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Day 242 – My only regret is that I hadn’t done this sooner

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Day 242 – Nov 14th

Today was mostly spent staring at a small screen, I had been scouring the adverts in autotrader and eBay for a new motorbike, a proper full size bike so that I can have a bit more authority on the road, join my friends on their rides out, and maybe look at some longer rides in the future with my camera in my backpack.

After checking out many bikes, reading reviews, watching videos of rides and tests and finally pinned down one bike that stood out. It was a tough choice, there were some serious contenders in the price range I was looking at, and it came down to two, a BMW and a Suzuki. The Suzuki won for a couple of reasons, firstly Japanese bikes are very easy to repair as a lot of garages specialise in them, secondly a couple of reviews said the BMW was expensive to maintain, and that it wasn’t quite as easy to handle in slow moving traffic. Its huge benefit was that it was belt driven, rather than chain driven, but I can’t afford to take on a bike that is going to be expensive to run once I’d brought it home.

All being well, I will be able to bring it home next week, and obviously photos will follow.

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Day 241 – you might not succeed, but you have to keep trying

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Day 241 – Nov 14th

It’s that time of year, germs are everywhere. People are closing their windows because it’s cold outside and cranking up the heating… and the germs are loving it. Working in a school means that around the October – November time when the temperature drops, you are suddenly exposed to all those snotty, coughing, sneezing kids. It doesn’t help that when I finally get home to escape it all everyone has a cold too.

It’s the sort of time you really need to be keeping your energy up by getting plenty of sleep each night. I knew I had to make an extra effort to get to bed early tonight.

The day started with me not feeling great as soon as I got up, so I decided to abandon the cycle in and took the motorbike instead. There is no point pushing myself physically on a demanding cycle ride into work and making myself feel even more run down, then inevitably becoming even more vulnerable to the germs I’ll almost certainly be exposed to.

Having taken the motorbike in to work meant that, on a whim I could go and visit a bike shop after work to check out a bike I’d had my eye on. On paper this bike looked good, but I was glad I had taken a closer inspection as I spotted something I didn’t like. I gave up on this one, and now had a better idea of what I was looking for, narrowing down my search slightly. It really isn’t as simple as looking for a car!

That evening I actually got to bed earlier, and after a little reading we realised that Chloe was awake in bed, I went to check her out and realised she was red hot and had a temperature. Any chance of getting to sleep was quickly abandoned as we took her downstairs in an attempt to cool her down and get some medicine inside her… easier said than done. You’d think we were trying to put liquidised cat food into her mouth or something. I’ve never seen a child refuse medicine with such an energetic protest!

Midnight came and went, and thankfully our little lady was cooling down and looking like she was in the mood to play again, a sign that she was feeling better. Thankfully when she went down this time, she stayed asleep.

I probably won’t be cycling again in the morning either!

Day 239 – Try to keep yourself distracted

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Day 239 – Nov 12th

Sunday morning was no lie in, we had arranged to meet some friends to take the kids swimming. The local pool had thankfully changed their opening times, making it easier to park and get in to the small pool early which worked really well for us. We were changed and in the water by 9am and out again by 10am with the whole of Sunday ahead of us. I managed to take both of the girls by myself as I am keen to get Chloe in the water more, and Olivia really takes no looking after.

After a spot of lunch we were off out to the park to meet some of our antenatal friends, Olivia loves playing with their daughter, and the two girls could go and ride their bikes and run about. I felt a bit guilty about it, but I was starting to clock watch towards the end as the penultimate Formula 1 race of the season was on at 4pm and I was keen to see not only the start, but some of the build up commentary to the grand prix. Our friends know I am a huge F1 fan and so is the husband, so he agreed to come back to our house and watch the race live, rather than having to wait to see the highlights later that night. It was nice to have a bit of company to watch the race with for a change. After the race, he was picked up by his wife, it would have been a nice quiet evening for the two of us, but Clare had to go out and babysit our nephew and niece.

It meant that with the girls in bed, it was just me entertaining myself for the evening, and trying hard to distract myself as I was trying to take my mind off the fact that I had my motorbike test in the morning and I was starting to get a little nervous… the worst thing I could do. I know I can do everything that is required on the test, and I know I can do it well, but under test conditions I begin to panic and it all starts to go wrong, I forget things and make stupid mistakes.

It wasn’t helping that I kept checking the weather, as it was getting colder and colder, with the temperature set to drop to -1ºc meaning that if there was ice about then the test could be cancelled.

I figured a few drinks before bed would help me relax and get to sleep a little better, although that unfortunately meant a later night than I had intended. D’oh!

Day 238 – Make the best of what you’ve got

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Day 238 – Nov 11th

The wife had made plans to go out with friends for lunch today, that was fine, but it left me with the dilemma of what to do with the girls. Lunch time wasn’t great to be making plans, they both need to eat and Chloe will be needing a nap, on top of which, after Olivia’s late night Peppa pig fest last night, she was lacking in enthusiasm a little too.

After dropping the wife in town, we came back and Chloe went straight up to bed as she’d unsurprisingly nodded off in the car. Olivia was happy to lie on the sofa with her feet up and watch Toy Story while I pottered around doing things.

Then I had an idea, lets get some nice photos of the girls. It had been something I had been meaning to do for a while, and so out came the back drop and studio lights, and with the limited space in the living room maximised by moving some furniture around, I was able to have a little fun with them both once Chloe was awake. For not being two years old yet, she sat surprisingly well for a few photos, but I was more surprised by Olivia who could not get enough of being in front of the camera, she was loving it!

The confines of the room made it tricky to set the lights up properly, but we made the best of it and got some nice photos out of the afternoon!

The evening was then a chance to relax when me and both my sisters got together fora siblings night, with one of them cooking for us. She wasn’t very confident in the kitchen, but did a great job, we’re looking forward to having another night arranged soon.

Day 237 – You’d have thought I’d have learnt by now!

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Day 239 – Nov 10th

Friday didn’t provide me with many photo opportunities, but we had seen a collection of new christmas decorations appearing around the house this week. Not that we were in any way thinking of putting christmas decorations up yet, just that I think the wife was in no hurry to put them away as a) they’ll be coming back out in a couple of weeks, and b) the girls seem to like them!

The wife and I sacked off bath night for the girls, and enjoyed a film together when they were in bed. I even let the wife choose the film tonight, normally she refuses and leaves that to me, but I was hopeful that she’d make it through to the end still awake as it was her choice.

She didn’t.

I then proceeded to make my classic Friday night error of “ooh, i’ll just pour myself one more drink and start watching this…” before suddenly its 1:30am and I’m nodding off in front of the TV. It should have been a very straightforward switch everything off and climb into bed, but apparently that wasn’t to be, as the wife had been woken up by a very awake four year old. I soon realised that she wouldn’t be going back to sleep particularly quickly, and so gave up my plans of getting to bed and headed back downstairs with her to watch a half hour of Peppa bloody pig! That pig is intolerable at the best of times, at almost 2am all you can think of is bacon sandwiches and brown sauce… and eating a crispy and delicious grilled Peppa between two pieces of soft white bread.

Bed felt so good when I finally got into it!

Day 236 – It’s just one photo each day, you can do it!

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Day 236 – Nov 9th

We’re coming up to two thirds of the way through the Project 365, as today marks 236 days out of 365. Some days have been far easier than others with opportunities literally jumping out at me, and then there have been some days when it was getting very late I was extremely tired and wanting to go to bed but was instead scouring the house desperately for something to photograph, because I’d promised myself that I wasn’t going to miss a day.

People take up a Project 365 for many reasons, some like to document, some like to understand their camera better, some like to improve their photography, some just like taking photos. I could probably say that all of those statements apply to me, although the one I appreciate the most is documenting things. Its fascinating looking back on all that has happened and reading about what I was thinking about it at the time, as so much has happened since I started my very first Project 365 back on January 1st 2013. The single biggest change is that we became parents that year, and again just over two years later. These two little ladies have changed our lives and everything we know, and documenting their journey has been so much fun, but I didn’t want it to be the ONLY thing I was photographing, so my one mission on this particular 365 is to make sure I mix up the content a little, the girls are still a huge and integral part of it, but I need to push myself in other areas too.

Soon I will be creating a post on advice for starting your very own 365 project, who would be interested in reading it?

Day 235 – Early to bed and early to rise

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Day 235 – Nov 8th

My grandad is no longer with us any more, but I have some wonderful memories of him from when I was growing up, and always remember how he used to say the one particular phrase to me “early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”.

Sadly as much as I have remembered it over the years, it is something I have completely failed to put into action. Early nights elude me on a daily basis, and I am always in bed far too late, pretty much each and every night.

I regularly promise myself I am going to start going to bed earlier, and inevitably things get in the way. I had even promised myself that I was going to get to bed early to have a bit of reading time with the many books I have pilling up, gathering dust, which has helped a bit. I had also downloaded a sleep analysis and heart rate app to my phone to monitor my sleep and resting, which suddenly made me a lot more aware of how little sleep I am getting on some nights.

The Stephen Fry event at the Symphony Hall on Tuesday provided me with yet another book to add to the collection, and I am now determined to start getting through them, especially as I am now heavily committed to my Brian Blesses autobiography, which I want to visit soon as he is releasing another book in March and has a new tour to talk about it that I am keen to go to. The man is a legend as far as I am concerned, and his current book Absolute Pandemonium is proving very entertaining, although it is very hard to read it without it being narrated by Brian Blessed’s voice in my head!

One thing that has had our heads spinning recently was the search for a school for Olivia, it is proving to be a minefield, and there are so many reasons that make it such an individual experience for each family, that there is simply no set formula to work out not only which school is best, but which schools are actually available to you. I am very thankful to my wonderful wife for really being on top of this and arranging dates for us to go and visit several different schools, including the one we saw tonight, which we’d initially written off, but actually turned out to be a very nice school that could easily be either our first or second choice when we come to put Olivia’s name down! It feels like a real lottery, but not just a lottery where you lose £1 if your numbers come up, this lottery could affect the rest of Olivia’s life.

So no pressure then!

Day 232 – Autumn gives the summer a beautiful send-off

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Day 232 – Nov 5th

Its actual bonfire night in the UK, but seeing as it is Sunday most of the fireworks will hopefully have gone off on Friday and Saturday night, although there will always be those that are determined to wait until the actual date to set some off, and the few weird ones who seem to hang on until Monday or Tuesday… what is THAT all about??

We’d already had fireworks on Friday, and a bonfire at home with sparklers on Saturday, so we were done for this year.

I had to pop out at lunchtime to meet with a couple, they are getting married next year and were visiting their venue and had asked if I could join them to take a look over the place. I’d seen a photo of it, and it looked nice enough, so I really wasn’t expecting to be quite as impressed by it as I was once I’d seen it in person. It was a beautiful venue, and the attention to detail was very impressive. With the passion of the people running the place it sounds like the day will run very smoothly indeed, and I am very much looking forward to their wedding day there, I have no doubt it will be an amazing day.

I did grab a shot of the place before I left, but came home to find these three leaves at the bottom of the driveway, just crying out to be photographed. Here is Autumn at its finest, well done mother nature!

Day 231 – It’ll all work out in the end

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Day 231 – Nov 4th

We hadn’t particularly considered that Saturday was going to be a busy day, but I soon realised that I had a number of things on my agenda, and the day was going to fill up quickly. While everyone was getting ready in the morning, before we’d even left the house, I managed to grab a photo of Chloe with the Autumn sun streaming through the window behind her. I loved the shot straightaway, and knew it was one I’d be looking back on for many years to come.

With everyone ready to go, the first task on the list was getting Olivia to her dance class and keeping Chloe entertained until it was over. That went fairly smoothly, and was followed by heading over to the brother & sister in laws house for a charity coffee morning, which quickly filled a good chunk of our day up by turning into more of a coffee afternoon. We hadn’t anticipated being there for so long, but with a large rather expensive firework to be set off, we felt we really should at least hang around until it had started to go dark, which thankfully was happening quite early due to the time of year.

The third thing on my list was getting down to Streetbike to rebook my motorbike test, which was looking difficult as we hadn’t left the coffee morning yet, although an opportunity came up when it was clear we needed to get Chloe home for a nap, there was no way she was sleeping anywhere other than her bed, and there was no way we were getting through the day without her sleeping for a while, so the two of us set off for the house and left Olivia there with her mother.

With nap time done, it was time to head back out to the coffee morning/afternoon taking a quick detour via Streetbike where I successfully got my new test date booked in!

The final thing on my list was our very own back garden bonfire, and so after the coffee morning/afternoon drew to a close we heading home, going via the supermarket to pick up some sparklers. Once home, I set about building a fire while the girls had dinner, I’d already prepared some wood while Chloe was asleep, so it was a pretty quick process. There was just enough time to light it, give the girls a few sparklers each and toast a few marshmallows before they had to head up to bed.

And so, with all four items ticked off my agenda, we realised there wasn’t a lot of time left to cook dinner for ourselves, and so we finished off a fun Saturday by treating ourselves to an Indian takeaway!

Day 230 – I feel like I’ve earned this!

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Day 230 – Nov 3rd

It feels like we’ve only just gone back to and yet Friday is here again already. I’m giving myself Monday and Friday to use my motorbike, so I don’t get carried away and end up not cycling and putting a load of weight back on. This makes today my motorbike day. Yayyy!

It was looking like a dry day, and the weather was fairly pleasant for the time of year, so the ride home was a rather pleasant one, especially with the roads being a little quieter for being able to get out of work a little earlier in the afternoon. 

The ride home was even more pleasant knowing that we were off to see a fireworks display this evening. The wife isn’t very keen on them, and was additionally concerned about Chloe being scared by the loud bangs, as she doesn’t do well with loud noises. I personally thought it was worth a gamble and knew Olivia would enjoy it. 

We managed to miss a lot of rush hour traffic on the way over there and even got a parking space without too much stress. Our local cricket club put on a bonfire and firework display each year, and it is always very popular, but thankfully they are thoughtful enough to put on two firework displays, an earlier one so that young children don’t miss out, and the main one about an hour later, generally when most of the young children have gone home. 

The fire itself was immense, and even though the heat stopped you from getting too close, the crowds around it were difficult to negotiate, so we didn’t spend long there. We hadn’t planned to stay too long tonight, but there was still time for the girls to go on a few of the fairground rides that had been set up, before the fireworks were due to start. 

Bedtime for the girls was a little later than usual, but they’d enjoyed it. Hopefully next year they’ll enjoy it a little bit more. 

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