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Day 138 – Who needs sunshine to have a bit of fun

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 082 – If you can’t stand the heat… get your hands off my sauce!

Day 82 – Jun 7th

Very excited that these sauces finally turned up today! I found Grim Reaper Foods at the Birmingham Chilli festival, one of a number of stalls there with a variety of samples on offer. Its lovely to try all the different flavours on offer from so many small companies that you just won’t find in the supermarkets, and it really isn’t all about the heat or just finding the hottest sauce you can. Although these bad boys that turned up today are definitely more about the heat than others that I’ve bought, but they also taste absolutely amazing!

Other point to celebrate, its now officially over half way through the working week… bring on the weekend!


Right, I am NOT going to let this be a late night! I am typing this as I wait for a loaf of bread to finish baking and it has about 25 minutes on the clock. Once the loaf is done, I want to take it out of the bread maker, cover it over with a cloth and leave it overnight to cool down, ready to slice in the morning, then I can head to bed! I have had two nights in a row of getting to bed far too late, and although it hasn’t actually stopped me getting up and cycling to work in the morning, it just makes it harder and has definitely meant that I am crawling out of bed a few minutes later than normal, and inevitably leaving the house a few minutes later than normal and then getting to work with barely enough time for a shower and a change of clothes. The shower is a must, it can get a bit sweaty keeping up with rush hour traffic, so I definitely need a bit of a freshen up, but its also nice to get a bit of heat back into me after cycling through the cold, especially my feet, they always feel it when the temperature drops. The rest of me is pretty well covered up, enough to retain a bit of heat from the house as I leave, until my body temperature takes over once I’ve hit got going! Choosing the right clothing when autumn kicks in and the outdoor temperature drops, can be a tricky balance, too much clothing will leave you toasty as you head out of the house, but it won’t be long before you over heat and become distracted on the road. For me its normally a case of just putting on a couple of thin layers and gritting your teeth for the first couple of minutes. By the end of the journey I am frequently feeling plenty warm, regardless of how cold the weather is, and very much looking forward to that shower!

With today being Thursday, it means we now only have one day left before the weekend. Friday is almost here and hopefully the weekend will be a little more eventful than the last one was! I’m hoping we can find time to visit my mother on Saturday as not only will she love to see Olivia again, but my sister will be there too, and I know she gets very excited about seeing Olivia. I don’t think we have any plans, but it still needs the thumbs up from the wife first, just in case she has anything planned that I didn’t know about, or “have definitely been told about but managed to forget or plain just didn’t listen in the first place” as she puts it. I don’t know where she gets this idea that I don’t listen from, its just not true. She did try to explain it to me, but I just heard blah blah blah!

What else is happening this weekend? Well, one thing really. Its ALL about one thing. The final and championship deciding race of the Formula 1 2014 season, and what a season it has been! I watched the opening race from Australia at a blurry eyed 6am with my good friend Duncan, in the company of a bunch of other F1 fans at the Aprés bar in Birmingham city centre where each race is shown live, and that is how I intend to end the year, although thankfully with this race being in Abu Dhabi, it starts at a much more sociable 1pm. I am fairly positive that most people reading this couldn’t give two hoots about F1, sundays race or the fierce championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, but you’re here now, so settle in for a minute! It has been another mind blowing year in F1 with some fantastic races, some amazing overtaking, some awful crashes including the unfortunate Jules Bianchi who is still in a bad way after a severe head injury several weeks ago. There have been some real eye opening battles between drivers that we weren’t expecting, especially with the rule changes and new engines and after four years of Red Bull dominating each race, the tables have finally turned and we have a new monster on the track, the Mercedes cars of Hamilton and Rosberg who have been virtually untouchable since the first race back in Adelaide in March. They have literally left everyone else standing in their dust, unable to provide an answer to their epic pace. This Sunday is guaranteed to have people sat on the edge of my seat, and it could go either way, and anything can happen. Either way, a Mercedes driver WILL be the new world champion, but which one is not going to be decided until that chequered flag goes down on the final lap of the final race of the year! The last time it was this close and exciting was 2008 in Brazil and it was down to Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton, and with Hamilton down in 6th place on the last lap, Felipe Massa crossed the finish line in 1st place giving him enough points to become the world champion… for a total of 38 seconds, before Hamilton managed to somehow catch and pass a slowing Timo Glock. This change of position gave Hamilton the extra point he needed to steal the championship from Massa on the last corner of the years final race to give Lewis his first ever world championship title.

Well that’s pretty much me wrapped up for today, a quick run out earlier to drop off a bottle of wine and a birthday card for my friends wife, and with my loaf of bread now cooked its bed time. Todays photo, one of the chilli’s I have been growing this year, a cayenne chilli turning from green to red, which will be going into tomorrow nights Chili Con Carne! A dish I never used to eat when my mom made it, until I realised that it didn’t have to be made with the dirty baked beans she used to add, and in fact the humble kidney bean was much more accepted. Don’t ask me why I eat kidney beans but can’t stand dirty baked beans, its just one of those things. I was a ridiculously fussy eater as a child, and some things have just stayed with me!


“LinkedIn? More like LinkedOut!!”


So it was back on the bike this morning, after what feels like not being on it for ages, but in reality is more like 10 days! It was a lovely day to be cycling, although crawling out of my nice warm bed this morning after only about 5 hours sleep, it felt like the worst idea in the world ever! It always does when I get up, which is why I set my alarm clock much earlier than I need to, just to give my body time to adjust to being awake before I try to force hills and rush hour traffic upon it. Tuesdays are never a great day for me anyway, as I never get to spend much time at home, and consequently get to see less of my daughter too. I had about 45 minutes from getting home after work to heading out to training tonight. As it was the last Jujitsu session of the month it was time for some pad work and boxing gloves! Normally our contact when practising is only light, we don’t want to hurt each other, but on the last Tuesday of the month, the pads come out and we can go bonzai! A great chance to get rid of any unwanted aggression, of which there was a little tonight due to the sheer ignorance and stupidity of Royal Mail lorry driver tonight, who at 40mph came so close to me when passing on the way home, that I nearly didn’t need a shave any more! Still, I made it home in the end, and can’t let muppets like this ruin my day!

In other news, I have finally got around to closing down my LinkedIn account. It was one of those things that I “gave it a try” after receiving several invites from friends, but genuinely, in all the years I have been registered, I have never actually truly worked out what it is supposed to do! I seem to have connected to a number of friends, but I guess a little like facebook, not done anything with that person once I have connected, on top of which the site just confuses me, I am not sure where I am supposed to be looking for what, or even why!! Facebook is enough of a distraction, and something I am trying to limit my time on a bit. Checking it 8 times in 5 minutes isn’t just boredom, its a problem! Although I am not suggesting that I am going to get rid of facebook though, I do find it massively useful, and often quite entertaining too! Even though to this day I have never accepted a game request and don’t intend to… so if you’re one of those people on my facebook page who reads this and sends requests then please stop!!

Day 286/365

“Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.”


What a day it has been! I feel well and truly wiped out! In bed by 1:30am, up at 3:30am to feed the little princess, then back up at 5:30am to watch the Japanese Grand Prix. As soon as the grand prix was over it was trainers and shorts on, and out to meet my friend for the last training run ahead of next weeks half marathon. Rain, wind and 10ºc combined with about 4 hours sleep did not stop us from managing a respectable 8 miles around Edgbaston reservoir, I almost gave myself a high five! After a hot shower and a change of clothes, it was off out to meet our friends from the antenatal class in July for lunch at The Junction in Harborne, and it was such a lovely afternoon, so great to see all the babies and find out how everyone was doing! I’d been looking forward to today for weeks. Sadly one of the couples couldn’t make it, which was a real shame, I was really hoping to get a big group photo of everyone with the babies. More meet ups will be planned for the future, the wives have already met up once and are meeting up again soon, so apparently its down to me to arrange a fathers night out, which i’m sure won’t be too much effort! When we got home there was just time for a quick snack before my sister and her boyfriend arrived with some more lovely gifts. What a lovely way to spend a day! Just hoping for a good nights sleep to catch up on my energy, may leave the bike at home tomorrow, my legs are tired from this morning, the weather forecast looks awful and I need to be exercising as little as possible ahead of the run on Sunday, to make sure i’m full of energy on race day!

Still time to sponsor me, by the way, all proceeds to Cancer Research… gwaaaann!

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