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Day 215 – A little bit of black (and white) magic

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Day 215 – Oct 18th

If there’s one thing little missy loves, it’s a bottle of warm milk before before bed, is asignificant featured her bedtime routine, but the simple fact is that she is not far from her second birthday, and I don’t think we’re going to be seeing these bottles for much longer. 

It’s not that we are desperate to take them off her, but they have to reach a natural end at some point and I think we’re getting close. She’s still having a bottle in the morning before breakfast, and I think that’ll be the first to go as we can easily replace that with breakfast itself, although the bedtime one may take a little longer as we scratch our heads trying to remember how we handled this situation with Olivia.

I grabbed this quick photo as I thought she looked so peaceful and calm in front of the TV drinking her milk, although when I reviewed the picture later on, it didn’t seem particularly special, it was just another photo and needed a little something doing to it. Some photos look nice in black and white, others just seem to leap off the screen when you remove the colour from the scene. This, for me, felt like one of the latter. 

How often do you make our photos black and white?

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Day 213 – When the wind blows

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Day 213 – Oct 16th

Yeah, I’d seen the reports about hurricane Ophelia trying to lay claim to the UK and that it could all get a bit crazy, but as I looked out of the window on Monday morning I was just a bit concerned that it was raining a little bit, and I didn’t really want to cycle to work in the rain… I mean who would?! Other than that… no signs of any such hurricane whatsoever!

We’d treated ourselves to a cheeky Sunday night Chinese takeaway and so I had been totally guilted (by no-one other than myself) into cycling to work on Monday morning when I would have otherwise have taken the motorbike in. I’ve now committed myself to cycling three days a week to keep my fitness up, but take the motorbike on a Monday and a Friday. As I finished packing my bag up ready to leave the house I looked out again and with some relief noticed that the rain had completely stopped, and so I set off.

Then by lunchtime, as predicted, it all went a bit crazy!

The winds picked up, the sun was almost blocked out by Saharan sand being whipped up in the crazy weather, it almost seemed to turn day into night… during the middle of the day! The sun had gone a weird red/orange colour and people were beginning to get a bit freaked out by it!

Finally everyone realised the world was NOT actually ending when the high level sand storm cleared and the sun continued to shine, back to its normal brightness throwing shadows across the floor. The one thing that didn’t subside was the wind, it was clearly not the nightmare that Scotland and Ireland were experiencing, but it was still quite wild, especially when you had to contend with the notion of cycling home in it!

Strangely it had also been a rather peculiar 21ºC today, very un-autumn like, so at least it stopped the wild winds that were whipping you about from side to side a little less like the icy blast of an air conditioner! I did opt to abandon my usual ride down the main road, and stick to a quieter, but slower side road so there was less traffic to be buffeted into if it all got a bit hairy. My usual route is a straight run and can take me as little as 20 minutes door-to-door on my way to work, but the road can get quite narrow and the traffic can be crazy at times. Sometimes you have to realise that taking a slower route may be the difference between getting home a little later, or getting home at all!

How did hurricane Ophelia affect you?

Day 211 – Its nice when you don’t expect these things

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Day 211 – Oct 14th

It was one of those weekends again where we hadn’t given much consideration to it, but when it actually arrived, we seemed to have an awful lot squeezed in. Saturday started with Olivia’s dance class again, which she is still enjoying a lot. I took the opportunity to take Chloe for a little walk around a nearby park, as generally me and Chloe don’t get a huge amount of time alone together.

With dance class done and everyone home, I needed to be ready for a lift down to Halfpenny Green Airport near Kinver. My friend had some family down there who owned stunt driving experience business and we’d won an experience for two on a raffle. I was actually the back up for the day as my friends brother, who was supposed to be going instead, had shown absolutely no interest in it, and so consequently I knew very little about what was actually going to be happening until we were almost there. I hadn’t even really considered that I might be driving, and performing crazy stunt manoeuvres. Good job I had brought my driving glasses with me, it would have been quite a different experience without them!

The day involved handbrake turns, spinning the cars round in donuts, driving on two wheels, amongst other things and although we were late and missed the drivers briefing, each stunt was explained to us well and most were demonstrated before they let us jump in the drivers seat. It really was quite a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, when I’d only been really aware I was going the day before. It had been mentioned very briefly in the pub a couple of weeks ago, while I was tired and after a few beers, so it comes as no surprise that it pretty much went straight out of my head almost as soon as I’d been told about it.

Saturday night was also one of the rare evenings that the wife was heading out into town for drinks with friends, I was quite happy to sit in on my own, but at my last trip out to the pub with my friend when he’d mentioned the stunt drive experience in very casual passing, I also came across a large number of great films that he hadn’t seen that I had in my collection, and so we agreed on arranging a movie night with a few beers, to start ticking off some of these films, and we kicked off with The Martian. I love the film, but was quite surprised at how well it was received. Movie night was a hit and we hadn’t spent a fortune at the pub either!

What a nice way to spend a Saturday!

Day 210 – Friday the 13th, who is it actually unlucky for?

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Day 210 – Oct 13th

Ah yes, the most infamous date in the world rolls around yet again, sending fear through the hearts of the most superstitious, those who are convinced that they are just one step away from the sky falling down on their heads, and convincing everyone else that if they stub their toe its all down to the date… even if they had already stubbed their toe on the same thing 20 times previously that year on neither a Friday or a 13th of the month!

Like many traditions and old wives tales, no-one is 100% sure where this date came from. People have suggested that it was something to do with the last supper of Jesus, although this theory only suggests that Friday and the number are both unlucky, not necessarily a combination such as Friday the 13th.

While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century.

An early documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards’ 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th:

“He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday 13th of November he passed away.”

For me it proved particularly lucky today, being a Friday I informed the wife after dinner that I was off to Tesco to choose a bottle of wine to go with our evenings film viewing, only to find when I got there that, Jack Daniels was on offer at only £15 a bottle, rather than the usual £25! For me, that’s a winner! You can keep your crazy beliefs, hide under the duvet all day if you must, but I’m off to relax in front of the tv with a nice jack and coke in hand! Happy Friday everyone!

Day 209 – If there’s one thing that girl likes, it’s a spinning dress

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Day 209 – Oct 12th

Thursday means staying late at work, and so I miss out on collecting Olivia from nursery, although it is nice to get home from work and see both of my girls already there waiting for me. 

On this particular day I was greeted by Olivia walking down the stairs in a new dress, a big hippy-style flowing dress, which she couldn’t wait to show off by spinning in it. That girl does love to spin, and in fact dresses are her favourite choice of clothing, although rather than just dresses, she likes to call them ‘party’ dresses, although ironically most of the parties she is attending at the moment tend to be in soft play centres, where dresses are the least practical option.

When it came to taking a photo for today, the dress spinning was the obvious choice, and I knew exactly how I wanted my photo to look. It needed to feature a bit of motion blur to show the movement of the dress to really show the spinning off.

Day 207 – Thats it, man! Game over, man… game over!

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Day 207 – Oct 10th

Ah bless poor Bill Paxton, one of his most famously quoted movie scenes, and such a sad loss to the movie world this year.

His movie quote is pretty much how I have been feeling for the last two days now. It hasn’t exactly kept me bedridden, but I have been through the usual aching joints, the sweats, the coughing like an 80yr old asthmatic smoker, and have a throat that feels like it has been kicked by a footballer!

Feeling very grateful for the motorbike, giving me a chance to get to work with out cycling and yet leaving the car for Clare so that she can still get out and get the food shopping done.

I like to feel a little bit productive with my evenings where I can, but it currently feels like I have nothing but cotton wool between my ears!

Day 204 – It’s worth the sacrifice

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Day 204 – Oct 7th

A slow start to the day meant that I had time to indulge myself in the Grand Prix qualifying while the wife took the eldest out to dance class. Just a shame I can’t do this every Saturday! 

Once she was home and qualifying had finished it was time for us to visit one of my sisters, we don’t go over very often, so it was nice to head over for a change, as they usually come to us when we see them. My sister loves collecting vintage trinkets and ornaments, and this made today’s photo fairly easy, there was an assortment of things I could have chosen. 

It might be Saturday night, but no staying up late and drinking tonight, it’s an early start in the morning for the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix! Yes, that’s right, alarm set for 4:55am on a Sunday morning… out of choice!

Day 201 – Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower

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Day 201 – Oct 4th

Happy hump day! Gotta love a Wednesday for giving you a bit of encouragement to make it to the weekend. I received a lovely text message from the wife while I was at work today, with a photo of the two girls while they were out on an Autumn Scavenger Hunt at the local woods with a list from nursery of things for Olivia to find and take back in. It sounds like they had a lot of fun hunting for leaves, twigs and acorns, autumn is definitely a time for getting outdoors and enjoying nature, especially when its nice and sunny out.

Consequently todays photo was Olivia checking off her list to make sure she has everything. She’s such a bright little spark, I just know she’d going to do great at school when she gets to start, but as she’ll possibly be one of the oldest in her class, I just hope she doesn’t end up getting bored. She is already reading numbers and writing her own name, and while I am aware that every parent believes they have created a young Einstein who is some sort of child prodigy, yet I am also aware that some kids arrive at school still not even toilet trained. I’m not one to judge, as they all have their own reasons, and quite frankly its none of my business, I just hope Olivia can end up in a class full of people who can inspire her and push her.

Day 199 – Don’t take anyone down with you

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Day 199 – Oct 2nd

Las Vegas, the city of bright lights and entertainment. Overwhelming and over the top, and so who could have imagined the horror that would see so many dead in such a short space of time.

You’ve no doubt seen the news, you don’t need me going over the same thing again, it is heartbreaking. A lunatic who doesn’t flip out, he actually plans to murder as many people as possible and takes several days to prepare everything, yet with no apparent motive, although it has been reported that he set up cameras in the room to record his killing spree. Family and neighbours described him as pleasant and friendly with no prior interest in guns.

The great question of gun laws surfaces yet again in America, and if there is one thing that is fairly certain about it, its that there will never be any agreement about how to handle it. Many Americans see it as their right to carry guns on them or in their house, and believe they are equally fully entitled to use them… and then there is the rest of us, the entire rest of the world who think that apparently Americans just can’t be trusted with guns and we may as well just be handing them out to children!

Seriously, in the UK we have around 150 gun deaths per year, a similar figure to many other countries around the world, which stands in stark contrast to the 13,000 gun related deaths in the USA. Yeah, thats right, all those 000’s are in the right place. Its not to say that in the UK we don’t have our own problems, and guns are a concern for many people, but the numbers speak for themselves! Whilst it may be part of the 2nd amendment to carry arms in the US, we have to remember that the constitution is 250 years old and may need to be revised to meet the 21st century. It has also been noted that Nevada is actually one of the most gun tolerant states in America, and while a lot of Americans like to pipe up about their right to protect themselves it seems that this week there are now 59 dead people and over 500 injured people who didn’t feel very protected by this fact, and people being allowed to openly carry guns certainly seems to be the reason that the largest mass shooting in America could potentially see the death toll continue to rise in the coming days.

What is most striking about this is two things, a) absolutely no-one can seem to find any motive, none at all, absolutely none, and the other thing is he has always planned to shoot himself, which begs the question, if you’re going to commit suicide anyway then why take out so many innocent mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives before you go? What did they ever do to you? If you gotta check out early, then just do it, but why cause so much pain to strangers who you never even met? It is one question I am fairly sure we will never answer.

America, wake up! No-one needs guns! The rest of the world is doing just fine without them!

Day 198 – Just a little peace and quiet?

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Day 198 – Oct 1st

Is it bad parenting to give little ones an iPad to keep them quiet for a while? 

I was up early to watch the Formula 1 Malaysia Grand Prix, and its fair to say that I don’t watch a lot of tv, if I am home alone I will generally turn it off and put the radio on, but the Formula 1 is one thing I will always make time for. Today’s race was an 8am start in the UK, but I was up much earlier than that to watch all the pre-race coverage. It came as no surprise to me that both of the girls woke up at the usual time, and so being the good husband that I like to imagine I am (although the wife may often disagree), I took them both downstairs with me so that she could sleep in a bit, in the hope that I’d still be able to watch the race. 

Now I am not a fan of the idea of using an electronic device as a babysitter, and we do heavily regulate how much time Olivia gets to use the iPad for, and Chloe only gets to watch a bit of Peppa Pig here and there on the iPhone when she needs to be distracted for a nappy change or something. I think its fair to say that I do try to encourage the girls, wherever possible, to do anything else other than use iPads, getting outside if its dry, or some colouring, play-doh or a bit of painting if its wet, even a bit of Disney on the TV if they’ve run out of steam.

This morning though, I’d made an extra effort to get up especially early for the race, and figured that just for an hour or so, that if the girls were up at the same time as me and the wife was staying in bed, a little time on the iPad wouldn’t hurt.

With the race out of the way, we allowed ourself a bit of a slow start to the day once the wife was up. The plan was to go out for lunch with the family, but not until the afternoon, so we could take our time and relax, making the most of a Sunday morning. It gave us plenty of time to shower and get dressed, and we even made it to our carvery on time, a rare treat when you have young children.

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