Day 232 – Autumn gives the summer a beautiful send-off

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Day 232 – Nov 5th

Its actual bonfire night in the UK, but seeing as it is Sunday most of the fireworks will hopefully have gone off on Friday and Saturday night, although there will always be those that are determined to wait until the actual date to set some off, and the few weird ones who seem to hang on until Monday or Tuesday… what is THAT all about??

We’d already had fireworks on Friday, and a bonfire at home with sparklers on Saturday, so we were done for this year.

I had to pop out at lunchtime to meet with a couple, they are getting married next year and were visiting their venue and had asked if I could join them to take a look over the place. I’d seen a photo of it, and it looked nice enough, so I really wasn’t expecting to be quite as impressed by it as I was once I’d seen it in person. It was a beautiful venue, and the attention to detail was very impressive. With the passion of the people running the place it sounds like the day will run very smoothly indeed, and I am very much looking forward to their wedding day there, I have no doubt it will be an amazing day.

I did grab a shot of the place before I left, but came home to find these three leaves at the bottom of the driveway, just crying out to be photographed. Here is Autumn at its finest, well done mother nature!

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Day 231 – It’ll all work out in the end

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Day 231 – Nov 4th

We hadn’t particularly considered that Saturday was going to be a busy day, but I soon realised that I had a number of things on my agenda, and the day was going to fill up quickly. While everyone was getting ready in the morning, before we’d even left the house, I managed to grab a photo of Chloe with the Autumn sun streaming through the window behind her. I loved the shot straightaway, and knew it was one I’d be looking back on for many years to come.

With everyone ready to go, the first task on the list was getting Olivia to her dance class and keeping Chloe entertained until it was over. That went fairly smoothly, and was followed by heading over to the brother & sister in laws house for a charity coffee morning, which quickly filled a good chunk of our day up by turning into more of a coffee afternoon. We hadn’t anticipated being there for so long, but with a large rather expensive firework to be set off, we felt we really should at least hang around until it had started to go dark, which thankfully was happening quite early due to the time of year.

The third thing on my list was getting down to Streetbike to rebook my motorbike test, which was looking difficult as we hadn’t left the coffee morning yet, although an opportunity came up when it was clear we needed to get Chloe home for a nap, there was no way she was sleeping anywhere other than her bed, and there was no way we were getting through the day without her sleeping for a while, so the two of us set off for the house and left Olivia there with her mother.

With nap time done, it was time to head back out to the coffee morning/afternoon taking a quick detour via Streetbike where I successfully got my new test date booked in!

The final thing on my list was our very own back garden bonfire, and so after the coffee morning/afternoon drew to a close we heading home, going via the supermarket to pick up some sparklers. Once home, I set about building a fire while the girls had dinner, I’d already prepared some wood while Chloe was asleep, so it was a pretty quick process. There was just enough time to light it, give the girls a few sparklers each and toast a few marshmallows before they had to head up to bed.

And so, with all four items ticked off my agenda, we realised there wasn’t a lot of time left to cook dinner for ourselves, and so we finished off a fun Saturday by treating ourselves to an Indian takeaway!

Day 230 – I feel like I’ve earned this!

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Day 230 – Nov 3rd

It feels like we’ve only just gone back to and yet Friday is here again already. I’m giving myself Monday and Friday to use my motorbike, so I don’t get carried away and end up not cycling and putting a load of weight back on. This makes today my motorbike day. Yayyy!

It was looking like a dry day, and the weather was fairly pleasant for the time of year, so the ride home was a rather pleasant one, especially with the roads being a little quieter for being able to get out of work a little earlier in the afternoon. 

The ride home was even more pleasant knowing that we were off to see a fireworks display this evening. The wife isn’t very keen on them, and was additionally concerned about Chloe being scared by the loud bangs, as she doesn’t do well with loud noises. I personally thought it was worth a gamble and knew Olivia would enjoy it. 

We managed to miss a lot of rush hour traffic on the way over there and even got a parking space without too much stress. Our local cricket club put on a bonfire and firework display each year, and it is always very popular, but thankfully they are thoughtful enough to put on two firework displays, an earlier one so that young children don’t miss out, and the main one about an hour later, generally when most of the young children have gone home. 

The fire itself was immense, and even though the heat stopped you from getting too close, the crowds around it were difficult to negotiate, so we didn’t spend long there. We hadn’t planned to stay too long tonight, but there was still time for the girls to go on a few of the fairground rides that had been set up, before the fireworks were due to start. 

Bedtime for the girls was a little later than usual, but they’d enjoyed it. Hopefully next year they’ll enjoy it a little bit more. 

Day 229 – Special delivery for Vokes!

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Day 229 – Nov 2nd

I’d booked this morning off a couple of weeks ago so that me and the wife could go and visit a school on its open morning, as part of a few schools we were looking at, to help us make up our mind which one we should apply for. As it happened we decided that the chances of getting into this one were too low and that in fact we had decided at the last minute against going to this particular one, and so I ended up going into work anyway. This served a double bonus, first it meant that if I needed any more time off work in the future, I was more likely to get it. We aren’t limited to time off per se, but it in this line of work it can be somewhat frowned upon, so its best to save it for when you really need it!

The second benefit to going in all day was that I would be there to sign for my phone when it arrived, as I had requested it be delivered to work… if only they hadn’t screwed up the delivery address. The person I spoke to had a very hard to understand accent and was more interested in what was on her script than any questions I was asking. Consequently my phone did not get delivered to work after all, and was in fact sent to my home address… thankfully not a massive problem as the wife was not going anywhere today, mostly down to the fact that I had taken the car to work and effectively left her stranded. One of the downsides of being a one-car family! Normally I take the motorbike or cycle in, but I had been asked to take some photos and needed to carry stuff in with the car.

I do miss commuting on two wheels, rush hour sucks!

Day 228 – Finding new ways to do the same thing

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Day 228 – Nov 1st

If anyone has been following my blog, they will know that on the odd occasion I will resort to taking a self portrait as part of my daily photo project, yeah some days you just don’t have a camera in your hand or come across anything that grabs you. I always said that I did not just want this to be one photo of my girls after another after another, there needs to be a little variety.

So today I was almost ready for bed when I realised that I had not yet taken a shot for the day, and had to grab something before I headed upstairs. Once I had decided that a self portrait was on the cards, the one thing I wanted to do was try something different with the lighting. I am a big fan of off-camera flash and have had quite a few opportunities to practise this over the years. I wanted something dark and a bit gritty, and think that I managed to pull this off quite well. The fact that I just happened to have a very random and unexpected bloodshot eye only added to the effect.

Day 227 – Prepare for disappointment

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Day 227 – Oct 31st

Halloween is here and I have decided to leave the wife to face the Trick or Treaters, as I have to go out, although the reality is that most of them will have been and gone and will probably be in bed before I head out. I have decided that it is time to upgrade my phone.

I am an Apple fan, and have been an avid iPhone user for many years now, starting with the 3G, moving up to the 4S, then onto the 5, before settling on the best phone I ever owned, the 6 Plus. Even though I could have upgraded my phone back in February (I am normally on it the very day I am allowed to upgrade) I had been holding out for the 2017 product announcements, as I knew it was the tenth anniversary of the iPhone and I was sure something big would be coming… and I wasn’t disappointed! The iPhone X is a beauty, and it is set to be one of the most popular handsets the company has ever made. The only downside is the massive cost, it is by far the most expensive handset Apple have produced. While this won’t stop the die hard fans, I knew that for me buying it would firstly annoy the wife, and secondly I didn’t have the cash for it.

Yet I was two and a half years into my iPhone, and I was keen to play with something new, so I opted for the somewhat overshadowed iPhone 8 plus. Still an expensive model, but a worthy upgrade from the phone I was using.

Sure I could order on the phone, but I wanted my new phone NOW! So I took off to the phone shop with the intention of coming home with my new phone, only to be presented with the dilemma of losing the discount I was used to, and them not having the larger storage version that I wanted.

I reluctantly had to walk away without my new phone and ended up calling the customer service number anyway. My new phone was going to be delivered the very next day, and as I had taken the car to work I knew the wife would be at home to sign for it!

Day 226 – I can’t do it, so you have to!

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Day 226 – Oct 30th

So its back to work after a week off… boooo!!

Normally this particular half term holiday begins in the last few days of October and we end up going back to work in November, although somehow this year it seems to have come a week early and we have ended up going back to work still in October, ahead of halloween which happens to be tomorrow night.

This can mean only one thing, pumpkin carving is ON!! Sadly even though this particular design was the wife’s choice, she claimed her lack of carving skills meant that the job was 100% mine and I should forget whatever I was currently doing and get on it!

It consequently comes as no surprise that I have fallen behind with the blog, once I fall just a day behind there seems to be a snowball effect after that!

So it means a bit of catching up, although it has to be said, this particular pumpkin was worth it, and I was quite pleased with my effort.

Day 225 – What shall we do today?

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Day 225 – Oct 29th

Sunday was the final day of a week off before I had to go back to work, and the one day we had made absolutely zero plans for. The weather was looking good outside and once we were up and breakfast was done, we spent a little while pondering over what to with ourselves.

I was a little bored with the prospect of going to the park again, but after going through the shower and getting dressed, Clare came up with the fantastic idea of heading out to a farm to go pumpkin picking!

She soon found Essington Farm which wasn’t too far away and so after packing a small lunch for the girls, we headed out and jumped on the motorway. After locating the farm and taking a walk it wasn’t long before before we found some suitable pumpkins, dumped them in the car and decided to take advantage of their fantastic farm shop, which was packed with all sorts of goodies, and we could have easily spent a small fortune in there!

With only two days left until Halloween it was straight onto the task of scooping out and carving the two that we brought home, although there was no convincing Olivia to have anything scary on hers, nope, we had to do a cat… and not even a scary witches cat either! Pfftt! Kids!

Day 224 – Push yourself, try something new.

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Day 224 – Oct 28th

My final wedding of the year, and I was very pleased that it was actually a friend of mine getting married that I was fortunate to be able to capture.

The whole day was very relaxed, and the couple were very easy going. It turned out to be a fairly easy start for me as I wasn’t required to cover the usual hair and make up photos in the morning, which left me with a bit more time at home in the morning to get my things together and make sure the car was packed up properly, all my batteries were charged and the memory cards cleared and formatted.

The whole day, from ceremony to reception, was based in one location, the beautiful Highbury Hall in Birmingham. A grade II listed building which, for a while, became the residence of Joseph Chamberlain when he was a member of parliament for Birmingham.

I arrived at Highbury Hall with most of the tables, decorations and other things already set up, meaning I could get straight into photographing the details before I moved onto the final bridal preparations. This last bit was more of a “touch up” as the hair and make up had pretty much been done before the girls had arrived there. All that was left was for the brides dress to go on, and for me to make sure I captured it being done up.

The day went very smoothly, although it was somewhat of a challenge with the tricky autumn light, the small high windows and a distinct lack of not only natural light, but also any white ceilings to bounce any flash off inside the building.

I had to spend a portion of the day assessing the lighting situations and thinking on my feet, it certainly wasn’t a straight forward shoot in a technical sense. There were still many opportunities for some amazing photos both indoors and out, but I had to work with some difficult lighting, and had to get a little extra creative with the off-camera flash and remote trigger, including a few shots I hadn’t tried before!

You can find out more about the wedding itself from my good friend, and beautiful bride Suzie’s blog when she posts her more in-depth update about it very soon.

Day 223 – It won’t always go your way

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Day 223 – Oct 27th

Today was all about one thing.

Two and a half months of waiting, after a full year of practising… it was finally time for my motorbike test. Time to show I could handle a big bike and earn my full license.

I rocked up to meet my instructor before our ride over to the test centre, and we talked about the things I needed to look at.

I was nervous, so so nervous, but still deep down I knew I had the skills to do this!

The test is in two part, the first part called module 1 on the pad at the test centre going around cones and doing some low and high speed manoeuvres, ahead of Module 2 where you go out on the road and show your ability to ride correctly in traffic.

Module 1, for me wasnt a concern… it should have been. I had a faultless ride, I was on fire… then as I went into my figure of eight around two cones, I lost too much speed and put my foot down on the floor. I thought it might be a minor fault, of which I was allowed five, but sadly no, it was a serious fault and it was game over for today. Just that one incident meant that the test was over and I had failed.

I was devastated, and at the same time unbelievably angry with myself at such a stupid mistake, one that I had never made before!

So, I was going home early. The wife had brought the girls out to see me as I pulled up, and being the wonderful person she is, took us all out for lunch to cheer me up.

You can’t beat a Chiquitos lunch, especially when the wife produces a 50% off main meals voucher code! Its no wonder I married her! We took the iPads loaded up with some films for the girls to watch in case they got bored and irritable while we sat down and ate… and they worked a treat! Our girls did us proud, and they sat so well and ate well, we really don’t have to try at all.

Mexican food, with a beer in hand whilst surrounded by my wife and two girls… I am starting to feel better already. Motorbike test? What motorbike test??

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