Its the time of year that few people look forward to, the government budget announcement where we get to see how financially difficult or easy the government want to make the next 12 months.
Rarely is it good news.
Previously I’ve just tutted and rolled my eyes, not usually paying too much attention to it, apart from the obvious increased costs of petrol and alcohol, the two things that may have affected me the most back then, but in recent years I’ve started to listen a bit closer, as there are more implications from being both a homeowner and a parent.
Tonight I intend to forget all about it and get myself back in the gym, as it has been a couple of weeks since I was last in there and I need to get that heart pumping!
Its now coming up to almost 10 years since I started my photography business. Back in 2008 a good friend managed to convince me that I had enough skill to consider taking it seriously. I decided it was worth a gamble and took the final £400 I could squeeze onto my credit card and bought an SLR camera with it, swearing that this camera was something I couldn’t afford to just buy on a whim and it had to pay for itself!
It took a few free weddings, a few “covering travel costs only” weddings, a number of very cheap weddings, a few kids football teams, a handful of kids portraits that I thought were okay, but in hindsight were terrible… and here I am, almost a decade later, with a collection of camera equipment that I have built up and some lovely photos to look back on.
Social media has been one of the biggest contributors to my business, with many of my friends seeing my work on facebook and asking me to shoot their wedding/children/prom/party along the way. The latest addition to this was todays photo, a right little cutie and the son of a couple whose wedding I happened to photograph a couple of years ago. The mother of this particular handsome little chap was the sister of a girl I went to school with many years ago, and its these kind of links with people, that have really helped to keep people noticing me.
I am looking forward to building the business back up again now that we have our two children, a house move and our own wedding all behind us. Its surprising how these things can all add up and leave you with very little time at the end of the day. Now we have two little girls who are growing up fast, the whole “baby” thing is well and truly done as Chloe can only just still be called a toddler, a title which will also soon be dropped. This all means regular bedtimes for them both, and also that the wife can easily look after both when I am out shooting weddings all day. Plus the fact I am no longer looking after my friends little boy at weekends. It all adds up to the ability to spend a bit more time focusing on the business.
What would you choose to do with your time if you could free up a bit more for yourself?
I write today’s post from the comfort of my new garden furniture, with a fire in front of me, a beer next to me, and the stars above my head. Life feels good at the moment!
Monday we had the pleasure of my friends coming to visit with their baby daughter. Olivia just loves holding babies and playing with them, she’ll make a wonderful mother one day! I love watching all the kids grow up, and change, and develop their personalities… often wondering what they’ll turn out to be like when they’re grown up. What will their passions be? What will they do with their lives? Where will they travel? How will they make sense of the world as it constantly changes and becomes ever more confusing?
I watch my girls especially, to see what clues they’re giving off about what they will be like. What will they look like as adults? Will they still get on with each other? Will they want to hang around with their parents or head off around the world with a backpack? How much of how they turn out will be down to us, or will they be more influenced by who they meet along the way?
We certainly do have two very different girls, as I’ve mentioned before, and trying to predict anything about them is impossible. Chloe is so full of spirit and determination, so visual with her emotions, whereas her big sister was so passive and placid… although she is becoming a bit more determined lately, learning negotiation skills along the way that we haven’t taught her!
The differences between them are amazing, such beautiful little girls, with such different attitudes. It still makes me wonder how the two of them could be so different, but I wouldn’t change either of them! Not one bit.
I am so proud of them both, I think they’ve made me a better person!
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!
What a way to start the week, having friends over for dinner and getting to meet their new baby girl… finally! We should have met the little lady a couple of weeks ago, but had to postpone because of our two snotty little urchins!
The wife had made us a delicious lasagne, and it was nice to do something a bit different on a Monday night, rather than trying to squeeze all our social activities into a weekend. We got to spend a good couple of hours with our friend and the girls were intrigued by this new little person in the house, including Chloe, who suddenly doesn’t seem so little any more. Olivia was as gentle as could be, as she always is around babies, she’s so good. It makes me very proud! Just a shame it wasn’t a little hotter so that we could have taken a drink out into the garden! On saying that, firstly the weather forecast suggests the next couple of weeks are going to warm up a bit, and secondly, I did receive a delivery of wine today, the first time I’d ordered any online. Normally I just go to the supermarket and find out whats on offer, but I thought I’d try something a little different. Per bottle, this works out even cheaper than supermarket wine, and the bottles have been selected to go in a bundle, rather than just some random ones put on promotion in Tesco! The only difficulty now is trying not to finish them all in a week, there’s a reason I only buy a bottle at a time normally!
Today was a day we’d really been looking forward to, catching up with some wonderful friends and their new baby for some breakfast at the local harvester, and not just any breakfast, but all you can eat breakfast with unlimited tea and coffee! It sets you up really well for the day, and usually means we can totally skip lunch after one of these.
Its a great opportunity to tuck into some lovely food and really enjoy breakfast, but it is also a great chance to catch up with our very good friends who we don’t see nearly enough of. There is no rushing here, and none of us are checking our watches anyway, its just a nice relaxed morning.
With our bellies full, we decide that this time we are all going to walk some of it off around a nearby park, and head out to a lovely place called Haden House park with a number of play areas and a great walk around it, that I have unfortunately only been to once before. The last time I went was a few years ago on a cold winter day, and so I couldn’t enjoy the sunshine like I did today. I think its definitely a park we need to be heading back to again soon. The walk got our heart rates up, the kids played and rolled on the grass, the flowers were beautiful. A great place to stretch your legs in.
After we got home, we had a visit from another friend who brought her son and her newborn baby girl. Her son played with Olivia in the garden, and we got the paddling pool set up for them, with the slide going into it. They spent plenty of time outdoors, and had a great time together. Nothing like seeing kids laughing outdoors and having fun. With the weather over the next week being a little uncertain, we need to take advantage of the sunshine while we can.
After a quiet afternoon, we decided that we were going to treat ourselves for tea, and all head out to the chip shop. The girls eat well during the week, and always get a fair.y balanced mix of fruit, vegetables and dairy, so we don’t mind the occasional treat once in a while.
That night was a chance to catch up with one of my oldest friends at the local pub, as Clare is often early to bed anyway, even at the weekend, so she doesn’t mind too much. We don’t see each other that often considering how close we live to each other, but at least we both have somewhere we can walk to when we do get the opportunity. Whilst I was out having a beer, my phone pinged with a photo message, a little baby! One of my close friends and his fiancé, had just had their first baby, a beautiful little girl, and a relatively text book delivery too. What wonderful news, it fills my little heart with happiness! We can’t wait to meet her, and watch Olivia and Chloe play with her as they grow up.
So today I raise a drink and congratulate my friends on their new arrival, baby Isla born today!
Sunday was a stay at home day, with the wife going out and taking the car, I was stuck at home for a while looking after the girls, which was fine as the weather forecast wasn’t fantastic and the Russian Grand Prix was on that afternoon anyway. Before there was any hope of watching the race, I needed to feed the girls. Olivia was excited about the idea of helping me to get lunch ready for both of them, she absolutely loves to get involved and help when she can. I hope she’s this keen to cook when she’s older!
With lunch out of the way, it was nap time for Chloe and Olivia was more than happy to settle down to watch a film on the iPad (any excuse… she loves that damn iPad, but that’s another story!), leaving me free to sit and watch the race in peace. Then, almost as if I’d scheduled and engineered the day myself, Clare arrived home just as the race finished and Chloe was waking up. By this time Olivia had been very patient about not going very far or doing a great deal today, and was starting to get a little bored, so seeing as we still had time left we all threw some towels in out bags and headed out to the swimming pool for an hour.
We don’t normally do things so spontaneously, as getting out of the house can often take a lot of planning, but we managed to do it, and remember everything, and it turned out to be a really fun afternoon. I just hope we can do it all again soon. It was Chloe’s second time in the water and she seems to be quite enjoying it.
I’d put the slow cooker on that morning, and so dinner was ready almost as soon as we got home, after a few bits were thrown on the hob, to go on the side. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday at all, and the beauty of it was… no work on Monday morning. Gotta love a bank holiday weekend.
Todays photo was taken after our swimming session, Chloe was in one of her climbing moods again, and although engrossed in the tv she had decided she was going to sit on the backrest of Olivia’s chair. Repeatedly I took her down and put her on the floor, and seconds later she was back again. In the Good Parenting Handbook (This may or may not exist!) I am sure it mentions about removing temptation and taking the chair out of the room, but to be fair, she is now quite practised at climbing and getting herself down again, and seems to do it with some confidence. She was safely removed for about the tenth time straight after the picture was taken. No babies were harmed in the making of this photo!
Friday is here at last and I waste no time in leaving work and heading home. It always feels nice being home just after 4pm, still plenty of time to play with the girls before they go to bed, or even need their bath!
One thing that has become quickly apparent this week, especially today, is how much Chloe is walking everywhere now. She still has a bit of a wobble, and hasn’t given up on dropping to the floor to crawl somewhere if she wants to get somewhere quickly, but its nice to see the walking actually becoming something of a preference! It means a lot for so many things, like going out for walks as a family, sure it may slow us down a little to have Chloe attempting to do part of it on foot, but at least we can now wear Chloe out a bit too, rather than just carry her everywhere. Not having to put the buggy or carrier in the car means we’ll have so much more space for other things!
Friday is bath night for the girls, and its our goal to get them in and out of the bath, and into bed nice and early so we can settle down and put a film on. We can’t start films too late these days, or I end up watching them on my own. We’d agreed on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo for tonight, I’d bought the Blu-Ray a while back and as I hadn’t had time to watch until now, it was only this evening that I realised I’d bought the original version ie in swedish with english subtitles! Just my luck! Thankfully the english version happened to be on Netflix, so all was not lost! Now to kick back and enjoy the start of a long bank holiday weekend!
Just as the brexit dust has settled, people have started getting used to the idea a little more, and the very vocal online community of angry remainers have started to calmdown… the government tosses another political hand grenade over the fence, and called a general election for this summer.
Aside from the usual news reports and party political broadcasts, this can mean only one other thing… Facebook is about to become a political soapbox for a bunch of new found experts on the matter. It’s going to be pretty much unbearable for at least two months, and most likely even a month after its supposedly over! Everyone will be sharing their opinions, telling everyone else which way to vote and making them feel bad if they don’t. I would even consider coming off Facebook for a while, but I know thats not really going to happen, and why should I?! It’s my Facebook too, and its serves a purpose for what I need it for. There is an alternative of course, put the phone down (does no-one use a laptop any more?) and just go outside, which is exactly what I did today.
I’d already spent a portion of the afternoon walking round Lickey Hills, and as soon as we collected Olivia from nursery we were straight out in the back garden. Not having the tv on makes me happy, its good to be outside. I made sure Chloe came out too, I was fairly sure that even though she is still putting everything in her mouth, the grass at least would be safe from being chomped on!