Day 099 – You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy wine, and that’s kind of the same thing.

Day 99 – Jun 24th

After a busy Saturday morning, we decided to have a family afternoon out and took the girls swimming. Its been a little while since we all went, and its nice to be doing it as a family, as it was usually just me taking Olivia. The girls enjoy it so much and Olivia has become really confident in the water, and has even started to learn to actually swim, rather than just splash about in the water with daddy. She can’t swim very far, or very fast, but she’s definitely getting the idea!

This took up a chunk of our afternoon, and led the wife to announce that because we were running out of time to cook, and had no idea what to have for dinner, that we’d be having a chinese takeaway tonight… I am not going to argue with that!

As the girls had showered after swimming, and had their hair washed, bath night seemed a bit redundant, so they were off to bed nice and early. This was my cue to think about getting changed and taking a walk around to a work colleagues house for their birthday party and BBQ. I was planning on staying for an hour and getting a taxi home, as I wasn’t expecting to know many people there. As it happened, there were more people there that I knew than I thought there would be, and the time just flew by. I warned the wife I’d be a little later home than I originally anticipated, and didn’t intend to stay too much longer, but then got talking to the husband of one of the women I work with. We had a surprising amount in common and suddenly it wasn’t just late, it was the early hours of the morning, and I’d drank far more than I’d realised. Time to get that taxi home!

Day 098 – Lets cherish this moment

Day 98 – Jun 23rd

The weekends seem to roll around so fast, and here we are at Friday again. The weather has settled back down to, perhaps, a little cooler than we may expect June to be, but at least we can sleep comfortably at night again.

One of the best things about Friday is being able to get home just that little bit earlier than the rest of the week, and spend more time with the girls, although when I got back today Olivia was spark out on the sofa. Oh well, its still good to be home early anyway.

The wife had to pop out to the shops once I was back home, and so I thought I would take the opportunity to grab a couple of snaps of the girls in the beautiful light that was coming in from the overcast clouds through the window. It might sound odd that a photographer prefers a cloudy day to a bright sunny day, but there is logic behind it. Bright, direct sunlight makes people squint a lot, never a good look in photos, it also creates nasty harsh shadows, as well as strong contrast that the camera struggles to deal with. Clouds, on the other hand, break the sunlight up, making it less directional and creating a nice soft light on people, also removing all the hard shadows. Todays shot of Chloe has come out quite well I think.

On a Friday night I never plan much, call it routine, call it laziness, whatever… I like to settle down with the wife, pour a drink, open some snacks, and watch a film once the girls are in bed. Even though it was supposed to be bath night for the girls tonight, we just didn’t have the energy or enthusiasm to do it, so that can wait until tomorrow, meaning that both of the girls were in bed by 7:20pm. Olivia is allowed to watch the iPad in bed on a Friday, so we can leave her to it for a while and get our film started. The wife is notoriously bad at staying awake, and so our best chance of her seeing the end credits is to start the film as early as we can, even though this is still no guarantee. Sadly, this mornings super early start from Chloe meant we BOTH fell asleep and missed the end of the film!

Day 095 – you can’t prepare for everything

Day 095 – Jun 20th

As Tuesdays go, this was nothing special, the weather was warm and pleasant, the ride into work was nice on the bike, and things can change so quickly. I’d not long been at work when my phone pinged with a text message from an old school friend that I’d been lucky to catch up with over the last 18 months or so, having not seen them since school, thanks to the modern wonder that is Facebook. There was no way of beating around the bush with this message, her teenage son who had been very sick with leukaemia and had been in and out of hospital, putting up a massive fight, had finally lost his battle. I was heartbroken, a teenager should never have to go through that, and a parent should never have to bury their child. It was a sad morning. Thankfully the bright sunshine gave me the perfect excuse to wear sunglasses and hide a few tears. 

At least the evening was a bit more celebratory, as I was heading out for a birthday meal for my sisters parter to an Indian restaurant I’d not tried before in Moseley, although sadly on my own as Clare had to stay home with the girls. Our current babysitting options are a little limited, so going out together is a bit tricky once the girls are in bed. It’s not ideal, but it will no doubt improve. The restaurant, Priya was a good choice, the food was amazing, and I look back to going again in the future!

Today’s photo was taken after I got home from work. It wasn’t quite as hot outside as yesterday, but it was still pretty toasty, and Chloe couldn’t sleep in anything more than just a baby vest, even with a fan in the bedroom, as the house seemed to retain the heat with ease, and was almost impossible to cool. In fact with the house being so warm, it wasn’t even really worth dressing her once she got up. At one point I noticed she was intrigued by her big sisters scooter, so I grabbed my camera just in case, and I just had a feeling that this was a photo that would look good in black and white, as not all of them do. Sometimes you have to be a little choosy about which images you convert to black and white.  My golden rule is to leave any photo in colour where the subject is looking at the camera… but rules are made to be broken, and I think this image worked. 

Day 094 – Is it just me, or is it warm in here?

Day 94 – Jun 19th

Boom! Flaming June gets to live up to its name at last, as the heatwave lands, and the temperatures outside are pushing the mercury past 30ÂșC all over the country, with more of it set to come as the week goes on.

I am feeling a bit rough after the weekend, the warm weather, eating crap food, drinking too much and staying up late enough to fall asleep on the sofa three nights in a row. Anyone would think I’d just discovered university and the student way of life or something. I need to be really cutting out the crap, drinking less and getting myself to bed at a sensible time!

For whatever reason, the roads seemed almost empty this morning, and the ride in was like a dream. I’d thought about cycling in, although was very glad that I didn’t as the showers were not working when I got to work, and I’d have been the guy that NO-ONE wanted to stand next to!! The motorbike was a lot more fun anyway, although this motorbike clothing was going to be hot work later on! Black, thick, padded… the kind of clothing you don’t want to stay still for long in, as long as I’m moving, I’m okay!

Today’s photo was sat down for dinner together as a family, the way dinner time should be. I was playing around with an old favourite lens, the 50mm lens, great for so many things, including portraits. Awesome for kids…. as long as they stay still for long enough, as the area of the scene that’s in focus is so narrow that the child only has to lean forward and their face is out of focus, and what was so close to be an awesome photo is subsequently deleted.

Day 088 – All is not as it seems

Day 88 – Jun 13th

That smiling face… you see that one right there in the photo? She quite happily enjoyed cuddles with daddy and a bottle of milk right before bed time, as is standard. Both girls had gone down well, no surprise as they’re both so good at define, but barely an hour had gone by before the video monitor lights up and you’d have thought we’d shot her in both knees by the screaming/sobbing noises she was making!

There can be various reasons for her waking up once we’ve out her down, and again multiple reasons for her to have woken up upset and crying, but it’s not always easy to try and work out why sometimes. We’re just thankful it doesn’t happen very often. Tonight, she was almost inconsolable  for a while, daddy hugs definitely weren’t doing it, even a walk around the garden wasn’t doing it. Thankfully Clare was home to take over, and it seemed like at least mommy cuddles were working! She eventually calmed and we got her back down to bed successfully, although we’re still no clearer as to what actually caused it. We’re putting it down to the most likely  candidate… teething! 

There are a couple of things that we have come to rely on heavily as parents, firstly is gripe water, vile for some people, manna from heaven for others, but it’s certainly helped us in the past when she’s been suffering with trapped wind! Secondly there is liquid nurofen for children, which is much like calpol, but in my opinion far more effective. Lastly there is Ambesol, our weapon of choice for tonight, which, being similar to bonjela, has really helped us out with teething issues! 

So was it teething or coincidence, that she calmed down? Well, the initial crying suggested it was more than just a bad dream or something like that, something was clearly hurting, and she did start to settle after the Ambesol was put on her gums. If only babies could talk. Lets just hope she wakes up with a smile on her face again!

Approaching day 300 on the 365 project: Days 285 – 297

As we plough through October, the weather is changing rapidly, and the days are starting to feel cooler and much more like Autumn, but we are seeing the biggest change in the time it starts to get dark. We seem to forget each year just how quickly it begins to get dark each night, or at least I do, and so does the wife. Its becoming a little darker each evening when I leave work, which is less desirable now I am on a motorbike too. Still vulnerable, like cycling, but now moving at a slightly faster speed!

Lets get to the photos anyway…

285: Well, with the wife out for dinner with friends, its down to me to put the girls to bed and then entertain myself for a while… and what better way to spend the evening than to upgrade the operating system on my laptop. Man, I know how to have a good time!

Day 285 - Oct 17th

Day 285 – Oct 17th

286: Meeting up with an old school friend of mine again to cover some basic photography training, and this time talking about focusing on specific parts of an image and how much of the photo was in focus! She seemed keen and enthusiastic, and even said that she felt like she’d learned something, which was nice to hear as it wasn’t just me talking to myself and her blindly nodding and grunting in the right places!

Day 286 - Oct 18th

Day 286 – Oct 18th

287: As we’re having a bit of a sort out and tidy up lately, the wife has been urging me to get up in the loft and put away a few bits that have been lying around and waiting a few days to go up there. Whilst up in the loft I find my foil blanket from an old half marathon run, a perfect sensory toy to Chloe to play with, and she loved it! Sometimes its the simple things.

Day 287 - Oct 19th

Day 287 – Oct 19th

288: Right, I have been waiting long enough, the wine I have been making has been sitting in the garage for ages, even though it should only have taken a couple of weeks. Tonight I finally poured it into bottles, ready for drinking. It was a thoughtful birthday present from my sister, and is actually quite surprisingly tasty for home made wine, so I am hoping there is still a bottle left to share with her when she next comes for dinner, although I am making no promises!

Day 288 - Oct 20th

Day 288 – Oct 20th

289: Finally, its Friday, and the last day of the half term too, meaning a whole week off work with the family. A chance to finish work and hour early and spend a bit more time with my girls before they go to bed. Not much time for a photo today, but I did like the way the light fell across these flowers before it went dark and we took the girls up to bed.

Day 289 - Oct 21st

Day 289 – Oct 21st

290: Amongst all the chores we had planned out for half term, I had made the unpopular choice (with the wife) to help my friend to chop firewood, which he wasn’t able to do by himself. When I got home I was able to grab this quick shot of Chloe making silly faces at the camera, with a bit of off-camera flash to brighten it up. I often shoot the girls inside with just window light, which is fine most of the time, but having a bit more light really makes a big difference. Sometimes I just like to play around with the light and create some clearly different photos that will be nice to look back on.

Day 290 - Oct 22nd

Day 290 – Oct 22nd

291:A day out with the family to see friends, off to an adventure farm for the day, plenty for the kids to see and do, plus they even got to go pumpkin picking at the end of it. When we got home Olivia decided that she wanted to take her hand to computing and show off her IT skills.

Day 291 - Oct 23rd

Day 291 – Oct 23rd

292: Monday and we’d got the morning booked out, as we were off to have the second of Olivia’s meningitis jabs. We decided to turn it in to a bit of an adventure (well, its an adventure when you’re 3 years old!), and so caught the bus into and out of town, which Olivia really enjoyed, especially as she got to go upstairs and watch the world sailing by from the top deck.

Day 292 - Oct 24th

Day 292 – Oct 24th

293: I managed to catch up with a couple of old friends today for a little walk around the Wyre forest. I always love catching up with old friends, one of the big bonuses of the internet and social media, where you simply wouldnt have had the opportunity only a handful of years ago. On our walk around the Wyre forest, I discovered there was a Gruffalo trail I was previously unaware of, and knew I had to bring Olivia here, she’d love it!

Day 293 - Oct 25th

Day 293 – Oct 25th

294: Today we’d agreed to meet a friend at Sheldon Country Park, a lovely place we like to go to where there is a park, some farm animals, a lovely little cafe and a nice walk up to the bottom of the runway at Birmingham airport. I do always feel a little guilty tucking into a delicious sausage sandwich, then having to walk past the pigs on the way out of the cafe!

Day 294 - Oct 26th

Day 294 – Oct 26th

295: Nursery day for Olivia, and with halloween around the corner its a dressing up day. Naturally our little lady couldn’t wait to turn up in her witch outfit.

Day 295 - Oct 27th

Day 295 – Oct 27th

296: Today should have been a free day out, although it still ended up costing us! We decided to take advantage of our free return ticket to West Midlands Safari Park, that we’d got from going earlier in the year. We didn’t even end up driving round the animal enclosures, but we did take advantage of the rest of the park and had a lovely day out.

Day 296 - Oct 28th

Day 296 – Oct 28th

297: Olivia is a wonderful big sister and very mindful of her little sister and interacts with her so gently, and is learning to have a little patience when Chloe won’t leave her alone. After a slow morning of being harrassed by her sister, we got them both dressed and headed off to see Nanny Rose and Grandad Al.

Day 297 - Oct 29th

Day 297 – Oct 29th

298: Sunday, and the last day before heading back to work after a week off. Today we’re off to visit the other Nanny and Grandad, and I grabbed this shot of the colourful leaves hanging down, as I am a real sucker for the autumn colours.

Day 298 - Oct 30th

Day 298 – Oct 30th

That 365 project keeps comin’: days 264 – 274

264: Monday again and its back to work, the weeks go whooshing by, and its a fairly uneventful day to be honest. One thing that makes me chuckle is the in-laws bringing us some beers, the Vokes or volks beer, and the lazy cow beer. I’ll enjoy downing these two at some point!

265: Who doesn’t love a good sunset?! Now and again you see one that looks pretty, then once in a while one comes along that kinda blows you away. Today, the latter happened!

Day 265 - Sep 27th

Day 265 – Sep 27th

266: So with the CBT drawing closer and a deposit put down on my motorbike, its time to start making sure I have all the right clothing for riding it home when I can finally pick it up. Tonight I headed over to see a friend who was selling on some second hand jackets and gloves, still with plenty of life in them. I picked up quite a bargain and feel ready to hit the road now!

Day 266 - Sep 28th

Day 266 – Sep 28th

267: Pah! I missed out on todays photo, and so, a day late, I am showing off my new Red Hot Chili Peppers t-shirt all ready for the concert in December. Having been a fan for over 20 years and never seen them live, I feel like its now or never! What if they were to split up next year or something?! Then I’d never see them! No, got to do it now, and with the appropriate attire too!

Day 267 - Sep 29th

Day 267 – Sep 29th

268: Sometimes photos present themselves for the 365 many times a day, sometimes the day passes and you get tired of looking, especially when you’re ready for bed. Today was one of those days!

Day 268 - Sep 30th

Day 268 – Sep 30th

269: Saturday morning, the alarm clock doesn’t go off, and the agenda for the morning is blank. Its a fairly good start to the day… at least until the wife offers to cook me a proper breakfast. Could my weekend get any better?

Day 269 - Oct 1st

Day 269 – Oct 1st

270: Another lazy start to the day before we head out to a birthday party, Olivias best friend is celebrating at a local swimming pool, a private heated pool, followed by party food and games. When we head home I see a tree near the house turning red, and decide to go for a walk after we get home and get out of the car. Olivia comes with me, poses for a split second and just makes the photo.

Day 270 - Oct 2nd

Day 270 – Oct 2nd

271: I decide to do something a little different with this Monday night and meet up with an old school friend I probably havent seen in 30 years. I am offering some basic photography training, and need someone to practise on. She wants to learn and is willing to be a guinea pig. It was a lovely night, and this simple shot was the inside of the pub we met in while I was demonstrating features on the camera.

Day 271 - Oct 3rd

Day 271 – Oct 3rd

272: I have tattoos, yes its true. This particular one was for my 40th birthday, the girls names. I originally wanted Olivia’s name shortly after she was born, and I am glad I waited until Chloe was born before having this done. I thought I would throw this in there as it was a day for not finding many photos.

Day 272 - Oct 4th

Day 272 – Oct 4th

273: I’d started to get into a bit of a better habit with getting to bed at a sensible time, but I do find things to do in the evening that constantly seem to challenge this. The will is there, but I just don’t seem to have enough hours in the day sometimes, just like tonight and typing up this 365 blog, knowing I have to plan next weeks photography training for Monday night, on top of the wedding photos I have to edit!

Day 273 - Oct 5th

Day 273 – Oct 5th

274: I’d taken some lovely photos of Chloe with her new haircut, as her hair was finally out of her eyes, but then we see this face again! I can’t lie, we’ll remember Chloe’s baby days as being a bit of a whinger. To be fair, it was bed time and someone was getting tired. There were more smiles before and after this shot, by the way, I didn’t just leave her moaning and take photos!

Day 274 - Oct 6th

Day 274 – Oct 6th

So that’s it for this week, now to finish off a few more chores before I can hit the hay! Only one more day before the weekend!