Day 118 – Sometimes you just have to ask for a little help

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Day 118 – Jul 13th

Okay, so todays photo isn’t the most exciting photo I’ve taken over the course of a 365 project, so why have I taken it?

The answer is simple… its a “before” photo! Yup, after trying to find the time to do something about this part of the back garden for four years, and clearly not doing a very good job about it, in just a few days that corner is not going to look like this any more.

Each summer I promise myself that I’m going to get on top of it, and conquer this corner, and each year I fail. I keep doing a bit here and a bit there and then telling myself that I just don’t have the time. 

So now we have enlisted the help of my sisters partner, whose trade is gardening/landscaping/fencing. He cleared this patch by lunchtime, and totally put me to shame. Still, it had to be done, and he did it. He’ll be back tomorrow to do more, and eventually, once we have slabs down, we can put some furniture up there and enjoy the sun that seems to stay in that corner most of the day and evening!

I clearly couldn’t do this on my own, but at least I can now look forward to relaxing with drinks in the garden, watching the sun go down!

Day 117 – run like the wind, walk like an arthritic old man!

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Day 117 – Jul 12th

Last nights gym session felt good, I got a bit of a sweat on doing a warm up time on the exercise bike, then took to the treadmill to push my running a bit, in the hope of being in a position to consider this years half marathon.

Plan A foiled by yet another injury. Finished my run, fine. Got showered and home, fine. Woke up this morning, could barely stand on my left foot, let alone walk! The day improved with some pain killers and a bit of stretching, but here I am at the end of the day, and still in pain! Hoping some rest in bed tonight will help. I did, however, spend the day hobbling around like I had broken glass in my shoe. It was a close call with giving work a miss today, but it at least got easier as the day went on.

So much for exercise being good for you, I sometimes wonder how I managed to do five half marathons and two Tough Mudders with numerous injuries temporarily putting me out of running so easily recently.

Came home to an empty house today, quite unusual, and managed to take a few minutes and enjoy the peace and quiet for a little while before I could hear the car pull up on the driveway again and the silence was broken. Suddenly two eager little girls came running into the living room looking for daddy. However daddy was not feeling the urge to jump out of the chair. It was my plan to spend as long as possible sat down resting my foot tonight, which I hate doing while the girls are up, as they deserve my attention, but I really had to rest this foot. We did spend a little time in the garden though, but it wasn’t long before both of these little ladies were shattered, Chloe who was overdue a nap and already whinging, was the first casualty of a busy day.

When there was only Olivia, before Chloe was born, it was quite easy to manage our day, doing our best to incorporate nap times and bed times, but now that there is two, it isn’t quite so easy. People often ask what changes the most when you have a second child… well, there is plenty! Time management is the biggest challenge. Chloe seems to have fallen into similar naps as Olivia did around the same age, but its not always easy to squeeze them in exactly when she wants them, as there seems to be a lot more fluctuations on the times she actually wants to go down, whereas you could almost set a clock by Olivia’s naps. Today was a day when Chloe could actually have done with two naps, but there just wasn’t a chance to get the second one in… and cue grumpy, clingy Chloe!

Even when she’s in a bit of a grump, she can still make us laugh, and always gives the best hugs!

Day 116 – and the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down…

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Day 116 – Jul 11th

After a few weeks without rain, the garden lawn is starting to look a bit tired, and I’ve had enough of having to grab a watering can and water the flowers each evening, and then worrying about them if I forget to do it one evening. Well today started out damp, and apart from a couple of dry spells this morning, its pretty much rained all day since then.

As an adult owning a property with a garden, particularly one that you’re growing things in, its pretty much about the only time that anyone can get even remotely excited about rain. You may be cursing that your day out is ruined, or that you can’t hang the washing out to dry, but you can at least smile in the knowledge that your grass is getting a good water and the flower beds will love it. The simple fact is that this green and pleasant land of ours would not be quite so green without a bit of rain every now and again to keep it that way.

One of the little green shoots that had come from Olivia helping me to plant some seeds back in February was our sunflowers. They seemed to do very little for a number of weeks, and the shoots were no more than a few inches tall, then suddenly, out of nowhere, they seem to have shot up, and this week have even begun to open up! That’ll keep the bees happy for a while, and now the garden will start to look even brighter!

With the weather being wet, I ditched the idea of cycling this morning in favour of the motorbike. Sure, I’m still exposed to the elements, but at least on the motorbike I am covered in waterproof clothing! Made up for it with a gym session this evening, but now have come home with pretty severe heel pain, leaving me limping about a bit, and I’m not even sure how I’ve done it! Only hoping a good nights sleep will fix things, and on that note… well, you don’t get a good nights sleep from tapping away on your laptop while sat on the sofa downstairs!

Day 115 – look for the good in the world

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Day 115 – Jul 10th

Monday isn’t so bad when you get a bit of good news to cheer you up. Today is the one day of the year that as school staff, we wait eagerly for… the list of which staff we will all be working with in September. It can make such a difference to your year, as you can end up working with either some brilliant people, or some real mood hoovers who can suck the life out of you just by being in the same room!

Thankfully I am working with some great staff next year, and although we will have some quite challenging pupils, I know we can work together and deliver! It is fair to say that it really brightened up my day.

You know what else can make your day? When you pull up outside the house on the motorbike and see the garage door swing open to reveal your smiling daughter, who is really pleased to see you. Again, as is becoming very common now, she wants to sit on my motorbike and hold on as I push it up the drive and into the garage, although I am most definitely not allowed to turn the engine on to assist me, as its “too loud daddy”!

My one real disappointment of today was my motorbike theory test, which I had to book. I had convinced myself it was an online thing ( why would it be?!), but quickly found out I have to go to a test centre (makes sense I guess!) to complete it, and they do not have a free appointment for another 3 weeks… meaning I cannot book my motorbike test until I have actually taken and passed the theory! On a plus point, it was cheaper to book than I expected, only £23!

Although I had plans to get other things done this evening, I was forced to spend a chunk of it calling Sky about problems on the phone line for the house phone. It has been playing up for over a week now, not dialling calls, or receiving them, so I bought a new phone, which doesn’t seem to have helped the problem. After being on hold for 40 minutes, I finally got to talk to someone who was very helpful, confirming the problem was external probably something to do with the local exchange, and nothing to do with ay cables or equipment in our house, and they’d put in a request for it to be fixed by engineers asap.

So… anyone guess what todays photo is?

Day 114 – What do ducks like to eat?

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Day 114 – Jul 9th

A picnic in the park with friends on a sunny Sunday afternoon, it’s pretty much what the weekend was invented for! 

The date had been in the calendar for a few weeks to catch up with our friends from our antenatal class, back from before Olivia was born four years ago. We’ve not only stayed in contact, but stayed good friends with them all, although we see some more than others due to geographical locations and work commitments. There was no plan for today, just that we were saving the day to catch up, but at the last minute, with the weather looking good, someone called for a picnic in the park. A good shout in my opinion! 

Armed with our picnic blanket, a hamper full of food, a ball and a Bluetooth speaker for some music from the phone we went off to meet our friends. It was a lovely afternoon in the sun with the kids playing together and running about, enjoying an ice cream and watching one of the dads try to fly a kite. 

There was also the madatory feeding of the ducks, which we had brought some oats for, after recent articles highlighting the issues around giving bread to the ducks. It seems a little strange that a tradition for parents and grandparents that has been going on for decades, has only recently come to light, in that we should not be using bread to feed the ducks. Something to do with a lack of nutrition and the ducks filling up on this rather than having a balanced nutritional diet, which can lead to deformities in their wings, a disability known as angel wing, that can hamper their flying or even stop it altogether. On top of all the uneaten bread polluting the waterways, as people just keep on throwing it in, regardless of how much of it is already floating around in front of them. Conservationists instead recommend oats, peas and sweetcorn. We like to think we did our bit.

It was no surprise that the girls both fell asleep in the car on the ride home, and we even got them both from the car to the sofa without waking them up. A truly pleasant afternoon out.

What you do with your weekend?

Day 113 – Take time to remember who you are

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Day 113 – Jul 8th

Up early on a Saturday morning (irony – there is no such thing when you have small children!) to take the car for more repairs, this time it was only something small, but not especially cheap considering, the size of the part and the time it took to fit it. The boot (trunk for anyone in the US) wouldn’t shut properly, and so with a new lock finally fitted, we could now carry on with the rest of the weekend.

Todays photo was took on the drive back home from the mechanic, a shot of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, or simply the QE as most people living in Birmingham know it as. Described as a super hospital when it was being built, this £545m monster, holding over 1200 beds and 32 theatres opened in 2010, and is easily visible from many parts of Birmingham. I always think the instantly recognisable exterior looks rather majestic and elegant and it always makes me smile when we drive past, as both our girls were born here, taking me back to afternoons spent pacing the corridors feeling extremely flustered!

I had wanted to grab a photo early on in the day, while I had the chance, as I was heading out into town to meet a couple of work friends for a burger and a few beers in the afternoon, and had no intention of taking my camera with me. Sure I could have got an interesting photo, but then again I also could have unintentionally had one too much drinks and either dropped my camera or left it somewhere!

It was nice to catch up with some old friends and some newer friends, as I don’t get much chance to socialise with work colleagues, but a few drinks in the afternoon was easy to do. With the expansion of the school I work in, we have so many more staff and I don’t always get to hear about nights out, as they often tend to happen in smaller groups rather than big staff nights out like they used to be, back in the early days, when it was a much smaller place to work. I just had to make sure I didn’t overdo things this afternoon, as I intended to get home before the girls went to bed, and didn’t want to turn up in a bit of a state. Drunk daddy isn’t a good look! The weekends are about spending time as a family, especially to spend time with the girls, and I already felt a little guilty for ditching them in favour of an afternoon drink with friends, I didn’t need to feel guilty about coming home clearly drunk, that I can save for when the girls are fast asleep in bed! I was lucky enough to get a lift in from my wonderful wife, saving me the effort of catching a bus or having to call a taxi, but she really excelled herself and even came out to pick me up when I was ready to leave. Its nice to feel supported when, in fact, I felt like I should perhaps have been at home spending time with the girls instead. I have the best wife!

Day 112 – from the tiny ant to the mighty elephant

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Day 112 – Jul 7th

Since February I have been growing flowers from seed in the house, the transporting them outdoors when the time came about eight weeks later, after the threat of frost had completely passed. I love to have a bit of colour in the garden, and would ideally spend more time gardening, although this is somewhat of a luxury with two little ones running around demanding attention. Now Chloe is almost 18 months old, fully running around, climbing, investigating, pulling, throwing, falling, she is demanding more attention than ever, and far more than her older sister! Having time to spend in the garden is something I can only hope for in the future when the girls are more able to entertain themselves and each other!

I do find a little time for some gardening though, and have managed to get my flowers planted, keep them watered and get rid of a few weeds, and having that colour really brightens up the garden. The other practical upside is the bumblebees, who are drastically in decline thanks to humans ruining the countryside and getting rid of all the wild flowers, it has been estimated that we have lost 97% of our flower-rich grassland since the 1930s, which you can read more about here.

Making sure there are plenty of bright, colourful flowers is my little bit to help the bees to survive, as we’d be in trouble without them.

When I got home from work on Friday afternoon, it was lovely outside, the temperature had risen again and the girls were keen to get in the garden to play, so I had to oblige. I had been wanting to capture a shot of the bumblebees with the flowers, so grabbed my camera and took advantage of being outside in the garden with the girls.

We even broke records this evening with Clare staying up to watch The Wolf of Wall Street, from start to finish, all three hours of it without even coming close to falling asleep! Virtually unheard of previously, and not only that, but having previously written it off, she even enjoyed it! It was nice to sit down and enjoy watching a good film together, as it feels like such a battle each weekend trying to find something to watch. You wouldn’t believe the options we have open to us, with not only Netflix, but NowTV, and Amazon Prime Video. More films to choose from than you could shake a stick at, yet each week I seem to keep scrolling through thousands of films that I simply haven’t heard of, questioning why I have subscribed to these services. I guess its just nice to keep our options open while the girls are little, but I am going to have to start getting rid of some of the subscriptions soon, especially if it is taking so long on a Friday to find something to watch, that by the time we have its time to go to bed!