Blog Archives

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.

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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?

Day 124 – Get me to the weekend!

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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…

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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