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Day 139 – there isn’t room to swing a cat in here

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Day 139 – Aug 3rd

Rain, rain, endless rain, its like the weather has forgotten what month it is! Thankfully my plan for today involved spending more time in the garage in an attempt to get it into some kind of order. There is only so much I can throw out, regardless of how ruthless I want to be. Its not the most exciting way to spend my time off work, but a necessary task all the same.

It has been four years, almost to the day, since we moved into this house. It was the end of four months of a huge project to modernise it, rewiring it, plastering walls, putting in a new heating system, new kitchen and new bathroom after the wife’s grandparents had lived in it for many years before us. We moved in with just a couple of weeks to spare before Olivia was due to be born, and loved our new home.

In hindsight, we knew the house was a little smaller than we’d have liked, and if we’d been looking at any other house that had no emotional attachment to it we would have almost certainly found something slightly bigger. One of the primary reasons for buying this house was because of the wife’s grandparents having previously owned, but now it was sat empty, and this way it stayed in the family… plus it was on a beautiful tree lined cul-de-sac and we were only a short walk from the in-laws.

At least with this house, even though smaller than we’d have liked, we had a decent sized garage running along the full length of the house. With it being too narrow to actually get a car in, it made for a great storage space for everything else that we couldn’t squeeze into the house or garden. Today was a day to reclaim some of that space back!

If you’re off work over the summer, what plans are you making?

Day 038 – It falls like pink snow from the sky

Day 38 – Apr 24th

That’s the first day at work out of the way, things didn’t go too badly, and it fills me with a bit of hope for the remainder of the summer term. There is a sense of relief when the school is empty, you didn’t lose or kill any pupils, and your only job now is to get home and see your family.

Outside the front of our house we have a cherry blossom tree, and around this time of year it looks especially beautiful as it comes into bloom. Then, all of a sudden, the petals begin to fall one by one, until a slight breeze moves the branches and it looks like a pink snow storm is in full effect. I’d love to get a good photo of this, but its a tricky one. As I pulled into our road on my motorbike, I start to the the pink all over the grass verges and pooling on peoples driveways. As I pull my bike onto our drive, I see petals everywhere, and its not long before Olivia is outside to greet me. Then the fun ensues, its like running outside to play in the snow, but not needing gloves or a hat and scarf!

I’m just home from work, and would love nothing more than to collapse on the sofa and relax for a little while, but the girls have been waiting for me, and are excited to see me. They don’t care that I am a bit tired and want to sit down, its their time to spend with dad, and they’ve got other ideas… and so in the spirit of being a good dad, I have to give them the attention they deserve. In fairness, they are the reason I rush home from work each day, so its a small sacrifice really, but y’know… who doesn’t want to crash out on the sofa and put their feet up at the end of the day?! Having come out to greet me, Olivia is keen to stay outside playing with the fallen cherry blossom petals, and we run around throwing handfuls at each other. I do manage to take a brief moment to run inside and grab my camera so that I could get todays photo, which turned out exactly as I hoped it would. Just such a shame that within a week all this will be gone!

Day 025 – If flowers on a sunny day don’t make you smile, check your pulse

Day 25 – Apr 11th

Tuesday, Olivia is in nursery and its time to get productive around the house. Well, I say house, but todays big focus is the garage. Its gone from storage area, to dumping ground, to very crowded dumping ground, to very crowded dumping ground with a motorbike in it. I was going to leave this until the summer holidays, but it needs some attention, and without any other plans for the day, may as well start it now.

There is still a bit of sunshine around, even though the temperature is going down, so I managed to grab a photo of the blossom tree outside the house as it basked in the afternoon sun. The blossoms are out now, and make the road look beautiful, its just a shame they only last for a couple of weeks. By the time May is here the trees will be empty again and there will be a blanket of pink on the ground. So lets just enjoy it while we can.

Keeping up with the 365 project: days 84 – 94

Oops! I think this is the longest I have left it between updates. I certainly can’t be doing that again, it has made keeping track of things and finding all the photos quite tricky and time consuming! I had to make notes to remind myself and everything!

What a week and a half it has been! Obviously I have been off work as it has been the easter holidays, but it hasn’t all been straight forward. There were many chores to do, as well as people we wanted to see, and it hasn’t all been possible, even with two weeks off work. A house full of germs in the second week has really put the brakes on a lot of our plans.

84: On the Wednesday I was out in the morning, looking after my friends son before heading home to see our friend who was visiting with her son, and heading out with them and the kids to the park.

Day 84 - March 30th

Day 84 – March 30th

85: With Olivia in nursery we decided to treat ourselves to a fancy lunch with the in-laws and visited the new Miller & Carter restaurant up the road from us. It was a new experience as we’d never been to a Miller & Carter before, and it did not disappoint! We were lucky that Chloe slept through the entire thing so we could eat lunch uninterrupted, although the crying is starting to be replaced with smiles more lately anyway. Straight after lunch we shot off to nursery to see Olivia’s easter bonnet parade.

Day 85 - March 31st

Day 85 – March 31st

86: Off the the Birmingham Childrens Hospital today for Chloe to have her harness looked at. It has been on for two weeks now, although it feels more like two months! Olivia came with us, all dressed up in bright colours, and behaved so well even though we had to wait a while. The Childrens hospital is quite a sad place sometimes, to see parents in tears, standing in corridors consoling each other is just heart breaking. As lovely as the staff are, I’ll be glad when the harness is off and we don’t have to go there again.

Day 86 - April 1st

Day 86 – April 1st

87: Saturday was a much more cheerful day. After a very early start to head into town and visit the Apple Store about the battery issue on my phone, we were off the the Birmingham Nature Centre to meet some friends for a spot of lunch and a wander round the park with the little ones looking at the various animals. Thankfully it stayed dry, and the kids had a lovely time.

Day 87 - April 2nd

Day 87 – April 2nd

88: What better way to start a Sunday than with a trip to the swimming pool to meet friends. Olivia got to swim and play with her friend Amber before we headed off to the cafe for a drink and a biscuit.

Day 88 - April 3rd

Day 88 – April 3rd

89: Monday we couldn’t go far as we were waiting for the men to turn up and put up the scaffolding outside our house, ready for the window to be replaced in a few days time. Olivia decided to set up camp with her lunch and watch the men, make sure they do a proper job!

Day 89 - April 4th

Day 89 – April 4th

90: The germs decide to settle into the Vokes household and bother all of us. Olivia had a bad nights sleep with what we suspected might be whooping cough, so we kept her off nursery for the day. A trip to the doctors ruled out whooping cough, although it was an hour and ten minutes of waiting in the surgery waiting room beyond our appointment time to find it out. So we milked the appointment while we were there, getting both Olivia and Chloe checked out in one go, with Chloe needing two separate checks. Getting 3 for 1 value almost made the wait worthwhile. As we didn’t go far, I decided to take Olivia out for a little walk, where I snapped todays shot with my phone. The blossom is starting to come out early on all the trees running down the roads around where we live. Beautiful while it lasts, but in a couple of weeks it will all be gone and the trees will be empty again for another year!

Day 90 - April 5th

Day 90 – April 5th

91: A slow start to the day, and all three of my ladies in bed snuggling. Not much room for me though! Olivia had another unsettled nights sleep, so we only got as far as visiting a friend for the afternoon.

Day 91 - April 6th

Day 91 – April 6th

92: After looking after my friends son in the morning, it was home to tidy up and prepare dinner as we had a friend joining us for food that evening. I took a snap of Chloe as she is starting to smile so much lately, it really is lovely to see. We’re also getting a few babbling noises as well, she seems to be changing so much.

Day 92 - April 7th

Day 92 – April 7th

93: The weather forecast was wet, but our plans were fixed… we were off to the zoo to meet friends. I think the weather made the parking easier and kept the queues down, but thankfully it was only showers so we got around to see all the animals and even when it did pour, the kids enjoyed it!

Day 93 - April 8th

Day 93 – April 8th

94: Another morning looking after my friends son, and a walk around the Lickey Hills. It is so beautiful here when the sun comes out, and I always wish I’d remember to take the family when I am there!

Day 94 - April 9th

Day 94 – April 9th

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“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

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Back to work after two weeks and starting my Monday morning by delivering a 3 hour training session on Manual Handling. I spent a lot of yesterday trying to polish the presentation and make it slightly less dull for the people that have to listen to me, but at the end of the day, its manual handling and there isn’t much you can do to make it exciting! The session didn’t go too badly, and the rest of the day was fairly productive, and it was really good to be able to jump in the car at the end of the day and drive home. I was a bit late to bed last night, and won’t be especially early tonight, so I am already off to a bad start for the week.Still, at least next Monday I can turn the alarm clock off again and enjoy a lie in! There certainly won’t be any lying in tomorrow for me as it work as normal and its back to the gym before I start the day, hoping to try and get at least 35 minutes on the treadmill, which I will start to increase over the coming weeks.

It was lovely to see Olivia again when I got home, and as she is napping less during the day now, she was wide awake when I got back and walked through the door. She loves looking out of the window at what is going on in the street and so while the wife was getting the dinner ready I took Olivia out for a little walk up and down the road as she is so nosey and watches everything that is going on around her, in particular the birds flying through the sky and the blossom petals falling to the ground. Suddenly I can see the little lady getting tired and know that its bathtime, if not already slightly beyond it. We need to initiate the bedtime sequence. She loves bathtime though, so that was very little effort, and we have the routine pretty much nailed now though to make it as smooth and efficient as possible. Once she is out of the bath, it is time for a bottle of milk and pretty much a sure thing that she’ll fall asleep before its gone.

Once she was down to bed and Clare was watching her soap operas, I decided to head off and spend a bit of time in the greenhouse repotting the squash plants and even planting some new seeds into trays. I was so lucky to have Clare bring me a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits while I was working away up there. Just a few minutes of piece and quiet, and some time to reflect. It’s quite a productive way to just have a bit of time out, and relax!

Just for the fun of it, here is another photo of Olivia just before we got her ready for her bath tonight!

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“Like a flower, we blossom when the conditions are right.”

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Friday morning I was lucky enough to be blessed with a visit from my good friend Alan, who I featured in a post last May about him leaving to follow his dream in Australia. This week he returned to the UK for an unspecified length of time, although is ultimately hoping to head back out to spend a few years in New Zealand. It was lovely to catch up, listen to some of his stories and look at a few of the many photographs he’d taken and grab a spot of lunch with him. He got to see the house at last, as the last time he was here we were still stripping the old wallpaper and the house was a far cry from what it is now. Plus he also got to meet Olivia, as Clare was still 6 months pregnant when he left. I know he was sad to have missed her birth and christening, but fingers crossed he may still be around for her 1st birthday. After a few hours he had to say goodbye as he had several other people to visit, and we were due to go out for our nephews 6th birthday party. Usually we are a few minutes late leaving for most things, it takes a while to get used to taking a baby with you and everything they need, but today we were ready on time, it was a miracle… only to find that the pesky car refused to start! Battery was fine, oil was fine, water and petrol were fine, but it was having none of it. Thankfully the in-laws were just around the corner and hadn’t left yet, so we hitched a lift with them after I called my mechanic and arranged for him to pop over and look at it the following day. It was a standard kids party with lots of cake fuelled hyperactive children, and we did try Olivia in the ball pool again, although she really doesn’t like them much!

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We were dropped home in time to start the dinner before my sister and her boyfriend came round for a bite to eat. They were running a bit late and I didn’t think they’d get to see much of Olivia, but I think her teeth were playing her up and she was just playing with her milk bottle and stayed awake long enough to see them for a while. Clare made a great chilli, and we sat down after it to put a film on, although it came as no surprise that Clare couldn’t stay awake until the end of it. Sadly I was starting to struggle myself, and couldn’t keep my eyes open. After my sister and her boyfriend left, I attempted to work on the photo and blog and promptly fell asleep, and so after a very short nap, gave up and went to bed!

Todays photo was from the blossom tree right outside our house, it flowers once a year and looks absolutely amazing, but sadly only lasts a week or two before all the petals fall off, so it was my mission to try and capture it. Thankfully our front lawn is slightly raised and allowed me to get quite close to it. I also wanted to make sure I got some of the blue sky in the shot rather than any of the surrounding houses or more of the tree!

Day 143/365

“Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.”

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Day two of feeling like death!

Managed to at least eat today, and feeling less and less like the first time I was drunk. Damn these pesky viruses!

Had to pop round to the new house with the wife this evening to drop something off, and I noticed all the blossom from the tree that had collected on the floor. As i’d not been out of the flat since Tuesday evening, I figured this was my only chance to get for something interesting!

Day 136/365

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

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Yet again the clock has ticked well past 11pm and i’m still sat here uploading my photo for the day. That ominous 12am deadline never ceases to threaten me, although 136 days in and it hasn’t beaten me yet! Today I had to take the car to work due to the flat tyre on my bike and not being able to fix it yesterday, a good 6 mile run on the treadmill before wiped me out, but an hours snooze when I got home from work fixed that! Then it was straight onto cooking dinner, taking more stuff from the new house to the tip, visiting halfords for a new inner tube and tyres, visiting the in-laws then fitting the inner tube and tyres and some new brakes for the bike too. Hopefully i’ll feel a little safer on the road tomorrow! Todays picture was from the blossom tree outside our new house, although by the time we move in I have a feeling all the blossom will have fallen off, so I thought i’d capture it now!

Day 122/365

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

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Two days of glorious sunshine, its been a lovely week so far, how many bbq’s will be lit at the weekend? I simply cannot wait to move into the new house and have a garden where I can have my own bbq! Today I went to see a friend about their upcoming wedding, sounds like a great day they have planned, lets just hope they book. Its always a pleasure shooting a friends wedding. On the way over I passed a lovely nature reserve, which, even though it was close to where I grew up, I never even knew it existed. I was hoping to capture a tree in blossom at some point, mission accomplished! Only one more day until the weekend, although Saturday is far from a day of rest as i’m literally up at the crack of dawn to complete a Tough Mudder challenge. Not heard of it? Go put it into google!

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