A quiet kinda day, nothing much to report. Enjoyed a nice ride into work on the new motorbike as the weather had been a little milder for a couple of days. The risk of ice on the road is the biggest deterrent. I don’t mind braving the elements, and won’t shy away from adverse weather as long as its safe, I certainly wouldn’t call myself a fairweather rider. My big concern is hitting some ice and not being able to keep the motorbike upright, which could mean not only damage to the bike, or damage to myself, but potentially damage to another vehicle or even another person in the worst case scenario. The big problem with this bike is its size and more so its weight, a full 100kg heavier than my previous 125cc motorbike weighing in at a whopping 240kg!
Thankfully my commute is a fairly safe affair, especially in the good weather, and it made it quite enjoyable… but the best part of my day is always getting home to see the girls. Nothing beats the look on their face when I walk through the door.
Saturday was a big day for the biggest little lady, after her usual morning session at the dance school it wasn’t long before she was home and nagging us to let her write her letter to Santa. The excitement about Christmas was starting to build a little in the Vokes house as we approach the end of the month. There had already been plenty of talk around what she was hoping to get for Christmas, and thanks to the wife’s organisation most of it was already sat on a high shelf in the wardrobe in our bedroom.
Still, she was keen to send Santa a letter, and insisted that we had to write one today. I found a quick and simple template online to download and print, making the job a little easier. It wasn’t long before we had a letter finished and ready to go in the post, even though we knew we’d be seeing Santa the following day. If there were any questions about why we were posting the letter and not giving it directly to Santa, I already had a bunch of excuses, mostly around Santa not wanting to lose letters, or the elves needed to reply to it etc.
Once this was done I was keen to get on with the task of fixing up the Christmas eve box that we wanted to give to the girls. It seems to be a growing tradition by all accounts, although I have only found out about it in the last few weeks, and there seems to be some mixed reactions to it online, some people loving it, while others think it is a complete waste of money when they are already spending enough on gifts for the following day. To be fair, I don’t intend to spend a fortune on what’s inside the box, I just want to see their faces when we pull out a few nice surprises. I’ve got a few ideas and I can’t wait to show the girls. So today was off to B&Q for some furniture paint after I spent a little while the other day sanding it down. Once it is painted I will give it a bit of a glitter spray and then start trying to work out what is going to go inside it.
Anyone else doing a Christmas eve box for their kids?
Friday means getting home from work early, but this doesn’t always lend itself to having more time for a photo.
It was a day of relief, as an assessment at work that had been bothering me for a while was finally out of the way, and I could relax and forget about it.
It was also the end of a rather lazy week, I had been on the motorbike all week, and hadn’t cycled at all. The start of the week had been riding in on the old 125cc motorbike, and the end of the week was the new 650cc motorbike. I’d had a rough ride home from the dealers on the Wednesday and so wanted a couple of days to get used to riding this big beast in some normal weather. I did manage to get a session in the gym to compensate, but it was only the one, which feels a bit like a token gesture!
The other reason I stayed away from the camera and computer this evening was because I had promised the wife a bit of a date night. Get the girls to bed early, I’d cook something nice, we could have some wine and candles with dinner, then follow it up with a film… only it didn’t quite go to plan. Those pesky kids getting in the way of my idea. So with them in bed later than intended we decided to have dinner on our laps and start the film while we were eating, otherwise there is every chance that I’d have been watching it alone whilst listening to the wife sat next to me snoring! The food was good and the film was funny, so it was still a pleasant night.
So some kind of crazy weather hit the UK last night. It made riding on a motorbike on the motorway for the first time pretty only for the brave or stupid… I am yet to decide which I am!
We had some minor damage in the garden, the fence was already slightly damaged from a previous storm and the green house has lost a few panes of glass and the door. Its all fairly easily fixable, and it seems that yet again we got away with a lot less damage than other places around the UK.
It was nice to see some quieter, calmer weather this morning though. I should have been cycling into work today, but I wanted to try out the new motorbike in calmer weather where I could focus on the ride and navigating the usual traffic rather than just the weather, like last night.
Weather or no weather, new bike or old, nothing beats getting home and seeing my girls! Just one more day before the weekend!
Todays shot was simple, Chloe was starting to feel better after having a temperature and not eating much this week, and was happily sat watching tv. I had put my 50mm lens on my camera, and knew that I’d get a cracking shot out of it. The 50mm f/1.2 lens gives a notoriously narrow area of focus, and as with almost all portraits, the key is to make sure that the eye is in focus, most other things are out of focus giving a huge emphasis on the specific area you are focusing on. I love this effect and this lens.
I didn’t have a lot of time to get a photo again today. For an hour each Saturday morning Olivia has dance class now, and getting out of the house without Chloe tagging along is getting harder, sometimes its just easier to take her. So ahead of any temper tantrums I had decided that we’d all go to the dance class, and while Clare waited inside watching Olivia I would take Chloe off for a wander around Streetbike to have a look at new things.
That afternoon I was heading out to meet a new friend, the husband of someone I work with who I met at a party a few months ago and found we had absolutely masses of things in common. One of which was a fondness for new and different craft beers, and there are a couple of shops in Birmingham which specialise these. It was a fun afternoon and Cotteridge Wines is truly a unique and quirky place. It kind of looks like someone had a great idea in around 1970 and then thought “oh this is working, lets not change anything… ever!” Fold away chairs are placed around crates stacked up to be used as tables. The toilet is literally a bathroom with a bath in it, and the corridors make it feel like you are walking through someones house. BUT.. they have some absolutely amazing craft beers on offer and are clearly doing well, so well in fact that a couple of other shops in the local area have tried to copy the format.
Sadly I missed putting the girls to bed, but did make sure I got home at a sensible time and not too drunk even though we were drinking some pretty potent ales!
Friday night, where I love to get the girls into bed so that me and the wife can sit down and relax together with a drink and a film. Traditionally the wife doesn’t do so well for staying awake in front of a film, we kind of expect her to nod off at some point, but every now and again we find something that really grips her, and she will still be focused all the way through to the end credits… not this time! Yet again, even though we’d picked a film we both liked which this evening happened to be Dallas Buyers Club, I don’t even think she made the half way point.
Usually it is left to me to make the choice as to what film we watch, sometimes its a hit, and sometimes its a miss. Its hard to predict what someone is going to like, no matter how much you think you know them. Apparently even when a film is a hit, its no guarantee that the wife will stay awake.
Oh well, lets try again next week!
The last few nights I have been making more of an effort to get to bed at a sensible time, only for any success I have been having to be pretty much wiped out by one little lady who hasn’t been very well, and another not so little one who, instead of sleeping through the night like she normally does, decided that for some reason she absolutely must get out of bed in the middle of the night for a hug!!
Olivia usually sleeps well and doesn’t wake until the sun comes up in the morning, so we’re a bit confused as to what is waking her. I just wish she’d stay in bed and not feel that she has to come in to wake us too!
Chloe, on the other hand, has been genuinely not well. She’s had an on/off temperature for a couple of days, and has been off her food, and not drinking as much as we’d like her to. Today has been a better day, although its still a series of highs and lows. One minute she’s all cuddles and looking very sorry for herself, and yet just a few minutes later and she’s running around the living room like she’s never had a thing wrong with her.
It looks like she is starting to get a little better, very slowly, although it doesn’t help when she won’t let us give her any medicine, so we’re having to sneak it into drinks and yoghurts where we can. The most important things are drinks and sleep though, both of those in enough quantities will speed the recovery along as nicely.
It’s that time of year, germs are everywhere. People are closing their windows because it’s cold outside and cranking up the heating… and the germs are loving it. Working in a school means that around the October – November time when the temperature drops, you are suddenly exposed to all those snotty, coughing, sneezing kids. It doesn’t help that when I finally get home to escape it all everyone has a cold too.
It’s the sort of time you really need to be keeping your energy up by getting plenty of sleep each night. I knew I had to make an extra effort to get to bed early tonight.
The day started with me not feeling great as soon as I got up, so I decided to abandon the cycle in and took the motorbike instead. There is no point pushing myself physically on a demanding cycle ride into work and making myself feel even more run down, then inevitably becoming even more vulnerable to the germs I’ll almost certainly be exposed to.
Having taken the motorbike in to work meant that, on a whim I could go and visit a bike shop after work to check out a bike I’d had my eye on. On paper this bike looked good, but I was glad I had taken a closer inspection as I spotted something I didn’t like. I gave up on this one, and now had a better idea of what I was looking for, narrowing down my search slightly. It really isn’t as simple as looking for a car!
That evening I actually got to bed earlier, and after a little reading we realised that Chloe was awake in bed, I went to check her out and realised she was red hot and had a temperature. Any chance of getting to sleep was quickly abandoned as we took her downstairs in an attempt to cool her down and get some medicine inside her… easier said than done. You’d think we were trying to put liquidised cat food into her mouth or something. I’ve never seen a child refuse medicine with such an energetic protest!
Midnight came and went, and thankfully our little lady was cooling down and looking like she was in the mood to play again, a sign that she was feeling better. Thankfully when she went down this time, she stayed asleep.
I probably won’t be cycling again in the morning either!
Buying presents for children seems to be something of a first world proble at times, a dilemma between letting them enjoy Christmas and their birthdays, and not spoiling them with so many toys that they forget what they own. There’s also the consideration of space and where to keep everything with an ever increasing collection of jigsaws, dolls, and musical toys. Our house is fairly compact, which is fine for us, but if we don’t keep things in order it quickly and very easily becomes untidy.
The girls toys can quickly seem to dominate a room once they get them out, it’s hard to keep all the bits together so things don’t get lost, and wit more and more toys appearing it means that some toys don’t even see the light of day for weeks at a time.
With all these toys choose from Chloe still has a new favourite above all others, something we didn’t even buy for her… the car. No, I’m not talking about the red plastic Mini Cooper push along childs car that we bought from Toys R Us that they play with in the garden, I mean the 2.0L turbo diesel one sat on the drive.
Chloe has started trying to say a few words recently and has clearly learnt the word car, and will stand at the front door pointing outside saying “car, car” over and over until either a) we manage to distract her (not easy), or b) give in and take her out, accepting that you’re going to be stuck in that car with her for a good ten minutes, and even then you may not manage to get her out without a bit of a fight on your hands!
Incidentally, on the subject of first words, one of the other words she is beginning to learn is ‘Alexa’ after hearing us talking to our Amazon Echo all the time… how very 21st century! It’s quite amusing watching her stand on the edge of the chair trying to shout up to it!
What other unusual first words have you heard?
With hurricane Irma destroying Florida and the Caribbean I find it hard to really complain much about our fairly placid weather, plus it’s doesn’t make for a very exciting blog either, but today was a day of relative extremes for us here in the UK, glorious sunshine followed by torrential downpours, followed by glorious sunshine, followed by torrential downpours… you get the idea. It’s really stating to feel like Autumn has arrived, regardless of what the calendar is telling us it should be. The wind has picked up, a few leaves on the trees have started to turn red, some have even started falling off already.
The biggest changes have to be the overnight temperature and the sunset times. At the height of summer there was still light in the sky at 10pm, but now it is almost completely black outside by 8pm. We’ve been lucky to have some very mild nights over the summer and haven’t even shut some of the upstairs windows in weeks, but over these last few nights we’ve really started to feel a significant drop in the temperature after the sun goes down, and the outdoor thermometer had recently been telling us that the temperature has dropped down into single figures during the night, (that’s basically below 50°F for our transatlantic friends) and it’s starting to feel a bit chilly at night, we are going to need to get our winter quilt back out of the loft and onto the bed this week, the summer quilt is just too thin to keep us warm at night! A brand new electric blanket to have the bed nice and toasty for when we get in, is already on order from Amazon!
The weather isn’t the only change going on at the moment, I also decide it was finally time to do something about my hair. I can’t even think of the last time that I had it cut, and I was beginning to get worried that if I sat for too long in one spot with a McDonalds cup in my hand that people may start throwing spare change into it! It was desperate!
I’d decided that I was doing something about it tonight, but instead of just buzzing the lot off like I usually do, I’d quite enjoyed having it a little longer on top, and so asked the wife for her help on doing something a little different with it.
I was very pleased with the results, and considering the wife is no hairdresser, or even had much experience cutting hair, I think she did a cracking job! It seemed the perfect opportunity to try out my new backdrop to grab a photo of it. A single off-camera flash placed off to the side on a stand, and the black £10 backdrop hanging from the curtain rail was pretty much all I needed with my camera set up on a tripod. It turned out just as I’d hoped it would. Nice photo, shame about the subject!