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Day 233 – Less excuses, more exercising

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Day 233 – Nov 6th

We’re a week into November, Winter is knocking on the door, and this morning we get a reminder of that as the mercury has only crept up to 1ÂșC as I climb onto my motorbike and head off to work, a little nervous that the last time I went out with frost on the road I wasn’t able to keep the bike upright as I pulled out of a junction. I was still quite new to riding and a fairly lively wobble and the bike went down. Thankfully that wasn’t the case today, and I made it to work in one piece.

The next three days I’d be cycling to work, a much more preferable option when its frosty out, firstly its easy to keep warm when you have to peddle uphill, and secondly the bike is easier to keep upright than a heavy motorbike.

Tonight I had committed myself to hitting the gym again after work, as I hadn’t been for a few weeks. I seem to have found plenty of excuses to not go, but really needed to just get off my lazy ass and do it! Usually I head straight for the cardio equipment when I am at the gym, but with a niggling foot injury giving me some bother I decided to do something different and get on the weight machines instead. It was nice to do something different, even though I was aware I had to cycle in the morning and could easily wake up in the morning with stiff legs. In the long run, if I use the weights regularly it will make the cycling easier.

One thing I that would really benefit me is some kind of training plan, but where do you begin with something like that without throwing money at a personal trainer??

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Day 232 – Autumn gives the summer a beautiful send-off

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Day 232 – Nov 5th

Its actual bonfire night in the UK, but seeing as it is Sunday most of the fireworks will hopefully have gone off on Friday and Saturday night, although there will always be those that are determined to wait until the actual date to set some off, and the few weird ones who seem to hang on until Monday or Tuesday… what is THAT all about??

We’d already had fireworks on Friday, and a bonfire at home with sparklers on Saturday, so we were done for this year.

I had to pop out at lunchtime to meet with a couple, they are getting married next year and were visiting their venue and had asked if I could join them to take a look over the place. I’d seen a photo of it, and it looked nice enough, so I really wasn’t expecting to be quite as impressed by it as I was once I’d seen it in person. It was a beautiful venue, and the attention to detail was very impressive. With the passion of the people running the place it sounds like the day will run very smoothly indeed, and I am very much looking forward to their wedding day there, I have no doubt it will be an amazing day.

I did grab a shot of the place before I left, but came home to find these three leaves at the bottom of the driveway, just crying out to be photographed. Here is Autumn at its finest, well done mother nature!

Day 216 – Lets get a little closer

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Day 216 – Oct 19th

Just one more day to go before the half term holiday, that’s what I keep telling myself, a week off work where I don’t need to set the alarm clock and can spend a little time with the family.

We don’t really have many plans for the week, although there are a few things that need doing. The big focus of my week will be Friday where I finally get to take my motorbike test to get my full license. A full year of commuting to work on a 125cc bike with an L plate has been great practise to get me ready for the test, although I am still feeling a little nervous about it, but I do have a refresher morning coming up at the weekend to get me used to being back on the big bike after a bit of a gap. I wouldn’t feel confident about going into my test after two full months since I last went on a 650cc bike, they are bigger, heavier and so much more powerful. Still, in just over a week we will know if I am worthy of passing the test and owning a big bike. Keep all your fingers crossed for me!

Todays photo was an opportunity to play with my macro lens, it is one I don’t use a great deal except for weddings, yet some of the shots I bring home are never quite sharp enough and so I want to try and practise a little and refine the way I use it to see if I can improve my shots.

Day 200 – At least the sky is still beautiful

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Day 200 – Oct 3rd

So with the news of Las Vegas fresh in everyone’s mind still, besides arguing the pros and cons of american gun laws there is little we can do about it all the way over here in the UK, and I am not going to continue watching a loop of news articles about people saying the same thing over and over again now that the majority of the facts are already established, or at least as much as the police can work out.

I was already frustratingly late home from work and keen to spend time with the girls before bedtime. They were both tired and so bath time was scrapped for the night, I was tired myself from cycling to work, and not getting enough sleep since going to the gym on Monday night.

Every day I promise myself that I am not going to go to bed late, and yet every night time seems to run away with me and the time I set myself to head up to bed comes and goes. Surely I can’t be the only one who does this all the time? There seems to be so much to do every night, including blogging, sometimes having to take the time to find a photo for the 365 project on the blog and then there is also editing photos from the recent wedding I shot. Then, if by any chance, I want to watch anything on tv then I am almost certainly ruling out any chance whatsoever of an early night, as most of the stuff I want to watch generally isn’t the kind of thing that the wife wants to watch, although the truth is that its not very often I watch tv anyway.

I was inspired by the wife for tonights photo, as she was glancing out of the window while closing the curtains she noticed that the moon was looking a little eerie behind the clouds and that I should get a shot of it. By the time I had got my camera out and attached the longest zoom lens there were no clouds in front of the moon at all, but I wasn’t giving up. Although the sky was very dark, I could see more clouds moving in, and I was determined to get the shot. Getting well exposed shots of the moon and clouds is a really tricky one due to the limited dynamic range of the camera, the human eye can see a much larger range of light and dark than a camera sensor, and so getting the shot I wanted wasn’t easy, without driving to find a better location and spending a little time on it. I wasn’t prepared to go to those lengths today, especially as I should have been in bed by the time I made the decision to get this shot. I think it turned out okay though.

Day 192 – Can you speak slowly please

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Day 192 – Sep 25th

My brain is literally just taking up space today. When someone asks me a question, I am hearing dial-up internet tones before my brain starts retrieving information at dial-up speed and getting an answer back to you around five minutes later… and possibly a wrong or incoherent answer at that!

After yesterdays busy day the evening took a turn for the worse when Olivia woke up crying and coughing… a situation which pretty much carried on into the early hours and through the night. We tried cough medicine, childrens Ibuprofen, drinks, and keeping our fingers crossed… none of which seemed to work.

When it came time for getting up for work, I was in that frame of mind when you roll over to look at the clock, and with your eyes closed just keep your fingers crossed that its about 3am and you can roll back and go back to sleep… this didn’t prove to be the case. It was time, one way or another I was getting up.

My plan for cycling to work was swiftly abandoned in favour of the much easier motorbike option, it was about all I could manage today. Hopefully we’ll have a better night tonight!

Day 186 – The day I remembered that I’d forgot

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Day 186 – Sep 19th

Back on track, and at least I’d made it half way through before I missed a day, although I can’t believe I just totally forgot, usually just before bed I’ll remember and at least make an effort. 

The project begins to get a bit more difficult from here onwards as we head into Autumn and the days get shorter and shorter giving me less daylight to shoot in after work. Sure there are other options, using the flash at home, long exposure shots at night, or taking the camera to work and shooting during the day, although the latter is brings its own challenges as I don’t get a huge dinner break to both go out and find some and also eat, plus when you’re cycling, the added weight of carrying a big camera in your bag is something you really don’t need. I tend to carry quite a bit in my rucksack at times and each little thing adds extra weight. It might not seem much as you pack each item, but it adds up and there are some days when you first pick the bag up that you begin to wonder how you’re going to cycle with that load on your back at all. There is also the fact I can’t shoot anything within my work environment as cameras and camera phones are generally not allowed in a school setting, especially in this era of heightened safeguarding. So although not impossible, photos during the day are tricky to say the least.

Autumn does bring with it some beauty though, and it is a season I love. The colours in the trees, the leaves on the ground, the way the sky seems to turn so blue. I was looking for a shot and managed to capture this pigeon as it flew overhead, contrasted against the sky. I knew that was my picture for the day.

Day 185 – The day I forgot

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Day 185 – Sep 18th

Okay, I am human, I completely and utterly forgot to pick up my camera today! Can you blame me after taking around 1000 shots yesterday??

For day 185 we’ll have to make do with a photo that is essentially a day late. The wife doesn’t think it should count and said I should have no photo for that day, like there are some unwritten rules somewhere. I disagree, this is my project and therefore I make the rules, so if a photo a day late is to be included then I am happy with that. This one is a bit of an abstract shot, so as to not represent a significant event on a particular day. I still like it!

One a journal note, I hate rain! Sometimes it sucks not having a car to take to work, traffic drives me mental, but at least you don’t get soaked through to the skin like you do on two wheels!! Grr!

Come on Autumn, don’t you let us down now… summer was an absolute wash out, and we need a bit of sunshine to cheer us up!

Day 177 – Try to keep up with me

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Day 177 – Sep 10th

Sunday wasn’t supposed to be much busier than Saturday, but we still had a couple of things we wanted to do.

Our first thing was a trip out to the park to meet a friend and her little girl who was the same age as Olivia. They had both recently turned 4 and both of them had new bikes. We’d agreed to head for one of Birminghams most well known parks, Cannon Hill park as its nice and flat for the girls to ride the bikes, and there is plenty of space of the path for bikes and all the people on foot. The other added bonus is the Garden Tea Room.

Cannon Hill Park may be well known for the infamous arts centre, or MAC as its better known, located at the main entrance to the park, with its shiny new appearance, its shows, its sleek cafe and the courses and other things it puts on, but the Garden Tea Room sat on the opposite side of the park gets a little overlooked. It serves good food at a good price and you rarely have to queue or wait for your food for long. There is both indoor and outdoor seating, plenty of room to store buggies inside and they offer high chairs for the little ones. In fact about the only complaint I have about this place is the fact that they don’t accept card payments for any of the food or drink. A bit of an inconvenience, but if you know about this in advance then you won’t go hungry when you get there, as one of the things the entire park, and the MAC centre are missing is a cash point. Luckily we had cash, so when a rain shower appeared on our walk around the park, we took the opportunity to duck inside and grab a bite to eat and a hot drink.

The morning was a lot of fun, the girls had a fantastic time on the bikes, riding in circles, charging through puddles, racing each other, and frequently stopping to jump off and pick up feathers or horse chestnuts, all before we headed for the duck pond to feed the ducks. We chose a smaller pond, away from the main boating lake, as it is literally plagued by geese, and we would have been mobbed within seconds!

After leaving the park it was over to my mothers for a couple of hours. We knew we were going to be pushing Chloe through her nap time a bit, but she’s coping better with waiting now, although we can’t push her too far, no-one wants a meltdown… and when this girl goes, everyone knows about it!

After getting home and Chloe getting a much needed nap on the way back in the car it was time for dinner, and the good old english classic of toad in the hole being cooked up by the wife. What a way to finish a Sunday!

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 138 – Who needs sunshine to have a bit of fun

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Day 138 – Aug 2nd

Time to make some indoor entertainment, August has landed with a wet start and little signs of improving any time soon. With two little girls who love getting outdoors we decide to head out to a soft play centre so they can burn off some energy with some climbing, jumping and sliding.

They may have energy to burn off, but its time to slow it down when we get home. Olivia loves to sit down and write, draw and colour, so I created a sheet where she could do all three, overwriting numbers, letters and her name, colouring in shapes and matching numbers to groups of dots. She’s amazing and does so well, I can’t wait for her to start school and show off her skills to the teachers. I love that she loves doing it too.

The rest of the afternoon was taken up with our friends stopping by to visit, their son is a few months older than Olivia and they usually play well together, although they were both a little lively and loud, so putting the minions 9 mini movie compilation on the TV quickly restored some peace and quiet as they both soon became engrossed in it.

With dinner done and bath time for the little ladies out of the way, its time for stories and bed for them. I decided to grab a quick shot of the chillies I have grown in the greenhouse as my photo of the day. I love growing chillies, far easier to look after than tomatoes, and there are still many more growing yet to come. I’m picking them and leaving them by the window to let them ripen before they end up in the freezer, ready to go in a chilli the next time we cook one, as they turn from green to red they become hotter, just the way I like them! This shot had to be engineered slightly with some sheets of A4 white paper and two Canon Speedlites bouncing light off the walls and ceiling, trying to minimise the light reflections on the chillies themselves. A high key shot requires two things, a white background and lots of light!

Has anyone else had any joy with growing chillies?

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