Day 124 – Get me to the weekend!

Day 124 – Jul 19th

Now I’m used to life on the road with two wheels, I usually don’t enjoy driving to work, it’s a bit different when you get to drive in to work in one of the minibuses that you’ve borrowed to take camera equipment in with. As we only have one car between us, I’d already deprived Clare of the car once last week, and as I had to take my stuff in a second time for more photos, I decided to cycle in yesterday and take a bus home with me. Driving in to work this morning, in a long, wide vehicle, in an elevated seat made me feel a bit more powerful on the road. You certainly had a lot more presence on the road!

The downside was that I had to bring the bike back home with me at the end of the day again, and I was not ready to cycle at all, let alone uphill, in the heat, with my bad chest getting worse… but I still had to! 

It came as no surprise that when I got home I was feeling particularly rough. I was tired, grumpy, coughing, flaking fast, and regretting the cycling decision. 

There was only one thing going to help me here, some sugar in the form of chocolate! 

Okay, okay… it wasn’t actually going to help much, but it would at least help me take my mind off things!

Day 116 – and the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down…

Day 116 – Jul 11th

After a few weeks without rain, the garden lawn is starting to look a bit tired, and I’ve had enough of having to grab a watering can and water the flowers each evening, and then worrying about them if I forget to do it one evening. Well today started out damp, and apart from a couple of dry spells this morning, its pretty much rained all day since then.

As an adult owning a property with a garden, particularly one that you’re growing things in, its pretty much about the only time that anyone can get even remotely excited about rain. You may be cursing that your day out is ruined, or that you can’t hang the washing out to dry, but you can at least smile in the knowledge that your grass is getting a good water and the flower beds will love it. The simple fact is that this green and pleasant land of ours would not be quite so green without a bit of rain every now and again to keep it that way.

One of the little green shoots that had come from Olivia helping me to plant some seeds back in February was our sunflowers. They seemed to do very little for a number of weeks, and the shoots were no more than a few inches tall, then suddenly, out of nowhere, they seem to have shot up, and this week have even begun to open up! That’ll keep the bees happy for a while, and now the garden will start to look even brighter!

With the weather being wet, I ditched the idea of cycling this morning in favour of the motorbike. Sure, I’m still exposed to the elements, but at least on the motorbike I am covered in waterproof clothing! Made up for it with a gym session this evening, but now have come home with pretty severe heel pain, leaving me limping about a bit, and I’m not even sure how I’ve done it! Only hoping a good nights sleep will fix things, and on that note… well, you don’t get a good nights sleep from tapping away on your laptop while sat on the sofa downstairs!

Day 115 – look for the good in the world

Day 115 – Jul 10th

Monday isn’t so bad when you get a bit of good news to cheer you up. Today is the one day of the year that as school staff, we wait eagerly for… the list of which staff we will all be working with in September. It can make such a difference to your year, as you can end up working with either some brilliant people, or some real mood hoovers who can suck the life out of you just by being in the same room!

Thankfully I am working with some great staff next year, and although we will have some quite challenging pupils, I know we can work together and deliver! It is fair to say that it really brightened up my day.

You know what else can make your day? When you pull up outside the house on the motorbike and see the garage door swing open to reveal your smiling daughter, who is really pleased to see you. Again, as is becoming very common now, she wants to sit on my motorbike and hold on as I push it up the drive and into the garage, although I am most definitely not allowed to turn the engine on to assist me, as its “too loud daddy”!

My one real disappointment of today was my motorbike theory test, which I had to book. I had convinced myself it was an online thing ( why would it be?!), but quickly found out I have to go to a test centre (makes sense I guess!) to complete it, and they do not have a free appointment for another 3 weeks… meaning I cannot book my motorbike test until I have actually taken and passed the theory! On a plus point, it was cheaper to book than I expected, only £23!

Although I had plans to get other things done this evening, I was forced to spend a chunk of it calling Sky about problems on the phone line for the house phone. It has been playing up for over a week now, not dialling calls, or receiving them, so I bought a new phone, which doesn’t seem to have helped the problem. After being on hold for 40 minutes, I finally got to talk to someone who was very helpful, confirming the problem was external probably something to do with the local exchange, and nothing to do with ay cables or equipment in our house, and they’d put in a request for it to be fixed by engineers asap.

So… anyone guess what todays photo is?

Day 112 – from the tiny ant to the mighty elephant

Day 112 – Jul 7th

Since February I have been growing flowers from seed in the house, the transporting them outdoors when the time came about eight weeks later, after the threat of frost had completely passed. I love to have a bit of colour in the garden, and would ideally spend more time gardening, although this is somewhat of a luxury with two little ones running around demanding attention. Now Chloe is almost 18 months old, fully running around, climbing, investigating, pulling, throwing, falling, she is demanding more attention than ever, and far more than her older sister! Having time to spend in the garden is something I can only hope for in the future when the girls are more able to entertain themselves and each other!

I do find a little time for some gardening though, and have managed to get my flowers planted, keep them watered and get rid of a few weeds, and having that colour really brightens up the garden. The other practical upside is the bumblebees, who are drastically in decline thanks to humans ruining the countryside and getting rid of all the wild flowers, it has been estimated that we have lost 97% of our flower-rich grassland since the 1930s, which you can read more about here.

Making sure there are plenty of bright, colourful flowers is my little bit to help the bees to survive, as we’d be in trouble without them.

When I got home from work on Friday afternoon, it was lovely outside, the temperature had risen again and the girls were keen to get in the garden to play, so I had to oblige. I had been wanting to capture a shot of the bumblebees with the flowers, so grabbed my camera and took advantage of being outside in the garden with the girls.

We even broke records this evening with Clare staying up to watch The Wolf of Wall Street, from start to finish, all three hours of it without even coming close to falling asleep! Virtually unheard of previously, and not only that, but having previously written it off, she even enjoyed it! It was nice to sit down and enjoy watching a good film together, as it feels like such a battle each weekend trying to find something to watch. You wouldn’t believe the options we have open to us, with not only Netflix, but NowTV, and Amazon Prime Video. More films to choose from than you could shake a stick at, yet each week I seem to keep scrolling through thousands of films that I simply haven’t heard of, questioning why I have subscribed to these services. I guess its just nice to keep our options open while the girls are little, but I am going to have to start getting rid of some of the subscriptions soon, especially if it is taking so long on a Friday to find something to watch, that by the time we have its time to go to bed!

Day 110 – When it all gets too much, just lie back and look up

Day 110 – Jul 5th

Ah yes, riding the motorbike home in the sunshine, getting a bit of a sweat on in the leathers, and trying to dodge the traffic to keep moving so you don’t over heat. It was a nice ride home, and the girls are usually pleased to see me, but today the iPad won, and Olivia couldn’t be bothered to put it down for long enough to come downstairs and say hello… bloody charming! At least I still have an effect on Chloe who gets excited when she here’s my keys in the garage door.

The twists and turns of having two children never fail to make me smile. In fact I congratulated my friend, by text message, on the arrival of his second child, and he asked me… “any tips for two kids?” and it got me thinking, how did things change for us when Chloe arrived, what did we do differently? Could I actually have any useful advice to offer anyone who had recently become a parent for the second time?

Kids are so different, its really hard to say whats best, so aside from joking about getting used to never being on time anywhere, the only real advice I had to give was to make sure that you always give both children equal attention. Its very easy when you have a big one sitting quietly entertaining themselves to forget about them when there is a little baby who seems to do nothing but cry all the time. As soon as Chloe was born, we made the effort to ensure Olivia had plenty of attention, she was still taken swimming, had her bed time stories, had someone to play in the garden with her, or was even asked to help around the house, or especially with feeding or changing Chloe, whch made her really feel like a big sister. I guess we’ll never know if it ever actually made any difference, but she has never been jealous of her sister, or been spiteful towards her, and we’re starting to see a real friendship blossom between them.

I’d like to think that part of it was us doing a good job, and not just luck.

What advice could you give to someone who had become a parent for the second time?

Day 101 – The highs and lows of a Monday

Day 101 – Jun 26th

I’d like to say I’m lucky to have roses in the house to photograph, but the truth is that I bought them… and I bought them for the wife to apologise for rolling in at 3am drunk the other night, after saying I was popping out to my friends party for an hour or so. We’ve all been there when we’re having a good time and totally lose track of what time it is… haven’t we?! Oops!

Anyway, I had to take this shot while the roses were still fresh, which they should be for a few more days yet, the shot just isn’t the same when they start to wilt so I didn’t want to leave it and miss them at their peak. I love a close up of rose petals, there is something so serene and peaceful about it, like no other flower.

This shot cheered me up a bit, which I needed as some frustrating, but not totally unexpected news at work meant that the next couple of days are going to become somewhat stressful. I’ll just be glad when Thursday gets here! I won’t bitch about the details on here, as no-one likes to hear people whinge, and I need to stop myself from being negative.

The good news for today, besides seeing my girls when I got home, was catching up with blogging friend extraordinaire Suzie to discuss the details of wedding planning and my participation in being lucky enough to photograph this event. She’s a lovely girl who has worked hard on her blog and clearly mastered her skills, and meeting up with her and her lovely fiance was exciting for both of us. For them it makes things feel like a bit more of a reality when you start talking about the details and timeline of the day, and for me… well, I love a good wedding, and even more so when it happens to be a friend. Although with some photographer wedding guests and a massive audience when the photos appear on her blog, I am feeling the pressure start to mount a little. Pressure is not normally something I enjoy or thrive on, but its good when it comes to a wedding, as it keeps you on your toes! The happy couple to be seem fairly relaxed about it all, and its a venue I have been to before, so keeping our fingers crossed for a bit of dry weather, it should be an awesome day!

Day 097 – The fruits of our labour

Day 97 – Jun 22nd

A few weeks ago I was given a strawberry plant by a friend at work, took it home and planted it in the garden just in time for flowers to start appearing on it. When the flowers appear it’s not long before they fall off and strawberries begin to appear in their place. Recently we’ve had some strawberries appear, and this week, with all the rain and warm weather we’ve had, the strawberries have begun to ripen, and Olivia loves to eat them straight from the plant, which is lovely to watch. The thought of being even remotely connected to the land for such simple things is a nice feeling. To watch your children pick fruit and eat it, and get excited about it too, rather than pick up sweets is brilliant! I can’t wait until the blackberries are out later in the year, its always fun going out for walks and spotting these!

The weather has cooled down a lot now, and by the look of the forecast, we’ve seen the end of our little heatwave. Its a bit of a shame, it was nice having so much sunshine, even if it meant that sleep was only possible with a fan in the bedroom, and a cold shower before bed. The garden has done so well in the sunshine, although it has meant some committed watering of all the plants. The seeds I planted back in February have all started to bloom now, and the garden is beginning to look very colourful. Its nice for Olivia to see the end result of the seeds she helped me to plant, although I am not entirely sure she remembers doing it!

Todays photo is one freshly picked strawberry from the garden, hopefully the first of many if the squirrels don’t find them!