365 project, Photography

Day 308 – McSnowflake

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Day 308 – Jan 20th

Two days off at the weekend is always a great feeling, and it is nice to keep one day to relax, but I do also like to get a few things done on a Saturday and make a few plans. Its good to feel at least a little productive. Sadly todays plans didn’t quite work out as I’d hoped.

The mornings dance lesson for Olivia was about the only thing that we’d planned that didn’t change. Our next destination was a McDonalds for lunch, a bit of a treat for the girls, followed by a trip into town so we could visit John Lewis. We hadn’t even got to McDonald’s before Chloe was asleep in the car and the rather unexpected snow started coming down, so we had little choice but to abandon our trip into town, and took our McDonalds meal home with us instead. We’d assumed Chloe would go straight to bed and sleep for a few hours, but as it turned out getting her out of the car was enough for her to open her eyes and spot the burger and fries that her big sister was tucking into… meaning she was instantly awake and refusing to go to bed without eating.

So now we’re at home, Chloe has only had a 20 minute nap, a far cry from her usual 2hrs+, its snowing and we have already scrapped our plan to head into the city centre. At least the girls have had lunch, and I even had a cheeky cheeseburger and fries, probably not the best ahead of a gym session, which was my only other plan for the day, but it was lunch for me at least, and I figured its not so bad as long as I am not snacking between meals, which has been my biggest downfall up until now.

With my gym bag ready I am off to carry on my training, which starts off with a 15 minute warm up between the exercise bike and the cross trainer, followed by a run on the treadmill, a run I am aiming to increase by 5 minutes each time I do it, and today was set to be a 50 minute run… it has been quite a while since I ran for that long, but my 45 minute run went well the other day, and so I had high hopes. My legs were still aching a little from Thursdays run… although, as it turns out, that was to be the least of my worries.

I had only made 10 minutes into the run before I instantly regretted the decision to have junk food for lunch, my stomach was very quickly in a pretty bad way, and the more I ran, the worse it got. I was not going to complete my run today, this was as much as I could manage. The best thing I could do for now was to abort the run and save my energy and my legs to try again tomorrow.

I was hugely disappointed in myself, my instinct was to not have fast food for lunch, but I was hungry, I don’t have McDonalds vey often and I do have a weakness for a tasty cheeseburger!! This moment of weakness looks like it cost me todays run, which I was really looking forward to smashing. Maybe next time.

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365 project, Photography

Day 306 – Run, run as fast as you can…

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Day 306 – Jan 18th

After the nightmare of our trip to A&E on Monday night, the wife had an appointment today with Chloe at the Childrens Hospital to check her leg out again. Thankfully, although it didn’t come as a huge surprise, they found nothing, pretty much confirming our suspicion of a sprain. It was also reassuring to see that she had started to put a little weight on it too, which made us feel a little better, she was clearly on the mend.

The day continued to go well when I managed to get out of work earlier than normal, so I was home for just after 4pm, which always feels nice to be able to spend a bit of extra time with the girls. I know so many people who work hard for their money, and end up not getting home until it bedtime for their children, or even beyond that, which is such a shame. It must be horrible having no time to play and interact with your kids because of your job. I have always said that while my job does not make me rich, it does provide the opportunity for me to spend more time at home. The girls will not remember what I bought them, they may not even remember the places we went to, but I am hoping they will at least remember that I was there, as much as I could be.

Finally I could get back in the gym tonight as well, I had been waiting to see if I could push myself up to the 45 minute marker on the treadmill. This is crucial for me in regards to whether I enter myself for a half marathon this year, as the previous 18 months have seen me suffering with two injuries which were enough to prevent me from training for two half marathons that I was forced to miss out on. I am keen to see if I can make the leap from a simple 30 minute run back up to an hours running and beyond, to even stand a chance of considering a half marathon distance. As it happened, I followed a couple of simple rules, 1) stay hydrated and 2) focus on the breathing. With these two in mind, and some good music in my headphones, I was set and easily made the 45 minutes. The next target is 50 minutes on Saturday now, and so I am just hoping my legs recover in time!

365 project, Photography

Day 303 – You won’t always get it right

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Day 303 – Jan 15th

They call it Blue Monday… the theory being that it is calculated to be the most depressing day of the year, using some fancy formula incorporating peoples bulging waistlines, empty bank accounts, the arrival of credit card bills along with various failed new years resolutions, and the miserable gloomy weather just doesn’t help.

The initial concept of Blue Monday was first publicised as part of a 2005 press release by holiday company Sky Travel, which claimed to have calculated the date using an equation. Although scientists consider this to be pseudoscience and have derided the idea as nonsensical.

Whether you believe it or not, it can certainly seem like a particularly lack lustre time of year, the poor weather and lack of sunlight leaves even the most positive of people pining for the summer months!

To me, it was just another Monday, a chance to get out on the motorbike again to ride to work as I was intending on saving my legs for a run at the gym later, where I am hoping to make a push on my running and extend my time on the treadmill again.

Sadly this wasn’t to be the case. I got home from work and was thrilled to see the girls (and the wife of course) as I am every day when I get back, they’re not always quite as thrilled to see me every day its fair to say, but I don’t take this personally. We sat down as a family for tea, and in a step up from the normal routine, Chloe decided she was having nothing to do with her high chair and wanted to sit in a proper seat like the rest of us… and to be fair to her, she sat and ate her dinner far better than she otherwise does. Maybe time to look into giving up the high chair, or at least thinking about it?

Suddenly she’d had enough, dinner was done and she wanted to leave the table, but rather than be helped down, the little adventure hero we’d created wanted to do it all by herself, and without much warning… only wasn’t expecting to slide off quite as quickly as she did. Suddenly there is a crumpled heap on the floor and the expected tears… only this wasn’t the usual tears.

Normally Chloe is quite a brave little trooper, and not quite as sensitive as her big sister, but she was clearly in some pain. Initially it wasn’t a huge concern as she’s always bumping herself on something, but when we put her down and she squealed as soon as she put weight on her foot, we became a bit more concerned. Now we’re definitely not parents that panic, if they get a cold we go to the chemist, not the doctors, if they get a rash, we see if it passes by itself, but it was clear we were going to have to get this one checked out at A&E, as she couldn’t stand on her one foot.

Now anyone who has ever been to Accident & Emergency at any hospital will know that you expect a wait of at least a couple of hours, regardless of what time you get there. The great thing about healthcare in the UK is that it is all free and everyone can use it… the downside is that everyone DOES use it, and there is no quick route to seeing a doctor, well apart from maybe faking death in the waiting room!

So with the in-laws at our house to watch a sleeping Olivia once she was in bed, it was off to the hospital we went. Sadly our worst fears were realised as soon as we got there, the place was packed! 8pm on a random Monday in January and it was standing room only. We knew this wasn’t going to be quick, but we were not prepared for how long it was actually going to take. Finally, at 1:30am, a whole five and a half hours after going into A&E we were finally getting back into the car. Anyone who says that the NHS is not struggling is a joker. The staff did the best they could and couldn’t have been any nicer, and they did all they could to make you feel like the only person they’d seen that night once it was your turn, but there simply wasn’t enough of them to deal with the queue. It was an uncomfortable experience I would not be wanting to repeat in a while. I can now see why they are constantly trying to drive the message home about not going to A&E with things that your doctor, or even a pharmacist at your local chemist can help you with. The girl that turned up with an eye infection wasn’t helping anyone, and the THREE friends that came with her, taking up seats that genuinely sick people could have sat in instead of having to use the floor were just as selfish!

Thankfully for us, after an inspection and a trip to the X-ray dept, there was no sign of any damage. Just a sprained ankle by the looks of it. One less thing to worry about at least.

We had certainly learnt our lesson tonight, and the £10 in parking just to be seen by a doctor only added insult to injury!

365 project

Day 301 – Is there anything more important than family?

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Day 301 – Jan 13th

I was feeling productive this Saturday, I had made a list of things I wanted to do, and they were realistic targets. Things needed cleaning, sorting and reorganising, and I had a weekend to tick them off my list.

However, plans do change, and things can crop up. The morning started off well, I dropped Olivia at dance class and left the wife to watch her while I took Chloe in the car to run a couple of errands. First was picking up a parcel from the sorting office, and the second was a quick trip to Streetbike to look at some cleaning products for the bike, and one of the items on my list involved making my GSX650F all clean and shiny again. I came away with cleaning products, but also a top of the range alarmed wheel lock for the motorbike. I have been reading so many countless stories of motorbike being stolen lately, a problem that is clearly on the increase. I have a good, thick, solid chain for the bike, but there isn’t always something to chain it to! At least now I will feel a little more confident leaving it unattended.

On the way home we stopped at the supermarket so the wife could jump out quickly to grab a couple of things, suddenly Olivia wants to go too, and I was NOT prepared to sit in the car with a crying Chloe who thought she was being left out… so we all went in. The kids love it, whats the harm?!

Once we were all back home, my next job involved clearing out the tops of the bedroom wardrobes and getting a bunch of stuff up into the loft. That was all swiftly ticked off. Sadly my attempt to clean the motorbike somehow turned into me actually washing the car, with Olivia rolling her sleeves up to help! The car wash all nice and shiny by the end of it, on the outside at least, and we were both rather damp. The poor motorbike didn’t even get a look in this weekend! Oh well, at least I have the cleaning stuff to do it when I have some more time next weekend.

With the girls in bed, it is time to relax in front of the tv, NOT open any snacks, and find a nice alternative alcohol-free drink to have in place of wine or beer.

365 project

Day 298 – Neglect the rest day and you’ll pay for it later

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Day 298 – Jan 10th

Time to hit the gym again, yes I am throwing myself into this healthy January thing with some relative enthusiasm, this is twice in one week, on top of all the snacks I’ve given up. I could be giving it a bit more, sure, especially seeing as I have completely slacked off on the cycling to work, opting for the much easier and far more fun motorbike instead, but I don’t want to end up hating January or just giving up. I need to make sure that what I am doing feels sustainable. Giving up is just so easy, and especially when making so many changes all in one go.

Today’s workout didn’t feel quite as easy as Monday, there are some days when you’re absolutely on it, and other days when you’re just not quite feeling it… today was most definitely the latter, but I decided to push on anyway. It all started well, but I was hurting by the end of it. Its full-on cardio stuff, but the running element is key at the moment, I need to persevere and keep increasing the duration if I am going to stand any chance of getting up to any kind of race distance in time for the half marathon. The Stratford half marathon I am aiming for may not be until May, but if I am only running twice a week then I am going to need all the weeks available to me to get the distance and the pace I am aiming for, I want this to be my best race yet. So I think a few days off to recover after todays physical assault on the body should hopefully see me ready for another run at the weekend. People think that training is all about pushing yourself as hard as possible as often as possible, but anyone who trains smart knows that rest days are as important as training days. Muscles need to recover and repair themselves.

365 project

Day 295 – If snow won’t come to us, then we go to the snow

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Day 295 – Jan 7th

Today was on of those days that Olivia is always counting down to, 4 sleeps to go, 3 sleeps to go… you get the idea, it was a childrens birthday party. It was the son of one of our friends, and in a rather exciting twist to the usual birthday party format, they had decided to have it at the Snowdome, somewhere none of us had been to before.

We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but we were pretty sure it was going to be cold, and so wrapped up accordingly. It was indeed cold, but a great deal of fun. The girls had a whale of a time, well, at least while they could tolerate the cold. We appear to have overlooked the need for extra pairs of socks to keep the feet warm! Thankfully the snow part was only 30 minutes, which was long enough for the girls to have plenty of fun before they’d had enough and wanted to warm up… and soon enough we were off to the much warmer party room for the kids to enjoy food and drink and some cake. Nothing like a good party to entertain the kids for a few hours, its not quite free childcare, but it is a chance to at least take a bit of a break from worrying about where they are and what they’re doing a little bit less for a couple of hours.

Then that was it… Christmas holiday is suddenly over. Back to work in the morning. I can’t be too disappointed, I’ve had a fantastic couple of weeks off, even if we didn’t go very far or get a whole lot done, at least got to eat well and drink well, enjoy a bit of snow, relax at home and see some friends and family, what more can you ask for?

365 project

Day 294 – Silence is golden

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Day 294 – Jan 6th

A quiet Saturday at home, the Christmas holiday has almost come to an end and its time to think about getting ready for my return to work on Monday.

The wife has a morning appointment at the opticians, meaning its just me and the girls for a couple of hours, and with no intention of going anywhere soon we can just relax around the house, we’ll worry about getting dressed later, there’s no rush right now. The girls chose to play upstairs and Olivia’s airbed was proving a popular choice.

After lunch was done for the girls, it was time for Chloe to take a nap, while Olivia went round to visit the grandparents with the wife, to help take their Christmas tree down. This presented a chance for me to put my feet up for a couple of hours, do nothing and try to close my eyes for a bit too.

It was optimistic at best though, my usual plans for napping usually end in me not being able to fall asleep when the opportunity presents itself. Oh well, at least I could put my feet up and relax for a bit, its a rare treat to not have little ones running around demanding attention. For as much as I love them, this little silent spell is bliss!

365 project

Day 293 – Isn’t it about time we had a good argument?!

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Day 293 – Jan 5th

Ahh Ikea, the Swedish home of the good old family row! If there is are two things certain about this Scandinavian maze, its that a) you will end up spending WAY more than you intended to and come out with things you never went in for, and b) it will test even the strongest of relationships, often ended up in somebody losing their temper at some point!

We hadn’t been for a while and figured it was about time as we needed some new lamps of quite a specific design for our living room and this was the best place. Its fair to say that the lamps were not cheap, and even with this in mind we still managed to spend 2.5x the amount we intended to. The bill was so high that I even questioned it at the till.

The thing with Ikea purchases is that even if you spend a lot, you rarely regret what you’ve bought, and our new lamps looked fantastic, and fitted into the small space we needed them to. We even came away with a gorgeous wooden toy box for the girls toys, which although we weren’t planning on getting today from Ikea, we were looking at picking from somewhere or other very soon anyway. It added a significant chunk to the bill, especially with all the add-ons that you have to buy to go with it, or it doesn’t look like the display model, but the end result after an hour of putting it all together was one of total satisfaction.

My biggest regret of the day was not stopping in the cafe for delicious Swedish meatballs!!

365 project, Photography

Day 290 – The girl wants shoes, the girl gets shoes

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Day 290 – Jan 2nd

This is a first for me, usually my 365 projects have ended on December 31st, but this year I am carrying it through well into the new year as I didn’t actually start this one until the middle of March 2017.

The day began with me jumping on the bathroom scales finally, to see what work has to be done over the next few months, and how much I’d neglected this temple of a body over the last 12 months.

The news wasn’t good… 208lbs is the heaviest I have ever been! It wouldn’t be so bad if I was six feet tall, but I picked up some slightly shorter genes from my mothers side of the family, and my height doesn’t carry that weight so well. There is plenty of work to be done here!

After the unsurprising weigh-in, I was able to take my mind of it with a trip out to the shops, time to get Olivia measured for some new shoes. It sounds like such a simple task, but little did we know how frustrated and annoyed we would be by the end of it. The go-to shop for kids shoes has always traditionally been Clarks’ for many years, due to their measuring service, skilled staff, range of shoes and more importantly the lack of competition. Its fair to say that we are in a different era now, kids clothing has come a long way in its price and availability, standards seem to have slipped in Clarks’ and there are many other shops selling lovely shoes for children at a fraction of the price. On this occasion the wife wanted Olivia’s feet measured as it had been a while since they were last done, I personally reckoned we could buy shoes without measuring the feet at this age, but the wife was fairly adamant she wanted them measured. As it happened, the assistant who attempted to help us in Clarks’ first actually measured Olivias feet wrong, then when she gave us a pair to try on we found she’d left the paper stuffed inside, which explained why they were such a bad fit… and then when we gave up on trusting the measurement and just asked her to bring out some in the size we thought we’d want any way there was only a pair of boys blue trainers and some boots… none of which we wanted. So, for each of the previously listed benefits of going to Clarks’ there wasn’t a single tick on this occasion. Pretty poor considering their shoes are some of the most expensive you’ll find for children! I can’t see us hurrying back anytime soon! Ironically the pair we want are online, in stock and on sale… with next day delivery!

Ironically, given my disappointment after stepping off the bathroom scales today, I was simply too tired to hit the gym in the afternoon. I do believe that if the body is not ready, there is no point pushing it. Rest is as important as working out. I’ll try and get a better nights sleep and go tomorrow instead.

365 project, Babies

Day 288 – Its certainly not like the old days

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Day 288 – Dec 31st

Has it really been a week since Christmas eve?? Where has a week gone? It feels like we’ve done so little!

New Year’s Eve has always been a favourite night of mine, the party night of the year. Be it a house party or an evening in the city battling the crowds, some years I’ve even partied till the sun came up.

The wife isn’t quite as much of a fan of new years eve as me, it’s “just another night” in her opinion, which is fair enough, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Although in the past she has enjoyed a few parties with me and my friends at our one friends house who happened to have a bar and a dance floor in his conservatory and was happy to throw a party for a few years on the run, some good nights were certainly had there, and it’s just a shame the whole thing had to eventually be knocked down for an extension on the house.

Soon afterwards we became parents, and the New Years celebrations were pretty much confined to just the two of us, sat in front of the TV at home. I do miss the parties, but it’s the price you have to pay for parenthood sometimes. Of course, there is the possibility we could have planned in advance a little and organised our own party, but so many of our friends have also become parents in the last few years, that babysitters are strongly in demand and parties are generally quite rare now anyway.

So, we resigned ourselves to a night in. The girls saw a few fireworks before they headed off to bed and we ordered ourselves a takeaway, poured a drink and put the Wolf of Wall Street on to watch. I did get a last minute call from a friend to join them for a few drinks, but we had already ordered our food and Clare was going to attempt to stay up anyway, so I wasn’t going to see the new year in on my own.

Around midnight the fireworks kicked off, and our light sleeper Chloe somehow slept straight through them all, but our deep sleeper Olivia somehow woke up, and so we let her join us at the window to watch the phenomenal view that we had from our bedroom over a few miles of Birmingham, we had literally 50-60 firework displays going off as far as we could see, from somewhere down our road all the way up to a few miles away towards the city centre. I didn’t realise we had such a great view!

It may not be party central, but I had all I needed under one roof. Some good food, some drinks, some good tv and my wonderful family!