays, and we are off to Jitterbugs soft play centre to check out whether its suitable for Olivia’s 3rd birthday party. We met up with a friend there and his little boy and had a nice few hours while the kids wore themselves out. Olivia took a few minutes to recharge her batteries on the driving machine, even though we hadn’t put any money in it!
202: Sometimes you have jobs to do that you put off for so long you become blind to them. We’ve had a door to get rid of for longer than I’d like to admit to, just sitting around in the back garden. Finally I got round to sawing it into small pieces and burning it! Nothing like fire and a beer in your hand to make you feel like a man!
203: Today is our 4th wedding anniversary. FOUR YEARS!! How did that happen? We’ve never been able to do much on our anniversary because of the kids, the wife was pregnant on our first anniversary and since then they’ve been too little for us to leave with anyone. So, after palming them off on the in-laws while we at least tucked into some Miller & Carter steaks for lunch, we took them out to the park for a walk and an ice cream. I took the opportunity to grab a portrait of my three fantastic ladies while we were out and enjoying the sunshine on our special day.
And so thats it for tonight as the 365 approaches the end of July and the summer holidays have finally kicked off! More to follow tomorrow!
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!
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!”
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!
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!
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!
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!
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
Welcome back to the project 365 update and another look at what has been going on or catching my eye, as we now get closer to halfway through the project.
168: We start off with a shot of some very colourful tulips sat on our window ledge that I had bought for the wife. Its lovely to see nice, bright colours about the house and I know the wife appreciates it. I used to buy flowers regularly for her, but I guess that as time goes by and children preoccupy your time, you forget to do things like this, but I think that a small gesture can go a long way!
169: This little lady is now trying her best to roll over by herself. Suddenly she has gone from not wanting to move to trying her hardest to get over, and now she is so close!
170: Friday night and you just want to sit down with a beer and watch a film on the tv, but when you suspect that teething may possibly have started and your little one won’t settle then there is one screen you really must keep your eye on!
171: Saturday, its the weekend and time to take the girls to see their grandparents. Now they don’t have a car its essential that we make the journey to them as often as we can so they can see the girls and spend time with them.
172: Sunday morning starts with swimming, and I was hoping to meet friends there, but sadly they couldn’t make it. Olivia still enjoyed herself though, and we still got to catch up with our friends after the swim anyway. The two girls are just weeks apart and love playing together.
173: Monday rolls back around and clearly its not just the adults feeling tired. It looks like we have really got this little lady’s sleep routine under way. By 8pm she needs to have had her final bottle as she is good for nothing, and ready for bed! It seems we need to make sure that bottle is on time, and not be hanging around, as this girl waits for no-one!
174: The say the eye is the window to the soul, and this little girl is full of soul, she is such a lively little thing that its actually hard to get many photos of her at the moment. She is normally rolling round or rolling over, and doesn’t stay still for long. This photo took a number of attempts to get right!
175: I seem to be getting a lot of late nights recently, so many things to do in the evening (including this!), and I have a limited amount of time once the girls are in bed and asleep. I am terrible when it comes to staying up late all the time and need to stop making excuses for when it comes to going to bed… soon, I’ll do it soon!
176: Earlier in the year I had planted some seeds in the greenhouse, and now they were ready for transferring from pot into the garden. It seems like far too exciting a task for someone to be left out of and the words “I help” generally aren’t a request, more a notification! But you know what, after a long day at work and battling the traffic home whilst on two wheels, this is what I want… time with the girls, and not sat in front of the tv!
177: Evenings out are few and far between lately, and even less common are nights out together! I had been invited to a surprise 40th birthday of one of my oldest friends, a girl I had known since I was 3 years old. As we were also going out for food the following night, and using a babysitting favour with the in-laws, we didn’t have much choice but to take the girls with us, which was fine as Chloe was asleep in no time after her bottle anyway and Olivia was having a whale of a time running around and on the dancefloor. The photo obviously wasn’t actually taken my me, but was taken on my phone so still counts as my photo of the day in my book!
178: She did it! She’s finally on her front, and now we can’t seem to stop her! Literally every time we lay her on her back, she is attempting to roll over, although thankfully not in her bed yet!
179: Who says Birmingham isn’t beautiful?! A lovely stroll over the Lickey Hills on a Sunday morning is made extra special with a bit of unexpected sunshine warming our backs! I was looking after my friends little boy and wanted to head home and bring the girls over here too, but with lunch and naps an absolute necessity, I had missed my opportunity. So we headed out to Warley Woods for a stroll after we’d had our evening meal. We even got there in time to get an ice cream and sit in the sun to eat it.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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..
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!!!
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!
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.
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?
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!
138: This guy looks suspicious! Its a “got no photo, lets take a selfie” kinda day!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!