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Day 141 – Where does the time go?

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Day 141 – Aug 3rd

Four years. Where has four years gone? It seems like five minutes since we were sat in a room with a bunch of strangers, six other first time heavily pregnant women with their six rather anxious fathers-to-be, about to be taught the joys/horrors of child birth, and what to actually do with a baby when you get it home.

This bunch of strangers turned out to be a really cool bunch of people who we have remained friends with ever since. The moms regularly meet up, and so do the dads, and occasionally we get the whole gang together, which is tricky as there is so many of us, but for the joint birthday party and usually christmas too, everyone always puts the effort in to be there.

The location has changed each year, for the first year we met at Pizza Express, but have since moved on to having it at each others homes as there is more room for the kids, as we don’t need to book any tables or have a time allowance. We all contributed by bringing some different food with us to put on the buffet, and helped to clear up at the end. Clare had found a piñata at the supermarket, which we filled with sweets and took with us, the kids loved it! We were just grateful to get outside at all though, the weather had been crazy this morning… black clouds, torrential rain, thunder and lightning as we arrived, followed by blazing sunshine and clear blue skies, followed by torrential rain and hail stones! Thankfully the sunshine bit hung around long enough to dry most of the garden out so that we could all get out.

All in all a great day, even if the dads were feeling a little fragile after meeting for a few beers the night before!

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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 047 – Children make memories, not mess

Day 47 – May 3rd

Feeding the children has become a part of our normal meal time now. Quite often, if we are eating at a sensible time, the girls will eat pretty much what we are eating, making life a lot easier as we are only cooking one meal. As any parent knows though, meal times aren’t always that straight forward. Today happened to be a day where little miss I-will-eat-anything-if-it-stays-still-for-long-enough decided she was going to mess with her meal, and totally refuse her normally favourite yoghurt… that was until we left it on the table, took her out of her high chair and turned our backs.

Suddenly yoghurt was the new favourite thing again!

Only this time she was feeding herself!

It was on the floor, on the chair, on the back of the sofa, on her face, on her clothes…

So she was straight back in the highchair, and seeing as it was bath night, we just left her to it! Thank goodness for laminate flooring, wipe clean furniture and baby wipes! This is why we never had carpet or fabric covered furniture!

Baby wipes… however did we cope without them before we had children? They clean everything!! They truly are amazing, and every household should know their benefits! I think we’ll be buying these long after the girls have grown up!

365 update: days 76 – 83

Blimey! How quickly do the days fly by when you get a little bit distracted? I have fallen way behind with these updates now, as it has been a busy few days, and I need to get caught up. At home there are many distractions, a toddler and a baby can easily keep your hands full, and by the time we have a couple of hours to ourselves in the evening, I am usually too tired to type anything coherent! At work the term has finally ended and Easter has now been and gone, leaving a trail of chocolate behind, and the temptation to be a terrible parent and eat all the kids chocolate, making promises to replace it at a later date, or justifying it by saying that “they really don’t need that much chocolate” is tough. Well it is if you’re a chocoholic like me!

76: With just a couple of days left of the term, its still hectic at work and not much quieter at home. There are days when getting a photo every single day can be tricky and completing a 365 project can seem like a mission impossible, but this is the work horse I have already completed two of them on. I just need to get a bit more creative over the remaining 9 months.

Day 76 - Mar 22nd

Day 76 – Mar 22nd

77: I came home from work feeling relieved, the last day with the kids, as the following day was a staff training day. The wife was at home with the girls, and I was looking forward to seeing them all. I was soon aware that the wife was ushering Olivia into the living room to show off the easter bonnet that her nanny had made for her, and when I picked up the camera to take a quick photo, as I so often do, I didn’t expect what happened next. As I raised the camera and asked her to look at it, she suddenly, out of nowhere and without prompting gave us jazz hands and said “ta-daaaah!!”. Where on earth has she got ta-dah from?? It kept us laughing for a while!

Day 77 - Mar 23rd

Day 77 – Mar 23rd

78: Time to do something a little different, I’m feeling inspired! I had picked one of the chillies I’d grown last year, and after being sat on the window sill, it had begun to turn see through. I wanted to shoot it against a plain white background, with the flash behind it to emphasize this, and I think the effect worked. Which reminds me, I need to get this years chilli seeds planted pronto!!

Day 78 - Mar 24th

Day 78 – Mar 24th

79: The milk feeding process seems to have fallen into a bit of a routine now, and its making the day easier to plan and it means we can work out a system for bedtime. Although Chloe is still being sick a lot. How much is too much, and when do they stop being sick all the time? I didn’t get involved in the feeds much today as I’d been given a pass out for the release date of Batman vs Superman at the cinema where I was joining some friends to see the film following a five guys burger. A whole day of not cooking as we’d also been out for lunch with friends and tried Wagamamas for the first time too. How have we not been there before?

Day 79 - Mar 25th

Day 79 – Mar 25th

80: Saturday, and again we weren’t cooking as we were heading over to a friends for lunch. A very pleasant couple of hours, but we had to rush home as the wife had a friend heading over to spend couple of hours at our house. She’d brought with her some eggs for the girls, and Olivia had her own personalised chocolate egg.

Day 80 - Mar 26th

Day 80 – Mar 26th

81: Easter Sunday, and the only plan for the day is heading over to the in-laws for lunch to join with the brother in law and his family joining us too. Olivia loves playing with her cousins and needed no entertaining from us at all. She’d dressed up lovely for the day, and I was betting on her not looking like that when we got home! It wasn’t psrticularly easy getting a photo today as it was surprisingly windy when we stepped outside, but I persevered.

Day 81 - Mar 27th

Day 81 – Mar 27th

82: Bank holiday monday, and its off to the swimming baths with Olivia for a quick splash with some friends and their daughter. One thing I am conscious of, is making sure that after getting trigger happy on the camera with the first born, there wasn’t just 5 photos of baby number 2 because of the age old concept that you don’t put quite as much effort in for the second one. I want to make sure I capture all of Chloe growing up, just like I did with Olivia. She doesn’t seem very excited about the fact though.

Day 82 - Mar 28th

Day 82 – Mar 28th

83: Trainers, shorts, running top and gps… check! All set to join my friend for a run around the reservoir. We used to go almost every weekend, but haven’t run for a few months. I have been keen to get back into it, but keep putting it off, as it never seems like the right time. The weather was glorious, sunshine and blue sky, and we did 6.1 miles before heading back to the car. Not long after getting home and enjoying a nice soak in a hot bath to relax my leg muscles, I watched the grey clouds head over and the downpour started. It suddenly wasn’t a day for a picnic blanket in the park any more!

Day 83 - Mar 29th

Day 83 – Mar 29th

Another year draws to a close

Yet another summer term ends, and while we still have one more day tomorrow, it is for staff only as the pupils get to start their holiday at the end of today.

It has been a year full of trials and difficulties, some challenging pupils and some difficult staff issues too, and I will be very glad to see Friday afternoon roll around. At the same time it will be quite sad as our headteacher of some 25 years finally retires. I’ve known him myself for almost 20 of those years, which is actually over half my life, and quite a crazy way to think of it! It really is the end of an era, and he is leaving behind some pretty big boots to fill, a rather daunting job for any new potential head teacher!

So what is the summer holidays actually going to look like in the Vokes household? Well, we’re keeping Olivia in nursery for her two days a week, as we have to pay for those anyway. It gives me an opportunity to get other things done, plus she enjoys it anyway and gets a great deal out of it, so why deprive her of that? She is starting to make friends and learn social skills with the other children, a valuable lesson that she just can’t really learn at home, no matter how much I try to teach her. The other three weekdays it’ll be just me and little missy, so I am hoping to take her out to see friends and family, or go for some walks as she loves being outdoors… but for those rainy days where we have to stay at home I intend to but some kids paint and let her have fun painting and get totally messy! Kids need to explore, they need to be free to make a mess without worrying about consequences, and this is exactly the reason we had laminate wood floor put in when we were sorting the house out before we moved in, rather than carpet downstairs. Pretty much everything, including the sofa, can be wiped clean with little effort!

Then of course I am lucky to have Clare off work for a week and our trip to Torquay planned! I am very excited about Olivia’s first holiday, it’s going to be great, even if the British weather does treat us to a downpour, I am fairly confident we won’t care that much!

What has been happening more recently? Well there was the leavers prom that I always attend around this time of year. The kids looked fantastic and all the parents were keen to get their hands on some prints!

I have been going for a few years now, and have taken some nice photos along the way, but I knew I was on a time limit this year, and had to get back home as early as I could. So it was a case of rattling through the photos and trying to make the ones that I took really count. With my 85mm lens and a beautiful yellow flowered bush conveniently located on the school grounds, it all came together pretty well. Thankfully, the practical upshot of this was that I did not need to put up my background and lights this year, which saved me a lot of time and meant I was able to get home to the wife, who wasn’t feeling well, and be able to put Olivia to bed instead of her doing it.

The weekend was a busy one, and I had been asked to photo graph my friends little girl who was almost seven months old, and naturally I was delighted at the opportunity! As she was still only in the sitting stage, and not moving very far, this gave me an instant advantage, it meant I could be more flexible and move around to get a better shot. Just before we finished, we took the shoot outside and got a few photos in the natural light, under the shade of a tree in a local park.

Having such a cute little model always helps to make things easier though, and after a big snooze and a feed just before we started, she was in a fantastic mood and didn’t complain once about the camera being all up in her face either! I can’t wait to capture her again at 12 months and see how she has changed. These are the kind of photos I want to be doing more of! They are far less time consuming and far more stress-free! Of course I still do weddings, but I keep it low-key until friends ask me to help out, which I am always happy to do.

Of course, the blog wouldn’t be complete without a new portrait of my beautiful little daughter. I have taken so many of her since she was born, it was easy to get carried away, but now its time to start taking some proper portraits, especially as she has learnt to at least pause and look at the camera briefly now. I am not trying to get her to pose, or turn her into some kind of child model, but these are memories we will treasure when she has grown up and moved out. That day may seem like a long, long way off… but it will be here one day!

Summer is just around the corner

Its Sunday night and I am hoping I will have time to get this blog started and finished before bed, without it being the middle of the night before I finish!

The weeks are slipping by at quite a rate now, in the big countdown to the summer holidays. We have just five weeks left, and then the whole summer off, and I’m a little excited about this one. Olivia will be a much more fun age, we’ll be able to get out and about and do things and see people, and then of course there is the holiday as well! Four nights away in Cornwall with the family, I really can’t wait! We’ve been given a whole bunch of leaflets from a work colleague who goes there often, to help us plan our time down there. I don’t like to have holidays set in stone, and tick items off on a clipboard as we do them, but I do like to have a vague idea of things to do if its sunny, and things to do if its raining. When you only have a short time away with the family, its no good being sat around for half a day trying to work out what you’re going to do with whats left of the day. All we can really hope for is some nice weather so that we can keep all our options open, but this is Britain in August we’re talking about, the weather is no more guaranteed than the roll of a dice! August may seem like it should be hot and dry, but of all the weddings I have photographed, it is also the most temperamental month!

Thankfully, even though June has proved to be a bit colder than expected so far, at least it has stayed reasonably dry and the rain hasn’t caused too much of an impact on cycling, but when you are cycling home on a Friday knowing you have the weekend stretched out ahead of you then even a downpour wouldn’t really bother me that much! Friday evenings are all about kicking off the shoes, relaxing and letting the stress of the week just drain away. We put a pizza in the oven, poured a drink and put a film on. The latter part is always a gamble, trying to find a film that the wife won’t fall asleep through, or fail to understand. My choice this weekend was called Traffic, three separate story lines, apparently unrelated, all about the american futile war on drugs and how it effects different people. Not necessarily one I’d have normally chosen, but the imdb reviews all looked quite positive, and so I thought it was worth a gamble. It turned out to be quite a good film, interesting and a real eye opener, and the extra bonus is that Clare managed to stay awake through most of it.

Saturday was set to be a busy day for me, starting off first thing with 3 hours looking after J again, which was hampered by the rain, as he is quite energetic and loves getting outside. So it was time for plan B and  some indoor activities. From there I had to shoot home once I was finished and let the wife get ready to go out as she was meeting friends in town, while I took Olivia over to see my nan. As it has been a while since I saw my nan, far too long in fact, and I’d like to get over much more often, but for one reason or another there just doesn’t seem to have been the time recently. I feel a bit bad about it, especially with my nan at her age, as she can’t get about much like she used to and relies on people visiting, and obviously she’s no spring chicken anymore, you just don’t know how long grandparents will be around for when they start creeping towards 90! I really want Olivia to remember seeing her, and not just from photos that she looks at when she’s older. I really must make more of an effort to get over a lot more often. Once I’d left my nan’s it was time to head home and start getting dinner ready as we were feeding my sister and her boyfriend, who would be baby sitting Olivia for us later that evening while we popped out to a quiz. It was a good day, and the only problem with being on the go all day is that the day seems to go so much faster! In fact it actually seems crazy that we are pretty much halfway through the year, we are as close to putting christmas decorations up as we are to the last time we took them down! Where does the time go? Our little lady is two years old soon, and I’d be lying if I said we’d even begun to think about what we’re going to do to mark the occasion! If you want something really depressing to think about, this Sunday marks the longest day of the year, which means every day from them on is going to get shorter and shorter! I know, I really didn’t need to put that out there, but you’d have figured it out soon enough anyway, so don’t blame me for highlighting it! It has been lovely enjoying these lighter evenings though, I was even out tonight doing some gardening at 9:30pm because I could. The wife was in bed early and I never sit around and watch tv anyway, there is rarely anything on that I want to watch, to the point I do actually question why I pay so much for Sky TV each month. I have thought about getting rid of it, but the reality is that we get our phone line and broadband from them anyway, and the TV really isn’t that much extra, plus the wife always has the tv on, she’d never be able to live without it! Combine all this with the fact that we removed the connection from the living room for the tv aerial, meaning we wouldn’t be able to pick up freeview tv even if we did ditch Sky! In a way it feels a little bit like a drug habit, it costs us a small fortune and yet we can’t give it up! While we’re on the subject of Sky, we’ve recently had an upgrade to our broadband and taken up their Sky Fibre offer. They had recently put their price down, and made it a bit more appealing, but in reality I am not feeling the huge benefits from it that I had hoped for. Our line speed on the original broadband would quite often hit 16.5mbps on a speedtest, and the fact that I was promised 40mbps with Fibre would only have been encouraging if it had actually happened, as 40mbps isn’t bad, but still isn’t exactly the leap I’d quite hoped for. Some of my friends with Virgin have exceeded well over 120mbps without any issues! The fact that some of my first speed tests on Fibre gave me speeds of just 15mbps (on a service I am paying extra ££ for don’t forget!) was not encouraging at all. After a little research and playing about with some settings, I am not getting around 30mbps on the speed test, better, but still not great. The real bonus that I am not going to complain about though is the upload speed, which is 9x faster than the original broadband, crucial for times like when I am uploading several hundred wedding photos to the website, a job which frequently means leaving the computer running overnight, and just hoping that I wake up in the morning to the job being done, and not having paused halfway through for some unforeseen error. When I have been uploading stuff previously, it can literally feel like it is taking forever, so this is a huge bonus! Trialling their 25Gb usage cap to try and save a little money was a total waste of time though, as they emailed me within a week of the Fibre going active to say I’d burnt through the 25Gb in less than a week, (although I am still not sure exactly how we managed to do that, 25Gb in six days sounds a bit fishy to me!), but it looks like we’ll end up switching to their ‘unlimited’ Fibre plan instead and having to pay extra for it. Although I do feel a grumpy phone call coming on to complain about the line speeds and see if I can get them to waive the extra monthly fee as compensation. If you don’t ask, you don’t get… right?!

Sunday turned out to be a quieter day, although it did start early, with Olivia deciding that 6:30am was her time to wake up. She woke us both up, but it was Clare’s turn to go back to bed while I took madam downstairs and entertained her for a couple of hours until she’d caught up on her sleep. I wanted to get a few more portrait shots of Olivia in the garden as it was a dry day and it wasn’t too bright with the cloud cover breaking up the light a bit. Getting these weekly portrait shots is something I am keen to try and keep up, and she is changing so much each day, and now that she is on the move I find I am taking much less photos of her, as its harder to get her to keep still and/or look at the camera!

It was nice to get out in the garden, turn off the tv and enjoy some fresh air and natural light. It was also a chance to get a little gardening done. One thing I have learnt from owning a house with a greenhouse in the garden and growing things is that I need to be planning and planting stuff far earlier in the year than I am. I have left some flower seeds until May to plant, which doesn’t really give them much growing time! Being in the garden is definitely therapeutic, gardening and growing things is relaxing, and that is definitely something I need much more of. I don’t feel very relaxed at the moment, like my to-do list is never empty and I am always racing through it to cross things off. I like being busy, but sometimes I can make myself too busy, and that is not good for us. In fact I have just read an article on “The disease of being too busy” and do have my own views on it, but I will share those another time!

IMG_0107After a while in the garden, I thought I felt a drop of water on my hand, and it turns out that rain was most definitely stopping play this afternoon. The gardening equipment was in, the play sand covered up, it was time to head indoors, where we were to stay for the rest of the afternoon. There was a momentary break in the rain where I caught this shot of one of the foxgloxes with droplets of rain on it, and with the colours it made a very beautiful sight! The break in the rain didn’t last long though, and we were resigned to an afternoon indoors, although its never a bad thing when I get to spend an afternoon at home with my two favourite people!

Falling way, way behind…

It has been a busy couple of weeks one way or another, and as much as I’d like to blog, there sometimes doesn’t seem like there’s enough time in the day! Time is already a premium, and this is something I am well aware of, but technically I already have a full time job, a part time job, a part time business, a family, my martial arts class… and all this before I have any down time, time for me! I recently read online about a family who gave up their reasonably well paid jobs and sold their home to buy a caravan and just travel around the country, living from one day to the next. Initially it sounded daft, but they put up a convincing argument that at the end of the day noobe judges us by the things we bought, but by the time we spent with them. Time that can’t be bought, or replaced, or regained if we waste it. Time is essentially a currency, it’s all we have, and when it’s gone it’s gone!

It’s made me think, and I definitely need to manage my time a bit better. Although I can be forgiven this week as I haven’t been well, and had to take a few days off work with a throat infection. I don’t like taking time off work, I always feel guilty, but sometimes you just have to let the body catch up and rest. It wasn’t a fun time, sure I got to watch films and eat ice cream (it’s all I could swallow, it the cooling effect helped my throat!). Previous weeks have been a little hectic though, take half term for example, the days just disappeared. Out of five days, Clare was off which left me with four, I looked after J for two of the days and took him out, this left me with two, one of which I had taken the morning to visit the Newborn Photography Show at the Botanical Gardens. Very inspiring, and an easy way to part with large chunks of cash if you weren’t careful! So yeah, now suddenly I am down to one day, and of course I have Olivia with me, which as fantastic as it is means I don’t even get to look at a to-do list, my day is pretty much mapped out for me with food and naps.

[some of the animals from the Birmingham Nature Centre taken whilst out looking after J.]

What else has been going on recently? Well we can’t forget last weekend where we met up with friends for a day trip out to Drayton Manor Park. Our friends had managed to get us some discounted tickets, which was quite honestly the only way we could afford to join them. Its a far cry from the Drayton Manor that I last visited as a child some 30 years ago, where we had to buy strips of tickets to be redeemed against each ride, or a wristband for the day getting us onto all the rides for a whopping £6, which, for a family of four, back in the 80s, was not the kind of budget we had for a day out! The prices have rocketed since, and it may still be Alton Towers poorer brother, but its still not cheap to get in and even then, there are still ways to part with even more of your cash once you’re inside! The rides have improved significantly, and there is now the added bonus of Thomas Land for parents of small children, an assortment of Thomas the tank engine related mini rides for the kids, which seemed to be very popular! It was nice that there was something for the little ones to do, and it wasn’t just a case of us running around the park from one big ride to the next, dumping the little ones on whoever drew the short straw. Don’t get me wrong, this did happen a lot anyway, but we still managed to give the little ones a chance to have some fun on rides more suited to them! We had decided to make a full day of it, and got there early and stayed right up until they closed and literally threw us out! We found time to sit down together for lunch halfway through the day, and really made the most of catching up with our friends. We did try to get around everything in the park, and found ourselves coming back to this ride more than once…

Aside from theme parks and being off work sick, we have also been out in the garden a bit, as the wind and rain is starting to disappear and leaving us with sunnier, slightly warmer days.

These are all plants I grew last year from seed, the sweetpea, the lupin and the foxglove. The garden is taking some work, but is starting to look at bit more colourful now, and hopefully over the next couple of weekends we’ll be able to tidy it up a bit more, especially as it feels like bbq weather is pretty much here, and its time to get inviting some friends round for drinks and food!

Its great finally having a garden, something I have missed having for so many years. I can’t even remember the last time I had a proper garden to look after, and although its not always easy finding the time to do what needs doing, it is very rewarding, and almost a little therapeutic whilst you’re doing it. There is always the greenhouse as well, of course, which is is currently full of tomato plants and more flower seeds, some of which will need planting out in the coming weeks! Then there is the beauty of relaxing in it, and Olivia being able to play in it, and of course firing up the bbq in it! My plan for this summer is to invest in some kind of sun lounger and spend at least a couple of hours here and there with my feet up, catching a few rays, and quite possibly with a beer in my hand. Sometimes life is all about the little luxuries!

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Gotta love a bank holiday

Gotta love a long bank holiday weekend, nothing feels better than sticking two fingers up to Monday morning and turning off your alarm clock, and there’s still one more bank holiday left for this year as well! There are numerous ways to kickstart the weekend, and while I couldn’t be out propping up a bar with friends or dancing the night away, I had a suitable, albeit a slightly antisocial alternative… film night! The wife was out with friends for food and wine, so once the little one was fed, bathed, and in bed, I had the evening to myself. I already had the pizza and the beer, so now all I needed to do was find a suitable film to watch. On a normal weekend I have to be fairly selective in my film choices with Clare around, if the pace is too slow she’ll fall asleep, if its too complicated she will lose interest and fall asleep, if the film is too long she will fall asleep, too much sci fi going and she will probably fall asleep… you see a pattern forming here? In fact, if we manage to get to the end of a film and a) she’s still awake and b) says she that she actually enjoyed it, then I am secretly high fiving myself and mentally doing victory laps of the living room! Tonight though, I had no such concerns, I had the full spectrum of films available to me, and could choose to watch absolutely anything I wanted, so where to begin? Well, the obvious two choices are Netflix and NowTV, as I have subscribed to both and have them available through the Apple TV. I eventually whittled my choices down to just the one film, Edge Of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise, the IMDb reviews were good, and although I’d previously discounted this film as I think Tom Cruise can be a bit smarmy, I have to say it turned out to be a pretty good film and I quite enjoyed it.

Saturday started out as a bit of a slow day until I decided that I was going to treat Olivia to a new car


and so we headed down to Toys R Us to have a look around. We already knew what we were buying as she had enjoyed Oliver’s push along Mini so much, and we knew it was currently half price, I certainly wasn’t going to be buying it later on in the year at full price! She had a look around and a play in the other cars, but the battery powered ones were ridiculously expensive for childrens toys. After wearing herself out running around the toy shop it was straight home for her nap whilst Clare went out food shopping. After the shop and nap we headed around to the in-laws to show off Olivia’s new car, and ended up staying for dinner.

I even managed to grab a few beers in the evening with a friend at the local, although it seems a little odd that he has moved into our old flat and so now has the long walk up to the pub and its me who has the five minute walk. I didn’t really mind when it was the other way around, but I definitely prefer it this way round! Its good to catch up with him, and also reassure him that after knowing him for almost 30 years I am not going to jump on the bandwagon of people who have turned their back on him after his marriage broke down. He is definitely very grateful that after all this time our friendship has never changed, we have been through quite a lot together over the years after all. I just hate when not only friends, but couples whose weddings I have photographed also split up, only this week I found out about another separation, and I was at least pleased to hear it was amicable between them, both parties are happy and have moved on, but for me half of the enjoyment of what I do is getting wrapped up in the excitement and emotion of what should be the biggest day of the lives of two people! Often at least one side of the couple will add me on facebook, and so I do get to find out when the marriage didn’t work out. Obviously the couples that do add me and then stay together make me even happier!

Sunday was another grand prix day, this time around it was Monaco, and I was very excited about this race, as its one of the classics. Clare is really understanding about the Formula 1, its totally not her thing at all, but she makes no fuss of the fact it takes up an entire Sunday afternoon, as she is pretty grateful that at least I show zero interest in football, which I know can take up the majority of weekends, and even weeknights, every single weekend of the football season, which pretty much runs from the end of August until the start of the following August… in fact I am not actually even sure why they have those four weeks off!

I had just enough time to see the race and watch the cars cross the finish line before we headed out to our friends housewarming, which we wrongly assumed was just going to be a couple of us and a few hot drinks. Little did we know it would be an actual houseful and and full on bbq! We were supposed to be meeting some of Clare’s friends afterwards, which was nice, but it sadly meant leaving the bbq early. It turned out that they couldn’t make it in the end, which was a shame, but on a positive note we hadn’t left the bbq when we found this out, so at least we got to stay a bit longer!

And that was the weekend, normally by the evening I’d be thinking about Monday morning and returning to work, only this time I didn’t have to… half term baby! I am totally going to pretend I don’t have a toddler who will be waking me up early, and at least living the dream of a lie in, for a short while in my head anyway!

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