Day 099 – You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy wine, and that’s kind of the same thing.

Day 99 – Jun 24th

After a busy Saturday morning, we decided to have a family afternoon out and took the girls swimming. Its been a little while since we all went, and its nice to be doing it as a family, as it was usually just me taking Olivia. The girls enjoy it so much and Olivia has become really confident in the water, and has even started to learn to actually swim, rather than just splash about in the water with daddy. She can’t swim very far, or very fast, but she’s definitely getting the idea!

This took up a chunk of our afternoon, and led the wife to announce that because we were running out of time to cook, and had no idea what to have for dinner, that we’d be having a chinese takeaway tonight… I am not going to argue with that!

As the girls had showered after swimming, and had their hair washed, bath night seemed a bit redundant, so they were off to bed nice and early. This was my cue to think about getting changed and taking a walk around to a work colleagues house for their birthday party and BBQ. I was planning on staying for an hour and getting a taxi home, as I wasn’t expecting to know many people there. As it happened, there were more people there that I knew than I thought there would be, and the time just flew by. I warned the wife I’d be a little later home than I originally anticipated, and didn’t intend to stay too much longer, but then got talking to the husband of one of the women I work with. We had a surprising amount in common and suddenly it wasn’t just late, it was the early hours of the morning, and I’d drank far more than I’d realised. Time to get that taxi home!

Day 098 – Lets cherish this moment

Day 98 – Jun 23rd

The weekends seem to roll around so fast, and here we are at Friday again. The weather has settled back down to, perhaps, a little cooler than we may expect June to be, but at least we can sleep comfortably at night again.

One of the best things about Friday is being able to get home just that little bit earlier than the rest of the week, and spend more time with the girls, although when I got back today Olivia was spark out on the sofa. Oh well, its still good to be home early anyway.

The wife had to pop out to the shops once I was back home, and so I thought I would take the opportunity to grab a couple of snaps of the girls in the beautiful light that was coming in from the overcast clouds through the window. It might sound odd that a photographer prefers a cloudy day to a bright sunny day, but there is logic behind it. Bright, direct sunlight makes people squint a lot, never a good look in photos, it also creates nasty harsh shadows, as well as strong contrast that the camera struggles to deal with. Clouds, on the other hand, break the sunlight up, making it less directional and creating a nice soft light on people, also removing all the hard shadows. Todays shot of Chloe has come out quite well I think.

On a Friday night I never plan much, call it routine, call it laziness, whatever… I like to settle down with the wife, pour a drink, open some snacks, and watch a film once the girls are in bed. Even though it was supposed to be bath night for the girls tonight, we just didn’t have the energy or enthusiasm to do it, so that can wait until tomorrow, meaning that both of the girls were in bed by 7:20pm. Olivia is allowed to watch the iPad in bed on a Friday, so we can leave her to it for a while and get our film started. The wife is notoriously bad at staying awake, and so our best chance of her seeing the end credits is to start the film as early as we can, even though this is still no guarantee. Sadly, this mornings super early start from Chloe meant we BOTH fell asleep and missed the end of the film!

Day 096 – El scorchio

Day 96 – June 21st

The heatwave continues and seems to reach a new peak today. The morning starts out a little cool and cloudy, but apparently the sun is having none of that, and by the afternoon it feels like the earth is on fire! At work I am lucky to be in an air conditioned room, and it is bliss! Stepping outside the room, even briefly was like walking off the airplane in a hot country when you’re on holiday. 

This probably means nothing to you if you’re reading this in somewhere like Arizona, or India, but here in the UK the much cooler climate, plus the several hours of air con on an airplane whilst travelling to somewhere tropical means the heat as you step off the plane hits you like a slap around the face from a very angry woman that you’ve just insulted, after also insulting her mother and her children.

You get the idea!

The ride home on the motorbike was a completely different story, and after sampling how hot it was outside, I was almost tempted for a brief millisecond to not wear a jacket, but just knew that if I didn’t then today would be the day that something happened I fell off. I really don’t fancy using the skin on my arm to slow me down, that tarmac, whilst moving at 40mph underneath me would turn into a cheese grater on my skin! 

I think I’ll stick with being hot and sweaty for a little while, and getting home in one piece. 

A thick leather jacket, my choice of riding apparel, needs a fast flow of air to even stand a chance of not making you overheat, and in slow traffic there is little or no chance of that happening! I think I need to go shopping for more summer friendly bike wear soon!

At home the girls hadn’t coped too well with the heat, and they were both looking exhausted. The fan in the living room was on full, and all the doors and windows were open. There was just no cooling anything down. All we could do was throw both of the girls in the shower before bedtime, and set it to cool. It seemed to do the trick and they both slept well, so I decided to jump in the shower before bed myself, and set it to as cold as I could possibly handle. The only word to describe the water was bracing, and the over riding urge was to jump out, but I stuck with it, and it paid off.

I slept well.

Day 095 – you can’t prepare for everything

Day 095 – Jun 20th

As Tuesdays go, this was nothing special, the weather was warm and pleasant, the ride into work was nice on the bike, and things can change so quickly. I’d not long been at work when my phone pinged with a text message from an old school friend that I’d been lucky to catch up with over the last 18 months or so, having not seen them since school, thanks to the modern wonder that is Facebook. There was no way of beating around the bush with this message, her teenage son who had been very sick with leukaemia and had been in and out of hospital, putting up a massive fight, had finally lost his battle. I was heartbroken, a teenager should never have to go through that, and a parent should never have to bury their child. It was a sad morning. Thankfully the bright sunshine gave me the perfect excuse to wear sunglasses and hide a few tears. 

At least the evening was a bit more celebratory, as I was heading out for a birthday meal for my sisters parter to an Indian restaurant I’d not tried before in Moseley, although sadly on my own as Clare had to stay home with the girls. Our current babysitting options are a little limited, so going out together is a bit tricky once the girls are in bed. It’s not ideal, but it will no doubt improve. The restaurant, Priya was a good choice, the food was amazing, and I look back to going again in the future!

Today’s photo was taken after I got home from work. It wasn’t quite as hot outside as yesterday, but it was still pretty toasty, and Chloe couldn’t sleep in anything more than just a baby vest, even with a fan in the bedroom, as the house seemed to retain the heat with ease, and was almost impossible to cool. In fact with the house being so warm, it wasn’t even really worth dressing her once she got up. At one point I noticed she was intrigued by her big sisters scooter, so I grabbed my camera just in case, and I just had a feeling that this was a photo that would look good in black and white, as not all of them do. Sometimes you have to be a little choosy about which images you convert to black and white.  My golden rule is to leave any photo in colour where the subject is looking at the camera… but rules are made to be broken, and I think this image worked. 

Day 094 – Is it just me, or is it warm in here?

Day 94 – Jun 19th

Boom! Flaming June gets to live up to its name at last, as the heatwave lands, and the temperatures outside are pushing the mercury past 30ÂșC all over the country, with more of it set to come as the week goes on.

I am feeling a bit rough after the weekend, the warm weather, eating crap food, drinking too much and staying up late enough to fall asleep on the sofa three nights in a row. Anyone would think I’d just discovered university and the student way of life or something. I need to be really cutting out the crap, drinking less and getting myself to bed at a sensible time!

For whatever reason, the roads seemed almost empty this morning, and the ride in was like a dream. I’d thought about cycling in, although was very glad that I didn’t as the showers were not working when I got to work, and I’d have been the guy that NO-ONE wanted to stand next to!! The motorbike was a lot more fun anyway, although this motorbike clothing was going to be hot work later on! Black, thick, padded… the kind of clothing you don’t want to stay still for long in, as long as I’m moving, I’m okay!

Today’s photo was sat down for dinner together as a family, the way dinner time should be. I was playing around with an old favourite lens, the 50mm lens, great for so many things, including portraits. Awesome for kids…. as long as they stay still for long enough, as the area of the scene that’s in focus is so narrow that the child only has to lean forward and their face is out of focus, and what was so close to be an awesome photo is subsequently deleted.

Day 093 – thanks for everything, dads!

Day 93 – Jun 18th

It’s Fathers Day here in the UK, a time to celebrate all that is good about dads. We all have a dad, although some of them might no longer be with us, like mine. There’s even a good chance that a few of the people reading this are a father themselves.

So what IS great about dads? Well I guess it depends on who you are asking. I know there are a lot of useless dads out there, dads that don’t see their children, dads that don’t see helping with the kids as their jobs… but let’s just forget about those for now, I think it’s a fair assumption to make that the higher percentage of dads are good people who love and care about their children, and want to do all that they can to help and be involved, whether they live with them or not.

Dad’s are obviously great with the rough and tumble stuff, rolling around on the floor or throwing the kids high in the air. Dads are usually good at building or fixing things. Dads are generally pretty useful with a deep, booming voice when someone has been naughty. We’ve all heard the saying “wait until your dad gets home”.  Let’s not forget the other stuff dads can be good at, like teaching reading and writing, road safety, teaching their child how to ride a bike. Yeah, I’d like to think we’re not completely useless.

I think it’s fair to say that dads sometimes tend to get overlooked as serious parents a bit. When dad goes out, mom looks after the children, but when mom goes out, it’s often seen as dad is babysitting the children, almost like he’s not an actual real parent. 

I think it’s fair to say that this stereotype is changing now, and modern dads are stepping up their game a bit. I was very touched by my Father’s Day gift this morning. A personalised box of all the things I do with my girls. That will be treasured for a long time.

I’d had a few ideas for things to do on Father’s Day, or places to go, but in the end we didn’t come to a decision or manage to book anything, and an offer of a family bbq at my sisters house was sounding quite tempting. It should have been a relaxing afternoon in the sun with some burgers and a few ciders, but an unexpected meltdown from Chloe that lasted got two hours until I’d managed to rock her to sleep kinda blew that idea out of the water. I was stuck on the sofa for close to an hour while she snoozed on me, but by the time she woke up, whatever had been previously bothering her was no longer an issue, and she was happy again. Time for a bit of food and a little drink! 

Day 092 – In case of fire, find water

Day 92 – Jun 17th

Well the weather forecast has lived up to expectations, and even though it was early in the morning, the mercury was already starting to soar! My first job of the day was to get the car over to my mechanics garage, so he could check the battery and car our car starting properly again.

With that checked out, the next job was to drop Clare at the hospital to see her mother, before taking the girls home so Chloe could get a nap before we did something with our, as yet unplanned day. I contacted a few friends about an afternoon in the park with the kids, a couple of them already had plans, and I was about to resort to putting the paddling pool up in the garden under the gazebo for the girls, when my phone pinged with a message from one who hadn’t yet replied, and suggested we join him in his garden for some paddling pool fun with the kids. Game on!

The kids had fun playing together and splashing about, although it wasn’t long before Olivia took herself indoors to explore all the toys! We were in no hurry to leave, especially when another friend arrived with his little girl. Instead, we opened the cider (best drink on a hot day!) and got in some KFC for dinner!

From a day with no plans, it turned out to be a fantastic day, even if I did end up with burnt shoulders,
by simply assuming I wasn’t going to need cream as (I thought) I’d kept out of the sun enough to not really get caught out by it! Apparently not! Still, at least I don’t have the wife’s inherited faulty irish sun-averse genes, and this would eventually calm down and tan! I just hope I’ve passed on a few of my slightly more sun tolerant genes to the girls!